Pandrang Roa, J.
1. These are appeals trom the decrees oi the District Judge of West Godavari dated 23rd January, 1931, affirming on appeal the decrees of the Revenue Divisional Officer of Nidadavole dated 29th June, 1929, in certain suits instituted under Section 30, Clause (1) of the Madras Estates Land Act for enhancement of rent on the ground of a rise in the prices of food grains. The enhancement claimed was two annas in the Rupee of the rent till then payable, and not two annas per putti as stated in the judgment of the lower appellate Court, the enhancement claimed being the maximum allowed by the Act. This enhancement has been allowed by both the Courts below. On the merits of this enhancement nothing need be said as the question is one of fact and there are concurrent findings thereon.
2. The only point argued in these appeals is whether the suits for enhancement of rent are maintainable in view of the provisions of Section 37(1) of the Madras Estates Land Act which runs as follows:
A suit for enhancement on the ground of a rise in prices shall not be entertained, if within the twenty years next preceding its institution, the rent has whether before or after the passing of this Act been commuted or enhanced or a suit for enhancement has been dismissed on the merits.
3. The facts necessary for the determination of this question of law are as follows. The suits fall into two classes, those included in Ex. Q and those included in Ex. U. In the case of the former class of suits there were previous suits filed by the landholder in which the only claim was for enhanced rent. These suits were dismissed by the High Court finally in 1916. If these suits can be regarded as suits for enhancement of rent there can be no doubt that the present suits as against the ryots whose holdings were the subject-matter of the previous suits are premature and not maintainable, because they were brought only about twelve years after the dismissal of the previous suits. As regards the second class of suits there were no previous suits but as a matter of fact enhanced rent was being demanded and paid in respect of the holdings concerned up to 1916. The facts common to both classes of suits are that at least in 1888 the rent that was payable was only Rs. 80 per putti and this was raised to Rs. 82 in 1912. Three years later it was raised to Rs. 85 and two years afterwards to Rs. 90. In respect of fasli 1318 the landholder attempted to claim a further enhancement of rent at the rate of Rs. 100 per putti, and it was then that the ryots refused to pay and the suits referred to already had t6 be instituted by the landholder in 1909, 1910 and 1911. As an example I shall take S.S. No. 104 of 1909. It was stated in the plaint that the ryot had executed muchilikas agreeing among other things to pay a cist of Rs. 42-8-0 for fasli 1316, Rs. 50-10-0 for fasli 1317 and Rs. 56-4-0 for fasli 1318 and the suits were in form suits to recover arrears of rent for faslis 1316 and 1317 and the rent for fasli 1318 at the rates mentioned above. The principal issues in the suit were whether the enhancement of rent claimed for fasli 1318 was lawful and valid and whether the enhancements for faslis 1316 and 1317 were valid and binding on the tenants beyond those faslis. It is clear to my mind that those suits, though they purported to be suits for recovery of arrears of rent, were in substance suits for establishing a claim to enhanced rent. There was no other important question raised in the suits than a claim to recover rent at an enhanced rate, and it was this claim that was heard and decided finally on the merits. The final result of the suits was the dismissal of the claim to enhanced rent. It is therefore clear that so far as the Ex. Q class of cases is concerned there is no bar imposed by Section 37(1) of the Act, for it is clear that the previous suits had been dismissed on the merits within twenty years prior to the filing of the present suits, the dismissal of the previous suits being in 1916 and the present suits having been instituted in 1928. It is in my opinion not correct to say that no suit for enhancement was possible under the old Act. Suits for enhancement, though not provided for eo nomine in the old Act, were nevertheless permitted in the sense that it was open to a landholder to claim enhanced rent with the sanction of the collector under the old Act. In any case the previous suits were heard and decided as suits for enhanced rent and they were not dismissed on any preliminary ground such as that no enhanced rent could be claimed under the old Act, or that no enhanced rent could be claimed under any contract subsequent to the passing of the new Act. There can be no doubt moreover that the effect of any decree in favour of the landholder in the former suits would have been to enhance the rent permanently. If the rent at the rate of Rs. 100 had been allowed in the former suits in respect of fasli 1318 there can be no doubt that the ryots would have been liable to pay at the same rate for subsequent faslis. In other words the effect of any decree in favour of the landholder in those suits would have been to enhance the rent and in these circumstances it is in my opinion not reasonable to contend that the former suits should not be deemed to be suits for enhancement of rent.
4. The question is said to be not covered by any authority, but the answer seems to be clearly pointed out by the policy that underlies the new Act of 1908, namely, that once there has been an enhancement, or a suit claiming enhanced rent has been dismissed on the merits, there should be no fresh suit for enhancement for twenty years thereafter. That, in my opinion, is not only the policy but also the effect of the words used in Section 37(1) of the Madras Estates Land Act. It follows therefore that so far as Ex. Q class of cases is concerned the suits are not maintainable in view of the provisions of Section 37(1) of the Act. The second appeals which relate to this class of cases are S.A. No. 1804 to 1808, 1810, 1811, 1813, 1815 to 1817, 1819, 1821 and 1822 of 1931.
5. As regards the other class of cases there is no doubt that there was an actual enhancement in respect of fasli 1318 and that rent at the enhanced rate of Rs. 100 was paid not only for fasli 1318 but for the subsequent faslis also till fasli 1326, and that as a result of the decision in the other class of cases by the High Court, the rent was voluntarily reduced by the landholder to the rate recognised by the High Court, that is to say, Rs. 82 per putti. In this class of suits it must be held that there has been an actual enhancement within twenty years prior to the suits for the enhancement took effect in fasli 1318, that is, the year, 1st July, 1908 to 30th June, 1909. The present suits were brought on 30th June, 1928, that is to say, within twenty years from the time when the rent was enhanced. This is in fact the finding of the lower appellate Court namely; that this class of suits is premature. The lower appellate Court however was of opinion that though there was no cause of action to the plaintiff when these suits were instituted yet as his cause of action had accrued before the suits were disposed of he should be given the relief claimed by him even though he had no cause of action at the time of institution. In doing so the lower appellate Court has relied on a decision reported in Subbaraya Chetty v. Nachiar Animal (1918) M.W.N. 199. That decision no doubt permits the Court to grant this kind of indulgence to the plaintiff only for exceptional reasons. No such reasons are given by the lower appellate Court; on the other hand there are very good reasons why the indulgence should not have been granted to the plaintiff in this class of suits. The grant of this indulgence to the landholder deprives the ryots of the benefit of the fall in prices since the institution of the suits and imposes on them on the other hand a liability to pay enhanced rent from an earlier date. In my opinion there can be no justification for showing this indulgence to the landholder in view of the policy of the Act in this matter namely, that no claim to enhancement of rent shall be entertained by the Court within twenty years after the rent has been enhanced. If indulgence is given to the land-holder in this manner the effect will be to cut down the duration of the statutory bar to something less than twenty years, and to abrogate in part the express provisions of the statute. It follows from what I have said that in both classes of suits it must be held that the suits are premature in view of the provisions of Section 37(1) of the Madras Estates Land Act and that they should have been dismissed on this ground.
6. The second appeals are therefore allowed and the decrees of the Courts below are set aside and the suits dismissed with costs in all the three Courts.
(Leave to appeal is refused.)