1. The appellant is the superior proprietor of the Bhadrachalam Estate; he filed the suit for a declaration that the assessment imposed on that estate for a period of 30 years from Fasli 1332 was ultra vires and illegal, as being in contravention of certain Government Orders of 1886 and 1922. The assessment itself was imposed in pursuance of G.O. No. 1373 dated 10th September, 1923 (Ex. V). It is this Government Order that directed the publication of the notification, which has been marked Ex. D in the case stating that a revision of the rates and conditions of assessment in the Bhadrachalam taluk will be carried out with effect from Fasli 1332, in accordance with the orders conveyed in G.O. No. 815 Rev., dated 5th May, 1922.
2. Ex. V shows that at the time of passing that order, the Government had before them a communication from the Board of Revenue dated 9th May, 1923. That apparently was the letter of the Board containing the revised statements called for in paragraph 11 of G.O. No. 815 dated 5th May, 1922 (Ex. C). There can thus be no doubt that the assessment which the plaintiff has been called upon to pay is the one which the Government actually sanctioned by their Government Order of September, 1923. If this is the true position on the facts, it is difficult to see how any civil suit will lie to question such assessment in the face of Section 58 of the Madras Revenue Recovery Act.
3. The principle laid down in Kelu Nair v. Secretary of State for India in Council : AIR1925Mad1134 will not avail the plaintiff in the circumstances of the present case. We do not therefore think it necessary to consider whether any observations in that judgment require any qualification. Assuming for the sake of argument that a notification in terms of Ex. D will give such a right to a landholder as will entitle him to maintain a suit to impeach any assessment made in contravention of that notification, there can be no doubt that the notification must be construed in the light of the whole Government Order of which it formed a part, and as we have already pointed out above, the assessment now imposed upon the plaintiff is the very assessment sanctioned by that Government Order.
4. The learned District Judge has also examined the plaintiff's contention on the merits and has come to the conclusion that apart from the bar to the maintainability of the suit, the assessment imposed under G.O. No. 1373 of September, 1923, has not departed from the principles supposed to have been laid down in the Government Order of May, 1922. We may go further and observe that, on a reading of the whole document, the Government Order of May, 1922, cannot be said to have laid down any particular principle at all but merely accepted what has been going on during the period of the prior 30 years' settlement and suggested certain modifications to be made in making the re-settlement in the light of changes that had taken place between 1890 and 1920. The Deputy Collector had made certain proposals in that behalf, and the Revenue Board had made their remarks on those proposals. It is in connection with those details that the Government Order of May, 1922, gave certain directions, and the Government had accordingly to call upon the Board by paragraph 11 of Ex. C to submit revised statements in the light of the directions contained in the preceding paragraphs. We may also observe that, while there was an intelligible reason for giving a particular guarantee to the superior proprietor at the settlement of 1890, namely, that the higher rate of assessment then introduced should be so brought into force as not to reduce his net income by more than 15 per cent, of what it was previously, there was no occasion in 1920 for giving any such guarantee with reference to the proprietor's net income immediately preceding 1920, because, in the re-settlement sought to be '' introduced in 1920, there was no enhancement of the rate of assessment; only the additional beriz that was being realised by the proprietor on account of enhancements of rents in the Estate and of extension of cultivation, was also brought into calculation in fixing the assessment, with the result that the amount of revenue payable to the Government became larger. This did not threaten his net income in the sense in which it was threatened in 1890. Government therefore rightly pointed out in Ex. F that the landlord had no reason to complain when the net additional income realised by him was also sought to be subjected to assessment at the pre-existing rate of assessment. We therefore agree with the learned District Judge that even on the merits, the plaintiff has no ground of complaint.
5. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.