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Seshagiri Aiyar Vs. Valambal Ammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetters Patent Appeal Nos. 64 and 106 of 1949
Judge
Reported inAIR1952Mad377
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 47 and 100 to 101 - Order 21, Rules 54(2), 66(2), 67, 69(2), 90 and 100; Limitation Act - Schedule - Articles 165 and 166
AppellantSeshagiri Aiyar
RespondentValambal Ammal and ors.
Appellant AdvocateM.S. Venkatarama Iyer, Adv. in No. 64, ;S. Viswanathan, Adv. and ;N. Sivaramakrishna Iyer, Adv. in No. 106
Respondent AdvocateN. Sivaramakrishna Iyer, Adv. in No. 64, ;L.A. Gopalakrishna Iyer, Adv. and ;M.S. Venkatarama Iyer, Adv. in No. 106
Cases ReferredSwaminathan v. Lakshman
Excerpt:
civil - sale - sections 47 and 100 to 101 and order 21 rules 54 (2), 66 (2), 67, 69 (2), 90 and 100 of code of civil procedure, 1908 and articles 165 and 166 of schedule to limitation act, 1908 - whether sale liable to be set aside for want of notice to fourth defendant - fourth defendant failed to establish that there was substantial injury caused by reason of material irregularity in publishing and conducting sale - sale was not vitiated by irregularity - held, sale not liable to be set aside. - central excise act, 1944.[c.a. no. 1/1944]. section 11: [p. santhasivam, a. kulasekaran & s. tamilvanan, jj] possession of property taken by bank under the securitisation & reconstruction of financial assets and enforcement of security interest act, 2002 - claim towards tax due priority -.....satyanarayana rao, j.1. this letters patent appeal is against the decision of panchapakesa aiyar j. in c. m. s. a. no. 17 of 1948.the matter arises out of execution proceedings in pursuance of the mortgage decree in o s. no. 512 of 1936, district munsif court, kulitalai and the appellant in the appeal is the auction-purchaser in those execution proceedings.2. one muthurathnam iyer filed o. s. no. 512 of 1936, district munsif's court, kulitslai to enforce the security bond dated the 28th may 1928 executed by defendants 1 and 2 in favour of the members' of a chit fund. the security was created on three items of property. item i is a wet land bearing s. no. 188/2 of the extent of 1 acre 60 cents. item 2 is a wet land bearing s. no. 299/1 of the extent of 84 cents and item 3 is dry land.....
Judgment:

Satyanarayana Rao, J.

1. This Letters Patent Appeal is against the decision of Panchapakesa Aiyar J. in C. M. S. A. No. 17 of 1948.

The matter arises out of execution proceedings in pursuance of the mortgage decree in O S. No. 512 of 1936, District Munsif Court, Kulitalai and the appellant in the appeal is the auction-purchaser in those execution proceedings.

2. One Muthurathnam Iyer filed O. S. No. 512 of 1936, District Munsif's Court, Kulitslai to enforce the security bond dated the 28th May 1928 executed by defendants 1 and 2 in favour of the members' of a chit fund. The security was created on three items of property. Item I is a wet land bearing S. No. 188/2 of the extent of 1 acre 60 cents. Item 2 is a wet land bearing S. No. 299/1 of the extent of 84 cents and item 3 is dry land bearing S. No. 222/4 & measuring 4 acres 93 cents. The fourth defendant was impleaded in the suit as she claimed to be a puisne mortgagee over items 1 and 2 under a mortgage deed dated the 14th September 1931. It is claimed that the mortgage is a usufructuary mortgage. The fifth defendant was also a puisne mortgagee and was therefore impleaded in the suit. The mortgagee obtained a mortgage decree in the suit on the 19th March 1937 for Rs. 2394. A final decree was passed on the 16th August, 1937. The decree-holder filed the first execution petition 579 of 1937 on the 6th September 1937, for the sale of the property and the sale was ordered. On 15th April, 1939, the decree was scaled down to Rs. 1951-6-9 under Madras Act IV (4) of 1938 at the instance of the first defendant. On 1st May 1940 sale was ordered for the amended amount and costs in E. P. No, 325 of '1939, but the sale was stayed under Madras Act IV (4) of 1938. On 20th February 1941 the decree-holder filed E. P. No. 197 of 1941 but this time the first defendant obtained stay under the Madras Debt Conciliation Act. On 30th January 1942 the decree-holder filed E, P. No. 201 of 1942 and in that execution petition notice was taken to the fourth defendant and she was served by affixture, The fourth defendant did not appear and did not contest the execution. The sale was thereafter fixed to 20th January 1943 and the sale proclamation was also settled by the Court fixing the upset price of the three items of property on the basis of the valuation made by the Aniin. For the three items Rs. 1500, 700 and Rs. 500 respectively were fixed as upset price. The sale was again postponed but this lime at the instance of defendants 4 and 5 who filed an application under Section 20 of Madras Act IV (4) of 1938. The application was filed on 19th January 1943 and the sale was stayed on 19th February 1943. The order passed on the execution petition on that date was :

