1. In this case the plaintiff (appellant) held a patta for certain trees on land in certain survey fields and the defendants (respondents) held the patta for the land. The plaintiff had possession of the trees for more than 20 years prior to 1903. In that year the Revenue authorities cancelled the patta which they had given to the plaintiff. The defendants then interfered with the plaintiff's enjoyment of trees and deprived him of their possession. The plaintiff, therefore, brought this suit to recover possession of the trees and for mesne profits.
2. The District Munsif gave him a decree but the District Judge reversed it on appeal and dismissed the suit. We think the decree of the District Munsif is right.
3. The successive standing orders of the Board of Revenue, Madras, in regard to tree pattat are found at pages 5, 6 and 7 of Maclean's Edition of 1878, and at pages 36 and 40 of the Government Editions of 1900 and 1907, respectively.
4. The respective rights of parties in the position of the plaintiff and defendants who, for the sake of brevity, are called tree pattadar and land pattadars respectively are discussed in the cases reported in Reference under Section 39 of Madras Forest Act 12 MP. 203 and Thievu Pandithan v. Secretary of State for India 21 MP. 433. It was there held that the tree pattadar 'has an interest during the continuance of his patta in the tree itself and in all that is necessary for the growth of the tree including the soil in which it grows.'
5. The District Judge held that the plaintiff's interest in the tree ceased to exist as soon as the patta was cancelled, and that he could not rely on his possession, because it was not really adverse to the defendants but was rather that of a licensee, and when the tree patta was cancelled the effect was to 'complete the land pattadar's natural and usual proprietary rights in his land by cancelling the limitation which the existence of the tree patta imposed on him.'
6. We do not think that this view is correct. So far as appears in this case, the only effect of the cancellation of this tree patta was that Government no longer made any demand on the paitadars for revenue in respect of the tree. It is not shown, or even contended, that Government resumed possession of the trees, or made any grant of them to the defendants. The District Judge, no doubt, states that when both pattas were in existence the land pattadar was credited with whatever revenue was collected from the tree pattadar and that on the cancellation of the tree patta the whole revenue was payable by the land pattadar. But this cannot be taken to evidence a grant of the trees to the land pattadar, and the District Munsif points out that no revised patta was issued to the latter enhancing the revenue payable by him. The Government is no party to the suit, and it is unnecessary to consider so far, if at all, the position of the tree puttadar quoad the Government is affected by the cancellation of the tree patta. For all that appears, the rights of the tree pattadar may have been and probably were in existence before the land patta was granted. Even if it is assumed that Government by cancelling the tree patta could and did resume compile ownership of the trees, there was no grant of them to the defendants and there is no foundation for regarding the defendants as the owners of the trees. The plaintiff was in possession of the trees until dispossessed by the defendant some two years prior to the suit. The defendants having no title as owners were mere trespassers, and the plaintiff was entitled to rely on his possession in a suit to eject them: Narayano Row v. Dharama Char 26 MP 514 and Subbaraya Chetti v. Aiyaswami Aiyer 32 MK. 86 : 5 M.L.T. 80 : 1 Ind. Cas. 749.
7. On this ground we must set aside the decree of the District Judge and restore that of the District Munsif with costs in this and the lower Appellate Court.