1. This Civil Revision Petition arises out of a Small Cause suit filed by the Rajah of Kalahasthi to recover a sum of Rs. 263-11-0 said to be due as jodi or meras from the agraharamdars of Parlapalle Agraharam for faslis 1336 to 1338. There have been several previous suits to recover the same dues for earlier faslis, of which O.S. No. 393 of 1905 on the file of the District Munsif's Court of Tirupati ended in a second appeal reported as Rajah of Kalahasthi v. Kamakshamma 1916 Mad. 1035. The learned District Munsif has decreed the claim subject to a certain deduction as set off, and this petition has been presented by two of the agraharamdars. The main contention raised is that the suit was of a kind excepted from the cognizance of a Small Cause Court as falling within Article 13 Schedule 2, Provincial Small Cause Courts Act. The article excepts
a suit to enforce payment of the allowance or fees respectively called milikana and hakk, or of cesses or other dues when the cesses or dues are payable to a person by reason of his interest in immoveable property or in an hereditary office or in a shrine or other religious institution.
2. I do not think that any assistance in deciding this point can be obtained from the earlier litigation. It is true that in the appeal and the second appeal in O.S. No. 393 of 1905 it was assumed, in considering the issue of res judicata that the previous suit (O.S. No. 787 of 1902) was of a Small Cause nature, but no question seems to have, been raised as to the applicability of Article 13. The point has to be decided here for the first time, on a consideration of the nature of the dues claimed; the original deed of grant to the agraharamdars is not forthcoming, but there is a document of the year 1803, which gives details of the various resums and meras which the agraharamdars had been previously paying in kind and which at the request of the agraharamdars, were converted into fixed cash payments. Although these payments have been described by the plaintiff as jodi, it is clear that they are not of the nature of rent at all. They are customary dues payable to the Rajah in consideration of certain things done by him or certain expenses borne by the zemindar performing ubhayams in a temple, visiting the village, employing a diwan employing a karnam, etc., they are styled meras or resums, and a mere is defined in Wilson's Glossary as
a portion of crop given as perquisite to holders of proprietary rights in village lands or to hereditary village officers and servants, out of the common stock on the threshing floor.
3. It will be seen how clearly and closely this definition resembles the terms of Article 13. In each, the proprietor of an estate and the holder of a hereditary office are designated as recipients. It appears to me that the intention of the article is to exclude claims to the somewhat arbitrary dues designated as meras and resums from the cognizance of the Small Cause Court, and that for a very good reason. As the litigation itself shows, difficult questions are raised both as to the original liability for these payments and as to the conditions upon upon which the landholder may continue to exact then. These questions ought not to be decided summarily and so far as the right of appeal is concerned, finally by a Small Cause Court. The learned advocate for the respondent, while contending that such dues do not fall within Article 13, has been unable to specify any other due which does so till. It appears to me that, in general, they are payable to the plaintiff by reason of his interest in immovable property, i.e., as landholder, and that in other respects the language of the article is wide enough to cover them.
4. Several cases have been cited to me, but I have not derived much assistance from them. Most of them relate to what is in fact rent, variously described as Kattubadi Mullapudi Balakrishnayya v. Venkatanarasimha Appa Rao Melvaram (1896) 19 Mad. 329, Krishnaswami Naidu v. Sriramulu Naidu 1928 Mad. 21, Ramaswami Chettiiar v. Muthu Vijaya Raghunatha 1932 Mad. 224, Krishna Mahanty v. Gangadhara Padhi 1927 Mad. 670. In one or two cases Maharajah of Vizianagaram v. Verranna (1913) 36 Mad. 18 and Krishnaswami Naidu v. Sriramulu Naidu 1928 Mad. 21 the dues collected were merely passed on by the landholder. Even if this be true of the Samprati Mera claimed in this case, which is said to be a payment for the services of a karnam, it if only one among other meras, of which the same cannot be said. Nor is this a case of a voluntary payment such as was dealt with in Govinda Krishna v. Venkatasubbiah 1929 Mad. 694. My conclusion accordingly is that the suit was of a nature excepted from the cognizance of a Small Cause Court. For the reasons which I have already given, I think that its trial by Small Cause procedure was objectionable, and that, since the decree was passed without jurisdiction this Court ought to interfere in revision. I accordingly allow the petition, set aside the decree of the lower Court, and direct it to return the plaint for presentation in accordance with law. The petitioners will have their costs in both Courts.