Anantakrishna Ayyar, J.
1. The plaintiffs sued in 1925 to recover possession of certain lands alleging that defendant 1 trespassed upon the same in 1923. The defendants denied the plaintiff's title and possession and also the trespass alleged in the plaint. The plaintiffs filed Ex. A, a patta No. 19 granted to them by the Raja of Parlakimedi in respect of the suit lands, and they also filed Exs. B to B-25, cist receipts in respect of the rent paid in respect of patta No. 19, Ex. A. Plaintiff 1 was also examined as the plaintiff's sole witness. On the side of the defendants, no documents were filed, but defendant 1 was examined as the sole witness for the defendants. The trial Court found that the plaintiffs had proved title and possession within 12 years prior to the suit, and accordingly decreed the suit in their favour. On appeal, the learned District Judge reversed the decision of the District Munsif and dismissed the suit, remarking that the patta, Ex. A,
is not evidence of title, it is a mere bill for rent and on no showing can a revenue patta be considered as a title-deed.
2. After referring to an alleged admission of plaintiff's rights said to have been made by defendant 1, the learned District Judge stated that the plaintiffs had entirely failed to prove their title to the suit lands, and accordingly reversed the District Munsif's decision. The plaintiffs have preferred this second appeal.
3. No doubt the onus of proof in this case is on the plaintiffs. The learned District Judge referred to Ex. A as a 'mere bill for rent' and observed that 'on no showing can a revenue patta be considered as a title-deed.' Whether a patta should be considered as a mere bill or whether more weight should be ' given to it in any particular case would depend largely upon the circumstances on which a patta was issued. The remarks of Bhashyam Ayyangar, J., in Secy. of State v. Kasturi Reddi  26 Mad.268 at p. 272, show that pattas issued by Government in respect of ryotwari lands are mainly intended to give information of the amount of revenue payable and the' instalments by which it is to be paid. The observations of that learned Judge have been followed in Muthuveeravandayan v. Secy. of State  29 Mad. 461 at p. 467, Secy. of State v. Raghavachariar A.I.R.1924 Mad.913 and Secy. of State v. Janaki Tammayya Pantulu A.I.R.1925 Mad.859. The observations were made with reference to pattas issued in pursuance of orders passed in darkhast proceedings regarding lands at the disposal of the Government, the said orders being subject to appeal to higher revenue authorities as prescribed by rules framed by the Government.
4. The learned Judge pointed out that if a valid order was passed by a duly authorized agent of the Government granting lands at the disposal of Government to a particular person, then that order, or the final order duly passed by the proper appellate authority, would confer title on the person in whose favour the same was passed; and in such cases delivery of possession or even the actual issue of a patta would not be necessary to complete title in that person. Similarly, if a patta be issued in pursuance of an order thus passed by an officer, the said patta could not be said to confer title on the pattadar by the mere fact of the patta having been issued, if the order in pursuance of which the patta was issued, be subsequently reversed by the proper appellate authority. Where however no orders of the Government or of any officer are available (a case not likely to arise ordinarily), a patta granted by the Government in the usual course with reference to lands at its disposal would nevertheless be indicative of the right of the pattadar to the land, if there be no other conditions in the patta or in the surrounding circumstances to indicate the contrary. As observed by Subramania Ayyar and Davies, J.J., in Pullanapally Sankaran Nambudri v. Vittil Thalakat Muhamod 28 Mad.505, the pattadar would be 'entitled to hold the land as long as he paid the revenue properly leviable from him, and in default he could be ousted only on legal process taken under the Revenue Recovery Act.'
5. It is probably in this sense that we have to understand the observations of the Privy Council in the case reported in Pushwati Alakh Narayan v. Secy. of State A.I.R.1926 P.C.18, at p. 258 (of 49 Mad.) relied on for the appellants, where the following passages occur in their Lordship's judgment:
The submerged land was likewise struck out of the pattas which constitute the evidence of title given to the holders in a ryotwari tenure. These pattas are subject to revision from time to time when changes of circumstances occur.
6. I may here remark that as observed at p. 256 of the report, it was conceded on behalf of the Secretary of State for India in that case that
after a darkhast is made and a patta granted by Government, the interest of the ryot holding under this form of tenure is permanent, hereditary and transferable, but that no ejectment at the instance of the Government is competent for arrears of rent and that such arrears can only be recovered as in the case of all Government revenue by sale of the property held under this tenure.
