Decided on January 18,1950



Narasimham, J. - (1.) These six revision petitions are against the order of the District Munsif of Aaka rejecting six execution petitions Nos. 269, 271, 272, 273, 276 and 277 of 1944 on the ground that they were barred by limitation. The revision petitions were first heard by my Lord the Chief Justice sitting singly and he was pleased to refer to a larger Bench in view of the doubt entertained by him regarding the correctness of two Division Bench decisions of the Patna High Court reported in Banwari Narain v. Ramhari Narain, A. I. R (29) 1942 pat. 335: (197 I. C. 217) and Mohammad Sadique Mian v. Mdkabir Sao, A. I. E. (29) 1942 Pat. 410 : (21 Pat. 866).
(2.) The material facts which are not in dispute are as follows: Execution petn. no. 269 of 44 arose out of a Small Oause Court suit which was disposed of on 1st August 1944 and the remaining five execution petitions arose out of Small Cause Court suits which were disposed of on 8th August 1941. In all those suits, the decrees were actually drawn up and signed by the Munsif on 21st August 1941, and the decrees not only bore the dates on which the suits were disposed of (1st or 8th August as the case may be) but also the date on which they were actually signed (21st August 1941). The decree-holder is the same in all the execution petitions which were filed on 21st August 1944. By virtue of Article 182, Limitation Act, the execution petitions appear prima facie to be time-barred. Bat the decree-holder's main contention is that in all the six cases the decrees were formally drawn up and signed by the Court only on 21st August 1941 and that consequently limitation should run from that date and not from the date which the decrees bear. The whole question therefore turns on the construction of the expression 'date of decree' occurring in Clause (1) of Article 182, Limitation Act. The lower Court relied on Order 20, Rule 7, Civil P. C. and held that the expression 'date of decree' meant the date which the decrees bore and that inasmuch as under the aforesaid provision of the Civil Procedure Code the decree was required to bear the date of the judgment and not the date on which it was actually drawn up and signed, the former date alone should be taken to be the date of decree for the purpose of Article 182, Limitation Act also.
(3.) The expression 'date of decree' occurs in several provisions of the Civil Procedure Code such as Sections 34, 48 (1) (a), proviso (b) to Section 61, Order 21, Rule 11 (2) (2), Order 21, Rule 22 (1) (a) and Order 45, Rule 7. Order 20, Rule 7 runs as follows: "Date of decree.--The deoiee shall bear date the day on which the judgment was pronounced and, when the Judge has satisfied himself that the deoree has been drawn up in accordance with the judgment he shall sign the decree." Though the expression 'date of decree' has nowhere been defined in the ordinary way in the Civil Procedure Code, there seems to be a unanimity amongst all the High Courts of India as well as the Privy Council that by virtue of Order 20, Rule 7 the date of decrea means the date on which the judgment is pronounced and not the date on which the deoree is formally drawn up and signed. In the Indian Limitation Act also, the expression 'date of decree' occurs in several Articles such as Articles 152, 156, 161,162, 164, 169, 170, 173, 175 and 182 etc. and there is no definition of that expression. But almost all the High Courts seem to be unanimous that even in the Limitation Act the expression 'date of decree' should be given the same meaning as indicated in Order 20, Rule 7, Civil P. C. So far as Articles 152, 156 and other Articles dealing with limitation for appeals, reviews, etc. were concerned, a direct decision of the question was not really necessary inasmuch as by relying on Section 12, Limitation Act the interval between the date of judgment and the date of decree could always excluded. But for the purpose of Article 182, however, Section 12, Limitation Act will be of no avail and onr attention has not been invited to any decision of any High Court in India or of the Privy Council in which it was held that for the purpose of Article 182 the expression 'date of decree' should be construed as meaning the date on which the decree was actually signed. The petitioner's Advocate Mr. P. V. B. Rao was fully aware of his up-hill task in view of the unanimity of decisions against him. Bat he pressed for a full consideration of the entire question and relied mainly on some observations of the Privy Council in Bameshwar Singh v. Homeswar Singh, A. I. R. (8) 1921 P. C. 31 : (48 I. A. 17).;

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