1. The short point, which arises in this case, is one of limitation. The question is whether the suit is barred by the special law of limitation under the Sylhet Tenancy Act (Assam Act 11 of 1936). The facts which it is necessary to state are shortly these: One Inatulla held an occupancy holding which, upon his death, devolved upon his heirs, namely, his widow, three sons and a daughter. Defendant 4, the appellant before us, was admittedly the sole landlord of the holding. In November 1931 he claims to have purchased the interest of all the heirs of Inatulla. The Courts below that Inatulla's daughter did not join in the conveyance and that her interest consequently did not pass have found it, however. It is further found that another heir Marfat, the son of Inatulla's third son, was a minor at the time and his interest also could not, therefore, be conveyed to the defendant. The position consequently was that although defendant 4 purported to purchase the entire holding, he acquired title in respect only of the interest of the heirs of Inatulla other than Marfat and the daughter. All the same, it is found that he took possession of the entire holding. On 8th December 1937, that is about six years later, the plaintiff purchased a 3, annas 7.1/2 pies share from the said Marfat who is pro forma defendant 2, and from pro forma defen dant 3 who is the son of Inatulla's daughter since deceased. The appellant's contention was that the plaintiff did not acquire any title by her purchase. The plaintiff accordingly brought the present suit in which she asked for a declaration of her title and for recovery of possession.
2. It was contended on behalf of defendant 4 who alone contested the suit, that as the Sylhet Tenancy Act prescribes two years' limitation for a suit to recdver possession of land claimed as a raiyat where the plaintiff has been dispossessed by the landlord, the present suit was barred' as having been instituted more than two years after the date of dispossession. There is no question here that the dispossession took place in November 1931 the date of the defendant's purchase. It is also not disputed that before the Sylhet Tenancy Act came into force, the limitation for a suit to recover possession was 12 years unless the suit could be brought within the terms of Section 27 of the Bengal Act, 8 of 1869. Section 27 of that Act has, however, been the subject of judicial construction in numerous cases, and it has been definitely held that a suit to recover possession on declaration of title does not come within the ambit of that section. In the present case, it is not open to the defendant to suggest that the declaration of title was asked for only for the purpose of getting round Section 27. In his written statement the defendant had himself questioned the title of the plaintiff, showing that it was, therefore, necessary for the plaintiff to ask for establishment of her title. Section 27 being out of the way, the only limitation applicable would be that under the general law contained in the Limitation Act. That provides a period of 12 years from the date of dispossession. It follows, therefore, that unless the Sylhet Tenancy Act could be made to apply, the suit would be in time.
3. The Courts below have held, relying on the authority of two decisions of this Court in Manjhoori Bibi v. Akel Mahumed ('13) 17 C.W.N. 889 and Gopeswar Pal v. Jiban Chandra Chandra.('14) 1 A.I.R. 1914 Cal. 806-the latter being the decision of a Special Bench that as the cause of action had accrued before the Sylhet Tenancy Act came into force, the special limitation prescribed by that Act could not affect the suit to enforce that cause of action. We think this view was quite cor rect. As the Special Bench pointed out:
It is an established axiom of construction that though procedure may be regulated by the Act for the time being in force, still the intention to take away a vested right without compensation or any saving, is not to be imputed to the Legislature, un less it be expressed in unequivocal terms.
4. They go on to say that a right of suit is a vested right. The only question, therefore, which arises, is whether there is anything in the Sylhet Tenancy Act, which can be said to show anything to the contrary. Mr.Das is unable to rely on any other provision than that contained in Sub-section (2) of Section 1. But this merely says that the Act shall come into force on a date to be notified by the Local Government. We do not and cannot read this to mean that the Legislature intended to postpone the operation of the Act to a definite date and it is not accordingly possible to hold that any period of respite, if one might use that expression, was intentionally given by the Legislature in passing this Act in Order to mitigate any hardship that might other wise arise in enforcing causes of action which had already accrued. The fact that the exe cutive Government actually brought the Act into operation after a certain interval cannot, in our opinion, be taken into account in this behalf. The contrary intention, as point ed out by the Special Bench, must be the intention of the Legislature and must be ex pressed in unequivocal terms. Both these con ditions are wanting in the present case, and we must, therefore, hold that the Sylhet Tenancy Act will not govern the suit. In this view of the matter, the appeal fails and must be dismissed with costs. We desire to add that the question of defendant 4's right as landlord to pre-empt the holding under the provision of Sylhet Tenancy Act is left open.