1. This is an appeal by defendant 1 (The State of Madras represented by the District Collector of Ramanathapuram at Madurai) in a suit filed by the plaintiffs in the Court below (the landholders) for a declaration that Madras Act XXX of 1947 could not apply to the suit village, Therku Kottagudi. The plaintiffs below pleaded that the suit village was granted as Dharmasanam inam to their ancestors, as a hereditary grant, and that the grant was confirmed by the Inam Commissioner on 16th February, 1864, under Title-deed No. 448. An important fact, which has to be stressed at the outset itself, is that this was a grant of an entire village, and not merely of any portion or part of a village. Under those circumstances, whether the original grant was of both the warams or otherwise, there is no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that the village itself is an estate within the meaning of Section 3(2)(d) of the Madras Estates Land Act (I of 1908). That point being not in controversy, we may proceed further.
2. The Government (appellant) have issued a notification with respect to ryoti lands in this village under Section 3(2) of the Madras Estates (Reduction of Rent) Act XXX of 1947. When we look at the Act, we find that, under Section 1(2), ' it applies to all estates as defined in Section 3(2) of Madras Estates Land Act, 1908 '. Hence, by logical and necessary implication, the Government would be clothed with the power to issue the norification under Madras Act XXX of 1947. What is urged before me by learned Counsel for the plaintiffs (landholder) in support of the judgment now appealed against, is that the Preamble to Madras Act XXX of 1947 shows that that legislation was enacted to provide for reduction of rents upon ryoti lands in such estates to the level of ryotwari assessments in the neighbourhood and that must be construed as the purpose of the Act.
3. What the plaintiffs (landholder) attempted to prove in the lower Court was that the entire lands in this village were ' private lands ' within the meaning of Section 3(10) of the Madras Estates Land Act. Not being ryoti lands, and not being lands in respect of which there were occupancy rights, the notification of the Government was misconceived and illegal. I think it can be very simply shown that this reasoning is fallacious. The question is not whether or not there are ryoti lands in the village. The learned Subordinate Judge has found, upon the merits, that all the lands in this village are ' private lands ' of the landholder and not ryoti lands. First of all, all the supposed ryots were not parties to the suit, and it is very difficult to see how such a finding would bind the parties really affected by it, namely the persons who claim to be ryots in respect of these holdings. Secondly, it is obviously insufficient to arrive at such a finding upon the basis of a few documents, or the general evidence. Since, conceivably, there may be some individual ryoti lands, while the rest of the lands may be 'private' or the true state of affairs may be vice versa, the only proper finding can be with respect to each holding or paimash number, and in the presence of the affected party who claims to be the ryot concerned.
4. There can be no doubt that, with regard to a village to which Madras Act XXX of 1947 applies, the Government have power under Section 3(1) to direct their Special Officer to submit his recommendations with regard to the matters specified in that section. They have power, under Section 3(2) of the Act, thereafter, to issue a notification like the one actually printed at page 59 of the printed papers, determining the rates of rent payable in respect of each class of ryoti land in the estate.
5. The landholder is not aggrieved by any of these steps taken by the Government, so long as it is indisputably established that the village is an estate, to which Madras Act XXX of 1947 applies. There is ample authority for the position that the Act could apply to an estate of that character, even assuming (without conceding) that all the cultivable lands in that village arc ' private ' lands and not ryoti lands. I think it is sufficient, in this context, to refer to the observations of Krishnaswami Nayudu, J., in Govindaswami Naidu v. T.P. Devasthanam : (1956)2MLJ260 , to the effect that
There is nothing inherently impossible that an estate like the present should consist of lands wholly private, apart from the communal and other lands, which are excepted from the category of ryoti lands.
6. It may be noted that the decision of Krishnaswami Nayudu, J., in Govindaswami Naidu v. T.P. Devasthanam : (1956)2MLJ260 was confirmed by a Division Bench of this Court, consisting of Govinda Menon and Ramaswami, JJ., in Govindaswami Naidu v. T.P. Devasthanam : (1956)2MLJ260 . My attention has also been drawn to two unreported decisions,the first by Ramachandra Iyer, J., in A.S. No. 250 of 1956. In that case, the learned Judge observed:
Although all the lands in the estate are private lands, Act XXX of 1947 would apply, as the village is an estate within the meaning of that Act.
In A.S. No. 261 of 1956 and Memorandum of Gross-objections (also not report ed), Basheer Ahmed Sayeed, J., observed:
Even if the lands are Pannai lands, still, Act XXX of 1947 may have to be applied in order to work out rights under the Act, in case anyportion of the lands is established to be ryoti landsl'
7. Upon these facts, it appears to be abundantly clear to me that the learned Subordinate Judge misconceived the legal principles in their incidence upon the facts, in granting a declaration to the effect that the notification issued by the Government would not apply to lands in this village. The notification was perfectly proper, and ought not to be set aside. With respect to any particular holding, it will always be a question of fact, whether it is ryoti land to which the reduced rent will apply, or it is the private land of the landholder, in which case the lessee will be governed by the terms of the contract. It is represented before me that, under the latest rules, tribunals have been established for the hearing and disposal of such matters, and the conclusive finding of fact will have to be arrived at in each case, upon the merits, as between the concerned ryot and the landholder, though the Government may, of course, be a pro forma party to such proceedings. The appeal is accordingly allowed with costs throughout setting aside the judgment of the Courts below.