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Mr. G. Sam, by His Agent B. Balkrishna Raja Vs. T. Ramalinga Mudaliar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Decided On
Reported in34Ind.Cas.803
AppellantMr. G. Sam, by His Agent B. Balkrishna Raja
RespondentT. Ramalinga Mudaliar and ors.
Cases ReferredSee Ponnuswamy Padayachi v. Karupudayan
madras estates land act (mad. i of 1908), section 3, sub-section (2), clauses (c), (d) - 'jagir' and, 'inam,' distinction between--grant of revenue of lands for subsistence by nawab of carnatic, whether inam--kndivararn and melvaram vested in inamdar--landlord and tenant--suit in ejectment--jurisdiction of civil court. - .....unsettled, which is a species of inam. he says that all jagirs which paid or are liable to pay no land revenue to the government, fall in the third class and its nature, i.e., whether it is an estate or not, can only be determined' under clause (d) of sub-section 2 of section 3 of the estates land act, and such lands cannot fall within clause, (c). i confess i find some difficulty in understanding this distinction. all lands are liable to pay land revenue, unless they are exempted by statute or by any binding engagement between the government and the landowner; the british government were not bound to recognise the revenue-free grants of the previous governments, though in practice they did recognise them. [baden-powell's land revenue in british india, page 54; secretary of state for.....

Srinivasa Aiyangar, J.

S. A. No. 2037 of 1914.

1. This is a suit for ejectment filed in the ordinary Civil Court. Defendants plead that a Civil Court has no jurisdiction, as the village of Puliyampattu in which the suit lands lie is an unsettled jagir,' within the meaning of Clause (c) of Sub-section 2 of Section 3 of the Estates Land Act, and that the lands are not the 'private lands' of the landholder. The defendants are not mere trespassers. They are said to be tenants from year to year, whose tenancy was put an end to by a notice to quit which expired just before the Estates Land Act came into force. The learned Pleader for the appellant scarcely contended that the suit lands were the 'private lands' of the plaintiff, if he was a landholder. But his main contention was that the village of Puliyampattu was only an ordinary inarm, and not an 'unsettled jagir'. The short question for determination is whether the village of Puliyampattu is an 'unsettled jagir.' For the determination of the question at issue it is necessary, first of all, to know the exact nature of the property, and the terms of the original grant, so far as they are ascertainable. The revenue of this and another village, Numbal, appears to have been granted towards the end of the 18th century by the Nawab of the Carnatic to a lady of his family. The villages were afterwards purchased by the Nawab himself, and were in 1782 assigned. by him to an Armenian gentleman, the predecessor-in-title of the plaintiff (Exhibit V). At the time of the grant the villages appear to have been mirasi villages. The mirasi rights were from time to time acquired by the predecessors-in-title of the plaintiff, and long before 184.3 they had become the owners of both the kudivaram and melvaram in the village of Puliyampattu. It is found by both the lower Courts that no occupancy right had been acquired before the coming into force of the Estates Land Act either by grant, custom, or prescription by the defendant or any of his predecessors who were let in as tenants for the cultivation of the lands. If, of course, the lands are ryoti' lands in an estate, the defendants may have acquired an occupancy right or may be in a position to acquire it under the Estates Land Act. These villages have not been settled under the Permanent Settlement Regulation, nor have they been confirmed or enfranchised under the inam rules. If the village is an 'unsettled jagir' within the meaning of Clause (c), the fact that the jagirdar has, subsequent to the grant, acquired the kudivaram interest in the whole or any portion of the lands in the jagir, cannot take the village out of the category of an estate, nor can by itself convert the ordinary ryoti lands in his jagir into the private lands of the jagirdar, (of. Sections 8, 185 and definitions of ryoti' and 'private lands' in Section 3 of the Madras Estates Land Act), for in 'private lands' strictly so-called there is no division of interest as melvaram and 'kudivaram. It is unnecessary to decide the question (as to which there is some conflict of opinion in this Court) whether land which was once 'ryoti' can, except under the proviso to Section 185, be converted into 'private land' [see Zemindar of Chellapalli v. Rajalapati Somayya 27 M.L.T. 718 : 16 M.L.T. 576 for the contention raised in the first Court that the suit lands were private lands was abandoned in the first Court and the learned Pleader for the appellant, as I have already said, scarcely argued the point here. His principal contention was that although the plaintiff and his predecessors were called jagirdars and the suit village termed jagir, it was really an inam and was not an 'unsettled jagir'. He contended, if I understood him right, that there are three classes of jagirs, one settled, another unsettled, and a third kind which was neither settled nor unsettled, which is a species of inam. He says that all jagirs which paid or are liable to pay no land revenue to the Government, fall in the third class and its nature, i.e., whether it is an estate or not, can only be determined' under Clause (d) of Sub-section 2 of Section 3 of the Estates Land Act, and such lands cannot fall within clause, (c). I confess I find some difficulty in understanding this distinction. All lands are liable to pay land revenue, unless they are exempted by Statute or by any binding engagement between the Government and the landowner; the British Government were not bound to recognise the revenue-free grants of the previous Governments, though in practice they did recognise them. [Baden-Powell's Land Revenue in British India, page 54; Secretary of State for India v. Bai Rajbai 30 Ind. Cas. 303 I do not, therefore, think that the test formulated by the learned Vakil for the appellant affords a correct or satisfactory differentiation between an ordinary inam, and a jagir for the purpose of the Act.

