1. These second appeals and civil revision petitions have been considered in four batches. In the first and second batches, the plaintiffs were the Chintalapati people, who owned two-thirds of the village of Etikopaka, while in the suits out of which the third and fourth batches arise, the plaintiffs were the Kota Uratla people, who owned one-third of that village. The first batch comprises S.A. No. 90 to 95 of 1943. All the suits out of which these second appeals arise were suits for rent or ejectment by the Chintalapati people. The allegation was that the village of Etikopaka, in which the suit lands are situate, was an enfranchised whole inam village and that from the beginning the melvaram and kudivaram rights in respect of all the lands in the said village passed to the mokhasadars of the village and have been enjoyed by them without objection. They claimed rent under an agreement of 1937. The contention of the defendants was that the grant was not of the melvaram and kudivaram rights but of the melvaram only. The tenants also pleaded that the agreement entered into in 1937 was brought about by coercion and fraud and was therefore not binding on them. They relied upon an agreement of 1907 in which a very much lower rent was fixed. The only question of importance raised in this batch of suits was whether the Etikopaka village became an estate in 1908 or whether it did not become an estate until the amending Act of 1936. That depended on the question whether the original grant was of both varams or of melvaram only. The Sub-Collector found the various issues in favour of the tenants and came to the conclusion that the grant was of the melvaram only and that the later agreement executed by the tenants was brought about by coercion. As on both these points the District Judge came to a contrary conclusion, the tenants have appealed.
2. The question whether the grant of a village was of both varams or of melvaram only was largely one of fact; but the learned advocate for the tenants has drawn our attention to the four documents marked as EX. IX in S.A. No. 90 of 1943 and has contended that those documents indicate that the grant was of melvaram only. We are, however, of opinion that the learned District Judge was right in holding that from Ex. IX it was much more probable that the grant was of both varams. The first two documents in Ex. IX were mokhasa pattas, and in each of these the grantee was exhorted to make the land bear fruit and enjoy the fruits thereof. We think that this language is inconsistent with the idea of the grant of melvaram only, in which case one would have expected that the grantor would1 have exhorted the grantee to enjoy the revenue from the lands. The fact that the grantee was to make the land bear fruit and to enjoy the fruits thereof suggests that he was to cultivate the lands himself or get them cultivated by others.
3. The learned advocate for the appellants also attacks the judgment of the lower Court on the ground that it failed to consider two important documents, namely, Exs. 3-1 and B. Ex. J-l is the Inam Statement given by the mokhasadars at the time of the Inam Commission. The only entry in the Inam Statement on which reliance is placed in this connexion is that found in Clause (6) that the grant was made by the grantors to their brothers-in-law, Chintalapati Neeladri Raju and Simhadri Raju, from which it is argued that it is unlikely that the Maharaja would have granted the kudivaram to his brother-in-law. We do not consider this entry of very much significance. Exhibit B is an account of the estate of 1785 and 1786, which shows that the ryots were getting a share of the produce, from which it is argued that ryots were already in possession of the land at the time when the grant was made and that one must therefore presume that what was granted to the mokhasadar was what was not already enjoyed by the ryots, namely, the molwaram interest only. We do not however know exactly when the grant was made; and we cannot fairly presume from the mere fact that the ryots were enjoying the produce of the lands in 1785 that they were enjoying occupancy rights at the time when the grant was made. Moreover, these accounts do not show that the ryots were entitled either to a fixed share or to a fixed quantity of the produce of the lands. On the contrary, they show that the quantity falling to the shares of the landlord and of the tenant varied from year to year. Exhibit C-l is another series of accounts much to the same effect. We do not think it necessary to refer to the various inconclusive statements found in the other documents, as we do not consider that they are of sufficient weight to disturb the finding of the lower Court on this point.
4. The learned advocate for the appellants has pointed out that in the two mokhasa pattas and in the first of the two takids one finds the telugu expression 'ma' which, it is argued, stands for mauza, which was a circumstance very much relied on by the Privy Council in Seethayya v. Somayajulu A.I.R. 1929 P.C. 115 as indicating that the grant was one of melvaram only. Madhavan Nair J. However in Kondapanaidu v. Mahalakshmamma A.I.R. 20 1933 Mad. pointed out that it would not be safe to presume that 'ma' stood for mauza in the absence of an admission to that effect by the parties. In Seethayya v. Somayajulu A.I.R. 1929 P.C. 115 both parties agreed that 'ma' after the name of the village meant mauza. In the case considered by Madhavan Nair J.- as well as in the three documents which we are considering in this case-the 'ma' was in front of the name of the village. Two translators of this Court are of opinion that, read with the context, 'ma' stands for madura (hamlet); and one finds in the third document that the word madura is used in front of the words 'Kondakoppaka' as meaning a hamlet. Whether 'ma' means madura in these three documents or not, we are certainly not prepared to say that it means mauza. On the contrary, we think it highly improbable.
