John Wallis, C.J.
1. The repealed Rent Recovery Act VIII of 1865 contained in Section 1 a comprehensive definition of 'land-holders,' and proceeded to regulate the relations of certain classes of land-holders enumerated in Section 3 with their tenants, as those holding under them were called, leaving other land-holders unrestricted. The classes who were made the subject of this special legislation were broadly speaking, with one exception, assignees of land revenue, and ordinary Government ryots paying the full assessment direct to Government were unaffected. In the present Act the line is drawn by the definition of estate in Section 3(2) which has been adapted from the definition of estate in Section 4 of the Madras Proprietary Estates Village Service Act II of 1894. Clause (d) restricts the operation of the Act by including only the inams therein mentioned thereby excluding the so-called minor inams, but the definition as a whole clearly shows the general intention of the legislature to include all large estates held directly under Government, and Clause (e) extends it to estates consisting of one or more villages not held directly under Government but as a permanent under-tenure. The presumption therefore is that it was the intention of the legislature to apply the provisions of the Act to the numerous villages constituting the Tanjore Palace Estate, though it is of course necessary to show that they come within one or other of the classes of the definition. The villages in question formed part of the territories of the Rajah of Tanjore as to which he agreed by the treaty of 1799 to cede the collection of the revenues and the administration of justice to the East India Company. By some arrangement come to at the time the Company refrained from enforcing its rights under the treaty to the revenue of these villages, and they remained in the enjoyment of the Rajahs until the death of the last Rajah when his territories were taken possession of on behalf of the Crown by an Act of State, It was expressly decided in The Secretary of State v. Kamachee Boye Sahiba (1859) 7 M.I.A. 476 that these villages, forming the so-called private estate of the Rajah, then became the property of Government; and some years later they were granted as a matter of grace and favour to the widows of the late Raja and after them, to his daughter, or failing her his next heirs, as held by this Court in Jijoyiamba Bayi Saiba v. Kamakshi Bayi Saiba (1868) 3 M.H.C.R. 424. It is admitted that the kudivaram right in the suit village, and in almost all the other villages, does not belong to the estate; and these villages are therefore villages of which the land revenue alone has been granted by the British Government to persons not owning the kudivaram right, and they therefore come within Clause (d) if they can be said to have been granted 'in inam' within the meaning of the section. The definition of the word, 'inam' in Wilson's Glossary expressly covers irresumable revenue-free grants or assignments of revenue such as this. The word 'Inam' as held by the Privy Council in Raghojirao Saheb v. Lakshmanrao Saheb (1912) I.L.R. 36 B. 639 (P.C.) is a term of wide signification, wide enough, as held in G. Sam v. Ramalinga Mudaliar : (1916)30MLJ600 to include jaghirs which however are separately mentioned in Clause (c) of the definition. The meaning of the term 'jaghir' is discussed in that case, and I agree with the observation of Courts Trotter, J., that all jaghirs are a species of inams though there are many kinds of inams that are not jaghirs. The terms jaghir and jaghirdar were terms of some dignity, and were used in the grants themselves or by the grantees for that reason. The grant now in question appears to have been commonly spoken of as a mokhasa grant, and though it cannot be said to have been granted on what is understood as mokhasa tenure, the use of the word goes to show that it was regarded as an inam of a dignified character. There was no distinctive word for a peculiar inam of this kind, and it was probably thought better to use the word mokhasa though not strictly applicable rather than to describe the grantees merely as inamdars, a term which includes large numbers of petty grantees in very humble circumstances. There is, in my opinion, no sufficient ground for supposing that it was intended to exclude from the operation of Section 3(2)(d) grants which were irresumable as the fact that they were irresumable would not be a ground for excluding them having regard to the policy of the Act. I am not satisfied that the Rules for the adjudication and settlement of Inam lands of 1859 have any bearing on this question. Under Rule 4 personal or subsistence grants, such as this, if inquired into, would have simply been confirmed according to their tenor, that is to say as revenue-free and irresumable. However this may be, I do not think these rules afford any ground for patting a restrictive construction on the word inam as used by the legislature in the Act of 1908, especially when the result of so doing would be to exclude from the operation of the Act a large estate which there is no other reason for excluding. I would answer the question in the affirmative.
