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S.K. Kadirvelsami Naicker by His Authorised Agent, C. Chockalingam Pillai Vs. S.P. Sultan Ahmed BadruddIn Rowther (Died) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy;Property
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1947Mad160; (1946)2MLJ371
AppellantS.K. Kadirvelsami Naicker by His Authorised Agent, C. Chockalingam Pillai
RespondentS.P. Sultan Ahmed BadruddIn Rowther (Died) and ors.
Cases ReferredIn Kaju Mal v. Saligram
Excerpt:
- .....agriculture within the meaning of the madras estates land act. he also said that 125 acres were pannai lands, which meant that in any event he had the right to sue in the civil court to recover a proportionate amount of the arrears of rent. the learned subordinate judge held that cardamom cultivation was agriculture within the definition given in the statute, but he allowed the plaintiff's claim that 125 acres of the 475 acres represented pannai lands. therefore the suit lay in the subordinate court to recover a proportionate amount of the arrears, but the subordinate judge dismissed it in its entirety on the ground that the plaintiff had not attempted to differentiate between the pannai lands and the other lands in his plaint. he did recognise that the plaintiff was entitled to sue.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The appellant is the zamindar of Yerasackanaickanoor. He brought the suit which has given rise to this appeal in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Dindigul to recover from the respondents the amount of Rs. 10,637-6-3, which he claimed to be due to him by way of rent under a lease dated the 16th December, 1930. The lease was granted by the plaintiff's prede-cessor-in-title for the purpose of cardamom cultivation. It was for a period of fifteen years and covered 475 acres of forest land, all of which fell within the boundaries of the zamindary. The defendants took exception to the jurisdiction of the Court. They claimed that they were entitled to permanent rights of occupancy in respect of the whole area covered by the lease and consequently the Revenue Court alone had jurisdiction. The plaintiff maintained that he was entitled to sue in the Civil Court because cardamom cultivation was not agriculture within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act. He also said that 125 acres were pannai lands, which meant that in any event he had the right to sue in the Civil Court to recover a proportionate amount of the arrears of rent. The learned Subordinate Judge held that cardamom cultivation was agriculture within the definition given in the statute, but he allowed the plaintiff's claim that 125 acres of the 475 acres represented pannai lands. Therefore the suit lay in the Subordinate Court to recover a proportionate amount of the arrears, but the Subordinate Judge dismissed it in its entirety on the ground that the plaintiff had not attempted to differentiate between the pannai lands and the other lands in his plaint. He did recognise that the plaintiff was entitled to sue in the Civil Court in respect of the pannai lands, but he thought that in the circumstances, the plaintiff should be relegated to a separate suit.

2. The plaintiff has appealed. In the first place he says that the Subordinate Judge erred in holding that the cardamom cultivation is agriculture within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act and in the second place he says that he should have been given a decree for the arrears of rent due in respect of the 125 acres of pannai lands. Both sides have accepted the finding that 125 of the 475 acres represent pannai lands.

3. Section 3(1) of the Madras Estates Land Act defines 'agriculture' as follows : 'Agriculture with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions shall include horticulture.' The Oxford Dictionary's definition is : ' the science and art of cultivating the soil, including the allied pursuits of gathering in the crops and rearing live-stock, tillage, husbandry, farming (in the widest sense).' The dictionary definition may be too widely drawn to apply in its entirety to the Madras Estates Land Act. For instance, land let for the rearing of live-stock may not come within the definition, although we do not propose to express a definite opinion on the point. But what is clear is that the word ' agriculture ' implies something which is achieved with the aid of human agency, as was pointed out by this Court in the Yuvarajah of Pithapuram v. Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras : (1946)1MLJ120 . Cardamom cultivation requires the aid of human agency. Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyar, on behalf of the appellant, has agreed that cardamom cultivation involves three stages. In the first place, the seeds are sown in beds where they germinate and are left to grow for six months. Then they are transplanted into another bed where they are left to grow for a further six months. This is the second stage. The third stage is the replanting of the young plants in the forests. They are permanently planted there as cardamom cultivation demands a considerable amount of shade. Therefore, the human element plays an important part in the bringing of cardamom plants to fruition..

