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Bahadur V. Ponnuswami Pillai Vs. Raja Sir S.R.M.M.A. Annamalai Chettiar Through Agent M.R. Raman Chettiar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1945)2MLJ177
AppellantBahadur V. Ponnuswami Pillai
RespondentRaja Sir S.R.M.M.A. Annamalai Chettiar Through Agent M.R. Raman Chettiar and ors.
Excerpt:
- - the district munsiff, devakottah, who tried the suits disallowed the deduction claimed, as, in his view, the respondents failed to prove that they paid the cess payable by the appellant, and passed a decree for the arrears sued for with interest at 6 per cent, per annum and costs. we are of opinion that both these contentions must fail. these provisions clearly indicate that the landholder is directly responsible to pay the land cess to the district collector on the kattubadi or poruppu payable to him by the sub-landholder, and the absence of any provision in section 88 for reimbursement of the latter in respect of such cess also points to the same conclusion......the parties. the respondents pleaded, inter alia, that they were entitled to a deduction of the cess payable to government by the appellant as landholder on the poruppu due to him, as such cess not having been paid by the appellant was recovered from the respondents. the district munsiff, devakottah, who tried the suits disallowed the deduction claimed, as, in his view, the respondents failed to prove that they paid the cess payable by the appellant, and passed a decree for the arrears sued for with interest at 6 per cent, per annum and costs. on appeal, the learned subordinate judge of devakottah held, differing from the trial court, that inasmuch as the zamindar admittedly did not pay any part of the cess payable in respect of the villages in question, the entire cess must be taken.....
Judgment:

Patanjali Sastri, J.

1. The Zamindar of Sivaganga, the appellant, instituted the suits out of which these appeals arise for recovery of arrears of poruppu with interest alleged to be due to him for faslis 1347 and 1348 from the respondents as joint owners of certain villages in the Zamindari granted to their predecessor in title on a permanent cowle on 9th February, 1881. The claim is based on the cowle-deed as modified by a compromise decree made in a prior litigation between the parties. The respondents pleaded, inter alia, that they were entitled to a deduction of the cess payable to Government by the appellant as landholder on the poruppu due to him, as such cess not having been paid by the appellant was recovered from the respondents. The District Munsiff, Devakottah, who tried the suits disallowed the deduction claimed, as, in his view, the respondents failed to prove that they paid the cess payable by the appellant, and passed a decree for the arrears sued for with interest at 6 per cent, per annum and costs. On appeal, the learned Subordinate Judge of Devakottah held, differing from the trial Court, that inasmuch as the Zamindar admittedly did not pay any part of the cess payable in respect of the villages in question, the entire cess must be taken to have been paid by the respondents who could not have avoided such payment. And, being of opinion that the appellant was liable to pay a proportionate part of the cess calculated on the poruppu payable to him, the learned Judge allowed the deduction claimed in each of the suits and modified the decree of the trial Court accordingly. Two contentions have been raised before us on behalf of the appellant. In the first place, it is argued that after the enactment of the provisions relating to a sub-landholder which were introduced in the Madras Local Boards Act, 1920, by the Amending Act (XI of 1930), the landholder has ceased to be liable for any part of the cess due in respect of the lands held by the sub-landholder who is made liable directly to the Government for the entire cess payable on such lands with a right to reimbursement from the tenants of one half of the cess paid. It is accordingly claimed that the respondents who are admittedly sub-landholders within the meaning of the Act are not entitled to reimbursement against the appellant as landholder in respect of any part of the cess which they might have paid to the Government. And, secondly, the appellant as landholder cannot, in any case, be held liable for more than half the cess payable on the amount of poruppu and the respondents are not entitled to a deduction of the full amount of such cess as claimed by them. We are of opinion that both these contentions must fail.

2. The questions turn entirely on the true effect of certain rather obscurely worded provisions of the Madras Local Boards Act, 1920, as amended by the Madras Local Boards (Amendment) Act, 1930. These provisions may be summarised as follows: Section 3(9)(21) and (22) define ' landholder,' ' sub-landholder ' and ' tenant' respectively and, for the purposes of these appeals, the expressions may be taken to refer to the proprietor, the registered holder of an under-tenure and an occupier of land in an estate respectively. Section 78 provides for the levy of land cess on the ' annual rent value ' of all occupied lands at the rate of one anna and a half for every rupee of such value. Section 79 lays down rules for fixing the annual rent value of lands held on different tenures, and provides that, in the case of a zamindari estate such as the one here in question, the annual rent payable by the tenants together with any water-rate shall be taken to be the annual rent value of the lands. The District Collector is empowered, under Section 80, to require certain landholders and sub-landholders to furnish lists of their lands specifying, in the case of a landholder who has created an under-tenure, the kattubadi, jodi, poruppu or quit rent payable to him by the sub-landholder, and, in the case of a sub-landholder, the annual rent value of the lands occupied by him exclusive of the water-rate, if any, payable by his tenants direct to Government, and, under Section 81, to assess the landholder or sub-landholder 'according to such list.' Section 88 provides for payment of land cess by landholders and sub-landholders and reads thus:

Every landholder and sub-landholder shall pay to the District Collector or other officer empowered by him to receive it, the land cess due in respect of lands held by him exclusive of the amount of such cess, if any, payable by the sub-landholder or landholder, as the case may be, and by the tenant on or before such dates and in such instalments as the district collector under the general orders of the Board of Revenue may, by notification, declare. And if such lands be occupied by a tenant paying water-rate direct the Government, such tenant shall pay to the District Collector together with the water-rate the land cess due on the amount of such water-rate:

