Piggott and Walsh, JJ.
1. This is a reference under Section 195 of the Agra Tenancy Act (Local Act No. II of 1901) made by the Collector of Etah. The plaintiff in the suit is admittedly the lambardar of a certain mahal. The defendants are the proprietors of certain specific posts of land appertaining to that mahal. These plots of land were at one time held revenue-free, but revenue has now been assessed upon term The plaintiff came into court alleging that; the revenue assessed upon these plots was payable by the defendants; that he as lambardar had paid the said revenue, and that he was entitled to recover it from, the defendants by a suit brought against them under Section 159 of Local Act No. II of 1901. The defence on the merits, was that the revenue assessed upon these plots of land was not payable by the defendants at all, but by the general body of co-sharers, that is to say, by the owners of national interests in the proprietary rights of the mahal as as whole. Of course, if the plaintiff is unable to prove that the land revenue in respect of which this suit is brought was in fact, payable by the defendants whom he is suing, his suit will fail on the merits. The courts of the Etah district, however, have felt a difficulty upon a question of law which has nothing to do with the merits of the dispute. The Collector's order of reference seems to assume that the revenue in question was in fact payable by the defendants, 'We have thought it necessary to point out that this is a matter upon which the parties were at issue and in respects of which there will have to be a clear finding of fact. The difficulty which we are asked to consider, however, proceeds on the assumption that the revenue assessed on the plots of land' in question when the revenue-free grant was resumed is in the payable by the owners of those particular plots, that is to Say, by the defendants to this suit. The doubt suggested is even should this fact be established, the lambardar is riot entitled to maintain a suit under Section 159 of Local Act. No. II of 1901, because the defendants could not be correctly described ' co-sharers' in the mahal. The Collector has pointed out that there is the authority of an unreported decision of the Board of Revenue in support of this contention. This decision has been laid before us, and we have considered it along with the Collector's order of reference and with the appropriate provisions of the Land Revenue Act. We think that it is impossible to apply to the interpretation of Section 159 of the Agra Tenancy Act those decisions in which the question before the Court was one of the right of pre-emption. In a pre-emption. suit the attention of the Court is in no way directed to the question of the meaning of the word ' co-sharers ' as used in Section 159 aforesaid. The court has before it a certain record of rights, drawn up in the vernacular, In which it finds the ford ' hissedar ' or some cognate expression. The point for determination is whether, within the meaning of that particular document, the word ' hissedar' is to be Interpreted as applying only to the holders of fractional scares in the proprietary rights of the mahal as a whole, or whether it may include also persons holding separate proprietary rights in respect of particular plots of land. The correct test for the interpretation of the word co-sharers' in Section 159 of the Tenancy Act is tow found in the interpretation to be put on Sections 141, 142 and 144 of the cognate Statute, namely, the Land Revenue Act of these provinces (Local Act No. III of 1901). We think if beyond doubt that, assuming the facts to be as alleged by the plaintiff in this case, namely, that the liability for the land revenue of these particular plots of land lies on the defendants, then the defendant would foe jointly and severally responsible for the revenue of the mahal by reason of the provisions of Section 142 of Local Act No. Ill of 1901, and the payment of the revenue assessed upon these plots would rightly be made on behalf of the defendants by the lambardar under Section 144 of the same Statute. In our opinion, therefore, the word 'co-sharer' in Section 159 of the Agra Tenancy Act (No. II of 1901) means a person holding proprietary rights in the mahal, who is jointly' and severally liable for land revenue with the other proprietors in the mahal, and whose revenue is payable through the lambardar under the provisions of Section 144 of the United provinces Land Revenue Act (No. III of 1901). This is our answer to the question referred to us by the Collector, and our order on his reference is. that his court do proceed with the case. The costs of this hearing will be costs in the cause.