Decided on November 15,1957



- (1.) ONE Pritam Singh applied in the Court of Assistant Commissioner, Bamala, for partition of certain agricultural lands on the allegation that these lands were held by him jointly with Natha Singh etc. During the proceedings Pritam Singh died and tejinder Singh applied to be brought on the record claiming himself to be the son and lawful heir of the deceased. This application was contested by Natha Singh etc. but it was allowed by order dated 19-2-1951. Natha Singh appealed against this order to the Collector, barnala. This appeal was, however, dismissed on 9-6-1951 on the ground that the assistant Commissioner had decided the application of Tejinder Singh as a Civil court and appeal lay only to the District Judge. It appears that no decree was drawn up nor signed by the Assistant Commissioner in pursuance of his judgment dated 19-2-1951. Natha Singh etc. on dismissal of their appeal applied on 16-6-1951 for the drawing up of a decree. The decree was drawn up and signed on 21-6-1951. Natha Singh etc. applied for a copy of the decree on the same day and it was supplied on 25-61951. They then filed an appeal in the Court of the District Judge on 27-6-1951. This appeal was, however, dismissed as barred by time. Natha Singh filed this revision petition in the then Pepsu High Court. In view of conflicting views taken by various Courts, Gurnam Singh J. referred the case to a Division Bench and it has come before us for decision.
(2.) IT is common ground that in the present cuse the period of limitation for appeal to the District Judge is laid down in Article 152 of the Limitation Act. Now, Article 152 lays down that the period of limitation for appeal is thirty days and this period starts from the date of the decree or order. In the present case the appeal lies from a decree. Section 33, Civil Procedure Code, provides that a decree shall follow judgment. Order XX, Rule 7, Civil Procedure Code, lays down that the decree shall boar the date on which the judgment was pronounced. It follows and is conceded before us that by virtue of this provision the decree whenever signed relates back to the date when the judgment was pronounced and that it becomes effective from that date. Thus the decree bears a date which need not be and generally is not the date 011 which it is actually signed. The result is that the limitation for appeal starts in effect from the date that the judgment is pronounced although the appeal cannot be filed till the decree has been signed by the Judge. In the absence of Order 20, Rule 7, limitation under Article 153 would have started from the date on which the decree was actually signed. This provision introduces an artificial date from which the limitation starts. In this connection it must be remembered that the Civil Procedure Code and the limitation Act came into force simultaneously on 1-1-1908 and that the legislature in its wisdom has chosen to fix a date for the start of limitation which is not the date on which the decree is actually signed but in effect is the date on which the judgment is pronounced and the decree is deemed to have been signed. Section 12, however, lays down that certain time should be excluded in computation of the period of limitation. The petitioners claim that under Section 12 (2), Limitation Act, they were entitled to exclude the time that elapsed between the pronouncement of the judgment and the actual signing of the decree, i. e. , from 19-2-1951 to 21-61951. Exclusion of this period is claimed by the petitioners even though they applied for a copy of the decree on 21-6-1951 after it had been actually signed by the Judge. If the petitioners' contention is accepted, then the appeal would be within time, otherwise admittedly it is barred by time. It may be stated here that the petitioners do not rely on Section 5 or Section 14 of the Limitation Act for extension of time. The question therefore that requires determination in this case is whether the time that elapsed between the pronouncement of the judgment and the signing of the decree should be excluded from computation of the limitation period under Section 12 (2) of the Limitation Act where the application for obtaining a copy of of the decree had not been made till the decree had been signed.
(3.) SECTION 12 (2) of -the Limitation Act reads: "in computing the period of limitation prescribed for an appeal, an application for leave to appeal and an application for a review of judgment, the day on which the judgment complained of was pronounced, and the tune requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree, sentence or order appealed from or sought to be reviewed, shall be excluded. " This sub-section does not specifically provide for exclusion of time claimed by the petitioners. They, however, rely in support of their case on the phrase reading: "the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the decree or order appealed from * *. " this phrase has been the subject matter of construction by various Judges of various Courts at different times and their decisions disclose an acute difference in judicial opinions.;

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