1. This appeal arises out of a suit brought in the Revenue Court by the appellant, a zamindar, to recover cesses paid by him under the Local Boards Act for Faslis 1338 to 1343. The defendants are Darmilla inamdars, that is to say, under-tenure holders within the zamindari, Both the Courts below have held that the plaintiff suing under the Madras Estates Land Acts by virtue of the provisions of Sections 88 and 89, Madras Local Boards Act, is bound by the rule of limitation laid down in the Madras Estates Land Act and cannot claim more than arrears for the three faslis immediately preceding the suit. The relevant provisions of law may be briefly summarized. Section 88, Madras Local Boards Act, gives to the landholder who has paid a cess power to recover from an under-tenure holder within his estate the proportionate amount of cess due on the latter's holding and gives to the under-tenure holder a similar power to re-cover from the cultivating tenants. Section 89 provides that
every landholder shall in recovering any amount which may be due to him under the provisos to Section 88 be entitled to exercise the same powers as may, under any Act or Regulation which now is or hereafter may be, in force, be exercised by any landholder in the recovery of rent.
2. The Explanation to this Section is to the effect that
a landholder shall, in recovering the amount due to him, under proviso 1 to Section 88 from the Intermediate landholder referred to therein, be entitled to exercise the powers and be subject to the penalties specified in this Section, as if the intermediate landholder were a ryot with whom a putta and muchilika had been exchanged and the provisions of the Madras Estates Land Act, 1908, shall, so far as may be, be applicable thereto.
3. I assume that the word 'thereto' refers to the powers and penalties just recited. Now turning to the Madras Estates Land Act, we find that the definition of rent in Section 3(11)(a) includes any local tax, cess, fee or sum payable by a ryot as such in addition to the rent due in respect of land, etc. Applying to this definition the words of the Explanation to Section 89, it would seem to follow that, since the intermediate landholder is deemed for the purpose of recovering cess to be a ryot under the Madras Estates Land Act when the landholder exercises his powers of proceeding under that statute for the recovery of cesses, the cesses so recovered would for the purpose of that proceeding be included in the definition of rent. The suit therefore will fall under Section 77, Estates Land Act, and for a suit under Section 77, Schedule A to the Act, Article 8 provides that the suit by the landholder to recover arrears of rent shall be filed within three years of the date when the arrear becomes due. Turning to Section 210, Madras Estates Land Act, we find that subject to the provisions of Section 211 every suit instituted after the period of limitation specified therefor in the schedule to the Act shall be dismissed and Section 211 provides that certain Sections of the Limitation Act shall not apply to suits under the Estates Land Act and that
subject to the provisions of this chapter the provisions of the Limitation Act shall apply to all suits mentioned in the previous Section.
4. Reading these Sections together, it seems to follow that a suit for rent under the Madras Estates Land Act must be dismissed in so far as it relates to a claim for an amount falling due more than three years before the date of suit and the provisions of the Limitation Act cannot apply to such a suit for which there is a special provision in the schedule attached to the Estates Land Act. If therefore a landholder chooses to exercise the powers conferred upon him under Section 89, Madras Local Boards Act, and to recover ceases from an under-tenure [holder treating him as a ryot under the Madras Estates Land Act by the procedure and in exercise of the powers and subject to the penalties laid down in that Act, then he voluntarily submits himself to the restrictions to the exercise of those powers which the Madras Estates Land Act prescribes. If instead of proceeding by one of the methods prescribed in the Madras Estates Land Act, he chooses to sue in the ordinary Courts, then different considerations will apply.
5. There is ample authority for the view that the power conferred under Section 89, Local Boards Act, includes a power to file a suit against an under-tenure holder for a cess as rent and is not merely confined to the use of the same procedure : vide Bhoopathi Raju v. Subba Rao A.I.R. (1932) Mad. 110. There is an unreported case, 0. E.P. No. 1886 of 1932, in which it was held that by virtue of the amendment to Section 89, Local Boards Act, Civil Courts had no jurisdiction to deal with such a suit. This decision purports to follow Bhoopathi Raju v. Subba Rao A.I.R. (1932) Mad. 110. But it goes a good deal further than the scope of that decision which does not purport to exclude the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts but merely to include the matter within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Courts.
6. There is a Full Bench decision reported in Rajah of Vizianagaram v. Thammanna A.I.R. (1937) Mad. 217, in which it was held that a suit brought by a zamindar to recover cesses under Section 88, Madras Local Boards Act, from an intermediate landholder is governed by Article 120, Limitation Act. This decision related to a suit filed in the District Munsif's Court and it is certainly authority for the view that the unreported decision just referred to was wrongly decided. But it is not to my mind authority for the view that, when the land-holder instead of proceeding in the ordinary Civil Courts as he may do, elects to pursue the remedy through the Revenue Courts by invoking the powers conferred upon him by Section 89, Madras Local Boards Act, of treating the cess due from the under-tenure holder as if it were an arrear of rent due from a ryot, in such a case the law of limitation to be applied would be that prescribed by the Limitation Act. It seems to me apparent that when a landholder purports to exercise powers under the Madras Estates Land Act, extended by the operation of another statute, for the recovery of dues from a person who is not a ryot but may be treated as such for the special purpose, he must exercise these powers subject to the procedure, limitations and restrictions contained in the Madras Estates Land Act. At the conclusion of the arguments I was informed that there is an unreported decision of Venkataramana Rao J. to the contrary effect. I have not had the opportunity of perusing the judgment. But on the materials placed before me the decision of the learned District Judge seems to be clearly right. The appeal is therefore dismissed with costs of respondent 2. Leave to appeal granted.