Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.
1. The petitioner is the author of a book written in Tamil and entitled 'Vira Savarkar' which has been translated as 'Savarkar the Hero'. It purports to be a biography of Mr. V. D. Savarkar, who has been the President of the Hindu Mahasabha since 1937. On 26th November, 1940, the Provincial Government declared the book to be forfeited to His Majesty under Section 19 of the Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931, read, with Section 4 (1)(a). The petitioner has applied to this Court under Section 23 for an order setting aside the declaration of forfeiture. The learned Crown Prosecutor has raised the preliminary objection that the application is out of time, and therefore it is necessary to decide this question before dealing with the merits of the application.
2. Section 23 states that a person having an interest in property in respect of which an order of forfeiture has been made may within two months from the date of the order apply to the High Court to set it aside. The order of forfeiture in this case was not published in the Fort St. George Gazette until 3rd December, 1940. The petition was filed on 3rd February, 1941. If time is to run from the date on which the order was passed the application is out of time, but if the period of limitation runs from the date of the notification of the order the application is in time. The learned Crown Prosecutor says that as the words of Section 23 are 'within two months from the date of such order' the Court is bound to hold the petition to be out of time. To accept this contention might lead to an absurd situation. If the Government omitted to notify the order until two months had elapsed, the aggrieved person would have no remedy at all. It is the duty of the Court to interpret a statute according to the ordinary meaning of the words used, unless this would lead to a manifest absurdity and this would be the case here if the word ' 'order'' were taken to refer to the document which was signed on 26th November, 1940. In my judgment the word 'order' contemplates the notified order. Section 19 says that where a book appears to the Provincial Government to contain any words, signs or visible representations of the nature described in Section 4, Sub-section (1) the Provincial Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, stating the grounds of its opinion, declare every copy of the book to be forfeited to His Majesty. The word 'order' in Section 23 must be read as being the notified order because there can be no forfeiture until the declaration has been notified. For these reasons I hold that the petition has been filed in time.
3. I entirely agree.
Krishnaswami Ayyangar, J.
4. I agree.