Provided that in all cases where a person holds lands with or without a right of occupancy as an intermediate landholder on an under-tenure created, continued, or recognised by a landholder or sub-landholder, it shall be lawful for the landholder or sub-landholder to recover from such intermediate landholder the whole of the cess paid by the landholder or sub-landholder in respect of lands held by such intermediate landholder less one half the cess assessable on the amount of any kattubadi, jodi, poruppu or quit rent, payable by such intermediate landholder to the landholder or sub-landholder:

Provided also that, in the case of lands occupied by tenants, it shall be lawful for the landholder, sub-landholder or any other intermediate landholder, as the case may be, to recover from his tenant one half of the amount payable by such landholder, sub-landholder or intermediate landholder in respect of the lands so occupied.

3. It will be seen from these provisions that in the case of an estate it is only the landholder or sub-landholder that is made directly liable to pay land cess to the District Collector and not any other intermediate landholder who is not registered as a sub-landholder nor a tenant occupying the lands. This does not, however, mean that the intermediate landholder or the tenant in occupation goes free, for the two provisos make it clear that the landholder or the sub-landholder as the case may be is entitled to collect from the intermediate landholder the whole cess paid by him less half the cess assessable on the amount of the kattubadi, etc., payable by such intermediate landholder, and, where there is no such intermediate landholder, from the tenants one half of the amount payable by such landholder or sub-landholder. The intermediate landholder who has to pay the cess to the landholder or the sub-landholder is also similarly entitled to collect from the tenants one half of the amount payable by him. In other words, under the scheme of assessment, collection and adjustment of the land cess provided for under the Act, the annual rent value of the land is the subject of the charge, and its incidence, in the case of an estate, is distributed equally between the landholder's interest and the tenant's interest in the land, each paying nine pies in every rupee of the rent value; and, where one or more under-tenures have been created in respect of the landholder's interest, the incidence is to be borne, as between the landholder and the intermediate landholders in the proportion in which the annual rent value is divided between them. But it is only the landholder and the intermediate landholder who is registered as a 'sub-landholder' in the office of the District Collector that are brought into direct relation with Government for purposes of assessment and recovery of the cess, that is to say, each of them has to pay to Government 18 pies in every rupee of the annual rent value derived by him from the land and recover from the tenants 9 pies for every rupee on which he has paid the cess. The position may be illustrated by slightly modifying the old illustration to Section 88 which was removed by the amending Act of 1930. A sub-landholder is entitled to receive from his tenants Rs. 500 as the annual rent on 100 acres of land. The sub-landholder has to pay the landholder Rs, 50 as kattubadi, jodi, poruppu or quit rent. The landholder has to pay to the Collector Rs. 4-11-0 on Rs. 50 and the sub-landholder has to pay Rs. 42-3-0 on Rs. 450, and they can recover Rs. 2-5-6 and Rs. 21-1-6 respectively from the tenants who have to bear half the land cess on Rs. 500, viz., Rs. 23-7-0.

4. It is argued for the appellant that, inasmuch as the sub-landholder is required under Section 80(2)(b) to specify in the list of lands to be furnished by him the annual rent value of the lands occupied by him and the Collector has under Section 81 to assess the tax ' according to such list,' the sub-landholder is liable for the entire cess and the landholder is under no liability to pay any part of it. This contention overlooks that the landholder is required under Section 80(2)(a)(1) to specify in the list to be furnished, by him to the Collector the kattubadi, etc., payable to him by a sub-landholder, and he has to be assessed by the Collector, under Section 81 according to such list, just as the sub-landholder, is to be assessed according to the list furnished by the latter; while Section 88 provides that every landholder and sub-landholder shall pay to the Collector the land cess due in respect of the lands held by him exclusive of the amount of such cess, if any, payable by the sub-landholder or landholder as the case may be. These provisions clearly indicate that the landholder is directly responsible to pay the land cess to the District Collector on the kattubadi or poruppu payable to him by the sub-landholder, and the absence of any provision in Section 88 for reimbursement of the latter in respect of such cess also points to the same conclusion. If, however, the landholder fails to pay the cess due from him and the sub-landholder pays it to avert attachment and sale of the lands, the latter has his remedy under Section 108(g) of the Transfer of Property Act which entitles a lessee to make any payment due from the lessor and recoverable against the property and deduct it with interest from the rent. It is under this provision that the respondents claim the deduction now in question.

5. The appellant next contends that the respondents are not entitled to a deduction of the full cess payable on the kattubadi or poruppu as one half of such cess is to be borne by the tenants. It is true that, in its ultimate incidence, the burden of such cess has to be shared equally between the landholder and the tenants. But, as pointed out already, under the scheme of collection and adjustment laid down in the Act, the landholder has to pay to Government in the first instance the whole of the cess payable on the poruppu and recover from the tenants one half of the amount so paid. There is, however, no provision in the Act enabling the sub-landholder who pays the full cess payable by the landholder to recover from the tenants half the cess paid. The respondents will thus have no means of reimbursing themselves in full if they are not allowed the deduction as now claimed by them. There is nothing to show that they have recovered from the tenants anything more than one half of the amount payable by themselves, that is on the annual rent value of the lands less the poruppu payable to the appellant.

6. The decrees of the Court below are, therefore, affirmed and these appeals are dismissed with costs.


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