John Edge, Kt., C.J. and Burkitt, J.
1. The plaintiffs in this suit purchased fourteen out of sixteen annas owned by the defendants in a village. They brought their suit to obtain possession of a portion of the sir land in the village, which had been held by the defendants as sir at the time of sale. They have relied upon a ruling of the Board of Revenue of these Provinces, according to which, if it is correct, Section 7 of Act No. XII of 1881 can never apply so long as the zamindar retains the minutest fraction of his proprietary right in the village, all of his interest in which except such fraction he has sold. As we have understood the Board of Revenue's decision, that Board considered that the section only applied when the zamindar lost or parted with all his proprietary rights and ceased to have any proprietary rights in the village. The object of the Legislature in enacting Section 7 was to provide some sort of protection to proprietors of land whose rights were parted with either by private contract or auction sale. The Legislature intended that such proprietors should not be cast on the world, but should still be left with some interest in the lands which they had held as their sir. It accordingly enacted that they should become ex-proprietary tenants of the sir land held by them at the time when their proprietary rights were lost or parted with. The Legislature also further favored such proprietors by enacting that the rent payable by them should be 4 annas in the rupee less than the prevailing rate payable by tenants at will for land of similar quality and with similar advantages.
2. If we were to read this section and apply it as it was read and applied by the Board of Revenue, the object of the Legislature would be frustrated by an evasion of the statute. One is well aware that attempts are frequently made to evade the effect of Section 7, and we should be opening a door through which it would be possible for such evasions to become general in these Provinces. All that would be necessary, if the ruling of the Board of Revenue is correct, to prevent the arising of ex-proprietary rights would be for a purchaser on a sale from a zamindar to leave with the zamindar the minutest fraction of the proprietary rights which he had. He would still be a proprietor, no matter how small the fraction was, and, according to the Board of Revenue, Section 7 would not apply, although the proportion of sir represented by the fractional interest remaining in the zamindar might be represented by the one-hundredth part of a bigha. Further, according to the Board of Revenue, that one-hundredth part of a bigha would be the only scrap of land in the village of which the unfortunate zamindar could ever become an ex-proprietary tenant. That could not have been the protection which the Legislature intended to afford by Section 7. The first Court dismissed the suit. The Lower Appellate Court dismissed the appeal. We dismiss this appeal and confirm the decrees below with costs.