1. This is an appeal brought by defendants 17 to 20 in a suit which originally began as a small cause suit filed by the plaintiff in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Amalapuram in 1936. It was returned by the Subordinate Judge for presentation before the revenue Court and this order was confirmed on revision by the High Court. It was consequently presented again before the Deputy Collector, Amalapuram, in January 1939. The basis of the suit was an assertion by the plaintiff that all the defendants were trespassers on certain land belonging to him. Some were trespassers in the possibly technical sense that they had been ryots and they had lost that status because their holdings had been sold in discharge of the arrears of revenue which they owed. Others were trespassers in the more usual sense of the word. The learned Deputy Collector held that the suit before him was barred by limitation. There was an appeal by the plaintiff to the learned District Judge of East Godavari. The learned Judge differed from the Deputy Collector on the question of limitation and remanded the suit for determination on its merits. One point which was raised in opposition to the appeal was that the suit had already been abandoned by the plaintiff as regards certain of the defendants. That matter was not decided by the District Judge, but in passing the order of remand he referred it for decision to the Court below. Against this order of remand the present appeal has been filed by defendants 17 to 20.
2. The question has, of course, now been settled that the suit filed by the plaintiff was not maintainable in the civil Court. The question then arises as to under what provisions of the Estates Land Act, is he entitled to claim money from the defendants and it is conceded in the argument before me that the only section of the Estates Land Act which applies to these circumstances is Section 163. Section 163 definitely deals with a person who is not a ryot in respect of the land which is the subject-matter of the suit and it provides that where any one has unauthorisedly occupied any of the landholder's property he shall be liable to pay the rent due on the land if that rent has been fixed, and if it has not been fixed, the Collector may on application determine what is a fair and equitable rent. The trespasser is also liable under the second portion of the section to pay in addition to the rent whatever is a fair sum as damages for his unauthorised occupation. The final provision of the section is that all sums due under it can be recovered as if they were arrears of rent. It is provided, however, in the schedule to the Act, Part B, that an application to the Collector to determine what is the sum which should be payable in addition to the rent under Section 163 can be filed only within one year from the end of the revenue year in which the occupation was made.
3. Now, on the relevant dates in this matter, it is quite clear that any application under Section 163 to determine the amount payable as damages in addition to the amount of the rent would be out of time when this suit was first filed in March 1936. The question then however remains whether the plaintiff can claim the year's rent for fasli 1342 under part 1 of Section 163. So far as that is concerned, there is no separate provision in the schedule with regard to limitation, but it seems clear that as the landholder may recover all sums due under Section 163 as if they were arrears of rent, an application to recover a sum of money which is equal to the actual rent for the land should be treated as if it were a suit under Section 77, and for such a suit, the period of limitation is three years. It is clear therefore that in the circumstances of the present case, any suit or application filed on 28th March 1936, which is the date of the present plaint, would have been in time with regard to the rent for the fasli, but out of time, as already mentioned with regard to any extra sum claimed as damages. The present plaint was, of course, presented before the proper Court only in January 1939 and by that time it was on the face of it barred ,by limitation. This is a case therefore which must in ordinary circumstances be considered with regard to the provisions of Section 14, Limitation Act. Neither of the Courts below seems to have paid any attention to Section 14, Limitation Act, but it may, I think, be fairly taken that both Courts would have been prepared to condone the delay under Section 14, and have not specifically done so merely because no serious question was raised on this point by the other side. The only reason why the benefit of Section 14 should be refused to the plaintiff here would be one depending upon his absence of good faith, and as no facts have ever been alleged by the defendants impugning the good faith of the plaintiff, .it seems to me that I may formally set right the omission in the discussion in the Courts below, and hold that in the circumstances of this case, Section 14 may be applied and that the 'suit was still in time when it was filed before the Deputy Collector on 19th January 1939.
4. It is clear from the plaint that there has been no separation of the plaintiff's claim into two portions. The plaint was originally filed in the civil Court and has now to be considered as a plaint under Section 163. The learned advocates who have appeared in this appeal are unable to inform me what exactly is the amount of rent due for fasli 1342, and I am therefore unable to say specifically in respect of what sum this plaint is in time and in respect of what sum the plaint is barred by limitation. It will be for the Court below to apply the decision of this Court to the figures which will be furnished before it and for the same reason it will be necessary for the Court below to determine as to how the costs of this appeal shall be dealt with.. As indicated in this judgment, the appeal is being allowed in part and dismissed in part. The provision in the order of remand that the lower Court shall determine as against which defendants the suit has been abandoned is confirmed and the order of remand itself is of course con-firmed subject to the restriction that the decision of the learned District Judge that the suit is in time must apply only to the claim for the rent for fasli 1342. The provision in the order of remand that the costs before the District Judge shall abide and follow the result of the remand is also confirmed.