1. The defendants are the appellants. They were the tenants of the plaintiff who is the Zamindar of the Egathoor Zamin. The plaintiff purchased not only the Zamindari from the former Zamindar but he also purchased the kudivaram right in the plaint ryoti lands which the former Zamindar had purchased in rent auction sale of 1900. The plaintiff brought 'the suit out of which this second appeal has arisen as the purchaser of the kudivaram right from the rent auction purchaser for ejecting the defendants.
2. This suit was brought in the District Munsif's Court of Tiruvellore about the end of 1906 before the Estates Land Act came into force. The suit was first dismissed by the District Munsif and by the District Judge on appeal. The High Court on second appeal held that the decision of the lower Courts against the plaintiff on the fifth issue was wrong and set aside the decree of the lower Courts and remanded the suit for disposal on its merits. The judgment of the High Court is dated 22nd August 1911 after the Estates Land Act came into force. When the case went back to the District Munsif, the defendants raised a fresh contention, namely that the Madras Act I of' 1908 has conferred on them occupancy rights in the land and that the suit ought to be dismissed on that ground. Thereupon two new issues were raised by the District Munsif and they are as follows :
6th issue :-'Whether the defendants are entitled to occupancy rights under Madras Act I of 1908.' 7th issue :--'whether this plea can be raised now.
3. The learned District Munsif decided the issues in the defendant's favour and dismissed the plaintiff's suit without costs. On appeal, the learned District Judge held on the 6th issue that S. 6 of the Estates Land Act protects only those ryots who were in possession on the date of the passing of the Act by reason of their holding over (after the expiry of the period of lease, having never had occupancy right before), that a ryot whose holding had been sold away in rent auction before the Act came into force but who continued in possession is not ' a ryot in possession' within the meaning of Section 6, Clause 1, but is only a trespasser in occupation of ryoti land, and that the word ' possession' means ' lawful possession' and not merely holding over whilst proceedings for ejectment are in progress. Upon this view, the learned District Judge decreed the plaintiff's suit with costs.
4. In Kanakayya v. Janardana Padhi and 2 Ors. I.L.R. (1910) M. 439 : 21 M.L.J31 F.B. the Full Bench decided that even after a decree in ejectment had been passed against the ryot in favour of the landlord, if the decree had not become final owing to an appeal having been preferred against it and if the said appeal is pending on the date when the Madras Estates Land Act came into force, the ryot is entitled to rely on Section 6 and the suit must be decided, in his favour against the landlord. In the order of reference to the Full Bench in that case the learned Judges of the Division Bench made the following remarks:--
The contention that the possession of the defendant ceases in law by a decree for possession against him is a confounding of possession with title and is not worthy of serious notice.
5. The explanation to Section 6 added by Section 3 of Act IV of 1909 is as follows:--' For the purpose of this sub-section, the expression ' every ryot now in possession, shall include every person who, having held land is a ryot, continues in possession of such land at the commencement of this Act' It seems to me that the defendants in this case were ryots in possession of ryoti land not being old waste, continued in possession of such land at the commencement of the Act and that therefore according to the plain wording of Section 6, Clause 1 they obtained a permanent right of occupancy in the holding of which they so continued in possession. Under Section 8, Clause 1 the landholder who has purchased the kudivaram right in a rent auction sale has no right to hold it as a ryot. Even if he had taken possession as soon as he had purchased it in 1902, the land could not cease to be ryoti land Section 8, Clause 3 clearly says that the purchase of the occupancy right by the landholder shall not have the effect of converting ryoti land into private land (sea also Section 185 of the Act which has among other provisions placed stringent restrictions on the conversion of ryoti land into private land). The land being thus ryoti land and the defendants holding the land for the purpose of agriculture (without repudiating their liability to pay rent for the benefit of such occupation though they may not have had title to occupy it till the passing of Estates Land Act as against the landholder owing to their kudivaram having been sold away), the defendants do come under the definition of 'ryot' in Section 3, Clause 15 and can therefore claim the benefit of Section 6, Clasuse (1). In the case Markappali Reddiar v. Thandava Kone and Anr. (1911) M.W.N. 798. Ayling and Seshagiri Aiyar JJ. held that, where the landlord bought the tenants' interest at a rent sale held in 1878, the land continued to be ryoti land under Section 8 of the Estates Land Act and that a person in possession at the time the new Act was passed, acquired, occupancy rights under S. 6 of the Act. It is contended by Mr. K. Srinivasa Aiyangar that the case might have been decided on the ground that the, defendant therein had been recognised as tenant by the landholder after the landholder purchased the holding in rent auction (though the defendant was let in only as a Pannai tenant) and hence the defendant in that case was entitled to the benefit of Section 6.
6. But the learned Judges do not base their decision on that narrow ground but on the broader ground that a person in possession of ryoti land professing to hold it as a ryot on the date of the passing of the Act gets a permanent right of occupancy. Next it is contended that if S. 6 be so literally interpreted, it will give the permanent occupancy right to a person in possession, not only against the landlord but also against persons entitled to claim the Kudiwaram right as against the person in possession, for instance, a trespasser who had dispossessed the ryot law fully in possession, say a week before the passing of the Madras Estates-Land Act, would acquire a right of occupancy in the land as against the true owner of the Kudiwaram right. I think however that though the words ' as against the landlord 'do not appear in Section 6, Clause 1, the use of the word permanent right of occupancy ' and the references to the claims of a landlord in several places in that long section qlearly indicate that the rights to the Kudiwaram. interest as between rival, claimants thereto (other than the landlord who is debarred by Section 8 from claiming such interest) were not intended to be affected by Section 6, Clause 1. It is then said that the landholder in this Case sues in ejectment not as landholder but as purchaser of the Kudivaram interest. But if Section 8, Clause 1 prevents the landholder from setting up a right to hold the land which he has purchased in rent auction, as a ryot that is, if it prevents him from getting rid of his status as landholder in respect of the land whose Kudivaram right he has purchased in rent auction, his said purchase cannot avail him against the ryot in possession just as it would avail, in favour of a third person. I think that that is the principle of the decision In Markappali Reddiar v. Thmdava Kone (1914) M.W.N. 798, and I am prepared to follow it.
7. In the result the lower Appellate Court's decree will be reversed and the District Munisif's decree will be restored. There will be no order as to cost under the circumstances of this case.
8. I agree.