Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.
1. The petitioner was the first defendant in a suit brought by the first and second respondents, in the Court of the Sub-Collector of Rajahmundry for the recovery of lands forming the emoluments of the office of village blacksmith in the village of Arikirevula which is in the East Godavari District. The plaintiffs-respondents obtained a decree for the possession of the lands and for the payment to them of an amount representing the mesne profits for the years 1931-1939 inclusive. The petitioner says that the Revenue Court had no power to grant to the plaintiffs-respondents a decree for mesne profits for more than the three years immediately preceding the suit, and he asks the Court in certiorari proceedings to quash that part of the decree which is in excess of the trial Court's jurisdiction.
2. It has been found, and is now accepted to be the case, that the office of the village blacksmith devolved in accordance with custom on the plaintiffs-respondents, notwithstanding that they were minors. The office of village blacksmith appears in the list of village offices set out in Sub-section (4) of Section 3 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, 1895. Section 10(1) states that a person shall not be eligible for appointment to one of the offices in the list given in Sub-section (1) of Section 3, unless he has attained the age of majority, but this provision is not applied in respect of offices falling within Section 3 (4). Succession to the offices mentioned in Section 3 (4) is governed by the provisions of Section 12, which says that succession to such offices shall devolve ' in accordance with the law or custom applicable thereto at the date on which this Act comes into force.' As already indicated custom allows the office of the village blacksmith to devolve upon a minor, and at all material times the plaintiffs-respondents have been the holders of this office and entitled to the lands forming its emoluments. There has been a specific finding to this effect. It appears that the plaintiffs-respondents were registered as persons entitled to succeed to the office, apparently under the mistaken idea that the procedure contemplated by Section 10(5) applied. Registration was not necessary in this case, but the fact that the names of the plaintiffs-respondents were registered does not in any way affect their legal position.
3. The petitioner relies on Section 14(1), which reads as follows:
No suit preferred before a Collector under the last preceding section shall be entertained which is not preferred within three years from the date of the cause of action arising, whether such date be before or after the commencement of this Act:
Provided that, in the case of a person who, by reason of minority, was disqualified for holding office, the right to sue for such office or for the recovery of the emoluments thereof shall accrue from the date of his attaining majority.
4. Section 13 contains provisions relating to suits for the recovery of offices and of their emoluments and this is a suit of that nature. By reason of the first clause of Section 14 the Collector is prohibited from entertaining any such suit unless it has been preferred within three years from the date of the cause of action. If the cause of action accrued more than three years before the presentation of the plaint the Revenue Court has no jurisdiction to try it. The proviso to Section 14(1) does not help the plaintiffs-respondents, as it only applies to the case of a person who by reason of minority was disqualified for holding the office. The plaintiffs-respondents were never disqualified. Section 6 of the Limitation Act does not apply [see Section 29(2)(b) of that Act]. For these reasons we are of the opinion that the Collector had no power to grant the plaintiffs-respondents a decree for mesne profits for a period greater than three years. The position is not a very satisfactory one but the Court can only interpret the sections. It is for the Legislative authority to make an amendment if it considers that the Act operates unfairly.
5. The result is that we quash the decree so far as it awards the plaintiffs-respondents mesne profits for more than three years immediately preceding the suit. The petitioner does not contend that the decree is invalid in other respects and therefore this Court's order will merely be confined to the matter of mesne profits.
6. The petitioner is entitled to his costs.