1. The respondent is Inamdar of the village in which, the land in dispute is situate and brought the suit out of which this appeal arises to recover enhanced rent. The appellant contested the claim on several grounds, one of which, material for the purposes of this appeal and decisive of the case, was that he was entitled to the benefit of Section 217 of the Land Revenue Code and liable to pay only the Government rate of assessment levied on the land. The lower appellate Court has disallowed that defence on the ground that the appellant is not a registered occupant of the land. But Section 217 does not restrict its application to registered occupants only. It may be and indeed the lower Court finds that the appellant holds the land as a mere tenant under the Inamdar and that the latter has also acquired the right of occupancy. But Section 217 invests 'the holders of all lands' in alienated villages with the same rights and imposes upon them the same responsibilities in respect of the lands in their occupation that occupants in unalienated villages have. 'Holder', as defined in Clause 11 of Section 3 of the Code, is wide enough to include even a tenant who has entered into possession under an occupant.
2. It was urged for the respondent that by the concluding part of Section 217 the Legislature intended it to apply 'so far as may be'. But those words are used of the latter part of the section only and do not, when grammatically read, operate to limit the plain language of the first part.
3. The decree must be reversed and the plaintiff must be given a declaration that he is entitled to recover from the defendant only the amount of assessment levied under the Land Revenue Code. As the defendant admits the amount claimed, the claim as to that is also awarded, but this award is without prejudice to the right declared by this decree. The respondent must pay the appellant's costs throughout.
4. It is now established beyond controversy that the plaintiff is grantee only of the Royal share of the revenue; that the defendant is a permanent tenant under the plaintiff and that when the Survey Settlement was introduced into this village the Inamdar's name was entered as Khatedar or registered occupant of the lands in suit. At that time, however, as for long before and since, the actual occupant was the defendant or his predecessor in title, who held as a permanent tenant. That being so how does Section 217 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code operate in this case In virtue of being a permanent tenant, the actual occupant at the date of the settlement was one 'in whom a right to hold land is vested'. Therefore, he was a 'holder' within the meaning of that term as used in the Land Revenue Code. Consequently he 'shall have the same rights and be affected by the same responsibilities in respect of the lands in his occupation as the occupants in unalienated villages.' Therefore, the defendant during the continuance of the settlement is only under an obligation to pay the survey assessment and no more.
5. The fact that at the time of the settlement the Inamdar's name was entered as Khatedar does not seem to me to affect the question. The right to cultivate the land vested in the tenant and that right carried with it a right to hold during the continuance of the settlement at no higher rent than the survey assessment, as soon as by the will of the Inamdar the settlement was introduced.
6. That is sufficient, in my opinion, for the decision in the case and therefore it is unnecessary to express any opinion on the other interesting point in the case: viz. whether after the earlier litigation evidenced by Exhibits 61 and 62 it was open to the Courts to find on the evidence that the defendant or his predecessor-in-title was not in possession of the 1ands in suit, at or before the date of the grant in inam.
7. Therefore I agree with the order proposed by my learned colleague.