1. The appellant was the defendant in a suit brought against him in the Panchayat Court of Kadayampatti. That suit was dismissed on the ground of the non-appearance of either of the parties. The appellant, however, after the suit had been dismissed by the Panchayat Court, filed a petition in the District Munsif's Court, Sankari, praying that a complaint should be made by the District Munsif to a Criminal Court against the respondent plaintiff in the suit in the Panchayat Court on the ground that the promissory note was forged. The District Munsif was of opinion that he had no jurisdiction to entertain this petition and dismissed it. On appeal to the District Court, Salem, the learned District Judge also held that the District Munsif had no jurisdiction to make a, complaint under Section 476. Criminal Procedure Code. The appellant, however, had also filed a petition in the District Court asking the learned District Judge to make a complaint of the criminal offence alleged on the ground that the District Court was the Court to which the Panchayat Court was subordinate within the meaning of Section 476-A, Criminal Procedure Code read with Section 195 (3). The learned District Judge was of opinion that he had no jurisdiction to entertain the application for the reasons that the Village Courts Act did not provide for the application of Sections 476. 476-A or 476-B of the Criminal Procedure Code to a Village Court.
2. The judgment of the learned District Judge was pronounced in 1940. and it is clear that he has fallen into error because he did not make use of a copy of the Village Courts Act which contained the amendment made to Section 77 of the Act in 1937. In fact, it is not the case that the Act does not provide for the application of Section 476 to Villa fire Courts on the contrary. the Act as amended in 1937, specifically provides in Section 77. that 'the provisions of Sections 403. 476. 476-A and 476-B of the Criminal Procedure Code shall apply to a Village Court.' In view therefore, of the error made by the learned District Judge owing to the fact that his attention was not called to the amendment made to Section 77 of the Act in 1937. the only course, it would seem, is to set aside the order of the lower Court and remand the petition for disposal on merits.
3. It has, however, been argued for the respondent, that, although it is true that Sections 476, 476-A and 476-B of the Criminal Procedure Code apply to a Village Court, nonetheless the District Court is not the, Court which within the meaning of Section 476-A of the Criminal Procedure Code read with Section 195 (3) can make a complaint with reference to a criminal offence alleged to have been committed in relation to a proceeding in a Panchayat Court. Section 476-A provides that the powers conferred by Section 476. Sub-section (1) on Civil, Revenue and Criminal Courts in respect of proceedings in those Courts may be exercised by the Court to which any such Court 5s subordinate provided that the subordinate Court has neither made a complaint under Section 476 nor rejected an application for the making of a complaint. Section 195 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that
a Court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the Court to which appeals ordinarily lie from the appealable decrees or sentences of such former Court, or in the case of a Civil Court from whose decrees no appeal ordinarily lies, to the principal Court having ordinary original civil jurisdiction within the local limits of whose jurisdiction such Civil Court is situate.
It is contended for the appellant that the Court to which the Panchayat Court in this case is subordinate within the meaning of these sections is the District Court for the reason that no appeals are provided for by the Village Courts Act from the decrees of Village Courts. Section 73 of the Village Courts Act provides that the District Munsif may, on a petition duly presented, set aside a decree passed by a Panchayat Court on the ground of corruption, gross partiality or misconduct of the Village Court or of its having exercised a' jurisdiction not vested in it by law, and the section ends : 'Except as provided in this section, every decree and order of a Village Court shall be final'. The argument advanced for the respondent is that there is no magic in the word 'appeal' as opposed to the word 'petition' and that as the District Munsifs Court is the Court which is empowered to hear such applications against the decrees of Village Courts which can be presented under the provisions of the Act, it should be held to be the appellate Court in respect of the Panchayat Courts within its jurisdiction. In support of this contention I have been referred to a Pull Bench decision of this High Court reported in Chidambara Nadar v. Rama Nadar : AIR1937Mad385 . In that case the Pull Bench no doubt held that the word 'appeal' occurring in Article 182 (2) of the Limitation Act was wide enough to cover a civil revision petition. It is clear, however, that the Pull Bench was concerned only with the meaning of the word 'appeal' in Article 182 (2) of the Limitation Act, since it was pointed out that though a wide interpretation of the word 'appeal' could, be given for the purposes of this Article, the word is used in other articles of the Limitation Act in ' a more restricted sense. In any case the wording of S 195 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code has only to be examined closely for it to be manifest that the contention advanced for the respondent cannot be accepted. Section 195 (3) says that:
a Court shall be deemed to be subordinate to the Court to which appeals 'ordinarily lie from the appealable decrees or sentences of such former Court.
It is impossible to say that appeals ordinarily lie from decisions of a Panchayat Court to the District Munsif's Court within the territorial jurisdiction of which it is situate in face of the fact that the Village Courts Act specifically states that except as otherwise provided by Section 73 no appeal shall lie from decrees of Village Courts; and it is also not possible to say that appeals can lie from 'appealable decrees or sentences' of Village Courts since Village Courts do not pass appealable decrees or sentences by virtue of the provision of the Village Courts Act itself. I have no doubt, therefore, that in eases where the Village Court has not itself made a complaint or rejected an application under Section 476 of the Criminal Procedure Code the Court empowered to exercise the powers conferred under Section 476 as explained by Section 195 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code is the District Court. That being so, the order of the learned District Judge must be set aside and the petition remanded to be determined on its merits in accordance with law. Costs of this appeal will abide the result.