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Friday, September 20, 2013

Applicability of the provisions of the Indian Limitation Act, 1956, vis-à-vis, Article 2262 of the French Code Civil, said to be the governing law of limitation in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, erstwhile French Establishment.= whether, by virtue of the Limitation Act, 1963, the French Law of Limitation which had been in force till 1.1.1964, was in any manner repealed or modified by the Limitation Act, 1963. We can draw considerable sustenance from the ratio laid down by this Court in Syndicate Bank (supra), wherein, we have already indicated, this Court considered the interaction between the provisions of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 vis-à-vis Article 535 of the Portuguese Civil Code. In that case, this Court held as follows: “20. ……………….. In any event, as noticed above, the Portuguese Civil Code, in our view, could not be read to be providing a distinct and separate period of limitation for a cause of action arising under the Indian Contract Act or under the Negotiable Instruments Act since the Civil Code ought to be read as one instrument and cause of action arising therefrom ought only to be governed thereunder and not otherwise. The entire Civil Code ought to be treated as a local law or special law including the provisions pertaining to the question of limitation for enforcement of the right arising under that particular Civil Code and not dehors the same and in this respect the observations of the High Court in Cadar Constructions that the Portuguese Civil Code could not provide for a period of limitation for a cause of action which arose outside the provisions of that Code, stands approved. A contra approach to the issue will not only yield to an absurdity but render the law of the land wholly inappropriate. There would also be repugnancy insofar as application of the Limitation Act in various States of the country is concerned: Whereas in Goa, Daman and Diu, the period of limitation will be for a much larger period than the State of Maharashtra — the situation even conceptually cannot be sustained having due regard to the rule of law and the jurisprudential aspect of the Limitation Act.” 12. This Court also held that it cannot but hold that in the wake of the factum of the Limitation Act coming into existence from 1.1.1964, Article 535 of the Portuguese Civil Code cannot but be termed to be impliedly repealed and it is on this score that the decision of this Court in Justiniano Augusto De. Piedade Barreto v. Antonio Vicente Da Fonseca (1979) 3 SCC 47, stood overruled. This Court also held that there is one general law of limitation for the entire country, being the Act of 1963, and the Portuguese Civil law cannot be termed to be a local law or a special law applicable to the State of Goa, Daman and Diu, prescribing a different period of limitation within the meaning of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act and the question of saving of local law under the Limitation Act, 1963 does not and cannot arise.- Pondicherry (Extension of Laws) Act, 1968, as amended, has adopted several such legislations in the State of Pondicherry, but the Act which governs limitation is the general law of the land that is the Indian Limitation Act. Consequently, it is not Article 2262 of the French Code Civil that applies to the suit in question, but Section 54 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963. Under such circumstances, as rightly held by the High Court, the suit filed beyond the period of limitation prescribed under Article 54 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 is clearly barred. Since the suit itself is barred by the law of limitation, the other questions of law framed by the High Court were rightly not answered. The appeal, therefore, lacks in merits and accordingly dismissed.

        published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40788
                                                          REPORTABLE




                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICITON


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8308 OF 2013
                [Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 4836 of 2012]


      Gothamchand Jain                        .. Appellant
                                   Versus
      Arumugam @ Tamilarasan            .. Respondent




                               J U D G M E N T




      K. S. RADHAKRISHNAN, J.




      1.    Leave granted.


      2.    We are, in this appeal, concerned with the
applicability of  the
      provisions of the Indian Limitation Act, 1956, vis-à-vis, Article 2262
      of the French Code Civil, said to be the governing law  of  limitation
      in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, erstwhile French Establishment.




      3.    Appellant herein preferred a suit, being  OS  No.  295  of  1991
      before the Additional Subordinate Judge, Pondicherry.   The  suit  was
      resisted,  inter  alia,  on  the  ground  of  limitation,  which   was
      ultimately decreed in favour of the plaintiff.  However, on  the  plea
      of limitation, the trial Court held as follows:
           “12.  On Issue No. 3: - Article 2262 of French Code Civil  shows
           that the limitation for original cause of action is thirty years
           and it is  a  well  settled  law  that  the  said  provision  is
           applicable to the Union Territory – Pondicherry.    Accordingly,
           suit claim is not time barred.  Hence this issue is answered  in
           the negative and in favour of the plaintiff.”




