1. The appellant obtained a decree on the 18th March, 1936 for what is described in his plaint as rent or damages for use and occupation the period covered by these arrears being from the 15th December, 1932 to 15th October,, 1935. He also got a decree for land cess in respect of the same lands for the period from the 30th June, 1931 to 30th June, 1935. At the time when he obtained this decree in the ordinary Civil Court no question was raised as to the jurisdiction of the Court. When Act IV of 1938 came into force the judgment-debtor filed an application under Sections 8, 15 and 19 of that Act praying the Court to scale down the amount due under the decree. He did not make any deposit of rent for faslis 1346 and 1347 as contemplated in Section 15 and the District Munsiff dismissed the petition for want of such deposit. In appeal the learned Subordinate Judge held that the rent which was decreed was not rent as defined by Act IV of 1938 and that the decree had to be scaled down therefore as a decree for a debt.
2. It is contended: in appeal before us that this decision is wrong, mainly because it was held by a Bench of this Court in Kondappa Naidu v. Mahalakshmamma, : (1938)1MLJ206 . that the enlargement of the definition of 'estate' in Section 3(2)(d) of the Madras Estates Land Act as amended by the Act of 1936 should be taken to be declaratory and as having a retrospective effect. The argument is that the appellant should be deemed to have been a landholder of. an estate under the Estates Land Act and the rent decreed in the previous suit should be deemed to have been rent due to him as such landholder, even though he did not sue as a landholder of an estate and got his decree on the basis of an ordinary contract. The whole of this argument depends upon the assumption that in the case just cited it was laid down as a general proposition of universal application that all estates newly brought under the Madras Estates Land Act by the amendment of 1936 must be deemed to have been estates under that act for all purposes in the past and that the retrospective declaration of the nature of these estates must govern even completed judicial proceedings and divest vested rights. It does not appear to us that any such decision can be spelt out of the case cited. The learned Judges who heard that case were dealing with Letters Patent appeals, which had a long antecedent history, the main question at issue being whether the suits in question were suits over which the Revenue Court or the Civil Court had jurisdiction. While the Letters Patent appeals were pending, Madras Act VIII of 1934 came into force and under Section 127 of that Act a stay was obtained. The effect of Section 13 of Act XVIII of 1936 was to provide that all proceedings stayed under Section 127 of the 1934 Act were to be disposed of, as if the amended Act for 1936 had been in force at the original institution of the proceedings. This plain statutory provision clearly governed the case and it was necessary to treat this long pending litigation as if the amended Act of 1936 had been applicable to it at its inception. It was merely to repel an argument advanced against the plain meaning of the statute that the learned Judges had occasion to observe that the Act was declaratory and retrospective the observation clearly having reference to the effect of Section 13 of Act XVIII of 1936. We see no reason to extend this observation to facts which were not in contemplation of the learned Judges or to hold, when there are vested rights under contracts which were lawful at the time when they were made and have formed the subject of adjudications before there was any question of subsequent litigation applying to them, that this subsequent litigation will have the effect of destroying those rights or of making the adjudication into something which they were not. Clearly in the present case the decree was passed for an ordinary contractual rent which alone could be claimed at the time when the Court dealt with the matter. We see no reason to hold that the effect of the amendment of 1936 to the Madras Estates Land Act will be to change the character of that rent or the relations of the parties as they stood at the time of the previous adjudication. It follows therefore that the lower Court was right in holding that this decree could be scaled down as a decree for a debt.
3. In two minor matters modification seems necessary. Since Section 15 has no application, there seems no reason to apply Section 16 either, Section 16 being merely a rider to Section 15. The decree for land cess will therefore have to be scaled down as any other decree for a debt and to the extent to which the arrears were due before the 1st October, 1932, the interest thereon outstanding as on 1st October,. 1937, will be liable to be cancelled and subsequent interest will have to be at the decree rate. To the extent to which the arrears accrued due after the 1st October, 1932, the interest on land cess will have to be reduced to five per cent. under Section 9 up to the 22nd March, 1938, and thereafter the decree rate will prevail. The decree for costs must also be treated as a debt incurred on the date of the decree and interest on costs will run under Section 9 at five per cent. up to the 22nd March, 1938, and thereafter at the decree rate. Subject to these modifications the appeal is dismissed with costs.