Kerala State Electricity Board,
Trivandrum Vs. T.P.K.K. Amsom and Besom, Kerala  INSC 271 (29 October
RAY, A.N. (CJ) RAY, A.N. (CJ) BEG, M.
HAMEEDULLAH SHINGAL, P.N.
CITATION: 1977 AIR 282 1977 SCR (1) 996 1976
SCC (4) 634
CITATOR INFO :
R 1985 SC1007 (3) R 1988 SC1172 (3) R 1992
Limitation Act, 1963, Article 137,--Whether
confined to applications under the Code of Civil Procedure--Applicability to
petitions under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, S.
The appellant cut and removed some trees from
the respondent's land for laying electric lines, and assessed the compensation.
Later, the respondent filed a petition under-section 16(5) of the Indian
Telegraph Act, 1885, claiming an enhanced compensation. The Appellant opposed
the petition contending that it was time-barred under Article 137 of the Limitation
Act, 1963. The respondent contended that Article 137 of the Limitation Act was
not applicable to petitions to the District Judge under the Indian Telegraph
Act. The District Judge dismissed the petition as time-barred, but in revision,
the High Court set aside the order and remanded the matter for disposal in
accordance with law.
Allowing the appeal, the Court.
HELD: (1) Article 137 will apply to any
petition or application filed under any Act to a Civil Court. The words
"any other application" under Article 137 cannot be said on the
principle of ejusdem generis to be applications under the Civil Procedure Code
other than those mentioned in part I of the third division. [998 E-G, 1000 B-C]
Nityananda M. joshi & Ors. v.L.I.C. of India & Ors.
 1 SCR 396. applied.
Town Municipal Council, Athani v. Presiding
Officer Labour Court, HubIi & Ors.  1 SCR 51, overruled.
Shri Mulchand & Co. Ltd. (In liquidation)
v. Jawahar Mills Ltd. (1955 SCR 351) referred to.
(2) The District Judge under the Telegraph
Act acts as a Civil Court in dealing with applications under section 16 of the
Telegraph Act. The petition is one contemplated by the Telegraph Act for
judicial decision and is an application falling within the scope of Article 137
of the 1963 Limitation Act. [1001 E-G] National Telephone Co. Ltd. v. The
Post-master-General  A.C. 546 applied.
Kerala State Electricity Board v. Paravathi
 2 Kerala 524 Referred to.
Town Municipal Council Athani v. Presiding
Officer Labour Court, HubIi and Ors.  1 SCR 51 and Nityananda M. Joshi
& Ors. v. Life Insurance Corporation of India & Ors.  1 SCR 396
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 246 of 1975.
(Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment
and Order dated 3.6.1974 of the Kerala High Court in C.R.P. No. 302 of 1974)
S.T. Desai and A. C. Puddissary for the appellant.
K.T. Harindranath and T.T. Kunhikanan, for
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
RAY, C.J.--This appeal is by special leave from the judgment dated 3 June, 1974
of the High Court of Kerala.
The respondent filed a petition under
sections 10 and 16(5) of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 read with section 51 of
the Indian Electricity Act 1910 claiming compensation against the appellant.
The Kerala State Electricity Board is
constituted under section 5 of the Indian Electricity Supply Act, 1948. The
Board 'cut and removed some trees standing on the property of the respondent
for the purpose of laying electric line from Calicut to Cannanore. The Board
assessed the compensation at Rs. 1619.90.
On 10 March, 1972 the respondent filed a
petition before the District Judge, Tellicherry under section 16(3) of the Indian
Telegraph Act 1885 claiming an enhanced compensation of Rs. 19,367.60. The
Board raised several objections. One of the objections was that the petition
was barred by time under Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963. The Board
contended that the notice intimating the fixing of the compensation was served
on 4 March, 1969 and therefore the petition was barred by time. The respondent
contended that Article 137 of the 1963 Limitation Act did not apply to
applications to the District Judge under the Indian Telegraph Act. The District
Judge held that the application was governed by Article 137 of the 1963 Limitation
Act, and, therefore, the petition was filed beyond three years and was barred
The respondent filed revision petitions to
the High Court of Kerala. The respondent also applied for condonation of delay
in filing the revision petitions in the High Court. The High Court condoned the
delay in filing the petitions. The High Court in view of the decision of the
High Court in Kerala State Electricity Board v. Parvathi Amma(1) set aside the
order of the District Judge and remitted the matter back to the court for
disposal in accordance with law.
The provision contained in Article 137 of the
Limitation Act 1963 is as follows :-Description of Period of Time from which pre-application
limitation period begins to run Any other application for When the right to
apply which no period 3 years accrues.
of limitation is provided elsewhere in this
The view of the Kerala High Court is that
Article 137 of the Limitation Act 1963 has the same meaning as Article 181 of
the Indian Limitation Act 1908.
