1. This Civil Revision Petition arises out of the execution of a decree in SC.No. 1133 of 1951 on the Me of the District Munsif, Tirunelveli, and involves for decision a plea of limitation.
2. The petitioner before me obtained a decree in S.C. No. 1133 of 1951 on the file of the District Munsif's Court, Tirunelveli, on 19th October, 1951. He filed an execution petition which however terminated by a final order, dated 6th July, 1952. The next execution petition filed by him is dated Ist October, 1958. Obviously this execution petition being beyond three years from 6th July, 1952, is barred by limitation but the decree-holder contended in the Court below that the defendant was an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of Madras Art I of 1955 and that the decree amount became payable in instalments as provided for under Section 4 of the said Act. He conceded that in respect of the first and second instalments due as per the provisions of the statute the execution petition was barred by limitation but contended that in respect of the third and fourth instalments he was well within time as these instalments became due and pavable only on 1st July, 1956 and 1st July, 1957. The learned District Munsif dismissed the execution petition holding that it is barred by limitation. His reasoning is as follows :
In my opinion Act I of 1955 provides only the mode of payment and does not create any instalment decrees.
3. The aggrieved decree-holder is the petitioner before me and he contends that the view of the learned District Munsif in regard to this question of limitation is erroneous in law. Ihe learned Counsel appearing for the judgment-debtor before me is unable to support the judgment of the Court below.
4. Section 4 of Madras Act I of 1955 provides:
Notwithstanding any law custom, contract or decree of Court to the contrary an agriculturist shall be entitled to pay within four months of the commencement of this Act the interest due on any debt due by him up to the commencement of this Act and one-eighth of the principal outstanding or one-fourth of the total amount outstanding whichever is less and the balance of the debt in three equal annual instalments on or before the 1st July of each of the succeeding three years wilh the interest due on such instalment up to that date.
5. By reason of the operation of this statute the decree amount is payable only in instalments as provided therein and the decree has become an instalment decree by the force of the statute. An instalment decree does not necessarily mean a decree which ex facie makes the amount due under the decree payable in instalments. If the decree-holder can recover money only in instalments as provided by the statute and has to wait for the instalments to become due, it would be unreasonable to hold that all the time he was made to wait for the payment of the instalment, the statute of limitation was running against him. Reference may also be made to the provisions of Sub-section (7) of Section 4 of Madras Act I of 1955 which clearly indicates that the decree is in the nature of an instalment decree. I hold that the third and fourth instalments due to the decree-holder are not barred by limitation. In the result this Civil Revision Petition is allowed. The judgment of the learned District Munsif is set aside and the unnumbered execution petition on the file of the District Munsif's Court, Tirunelveli will be restored to his file to be disposed of according to law. There will however be no order as to costs.