(2) Nothing in the said Sections renders one of several joint contractors, partners, executors, or mortgagees chargeable by reason only if a written acknowledgement signed by, or of a payment made by, or by the agent of, any other or others of them. (3) For the purpose of the said Sections-— (a) An acknowledgement signed or a payment made in respect of any liability by, or by the duly authorised agent of, any limited owner of property who is governed by Hindu Law, shall be a valid acknowledgement or payment, as the case may be, against a reversioner succeeding to such liability; and (b) Where a liability has been incurred by, or on behalf of a Hindu Undivided Family as such, an acknowledgement or payment made by, or by the duly authorised agreement of, the manager of the family for the time being shall be deemed to have been made on behalf of the whole family. Section 20 of the Limitation Act is explanatory of Sections 18 and 19 of the Act and does not constitute an exception in the case of either of these sections. Section 20 of the Limitation Act shows that for the purpose of Section 20, the payment made by a guardian must be held to be a payment by an agent duly authorised on his behalf. In Bageshwari v. Bindeshwari [AIR 1932 Pat.337] it has been held that an admission amounting to an acknowledgement under Section 18 of the Limitation Act and the guardian of a minor appointed by the court is binding on the minor.
The expression ‘lawful guardian’ in Section 18(1) is not limited to a guardian appointed by the Court. It means any person who is entitled to act as guardian under the personal law of the minor. In Bechu v. Baldeo [AIR 1933 Oudh.132] it is held that under the Hindu Law on the death of the father, the mother is not only the natural guardian but also the legal guardian and as such she can acknowledge a debt on behalf of the minor. A de facto guardian is not a ‘lawful guardian’ within the meaning of Section 20 and has no authority to acknowledge a debt.
In Chandu v. Wadhu Ram [42 IC 17] it has been held that a mother, not being a guardian of the property of her minor son, under the Mohammedan Law, is not a lawful guardian, and cannot sign an acknowledgement on behalf of the minor. Section 20(2) of the Limitation Act means that the mere writing or signing of an acknowledgement by one partner does not necessarily of itself bind his copartners; but it must also be shown that he had authority, express or implied to make the acknowledgement on behalf of himself and his- partners. In Md.
Taqi v. Raja Ram [AIR 1936 All, 820 (FB)] it has been held that the time when the acknowledgement is made or the payment is made there are more than one person in existence who stand in relationship to each other as joint contractors, partners, executors or mortgagors, then the acknowledgement or payment made by one would save limitation as against that person and would be of no avail against the other. In S. Vellaya Gounder v. R. Venkatesa Chettian [(1968) 2 MLJ 101] it has been held that the mere fact that persons are partners does not make one partner liable under the acknowledgement by another; but if the acknowledgement is done in the course of partnership business it is binding on the other. In Rajagopala v.
Krishnaswami [8 MLJ 261] it has been held that if the partnership had been dissolved by the death of one of the partners, an acknowledgement made by the surviving partners, unless they are specially authorised to do so, cannot bind the representative of the deceased partner. In Fordham v. Wallis [(1953) 17 … 228] it has been held by one executor only keeps alive the debt against the assets of the testator but is not sufficient by itself to make the other executors personally chargeable. In Bhogilal v. Amritalal [17 Bom. 173] it has been held that an acknowledgement of the title of the mortgagor by one only of two mortgagees would not save the mortgagor’s right of redemption from being barred where the mortgage was not capable of being redeemed piecemeal. The word ‘chargeable’ in Section 20 means every kind of chargeability and includes liability as to property it is not limited to personal liability only.
Co-mortgagors stand in the position of joint contractors. A mortgagor cannot make payment or acknowledgement on behalf of another comortgagor except as an agent duly authorised by the latter. Purchasers of different portions of mortgaged properties from the original co-mortgagors are joint contractors. In Federal Bank v.
Som Dev [AIR 1956 Punj. 21] it has been held that an acknowledgement of liability of payment by one of the co-contractors does not deprive the other of the benefit of limitation unless the payer is authorised to make the payment by the ether as an agent on his behalf. In Narasimha v. Ibrahim [AIR 1929, Mad- 419] it has been held that the words ‘joint contractors’ in Section 18(2) do not include the co-heirs of a deceased debtor, nor can the Section 18(2) be extended by analogy to co-heirs. The expression ‘Joint Contractor’ applies also to a surety. In Hajara Singh v. Bakshshish Singh [AIR 1962 Punj. 495] it has been held that a payment by the debtor does not keep alive the action against the surety, nor can a payment by the surety keep alive the debt against the principal debtor.
In Federal Bank of India v. Som Dev [AIR 1956 Punj. 21] it has been held that unless it appears otherwise in the terms of the surety’s contract an acknowledgement of payment by a debtor does not extend limitation against the surety. In C. Assiamma v.
State Bank of Mysore [AIR 1991 Pat. 194] it has been held that when both the principal debtors and the guarantor had categorically admitted and acknowledged their liability within the period of limitation, the limitation must be counted from the date of such acknowledgement and not from the date of the loan. The Section 18(3)(a) expressly lays down that an acknowledgement or payment made by the widow or limited owner shall be a valid acknowledgement or payment as against a reversioner. Sub-section (3)(b) of Section 20 is attracted if the acknowledgement or part-payment of the principal and interest of a family loan has been made and endorsed by the karta. In Venkatachalam v. Venkateswara [AIR 1944 Mad. 33] it has been held that the manager of a joint Hindu family has power to acknowledge the liability of the family and the acknowledgement need not be expressed as having been made in his capacity as karta.
The acknowledgement must be in writing and must be signed any acknowledgement of a debt made by the karta after the disruption of the joint family cannot save the creditor’s claim from becoming time-barred against the other members. In Ambalavana v. Gowri [AIR 1936 Mad.
871], it has been held that the expression suggested that the family as a whole might be a party to the contract or the managing member on behalf of the family might have entered into the contract.