Decided on November 16,1944

Tokala Venkatramayya And Anr. Respondents


Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J. - (1.) THIS appeal raises a question which admittedly is not directly covered by authority. On the 19th May, 1931, the first defendant in the suit, as the manager of a joint Hindu family consisting of himself and his two brothers executed a promissory note in favour of the plaintiff's brother. The plaintiff and his brother who were also joint subsequently separated and the promissory note fell to the share of the plaintiff. On the 2nd June, 1934, the first defendant executed a promissory note in renewal of that made on the 19th May, 1931. More than three years had elapsed, but the earlier promissory note was still enforceable on the 2nd June, 1934. The holder had threatened to file a suit on the earlier instrument, but was unable to do so immediately as the Court was closed for the summer vacation He said that he would file the suit on the re -opening of the Court and in order to avoid this the first defendant ,as the manager of the joint family executed the note of the 2nd June, 1934, when the Court was still closed. This promissory note was renewed by one dated the 29th May, 1937, on which the plaintiff instituted the present suit against the maker of the instrument and his two brothers. The second and third defendants pleaded that as against them the suit was not maintainable as the manager had no authority in law to execute the promissory note of the 2nd June, 1934. They relied on the decision of the Full Bench of this Court in Chinnayya Nayudu v. Gurunatham Chetti, I.L.R. (1882) Mad. 169. Their contention prevailed and the suit was dismissed as against them, but a decree was passed against the first defendant. The plaintiff appealed to the Subordinate Judge who agreed with the District Munsiff. He then appealed to this Court and Chandrasekhara Ayyar, J., who heard the appeal, held that the Courts below had taken the correct view; but as the point was a new one and there were no cases having direct application, he gave a certificate which has resulted in this appeal being filed under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent.
(2.) BEFORE Chandrasekhara Ayyar, J., three cases were quoted and these are referred to in his judgment. The first one is the Full Bench decision in Chinnayya Nayudu v. Gurunatham Chetty, I.L.R. (1882) Mad. 169, where it was held that, a manager has authority to make payments for the family, and that he has the same authority to acknowledge as he has to create debts; but that he has no power to revive a claim barred by limitation unless he is expressly authorised so to do. The second case is Debendra Nath Roy v. Kartic Prasad Das, I.L.R. (1882) Mad. 169, where Rankin, C.J., held that a payment of interest on a money bond after the expiration of three years from the date fixed for payment when the Court was closed did not save limitation under Section 20 of the Limitation Act. Section 4 permits a suit to be filed on the day the Court |re -opens after a vacation where the period of limitation provided for the suit expires during the vacation. It was pointed out that this section is quite independent of Section 20 of the Limitation Act and Rankin, C.J., considered that if one were to introduce into the wording of Sections 19 and 20 the consideration that is brought into force by Section 4, the law of limitation would become extremely unworkable. This decision was followed by King, J., in Chidambaram Chettiar v. : AIR1937Mad367 , which had reference to Section 19 of the Limitation Act. It is obvious that Debendra Math Roy v. Kartic Prasad Das, I.L.R. (1928) Cal. 1210 and Chidambaram Chettiar v. : AIR1937Mad367 have really no bearing and the only case which requires consideration is Chinnayya Nayudu v. Gurunatham Chetti, I.L.R. (1882) Mad. 169. We do not agree that the principle laid down there is applicable to the present case. As the result of the decision of the Full Bench it has for over sixty years been accepted in this Province that the manager of a joint family cannot revive a time -barred debt so as to affect the other members of the family. There is, however, a difference between a debt which is unenforceable in law and one which is enforceable by reason of Section 4 of the Limitation Act. When the promissory note of the 2nd June, 1934, was executed, the holder of the note of the 19th May, 1931, had the right to file a suit to enforce payment, notwithstanding that the instrument was more than three years old, provided that he did so on the day the Court re -opened after the vacation. The liability was the liability of all the members of the joint family and in order to stave payment being enforced at a time inconvenient to the family the manager gave a fresh promissory note. The new promissory note was not given to revive a claim barred by limitation because the claim was not then barred. Section 4 applied. In these circumstances we consider that the Full Bench decision does not apply and that the manager was acting within his powers and for the benefit of the family when he executed the promissory note in renewal.
(3.) IN the course of his judgment Chandrasekhara Ayyar, J., expressed the opinion that to hold that the manager had the power of renewal in such circumstances would confer enormous powers on the managing member and impose great hardship on the rest of the family. He also considered that it would introduce a larger element of confusion into the law. We do not share these opinions. In the first place, there was no hardship on the family, but on the other hand, as we have already pointed out, the new promissory note was executed in the interests of the family and we fail to see in what way our decision can introduce any element of confusion into the law of limitation.;

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