1. The only question in this appeal is whether the respondents can be considered to be agriculturists. The respondents admittedly are hay merchants who despatch large quantities of grass to Bombay from Wangaon. They have themselves leased lands at Wangaon on which grass is grown, and they employ men to watch and cut grass. The question of their being agriculturists arises out of a suit on a mortgage, the facts of which it is not necessary to mention as they have not been gone into. The respondents who were the plaintiffs in the original suit claimed to be agriculturists within the meaning of the Dekkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act The first Court held that they were not. On appeal, the second Assistant Judge at Thana held that they were.
2. The learned advocate for the appellants has referred to various definitions of ' agriculturist' from Webster and one or two English cases. He has referred to the fact that in the Dekkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act, Section 2, Clause (6), the expression 'standing crops' does not include grass. What that section says is that ' standing crops shall include crops of all sorts attached to the soil,' and the question is whether grass is a crop. There cannot be the slightest doubt that grass is agricultural produce, and I do not think that there can be any doubt that a person who sells grass provided it is produced by his own land and makes his living thereby would be regarded as an agriculturist. There is no direct ruling on this point. The criterion seems to be whether a person claiming the benefit of the Dekkhan Agriculturists' Relief Act is a person who is in direct connection with the soil or whether he is a middleman, It would, I Sup-pose, be admitted that a person who grows vegetables on his land and sells them is an agriculturist, but a person who buys vegetables from the actual cultivator and sells them in his shop would not be. Similarly, I suppose, a man who grows flowers in his garden and sells them is an agriculturist, while a florist who buys flowers from the actual grower and sells them to his customers would not be. It would be different in the present case, if the respondents bought their grass from the actual holders of lands and then sent it to Bombay and sold it there. But as a matter of fact in this case the respondents themselves have leased the land on which grass is grown, and grass which they sell must be considered to be grass grown on their own land, the point being that in the case of failure of the rains or anything of the kind they lose their crop and therefore are dependent directly on the produce of the land. Whereas, the middleman who buys the stock from the actual grower is unaffected by any failure of the crop. In case of failure of crop the loss falls actually on the grower and not on him. In this case, the view of the lower appellate Court is that the respondents, who have leased and grow grass on their land and are selling and making their living out of the agricultural produce, which is raised under the supervision of their servants, are agriculturists. I think that on the facts the view of the lower appellate Court is right. The appeal is dismissed with costs.
3. I agree.