'Execution stayed and sale is stopped. Petition closed.'

Thereafter, defendants 4 and 5 filed I. A. No. 376 of 1943 under Section 19 of Madras Act IV (4) of 1938 to again scale down the decree . But on that petition the decree was scaled down only to the same amount as before. Against this order there was an appeal by the 4th defendant in A. S. No. 239 of 1944 to the District Court, Trichinopoly, which was finally disposed of in 1945 confirming the order of the lower Court. On 26th July, 1944, the decree-holder filed E. P. No. 277 of 1944 to revive E. P. No. 201 of 1942, to settle the sale proclamation without notice to the defendants to sell the properties under Order XXI (21), Rules 66 and 72, Civil Procedure Code. The order on that petition was 'allowed, proclaim and sell' and is dated 27thSeptember 1944. Thereafter the sale was duly proclaimed and lots 1 and 2 were sold on the 27th September 1944 for Rs. 1501 and 701 respectively. On 28th October 1944 the sale was confirmed. The trouble of the decree-holder did not, however, end with this confirmation of sale.

3. On the 18th November 1944 the fourth defendant filed E. A. No. 760 of 1944 and E. A. No. 793 of 1944 to set aside the sale and to excuse the delay in filing E. A. No. 760. E. A. No. 760 was filed under Sections 47 & 151 & Order XLVII, Rule 1, C. P. C. and Section 18 of the Limitation Act. The ground on which the sale was impeached in that application was that the decree-holder and the auction-purchaser colluded together and brought about the sale fraudulently without notice to the defendants at a time when the appeal No. 239 of 1944 was pending in the District Court and that the petitioner became aware of the same only a week prior to the date of the filing of the petition. It was claimed in that petition that the defendant 4, the applicant, was entitled to an extension of time under Section 18 of the Limitation Act.

4. The decree-holder and the auction purchaser opposed the application on the ground that it was barred by limitation and that no fresh notice was necessary as the execution was only a continuation of the previous execution which was stayed under Section 20 of Act IV (4) of 1938. They also denied fraud and collusion alleged in the petition and pleaded further that there was a due proclamation of sale, for the sale held on the 27th September 1944 and that the proclamation was attested by one Muthurathnam Aiyar, a relation of the petitioner. According to them, the price fetched at the sale was proper and there was no substantial loss.

5. The learned District Munsif who tried the petition raised three substantial points (1) whether the application was in time (2) whether there was material irregularity or fraud in publishing or conduction of the sale and (3) has the petitioner sustained any substantial injury by reason of the alleged irregularity or fraud.