2. Jagir is a Muhammadan term and jagir tenure is dessribed in various places in Baden-Powell's Land Tenures. In Volume I at page 189 he says: 'Whether the Muhammadan Government consciously imitated the - Hindu system of appointing certain chiefs to manage special territories, especially frontier and mountain tracts, I cannot determine: but at a very early stage they adopted the plan of granting to Court favourites, to ministers of state, and to military officers the right to collect the revenue of a certain area of the country, and to take the amount collected either to support their state and dignity, or in the case of military chiefs to equip a body of troops, to be availed for the royal service'; at page 190 he says: A great number of assignments of revenue in this way grew into Landlord Tenures, very much as the 'zamindari' estates did. This was much facilitated by the fact that the grantee was allowed, and indeed expected, in many cases, to conduct the revenue administration in his own way, and of course he had (or assumed) the full right to all unoccupied or waste land in the jagir,' Again at page 257 in which he deals with land revenua administration he says thus: '' One other feature of the Moghul system should be mentioned. Just as the Hindus divided the whole country into the royal domains and chiefs' domains, so the Moghuls apportioned their territory into khalsa and jaqir lands...The 'jagir' lads were divided into blocks or estates which were made over for life (the grants be-came hereditary at a later stage) to certain military commanders, ministers and courtiers, who took the revenue for their own support or that of a military force which they were bound to maintain. Sometimes waste tracts were granted in jagir, and sometimes outlying and troublesome districts. The jagirdar managed the whole, increased the cultivation, and applied the revenue to his own support, and to expenses of the administration and the pay of troops.' Jagirs unlike inams were usually for life, though in course of time they also became permanent and heritable. An inam, as its name imports, was a present or gift either to an individual or for a public purpose, while jagirs generally implied conditions of service or a reward for service, (Baden-Po well's Land Revenue, page 118). The distinction drawn by that learned writer (Land Revenue, page 116) that an inam implied grant of land with a remission, partial or total, of the revenue, while a jagir was a grant merely of land revenue is not one which is now accopted in this Presidency, as an inam grant is also presumed to be a grant of land revenue only. At the same time it is difficult, if not impossible, to frame a definition or even give a description of a jagir so as to distinguish it from an ordinary inam as many jagir grants were mere presents to individuals, while many service grants are called inams. In an appeal from Bombay, the Judicial Committee in discussing the nature of a jagir tenure (known as sar-anjani in the Mahratta country) say that 'inam' is a term of mere generic significance applicable to a Governments grant as a whole, Raghojirao Saheb v. Lakshmanrao Saheb 16 Ind. Cas. 239 : (1912) M.W.N. 1140 In fact villages termed jagirs and paliams were settled by the Inam Commissioner under the inam rules. See classification of inams in the inam rules, page 181, Volume II, Board's Standing Orders, 1907; also Chingleput District Manual, page 346, where two jagir villages are classed under enfranchised inams. The three Karayan jagirs in the South Arcot District ware settled by the Inam Commissioner and are included in the schedule to the Impartible Estates Act.

3. The word 'jagir' occurs along with 'unsettled paham' in Clause (c). There is a definition of an 'Estate' in identical terms in the Proprietary Estates Village Service Act and the Survey and Boundaries Act, and there also the same collocation occurs. Further in giving illustrations of permanently settled estates, a zamindari, jagir, mitta and paliam are mentioned. The jagirs, whether settled or unsettled, which are classed as 'estates' are presumably of the same character as zamindaris, paliams and the like, i.e., they are proprietary estates or as more correctly described by Baden-Powell as 'Zemindari or Landlord Tenures over Estates.' It will be seen, from the description given above of the origin and nature of jagir grants and the revenue policy which dictated them, that the jagirdar was in a large number of cases exercising control over the tract assigned to him and was administering the same; he in fact was exercising governmental functions in subordination, it may be, to a superior, and was holding his jagir on condition of military or political service. There were cases, however, of jagir grants where the laud revenue was assigned merely for private enjoyment as, for instance, subsistence, and these cases are now indistinguishable from ordinary inam grants; and as regards these, I think, the principle applicable to inams ought to be applied in determining their character, as estates, for the purpose of the Estates Land Act. It is only the first class of jagir grants that, came subsequently to be classed along with ordinary zimindaris or paliams, and I think it is to such estates that Clause (c) applies. In fact, it is said that a jagir differs from a zemindari in that the revenue or peshkush payable by the latter was fixed at some proportion of the receipts about the time of the Settlement, while a jagirdar pays merely a lump sum not expressly calculated on such a basis. In the case of the jagir of Ami this payment was called a nuzzur' or gift. See North Arcot District Manual, Volume I, 2nd Edition (1895), page 281.

