1. This is an appeal by the defendant in a case in which the plaintiffs asked for and have been given a declaration that they are joint tenants with him in a certain occupancy holding. The only plea pressed at the hearing of the appeal is that the suit is barred by Section 167 of the Agra Tenancy Act. The facts are these; The defendant alleging that the plaintiffs were his sub-tenants sued them in the Revenue Court for arrears of rent and obtained an ex-parte decree against them. While this ex-parte decree was in force the present suit for a declaration was filed. The defendant pleaded in his written statement that the suit had been instituted on account of the claim for arrears of rent which he had brought against the plaintiffs. It appears from the Munsif's judgment that when the present suit was decided in the trial Court an application for setting aside the ex-parte decree had been preferred and was spending. That application was afterwards allowed and the learned District Judge stafcea in his judgment that after the Munsif's decision in the present suit the Bevenue Court dismissed the suit for arrears of rent.
2. It is now settled law that the Civil Courts will not entertain a suit the object of which is to reverse a decision of a Revenue Court in a matter which, is under Section 167 of the Tenancy Act within the revenue Court's exclusive jurisdiction, and if this is the substantial object of the suit, it is immaterial that the plaintiff may have framed his relief in a form in which it could not have been granted by the Revenue Court. The Courts will look to the substance of the matter and not to the form.
3. In Narain Singh v. Gobind Ram (1911) 33 All. 523 the plaintiff had sought to eject the defendant as a sub-tenant in the Revenue Court, but the Revenue Court had held that the defendant was a sharer in the occupancy holding. It was held that the plaintiff could not thereafter sue for the ejectment of the defendant as a trespasser in the Civil Court. In Kishore Singh v. Bahadur Singh (1919) 41 All. 97 a suit for ejectment was brought against the respondents in the Revenue Court on the ground that they were subtenants. While that suit was pending they sued in the Civil Court for a declaration that they were co-tenants with the appellants in the occupancy holding. It was held that the suit was not entertain-able. This is a very similar case to that now before me. The same principle is laid down in Baljit v. Mahipat (1919) 41 All. 203 and has been recently re-affirmed in the case of Ram Das v. Dubri Koeri A.I.R. 1922 All. 336.
4. The present suit is barred by the principle laid down in these rulings. It was brought with the effect of setting aside a decree for ejectment which was then in force. It is irrelevant that the plaintiffs have since been able to get from the Revenue Court a pronouncement that they are not liable to ejectment as sub-tenants. To see whether the suit is maintainable we have to look to the date when it was instituted.
5. It may further be remarked that it is not entirely correct that the plaintiffs could not obtain from the Revenue Courts substantially the same relief which they seek in this suit. They could do so by means of a suit under Section 95 of the Tenancy Act against the landholder for a declaration of their right as tenants. In such a suit the defendants could have been made parties as persons claiming through the landholder.
6. The suit being barred by the principle laid down in the rulings cited above the appeal must be and hereby is allowed and the suit dismissed. As on the merits the plaintiffs have been found to be in the right, I make no order as to costs.