1. The decision of the Full Bench of four Judges in 1891 in Kerala Varmah Valia Raja v. Ondan Ramunni I.L.R. (1891) M. 218, proceeded upon the footing that the intention of the legislature was that contracts made before the date mentioned should stand unaffected by the Act, in other words that Sections 5 and 6 (corresponding to Sections 4 and 5 of the earlier Act) did not apply to cases governed by such contracts. This was expressly decided in Viru Mammad v. Krishnan I.L.R. (1897) M. 218. If this contention was not in accordance with the intention of the legislature it would hardly have refrained from putting the matter right when repealing and re-enacting the Act with modifications in 1899. In 1908 it was again held by a Full Bench in Randupurayil Kunhisore v. Neroth Kunhi Kannan I.L.R. (1908) M. 1 that Section 19 (formerly 7) did not affect the validity of contracts made prior to the 1st of January 1886 whether the improvements were made before or after the coming into force of the Act of 1887. In 1910 Benson and Krishnaswami Aiyar, JJ. in Kozhihot Sreemana A. Vikraman v. Modathil Ananta Patter I.L.R. (1910) M. 61, whilst disposing of the case on another ground, suggested that, while prior contracts dealing with right to make improvements and claim compensation for them were saved under the Act, this was not the case with prior contracts dealing only with the rates at which compensation was to be paid. This view was adopted in Paru Amma v. Kunhihandan I.L.R. (1911) M. 410, by Benson and Sundara Ayyar, JJ., who refused to give effect to a contract made prior to January 1886 which did not restrict the tenant's right to make improvements but only the rates payable for such improvements. In 1913 Sadasiva Aiyar and Tyabji, JJ. referred to a Full Bench the questions whether such contracts were enforceable, and whether the two last mentioned decisions were consistent with the Full Bench decision in Randupurayil Kunhisore v. Neroth Kunhi Kannan I.L.R. (1908) M. 1. The Full Bench answered without assigning reasons that such contracts were not enforceable if less favourable to the tenant than Sections 5 and 6 of the Act, and that the decisions in Kozhikot Sreemana A. Vikraman v. Modathil Ananta Patter I.L.R. (1910) M. 61, and in Paru Amma v. Kunhihandan I.L.R. (1911) M. 410, were not inconsistent with the Full Bench ruling in Randupurayil Kunhisore v. Neroth Kunhi Kannan I.L.R. (1908) M. 1. The question has again been referred to a Full Bench by Spencer and Phillips, JJ. on the ground that the Full Bench decision in Kochu Rabia v. Abdurahman I.L.R. (1913) M. 589, is inconsistent with the earlier Full Bench decision in Randupurayil Kunhisore v. Neroth Kunhi Kannan I.L.R. (1908) M. 1, and that they are in doubt which to follow and has now come before a Bench of five Judges.
2. After hearing the whole question reargued we agree with the referring Judges in Kochu Rabia v. Abdurahman I.L.R. (1913) M. 589 and in the present case that the view advanced in Kozhihot Sreeman Vikraman v. Modathil Ananta Patter I.L.R. (1910) M. 61 and adopted in Paru Amma v. Kunhihandan 3 and accepted by the Full Bench in Kochu Rabia v. Abdurahman I.L.R. (1913) M. 589 cannot be supported. Section 19 (formerly 7) which deals in terms with future contracts cannot in our opinion be construed as dealing only with contracts which takeaway or limit the right of a tenant to make improvements and also limit his right to claim compensation for them under the Act, but applies equally to contracts which take away or limit either of these rights. It is we think clear that the legislature intended to prohibit all future contracts taking away or limiting either or both of these rights. It is well settled that the word 'and' may be read as ' or ' where it is necessary to do so in order to carry out the obvious intention of the legislature (Maxwell on Statutes, p. 331, 3rd Edition). The existence of a proviso excluding from the operation of the section a particular class of contracts dealing with the compensation payable under the Act, and the insertion of the word 'to' before 'claim' when the original Section 7 was re-enacted as Section 19 also support this view. If, as we hold, contracts, affecting only the right to claim compensation come within the section, the suggested distinction fails, and we are bound following the uniform course of decisions in this Court to answer the first question referred to us in the affirmative and the second in the negative.