1. This is a Letters Patent Appeal against a decision of one of the learned Judges of this Court. The facts which have given rise to the litigation are briefly as follows : One Sheonath Bharthi was the mahant of a math and in that capacity held certain lands as an inferior proprietor. He had a chela or disciple in one Sheobaksh. The ascetics of this math were not allowed to marry, but Sheobaksh did marry. The result was that Sheobaksh became disentitled to become the mahant, as a successor to Sheonath. There was a dispute between Sheonath and Sheobaksh and certain persons, as arbitrators, settled it. Sheobaksh was given 51 bighas of land for his maintenance. It was further provided that Sheobaksh's son would be initiated by Sheonath as his chela, and that son would succeed Sheonath. Sheo-bakhsh had, as a matter of fact, three sons. One of these Ramnarain, the present respondent, was initiated as a chela and succeeded Sheonath to the math. On the death of Sheobaksh his two remaining sons, namely, Jainarain and Mahesh, took possession of the 51 bighas which had been given to Sheobaksh for maintenance. After the death of Jainarain and Mahesh two suits were instituted by Ramnarain against the sons of Jainarain for recovery of rent on the allegation that the sons of Jainarain held the land as tenants of Ramnarain. It appears that Mahesh and Jainarain divided the land originally granted to Sheobaksh and we are concerned with only a portion of the 51 bighas.
2. In the Revenue Court, in the suits for arrears of rent, the defendants (the present plaintiff appellants) pleaded that they were not tenants of the land but they were the proprietors of the same. Thereupon the Revenue Court directed the present plaintiffs to institute a suit in the Civil Court to obtain a declaration of their title and status. The suit was accordingly instituted in 1921 and was, apparently, fought up in two Courts. It was ultimately withdrawn by the plaintiffs with liberty to sue again. They filed their suit out of which the present appeal has arisen in 1923.
3. The first Court dismissed the suit holding that the plaintiffs had not proved their title to the land as having been acquired by adverse possession which was their plea. The lower Appellate Court decreed the suit holding that the defendants and their predecessors had completed a title in themselves by holding the property adversely to the mahant for more than 12 years. A learned Judge of this Court has reversed the decree of the lower Appellate Court and restored the decree of the first Court, his opinion being that there was no case of adverse possession.
4. The plaintiffs set up a document which they described as an award. If that document be treated as a genuine one, it would show that Sheobaksh was given only for his life the 51 bighas of land. The lower Appellate Court, however, has expressed the opinion that the document is spurious. It may, therefore, be left out of account. The lower Appellate Court has further found that no relationship of landlord and tenant ever existed between the parties. On the death of Sheobaksh, therefore, his descendants held the property without the permission of the then mahant. We have been told that Sheobaksh died in the lifetime of Sheonath. This may be so, but the fact is immaterial. When Sheobaksh died, either Sheonath or his successor-in-interest, Ramnarain, was entitled to recover the 51 bighas. It is common ground that the plaintiffs have been holding the land in suit for more than 12 years prior to the institution of the suit for arrears of rent. As no relation of landlord and tenant ever existed and as the sons and grandsons of Sheobaksh held the land without any title to the same, it must betaken that their possession was adverse, and they matured in themselves a right to hold the property without payment of any rent. In this view, the decree of this Court ought to be reversed and the decree of the lower Appellate Court should be restored,
5. The learned Counsel for the respondent has tried to support the decree of this Court on the following ground. He urged that the earlier suit of the plaintiffs having been withdrawn, the second suit, which. was admittedly filed more than three months after the Revenue Court directed the plaintiffs to file their suit in the Civil Court, could not be treated as a suit instituted under the directions of the Revenue Court and must be dismissed as barred by time.
6. On this point there are two cases decided in this Court which are directly in point and are against the respondent's contention. The first case is Randhir Singh v. Bhagwan Das 21 Ind. Cas. 654 : 11 A.L.J. 746 : 35 A. 541 decided by two learned Judges and the second case is Shah Muhammad v. Khuda Bakhsh 25 Ind. Cas. 188 : 12 A.L.J. 989 decided by Piggott, J. In subsequent cases that have been decided in this Court, these cases have been referred to, but they have never been dissented from. We do not find ourselves in a position to disagree with the views expressed in the two cases already mentioned, and, therefore, we do not think it necessary to refer the matter to a larger Bench. Following these two cases we are of opinion that the second suit should be treated as a continuation of the earlier suit and the direction of the Revenue Court has been substantially complied with by the institution of the earlier suit within three months of the date of the order of the Revenue Court.
7. In the result, we allow the appeal, set aside the decree of this Court and restore the decree of the lower Appellate Court. The appellants will have their costs at both the hearings in this Court.