CIVIL

Entertain

A question thus arises what is the meaning of the word ‘entertained’ in this context ? Does it mean that no appeal shall be received or filed or does it mean that no appeal shall be admitted or heard and disposed of unless satisfactory proof is available ?

The dictionary meaning of the word ‘entertain’ was brought to our notice by the parties, and both sides agreed that it means either “to deal with or admit to consideration”. We are also of the same opinion. The question, therefore, is at what stage can the appeal be said to be entertained for the purpose of the application of the proviso ? Is it ‘entertained when it is filed or it ‘entertained’ when it is admitted and the date is fixed for hearing or is it finally ‘entertained’ when it is heard and disposed of ? Numerous cases exist in the law reports in which the word ‘entertained’ or similar cognate expressions have been interpreted by the courts. Some of them from the Allahabad High Court itself have been brought to our notice and we shall deal with them in due course. For the present we must say that if the legislature intended that the word ‘file’ or ‘receive’ was to be used, there was no difficulty in using those words. In some of the statues which were brought to our notice such expressions have in fact been used. For example, under Order 41, rule 1 of the CPC it is stated that a memorandum shall not be filed or presented unless it is accompanied etc.; in s. 17 of the Small Causes Courts Act, the expression is ‘at the time of presenting the application’. In section 6 of the Court Fees Act, the words are ‘file’ or ‘shall be reviewed. It would appear from this that the legislature was not at a loss for words if it had wanted to express itself in such forceful manner as is now suggested by counsel for the State. It has used the word ‘entertain’ and it must be accepted that it has used it advisedly. This word has come in for examination in some of the cases of the Allahabad High Court and we shall now refer to them.

In Kundan Lal Vs. Jagan Nath Sharma, , the Court was concerned with Order 21, rule 90, of the CPC which had been amended by the High Court by changing the provisions of the original Code. The changed rule is as follows :

“Provided that no application to set aside the sale shall be entertained :

(a) Upon any ground which should have been taken by the applicant on or before the date on which the sale proclamation was drawn up :

(b) Unless the applicant deposits such amount and exceeding 12 1/2% of the sum realised by the sale or furnishes such security as the court may in its discretion fix, except when for reasons to be recorded it dispenses with the requirements of this clause……”.

The word ‘entertain’ is explained by a Divisional Bench of the Allahabad High Court as denoting the point of time at which an application to set aside the sale is heard by the court. The expression ‘entertain’, it is stated, does not mean the same thing as the filing of the application or admission of the application by the court. A similar view was again taken in Dhoom Chand Jain Vs. Chaman Lal Gupta and Another, , in which the learned Chief Justice Desai and Mr. Justice Dwivedi gave the same meaning to the expression ‘entertain’. It is observed by Dwivedi J. that the word ‘entertain’ in its application bears the meaning ‘admitting to consideration’. and therefore when the court cannot refuse to take an application which is backed by deposit or security, it cannot refuse judicially to consider it. In a single bench decision of the same court reported in Bawan Ram & Anr. v. Kuni Beharilal AIR 1961 All. 42, one of us (Bhargava, J.) had to consider the same rule. There the deposit had not been made within the period of limitation and the question had arisen whether the court could entertain the application or not. It was decided that the application could not be entertained because proviso (b) debarred the court from entertaining an objection unless the requirement of depositing the amount or furnishing security was complied with within the time prescribed. In that case of the word ‘entertain’ is not interpreted but it is held that the court cannot proceed to consider the application in the absence of deposit made within the time allowed by law. This case turned on the fact that the deposit was made out of time. In yet another case of the Allahabad High Court reported in Haji Rahim Bux & Sons and Ors. v. Firm Samiullah & Sons AIR 1963 All. 326, a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Desai and Mr. Justice S. D. Singh interpreted the words of O. 21, r. 90, by saying that the word ‘entertain’ meant not ‘receive’ or ‘accept’ but proceed to consider on merits’ or ‘adjudicate upon’.

In our opinion these cases have taken a correct view of the word ‘entertain’ which according to dictionary also means ‘admit to consideration’. It would therefore appear that the direction to the court in the proviso to s. 9 is that the court shall not proceed to admit to consideration an appeal which is not accompanied by satisfactory proof of the payment of the admitted tax. This will be when the case is taken up by the court for the first time. In the decision on which the Assistant Commissioner relied, the learned Chief Justice (Desai C.J.) holds that the words ‘accompanied by’ showed that something tangible had to accompany the memorandum of appeal. If the memorandum of appeal had to be accompanied by satisfactory proof, it had to be in the shape of something tangible, because no intangible thing can accompany a document like the memorandum of appeal. In our opinion, making ‘an appeal’ the equivalent of the memorandum of appeal is not sound. Even under O. 41 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the expression “appeal” and “memorandum of appeal” are used to distinct two distinct things. In Wharton’s Law Lexicon, the word “appeal” is defined as the judicial examination of the decision by a higher Court of the decision of an inferior court. The appeal is the judicial examination; the memorandum of appeal contains the grounds on which the judicial examination is invited.

For purposes of limitation and for purposes of the rules of the Court it is required that a written memorandum of appeal shall be filed. When the proviso speaks of the entertainment of the appeal, it means that the appeal such as was filed will not be admitted to consideration unless there is satisfactory proof available of the making of the deposit of admitted tax.


Refer: (1968) AIR(SC) 488 LAKSHMI RATTAN ENGINEERING WORKS LTD. Vs. ASSTT. COMMR. SALES TAX, KANPUR AND ANOTHER

Categories: CIVIL

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