1. L. P. A. 39 of 1968-- On the view we take, it is not necessary to deal with the correctness of the decision in Venkatarao v. Suryarao, ILR (1950) Mad 39. The suit, out of which the Letters Patent appeal arises, was instituted by the respondent for declaration and injunction or in the alternative for possession. There was a money decree in O. S. No. 362 of 1950, on the file of the District Munsif Court, Kulittalai On 16-7-1950, there was attachment before judgment of the suit property The attachment was made absolute on 23-8-1950. On 30-1-1951, followed a money decree. On 2-4-1953, when an execution petition was taken up, the judgment-debtor having died, his widow was brought on record. On 24-9-1953, there was an order to proclaim and sell on 25-11-1953. On 30-11-1953, the matter was called again. Though the sale was held on 25-11-1953, there was no bid and so, on 30-11-1953, there was an order made that since there was no bid steps should be taken in a week. The matter was directed to be called on 7-12-1953. On 30-11-1953, the plaintiffs purchased the suit land and other properties from the widow of the judgment-debtor by a private treaty. On 5-12-1953, came into force the Madras Indebted Agriculturists (Temporary Relief) Ordinance, V of 1953. Section 3 of the Ordinance barred any suit or application to enforce agricultural debts for a period of one year. If the proceeding is pending in suit or execution, it should, as directed by Section 4, stand stayed until expiry of a year from the date of commencement of the Ordinance. So, when the matter was taken up on 7-12-1953, the District Munsif said-
'No steps taken. Petition closed. Attachment to continue for two months.' Madras Act V of 1954, which replaced the Ordinance and which was effective from 5-2-1954, was amended by Madras Act I of 1955 with effect from 1-3-1955. The effect of the amendment was that the stay of operation of any proceeding continued in force until 30-6-1955. Thereafter, on 14-9-1955, E. P. 377 of 1955 was filed and there was attachment on 18-10-1955. On 30-1-1957, there was sale by public auction and the defendant was the purchaser. The sale was confirmed and a sale certificate issued on 29-3-1957. The records show that even possession was delivered to the defendant on 30-7-1957. The suit, out of which the appeal arises, was instituted on 30-11-1959. The first two courts dismissed the suit on the view that the sale by private treaty on 30-11-1953. could not prevail in view of the pending attachment. Natesan J. in the second appeal, took a contrary view. He did so on a construction of the order of the District Munsif dated 7-12-1953.
2. Since we do not agree with Natesan J., on the scope of the order of the District Munsif, aforesaid, the question whether the attachment before judgment, which was made absolute and before the decree, would be within the purview of Order XXI, does not arise; nor would arise the question of correctness of the decision in : AIR1950Mad2 .
3. The effect of the Munsif's order will have to be ascertained in the light of the provisions of the Ordinance. Madras Ordinance V of 1953 was promulgated, because agriculturists had borrowed or added to their debts during the years of drought and might, if freed for a year from the pressure of creditors, be enabled to rehabilitate themselves. That was the intention of the Ordinance. Section 3 of the Ordinance said-
'No suit for the recovery of a debt shall be instituted, and no application for the execution of a decree for payment of money passed in any such suit shall be made, against any agriculturist in any civil court before the expiry of a year from the commencement of this Ordinance.'
Section 4 directed that the proceeding shall stand stayed until expiry of a year from the date of commencement of the Ordinance. This period of one year was extended ,by Madras Act V of 1954 and for a further period, by Madras Act I of 1955. By the end of June 1955, the statutory stay came to an end. Sub-section (2) of Section 4 of Madras Act V of 1954, which gives an agriculturist debtor option to waive the benefit of stay and have the suit or application proceeded with, says that on an application made by the defendant or respondent as the case may be, the statutory stay shall be dissolved and the suit or application shall be proceeded with from the stage which had been reached when further proceedings in the suit or application were stayed. This provision, makes it clear that status quo must be maintained, unless resort is had to the provision contained in the subsection referred to above during the period of stay.
4. When a court stays or a statute directs that a certain proceeding is stayed, the effect is normally the status quo will be maintained and no progress in the proceeding will be made. It is apparently because of the stay, the decree-holder took no steps. In fact, the words in the District Munsif's order. 'No steps taken', would be inappropriate, because no steps at all could be taken by the decree-holder in view of the statutory stay. Therefore, those words of the Munsif could not be the basis for closing the petition. In fact, the Munsif could not do so, because the matter was stayed. When he said, 'petition closed', it was only for statistical purposes. The use of the words 'attachment to continue for two months' by the Munsif was contrary to the statutory direction and, therefore, those words have no meaning. The Munsif, in view of the statutory stay, could neither close the petition nor could grant an attachment nor could continue the attachment if it existed. The stay has the effect of paralysing the proceedings as on the date of stay and, when the stay ends, the status quo as at the stage of stay would emerge and further progress be registered. That being the effect of the statutory stay, when read in the light of such effect of the statutory stay, the order of the Munsif dated 7-12-1953, did not have the effect Of continuing the attachment for two months or preventing at any time within that period the valid resumption of proceedings when the statutory stay came to an end. It is true that there was another attachment on 19-10-1955. But that was valid, as the attachment which was made absolute was still effective and could not be said to have come to an end.
5. On that view, the Letters Patent Appeal is allowed with costs throughout.
6. S. A. Nos. 607 and 608 of 1965:--In view of our judgment in L. P. A. No. 39 of 1968, the second appeals are dismissed. No costs.