1. These three rules have been obtained by the creditors in an appln. under the Bengal Agricultural Debtors' Act for a settlement of four debts. The appln. was made on 15-2-1939 & the order on which these rules have been issued was made on 6-8-1948. These two dates will show that this matter which is supposed to be decided speedily has not yet been decided although more than ten years have elapsed. I am constrained to say with great respect that this piece of legislation which is designed to give a speedy remedy is one of the most confused pieces of legislation I have had to deal with & far from giving a speedy remedy it has had the effect of prolonging proceedings to an unbelievable extent. This is due not only to the defective nature of the Act but also to the fact that the persons who administer this Act are not versed in law & yet are expected to deal with fairly intricate questions of law.
2. I shall now state a number of events which have taken place in this litigation. As stated before on 15-2-1939 there was this appln. for the settlement of four debts. The debts were settled on 9-6-1940 by the Debt Settlement Board On 20-9-1940, four appeals were allowed by the Munsif acting as an Appellate Officer. The appeals were by the creditors & the Munsif remanded the cases to the Board for re-consideration with certain directions. On 27-2-1942 the Board again settled the debts. On 2-5-1942 that order was varied & the amounts of the dues were reduced. On 19-6-1942, an appln. for review was made by the debtors. This appln. was rejected on 20-8-1942. The award was registered on 4-11-1942. On 30-4-1943 there was an appln. filed before the Sub-divisional Officer who was the Appellate Officer. This appln. was treated as an appeal by the Sub-divisional Officer & I shall have to decide what the nature of the appln. is. This appln. or appeal, whatever it may be, was dismissed on 1-5-1943. The debtors then applied to the Collector for permission to file an appln. for review before the Board. This was on 26 5-1943 & sanction was granted. On 23-7-1943 the review appln. was moved before the Board & on 28-5 1946 it was rejected by the Debt Conciliation Officer who was then acting as the Board. On 30-6-1948 there was an appeal to the Appellate Officer from the order of the Debt Conciliation Officer. This appeal was dismissed. On 6-8-1948 there was a motion before the Dist. J. & the Dist. J. set aside the order of the Appellate Officer & remanded the case to the Debt Settlement Board for re-consideration. Against this order the present rules have been obtained.
3. Learned Advocate appearing in support of the rules takes two grounds. First, he says that as there was already an order made on a review on 20-8-1942 there could be no further appln. for review. He contends that the subsequent review which was entertained by the Board by reason of sanction granted by the Collector was not entertainable & that all the subsequent orders are without jurisdiction. His contention is that the award as it stood after the rejection of the review on 20-8-1942 should be maintained. For this argument he relies upon the provisions of Rule 91D framed under the Bengal Agricultural Debtors' Act.
4. His next argument is that as the appln. of 30-4-1943 before the Sub-divisional Officer was an appeal, no appln. for review lay thereafter. For this proposition he relies upon Rule 91A of the afore-said Rules. Learned Advocate for the opposite parties contends that the review appln. of 19-6-1942 was not rejected on the merits but was rejected on the ground that it was barred by limitation by reason of the provisions contained in the proviso to Rule 91-B of the aforesaid rules. The proviso states that no action shall be taken by a Board on an appln. for review made after the said period of 60 days save with the sanction of the Collector. He contends therefore that this rejection would mot attract the operation of Rule 91-D which presupposes a decision of a review on the merits. Rule 91-D is in the following terms:
'No appln. to review an order made on an appln. for a review or an order made on a review under Clause (a) of Section 44 shall be entertained.'
There is nothing said in the rule to the effect that the order made on a review must be on the merits. It says that no appln. to review an order made on an appln. for review or an order made on a review under Clause (a) of Section 44 shall be entertained. I hold therefore that this ground has been made out by the petnrs.
5. The next ground is also sustainable. I have been taken through the appln. of 30-4-1943 & although it is instituted as an appln. under Rule 91-B it is quite clear that it is an appeal having regard to the prayer made in the appln. The Sub-divisional Officer has not been asked to grant sanction to the appcts. to make an appln for a review. He has been asked to reverse the findings of the Board & to pass orders as if he were the Appellate Officer. The Sub-divisional Officer treated this appln. as an appeal & he asked the appets. whether they were appealing & they stated that they were. There can be no doubt therefore that this was an appeal & that it was treated as such. Further I am of opinion that it cannot be anything else but an appeal. It cannot be an appln. for sanction under Rule 91-B because the Sub-divisional Officer had no power to grant such sanction. He had only the power of an Appellate Officer. I hold therefore that an appeal Mad been preferred under the Act from the decision of the Board & that consequently by reason of the provisions of Rule 91-A no appln. for review lay.
6. In these circumstances, I must hold that the order of the learned Dist. J. is wrong & I set it aside & restore the order passed by the Board on 2-5-1912. In view of the fact that the trouble has arisen more on account of the mismanagement of the case by the authorities appointed to decide the matter. I pass no order for costs. The rules are made absolute.