V. Sethuraman, J.
1. The defendant in O.S. No. 113 of 1969 on the file of the Subordinate Judge of Thanjavur, is the appellant. The defendant had taken about 76 acres of land belonging to the plaintiff Devasthanam on lease. Possession of the lands were surrendered in the suit filed for recovery of rent. The principal amount due was Rs. 60,256. There were also costs of Rs. 1,939.50, thus totalling about Rs. 62,195.50. The defendant had paid a sum of Rs. 53,221. 83 and, therefore, there was a balance of Rs. 16,239.53 for which the suit was filed. A decree was granted. But an application was filed under Act VIII of 1973 which amended the Tamil Nadu Act IV of 1938. The application was for recording full satisfaction of the decree. According to the judgment-debtor, as against the principal sum of Rs. 60,256 and costs of Rs. 1,939.50 totalling Rs. 62,195 he had already paid prior to the suit Rs. 53,221.83 and during the execution Rs. 14,500, totalling Rs. 67,721. 83 so that there was no amount due to the decree-holder as a result of the provisions of Act VIII of 1973. The Court below held that the judgment-debtor was not a cultivating tenant as he had already surrendered possession of the property in fasli 1373. It was also held that he was not an agriculturist. Thus he was not entitled to the benefits of Act IV of 1938 read with Act VIII of 1973. There was also a third ground of decision viz., that the suit was for recovery of arrears of rent and that the definition of 'debt' excluded arrears of rent, so that the Act did not apply. The result was that the petition was dismissed and it is this dismissal that has brought about the present civil miscellaneous appeal at the instance of the judgment-debtor.
2. The first point that arises for consideration is, whether this is a debt which comes within the scope of Tamil Nadu Agricuturists Relief Act IV of 1938 read with Act VIII of 1973-The term 'debt' has been defined in Section 3(3)(iii) as follows:
'debt' means any liability in cash or kind, whether secured or unsecured, due from an agriculturist whether payable under a decree or order of a civil or revenue Court or otherwise but does not include rent as defined in Clause (iv)....
The term 'rent' has been defined in Clause (iv) of the same provision and it runs as follows:
'rent' means the rent payable by a cultivating tenant under the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants (Payment of Fair Rent) Act 1956, (Tamil Nadu Act XXIV of 1956), or under the Tamil Nadu Public Trusts (Regulation of Adminstration of Agricultural Lands) Act, 1961, (Tamil Nadu Act LVII of 1961) or the rent as defined by the Tamil Nadu Estates Land Act, 1908, whether a decree or order of a civil or revenue Court has been obtained therefor or not, and includes interest payable thereon but does not include costs incurred in respect of the recovery thereof through a civil or revenue Court or the share of the land cess recoverable by the landholder under any law for the time being in force in this State.
The definition of the word 'debt' would show that it comprehends any kind of liability except 'rent' as defined in Clause (iv). The definition of the word 'rent' in Clause (iv) takes in the amount due by a cultivating tenant. The defendant was not a cultivating tenant. He had taken a large area of 76 acres for cultivation which he could not have cultivated in the manner required by the law. If he is not a cultivating tenant, then the rent payable by him will not come within the scope of Clause (iv) so as to be excluded from Clause (iii). The result is that the debt will include the rent that is due from the tenant in the present case. Therefore, the conclusion of the Court below to the contrary is without any foundation.
3. As regards the plea that the defendant was not an agriculturist which was accepted by the Court below, it is clear that the Court below did not look into the plaint itself. Even in the plaint it had been admitted that the defendant was an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act and that is how interest at the concessional rate had been claimed. The conclusion of the Court below that the judgment-debtor was not an agriculturist is patently wrong. As the Court below has not gone into the merits of the judgment-debtor's claim for the benefit under the Act, it is necessary to send the matter back to the Court below for proper consideration of the merits in accordance with law. The Civil Misscellaneous Appeal is accordingly allowed with costs.