1. This suit arises out of an attempt made by the defendant, who is the zamindar of a mahal, to eject the plaintiffs from a grove situated on two specified plots of land within the area of the mahal of which the defendant is zamindar. On being sued for ejectment the owners of the grove pleaded full proprietary title in the same, whereupon they were required to establish the alleged title by suit in the Civil Court. The present suit has, therefore, been brought by the persons in possession of the grove whose ejectment was sought by the defendant-zamindar.
2. The trial Court decreed the suit for the relief sought. The learned District Judge has set aside the decree of the trial Court and has granted a declaration to the effect that the plaintiffs are the owners of the trees and enjoy the status of grove-holders but are not proprietors.
3. In second appeal we have to deal in the main with two contentions. One is that the decision of the District Judge is based upon a misreading of the most important documentary evidence in the case, viz., the wajib-ul-arz prepared in the year 1865. Secondly, it is contended before us that the learned District Judge has nowhere dealt with the results of a previous litigation between the predecessor-in-title of the present parties and that the effect of that litigation is to establish the plaintiffs' title as owners of the land and of the trees. There is force in both these contentions. The wajib-ul-arz distinctly recognises the existence in this village of two different kinds of groves. In Chapter 4 of this record of rights it is stated that, in respect of the ordinary groves in the village, the persona who planted the same are the owners of the trees, but have no rights over the land. The zemindar has a right of re-entry as soon as the land loses the character of a grove and, what is more, he can interfere to prevent the planting of new treas. In substance, this clause recognises in favour of the parsons who have planted groves in the village what is ordinarily described as the status of grove-holders. In Chapter 3 of the same document there is a passage, the correct interpretation of which should determine the result of the present suit. It purports to give a list of certain detached plots of land in respect of which it is noted that they are in possession of persons other than the proprietor or proprietors of the mahal. These plots of lands are stated to be groves or flower gardens. In respect of these it is definitely stated that the possession of the owner (malik) of such a grove is in his own right and that the zamindars have no right to interfere with him. It has not been denied in argument that the plots of land with which we are now concerned are referred to in the list of detached plots of land to which the above mentioned clause of the wajib-ul-arz refers. On a fair interpretation of the clause it seams to us that it recognises full proprietary rights in respect of these detached plots of land in favour of the parsons recorded as being in posses-3ion of the same. The learned District Judge has refused to interpret the wajib-ul-arz in this sense because in the ordinary village papers the present plaintiffs and their predaoe33ors-in-titlo were recorded as occupancy tenants. We do not think that this fact can either overrule the provisions of the wajib-ul-arz, or be pressed into service so as to put upon those provisions an interpretation which seems to us strained and contrary to the plain intention of the document. Apart from these considerations, we think that the lower Appellate Court has gone even more seriously astray in its reference to a certain previous litigation of the year 1908. In that year the proprietor of the mahal, who was the father of the defendant-respondent now before us, sued the father of the plaintiffs in the Revenue Court for assessment of rent. We have not got the pleadings before us, but we have got the judgment delivered by the Revenue Court in which this suit was brought. That judgment referred 60 the provisions of the wajib-ul-arz, laid stress upon the long continued possession of the holders of the grove and distinctly found that this possession had for many years been adverse to the zamindar. It dismissed the suit for assessment of rent upon this finding, and not upon a mere finding that the persons upon whom rent was sought to be assessed were not liable to such assessment by reason of their status of grove-holders. A curious point was taken in the lower Court, to the effect that this decision had no force against the present defendant because the father of the said defendant, shortly before instituting these proceedings for assessment of rant, had executed a deed of gift by which ha purported to convey the land appertaining to this grove to his son, the defendant. This plea has been sufficiently dealt with by the learned Munsiff in his judgment. In any case it seems to us that from the date of this decision the present plaintiffs were beyond question holding the land in suit adversely to the zamindar in the fullest sense of the word and, even if they had no valid title before that date, they had perfected a title by adverse possession for the full statutory period before these present proceedings ware instituted in the Revenue Court. What the learned District Judge has in effect done is to degrade the plaintiffs from their position of owner of the grove (malik bagh) as defined in Chapter 3 of the wajib-ul-arz to that of grove-holders as defined in Chapter 4. For the reasons which we have given, we are satisfied that the learned District Judge was wrong.
4. We set aside the decree of the lower Appellate Court and restore that of the Court of first instance with eo3ts throughout.