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Sri Ravu Seshayya Garu Vs. the Rajah of Pittappur, Sri Raja Ravu Venkata Kumara Mahipati Surya Rao Bahadur Varu - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in34Ind.Cas.730; (1916)31MLJ214
AppellantSri Ravu Seshayya Garu
RespondentThe Rajah of Pittappur, Sri Raja Ravu Venkata Kumara Mahipati Surya Rao Bahadur Varu
Cases ReferredRamachandra Mardaraja Deo v. Dukko Poohano
Excerpt:
.....before us though not taken in the lower courts) the defendant cannot claim occupancy rights in the..........his plaint whether the land was (a) private home-farm land of the zamindar, or (b) old waste being ryoti land, or (c) old waste which was not ryoti land, or (d) other non-ryoti land. nor did he say whether the defendant was a ryot. he contended himself with saying that the land was pas-ture land and that the defendant obtained the land every year on cowle for that year for the purpose of grazing cattle.2. the defendant contended that the land was ryoti land that the defendant has been enjoying the land ' as it suited him ' and not merely as pasture land and that the defendant had therefore occupancy right in the land. the defendant did not expressly state that he was a ' ryot' within the definition of the term in the estates land act.3. on the above pleas of the defendant, two main.....
Judgment:

Sadasiva Aiyar, J.

1. The defendant is the appellant. The suit was brought by his landlord (the Rajah of Pittapuram) for recovering the plaint land which had been enjoyed by the defendent as pasture land from 1877. The plaintiff did not state in his plaint whether the land was (a) Private home-farm land of the Zamindar, or (b) old waste being ryoti land, or (c) old waste which was not ryoti land, or (d) other non-ryoti land. Nor did he say whether the defendant was a ryot. He contended himself with saying that the land was pas-ture land and that the defendant obtained the land every year on cowle for that year for the purpose of grazing cattle.

2. The defendant contended that the land was ryoti land that the defendant has been enjoying the land ' as it suited him ' and not merely as pasture land and that the defendant had therefore occupancy right in the land. The defendant did not expressly state that he was a ' ryot' within the definition of the term in the Estates Land Act.

3. On the above pleas of the defendant, two main issues were framed by the District Munsif:

1. Is the suit land not a ryoti land and is plaintiff entitled to eject the defendant?

2. Has this Court (the Civil Court) jurisdiction to try the suit?

4. It will again be observed that the question whether the defendant was a ryot is not expressly raised though it might be taken as involved in the first issue. The District Munsif found (I am giving the substance of his findings as I understand them):

1. That the land was ' private land ' and not ryoti land.

2. That the defendant has not acquired occupancy rights in the land (a) as the land was not ryoti land, having been ' separated from the private land of the Rajah' for letting it to the defendant ' only for purposes of pasture ' Ryoti land is cultivable land other than private land (see definition in Section 3 Clause 16 of the Estates Land Act) ; (b) as the defendant was not ' a ryot', because he held only non-ryoti land for the purposeonly of pasture and not of agriculture. (Ryot is a person who holds (a) for the purpose of agriculture, (b) ryoti land see Section 3. Clause 15).

5. On these findings the suit was decreed, the Civil Court's jurisdiction being upheld.

6. The Subordinate Judge on appeal held similar views though his judgment is somewhat obscure on the point whether the land not being ryoti land was due to its being private land or due to its being non-cultivable land.