7. It was observed in 29 Mad. that
it is just as necessary to issue patta in the case of temporary or conditional grants in order that all concerned may know the amount of the assessment that is payable, and the instalments by which it is to be paid.
8. The Court held having regard to the circumstances of that case
that the patta issued by the Deputy Collector in that case could not be understood as evidencing a grant by him. He could not in fact make any valid grant while the appeal in respect of the matter was still pending before him.
9. It is also well known that pattas in respect of lands sometimes happen to stand in the names of deceased persons, and real owners of land do not always take care to have pattas transferred to their names; and it should be remembered that the main object of the tender of pattas or amending the pattas (whenever the same happen), at the annual jamabandi is with a view to finally settle the amounts due to the Government in respect of the lands, and to give information about the person responsible to the Government for the revenue, the extent of the holding, the revenue due and the instalments by which the same is payable. The person in whose favour a patta is so issued should not by that circumstance alone, be taken to be the real owner of the properties, though no doubt as between the person who accepts the pattas and the Government certain liabilities are undertaken by and imposed upon the pattadar which could be enforced under the Revenue Recovery Act.
10. The exact weight due to a patta would depend upon all the circumstances of the case. It has been held and it is not denied that patta is evidence of possession. Even in the aspect of a patta being only a mere bill, the possession of a bill coupled with the possession of the article covered by it would prima facie be cogent evidence of the right of the person concerned in the absence of other circumstances.
11. In the case of lands in a zamindari, it could not be said that orders granting lands at the disposal of the zamindar to a person are invariably passed by all landholders prior to the actual issue of pattas. It would seem that in several cases pattas constitute the only evidence of the transaction. If the land be at the disposal of the zamindar or landholder, and a patta be issued by him to a person in respect of such land, prima facie such patta would in such a case be not merely a bill but; something more. But, if the land be not at that time at the disposal of the landholder but held by some other person who would be entitled to hold the same subject only to payment of the proper rent due thereon, the mere circumstance that the landholder happened to issue a patta in the name of a stranger would not create any right to the land in that stranger in derogation of the rights of the prior person entitled to the same. As already remarked, grants of lands at the disposal of the landholder are also frequently made by the issue of pattas to the persons concerned. The issue of periodical pattas by landholders with a view to give information as regards the extent, rent, etc., payable in respect of the land, and to enable the landholders to take special proceedings under the Estates Land Act, might stand upon a different footing from the case of pattas granted to persons in respect of lands at the disposal of the land holder where nobody else had any rights in the same.
12. One will have to remember who the parties to the controversy are, whether the question arises between the Government or landholder on the one hand, and ryot on the other, or between two rival ryots.
13. Pattas are evidence of possession; and the weight otherwise due to pattas would depend on the circumstances of each case. This is probably what is to be inferred from the cases decided by this Court read with the passage in the Privy Council judgment in the case reported in Pushwati Alakh Narayan v. Secy. of State at p. 252, and the passages occurring in the earlier rulings of the Privy Council. By a reference to the early Privy Council rulings, we gather the following:
Patta proves no part of the title; it is the, conveyance that gives parties a right to claim the patta: Freeman v. Fairlie 1M.I.A.305.
14. The patta proves no part of the title; it is the conveyance that gives parties a right to claim the patta. The patta is evidence of title. The patta is not the title, but the evidence of title. Gunga Gohind Mundul v. Collector of the Twenty-four Pergannahs 11M.I.A.345, pp. 359 and 363.
15. A patta may be a confirmatory grant only, and there is nothing in accepting such a grant inconsistent with the presumption that a prior title existed: Ramchunder Dutt v. Jughes Chunder Butt 12 B.L.R.229.
16. A patta is granted by the zamindar as a title-deed to the tenant: Srinath Rai v. Pratap Udai Nath Sahi Deo A.I.R.1923 P.C.217, (at p. 153 of 28 G. W. N.)
17. Further, in the case before me, the learned District Judge has not considered the effect of the patta in relation to plaintiffs' alleged possession of the land; he has not referred to Exs. B-l, to B-25, cist receipts, nor to the oral evidence on the plaintiffs' side.
18. The defendants also seem to have complained that they had no proper opportunity to let in their evidence in the trial Court; the lower appellate Court has not recorded any definite opinion on that point. I think the judgment of the lower appellate Court, as it stands, should not be upheld. I reverse the decision of the lower appellate Court and remand the appeal for fresh disposal in accordance with law. Cost of this second appeal will abide and follow the result. Court-fee paid on the second appeal memorandum will be refunded to the appellants.