Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.
1. The only question which arises on this petition is with regard to the effect of the second paragraph of Section 25 of the Madras Estates Land Act, 1908. The first paragraph of the section states that a ryot admitted by the landholder to possession of ryoti land shall not, unless otherwise provided in the Act, be bound to pay rent at a rate exceeding the rate prevailing for similar lands in the neighbourhood or, where the rate cannot be ascertained, anything more than what the Collector decides is fair and equitable. The second paragraph reads as follows:
Nothing in this section precludes the landholder from receiving any premium when the ryot is admitted into possession, but a ryot so admitted shall under no circumstances become liable to make any payment to the landholder after his admission by way of premium or other consideration for such admission; nor shall any holding of the ryot be subjected to any charge in respect of any such premium or consideration or part thereof.
2. The question which the Court is called upon to answer is this: When a ryot has agreed to pay a premium and has been let into possession before making the payment, can the landholder recover the amount from him afterwards
3. In the present case the Raja of Vizianagaram sued in the Court of the District Munsif of Vizianagaram to recover from the respondents a sum which was in part made up of an amount which the respondents had agreed to pay as a premium in respect of lands held by them from him. The District Munsif held that Section 25 of the Madras Estates Land Act precluded the plaintiff from recovering the premium and on this footing gave a decree only for the balance of the claim. In our opinion the District Munsif rightly construed the section.
4. The section expressly permits the landholder to receive an agreed premium at the time the ryot is admitted into possession of the land, but then goes on to provide that once the ryot has been admitted into possession he shall under no circumstances become liable to make any payment to the landholder of premium or other consideration for being allowed to take possession. The object of this provision is to prevent a ryot agreeing to make a payment beyond his means in order to gain possession. If he is in a position to pay a premium and he agrees to do so, the landholder is not prohibited from receiving payment before the ryot goes into possession; but he is prohibited from enforcing payment afterwards.
5. Mr. Kuttikrishna Menon has laid great stress on the word 'become'. He argues that the word 'become' signifies that the prohibition is only against a ryot agreeing to pay a premium after he has entered on the holding and that there is nothing in the section which prohibits a landholder enforcing at any time payment of an amount agreed upon before the ryot goes on to the land. If the intention of the Legislature had been to allow a landholder to enforce at any time payment of a premium agreed upon before the tenancy commenced, it could very easily have said so. It has not said so and when the second paragraph of the section is read as a whole it clearly discloses a contrary intention. In our opinion the words 'become liable' should be read as 'be liable'. The word 'become' is not well chosen, but the context leaves no doubt in our minds what was meant. The ryot may pay the premium if he chooses to do so, but he cannot be held liable to pay. If the landlord permits him to go into possession without payment he does so at his own risk, There is no liability after entry.
6. For these reasons we consider that the District Munsif was right, and the petition must be dismissed.