6. On the first point the finding was that no fraud or collusion of either the decree-holder or auction-purchaser or both was established and that the petition, though expressly filed under Section 47, C. P. C., was in substance and in effect an application under Order XXI (21), Rule 90 and that the petitioner could not escape the bar of limitation under Article 166, Limitation Act as it was filed more than 30 days from the date of the sale. He also held that the petitioner was not entitled to the benefit of Section 18 of the Limitation Act as she did not disclose the source of information and knowledge of the alleged fraud and did not establish any fraud by which she was kept out of her knowledge to set aside the sale. He therefore found that the application was barred, by limitation. On the second point in respect of the two irregularities which were ultimately relied on, the learned Munsif found that no fresh notice under Order XXI (21), Rule 66, C. P. C. was necessary as E. P. No. 277 was only a continuation of E. P. No. 201 of 1942 and was an application requesting the Court to proceed with the sale from the point at which it was stopped by the prior order. In support of this view, he cited two decisions of this Court, 'Hanumantha Rao v. Official Receiver, Krishna : AIR1945Mad236 , and 'Sivasubramania v. Murugesa : AIR1940Mad566 . These decisions clearly establish that the legal effect of closing an execution petition was only to stop the proceedings and a subsequent execution petition filed for the same relief is merely a continuation of the previous execution petition which was closed. In the previous execution petition, defendants 1 to 3 were personally served and the 4th defendant was served by affixture which service was duly declared by the Court as sufficient service. The contention that there was no proclamation of sale on the 27th September 1944 was negatived as Ex. D. 3, the proclamation effected by the process server R. W. 1 was attested by a relative of the fourth defendant. The process server gave evidence in support of the proclamation. He therefore found that there was due publication of the sale.

The other irregularity relied on was that the sale held during the pendency of the appeal was illegal. It is in view of a well-established principle of law that the filing of an appeal does not operate as stay of the proceedings that the learned District Munsif had no hesitation in rejecting the contention. On the third point he found that the petitioner was not able to establish any substantial injury. On the other hand, he found that it was amply proved that the price fetched was fair and proper. He was of opinion that the petition should fail on this point alone.

7. The decision of the learned District Munsif on all the points was confirmed on appeal by the Subordinate Judge. There were thus concurrent findings of fact agajnst the 4th defendant on the question of fraud and collusion and on the question whether there was or was not substantial injury and on the further question whether there was due publication of the sale held on the 27th September 1944. The fourth defendant preferred C. M. S. A. No. 17 of 1948 to this Court against the decision of the learned Subordinate Judge which was allowed by Panchapakesa Aiyar J. The auction-purchaser who is the person affected by the decision of the learned Judge has preferred this Letters Patent Appeal with the leave of the Court.

8. The learned Judge did not interfere with the concurrent findings of fact of the Courts below and as no flaw enabling the Court to interfere with such findings has been established he would not have had jurisdiction to interfere with such findings. The main ground on which the learned Judge allowed the appeal was that the E. P. No. 201 of 1942 was revived without notice to the fourth defendant and that therefore the sale is illegal. According to the learned Judge though notice in such a proceeding is not required by any rule of the Code, it was a principle of natural justice that a person should not be affected by an order made behind his back and without due notice to him. He was of opinion that justice, equity and good conscience required, in such circumstances that the sale should be set aside. He was also of the view that though the application is governed by Article 166, Limitation Act and has to be filed within 30 days from the date of the sale, the applicant was entitled to an extended period of limitation by applying the provision in Article 165, Limitation Act which provides a period of limitation of 30 days where a person is dispossessed of immovable property at the instance of a decree-holder or auction-purchaser at a sate in execution of the decree from the date of dispossession. In allowing the appeal, however, and directing a fresh sale of the properties, he thought that in view of the obstructive tactics adopted by the defendants throughout so as to prevent the sale, the fourth defendant should be made liable to pay to the decree-holder and the auction-purchaser a sum of Rs. 150 each as solatium for the trouble and expense to which they were subjected.

