John Beaumont, Kt., C.J.
1. This is an appeal in execution proceedings, and the question is whether the appellants, who were held to be non-agriculturists in the suit from which this appeal arises, can claim the status of agriculturist in execution proceedings. The suit was filed on March 16, 1931, and it was to recover a large sum of money in connection with dealings in cotton. There was an issue as to whether the defendants were agriculturists, and the finding was in the negative. The suit was accordingly decreed on February 20, 1932. On March 7, 1932, the judgment creditor filed a darkhast and attachment was ordered to issue on March 9, 1932, and on April 21, 1932, the Court ordered that the attached property should be sold. Subsequently, in reply to the notice issued under Rule 66 of Order XXI, Civil Procedure Code, the principal defendant put in a written statement contending that he was an agriculturist and that his property could not be attached or sold by reason of Section 22 of the Dekkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act. The trial Judge has held that, as the judgment-debtor was not an agriculturist on February 20, 1932, it was impossible for him to have acquired agricultural status by April 21, 1932, and accordingly he refused to allow him to produce evidence and ultimately ordered execution to proceed on April 12, 1933. I may mention that the written statement claiming agricultural status was put in on August 18, 1932, and the subsequent delay in the proceedings was due to unsuccessful attempts by the judgment-debtor to get the proceeding stayed.
2. Now, I think, it is clear that if the appellant is to be taken to have been a non-agriculturist on February 20, 1932, the date of the decree, the trial Judge is perfectly right in holding that he could not have become an agriculturist within the definition by April 21, 1932, that is, in the period of two months. There is a decision of Mr. Justice West in Tulsidas Dhunjee v. Virbussapa I.L.R. (1880) 4 Bom. 624 to the effect that a man must have gained his livelihood by farming for at least one full agricultural season to acquire the condition of an agriculturist under the Act. That was a case in which the parties claimed to be agriculturists under the first part of the definition in Section 2 of the Act, that is to say, they alleged that their income from agricultural sources exceeded their income from other sources, and the decision might have been based on the impossibility of deciding a question of accounts of that kind without having accounts for a full year. Mr. Adarkar, who appears for the appellant, says that he does not rely upon that part of the definition. His case is that his client now personally works in the fields, so that he claims to come within the second part of the definition in Section 2. But the definition requires that a man should ordinarily engage personally in agricultural labour. In my opinion, it would be impossible to say that a man who has been a trader can merely by working in the fields for a couple of months acquire the status of an agriculturist on the ground that he ordinarily engages personally in agricultural labour, and it would be necessary to have evidence as to a full agricultural season, or at any rate a very much longer period than two months, before it could be reasonably said that he comes within the definition. The only difficulty which we have felt over this case is as to whether the period taken by the trial Judge is the proper period. Mr. Adarkar has contended, first of all, that the finding in the suit that his client was not an agriculturist must be held to relate to the time when the suit was filed, that is, March 1, 1931, in which case more than a full agricultural season would have elapsed by the time the order for sale was made. But the finding on the issue as to status was given at the time the suit as a whole was disposed of and the trial Judge refused instalments on the ground that defendant No. 1 was not an agriculturist. The finding as to status, therefore, speaks from the date of the decree, and the lower Court was right in holding that the appellant must be taken to have been a trader and not an agriculturist up to February 20, 1932. In that connection I may cite Mulji v. Goverdhandas : AIR1923Bom36 .
3. The next point urged was, that the date at which status is to be determined in execution proceedings is the actual date of the sale. The actual date of the sale, however, is some indeterminate point in the future. The Court may fix a date, but, as has happened in this case, various circumstances may lead to the date being postponed. It is obviously necessary to have some definite point of time at which the status is to be determined, and that point of time must, we think, be the date of the order for sale. The question, then, is, whether the material date is the date of the order of April 21, 1932, which was presumably an order made under Rule 64 of Order XXI of the Code, or that of the order subsequently-made in April, 1933, after the issue of notice under Rule 66. The question is by no means free from difficulty, for, as has been frequently pointed out, the provisions of the Dekkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act are extremely difficult to construe. On the whole, we are of opinion that the trial Court is right in taking April 21, 1932, as the material date. It is true that that order was in a sense a preliminary order, that is to say, the Court might have had to withdraw it if the judgment-debtor had been able to prove that he had acquired the status of an agriculturist. But what the judgment-debtor would have to prove, in our opinion, is that he had become an agriculturist at the date when the order under Rule 64 was made, and that, in view of what I have said already, it was obviously impossible for him to do. Even if one were to take the date of the appellant's written statement, August 18, 1932, that is the date on which he claimed a new status, as the date with reference to which the status was to be determined, that would make no material difference to our decision. For, even if we were to be satisfied that the appellant had worked for six months in the fields, inasmuch as he had until that time been a trader, we should not have been prepared to say that he was an agriculturist within the definition. But, as I say, we think the relevant date is April 21, 1932, the date of the order for sale under Rule 64. The lower Court was right, therefore, in refusing to allow the defendant to adduce evidence.
4. The appeal fails and must be dismissed with costs.
5. I agree and have nothing to add.