1. The defendants appeal against a preliminary decree on a mortgage. The mortgage was, dated 6th October, 1933, and provided for compound interest at 9 per cent. It was contended in the lower Court that the defendants were agriculturists. The lower Court has found that they are excluded by the operation of proviso C to Section 3 (2) of Act IV of 1938.
2. The facts are that for the half-year ending 31st March, 1936, they paid property tax on an annual rental value of Rs. 613, for the half-year ending 1st October, 1936, and for the half-year ending 31st March, 1937, on a rental value of Rs. 300, and for the half-year ending 30th September, 1937, on a rental value of Rs. 367. It was contended in the lower Court, firstly, that in order to come within the purview of proviso C, property tax on a rental value of not less than Rs. 600, must have been imposed throughout the period of two years specified in the proviso. This seems to us to be against the plain language of the proviso which does not use the word 'throughout' but uses the word 'within'. If at any point of time within the period the disqualification has been incurred it will satisfy the terms of the proviso. Secondly, it is contended that the words 'the aggregate annual rental value of such buildings and lands' mean the annual value of the building and lands arrived at by adding the valuation for each of two half-years and dividing by two. Thus for the whole year ending 1st October, 1936, it is suggested that the defendants must be deemed to have been assessed to property tax on buildings and lands of an aggregate annual rental value which is half of Rs. 913. Again the answer is that such an interpretation involves the negation of the actual facts. The defendants were never assessed on an annual rental value of half of Rs. 913. The word 'aggregate '' clearly refers to the total of the rental values of the various; buildings and lands in respect of which the tax has been imposed and not to the total of the valuations for two half-years. It seems to us clear that by reason of the assessment for the first of the four half-years on the basis of an annual rental value of Rs. 6.13, defendants are excluded from the benefits of the Act.
3. A further contention has been based on the language of the Madras amendment to Section 3 of the Usurious Loans Act wherein it is provided that in the case of loans to agriculturists. if com-pound interest is charged the Court shall presume that the interest is excessive. It has already been decided that the appellants are not agriculturists in the sense in which the word is used in Act IV of 1938. But this is not the sense which will apply to the 'Usurious Loans Act. We take it that the word 'agriculturist' is used in its ordinary dictionary sense of a person who actually follows the calling of an agriculturist. There is no evidence that the defendants follow the calling of an agriculturist. The first and second defendants are described in the cause title as 'Brahmin landlords'. The third defendant, who is the son of the first defendant is described as 'landlord, cultivation'. But whether he is actually engaged in cultivation as a calling we do not know. There is no basis in the evidence for the contention advanced. In the result, therefore, the appeal is dismissed with costs.