1. Respondent 1 is the father-in-law of respondent 2. On 18th July 1929 they executed a bond in favour of the petitioner. Under it respondent 2 was to work as a farm laborer for the petitioner. Respondent 2 left the petitioner's employment on 1st May 1942, whereupon the petitioner filed S.C.S. No. 302 of 1943 in the Court of the District Munsif, Tiruturaipundi to recover the money due under the bond. The District Munsif held that the document constituted a slavery bond and dismissed the suit. The question which we are called upon to decide is whether the bond can in law be regarded as 11 slavery bond. The operative part of the bond reads as follows:
For paying and discharging the dues under the debt and for personal labor executed by Vayira Padayachi out of us in favor of Manakkudi Rama Mudaliar for Rs. 70 and the dues under promissory note for Rs. 30, in all Rs. 100 for two items, free from all claims, excluding the amount paid already, the amount borrowed from you by us in cash is Rs. 86. In lieu of interest on the said amount of rupees eighty six, Vayira Padayachi of us shall remain in your Pannai (Farm), and do the Pannai labour and receive the wages, kalavadi manyam according to the Pannai usage. On the above understanding we have executed this document. In case of failure to do so or in case labour is undertaken elsewhere, or in case of non-appearance for work, we agree to add interest at the rate of Rs. 2 per cent. per month from that date and pay the same whenever demanded by you without pleading any apportionment of liability. To this effect we have executed this bond apart from the bond in respect of personal labour executed by Govinda Kandyian out of us on 5th July 1910 and apart from the sundry amounts we have received.
2. It will be observed that the defendants received in cash the advance of Rs. 86. This advance was not to be called in while defendant 2 worked for the plaintiff. In case he refused to do so he advance was to be repayable with interest at 2 per cent, per month from the date when the plaintiff ceased to have the use of defendant 2's services. Defendant 2 was not prohibited from applying for service elsewhere.
3. There is nothing here in the nature of a slavery bond. It is true that the rate of interest is very high, but under the existing law the Court has power to reduce exorbitant interest. Moreover, the plaintiff in bringing this suit only claimed interest at 6ib per cent, per annum from the date when defendant 2 left his farm. The case falls well within the principle recognized by this Court in Ponnusami v. Palayathan A.I.R. 1919 Mad. 32 and Karuppannan v. Karuppan Samban : AIR1927Mad531 . The decisions of this Court in Snndara Reddi v. Jagannathan : AIR1927Mad818 and Rama Sastriar v. P. Ambalakaran : AIR1929Mad267 are based on entirely different facts and the judgments have no application. It is true that the case for the respondents receives support from the decision of the Calcutta High Court in Rama Swarap v. Bansi Mandar A.I.R. 1916 Cal. 718 where the facts were very much the same, except that the repayment was to be made in a certain month in any year and that on default interest at 75 per cent, per annum was to be charged. We are not prepared to follow this decision. As we have said, there is nothing in the bond here in the nature of slavery and the decisions of this Court in Ponnusami v. Palayathan A.I.R. 1919 Mad. 32 and Karuppannan v. Karuppan Samban : AIR1927Mad531 support this view. The system of granting advances to agricultural laborers on these terms may be a very bad one; but it is quite a different thing to say that they bind persons entering into such bonds as slaves to their masters. The petition for revision must be allowed and a decree passed in favour of the petitioner in accordance with the prayer in his plaint with costs here and below.