9. It is difficult to support the judgment of the learned Judge and to uphold the grounds on which the sale was set aside by him. If a party impeaches a sale on grounds which attract the provisions of Order XXI, Rule 90. Civil P. C. he cannot escape from the period of limitation provided by Article 166, Limitation Act by framing his application as one under Section 47, Civil P. C. The substance of the application must be considered in order to determine whether the application is one which falls under S 47 or under Order 21, Rule 90, Civil P. C. If the grounds alleged do not relate to matters in publishing or conducting the sale but are anterior or subsequent to the sale no doubt, in that event, the application is outside the purview of Order 21, Rule 90. Of course, it is open to a party to get an extended period of limitation by alleging and establishing grounds which would entitle him to claim the benefit oE Section 18 of the Limitation Act. In the present case, it has been concurrently found by the Courts below that the fourth defendant was unable to establish facts entitling her to the benefit of Section 18 of the Limitation Act and that finding is not challenged by the fourth defendant. The question therefore narrows itself down to this. Are the allegations in the application outside Order XXI. Rule 90 or within it? The only surviving ground on which the sale is now attacked is want of notice to the fourth defendant at the time when the order reviving the previous execution petition No. 201 of 1942 was passed.

It has been held in 'Neeli Neithiar v. Subramania Moothan', 11 Mad L W 59, that an objection to an execution sale on the ground that before drawing up the sale proclamation notice as required by Order XXI, Rule 66 (2), Civil P. C. was not given to some of the judgment-debtors is not a matter relating-to publication and conduct of the sale and it is therefore outside the purview of Order 21, Rule 00, Civil P. C. The objection in this case is not that at the initial stage of the proceedings for sale in an execution petition the notice under Order 21, Rule 66 (2). Civil P. C. was not given. After E. P. No. 201 of 1942 was filed an order for sale as contemplated by the Code was made and after service of notice on the defendants under Order 21 Rule 66(2) proclamation of sale was drawn up and settled. The upset price was fixed, and the date of sale was also fixed. At this stage bv reason of a stay order made under Section 20 of Madras Act IV of 1938 the sale was stopped and the petition was closed. This proceeding which was closed by an order of the Court was revived and was continued. It cannot be said that the stage which the execution petition reached was an initial stage and did not relate to 'publishing and conducting the sale', within the meaning of Order 21. Rule 90, C. P. C. It would seem, therefore, that the application is governed by Order 21 Rule 90 since the want of notice would be an irregularity as would be presently shown in publishing or conducting the sale. The applicatoin therefore is undoubtedly governed by Article 166 of the Limitation Act and as it was admettedly filed more than 30 days from the date of the sale, it should be dismissed on this short ground as did the Courts below. The view taken by the learned Judge that the period should be extended by applying the period under Article 165 cannot be supported by any principle or authority There can be no question of interpreting the language of one article by the language of another Article and the extending period of limitation provided by one Article by the period and the starting point of limitation under another Article. It was said that the fourth defendant somehow managed to squat on the properties and she was dispossessed and it was thereafter that she filed this application. It may he so but that does not justify an extension of the period of limitation it the application is in substance and in effect within Order XXI, Rule 90, Civil P. C. governed by Article 166, 'Limitation Act.

10. The procedure laid down under Order 21 for execution of decrees and for sale of the properties is a self-contained one and there is no room for engrafting into it the principles of natural justice or adding to it new rules on on the principle of justice, equity and good conscience. Under the Code the proceedings for sale start with an order for sale made by the Court executing the decree under Rule 64. After the order for sale there should be a proclamation of the intended sale and a proclamation of sale has to be drawn up and settled by the Court after notice to the decreerholder and the judgment-debtor.The paper so drawn up should be in form No. 29. Appendix E to the Code of Civil Procedure and Form No. 70 of the Civil Rules of Practice which is printed at page 215 of Satyamurthi Aiyar's Code of Civil Procedure and is described as a 'proclamation of sale'. In the Rules 66, 67 and 69 the word 'proclamation' is used in two different senses. It means proclamation of sale, i.e., the paper drown up by the Court under Rule 66(2) containing the matters enumerated in that sub-rule and the conditions of sale. The word is also used in the sense of an announcement of the sale, i.e., the act of proclaiming. It is this ambiguity that sometimes leads to confusion. Under Rule 66(1) the Court has to cause a proclamation of the intended sale to be made in the language of such Court and under Sub-rule (2) the proclamation of sale is drawn up. The proclamation, therefore, in Sub-rule (1) of Rule 66 might refer to the proclamation of sale (which expression is used in this judgment to denote the paper drawn up in Form No. 29 of Appendix E). Rule 67 prescribes the mode of making a proclamation. It says every proclamation shall be made and published as nearly as may be in the manner prescribed by Rule 54(2). The word 'made' in this rule might refer to the proclamation of sale as well as announcement of the sale, as it says it shall be made and published in the manner provided by Rule .54(2). The word 'made' cannot be taken to include the preparation of proclamation of sale as it was already provided by Rule 66 and further the words 'made and published in the manner prescribed by Rule 54, Sub-rule (2)' seem to indicate that it means an announcement of the sale by beat of drum and by affixing of the proclamation of sale in a conspicuous part of the property and a conspicuous part of the Court house and in other places when it is necessary under Rule 54(2).