(1) I.L.R.  2 Kerala 524.
908 Article 181 of the Indian Limitation Act,
1908 was as follows:-Description of Period of Time for which pre-application
limitation period begins to run Applications for which no When the right to
appeal period of limitations Three accrues.
years is provided elsewhere in this schedule
or by section 48 of the Code of Civil procedure.
In the Kerala State Electricity Board case
(supra) the High Court held that in view of the decision of this Court in Town
Municipal Council, Athani v. Presiding Officer Labour Court, Hubli &
Ors(1). the same construction should be put upon Article 137 as had been put
upon Article 181.
In the Ahani Municipal Council case (supra)
the workmen applied to the Labour Court under section 33C(2) of the Industrial
Disputes Act for computation of benefit in respect of over time. The Labour
Court accepted' the application of the workmen. The Athani Municipal Council
challenged the decision of the Labour Court in a writ petition. On appeal to
this Court it was contended, that the jurisdiction of the Labour Court was
barred by the provisions of Minimum Wages Act 1948 and second the applications
to the Labour Court were time barred under Article 137 of the Limitation Act,
1963. This Court held as follows: The alteration in the 1963 Limitation Act in
Article 137, namely, the inclusion of the words "other proceedings"
in the long title to the 1963 Limitation Act, the omission of the preamble and
the change in the definition so as to include petition in the word
"application" do not show any intention to make Article '137
applicable to proceedings before bodies other than courts such as
quasi-judicial tribunals and executive bodies. The word "other" in
the first column of the Article giving the description of the application
"any other application for which no period of limitation is provided
elsewhere in this division" indicates that the interpretation of Article
181 in the 1908 Limitation Act on the basis of ejusdem generis should be
applied to Article 137. The application was presented to the Labour Court, a
tribunal which was not a court governed by the Civil or Criminal Procedure
Codes, and, therefore, the applications are not governed by Article 137 of the Limitation
In Nityananda M. Joshi & Ors. v. Life
Insurance Corporation of India & Ors. (2) the appellants filed applications
against the respondent under section 33C(2) of the Industrial Disputes Act for
computing in terms of money, the benefit of holidays and for recovering the
amount. The Labour Court dismissed the applications in so far as the claim was
for a period beyond three years on the ground that the applications (1) 
1 S.C.R. 51. (2)  1 S.C.R. 396.
999 were barred under Article 137 of the Limitation
Act. In Nityananda Joshi's case (supra) this Court held as follows:
Article 137 contemplates applications to
ordinary courts. Section 4 of the Limitation Act provides for the contingency
when the prescribed period for any application expires on a holiday and the
only contingency contemplated is "when the court is closed".
Further under section 5 of the Limitation Act
only a court is enabled to admit an application after the prescribed period has
expired if the court is satisfied that the applicant had sufficient cause for
not preferring the application. The Labour Court is not a court within the
meaning of the Limitation Act.
This Court in Nityananda Joshi's case (supra)
said that it was not necessary to express views on the first ground given by
this Court in Athani Municipal Council case (supra). The first ground given in
the Athani Municipal Council case (supra) was that in spite of change the interpretation
of Article 181 would apply to Article 137 of the Limitation Act. This Court in
Nityananda Joshi's case (supra) said that it would require serious
consideration whether applications to courts under other provisions, apart from
Civil Procedure Code, are included within Article 137 of the Limitation Act,
1963 or not. The Athani Municipal Council case (supra) is a two Judge Bench
decision. Nityananda Joshi's case (supra) is a three Judge Bench decision.
The Schedule to the Limitation Act is with
reference to section 2(j) and 3 of the Act. Section 2(j) of the Act speaks of
the period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by the
Schedule and "prescribed period" is the period of limitation computed
in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
Section 3 of the Act states that subject to
the provisions contained in sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) of the Act every suit
instituted, appeal preferred and application made after the prescribed period
shall be dismissed although limitation has not been set up as a defence.
"Application" is defined in section
2(b) of the Act to include a petition.
The Schedule is divided in three divisions.
The first division relates to suits. The first division consists of 10 parts
and consists of 113 Articles. The first 10 parts speak of 10 categories of
suits. The second division speaks of appeals. The second division consists of
Articles 114 to 117. The third division speaks of applications. The third
division is in two parts. Part I speaks of applications in specified cases.
Part II speaks of other applications.
The main contention on behalf of the
appellant is that the petition before the District Judge for compensation would
be an application for which no period of limitation is provided elsewhere in
this division and would fall within Article 137.
1000 This Court in Sha Mulchand & Co.
Ltd. (In Liquidation) v. Jawahar Mills(1) Ltd held that the construction put
upon Article 181 of the Limitation Act 1908 is that the long catena of
decisions under Article 181 may well be said to have, as it were, added the
words "under the Code" in the first column of that Article.
