M.M. Ismail, J.
1. The defendant in O.S. No. 435 of 1968 on the file of the Court of the District Munsif of Devakottai, who lost before the Courts below is the appellant herein. The suit was instituted by the Ambakudi Panchayat whose President was the defendant himself from 3rd December, 1962 to 18th April, 1965. The suit was for recovery of a sum of Rs. 1,454.94 as damages on account of the negligence or misconduct alleged on the part of the appellant, when he was the President of the Panchayat. One of the defences taken by the appellant was that the suit was barred by limitation. He contended that he ceased to be the President of the Panchayat on 18th April, 1965 that the acts alleged against, him were those that took place before that date, that the suit was instituted only on 20th May, 1968, that is, more than three years after 18th April, 1965 and that consequently the same was barred by limitation under Sub-section (2) of Section 173 of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1958. The Courts below rejected this contention on the ground that the defects become apparent only as a result of the reports of audit dated 21st May, 1965 and 2nd June, 1966, that consequently the period of limitation of three years had to be calculated front those dates and that if so calculated, the suit was within time. It is the correctness of this conclusion that is challenged in the present second appeal by the defendant in the suit.
2. I am of the opinion that the conclusion of the Courts below on the question of limitation is erroneous. Section 173(1) of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1958, states that the president, executive authority and every member of a Panchayat and the Chairman, Commissioner and every member of a Panchayat Union Council shall be liable for the loss, waste or misapplication of any money or other property owned by or vested in the Panchayat or Panchayat Union Council if such loss, waste or misapplication is a direct consequence of his neglect or misconduct; and a suit for compensation may be instituted against him in any Court of competent jurisdiction by the Panchayat or Panchayat Union Council with the previous sanction of the Inspector. Sub-section (2) of this section states:
Every such suit shall be commenced within three years after the date on which the cause of action arose.
The cause of action referred to is the loss of waste or misapplication of any money or other property owned by or vested in the Panchayat, as a direct consequence of neglect or mi conduct on the part of the President. From the very nature of the case, the loss, waste or misapplication should have taken place only when the appellant was the President and not when he ceased to be the President of the Panchayat. As I have pointed out already, he ceased to be the President of the Panchayat on 18th April, 1965 and therefore at the latest the cause of action arose on 18th April, 1965 and not later. With reference to 18th April, 1965, certainly the suit instituted on 20th May 1968 was beyond the period of three years prescribed under Section 173 (2) of the Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1958 and therefore the suit instituted by the respondent was barred by limitation and liable to be dismissed. The same view has been taken by Gokulakrishnan, J., in M. Periannan Ambalam v. Kandadevi Panchayat in Devakottai Panchayat Union S.A. No. 44 of 1972 dated 26th August 1974.
3. Under these circumstances, the second appeal is allowed and the judgments and decrees of the Courts below are set aside and the suit instituted by the respondent herein will stand dismissed. The parties will bear their respective costs throughout. No leave.