In the case of an adjourned sale, it is provided by Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69, introduced by' the Madras amendment, that where a sale is| adjourned under Sub-rule (1) for a longer, period than 30 days, a fresh proclamation under Rule 67 shall be made unless the judgment-debtor consents to waive it. Here again the rule requires a fresh proclamation should be made in the case of an adjourned sale for a longer period than 30 days. Does it mean that there should be a fresh drawing up of proclamation and a fresh announcement of the sale by beat of drum and by affixture or would it be sufficient compliance of the rule if there was an announcement of the sale in the manner provided by Rule 54(2) If the interpretation suggested above of Rule 67 is correct, it would follow that when a sale is adjourned during the course of an execution under the same execution petition it would not be necessary to prepare a fresh proclamation of sale and that it would be sufficient compliance with the rule to make a fresh announcement of the sale. In the course of the same execution and under the same petition at different stages the matters to be enumerated in a proclamation of sale under Sub-rule (2) of Rule 63 would not ordinarily require alteration so as to necessitate a fresh drawing up of the proclamation of sale. But the date of sale and the place of sale whenever the sale is adjourned for a longer period than 30 days should undoubtedly be made known and published as widely as possible so as to attract bidders. In some of the decisions which have considered the rules it is said that a fresh proclamation is necessary; but it is by no means clear whether the learned Judges in using that expression meant that even in the case of an adjourned sale, a fresh settlement of the proclamation of sale every time it is adjourned for more than 30 days in the same execution should 'be made so as to comply with the requirements of Rule 69. In my opinion this matter requires clarification by the alteration of the rules. It seems to me an unnecessary waste of time at different stages of the same execution in the same execution petition to require and insist on the drawing up of a fresh proclamation of sale and that it would be sufficient if the adjourned Rale is announced and made public so as to intimate to tbe public the date and the time and place of the sale.

11. This digression became necessary as it has to be considered whether under Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69 by reference to Rule 67 in that sub-rule, the requirements as to notice under I Sub-rule (2) to Rule 66 is attracted. Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69 requires that the proclamation should be under Rule 67. Rule does not provide for the drawing up of proclamation but only provides for making a publication of proclamation in the manner provided by Rule 54 (2). In the case of an adjourned sale therefore it is difficult to hold that a further notice to the judgment-debtor and the decree-holder is necessary. If the view above suggested that the Sub-rule to Rule 69 does not require a fresh drawing up of proclamation of sale is accepted, it would be an 'a fortiori' case and no notice to the judgment-debtor is required. That even if the other view that a proclamation of sale should also be settled and drawn up were to be accepted even then the provision in Sub-rule (2) of Rule 66 regarding the requirements of notice to the decree-holder and judgment-debtor is not attracted by the provision in Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69. The Code therefore in my opinion does not require a notice and the action of the executing Court in the present case in proceeding with the sale after due proclamation i.e., after duly announcing it by beat of drum and by affixture as concurrently found by, the Courts below seems to be perfectly legal. Even assuming that notice is necessary non-compliance with that requirement does not make the sale illegal. It has been held that even in a case covered by Rule 66 if notice is not given in the manner provided by Sub-rule (2) of Rule 66 the sale does not become illegal but would only be irregular. See 'Neelu Neithiar v. Subramania Moopan', 11 Mad L W 59 and it is an 'a fortiori case in a case governed by Rule 69. See 'Subbamma v. Satyanarayana Murthi : AIR1943Mad789 ; 'Gajrajmati Teorain v. Sayeed Akbar Hussain', 34 Ind App 37 and 'Sheo Dayal Narain v. Mot1 Kuer', A.I.R. 1942 Pat 233.

