Abdur Rahim Officiating C.J.
1. I agree in the judgment which my learned brother Seshagiri Aiyar, J., is going to read.
Seshagiri Aiyar, J.
2. The facts of the case are fully set out in the judgment of Spencer, J. The question on which the learned Judges differed relates to the right of the Government to levy seigniorage fee on the stones quarried from the lands of the plaintiffs. The village in which the lands are situated was granted by the Nawab of Carnatic in 1750. It was enfranchised in July 1865. It is conceded that since enfranchisement, Government acquired lands of similar quality and description to those from which stones are quarried from the plaintiffs under the Land Acquisition Act and paid them compensation (Exhibit B). This document also shows that the Government purchased stones quarried in the village from the plaintiffs. But after some preliminary correspondence, the Government claimed seigniorage fee, at a particular rate and levied the same in or about November 1907. The question for decision is whether the Government is entitled to this royalty.
3. The learned Government Pleader's main contention was that the position of an inamdar after enfranchisement approximates to that of a ryotwari tenant, and not to that of the zemindar, and that consequently the holding is subject to the levy of royalties on minerals in the lands. He referred to the well-recognised principle that ordinarily a grant to an inamdar except in cases of waste lands shall be presumed to be that of the melwaram only and not of the land itself [see Narasimhulu v. Narasimhulu 16 M.L.J. 333, Rajyi v. Balkrishna Gangadhar 7 Bom L.R. 439. Yeddamapudi Lakshmi Narasimha Row v. Repalli Sitaramaswami 19 Ind. Cas. 440 ; (1913) M.W.N. 282 and Adusumalli Suryanarayana v. Acchutta Patanna 22 Ind. Cas. 339. But I do not think this presumption helps us to solve the question. All that these decisions lay down is that as between the tenant and the land-holder, the presumption is that only the right of the Government to the revenue on the land was granted originally. There is no suggestion that in making the grant any reservation was made in favour of the grantor. Whether the land belongs to the grantee or only the right to melwaram from the tenants in occupation, qua the rights of the grantor, everything was parted with. He denuded himself of all his rights, whatever the respective rights of the ryot and the land-holder may be in the soil.
4. Mr. Ramesam next referred to the rule of law that: A grant from the Crown is construed most strictly against the grantee, and most beneficially for the Crown, so that nothing will pass to the grantee but by clear and express words,' and quoted Vaman Janardhan Joshi v. Collector of Thana and the Conservator of Forests 6 B.H.C.R. 191, Collector of Ratnagiri v. Antaji Lakshman 12 B.K 534 and Secretary of State for India v. Janakiramayya 30 Ind. Cas. 609 in support of this principle. On the other hand Mr. Venkatarama Sastriar referred us to Lord v. Commissioners for the City of Sydney 12 Moo. 473 and Antaji Kesha, Tambe In re 18 B.K 670 and Balbir Singh v. Secretary of State for India 22 A.P 96 for the position that in interpreting grants, the Crown and the subject are bound by the same rules of construction. The two propositions appear incompatible only on the surface. A closer examination shows that the two classes of cases do not clash with each other. The ordinary rule is that in construing the words of a grant, the same principles of common sense and justice must apply whoever may be the grantor. Where the words are not sufficiently clear to gather the intention of the grant, then the doctrine that if the King's grant can endure to two intents, it shall be taken to the intent that makes most for the King's benefit may perhaps apply'. Therefore the primary duty of the Court is to try to give a meaning to the document evidencing the grant and to see whether by itself it is not self-contained and plain.
