1. These two rules at the instance of the Defendant petitioner are directed against two orders passed by a Small Cause Court Judge decreeing the Plaintiff's suits for the recovery of Rs. 500/-as the price of barga produce on the basis of a registered Kabulayat. The rules were heard analogously.
2. The short point that has arisen for decision is whether the Court concerned had jurisdiction to try the suits.
3. Under Section 7(1), West Bengal Bargadar's Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) every dispute between a bargadar and the owner regarding the division or delivery of the produce shall be decided by a Board established for the local area within which the land concerned is situated. Under Section 9(2) of the same Act no Court shall entertain any suit in respect of a matter required under Section 7(1) to be decided by a Board referred to in that sub-section. Under Section 18 the provisions of the Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law, etc. The cumulative effect of these provisions is obviously that the only forum available for the settlement of every dispute relating to matters mentioned in Section 7 (1) --in the instant case the dispute is regarding the division or delivery of the produce -- is the Bhag Chas Conciliation Board established for the area concerned and no Court shall entertain any suit required to be decided by the Board. Under Section 1(2) the Act extends to the whole of West Bengal. Legislature has not left it to the sweet will or option of the Executive to decide whether any area of West Bengal should be left out of the purview of the Act or the statutory machinery as provided for in Section 7(1) is to be established in any parlicular area or not. What, however, is to happen where, as in the present case, no Board has been established by the Government for the local area in question? Is the jurisdiction of the Civil Court taken away even in a case like that
4. The point is not free from difficulty and unfortunately there is divergence of judicial opinion regarding the matter though fortunately a point like the one involved in. the present case docs not come up before the Courts very frequently. In the case of Bharat Chandra v. Gour Chandra, : AIR1953Cal95 (A), it was observed by G. N. Das, J., 'as there is no Board established the dispute even if it came within Section 7(1) cannot be said to be one which requires to be decided by a Board'. Similarly in the case of Krishna Chandra v. Panchu Ghosh, : AIR1953Cal720 (B), it was observed by Sen J., --'Only if it is found there is no such Board the Civil Court will have jurisdiction'. It may be observed in passing that in neither of the above cases were detailed reasons given in support of the above view. In Muhammad Ismail Miah v. Tom Munda, 09 Cal WN 658 (C) a contrary view was, however, taken by my learned brother and Daba-brata Mookerjee J. In that case it was observed that if the law requires that a matter should be decided by a Board esi.abli.shed for the local area within which the land is situated and no local Board has been established, the position is that there can be no decision by a Board, but that does not give the Civil Courts a right'.
5. In my opinion, in view of the explicit language of the relevant statute -- as contained in Sections 7 (1), 9 (2) and 18 --the second view, viz., the view taken by the Division Bench in Muhammad Ismail Miah's case (C), is to be preferred. In those sections, the Legislature has spoken in clear and unequivocal accents. No language can be more explicit than in the provision that no Court shall entertain any suit whatsoever in respect of a matter required under Section 7(1) to be decided by a Board referred to in that sub-section. The use of the word 'required' is highly significant in its present context. Whatever doubt about the proper forum for the decision of dispute mentioned in Clauses (a), (b) or (c) of Section 7(1) there might be even in spite of the use of the word 'shall' in Section 7(1) -- whether it was a mandatory or directory provision -- must be dispelled by the peremptory command of the Legislature as contained in Section 9(2). As if to put the matter beyond the pale of controversy, the Legislature has said, in Section 18, that the provisions of the Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other law. It is difficult to conceive how the Legislature could have expressed its intention more forcefully. It is true that 'it is in the last degree improbable that the legislature would overthrow fundamental principles, infringe rights or depart from the general system of law without expressing its intention with irresistible clearness' (Maxwell's Interpretation of Statutes, 10th Edition, page 82) but the above dictum is net of much assistance to the plaintiffs as the legislature has expressed its intention 'with irresistible clearness' in the present instance. As was pointed out by Grove, J. in the English case of R. v. Dyott, (1882) 9 QBD 47 (D), ' It may be that where the language of a statute is merely directory and it is impossible to follow the direction, the Court would give effect to the doctrine of Cy-pres and say that the direction should be carried out as nearly as possible', but the present case does not fall within that category : the langu-age used in the relevant statute is far too peremptory to permit evasion of its provisions. To construe Section 9(2) of the Act in .such a way as to limit its operation only to eases where a local Board has been established while leaving the jurisdiction of the regular Courts unfettered to deal with other cases may no doubt remove obvious inconvenience but that will be legislating, and not interpreting the statute. Courts cannot override the express and mandatory statutory provisions of the relevant statute on consideration of inconvenience or civility. 'The argument ab inconvenient is only admissible in construction where the meaning of the statute is obscure. Where the language is explicit, its consequences are for Parliament, and not for the courts, to consider. In such a case the suffering citizen must appeal for relief to the lawgiver, and not to the lawyer'. (Craies -- Treatise on Statute Law, 4th edition page 87).