12. If the sale is only irregular, as no substantial injury has been established in the case and there is the concurrent finding of fact against the 4th defendant on this matter, there is no justification for setting aside the sale. The 4th defendant is unable to establish that there was substantial injury caused to her by reason of a material irregularity in the publishing and conducting of the sale. In my opinion, therefore, the application was barred by limitation and the sale is not vitiated by irregularity and even if it were so, no substantial injury is caused and must therefore be upheld. The appeal is therefore allowed and the decision of the Courts below is restored with costs throughout.

Raghava Rao, J.

13. I agree. I have however drawn up a judgment of my own out of respect for the learned Judge of this Court from whom we are differing.

14. The grounds on which Panchapakesa Aiyar J. has reversed the Courts below on the merits of the application for setting aside the sale are--(1) that there was (a) no notice to the 4th defendant of the revival of E. P. No. 201 of 1942 by E. P. No. 277 of 1944, (b) no settlement of a fresh proclamation of sale in the later E. P. and (c) no grant of leave to bid to the decree-holder by the executing Court at any time, and (2) that 'it is idle to pretend', in the words of the learned Judge, 'that the appellant before him, the 4th defendant, has not suffered substantial injury by the Court not observing the formalities prescribed by law under Order 21, Rules 66 and 72, C. P. C. and the rules of natural justice, equity and good conscience requiring parties to be intimated about the legal proceedings stayed years ago which are sought to be resumed and dealt with later.' On the question of limitation 'prima facie' affecting the application, viewed as one for setting aside the execution sale, the learned Judge has reversed the Courts below by holding, firstly, that Article 165 of the Indian Limitation Act applies, because it is common case, says the learned Judge, that the appellant before him, the 4th defendant, for some reason or other was squatting on the land after the sale and its confirmation and was finally made to quit on 18-11-1944, and, secondly, that Order 47 Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code gave the petitioner a period of 90 days from the date of the sale within which period she came to Court with her application.

15. Article 165 of the Indian Lim. Act was never suggested in the Court of first instance or in the Court of first appeal as at all applicable to the case. Nor indeed could it be, as authority is well settled to the effect that that article does not apply to an application by a judgment-debtor but applies only to an application by a person other than the judgment-debtor as under Order 21, Rule 100, Civil Procedure Code. (Vide Chitaiey on the Indian Limitation Act, 2nd Edn. Vol. 3, pages 2551 & 2552). The learned Judge in this Court had thus no warrant whatsoever for inventing this ground of exemption from the bar of limitation given effect to by the Courts below. Nor is it easy to appreciate the relevancy of Order 47, Rule 1, Civil Procedure Code to the case on hand even by the farthest stretch of sheer fancy. There is no decree or order to be reviewed or not in the present case, only a judicial sale to be cancelled or not after confirmation. Learned counsel for the respondent did not in these circumstances seek to support the grounds given by the learned Judge for holding the application to be in time.

16. Counsel's contention is that the application is in time, because it is really one under Section 47, Civil Procedure Code and not under Order 21, Rule 90, Civil Procedure Code, & because then-regularities alleged are in the nature of illegalities attracting Article 181 of the Indian Limitation Act. Violation of Order 21, Rule 72, Sub-rule (1), Civil Procedure Code has not been reljed on by learned counsel, and the question therefore is whether the sale stands nullified by reason of the remaining two irregularities.

