1. This is a defendants' appeal arising out of a suit for arrears of rent. The plaintiff, who was the late ruler of the Benares State, brought the suit in his own name on the allegation that the rent of the holding had been enhanced under a Revenue Court's decree which was based on a compromise between the parties and that the defendants were liable to pay such enhanced rent. The defendants pleaded that inasmuch as there was no registered agreement to pay enhanced rent, they were not at all liable and the decree should be for the old rent only. The Court of first instance accepted the defendants' contention but on appeal the learned District Judge came to a contrary conclusion. He held that under Section 50(i)(b) of the new Tenancy Act the compromise, which was incorporated into the decree of the Court fulfilled the requirements of the law and was valid and binding. He further held that : inasmuch as under the same compromise occupancy rights had been conferred on the defendants they were estopped from going behind the compromise and while claiming occupancy rights disowning their liability to pay the enhanced rent. On appeal a learned Judge of this Court has referred the case to a Division Bench on account of certain questions of law which arise in this case.
2. A preliminary objection is taken on behalf of the respondent that the appeal had abated inasmuch as no application to have the abatement set aside consequent upon the death of the late Maharaja was made within the time allowed by law. Such an application was filed by the appellants but it was filed a few days beyond time and there was an affidavit to explain the delay. This matter came up for disposal before a learned Judge of this Court who came to the conclusion that there was no question of abatement in this case as it was a case of devolution under Order 22, Rule 10, Civil P.C., and that therefore it was not necessary to bring the present Maharaja on the record as the legal representative of the deceased Maharaja. The suit was brought in the name of the late Maharaja and there was no indication in the plaint that the property in dispute was a part of the raj of Benares. It seems unnecessary to decide whether the raj, as such, can be treated as if it were a juristic personality, can own private property in British territory. Prima facie, as the plaint stood, the suit had been brought by the plaintiff who was the landholder against the defendants who were the tenants and it would appear that Order 22 Civil P.C., would be applicable. But the matter was within the jurisdiction of the Single Judge of this Court who came to the conclusion rightly or wrongly that there had been no abatement and that there was no necessity to have any such abatement. Had he come to any contrary conclusion he would certainly have considered the question whether on the facts alleged it the affidavit time should not be extended. In the circumstances we think we should not entertain this objection now.
3. The previous suit had been brought by the late Maharaja for the ejectment of the defendants treating them as mere non-occupancy tenants. The defendants pleaded that they were occupancy tenants and not non-occupancy tenants. A compromise was filed in Court signed by the parties under which it was agreed that occupancy rights should be conferred on the defendants and that they should pay an enhanced rent. The date of the compromise was 29th September 1925, and was entered into at the time when the Tenancy Act, 2 of 1901, was in force.
4. It seems to us that the new Act which came into force in 1926 would not be applicable to such, a case. If the compromise was invalid under the old Act it cannot be validated on account of the new Act. Section 47 of the old Act governed enhancement of rents of non-occupancy tenants which had to be under an agreement by a registered instrument. There was no provision in that section that a decree of the Revenue Court could take the place of a registered instrument. In these circumstances the broader question whether when matters extraneous to the suit are incorporated in a compromise which is embodied in the decree of a Revenue Court the decree dispenses with the necessity of registration docs not arise in the present case. Under the Act the existence of a registered instrument was absolutely indispensable. We must therefore hold that the compromise, so far as the enhancement of the rent was concerned, was totally ineffective and invalid. It may be worthwhile to point out that even if the new Act had applied the case would be governed by Section 69, Agra Tenancy Act, and even under that section the rent can be enhanced either by a registered instrument or by a compromise filed in adjustment of a suit or proceeding under the Act recorded by the Court under Order 23, Rule 3 Civil P.C. Under the latter rule the Court has to pass a decree in accordance with the compromise only 'so far as it relates to the suit.'
5. The next point urged on behalf of the respondent is that there is estoppel against the defendants because they acquired occupancy rights under this very compromise. It is quite obvious that the plea of equitable estoppel cannot be taken against the provisions the Statute. When the Act required that enhancement could be effected only by means of a registered agreement, the principle of estoppel cannot cannot be allowed to override such a specific provision. We must accordingly old that the view taken by the lower appellate Court was wrong We allow this appeal and modifying the decree of the lower appellate Court restore the decree of the first Court with costs in all Courts.