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The Secretary of State for India in Council Vs. Srinivasa Chariar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1915Mad690; (1916)31MLJ483
AppellantThe Secretary of State for India in Council
RespondentSrinivasa Chariar and ors.
Cases Referred and Rajagopalacharyalu v. Secretary of State I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- - he referred to the well recognised principle that ordinarily a grant to an inamdar except in cases of waste lands shall be presumed to be that of the melwaram only and not of the land itself (see narasimhalu v. 5. now, looking at exhibit i in this light, i fail to see any necessity for invoking the aid of presumptions......regulation 25 of 1802, the government reserved to itself only certain specified privileges in the lands granted to the zamindar and that royalty on minerals is not among the reserved rights (section 4 of the regulation). there is no such clause in the case of inam grants. but the government in enfranchising the inam reserved to itself only a right to a small quitrent until purchase by the grantee. the fact that the land becomes freed from all liability to assessment after paying 20 or 30 years quitrent shows that the freehold in the property has been completely parted with. the quitrent is not subject to periodical revision. the position of the ryotwari holder is very different.7. it has been held that the right of the inamdar with respect to the porambokes is the same as that of the.....
Judgment:

Abdur Rahim, Officiating C.J.

1. I agree in the judgment which my learned brother Seshagiri Aiyar, J. is going to read.

Seshagiri Aiyar, J.

2. The facts of the case are fully set out in the judgment of Spencer, J. The question on which the learned Judges differed relates to the right of the Government to levy seigniorage fee on the stones quarried from the lands of the plaintiffs. The village in which the lands are situated was granted by the Nawab of the Carnatic in 1750. It was enfranchised in July 1865. It is conceded that since the enfranchisement Government acquired lands of similar quality and description to those from which stones are quarried from the plaintiffs, under the Land Acquisition Act and paid them compensation (Ex. B.). This document also shows that the Government purchased stones quarried in the village from the plaintiffs. But after some preliminary correspondence, the Government claimed seigniorage fee at a particular rate and levied the same in or about November 1907. The question for decision is whether the Government is entitled to this royalty.

3. The learned Government Pleader's main contention was that the position of an Inamdar after enfranchisement approximates to that of a ryotwari tenant and not to that of the Zamindar and that consequently the holding is subject to the levy of royalties on minerals in the lands. He referred to the well recognised principle that ordinarily a grant to an Inamdar except in cases of waste lands shall be presumed to be that of the melwaram only and not of the land itself (see Narasimhalu v. Narasimhalu : (1906)16MLJ333 , Rajya v. Balakrishna Gangadhar I.L.R. (1905) B. 415; Lakshminarasimha Bow v. Sitaramaswami : (1913)24MLJ288 and Suryanarayana v. Potanna I.L.R. (1913) M. 608. But I do not think this presumption helps us to solve the question. All that these decisions lay down is that as between the tenant and the landholder, the presumption is that only the right of the Government to the revenue on the land was granted originally. There is no suggestion that in making the grant any reservation was made in favour of the grantor. Whether the land belongs to the grantee or only the right to melwaram from the tenants in occupation, qua the rights of the grantor, everything was parted with. He denuded himsef of all his rights, whatever the respective rights of the ryot and the land-holder may be in the soil.

4. Mr. Ramesam next referred to the rule of law that, ' A grant from the Crown is construed most strictly against the grantee and most beneficially for the Crown, so that nothing will pass to the grantee but by clear and express words,' and quoted Varman Janardhan Joshi v. The Collector of Thana and the Conservator of Forests (1869) 6 Born. H.C.R. 191, The Collector of Ratnagiri v. Antaji Lakshman I.L.R. (1888) B. 534 and The Secretary of State for India v. Janakiramayya (1915) 29 M.L.J. 389 in support of this principle. On the other hand Mr. Venkatarama Sastriar referred us to Lord Commissioners v. The Commissioner for the City of Sydney (1859) 12 M.P.C. 179 In re Antaje Keshav Tambe I.L.R. (1893) B. 670 and Balbir Singh v. The Secretary of State for India in Council I.L.R. (1899) A. 96 for the position that in interpreting grants, the Crown and the subject are bound by the same rules of construction. The two propositions appear incompatible only on the surface. A closer examination shows that the two classes of cases do not clash with each other. The ordinary rule is that in construing the words of a grant, the same principles of common sense and justice must apply whoever may be the grantor. Where the words are not sufficiently clear to gather the intention of the grant, then the doctrine ' that if the King's grant can enure to two intents, it shall be taken to the intent that makes most for the King's benefit ' may perhaps apply. Therefore the primary duty of the Court is to try to give a meaning to the document evidencing the grant and to see whether by itself, it is not self-contained and plain.

