1. This is plaintiff second appeal whose suit for possession of agricultural land by way of redemption was decreed by the trial Court but has been dismissed in appeal.
2. The plaintiff-appellant filed the suit for possession of agricultural land measuring 7 Kanals 7 Marlas on payment of Rs. 212.50 as mortgage money. This land was originally owned by Sobha Singh who mortgaged it with Deva Singh for a sum of Rs. 300 vide mutation order sanctioned on Aug. 29, 1980. After the death of Sobha Singh his son Tarlok Singh inherited the property and he further mortgaged it with Naginder Singh etc. For a sum of Rupees 400 and mutation regarding the same was sanctioned on Aug. 14. 1938. Tarlok Singh against mortgaged this land with Jhangi Singh and Nand Singh for a sum of Rs. 500 and mutation was sanctioned on Aug. 18, 1938. Tarlok Singh also died and the plaintiff and the defendants are his successors-in-interest. Pritam Kaur plaintiff alleged that she had 1/8th share in the property left by Sobha Singh as after the death of Tarlok Singh. Santi inherited 1/8th share and she was the successor-in-interest of Santi. Defendant Sher Singh got redeemed all the three mortgagees in 1944 and after redemption the share of the plaintiff devolved upon him as a mortgagee. The total amount of all the three mortgages was Rs. 1700 and as the share of the plaintiff in the property was 1/8th she was entitled to get possession of her share in the property on payment of Rupees 212.15. She filed an application before the Collector under the Redemption of Mortgages (Punjab) Act, 1913(for short 'the Act') for getting the land redeemed but that application was rejected on May 27, 1971. Under the circumstances, she field the present suit on June 10, 1971 for possession by way of redemption on payment of the proportionate mortgage amount.
3. The suit was contested by the defendant inter alia on the grounds that it was barred by time and that the plaintiff had got no right to redeem the suit land. The trial Court found that the suit was clearly within time as the plaintiff was entitled to the period spent in the disposal of the application filed by the before the Collector under the Redemption of Mortgages (Punjab) Act. It was further found that the plaintiff Pritam Kaur being an heir of the mortgagor was entitled to file the present suit for redemption. As a result of these findings the plaintiff's suit was decreed on payment of Rs. 212.15. In appeal filed on behalf of the defendant the only controversy was whether the suit was within time or not. The learned Additional District Judge came to the conclusion that the plaintiff was not entitled to the period spent by her in prosecuting her application before the Collector because the proceedings could not be said to be the proceedings under the Civil P. C. by a Court exercising general civil jurisdiction to which S. 14 of the Limitation Act applies. As a result of this finding the plaintiff's suit was dismissed. Dissatisfied with the same the plaintiff has come up in Second Appeal in this Court.
4. It is a common case of the parties that the limitation for filing the suit for redemption expired on 1-1-1971. Whereas the present suit was filed on June 10, 1971. According to the plaintiff she is entitled to exclude the period under S. 14 of the Limitation Act which was spent in prosecuting the application made by her before the Collector under the Act. It is also the common case of the parties that if that period is allowed then the suit is within time. The said application before the Collector was filed on Aug. 21. 1970 and was dismissed on May 27. 1971. Thus, the only controversy between the parties is whether the plaintiff is entitled to exclude the time spent by her in prosecuting the application before the Collector S. 14 of the Limitation Act reads as under :-- "14. Exclusion of time of proceeding bona fide in Court without jurisdiction :
(1) In computing the period of limitation for any suit the time during which the plaintiff has been prosecuting with due diligence another civil proceeding, whether in a Court of first instance or of appeal or revision. Against the defendant shall be excluded. Whether the proceeding relates to the same matter in issue and is prosecuted in good faith in a Court which, from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of like nature, is unable to entertain it. (2) & (3) ............................"
In order to invoke the said provision the plaintiff is required to prove that she has been prosecuting with due diligence and secondly whether the proceedings were civil proceedings in a Court and thirdly the said Court was unable to entertain it on account of defect of jurisdiction or other causes of like nature. According to the learned counsel for the appellant, the proceedings before the Collector will be deemed to be civil proceedings in a Court and though the Collector had the jurisdiction to entertain the same but he failed to exercise that jurisdiction and, therefore, according to the learned counsel this will fall within the ambit of "other cause of a like nature" as provided in S. 14 of the Limitation Act. In support of his contention he referred to Bhai Jai Kishan v. Peoples Bank. AIR 1944 Lah 136(FB), Smt. Swaranamoyee Dasi v. Debendranath Karan. AIR 1944 Lah 136(FB). Parameswaran Kartha v. Edapally Valia Raja. AIR 1959 Ker 7, Bhupendra Singh v. Thakur Gulab Singh, AIR 1966 Raj 92. Chalisgoan Shri Laxmi Narayan Mills Co Ltd v. Amritlal Kalidas Kanji. AIR 1964 Bom 76. Ramdutt Ramkissen Dass v. E. D. Sassoon & Co. AIR 1929 PC 103. K. B. Mohammad Maqsood Ali Khan v. B. Hoshiar Singh AIR 1945 All 377. Ramnarayan Singh v. Kubera Sahu. AIR 1962 Orissa 100. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the respondent referred to Hriday Nath Roy v. Ram Chandra Barna Sarma. AIR 1921 Cal 34(FB). Abbas Ali Khan v. Yusaf Ali Khan. AIR 1927 Lah 186. And Prayagdas Shankerlal Maheshri v. Mt. Indirabai. AIR 1948 Nag 189. Reference was also made to Shiv Lal v. Chetram AIR 1971 SC 2342.
5. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and going through the case law cited at the bar. I am of the considered opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to exclude the time spent by her in prosecuting her application before the Collector in view of the provision of Section 14 of the Limitation Act reproduced above. It could not be disputed that the plaintiff was prosecuting with due diligence those proceedings. The section does not require that the earlier proceedings should be in a Civil Court. The requirement is that those proceedings should be civil proceedings in a Court. Now the proceedings under S. 4 of the Act are civil proceedings for all intents and purposes and the Collector before whom the application is made will also be deemed to be a Court for that purposes. S. 4 of the Act requires that the petition should be duly verified in the manner prescribed by the law for the verification of plaints. S. 9 of the Act provides procedure in contentious cases. In these proceedings the Collector is required to decide whether the applicant before him is entitled to redeem the land on payment of the amount to be determined by him. Thus for all intents and purposes the Collector under the Act will be deemed to be the Court while deciding the dispute to be the Court while deciding the dispute as contemplated under the Act. The Court contemplated under S. 14 of the Limitation Act does not necessarily mean the Civil Court under the Civil P. C. Any Tribunal or Authority deciding the civil rights of the parties will be deemed to be a Court for that purpose. In Bhupendra Singh v. Thakur Gulab Singh. AIR 1966 Raj 92, it has been observed in para 9 thereof that the word 'Court' used in that section must be construed liberally. The contention of the counsel in that case was that the Court of Wards was not a Court within the meaning of Section 14 of the Act which was repelled. Similarly, in Ramdutt Ramkissen Dass v. E. D. Sassoon & Co., AIR 1929 PC 103, it was held that in the proceedings before the Arbitrator, he should exclude the time spent in prosecuting in good faith, the same claim before another Arbitrator who was without jurisdiction. In that case S. 14 of the Limitation Act was being considered. In view of this pronouncement. I am of the considered view that the proceedings before the Collector will be deemed to be civil proceeding in a Court.
6. The next question to be considered is whether there was defect of jurisdiction in the proceedings before the Collector or was there other cause of a like nature to invoke the provision of Section 14 of the Limitation Act. It is not disputed that the Collector had the jurisdiction to entertain the application filed before him under Section 4 of the Act. He dismissed the said application on the grounds that the petition was not maintainable and the same was rejected. The operative part of the order reads as under :-- "I have heard the learned counsel for the parties and have also gone through the evidence led in this case. The leaned counsel for the petitioner has not been able to account for the exact amount of mortgage amount which the petitioner was to pay to the respondent failing which the land cannot be redeemed unless the petitioner establishes that the land in question was under the mortgage possession of the respondent for so much amount. Unless this is done, the request of the petitioner cannot be admitted to. Under these circumstances the petition of the petitioner is not maintainable and the same is rejected." Thus the order of the Collector will be covered under 'other cause of like nature' though it had the jurisdiction to entertain the petition under Section 4 of the Act. As a matter of fact under the Act the Collector was required to decide the amount of mortgage money under Section 9 thereof. He without deciding the controversy between the parties dismissed the application as not maintainable. Under these circumstances it could not be successfully argued that the plaintiff was not entitled to that period because the Collector had the jurisdiction to entertain the application but he wrongly declined the same. It is true that if the Authority had the jurisdiction to entertain the application it had the right to entertain the application it had the right to decide it rightly or wrongly. But in the present case the Collector did not decide the matter either way. He dismissed the application being not maintainable. Thus, it is covered under "or other cause of like nature". The said words were interpreted in the Full Bench judgment of the Lahore High Court in Bhai Jai Kishan's case (AIR 1944 Lah 136)(supra) which was further followed in Smt. Swaranamoyee Dasi's case (AIR 1964 Orissa 55)(supra). It has been held therein that fact of the matter is that if on the facts the relief asked for by a plaintiff or a petitioner is found by the Courts to have been misconceived either because it is now warranted by the facts mentioned by them or because the facts stated in the plaint or the petition do not disclose a good and complete cause of action and the plaint or petition is consequently dismissed or rejected, the provisions contained in Section 14 could not be any help. Thus the ratio of the case is that if the petition or plaint is rejected on account of the fault of the petitioner then he cannot claim benefit under Section 1 of the Limitation Act but where the Court itself wrongly holds the petition to be not maintainable then the words 'or other cause of like nature' in Section 14 must be read as the convey something 'ejusdem generis' or analogous with the preceding words relating to the defect of jurisdiction. In Prayagdas Shankerlal Maheshri v. Mt. Indirabai. AIR 1948 Nag 189, also it was held that the fundamental position contemplated by Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act is that the person seeking to avail himself of its provisions should be prosecuting a proceeding founded upon some cause of action in a Court which from defect of jurisdiction or other cause of a like nature was unable to entertain it.
7. As a result of the above discussion, this appeal succeeds and the judgment and decree of the lower appellate Court are set aside and that of the trial Court decreeing the plaintiff's suit is restored with costs.
8. Appeal allowed.