4. It is clear in this case that the original grant was only a personal grant for subsistence and in no way differed from an ordinary inam. It may be an estate, if it comes under the class described in Clause (d) but is not an unsettled jagir within the meaning of Clause (c). I may mention that in one of the earliest documents on the record the plaint village is described as an inam village, Exhibit B. In the Chingleput Manual it is apparently classified under the heading of unenfranchised inams', though described as a jagir. If, therefore, the villages of Numbal and Puliampattu do not form an unsettled jagir, within the meaning of Clause (c), it is immaterial to determine whether they fall under Clause (d), for if they do, so far as the suit lands are concerned, they ceased to form part of an estate by virtue of the exception to Section 8. As I have already said, the land revenue alone was given as inam to a person not then the kudivaramdar. The villages, however, have never been confirmed or enfranchised by the British Government. It is difficult to assign a precise meaning to the word recognised'; whether mere acquiescence is enough or whether something more is required is not clear. I should be inclined to think that recognition implies something more than mere acquiescence, something done by the Government, as for instance by acceptance of service, jodi, etc., Secretary of State for India v. Chinnapragada Bhanuamurty 17 Ind. Cas. 373. In form the title-deeds issued by the Inam Commissioner only recognise the title of the grantee, but the word recognise' in the Act is not used in that sense is clear, for no title-deed is issued till after confirmation or enfranchisement. The word 'enfranchised' is not to be found in Clause (d), but as before enfranchisement, the inam is in a sense confirmed, the word confirmed' was probably used to cover cases also of enfranchisement after proof of title.

5. The question whether ordinary Civil Courts have jurisdiction, even if the suit lands were lands in an estate, was not raised or argued. An answer to this question would depend on the precise effect of the exception contained in Section 153 taken along with Section 157. [See Ponnuswamy Padayachi v. Karupudayan 24 Ind. Cas. 217 I, therefore, think that the appeal must be allowed and the decree of the Munsif restored with costs here and in the Court below.

6. Second Appeal No. 2038 of 1914 will follow.

Coutts Trotter, J.

7. The sole question raised before us in this case is as to the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts and the matter arises in this way. The defendants were tenants under the plaintiff and received from him a notice to quit which expired before the Estates Land Act came into force, and on the strength of that notice the plaintiff sued them in ejectment. If the lands in question formed an unsettled jagir within the meaning of Section 3 of the Madras Estates Land Act, it is admitted that the Civil Court has no jurisdiction. The lands in question were granted by the Nawab of the Carnatic somewhere in the middle of the eighteenth century to a lady of his family for her subsistence. They afterwards reverted to the Nawab, but at a date when he had ceased to be a Ruling Prince of the district. In 1782 he assigned them apparently by way of mortgage to a predecessor-in-title of the plaintiff. It is not disputed that the plaintiff and his pre-decessors-in title have been in possession ever since, and that for a very long time, probably nearly a century, they have been the owners both of the kudivaram and of the melvaram rights. The plaintiff and his predecessors-in-title have regularly described themselves as jagirdars, and the term 'jagir' has frequently been applied to the suit lands, though they have also been mentioned in official documents under the description of inam 'inam' is the more generic term and probably all jagirs are a species of inam, though there are many kinds of inam that are not jagirs. The subject is one with which I am unfamiliar and I speak with extreme diffidence, but I have come to the conclusion that these lands, though so described, are not jagirs within the meaning of the Estates Land Act but are merely an ordinary inam. I am assuming that what has to be looked at is the character imposed upon the land at the time of the original grant by the Nawab as Nawab to the lady; for his resumption and subsequent re-grant later on were not made at a time when he was sovereign authority and could impose a tenure of a new character. The gift was made to the lady for her subsistence as a private person. 'We have been referred to works of learned writers on land tenures, such as Baden-Powell's Land Systems in British India and Maclean's Manual of Administration of the Madras Presidency, and from their perusal lam led to the conclusion that in its origin a jagir was connected with some special public service, such as the maintenance of troops and the like, or at least, if no such condition was imposed, was a reward for some service to the State conferred upon some State official in recognition of his position. I do not think that the mere use of the term jagir concludes the matter. The term jagirdar is one of some dignity likely to be usurped by the holders of lands which by the original grant were not conferred as jagirs but as ordinary inams. If these lands, therefore, as I hold, are not jagir lands, they are not 'unsettled jagirs' within the meaning of Section 3 of the Estates Land Act. As inams they fall within the exception to Section 8, since the kudivaram and melvaram rights are both vested in the same person. I am, therefore, of opinion that the Act does not apply to these lands and that the ordinary Courts of Law have jurisdiction over the suit.

8. The appeal must be allowed and the decree of the District Munsif restored with costs here and below.

9. Second Appeal No. 2038 of 1914 will follow.

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