1. The question which arises is as to the liability or otherwise of the petitioners to pay enhanced Court fee under the provisions of Section 17 of the Court Fees Act. The section says that where a suit embraces two or more distinct subjects, the plaint shall be chargeable with the aggregate amount of the fees to which the plaints in suits embracing separately each of such subjects would be liable under the Act.
2. The suit in the present case was brought by two plaintiffs against a number of defendants. It was alleged that the first plaintiff became the owner of the suit properties by reason of a settlement deed executed by his father. At the time the first plaintiff was a minor and his mother and guardian, the second plaintiff, entered upon the properties only to find the defendants in occupation under tenancies created by the settlor. There were other persons also in occupation of other properties comprised in the settlement, but these made no demur about attorning to the plaintiffs as tenants.* The defendants in the suit apparently refused or neglected to do so.
3. The plaint, paragraph 3, says:
The first plaintiff is the owner of the immoveable properties mentioned in the schedule hereto annexed.
4. The schedule has not been printed, but evidently there is a large number of properties and the extent of each is set out together with the names of the defendants in occupation of them. The plaint alleges that these defendants are trespassers and that they are bound to pay mesne profits for past years and compensation until date of delivery of possession. The plaintiff claims an aggregate sum of Rs. 30,893-10-9 being the total of the amounts claimed against each of the defendants. The plaintiff prayed among other things for delivery of possession and for ejectment of the defendants.
5. Does a suit in these circumstances comprise a number of ' subjects ' as required by Section 177 Authorities have been cited to show that there is nothing amiss in joining a number of defendants in a suit for ejectment and there would appear to be authority for saying that where a plaintiff says that he is the owner of certain land on which the defendants are trespassing, he may have one cause of action against them. Is that the same thing as saying that there is only one subject? I do not find the authorities at all clear. It has been said in Kishorilal Roy v. Sharut Chander Muzumdar I.L.R.(1883)Cal. 593 that the meaning of the word ' subject ' is obscure and incapable of precise definition. In the present case it is not clear from the plaint before me whether the plaintiff is claiming in respect of an extent of land on which exist a number of trespassers each sitting on different tracts or whether the suit is in respect of a number of different properties of which the first plaintiff, no doubt, may be the owner but upon which the occupants have come in different ways. I am told that the latter is more likely the case, because the properties in some cases are in different villages.
6. It seems to me on the whole that, bearing in mind the words of the plaint the plaintiff is seeking--it may be similar relief against these defendants--but not the same relief. There appears to be no legal inter-connection between the defendants. They have nothing in common with each other and they are joined merely as a matter of convenience. Against each defendant the plaintiff will have to prove a similar but a separate case. The amount claimed is different against each defendant. If the plaintiff is right, each defendant committed a different although a similar act of trespass. As the correction slip points out there must probably also be a different question of costs arising in each case and depending upon each defendant's attitude.
7. On the whole I have come to the conclusion that this case is not quite the simple case which is considered in such authorities as Nando Kumar Masker v. Banomali Gayan I.L.R.(1902)Cal. 871. 3. I.L.R.(1908)33 Bom. 293 Umabhai v. Vithal I.L.R.(1902)Cal. 871. 3. I.L.R.(1908)33 Bom. 293 and Govindaraja Mudaliar v. Alagappa Thambiran : AIR1926Mad911 where the heir to an estate has come upon it to find it trespassed upon and occupied by a number of individuals and in which he brings a suit against them all for ejectment, proves his title and asks that they should be turned off the land by the Court. In this case I am told that each of these defendants in fact was in the position of being a tenant to the plaintiff's predecessor-in-title. Why the benefit of these tenancy agreements was not passed on to these plaintiffs is not easy to see. I am grateful to learned Counsel for the petitioners who has argued the case very forcibly and ably for his clients, but I think on the facts I must hold that the contention that Section 17 applies is right. This case does contain more subjects than one although the plaintiffs claim under one settlement deed.
8. The petition is therefore dismissed. The petitioners will pay costs to Gov-ernment.