5. Now, looking at Exhibit I, in this light, I fail to see any necessity for invoking the aid of presumptions. The document says: 'A perpetual shrotriem was granted,' and that the grantee was 'to appropriate to his own use the produce of the seasons', etc. To my mind, the grant is unambiguous and clear and conveys all that the grantor had in the soil. If the grant was in itself defective, I do not think that the enfranchisement would enlarge its scope. I agree with the learned Government Pleader that the title-deed of the Inam Commissioner confers no higher title than what was originally granted. Act IV of 1862, Madras, was designed to convey to the inamdars the reversionary rights of the Government in consideration of an annual quit-rent. But as this Act was construed to mean that the enfranchisement was in the nature of a fresh grant of property by the Government, Act VIII of 1869, Madras, was passed which declared that 'Nothing contained in a title-deed... shall affect the interests of any person other than the inam-holder' or confer any right to land which he would not otherwise posse Sections' It is enough in this connection to refer to the historical judgment of Bhashyam Aiyangar, J., in Gunnaiyan v. Kamakshi Ayyar 26 M.K 339 wherein it is stated that the proceedings in enfranchisement cannot operate to confer on the inamdar any additional rights. See also Secretary of State for India v. Janakiramayya 30 Ind. Cas. 609 ; (1915) M.W.N. 671. At the same time, it must be remembered that any declaration or finding by the Inam Commissioner regarding the nature and extent of the grant will bind the Government. [Papachar Sethumathavachariar v. Secretary of State for India 26 Ind. Cas. 187
6. Comparing the positions occupied by the three classes of people who hold lands in this Presidency, it seems to me that the inamdar is in the same position as the zemindar who obtained his sannad by the Permanent Settlement. It is true that under Regulation XXVof 1802, the Government reserved to itself only certain specified privileges in the lands granted to the zemindar and that royalty on minerals is not among the reserved rights (Section 4 of the Regulation). There is no such clause in the case of inam grants. But the Government in enfranchising the inam reserved to itself only a right to a small quit-rent until purchase by the grantee. The fact that the land becomes freed from all liability to assessment after paying twenty or thirty years' quit-rent, shows that the freehold in the property has been completely parted with. The quit-rent is not subject to periodical revision. The position of the ryotwari holder is very different.
7. It has been held that the right of the inamdar with respect to the porambokes is the same as that of the zemindar: Gunnaiyan v. Kamakshi Ayyar 26 M.K 339. See also Maclean's Manual of Administration, page 124. In the Estates Land Act, he occupies the same position as the zemindar. I, therefore, do not see any force in the argument of the Government Pleader that the inamdar has no more rights than an ordinary ryotwari tenant. The decision in Kumar Hari Narayan Singh v. Sriram Chakravarti 7 Ind. Cas. 785 ; 12 Bom. L.R. 495 ; (1910) M.W.N. 309 ; 20 M.L.J. 569 , to which our attention was drawn, related to the case of a permanent lessee from a zemindar, and their Lordships of the Judicial Committee held that such a transferee did not acquire a right to quarry minerals. The suggestion that an inamdar is only a permanent lessee from the Government is opposed to Act IV of 1862, Madras, and to the language of the grant in thin case.
8. Mr. Veukatarama Sastriar pressed another argument before us. The conduct of the Government in paying compensation under the Land Acquisition Act and in purchasing stones from the plaintiffs precludes them from claiming any royalty. I do not think that the learned Vakil can contend that there is any estoppel; but the conduct is evidence of a declaration on the part of the Government that they have not the rights now claimed. It is also noteworthy that the Board of Revenue in the earlier years held that the Government have no right to any royalty from the inamdars: see Order XV in the 1890 edition of the Standing Orders. In the revised edition issued in 1913, in Order XXV, the Board of Revenue indicates that the Government have this right. In my opinion the purchase, the grant of compensation, the earlier declaration are all evidence against the present claim of the Government. Vide Nawab Ajajuddin Alli Khan v. Secretary of State for India 28 M. 69. Brett v. Ellaiya 13 M.I.A. 104 and Kandalam Rajagopalacharyulu v. Secretary of State 22 Ind. Cas. 107; 14 M.L.T. 454.
9. For all these reasons, my conclusion is that the decision of Sadasiva Aiyar, J., is right and that this appeal should be dismissed with costs. The costs must be paid within three months.
10. I agree.