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V. Balakrishnan Vs. Rm.A.N. Annamalai Chettiar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1970)1MLJ464
AppellantV. Balakrishnan
RespondentRm.A.N. Annamalai Chettiar and ors.
Cases ReferredSebastia Pillai v. Kadher Meera Rowther
Excerpt:
- .....his contention in the court below that he was entitled to a greater relief under section 9 of the madras agriculturists relief act, 1938, is the appellant before me. the petitioner executed a mortgage on 2nd june, 1935, along with respondents 2 and 3 and obtained a sum of rs. 10,000 from the first respondent. the hypotheca was situate in the state of pudukottai, as it then was, at the time when the mortgage was executed. it is common ground that the madras agriculturists relief act, 1938, herein referred to as the act, was ushered into and made applicable in the state of pudukottai on and from 1st january, 1950. after the act was so introduced and made applicable, the petitioner filed an. application on 20th november, 1964, under section 19 (a-1) of the act praying that the court may.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The petitioner, who is admittedly a debtor having been unsuccessful in his contention in the Court below that he was entitled to a greater relief under Section 9 of the Madras Agriculturists Relief Act, 1938, is the appellant before me. The petitioner executed a mortgage on 2nd June, 1935, along with respondents 2 and 3 and obtained a sum of Rs. 10,000 from the first respondent. The hypotheca was situate in the State of Pudukottai, as it then was, at the time when the mortgage was executed. It is common ground that the Madras Agriculturists Relief Act, 1938, herein referred to as the Act, was ushered into and made applicable in the State of Pudukottai on and from 1st January, 1950. After the Act was so introduced and made applicable, the petitioner filed an. application on 20th November, 1964, under Section 19 (A-1) of the Act praying that the Court may declare as to what exactly was the amount due by the petitioner and others to the first respondent. The Court below, after having been appraised that there were other alienees in so far as this hypotheca was concerned, called upon the second respondent to disclose the names of such alienees. On the failure of the second respondent to do so, the Court below found that the petition as such under Section 19 (A-1) was not maintainable for the procedure laid down in the Code of Civil Procedure having been made applicable to such enquiries, and the petitioner not having followed up such a prescribed procedure as envisaged in Order 34, the application was not maintainable. The Court also found as a fact that the calculation memo given by the first respondent was correct and had to be preferred to that filed into the Court by the petitioner. The Court was of the view that the date of introduction of the Act into Pudukkottai State is not the criterion for the awarding of interest. Whatever may be the reason on which the lower Court rendered its judgment, it accepted the calculation memo on the basis that the lower rate of interest has to be calculated only upto 22nd March, 1938, when the Act came into force in the Madras State. It is as against this the present appeal has been filed.

2. Mr. Srivatsa Mani, the learned Counsel for the appellant, urges that to interpret Section 9 of the Act, and in particular the parenthesis upto the commencement of this Act, inspiration could be gathered from the similar language employed by the Legislature in Section 19 of the Act, which also adopts the expression before the commencement of this Act. Apparently, the argument rests on the ground that the expression ' before the commencement of this Act ' appearing in Section 19 (1) of the Act, has been interpreted by this Court as well as by the Supreme Court as to mean before the commencement of the Act, as extended to the State of Pudukkottai. Mr. Gopalachari, learned Counsel for the respondents, however, would urge that though the language is similar in Sections 9 and 19, yet the purpose for which the benefits in these sections intended are distinct and different, and therefore, normally the rule of harmonious construction ought not to be literally applied in the instant case, and that the two expressions appearing in both the sections are to be interpreted in the context in which they appear.

3. The Madras Agriculturists Relief Act of 1938 was intended to provide relief to indebted agriculturists in the then province of Madras. The State of Pudukkottai was not in the province of Madras when the Act was ushered in, and therefore, there was no question of agriculturists in Pudukkottai State taking advantage of this Act on the date when it commenced. On 1st January, 1950, however, after the merger of the Indian States, this Act was made applicable to the State of Pudukkottai with the result the petitioner and others who claimed to be agriculturists were entitled, no doubt to take advantage of certain provisions of this beneficial enactment in so far as their debt was concerned. But it ought to be scrutinised as to what was the nature of benefit, its quality and content, by reason of the application of the Act to the State of Pudukkottai on 1st January, 1950.