      4.     Defendant  took  up  the  matter  in  appeal  before  the  IInd
      Additional District Judge, Pondicherry, but the judgment/decree of the
      trial Court dated 25.11.1994 was confirmed.  The matter was carried in
      appeal to the High Court by filing Second  Appeal  No.  383  of  2010.
      Following substantial questions of law were framed by the High Court:
           “1.    Whether the lower appellate Court has committed  an  error
           in  law  in  pronouncing  a  Judgment  without  considering   and
           answering the question regarding readiness and willingness on the
           part of the respondent/plaintiff  to  perform  his  part  of  the
           contract?


           2.     Whether the lower appellate Court has committed  an  error
           in not adverting to the issue regarding limitation when the  same
           has been specifically raised in the trial Court and also  in  the
           grounds of appeal?


           3.     Whether the Courts below have erroneously  held  that  the
           Limitation Act, 1963 is not applicable to the case?”


      5.    The question of limitation  was  the  primary  issue  which  was
      raised before the High Court.  It was submitted that provisions of the
      Indian Limitation Act govern the law of  limitation,  so  far  as  the
      Union Territory of Pondicherry is concerned and not  Article  2262  of
      the French Code Civil.  Placing reliance on the judgment of this Court
      in Syndicate Bank v. Prabha D. Naik and  Another  (2001)  4  SCC  713,
      which dealt with the applicability of the  provisions  of  the  Indian
      Limitation Act, 1963, vis-à-vis, Article 535 of the  Portuguese  Civil
      Code in the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, the High Court took
      the view that it is Article 54 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1963 that
      would apply in the matter of filing of the suit in Pondicherry and not
      Article 2262 of the French Code Civil.   Consequently,  it  was  found
      that the suit filed for specific performance of the contract, was  not
      saved by Article 54 of the Indian Limitation Act which  provided  that
      the suit be filed within three years of the date  of  agreement.   The
      appeal was accordingly allowed and the  judgment  and  decree  of  the
      trial Court was reversed by the High Court.  Hence the present appeal.




      6.    Shri R. Nedumaran, learned counsel appearing for the  appellant,
      submitted that the High Court  was  not  justified  in  reversing  the
      concurrent finding arrived at by the trial Court without examining the
      other two substantial questions of  law  framed  by  the  High  Court.
      Learned counsel also submitted that the concurrent  finding  of  facts
      ought not have been reversed by the High Court,  placing  reliance  on
      the judgment of this Court in Syndicate Bank (supra).  That was a case
      where this Court was examining the scope of the Limitation Act, vis-à-
      vis, the Portuguese Civil Code and not the provisions  of  the  French
      Code Civil, which is one applicable to the present case.


      7.    Shri V. Prabhakar, learned counsel appearing for the respondent,
      on the other hand,  contended  that  the  ratio  of  the  decision  in
      Syndicate Bank (supra) would  squarely  apply  to  the  facts  of  the
      present case and the provisions are pari materia and  the  High  Court
      has rightly held that the law that is  applicable  is  the  Limitation
      Act, 1963 and, if that be so, the suit was hopelessly  barred.   Under
      such circumstances, learned counsel further submitted that  there  was
      no reason for considering the other two substantial questions of  law,
      since the suit was rightly dismissed on the ground of limitation.