17. Absence of notice of revival of the earlier Execution petition by the later has been much stressed, not indeed with reference to any express or implied provision of the Civil P. C. which requires such notice--for there is none such to which our attention has been called--but with reference to what Panchapakesa Aiyar J. describes as rules of natural justice, equity and good conscience. It is said that the learned Judge has rightly held, to use his language, that although in asking for further steps without notice of such revival, the decree-holder did not intend to perpetrate any fraud in the strict sense of the term, fraud in equity would be the natural result of his application for such steps being granted without such notice. I cannot agree to this kind of distinction made by the learned Judge between fraud in equity and fraud in the strict sense of the term. In matters dealt with by the Code there, is in my opinion, little room left to Courts for resort to any rule, of natural justice, equity and good conscience, or to any doctrine of fraud in equity as supposed by the learned Judge even as there is no room for resort to inherent powers. Assuming that there is any such room left, the question still remains whether the failure of the Court to issue the notice! of revival to the 4th defendant is in the nature of a fundamental jurisdiction defect by itself nullifying the sale altogether or a mere procedural irregularity unavailing for cancellation of the sale except on proof of prejudice. The latter execution petition is 'ex concessis' only a continuation of the former and not in any sense an independent execution petition; nor does notice of the kind in question stand on the same footing as for instance notice under Order 21, Rule 22, Civil Procedure Code, which is the 'sine qua non' for the jurisdiction of the execution Court.

18. AS the learned Judge observes quoting from 'Chatterjee v. Durgadutt', 23 Cal L J 436

'It is obviously just that a man should have notice of any legal proceedings that may be taken against him and a full and fair opportunity to make his defence. As has been well said, the law never acts by stealth; it condemns no one unheard, so that a personal judgment rendered against the defendant without notice to him or an appearance by him is vitiated by the same infirmity as a judgment without jurisdiction.'

Then again quoting from 'Rajendralal v. Atal Bihari', 44 Cal 454, the learned Judge also observes: 'It is an elementary rule of universal application and founded upon the plainest principles of justice that a judicial order which may possibly affect or prejudice any party cannot be made, unless he has been afforded an opportunity to be beard.' So too, as observed in 'Swaminathan v. Lakshman', A.I.R. 1930 Mad 490 another decision relied on by the learned Judge 'the very word 'order' by necessary implication means in law that the party affected has had reasonable notice of it.' I have carefully considered these passages which at first sight seem to lend some support to the conclusion reached by the learned Judge. They, however, do not In my judgment, govern the proceedings in E.P. No. 277 of 1944 which were only a resumption of the proceedings in E.P. No. 201 of 1942 or the order 'proclaim and sell' which the Court made on E.P. No. 277 of 1944 without fresh notice to the 4th defendant and by way of continuation of the proceedings in E.P. No. 201 of 1942 from the stage at which these latter had to the knowledge of both parties been left by the order of stay under the Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act. The order 'proclaim and sell'' in my opinion, is not therefore, vitiated by any radical illegality but at worst only for an irregularity which cannot sustain an 'application for cancellation of the sale, unless substantial injury is proved to have been occasioned thereby.

19. Then as regards the failure of the Court to settle a fresh sale proclamation on E.P. No. 277 of 1944, the question whether there is any breach of rule on that account turns on the proper construction of Order 21, Rules 66 to 69, Civil Procedure Code and in particular of Rule 69. Sub-rule (2) Emphasis is laid by Mr. Sivaramakrishna Aiyar on Rule 66. Sub-rule (1) as meaning that every time any property is ordered to be sold the provisions of the rest of that rule and of the following rules down to and inclusive of Rule 69 operate. No matter, says learned counsel, whether the later Execution petition in which the order is made is or is not a mere continuation of the earlier execution petition in which a proclamation of the intended sale had been drawn up under Sub-rule (2) of Rule 66 after notice to the decree-holder and the judgment-debtor. The argument, to my mind, overlooks the locus as well as the purpose of Rule 66, Sub-rule (1) which has obvious reference to a stage at which no proclamation has yet been drawn up as contemplated by Sub-rule (2). The relevant provision of law to scan and canvass in this connection is that of Rule 69, Sub-rule (2) which requires so far as a case like the present is concerned that 'a fresh proclamation under Rule 67 shall be. made'. What then is the meaning of this requirement? Does it include the 'drawing up' of a proclamation afresh under Sub-rule (2) of Rule 66 or does it refer only to 'the making and publishing' afresh of the old proclamation in the manner prescribed by Rule 54, Sub-rule (2) which is the mode enjoined by Rule 67? I have after careful consideration arrived at the clear and distinct conclusion that the latter is the proper view to take of the matter. Some plausibility is no doubt afforded to the contention of counsel for the respondent by two considerations--(a) that in Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69 it is said that a fresh proclamation under Rule. 67 shall be made--not that the old proclamation shall be published afresh under Rule 67; (b) that Rule 67 provides for the making & publishing and not merely for the publishing 'simplicitor' of the proclamation.

