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Lakshmana Purayar Vs. V.S. Thiagaraja Mudaliar by His Power of Attorney Agent, G.A. Nair - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1959)2MLJ490
AppellantLakshmana Purayar
RespondentV.S. Thiagaraja Mudaliar by His Power of Attorney Agent, G.A. Nair
Cases ReferredIn Naina Pillai Marakkayar v. Ramanathan Chettiar
Excerpt:
- .....rent tribunal (district munsif), tiruturaipundi, in f.r.a. nos. 4 and 5 of 1958, confirming the fair rent fixed in respect of the lands held by them. the applications for fair rent were filed by the landlord before the rent court, tiruvarur. they were resisted by the tenants substantially on three grounds; (1) that the lands were originally waste lands which were reclaimed and brought under cultivation by the terms on a tenure known as 'pathukattu tenure' and that the respondents-tenants either as incidental to such tenure or otherwise were entitled to pay only the contract rent; (2) that fair rent could not be fixed in respect of a portion of the desmised property as it consisted of only coconut trees, but it could only be fixed in regard to that portion of the land which was.....
Judgment:

Ramachandra Ayyar, J.

1. These Revision Petitions have been filed by the respondents tenants gainst the order of the Rent Tribunal (District Munsif), Tiruturaipundi, in F.R.A. Nos. 4 and 5 of 1958, confirming the fair rent fixed in respect of the lands held by them. The applications for fair rent were filed by the landlord before the Rent Court, Tiruvarur. They were resisted by the tenants substantially on three grounds; (1) that the lands were originally waste lands which were reclaimed and brought under cultivation by the terms on a tenure known as 'Pathukattu tenure' and that the respondents-tenants either as incidental to such tenure or otherwise were entitled to pay only the contract rent; (2) that fair rent could not be fixed in respect of a portion of the desmised property as it consisted of only coconut trees, but it could only be fixed in regard to that portion of the land which was utilised for cultivation of paddy crops, and (3) that the landlord was not entitled to a rent of more than three kalams of paddy per mah. Both the Rent Court and the Appellate Authority rejected the case of the tenants that they were entitled to permanent right of occupancy and also their further case that no fair rent could be fixed in regard to trees on the land. The Conciliation Officer rejected the contention of the tenants that the landlord was entitled only to the maximum rent of three kalams per mah and fixed cash rent on the basis of percentage of the normal gross produce of the land at the market rate. That order was confirmed by the Appellate Authority.

2. In revision Mr. V. Venkataraman, on behalf of the tenants, raised substantially two questions before me. He did not contest the finding of fact of the Appellate Authority that the tenants had failed to prove a right of permanent occupancy. But he contended that it being admitted that the tenants were holding under pathukattu lease it should be found that they were entitled to permanent right of occupancy. According to him, the term 'pathukattu' itself implied permanent customary right of occupancy. There was, however, no evidence before the lower Courts to show that the term 'pathukattu' has the meaning attributed to it by the petitioner. In the Tamil Lexicon the word 'Pathukattu' is translated as 'a ryot's usual holding'. That does not imply that pathukattu is necessarily a permanent tenancy. It is not disputed that it is for the tenant to prove that he is disentitled to permanent right of occupancy. In Naina Pillai Marakkayar v. Ramanathan Chettiar (1923) 46 M.L.J. 546 : L.R. 51 LA. 83 : I.L.R. (1923) Mad. 337 the Privy Council has observed that no tenant of lands in India can obtain any right to a permanent tenancy by prescription in them against his landlord from whom he holds the lands.

It has also held that such right can only be obtained by a tenant by custom or by a grant from an owner of the land who happens to have power to grant such a right, or under an Act of Legislature. The lands in the instant case are ryotwari lands of which the respondents are pattadars. I have already pointed out that the finding of the lower Courts is that no custom was proved by which the tenants could be said to have obtained rights of permanent occupancy. The mere use of the word 'Pathukattu' tenancy in the petition cannot mean that there is a permanent tenancy in the land.

3. It is next contended by Mr. Venkataraman that the Rent Court has no jurisdiction to fix a fair rent higher than the contract rent. Reference was made in this connection to the provisions of Section 4(3) of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Payment of Fair Rent Act, 1956 (Madras Act XXIV of 1956) Section 4(3) states:

Where the contract of tenancy provides for payment of a rent lower than the fair rent payt able under the above provisions, the contract rent alone shall be payable during the contracperiod.

The contention raised on behalf of the petitioners is that the lands were reclaimed by the tenants, that the trees thereon were planted by them, that they have been paying a small rent in respect of the holding, and that such rent being less than the fair rent fixed by the Rent Tribunal, it is the former that could be legally collected by the landlord as rent under the provisions of Section 4(3). I have already held that the tenants have not established any permanent tenancy right, nor have they established by evidence that they are holding for any fixed period on a fixed rent. Therefore, the rent that was paid in the previous years could only be in respect of an yearly tenancy. There is nothing in Section 4(3) of the Act which makes such rent enure for the time beyond the period of tenancy. In the circumstances of the case the tenancy should be held to be yearly tenancy. The rent paid by the respondents-tenants for the previous years could only be rent for those years. The fair rent fixed by the Rent Tribunal was only in respect of a period beyond the contract period, namely, that of the yearly tenancy. Therefore, there is nothing in Section 4(3) to disentitle the landlord from applying for fair rent.

4. It is next contended on behalf of the petitioners that the rent Court has no jurisdiction to fix fair rent in respect of the coconut trees standing on the land. The argument is put before me in two ways. Firstly it is contended that the fair rent could be fixed only in regard to paddy land and not in regard to coconut trees standing thereon. Secondly it is stated that so far as the coconut trees are concerned there would be an exemption within the purview of Section 15 of the Act. It is contended that the trees having been planted by the tenants, the stipulation for the rent in regard to them could only be a contract for the collection of' produce of any kind within the meaning of Section 15 and that therefore, it would be exempt from the operation of the Act. I cannot, however, accept the contention. The coconut trees are situate in a part of the demised land. It would not be open to the rent Court to split up the lease and then proceed to fix fair rent in regard to the paddy lands alone. The land was admittedly let out for agricultural purpose. In fixing fair rent, the rent Court would be entitled and indeed bound to take into consideration the income received by the tenants from the trees. This is what has been done. I cannot agree with the contention of the learned advocate for the petitioner that in regard to the trees it was mere contract for collection of produce of the trees leased. I am, therefore, of opinion that the Rent Court was right in having proceeded to assess fair rent on the basis of not merely gross income from the paddy fields but also on the basis of the income obtained from the trees standing on the agricultural land and being part of the demised land.

5. The Civil Revision Petitions fail and they are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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