6. It is true that 'sometimes to keep the Act within the limits of its object, and not to disturb the existing law beyond what the object requires, it is construed as operative between certain persons, or in certain circumstances, or for certain purposes only, though the language expresses no such circumscription of the field of its operation' (Maxwell's Interpretation of Statutes, 10th Edition, pages 94-95). The above principle of literal construction cannot, however, be called in aid to give relief to the Plaintiffs because it would amount to flying directly in the face of the clear prohibition as contained in Section 9(2) of the Act.
7. Again, it is true that 'under certain circumstances compliance with the provisions of statutes which prescribe how something is to be done will be excused. Thus, in accordance with the maxim of law, Lex non Coglt ad impostibilia, if it appears that the performance of the formalities prescribed by a statute has been rendered impossible by circumstances over which the persons interested had no control, like the act of God or the King's enemies, these circumstances will be taken as a valid excuse' (Craies, 4th Edition, page 229). For obvious reasons the above principle also cannot be called in aid in the instant case; there is no question of the Act of God or the King's enemies here.
8. For the above reasons, I am respectfully of opinion that the view taken in the Bench decision in the case of 59 Cal WN 658 (C) is to be preferred to the other view as expressed in the Single Bench decisions referred to above. It follows from this that the lower Court should have held that the suits could not be entertained by the Civil Courts, because in essence these are suits which attract the provisions of Section 7(1) and as such they come within the mischief of Section 9(2) of the Act.
9. In the result, the rules are made absolute, the judgments and decrees of the lower Court are set aside and both the suits are dismissed. In the circumstances, the parties will bear their own costs throughout.
K.C. Das Gupta, J.
10. I entirely agree with the conclusions reached by my Lord and with the reasons which have led him to those conclusions. In the case of 59 Cal WN 658 (C), a decision to which I was a party, our attention was not drawn to the earlier decisions of this Court taking a contrary view by Das and Sen JJ. In the present case we have had an opportunity to consider the matter again in the light of those decisions; but I am unable to find any reasoning in those decisions to induce me to after the view which we took in the above case.
11. As my learned brother has pointed out, where the language of the statute is clear, the fact that inconvenience will result from the natural interpretation of the words cannot justify the Court to refuse to accept that interpretation. It may further be pointed out that in the present case the inconvenience that will no doubt result to many litigants from the view which we- have taken about the legal position, is not due to the law but reality due to the omission of the Executive to carry out the intention of the Legislature. What is clear from the Statute is that the Legislature intended that for every local area in the Stale of West Bengal a Board should be constituted and for certain specified matters the jurisdiction of the civil Court will be ousted and in its place the jurisdiction of the Boards will be substituted. If the executive had carried out this clear intention of the Legislature, no inconvenience would have resulted. I do not think we shall be justified in putting a strained interpretation on the plain words of the language, because the omission of the Executive to carry out the intention of the Legislature has produced a position which will result in inconvenience if the law is enforced. We, as the Judiciary, cannot refuse to interpret laws properly merely because the Executive has omitted to give effect to the intention of the Legislature.