The alteration of the division as well as the
change in the collocation of words in Article 137 of the Limitation Act 1963
compared with Article 181 of the 1908 Limitation Act shows that applications
contemplated under Article 137 are not applications confined to the, Code of
Civil Procedure. In the 1908 Limitation Act there was no division between
applications in specified cases and other application as in the 1963 Limitation
Act. The words "any other application" under Article 137 cannot be
said on the principle of ejusdem generis to the applications under the Civil
Procedure Code other than those mentioned in Part I of the third division. Any
other application under Article 137 would be petition or any application under
any Act. But it has to be an application to a court for the reason that
sections 4 and 5 of the 1963 Limitation Act speak of expiry of prescribed
period when Court is closed and extension of prescribed period if applicant or
the appellant satisfies the court and he had sufficient cause for not
preferring the appeal or making the application during such period.
In the present case, the applications
contemplated under section 16(3) of the Telegraph Act are applications to. the
District Judge within whose jurisdiction the property is situate. Applications
are contemplated if any dispute arises concerning the sufficiency of the
compensation to be paid under section 10 of the Telegraph Act. Section 10 of
the Telegraph Act states that the telegraph authority shall pay compensation to
all persons interested for any damages sustained by them by reason of exercise
of powers mentioned in section 10 of the Telegraph Act 1885. Reference may also
be made to section 16(1) which states that if the exercise of powers mentioned
in section 10 in respect of property referred to in clause (d)'is resisted or
obstructed the District Magistrate may order that the telegraph authority shall
be permitted to exercise them.
The provisions in the Telegraph Act which
contemplate determination by the District Judge of payment of compensation
payable under section 10 of the Act indicate that the District Judge acts
judicially as a court. Where by statutes matters are referred for determination
by a Court of Record with no further provision the necessary implication is
that the court will determine the matters as a court. See National Telephone
Co. Ltd. v. The Postmaster-General. (2) In the presence case the statute makes
the reference to the District Judge as the Presiding Judge of the District
In many statutes reference is made to the
District Judge under this particular title while the intention is to refer to
the Court of the District Judge. The Telegraph Act in section 16 contains
intrinsic evidence that the District Judge is mentioned there as the court of
the District Judge.
Section 16(4) of the' Telegraph Act requires
payment into the (1)  S.C.R. 351. (2)  A.C. 546.
1001 court of the District Judge such amount
as the telegraph authority deems sufficient if any dispute arises as to the
persons entitled to receive compensation. Again in section 34 of the Telegraph
Act reference is made to payment of court fees and issue of processes both of
which suggest that the ordinary machinery of a court of civil jurisdiction is
being made available for the settlement of these disputes. Section 3(15) of the
General Clauses Act states that the District Judge in any Act of the Central
Legislature means the Judge of a principal civil court of original jurisdiction
other than the High Court in the exercise of its original civil jurisdiction,
unless there is anything repugnant in the context. In the Telegraph Act there
is nothing in the context to suggest that the reference to the District Judge
is not intended as a reference to the District Court which seems to be the
meaning implied by the definition applicable thereto. The District Judge under
the Telegraph Act acts as a civil court in dealing with applications under
section 16 of the Telegraph Act.
The changed definition of the words
"applicant" and "application" contained in section 2(a) and
2(b) of the 1963 Limitation Act indicates the object of the Limitation Act to
include petitions, original or otherwise, under special laws. The
interpretation which was given to Article 181 of the 1908 Limitation Act on the
principle of ejusdem generis is not applicable with regard to Article 137 of
the 1963 Limitation Act. Article 137 stands in isolation from all other
Articles in Part I of the third division. This Court in Nityanada Joshi's case
(supra) has rightly thrown doubt on the two Judge Bench decision of this Court
in Athani Municipal Council case (supra) where this Court construed Article 137
to be preferable to applications under the Civil Procedure Code. Article 137
includes petitions within the word "applications." These petitions
and applications can be under any special Act as in the present case.
The conclusion we reach is that Article 137
of the 1963 Limitation Act will apply to any petition or application filed
under any Act to a civil court. With respect we differ from the view taken by
the two Judge Bench of this Court in Athani Municipal Council case (supra) and
hold that Article 137 of the 1963 Limitation Act is not confined to
applications contemplated by or under the Code of Civil Procedure. The petition
in the present case was to the District Judge as a court. The petition was one
contemplated by the Telegraph Act for judicial decision.
The petition is an application failing within
the scope of Article 137 of the 1963 Limitation Act.
For the foregoing reasons we accept the
appeal and set aside the judgment of the High Court. The appellant will pay
costs to the respondent in accordance with order made at the time of granting