7. It was conceded in the Lower Appellate Court (and not disputed here) that if the land was non-ryoti land, or if the defendant not a ryot, the civil court's jurisdiction was not ousted and the defendant cannot claim occupancy right. I think it must be admitted that the evidence to prove that the land was private land of the Rajah is very meagre, the description of the land in Exhibits A and B as 'seri' and 'separated from the seri ' not being of much value, having regard to the presumption laid down in Section 185 of the Estates Land Act that every land shall be ' presumed not to be private land until the contrary is shown'. See also Gajapathi Maharaja Garu v. Sondi Prahlada Bissoyi Ratno (1918) 14 M.L.T. 562. But there is abundant evidence to support the finding of the lower Courts that the land was let for the purposes of pasture and not for purposes of agriculture and also that it is not cultivable land. Mr. Sarma argued that ' agriculture ' includes ' pasture ' and relied on observations found in the judgments in Murugesa Chetto v. Chinnatthambi Goundan I.L.R. (1901) M. 421 and King Emperor v. Alexander Allen I.L.R. (1001) M. 627. In the first case, there is an observation (at page 424) that 'a lease of land... as pasture for ploughing cattle... will be a lease for 'agricultural purposes' within the meaning of that phrase in Section 117 of the Transfer of Property Act. The above observation is an obiter dictum and it is not clear from the context whether it was intended to apply to a case where the lease included primarily other lands held for raising cultivated crops besides the land let as pasture for ploughing cattle, the latter being intended to be used for cultivating the cultivable lands also let to the tenant. In the other case of King Emperor v. Alexander Allen 3 it was held that the proviso to Clause 3 of Section 63 of the Madras District Municipalities Act exempting from taxation, lands usedsolely for agricultural purposes apply to lands under grass let by the owner for pasturing cattle and that therefore the owner was not liable criminally for refusing to pay the tax imposed on such land. I have considered the question as to the meaning of the word 'agriculture' in Rajah of Venkatagiri v. Ayyappa Reddi I.L.R. (1913) M 738 : 25 M.L.J. 578 and notwithstanding the strenuous contention of Mr. Sarma, I see no reason to resile from the view i have expressed in that case, namely, that the ordinary meaning of 'agriculture' is the raising of annual or periodical grain crops through the operation of ploughing, sowing, &c.; I admit that in particular Acts or Statutes, a much larger meaning is sometimes given to that word by special definitions and if the definition in the Estates Land Act gives such a wide meaning so as to include 'pasturing', we are, of course, bound to give that special extended meaning. Far from indicating any such intention to include' 'pasture' in 'agriculture', the legislature has given only one particular extension in the Estates Land Act to the meaning of the word 'agriculture', namely, that it shall include Horticulture. The dropping out by the Select Committee of the word 'Sylviculture' and 'pasturing' which were in the clause in the original draft of the Bill which finally became Section 3 Clause 1 seems to me almost conclusive on the point. The meaning given to the phrase 'agricultural purposes' in two other Acts by decisions which were passed before the Estates Land Act was enacted is also of not much relevancy when we have to decide the meaning of the phrase 'for purposes of agriculture' as used in the Estates Land Act, (I was not able to quite follow the rather subtle distinction made between the phrase 'agricultural purposes' and the phrase ' purposes of agriculture ' by the learned Advocate General). The decision in Rajah of Venkatagiri v. Ayyappa Reddi I.L.R. (1913) M 738 : 25 M.L.J. 578 has besides been approved by the learned Chief Justice and Phillips, J., in Maharajah of Venkatagiri v. Rami Reddi (1915) 31 M.L.J. 211. I therefore hold that the land held only for pasturing purposes by a tenant does not make him a ' ryot'

8. Mr. Sarma relied on certain documents in the case for showing that his client did not hold the laud only for pasturing purposes and that he was also entitled to cultivate it if he liked. But the lower Courts cannot be said to have ignored the said documents and they rely on other evidence, oral and documentary, for their conclusion of fact that the land was let only for pasturing purposes. It may be that the use of the land solely for pasture may not deprive the tenant of his claim to be called ' ryot ' provided that he has the right to use it for agriculture, (see Appalaswami v. Rajah of Vizianagaram : (1913)25MLJ50 but the finding of fact in this case is that it was not let for agriculture and hence, the tenant had no right to so use it. Assuming, however, that the lower Courts were wrong in holding that the land was let solely for pasture the next question for consideration is whether it was cultivable land and therefore ryoti land. I am clear on the precedents that unless the land is of such a nature that it is ordinarily cultivable or cultivable at intervals of not unusual length, it is not 'cultivable' land and therefore not 'ryoti land' and the tenant of such a land is not a ' ryot'. The plaint land is saline grazing land and the finding of the lower Courts that it is not cultivable laud ought, it seems to me, to be accepted in second appeal. The argument that because the land has been called ' jeroyati land' in some of the plaintiffs own documents it is ' ryoti ' land is sufficiently met by the finding of the lower Courts that jeroyati, as used in some parts of the Telugu country, means merely 'non-inam' and their finding is supported by the observations in Ramachandra Mardaraja Deo v. Dukko Poohano (1915) 31 I.C. 853 decided by Abdur Rahim and Spencer, JJ.

9. Assuming further in defendant's favour that the land is 'ryoti' land, the defendant can claim occupancy right under Section 6, only if it is ryoti land, 'not being old waste' and also if his case is not governed by the explanatory (or it may be the exception) clause forming Sub-section 4 of Section 6 which provides that admission to waste land under a contract for pasturage shall not confer on the tenant a permanent right of occupancy and shall not convert a land which is not a ryoti land into ryoti land. As I have already dealt with the contentions as to ' ryot' and 'ryoti land', it remains only to consider the question whether the land is ' old waste'. It is clear to me from the facts found by the lower Courts (without adopting the view of the first court that the land is ' private land ') that the plaint land is old waste. The definition of old waste in Section 3(7)(1) of the Act clearly applies to the land in dispute and on this ground also (a ground argued before us though not taken in the lower Courts) the defendant cannot claim occupancy rights in the land. ' Bent ' again under the definition in Clause 1 of Section 3 is what is payable for the use of land for purposes of agriculture and pasturage dues are therefore not ' rent' and a suit therefor is not exempted from the cognizance of Civil Courts.

10. In the result, I would dismiss the appeal with costs.

Moore, J

11. I agree.


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