5. Now, looking at Exhibit I in this light, I fail to see any necessity for invoking the aid of presumptions. The document says, ' A perpetual shrotriein was granted ' and that the grantee was ' to appropriate his own use, the produce of the seasons ' etc. To my mind, the grant is unambiguous and clear and conveys all that the grantor had in the soil. If the grant was in itself defective, I do not think that the enfranchisement would enlarge its scope. I agree with the learned Government Pleader that the title-deed of the Inam Commissioner confers no higher title than what was originally granted. Act IV of 1862, Madras, was designed to convey to the Inamdars the reversionary rights of the Government in consideration of an annual quitrent. But as this Act was construed to mean that the enfranchisement was in the nature of a fresh grant of property by the Government, Act VIII of 1869, Madras was passed which declared that ' Nothing con-tained in a title-deed... shall affect the interests of any person other than the Inamholder,' or ' confer any right to land which he would not otherwise possess.' It is enough in this connection to refer to the historic judgment of Bashyam Iyangar, J., in Gunnaiyan v. Kamakshi Aiyar I.L.R. (1902) M, 389 wherein it is stated that the proceedings in enfranchisement cannot operate to confer on the Inamdar any additional rights. See also The Secretary of State for India v. Janahiramayya I.L.R. (1912) M. 322. At the same time, it must be remembered that any declaration or finding by the Inam Commissioner regarding the nature and extent of the grant will bind the Government. (Sethumadhava Chariar V. The Secretary of State for India in Council I.L.R. (1914) 941.

6. Comparing the positions occupied by the three classes of people who hold lands in this Presidency, it seems to me that the Inamdar is in the same position as the zamindar who obtained his sannad by the permanent settlement. It is true that under Regulation 25 of 1802, the Government reserved to itself only certain specified privileges in the lands granted to the zamindar and that royalty on minerals is not among the reserved rights (Section 4 of the Regulation). There is no such clause in the case of Inam grants. But the Government in enfranchising the Inam reserved to itself only a right to a small quitrent until purchase by the grantee. The fact that the land becomes freed from all liability to assessment after paying 20 or 30 years quitrent shows that the freehold in the property has been completely parted with. The quitrent is not subject to periodical revision. The position of the ryotwari holder is very different.

7. It has been held that the right of the Inamdar with respect to the porambokes is the same as that of the zamindar, Gunnaiyan v. Kamahshi Aiyar I.L.R. (1902) M. 350. See also Maclean's Manual of Administration, page 124. In the Estates Land Act, he occupies the same position as the Zamindar. I therefore do not see any force in the argument of the Government Pleader that the Inamdar has no more rights than an ordinary ryotwari tenant. The decision in Hari Narayan Singh v. Sriram Chakravarthi (1909) L.R. 37 IndAp 136 to which our attention was drawn related to a case of a permanent lessee from a zamindar and their Lordships of the Judicial Committee held that such a transferee did not acquire a right to quarry minerals. The suggestion that an Inamdar is only a permanent lessee from the Government is opposed to Act IV of 1862, Madras and to the language of the grant in this case.

8. Mr. Venkatarama Sastriar pressed another argument before us. The conduct of the Government in paying compensation under the Land Acquisition Act and in. purchasing stones from the plaintiffs precludes them from claiming any royalty. I do not think that the learned Vakil can contend that there is any estoppel; but the conduct is evidence of a declaration on the part of the Government that they have not the rights now claimed. It is also noteworthy that the Board of Revenue in the earlier years held that the Government have no right to any royalty from the Inamdars. See Order XV in 1890 edition of the Standing Orders. In the revised edition issued in 1913, in Order XXV, the Board of Revenue indicates that the Government have this right. In my opinion the purchase, the grant of compensation, the earlier declaration are all evidence against the present claim of the Government: vide Nawab Aiajuddin Ali Khan v. Secretary of State I.L.R. (1904) M. 96, Brett v. Ellaiya (1869) 13 M.A. 104 and Rajagopalacharyalu v. Secretary of State I.L.R. (1913) M. 1025.

9. For all these reasons, my conclusion is that the decision of Sadasiva Aiyar, J. is right and that the appeal should be dismissed with costs. The costs must be paid within 3 months.

Phillips, J.

10. I agree.


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