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Seenia Pillai Vs. Taluk Board of Shermadevi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1931Mad200
AppellantSeenia Pillai
RespondentTaluk Board of Shermadevi
Cases ReferredVasudeva Mudaliar v. Velappa Nadar
Excerpt:
.....rest in cash cannot be deemed to be an enhancement of the rent. it is on this fallacy a strenuous argument was built to the effect that, though the ryots were paying according to the change made in 1889 without any sort of objection for 32 years or so, they are no longer bound to pay like that but should pay the whole rent in cash alone, at the rate fixed by mr. puckle in 1871. in the first place the defendant has failed to prove, as found by the courts below, that the slight changes made by levying a small portion of the fixed grain rent, as such, resulted in enhancement of the rent, in which case alone there should be fresh consideration for the enhancement. 8. in the result, these second appeals fail and are dismissed with costs......and fluctuating rates prevailing till then. he further proposed to commute the grain rent into cash rent, by adopting the value of each kottah of grain at rs. 5. his proposal was approved by the board of revenue. it was acted upon for some years till about 1878. in that year, the managers of the estate found it necessary to collect a portion of the grain rent fixed according to the proposal of mr. puckle, in the shape of grain alone, as grain was required for meeting the requirements of the chathram charity. accordingly, one-eighth of the rent was collected in kind and the rest in cash (at the commutation rate). this system went on for some years, till about 1889, or so, when a slight modification was made by collecting one-sixth of the rent in kind and the rest in cash. as observed.....
Judgment:

Sundaram Chetty, J.

1. These are connected appeals arising out of two suits filed by the Taluk Board of Shermadevi, under Section 77, Madras Estates Land Act, for the recovery of arrears of rent due from the defendant. The facts of the case are briefly as follows:

2. Defendant is a tenant holding lands in an inam village which is an endowment for a chathram now under the management of the Taluk Board, Shermadevi, which occupies the position of a landholder. The village was originally under the management of the Board of Revenue which exercised supervision and control over public charitable trusts. It is admitted that the rent for the lands in this inam village was from time immemorial payable in kind. As would appear from Ex. A, the letter of Mr. Puckle, I. G. S., sent to the Board of Revenue in 1871, on which the defendant himself mostly relies, the ryots were paying the rent in kind as varam, or patam, or izarah rates, which were by no means uniform and which weighed heavily on the tenants, the system amounting almost to rack renting. In order to ameliorate the condition of the ryots, he proposed to fix a uniform rate of grain assessment for all the holdings, instead of the divergent and fluctuating rates prevailing till then. He further proposed to commute the grain rent into cash rent, by adopting the value of each kottah of grain at Rs. 5. His proposal was approved by the Board of Revenue. It was acted upon for some years till about 1878. In that year, the managers of the estate found it necessary to collect a portion of the grain rent fixed according to the proposal of Mr. Puckle, in the shape of grain alone, as grain was required for meeting the requirements of the chathram charity. Accordingly, one-eighth of the rent was collected in kind and the rest in cash (at the commutation rate). This system went on for some years, till about 1889, or so, when a slight modification was made by collecting one-sixth of the rent in kind and the rest in cash. As observed by the District Judge, this system was in vogue for 32 years or so, and the tenants were paying the rent in this manner without any sort of objection.

3. The point for determination is, whether the claim for the recovery of one-sixth of the rent in kind, despite the payment of the rent in this manner by the ryots for more than three decades since 1889, is unenforceable. It is argued that the settlement in 1871 according to the proposal of Mr. Puckle in his letter, Ex. A, should be deemed to be one fixing a cash rent permanently at Rs. 5 per kottah, and that the subsequent changes in 1878 and 1889, whereby a portion of rent was collected in kind, amount to enhancement of rent, and as such, would not be enforceable in the absence of a valid and binding contract. The learned Deputy Collector, in a careful and well-considered judgment, has discussed these points, and found that the levy of one-sixth rent in kind and the rest in cash cannot be deemed to be an enhancement of the rent. The learned District Judge also says that there is no evidence to show that the rent calculated as per the changes in 1878 and 1889 were greater than the rent levied according to the proposal of Mr. Puckle in 1871.

