1. The only point for determination in this application is whether the protection given to assignees by Sub-section (5) of Section 36, Bengal Money-lenders Act, extends to an assignee who took his assignment before the Act. On 26th August 1935, Debendra Nath Ash borrowed the sum of Rs. 15,501 from Srimati Kumudmoni Dassi and deposited the title deeds of certain property belonging to him with her as security for the loan. The loan carried interest at 10 per cent. Kumudmoni assigned her rights under this mortgage to Bhupendra Nath Dutt for consideration on 11th April 1938. Bhupendra Nath Dutt instituted a suit against Debendra and obtained a preliminary mortgage decree on 21st March 1940. He now applies for a final decree. Debendra Nath Ash has applied under Section 36, Bengal Moneylenders Act, for relief on the ground that the interest payable on the mortgage is above the maximum allowed by Section 30 of the aforesaid Act. Both applications have been heard together. The plaintiff contends that no relief can be granted to the mortgagor as the plaintiff is protected by the provisions of Section 36(5), Bengal Money-lenders Act. The section runs as follows:
Nothing in this section shall affect the rights of any assignee or holder for value if the Court is satisfied that the assignment to him was bona fide, and that he had not received the notice referred to in Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 28.
2. Now the relief claimed by the mortgagor can be granted only by the aid of the terms of Section 36 and if this section does not affect the rights of the plaintiff then the mortgagor can get no relief. It has been established and indeed it is not challenged before me that the plaintiff is a bona fide assignee for value. As the assignment was made long before the Act, no notice as prescribed by Section 28, Sub-section 1(a) was given or could have been given to him. In these circumstances, can it be said that he is an assignee of the kind described in Sub-section (5)? I can see no reason why he should not be considered to be such an assignee. As assignee is protected by this sub-section if he can establish that he has two qualifications : (1) That he is a bona fide assignee for value, and (2) that he has not received the notice referred to in Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 28. Both these qualifications are present in the plaintiff and he is therefore entitled to claim the benefit of Section 36(5).
3. It was pointed out on behalf of the mortgagor that the scheme of the Act is to place assignees in the same position as original creditors so far as the operation of the Act is concerned. The intention behind Section 36(5), it is said, is to give protection only to assignees whose assignments originated after the Act; it was contended that the provision regarding notice, made it plain that Sub-section (5) of Section 36 contemplated only 'post-Act' assignees inasmuch as an 'ante-Act' assignee could not possibly have received such notice. I was referred to Sections 28 and 29 and was told that if these sections were read together with Section 36(5) this intention would become perfectly plain. Now, Section 28 deals with assignments after the Act of loans advanced both before or after the Act; it provides that the assignor shall give notice to the assignee that the debt is affected by the operation of the Act when the debt is so affected. This is followed by a threat that any contravention of the section would entail punishment by imprisonment. I must express my sympathy with the assignor. He has no easy task to perform. I have often found it difficult to decide what debts would be affected by the Act and from the reports it seems that the same difficulty has been experienced by some of my learned brothers. It is hardly fair to impose upon a lender in addition to his other burdens the duty of deciding which debts would be affected by the Act. Any how, this section does not help at all in deciding the question involved. I now turn to Section 29. It consists of two parts. Sub-section (1) deals with loans advanced after the Act and Sub-section (2) with loans advanced before the Act. In both cases the assignee is made subject to the same conditions as are imposed by the Act on the original creditor.
4. There is a proviso to Sub-section (1) which says that 'any agreement with, or security taken by, a lender or money-lender in respect of a loan advanced by him after the commencement of the Act shall be valid in favour of any bona fide assignee or holder for value without notice of any defect due to the operation of the Act and of any person deriving title under him.' There is no such proviso to Sub-section (2) which deals with loans advanced before the Act. What this proviso exactly means and why it has been introduced are matters which I find it difficult to appreciate. I am not called upon to construe it now. All I need say is that the absence of such a proviso to Sub-section (2) does not necessarily indicate that an assignment effected before the Act is not protected by Section 36 (5). Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 29 make separate provisions for post-Act and ante-Act debts respectively but they do not differ-jentiate between post-Act and ante-Act assignments. Sub-section (2) would apply to both kinds of assignments. I have not been able to find anything in the Act which would compel me to hold that Section 36(5) contemplates only post-Act assignees. To give the sub-section such a meaning would be to re-draft it by adding the words underlined (here italicized) : '(5) Nothing in this section shall affect the rights of any assignee or holder for value to whom the debt had been assigned after the Act if the Court is satisfied that the assignment to him was bona fide, and that he had not received the notice referred to in Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 28.
5. In applying an Act which takes away vested rights and curtails freedom of contract in order to give relief to a particular class, one should guard against giving it an interpretation which would extend its scope. The terms of the Act should be interpreted literally and strictly. I do not say this in any cavilling spirit. It is no part of my business to comment upon the policy of a statute. I am merely to interpret and apply it. All that I wish to point out is that an Act of this nature will necessarily contain provisions Which are arbitrary and disjointed otherwise it will fail in its very object which is to relieve persons of certain contractual liabilities which hitherto were enforceable against them under the law. In such an Act one cannot expect to find any consistent principle binding all the different sections together. To a large extent the Act must be in the nature of patch work and one should not seek for symmetry and design in its composition. Each patch should first be examined independently in order to understand its utility and purpose; it is only when such an examination does not disclose its purpose that recourse should be had to the other portions of the Act. An attempt to blend the patches into a design in circumstances other than the above would only lead one to profitless speculation and uncertainty. Taking Section 36(5) as, stands and without attempting to make it consistent with some imaginary general scheme by reading into it some-thing which is not there, I come to the conclusion that it applies to both 'ante-Act' and 'post-Act' assignees. In the result the application under the Bengal Money-lenders Act must be dismissed with costs and the application for a final, decree must be allowed also with costs.