      Discussion




      8.    We may notice that  de  jure  merger  of  the  erstwhile  French
      Territory of Pondicherry took place on 16.8.1962 following the  Treaty
      of  Cession  concluded  between  France   and   India   on   28.5.1956
      establishing the cession of the French  Establishments  by  France  to
      India in full sovereignty.   The Parliament  enacted  the  Pondicherry
      (Administration) Act, 1962  (Act  49  of  1962)  to  provide  for  the
      administration of Pondicherry and for matters connected therewith. The
      said Act came into force on 15.12.1962.  Section 4 of the  Pondicherry
      (Administration) Act, 1962 deals with continuance of existing laws and
      their adaptation, which reads as under:
           “4.Continuance of existing laws and their  adaptation.-  (1)  All
           laws in force immediately before the appointed day in the  former
           French Establishments or any part thereof shall continue to be in
           force in Pondicherry until amended or  repealed  by  a  competent
           Legislature or other competent authority:
           
                Provided that references in any such law to the   President
           or Government of  the  French  Republic  shall  be  construed  as
           references to the Central Government, references to the  Governor
           of the French Establishments in India, to the Commissioner of the
           Republic for the French Establishments in  India,  to  the  Chief
           Commissioner  for  the  French  Establishments,  to   the   Chief
           Commissioner  of  the  State  of  Pondicherry  or  to  the  Chief
           Commissioner, Pondicherry shall be construed as references to the
           Administrator of Pondicherry  and  references  to  the  State  of
           Pondicherry shall be construed as references to Pondicherry.
           
                (2) For the purpose of facilitating the application of  any
           such law in relation to the administration of Pondicherry and for
           the purpose of bringing the  provisions  of  any  such  law  into
           accord with the  provisions  of  the  Constitution,  the  Central
           Government may, within three years  from the  appointed  day,  by
           order, make such adaptations and modifications, whether by way of
           repeal or  amendment,  as  may  be  necessary  or  expedient  and
           thereupon every  such  law  shall  have  effect  subject  to  the
           adaptations and modifications so made.”




      9.    By the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which came into
      force on 20.12.1962, in the First Schedule to the  Constitution  under
      the heading “II. The Union Territories”, after entry 8, the  following
      entry was inserted, namely:
           “9. Pondicherry : The territories which immediately  before  the
           sixteenth day of August,  ‘96,  were  comprised  in  the  French
           Establishments in India known as Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and
           Yanam.”


            Later, by  the  Pondicherry  (Alteration  of  Name)  Act,  2006,
      instead of “Pondicherry”, the  word  “Puducherry”  was  inserted  with
      effect from 1.10.2006.


      10.   The Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 (Act 20  of  1963)
      was enacted to provide for Legislative Assemblies and  Ministries  for
      the Union Territories.  It received the assent  of  the  President  on
      10.5.1963.   The Limitation Act, 1963 was passed by the Parliament  on
      5.10.1963.   By that time, the  Union  Territory  of  Pondicherry  had
      become part of India.  Clause 2 of Section 1 of  the  Limitation  Act,
      1963 says that it extends to the whole of India except  the  State  of
      Jammu and Kashmir.   Since the Union Territory of  Pondicherry  having
      become part of India, the Limitation Act automatically extended to the
      then Pondicherry.   The Limitation Act, 1963, consequently, came  into
      force in the Union Territory of Pondicherry on 1.1.1964.


      11.   The question that we have to consider is
whether, by  virtue  of
      the Limitation Act, 1963, the French Law of Limitation which had  been
      in force till 1.1.1964, was in any manner repealed or modified by  the
      Limitation Act, 1963.  
We can draw considerable  sustenance  from  the
      ratio laid down by this Court in Syndicate Bank (supra),  wherein,  we
      have already indicated, this Court considered the interaction  between
      the provisions of the Indian Limitation Act,  1963  vis-à-vis  Article
      535 of the Portuguese Civil Code.   
In that case, this Court  held  as
      follows:
           “20.  ……………….. In any event, as noticed  above,  the  Portuguese
           Civil Code, in our view, could not be read  to  be  providing  a
           distinct and separate period of limitation for a cause of action
           arising under the Indian Contract Act or  under  the  Negotiable
           Instruments Act since the Civil Code ought to  be  read  as  one
           instrument and cause of action arising therefrom ought  only  to
           be governed thereunder and not otherwise. The entire Civil  Code
           ought to be treated as a local law or special law including  the
           provisions  pertaining  to  the  question  of   limitation   for
           enforcement of the right arising  under  that  particular  Civil
           Code  and  not  dehors  the  same  and  in  this   respect   the
           observations of the High Court in Cadar Constructions  that  the
           Portuguese  Civil  Code  could  not  provide  for  a  period  of
           limitation for  a  cause  of  action  which  arose  outside  the
           provisions of that Code, stands approved. A contra  approach  to
           the issue will not only yield to an absurdity but render the law
           of the land wholly inappropriate. There would also be repugnancy
           insofar as application of the Limitation Act in  various  States
           of the country is concerned: Whereas in Goa, Daman and Diu,  the
           period of limitation will be for a much larger period  than  the
           State of Maharashtra — the situation even conceptually cannot be
           sustained  having  due  regard  to  the  rule  of  law  and  the
           jurisprudential aspect of the Limitation Act.”