As against these considerations it must be borne in mind that the making of the proclamation as referred to in Rule 69, Sub-rule (2) can only refer to the mode of making the proclamation as referred to in the side note to Rule 67 which is by publishing it in the manner prescribed by Rule 54, Sub-rule (2) as enjoined by Sub-rule (1) of Rule 67. 'Made and published' in Sub-rule (1) of Rule 67 of which 'made' in Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69 is substantially the equivalent must be read as meaning 'made by being published'. 'Made' in relation to proclamation as it occurs with or without 'published' in juxtaposition in Rules 67 and 69 must not be confused with 'drawn up' in Sub-rule (2) of Rule 66. The 'drawing up' has reference to the settlement of details of the proclamation in writing. The 'making' of the proclamation on the other hand, has reference to its publication which follows upon the 'drawing up'. It may be that the use of the two words 'made' and 'published' in one compound phrase 'made and published' in Sub-rule (1) of Rule 67 suggests at first thought that the two words have two different meanings--one having reference to the drawing up and the other having reference to the publication of the proclamation. A closer canvass of the component rules of the relevant part of the enactment in their mutual context as well as in their several contents leaves no doubt in my mind but that the requirement of a fresh proclamation under Rule 67 which is referred to in Rule 69, Sub-rule (2) has reference only to its publication in the manner prescribed by Rule 54, Sub-rule (2). In this view of the matter there was no obligation on the executing Court in E.P. No. 277 of 1944 to draw up a proclamation afresh after notice again to the judgment-debtors and the decree-holder and the sale held on the basis of the old proclamation published afresh in the manner prescribed by Rule 54, Sub-rule (2) must be regarded as perfectly valid and in order.

20. Even assuming otherwise, if. as judicially held, absence of notice under Rule 66, Sub-rule (2) is only an irregularity of which no grievance can be legitimately made on an application for cancellation of the sale unless prejudice is proved, there is no reason why the legal position should differ where the sale is held on the basis of the old proclamation without fresh notice to the judgment-debtor on the later execution petition by which the apparently closed earlier execution petition was sought to be continued alter the termination of stay under the Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act.

21. As regards the amendment of the language of the rules suggested by my learned brother in his judgment in order to make clear still what we consider to be their true meaning and purpose, I am inclined to think that substitution of the words 'by being' for 'and' in Sub-rule (1) of Rule 67 and substitution of the words 'proclamation shall be made afresh under Rule 67' for 'a fresh proclamation under Rule 67 shall be made' in Sub-rule (2) of Rule 69 will meet the requirements of the situation.

22. So far with reference to the first of the grounds of Panchapakesa Aiyar J. for reversing the Court below op the merits as mentioned 'supra' in the opening paragraph of this judgment. As regards the second of the grounds so mentioned, it seems to me that the learned Judge had no jurisdiction to go behind the finding of the lower appellate Court against substantial injury and to substitute for it his own 'a priori' notion of suspicion, as if it was axiomatic good sense, conclusive of each and every case. The question is one of fact which called for judicial determination not on the basis of suspicion however shrewd but on the basis of the legal testimony actually on record, before the Court and so had it been dealt with by the lower appellate Court which in the result concurred in the conclusion reached by the Court of first instance. Section 100, C. P. C. precluded the learned Judge here from reconsidering the question in his own independent way, and his finding therefore falls to be rejected.

23. For the reasons indicated in the foregoing I agree that this Letters Patent Appeal should be allowed with costs of the appellant throughout.

Satyanarayana Rao andRaghava Rao, JJ.

24. The connected L. P.Appeal No. 106 of 1949 is dismissed. No costs.


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