Sadasiva Aiyar, J.,
2. I take it that, though the question referred to us is as regards the whole of the Tanjore Palace Estate consisting among other things of about 190 villages, our answer is to be confined to the Mokhasa Ullikadai village within whose limits are situated all the subject-matters of the suits out of which these revision petitions have arisen. As regards this village, it seems to have been conceded by the respondents' Vakil before the referring Bench that the land revenue alone belonged to the Tanjore Palace Estate. I concur entirely with my Lord as regards the whole Estate that there was a new grant in 1862 to the Rajah's senior widow by the British Government. That new grant related to the Government Revenue alone (according to the admission above mentioned) so far as the arable lands of the Ullikadai village were concerned.
3. The next question is whether the grant of the revenue of this village can be called a 'grant in inam' by the British Government and whether the definition of Estate found in Clause 2 (d) of Section 3 of the Madras Estates Land Act applies to this village. I concurred with Mr. Justice Napier in his judgment in Second Appeal No. 2661 of 1913 in which he held that in the phrase 'granted in inam,' the word 'inam' should be given a definite and restricted meaning which (according to my said learned brother) that word had acquired in the Madras Presidency since the days of the first Inam Settlement. That restricted and definite meaning (if I understood his judgment aright) was a grant of lands or land revenue made in such a manner that a reversionary right could be claimed by the British Government in the subject of the grant on the occurrence of certain events. As no such reservation was intended in the case of the grant of revenue of any of the villages of the Tanjore Palace Estate, we held in Second Appeal No. 2661 of 1913 that it did not consist of villages whose revenues were granted 'in inam'. The Government never seems to have contemplated the registration of these villages as inam villages or to include them in the list of inam villages to be entered in the Registration Records relating to such villages. There seems to have been no intention to instruct the Inam Commissioners or the Inam Settlement Officers to deal with any of these Palace Estate villages by way of confirmation or of modification of the grant of 1862.
4. No doubt, the word 'inam' means 'gift or benefaction' in the widest and most popular sense of that Arabic term which has passed practically into every one of the Vernacular languages of India. It is a gift by a superior to an inferior and is applied in popular language to any gift, whether of moveables or immoveables and of however petty a value. But it has also got several restricted meanings, such restricted meanings, varying in different parts of India. Wilson says, 'In India, and especially in the south, and amongst the Marathas, the term was specially applied to grants of land held rent-free, and in hereditary and perpetual occupation.' Then he says 'the tenure came in time to be qualified by the reservation of a portion of the assessable revenue, or by the exaction of all proceeds exceeding the intended value of the original assessment.' He says further on that 'the term was also vaguely applied to grants of rent-free land without reference to perpetuity or any specified conditions.' He likewise mentions very numerous distinctions among the tenures called 'Inams' (see also pages 38 to 41 of Mr. Rama Doss' Book on the Estates Land Act).
5. It is thus clear that when a Madras Statute uses the word 'inam', it does not signify a gift of whatever kind of property by a superior individual of whatever status to an inferior. Some restriction of the above very wide general significance being assumed (the Inam rules found in the Board's Standing Orders, Vol. 2, para. 52, the Proceedings of the Inam Commissioner and Act IV of 1862, all these also evidently implying such a qualification), Mr. Justice Napier's opinion was that the legislature when talking of a grant 'in inam' could have had in its contemplation only a grant in the subject of which the Government had retained some reversionary interest to be enforced in certain contingencies. I am free to admit that the knowledge of my learned brother Mr. Justice; Napier as regards revenue matters and revenue Regulations and his long official experience of such questions (through official contact with the higher Revenue Officer of the Government) being mush more extensive than I could profess to claim, I without much hesitation deferred to his opinion on the question. Even after the full arguments which I have heard in this Full Bench Reference, I cannot say that the view which Napier, J., and myself took in Second Appeal No. 2661 of 1913 is wholly unsupportable.
6. But as my Lord the Chief Justice whose experience and whose knowledge of the history, policy and progress of the legislation which resulted in the passing of the Madras Estates Land Act is, if I may say so with respect, unique, is of opinion that the legislature could not have intended in the definition in Clause (d) of Section 3(2) to exclude villages in the granted revenues of which the Government reserved no reversionary interest, I agree that the opinion contra expressed in the decision in Second Appeal No. 2661 of 1913 should be overruled especially because (as pointed out by Mr. Justice Ayling in his referring judgment) the preponderating balance of convenience is in favour of not restricting unduly the meaning of the phrase 'granted in inam'.
Seshagiri Aiyar, J.,
7. The further arguments addressed to us have confirmed me in the view I took in the Order of Reference. I entirely agree with the opinions expressed by the learned Chief Justice.