1. This is a revision petition under Section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, to revise the Order of the learned Subordinate Judge of Dindigul who dismissed the plaintiff's claim in S.C.S. No. 81 of 1954.
2. The suit was laid against defendants 1 and 2 for recovery of money due on a promissory note executed by them. The plaintiff claimed that neither of the defendants was an agriculturist.
3. The learned Subordinate Judge found that the second defendant was an agriculturist, and that since Section 3 of the Madras Indebted Agriculturists' Temporary Relief Act, (Act V of 1954) banned institution of suits where any of the debtors was an agriculturist, the plaintiff's claim was liable to be dismissed. Independent of this defence there was another, that the suit debt had been discharged by the defendants. That plea also was upheld.
4. The first contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that the learned Subordinate Judge had no jurisdiction to dismiss the suit, even if the institution of the suit was in contravention of the statutory ban imposed by Section 3 of Act V of 1954. It is true there was no provision in Act V of 1954 analogous to Section 3(2) of the Madras Indebted Agriculturists Repayment of Debts Act, (I of 1955). Nonetheless, I am unable to accept the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner, that where a suit was instituted in contravention of Section 3 of Act V of 1954, the Court in which such a suit was instituted had no option but to keep it pending, and it is not liable to be dismissed. A claim which contravened an express statutory provision could only be dismissed. That the express statutory provision in this case was really one governing the procedure made no difference to the principle to apply. For example a claim barred by the law of limitation can only be dismissed. It is true there is specific provision for it in the Limitation Act. Section 3 of Act V of 1954 by it own force necessitates the dismissal of a suit if contravention of Section 3 is established.
5. To appreciate the next contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner the following dates may be relevant. The suit was instituted on 2nd December, 1954. Act V of 1954 came into force on 6th February, 1954. The period prescribed by Section 3 of that Act, as eventually amended, came to an end on 1st March, 1955. The suit was dismissed on 19th July, 1955. Meanwhile, Act I of 1955 came into force. If was published in the Gazette on 1st March, 1055.
6. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that as Act I of 1955 came into force on 1st March, 1955, the disposal of the suit on 19th July, 1955, should have been regulated by Section 4(4) of Act I of 1955. Section 4(4) runs:
Where in any suit for the recovery of a debt pending at the commencement of this Act, the debtor claims to be an agriculturist, the Court shall, if the debtor is an agriculturist, pass a decree for immediate payment of such instalment or instalments as would have become payable under the provisions of Sub-section (1) and the balance in further instalments as specified therein.
Section 4(4) obviously would not apply to a claim which is liable to be dismissed, whatever be the grounds on which the dismissal is based. Certainly it could not be urged that a claim in a suit liable to be dismissed on the ground it is barred by limitation, should nonetheless be allowed, and the only jurisdiction the Court had under Section 4(4) of the Act was to grant a decree for payment in instalments. Section 4(4) concerned itself really with the mode of discharge of a claim found to be true and valid, not with the adjudication of the maintainability of the claim itself.
7. Yet another contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner was that where a suit was filed in contravention of Section 3 of Act V of 1954, it would still be a suit to which the provisions of Section 4 of Act V of 1954 would apply, that is under Section 4, the trial of such a suit would have to be stayed for the period specified in Section 4(1). This contention again I am unable to accept. Section 4(1) applies to proceedings pending on the date Act V of 1954 came into force. It is only to such cases that the ban on the trial imposed by Section 4(1) applied. It is difficult to hold on the basis of Section 4(1) of the Act that a suit filed in contravention of Section 3 could not be dismissed until after the expiry of the period ending with 1st March, 1955, specified in Section 4(1).
8. That the suit was ultimately dismissed only on 19th July, 1955, really made no difference to the question at issue had the Court jurisdiction to dismiss a suit which was instituted in contravention of Section 3 of Act V of 1954.
9. The view taken by the lower Court, is, in my opinion, right. It is unnecessary for me to express any opinion, whether the lower Court was right in upholding the plea of discharge, except to observe that even if another tribunal could come to a different conclusion on the same evidence, that would not justifiy interference in revision by this Court.
10. This petition fails and is dismissed with costs.