Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.
1. This appeal raises an interesting question of law, but we may say at the outset that the correct answer is given in the judgment under appeal.
2. The parties to the suit are joint lessees of agricultural land. The lease is dated the 28th September, 1928, and the plaintiffs and the defendants had an equal interest in it. On the 28th July, 1933, the lessor obtained a decree for arrears of rent and on three occasions he instituted execution proceedings, but against the plaintiffs alone. As the result of these proceedings, the plaintiffs were compelled to pay on the 12th February, 1936, Rs. ,766-12-10, on the 3rd March, 1937, Rs. 130 and on the 19th July, 1937, Rs. 232-6-6, in all Rs. 1,129-3-4. On the (date on which the last payment was made there was due under the decree the sum of Rs. 2270-2-0 disregarding the payments which the plaintiffs had made. Therefore, their payments represent less than half the decretal debt. In 1939, the plaintiffs applied for an order scaling down the amount due under the decree in accordance with the provisions of the Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act which came into force on the 22nd March, 1938. On the 17th July, 1939, their application was granted and the decree was reduced to one for Rs. 39-14-1, with costs amounting to Rs. 232. Thereupon the plaintiffs sued in the Court of the District Munsiff of Guntur for a decree for contribution against the defendants as joint lessees. The District Munsiff held that they were entitled to contribution and gave them a decree for Rs. 362-6-6. The defendants appealed to the Subordinate Judge, who concurred in the decision of the District Munsiff. The defendants then appealed to this Court. The appeal was heard by Patanjali Sastri, J., who held that on the facts of this case, the plaintiffs were not entitled to contribution. The appeal is from the judgment 'of the learned Judge under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent.
3. Admittedly there is nothing in the Agriculturists' Relief Act which gives the plaintiffs a right to contribution in respect of payments made by them before the passing of that Act and consequently the question as to the right to contribution must be decided on the principle stated in Putti Narayanamurthi Iyer v. Marimuthu Pilled I.L.R. (1902)Mad. 322. There it was pointed out that between two co-debtors each is a principal debtor in respect of a moiety of the debt and a surety for the other in respect of the other moiety. It was further pointed out that the right to contribution was based not merely on the gain resulting to the principal debtor from the act of the surety, but the loss which the surety had sustained by the default of the principal debtor.
4. When the plaintiffs made the three payments, they were not entitled to contribution, because the total amount paid by them was less than their half share of the debt as it then stood. In other words, they made no payments as sureties, but as principal debtors. As the Madras Agriculturists Relief Act does not contain a provision entitling the plaintiffs to contribution in respect of payments made before the Act in the event of a subsequent scaling down their suit must be dismissed.
5. It follows that the appeal must be dismissed with costs.