1. The petitioners are 30 plaintiffs who sued to have their occupancy rights declared to several items of property detailed in plaint Schedule A. After issues were framed, the District Munsif in a considered order found that the plaint was bad for multifariousness and misjoinder of parties so far as plaint Schedule A lands were concerned. The petitioners all sought the same relief as regards Schedule. B lands holding that they were lands enjoyed in common. The learned District Munsif found that the suit was not bad as regards Schedule. B either for multifariousness or for misjoinder.
2. The plaint is interesting and has been keenly argued before me. Mr. Kuppuswami for the petitioners contends that the pleadings raise in question a common issue, namely, whether this shrotriam estate comes within the definition of Section 3(2), Madras Estates Land Act, and urges that if that is so, Section 6, Estates Land Act will automatically confer occupancy rights on the plaintiffs, He also urges that in the plaint there is an allegation of conspiracy amongst the inamdars who have been impleaded as defendants 1 to 7 to defeat the occupancy rights of the petitioners by collusive action in the shape of leases to defendants 9 to 13 to the prejudice of the petitioners' rights.
3. The main consideration which weighed with the District Munsif was that all the plaintiffs could not be said to be interested in all the plaint Schedule A lands. It is urged that there will be embarrassment in the trial of the suit, particularly as in the written statements there are contentions that some of the plaintiffs are not in actual possession of the lands that they claimed. The main issues framed however in the suit appear to me to be common to all the plaintiffs, and none of them really bring out any particular differences between an individual plaintiff and the shrotriamdars in general. The issues framed were :
(1) Whether the plaint Schedule A lands are ryoti lands within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act ?
(2) Whether the plaintiffs have got occupancy rights therein ?
(3) Whether the plaintiffs are estopped from claiming the occupancy rights ?
(4) Whether this Court has pecuniary jurisdiction to try this suit ?
(5) Whether the plaintiffs are entitled to customary rights to graze cattle on the Schedule B lands ?
(6) Whether the plaintiffs are entitled to the injunction prayed for ?
(7) Whether the plaintiffs can ask for injunction without claiming possession of Schedule B lands; and
(8) whether the suit is bad for multifariousness and is liable to be dismissed on that ground ?
4. The plaint was filed under the provisions of Order 1, Rule 1 which permits all persons to join in a suit as plaintiffs,
'in whom any right to relief in respect of or arising out of the same act or transaction or series of acts or transactions is alleged to exist, whether jointly, severally, or in the alternative, where, if such persons brought separate suits, any common question of law or fact would arise.'
There can be no doubt that the main issues which this plaint and the written statements raise are common to all the plaintiffs. Mr. Kuppuswami has referred me to an English decision reported in Payne v. British Time Recorder Co., (1921) 2 K. B. 1 : 90 L. J. K. B. 445 where Scrutton L. J., male the following observations :
'It is impossible to lay down any rule as to how the discretion of the Court ought to be exercised. Broadly speaking, where claims by or against different parties involve or may involve a common question of law or fact bearing sufficient importance in proportion to the rest of the action to render it desirable that the whole of the matters should be disposed of at the same time the Court will allow the joinder o! plaintiffs or defendants, subject to its discretion as to how the action should be tried.'
Each case has therefore to be viewed on its separate merits, and there is really no hard and fast rule to be laid down in this connection. The difficulty I feel is that the learned I District Munsif after framing issues in the suit felt that this was a fit case in which the plaintiffs should be put to an election and that only the plaintiffs who were jointly interested in particular items of Schedule A property should be permitted to prosecute this suit. I have been taken through the pleadings, and I do not think that the District Munsif has exercised a proper discretion in practically referring these 30 plaintiffs to 30 different suits in this case where outstanding common issues arise for determination.
5. Mr. Vedantachari hag contended for the respondents that this Court in revision under Section 115 should not interfere with the discretion of the trial Court in a matter of this kind. The Madras High Court has repeatedly held (see for instance Arunachalam Chettiar v. Arunachalam Chettiar, : AIR1922Mad436 that it will in the exercise of revisional jurisdiction interfere when the lower Court has wrongly held a suit as bad for misjoinder of causes of action and directed a plaintiff to elect the cause of action which he would proceed with in the suit. It is quite likely that as regards a particular plaintiff there may be a serious contest that he is not in actual possession of the land he claims as a occupancy ryot. As I have said, no issue has been raised as between a particular plaintiffs and the shrotriamdars he has impleaded. In such instances the District Munsif would be quite right in referring such a plaintiff to a separate suit before granting him the declaration he seeks of his right, title and interest in particular portions of the plaint Schedule A property. In the case of plaintiffs whose possession of the extents they claimed in the plaint Schedule A property is not denied, there can, so far as I can see, be no legal impedient to their suits being tried in common within the scope of Order 1. Rule 8, Civil P. C. Mr. Vedantachari has also expressed some concern over some cases in which the actual extents claimed by particular plaintiffs in the plaint Schedule A property are disputed. In such cases too the District Munsif would be, I think, acting quite regularly if he merely referred such cases for determination by a separate suit after finding on the main common issues raised in the present suit which can and should be tried together to avoid multiplicity of suits.
6. As regards costs, I think it is a fit case in which the parties should bear their own.