1. The plaintiff brought a suit, O.S. No. 177 of 1936 on the file of the District Munsiff of Yellamanchili, for ejectment against 13 defendants. The land from which the plaintiff seeks to eject the defendants is assumed for the purpose of argument to be an estate by virtue of Act XVIII of 1936. According to Section 6cf the Madras Estates Land Act as now amended, all tenants in occupation on the 30th June, 1934, would acquire occupancy rights. Various issues were framed; but there has been no finding except with regard to one of them. The District Munsiff dismissed the suit on the ground that according to the plaint, defendants 5 to 13 were in possession on that crucial date (30th June, 1934) and that therefore they had acquired occupancy rights and the plaintiff would not be entitled to possession.: The appellate Court held otherwise; because Section 8(5) contains an exception to the general rule enunciated in Section 6, sub-section 5 of Section 8 having been introduced by Act XVIII of 1936. It is to the effect that in the case where a landholder has obtained a final decree prior to the 1st November, 1933, by which it has been declared that the tenant did not have occupancy right and that he has not acquired occupancy right subsequently, then for a period of twelve years from the commencement of the Act, the landlord will have the right of admitting any person to the possession of such land on such terms as may be agreed upon between him and that person.
2. A first reading of Section 8(5) would seem to make it clear that this sub-section was intended to be an exception to the general rule enunciated in Section 6 and to defer, for a period of twelve years from the commencement of the Act the application of Section 6 under certain circumstances. Mr. Satyanarayana Rao, however, seeks to limit the application of Section 8(5). by pointing out that whereas 'the commencement of the Act' in Section 6 is to be construed as meaning the 30th June, 1934, there is no such expression in Section 8(5); so that in Section 8(5) ' the commencement of the Act ' means What it literally says, and that would be the 31st October, 1936. It is therefore argued that a tenant in possession on. the 30th June, 1934, acquired occupancy rights on that date; so that by the date of the commencement of the Act he had acquired occupancy rights which fact would save the defendants from the application of Section 8(5). That sub-section runs:
If before the first day of November, 1933, the landholder has obtained in respect of any land in an estate...a final decree or order of a competent Civil Court establishing that the tenant has no occupancy right in such land, and no tenant has acquired any occupancy right in such land before the commencement of the Madras Estates Land (Third Amendment) Act, 1936, the landholder shall...have the right, notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, for a period of twelve years from the commencement of the Madras Estates Land (Third Amendment) Act, 1936, of admitting any person to the possession of such land on such terms as may be agreed upon between them.
3. There seems to me no doubt when the legislature spoke of the tenant acquiring occupancy right during the period between the passing of the final decree and the commencement of the Act they were referring to an acquisition of occupancy right otherwise than under the Act. To construe this sub-section otherwise would mean that the acquisition or otherwise of occupancy right would depend upon the mere chance whether the landlord after obtaining a final decree and getting delivery of the land and evicting the tenant, chose to let the land lie waste or cultivate it himself or lease it out to a tenant. This sub-section certainly ought not to be construed so as to make it apply only to the third of these classes and thereby to draw an artificial distinction between that class and the other two classes. The legislature must have intended by this sub-rule to except from the general operation of Section 6 all cases where the landholder had obtained a decree prior to the 1st November, 1933, unless the tenant subsequent to the passing of the final decree had acquired occupancy right independently of the Act.
4. The appeal is dismissed with costs of the first respondent.