4. In support of his argument that cardamom cultivation is not agriculture, Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyar has laid stress on the decision of this Court in Chandrasekhara Bharathi Swamigal v. Doraiswami Naidu : AIR1931Mad659 and the judgment of the Privy Council in Kesho Prasad Singh v. Sheo Pragash Ojha (1924) 47 M.L.J. 824 : L.R. 51 IndAp 381 : I.L.R. 46 All. 831 (P.C.).

5. In the first of these cases the question was whether the growing of casuarina trees for fuel by a ryot on land forming part of an estate within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act, was agriculture. The learned Judges (Reilly and Ananthakrishna Aiyar, JJ.) held that it was not, but admittedly their judgment is in conflict with the opinion expressed by Spencer and Ramesam, JJ. in Panadai Pathan v. Ramaswami Chetti : AIR1922Mad351 . There is a vast difference between the cultivation of cardamoms which are grown for human consu mption and the growing of 'casuarina trees for fuel. If the judgment in Chandrasekhara Bharathi Swamigal v. Duraiswami Naidu : AIR1931Mad659 were in point, we should feel compelled to refer this case to a Full Bench in view of its conflict with the judgment in Panadai Pathan v. Ramaswami Chetti : AIR1922Mad351 but it is manifest that the decision in Chandrasekhara Bharathi Swamigal v. Duraiswami Naidu : AIR1931Mad659 has no bearing here.

6. The decision of the Privy Council in Kesho Prasad Singh v. Sheo Pragash Ojha (1924) 47 M.L.J. 824 : L.R. 51 IndAp 381 : I.L.R. 46 All. 831 (P.C.) provides no greater help for the appellant. In that case the question was whether the planting of a mango grove was agriculture within the meaning of Section 79 of the Agra Tenancy Act, 1901. The Judicial Committee held that it was not, but the definition of agriculture in the Agra Tenancy Act and the definition of the term in the Madras Estates Land Act are not the same. In the Madras Estates Land Act, agriculture includes horticulture, but horticulture is not included in the definition of agriculture in the Agra Tenancy Act. We may here mention that this Court in Sarojini Devi v. Sri Krishna Anjaneya Subramaniam (1944) 1 M.L.J. 361 : 1944 F.L.J. 146 : I.L.R. 5 Lah. 50 (P.C.) held that a mango grove was agricultural land within the meaning of the Hindu Women's Rights to Property Act.

7. In Kaju Mal v. Saligram (1923) 46 M.L.J. 536 : L.R. 51 IndAp 11 the Privy Council held that the words 'agricultural purposes' in Section 2(3) of the Punjab Alienation of Land Act of 1900 include the cultivation of tea. Now if the cultivation of tea is agriculture it is very difficult to see why the cultivation of cardamoms should not be agriculture, especially as in the Madras Estates Land Act, agriculture includes horticulture which embraces the growing of fruits. Cardamoms are the seeds of the fruit of the cardamom plant. Therefore, if the growing of cardamoms does not come within the ordinary meaning of the word ' agriculture '--we are of opinion that it does--it certainly comes within the meaning of the word as used in the Madras Estates Land Act, because there agriculture expressly includes horticulture. For these reasons, we agree with the Subordinate Judge that the defendants have a right of permanent occupancy of the area covered by the lease, excluding the 125 acres of pannai lands, and therefore the landholder's remedy in respect of the balance of 350 acres is in the Revenue Court and not in the Civil Court.

8. We disagree with the Subordinate Judge in his dismissal of the suit in so far as the 125 acres of pannai lands are concerned. The apportionment of the rent is a very easy matter and the dismissal of the suit with regard to the pannai lands can only mean delay, further expense and waste of judicial time. The Court is informed by learned Counsel that in the trial Court the defendants were agreeable to a decree being passed against them for the amount of arrears of rent due by them in respect of the pannai lands. Both sides are now agreed that the plaintiff is entitled to a decree for Rs. 2,431-3-0 in respect of the pannai lands and the appeal will be allowed to this extent. The plaintiff will have interest at the. Court rate from the date of the plaint to the date of decree on the Rs. 2,431-3-0 and further interest on the decretal amount from the date of decree until payment or realisation. He will have costs here and below on the decretal amount, but he will pay costs in both the Courts on his claim in respect of the 350 acres, namely, Rs. 8,206-3-3.

9. The defendants paid an advance of Rs. 4,500. We have not taken this into account in arriving at the figure of Rs. 2,431-3-0. The adjudgment will be made when the occasion is fitting.


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