5. Another word which the learned advocate for the appellants considers of much significance is salabadu, which is sometimes used to mean 'revenue', though its ordinary meaning seems to be 'annual', 'permanent', or 'as usual'. We do not think that the use of this word in the documents comprised in Ex. 9 affords an indication that the grantor intended to grant the melvaram only. The context indicates that 'salabadu' means 'as usual.' The only other question in this batch of appeals is whether the rents which the tenants agreed to pay under the suit muchilikas are fair rents or not. The proviso to Section 28, Madras Estates Land Act, states:
Provided that in the case of an estate within the meaning of Sub-clause (d) of Clause (2) of Section 3, the rent or rate of rent lawfully payable by a ryot or tenant on the first day of November 1933 shall be presumed to be fair and equitable at the commencement of the Madras Estates Land (Third Amendment) Act, 1936, until the contrary is proved.
6. It was open to the tenants to have contended1 that despite this presumption the rents were not fair. Although in their written statement they said that these agreements were brought about by coercion and fraud which they failed to prove they did not say that the rents were not otherwise fair. They were much higher rent than was paid in 1907, but one cannot thereby infer that the higher rates were unfair. The ryots had been paying the higher rates for 18 years before the filing of the suit, and were therefore paying those rates long before November 1933; and so in the absence of proof that all these agreements were brought about by coercion and fraud, there is every reason to think that the rates were fair. There was no issue raised on this point and the tenants made no attempt to prove that the rates were not fair. These appeals are therefore dismissed with costs.
7. The second batch comprises S.A. Nos. 1676 to 1680 of 1943 and C.R.P. No. 1694 to 1699 of 1943. The only question raised in this batch of suits was whether the lands were private lands or ryoti lands. These suits were filed in the Court of the District Munsif of Yellamanchilli, who held in favour of the plaintiffs that the suit lands were private lands. The appeals from the decrees in these suits were heard together with the appeals from the decrees in the third and fourth batched, and instead of considering each batch on its merits the learned District Judge clubbed them together and considered only the preliminary question raised in the third and fourth batches, viz., whether the grant of an inam village in which minor inams had already been granted was an estate within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land (Amendment) Act, 1936. He held on the evidence adduced in all the three batches that the grant was of something less than the whole village and that therefore following the decision of several Benches of this Court the grant was not of the whole of Etikoppaka and that the land granted was not an estate. This question was not raised either by the plaintiffs or by the defendants in the batch of suits which we are now considering and no issue was framed. It was not, therefore, proper for the learned District Judge to dispose of this batch of appeals in this way, merely because they related to the same village as was the subject of the other two batches of suits. In view of the case of the plaintiff himself that his land was part of an estate, the learned District Judge should have assumed that and proceeded to consider the question discussed by the first Court, namely, whether the suit lands were private lands or ryoti lands. These appeals arid civil revision petitions have therefore to be allowed and the first appeals remanded to the District Court for fresh disposal. If the District Judge considers that the plaintiff has proved that the suit lands are private lands, no further question will arise, but if he holds that the lands are not private lands, then ho will of course have to consider the other issues in the suit. The costs of these appeals and civil revision petitions will be costs in the cause. The court-fees paid in the second appeals will be refunded.
8. The third batch consists of Second Appeals Nos. 1681 and 1713 of 1943 and C.R.P. Nos. 1700 to 1710 and the fourth batch of C.R.P. Nos. 1673 to 1678 of 1943. Both these batches raise the question whether the grant excluded certain minor inams and if so whether the grant was of a village or not. In view of the bill published in the Fort St. George Gazette of Tuesday, July 25th, 1944, we think it desirable that these second appeals and civil revision petitions should stand over until the bill is either passed into an Act or has been dropped. Both sides agree to this course. These appeals and civil revision petitions will therefore be adjourned until 9th October 1944.