      12.   This Court also held that it cannot but hold that in the wake of
      the factum of the Limitation Act coming into existence from  1.1.1964,
      Article 535 of the Portuguese Civil Code cannot but be  termed  to  be
      impliedly repealed and it is on this score that the decision  of  this
      Court in Justiniano Augusto De. Piedade Barreto v. Antonio Vicente  Da
      Fonseca (1979) 3 SCC 47, stood overruled.  This Court also  held  that
      there is one general law of limitation for the entire  country,  being
      the Act of 1963, and the Portuguese Civil law cannot be termed to be a
      local law or a special law applicable to the State of Goa,  Daman  and
      Diu, prescribing a different period of limitation within  the  meaning
      of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act and the question of  saving  of
      local law under the Limitation Act, 1963 does not and cannot arise.


      13.    We  may,  in  this  case,  refer  to  the  Pondicherry   (laws)
      Regulation, 1963 (No. 7 of 1963) which deals with  the  regulation  to
      extend certain laws to the Union Territory of Pondicherry.   
Reference
      may also be made to the Pondicherry (Extension of Laws) Act, 1968.  By
      virtue of those legislations,  the  Indian  Contract  Act,  1872,  the
      Transfer of Property Act,  1882  and  various  other  enactments  were
      brought into force in Pondicherry. 
It is, therefore, to be seen as  to
      whether specific legislations containing the subjects under which  the
      cause of action had arisen, would govern the field or  the  procedural
      law assuming it would have its due application in replacement  of  the
      governing statute.   
This question was also  pointedly  considered  by
      this Court in Syndicate Bank (supra) and the Court took the view  that
      the cause of action of the suit, namely, money lent  and  advanced  in
      terms of the agreement stands squarely governed by  the  Contract  Act
      read with the Negotiable Instruments Act by  reason  of  the  admitted
      execution of the promissory note and, as such, cannot be  said  to  be
      governed by the Portuguese  Civil  Code.   
The  Court  held  that  the
      Portuguese Civil Code cannot be read  to  be  providing  distinct  and
      separate period of limitation for cause of action  arising  under  the
      Indian Contract Act and other related laws.


      14.   Pondicherry (Extension of  Laws)  Act,  1968,  as  amended,  has
      adopted several such legislations in the State of Pondicherry, but the
      Act which governs limitation is the general law of the  land  that  is the Indian Limitation Act.  
Consequently, it is not  Article  2262  of
      the French Code Civil that  applies  to  the  suit  in  question,  but
      Section  54  of  the  Indian  Limitation  Act,   1963.    
Under   such
      circumstances, as rightly held by  the  High  Court,  the  suit  filed
      beyond the period of limitation prescribed under  Article  54  of  the
      Indian Limitation Act, 1963 is clearly barred.  
Since the suit  itself
      is barred by the law of limitation, the other questions of law  framed
      by the High Court were rightly not answered.  The  appeal,  therefore,
      lacks in merits and accordingly dismissed.






                                                                ……………………….…J
                                            (K.S. Radhakrishnan)






                                                                ………………………….J
                                            (A.K. Sikri)
      New Delhi,
      September 18, 2013

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