4. On a careful consideration of Ex. A, I am of opinion, that a uniform and fixed rate of grain rent, more favourable to the ryots than the prevalent rates, was fixed in or about 1871, and instead of collecting the grain fixed as rent, its equivalent in cash, taking Rs. 5 as the value of each kottah, was to be received. It seems to, me that this price. was not fixed as a permanent price as Mr. Puckle himself wanted to see how this system would work during a period of five years, and then to consider the need for alterations for the purpose of extending the chattram charity or for making further reduction in rent. In a former suit of this kind it was held by this Court in S.A. 36 of 1923, on a consideration of Ex. A, that the price then fixed by Mr. Puckle was not intended to be a permanent one (Ex. G-4).

5. As observed by the learned Deputy Collector, even in the pattas issued subsequent to 1871 (which the defendant has filed as Exs. V-e to V-g), the rent is stated to be so many kottahs of grain, and in another column its equivalent value in money is mentioned. If, by the arrangement effected in 1871, a permanent cash rent alone was fixed for each holding, there would have been no entry in the subsequent pattas showing the quantity of grain due as rent. The change introduced by Mr. Puckle in the system of collection of rents in this village in 1871 was undoubtedly a favour shown to the ryots, and as the concessions granted to the ryots by that change were more or less an act of grace, and were not claimable by the tenants as a matter of right, the further continuance of the same may not be strictly enforceable by the tenants in the absence of a valid and binding contract. Ignoring this the appellant wants to proceed on the assumption that the favourable system of rent collection introduced in 1871 amounts to a valid and binding contract for which consideration passed from the ryots, so that the slight changes made in 1878 and 1889 would not be valid and binding on the ryots without some consideration flowing from the landholder. It is on this fallacy a strenuous argument was built to the effect that, though the ryots were paying according to the change made in 1889 without any sort of objection for 32 years or so, they are no longer bound to pay like that but should pay the whole rent in cash alone, at the rate fixed by Mr. Puckle in 1871. In the first place the defendant has failed to prove, as found by the Courts below, that the slight changes made by levying a small portion of the fixed grain rent, as such, resulted in enhancement of the rent, in which case alone there should be fresh consideration for the enhancement. The decision in Jagaveera Rama, Venkateswara Ettappa v. Arumugham Chetty A.I.R. 1918 P.C. 173, relied on by the appellant, has no application to the present case. In that case, it was found that there was a binding contract for paying the dry rate alone. Though the tenants were subsequently paying a higher rate (garden rate) for a series of years, it was not enforceable as no consideration for levying the higher rate was proved. In the second place, even assuming that by levying a portion of the rent in kind, instead of in cash, there was some enhancement of the rent, the grant of concessions to the ryots gratuitously in 1871 may be deemed to be consideration for the implied contract to pay one-sixth of the rent in kind and the rest in cash, presumable from the uniform payment in that manner ever since 1889. If this can be viewed as a substituted contract for the one in 1871, any further consideration or independent consideration would not be necessary to validate the substituted contract: vide Vasudeva Mudaliar v. Velappa Nadar [1917] 45 I.C. 401.

6. For the foregoing reasons, I uphold the finding of the Courts below, that the claim for the recovery of one-sixth of the rent in kind and the rest in cash, is valid and enforceable.

7. The only other point argued is the levy of the road-cess. There is no force in the argument advanced on behalf of the appellant, in the face of the express legislative enactment (Section 88, Local Boards Act) which entitles the landholder to collect from the ryot one-half of the road-cess paid by him to the Government.

8. In the result, these second appeals fail and are dismissed with costs.


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