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Union Of India v. Ram Suchit - SECOND APPEAL No. 410 of 1976  RD-AH 13786 (8 August 2007)
A F R
Second Appeal No. 410-1976
Union of India..............................................................Defendant-Appellant
Hon. Pankaj Mithal,J.
List revised. Heard Sri Lalji Sinha learned counsel for the appellant. No one turns up for the respondent.
This second appeal arises from a suit for declaration. It was dismissed by the Trial Court but decreed by the lower appellate court.
Sri Sinha raised only one point that the suit was barred by time and as such was not liable to be decreed. The cause of action for the suit had arisen on 16.5.1964 after the enforcement of the Limitation Act, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the new Act). The time prescribed for filing the suit for declaration is only 3 years under Article 58 of the new Act. The suit was instituted in the year 1969 and as such was patently barred by time. The lower appellate court has manifestly erred in law in according the benefit of Section 30 of the new Act and treating the limitation for the suit to be 7 years from the commencement of the new Act.
The facts giving rise to the present appeal in brief are that that the plaintiff was working as a 'Khalasi' with the North Eastern Railway. He was convicted in a case under Section 323/352 IPC and was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 3 months. After the plaintiff had undergone the sentence he was ordered to be re-employed vide order dated 24.12.1957 as his conviction was not on the ground of involvement of moral turpitude. However, the plaintiff protested and said that he was entitle to reinstatement. Ultimately plaintiff's representation was rejected by the competent authority vide order dated 16.5.1964. Therefore he instituted the suit with the prayer that it be declared that he is continuous service of the Railways without any break in service and the action of the Railway administration in treating him on re-employment is illegal.
The suit was dismissed vide judgment and order dated 18.3.1974 and it was held to be barred by time. Against the judgment and order of the trial court the plaintiff preferred civil appeal No. 77 of 1974 which was allowed by the impugned judgement and order dated 10.11.1975 and consequentially the suit for declaration was decreed.
A perusal of the judgment and order of the lower appellate court indicates that the court has recorded a clear cut finding that the cause of action for the suit had arisen on 16.5.1964. However, the lower appellate court held that since under Article 120 of the Limitation Act, 1908 (hereinafter referred to as the old Act) the limitation for instituting a suit for declaration was 6 years whereas in the new Act it has been reduced to 3 years therefore in view of Section 30 of the new Act the suit could have been instituted within a period of 7 years from the commencement of the new Act.
Thus a substantial question of law arises:-
Whether Section 30 of the new Act would be attracted where the cause of action for the institution of the suit arises after the enforcement of the new Act?
Admittedly, the cause of action in the present case had arisen on 16.5.64 much after the enforcement of the new Act which was enforced on 1.1.1964. Therefore the limitation for instituting a suit for declaration would be governed by Article 58 of the new Act and the provisions of Article 120 of the old Act would have no application whatsoever.
Section 30 of the new Act contemplates that where a cause of action for a suit had arisen before the enforcement of the new Act and the new Act comes into force prescribing lesser limitation for the institution of the suit, then in that event the limitation for instituting the suit would be seven years next from the commencement of the new Act. However, it does not contemplates a situation where the cause of action had arisen after 1.1.1964. The reason being simple. If the cause of action for the suit arises after the enforcement of the new Act i.e. After 1.1.1964, the limitation shall be governed by the period prescribed under the new Act only i.e. by Article 58 which provides 3 years time for instituting a suit for declaration. In such a situation, Section 30 of the new Act has no application. Therefore the lower appellate court has completely misapplied the provision of Section 30 of the Act in the present case.
The above view finds supports from a decision of the Bombay High Court reported in AIR 1982 Bombay 512 (The Union of India Vs. Bhushwal Municipal Corporation). In the said case the Bombay High Court observed that Section 30 of the new Act is applicable only when the cause of action of the institution of suit had arisen prior to the enforcement of the new Act and as such has no application where the cause of action arises subsequent to its enforcement.
In view of the aforesaid facts, circumstances and the legal position the appeal succeeds. The suit is held to be barred by time. Accordingly, the judgment, order and the decree of the lower appellate court dated 10.11.1975 passed in civil appeal No. 77 of 1974 Ram Suchit Vs. Union of India is set aside. No order is passed as to costs.
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