4. No doubt, while interpreting Section 19 (1) of the Act, this Court in Alagappa Chettiar v. Nachiappa Chettiar (1953) 2 M.L.J. 298 : I.L.R. (1953) Mad. 996, and the Supreme Court in Mohamed Abdul Khader v. Chidambaram Mudaliar A.I.R. 1969 N.S.C. 23 expressed the view that by reason of the Madras Merged States (Laws) Act (XXXV of 1949), the Act in question was effectively introduced on 1st January, 1950, in the State of Pudukkottai. In the Madras case cited above, the Learned Chief Justice Rajamannar said as follows;

The words ' before the commencement of this Act' must obviously be construed in this case as ' before 1st January, 1950' (the underlining is mine*) If, on the other hand, the words are taken literally and to mean the commencement of the Madras Act in 1938, then there would be the anomaly that Section 13 would be applicable without the petitioner ever having had the opportunity of ' invoking the benefit of that section....

He also further observed that:

Section 7 of the Merged States Act supports this view and in that it provides that any Court or other authority may construe such enactment with such alterations not affecting the substance as may be necessary or proper to adopt it to the matter before the Court or other authority.

To a similar effect is a decision of this Court in Sebastia Pillai v. Kadher Meera Rowther : (1962)2MLJ530 .

5. Having this background and basing his contention on the ratio of the cases referred to by me, Mr. Srivatsa Mani contends that a similar and like meaning has to be imputed to the similar language used by the Legislature in Section 9 of the Act. Section 9 of the Act reads as under. I am extracting that portion of the section which is necessary for the purpose of this case.

Debts incurred on or after the 1st October, 1932, shall be scaled down in the manner mentioned hereunder namely:

(1) Interest shall be calculated up to the commencement of this Act at the rate applicable to the debt under the law....decree of Court under which it arises or at five per cent per annum simple interest whichever is less....

It is stated that the Act, in so far as the State of Pudukkottai is concerned, having commenced on 1st January, 1950, then it is proper and indeed necessary that the expression ' commencement of this Act ' appearing in Section 9(1) of the Act should be understood also literally in the same way. As Chief Justice Rajamannar has pointed out that even under the Merged States Act, it is expressly provided that such a construction which would facilitate the application of the Act in any of the merged States and which would not affect the substance and content of the relief to be granted to the personnel contemplated by the Legislature can be adopted by Courts. If as contended by the learned Counsel for the appellant, the words ' commencement of this Act' is to be literally understood as the date on which the Act was ushered into the State of Pudukkottai, then it would mean that the appellant would be entitled to relief at the concessional rate of five per cent upto and inclusive of 1st January, 1950. This could not have been the intention of the Legislature for the reason that the agriculturists in the Madras State can under similar circumstances get relief in interest only up to 22nd March, 1938, where as agriculturists in the State of Pudukkottai to which part the Act been extended would be placed in a more jealous position and gain an undue advantage over Madras agriculturists. This principle has been slightly hinted in a passage in ' Maxwell on The Interpretation of Statutes ' Eleventh edition, page 33. The learned author says:

In construing a statute which applies to England and Scotland alike, it is desirable to adopt a construction of statutory words which avoids differences of interpretation of a technical character such as are calculated to produce inequalities between the citizens of the two countries.

The resultant inequality, if the argument of the learned Counsel for the appellant is accepted, is apparent and explicit. I am not inclined to apply Section 9 of the Act in such a way so as to cause such inequality and create such a discrimination. No doubt, the principle of harmonious construction which is the salutary principle in the matter of interpretation of statutes should always prevail but even that, has an exception if it is found by Courts that such an interpretation and rigid understanding might lead to inequality. This is one such a case. I am therefore inclined to agree with the contention of the learned Counsel for the respondent that the words 'upto the commencement of this Act ' in Section 9 (1) of the Act should mean upto 22nd March, 1938 and not 1st January, 1950 on which date the Act was made applicable to the State of Pudukkottai. The lower Court, no doubt, came to the correct conclusion and the order, therefore, need not be disturbed. The appeal is therefore, dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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