1. The zemindar of Mandasa is the plaintiff and the defendants are his tenants of the Pidi Mandasa village. In 1923 the zemindar filed suits against his tenants in the Civil and Revenue Courts for rent in respect of Faslis 1329 to 1331. During the pendency of these suits, the agreement, Ex. A, was executed and in pursuance of it the plaintiff withdrew those suits and they were dismissed. Generally stated Ex. A provided, amongst other things, that the zemindar should withdraw his suits, that accounts of arrears from fasli 1325 should be looked into within 15 days from the date of the agreement and within a further period of 15 days the ryots should pay the balances that may be found due according to the D.C.B and other accounts and duplicate receipts. It also provided that if the ryots failed to make the payments according to the terms of the agreement and the accounts of the zemindar he may file suits for arrears found due from fasli 1325 and for costs. The agreement ended with the statement that the 'withdrawal of the suits now pending in the Court constitutes verily the consideration for this agreement.' As the tenants failed to make the payments according to Ex. A, the zemindar filed various suits against them and recovered the arrears from them together with interest. These civil revision petitions have been filed by the tenants against the decrees in those suits.
2. In support of these civil revision petitions Mr. Jagannadha Doss urged mainly three grounds: (1) That the lower Court, i.e., the District Munsif's Court of Sompeta, had no jurisdiction to try these suits, they being essentially suits for rent which are cognizable only by the Revenue Courts under the Estates Land Act, (2) That the agreement, Ex. A, is unenforceable as its effect is to defeat the provisions of the Estates Land Act, such as as 189, 199 and 211 and (3) that interest on the amounts due should not have been awarded by the lower Court. We will deal with these points in order.
3. Point No. 1. It is argued that though suits are nominally for amounts due under Ex. A, those amounts really represent the rents due from the tenants for the various faslis and that, therefore, the suits in question should have been filed only in the Revenue Courts under the provisions of the Estates Land Act. (See Section 77and 189 read with the schedule of the Act.) This argument is met with the reply that the present suits are in no sense suits to recover rents but are in substance as in form suits to enforce the plaintiff's rights under Ex. A which constitutes altogether a new cause of action. The terms of the document which we have set forth above show that the intention of the parties was to supersede the old liability and substitute in its place a new cause of action. The parties are conscious that a new contract is substituted because they specifically state at the end of the document what the consideration for the new contract is. If the tenants by this document were only agreeing to pay what they were bound to pay before, they would not point out the new consideration for the agreement. Further they contemplate the filing of fresh suits and also provide for costs of such suits. That Ex. A embodies a new cause of action is also clear from the fact that the zemindar under it is entitled to get from the tenants the rents for faslis which were admittedly barred at the time when Ex. A was executed. Not only was the barred liability kept alive but it was also plainly sought to be enforced. A careful perusal of its terms makes it difficult to accept the suggestion that it does no more than make the old obligation matter of record. In this connection attention may be drawn to the decisions in Ibrahim Malick v. Lalit Mohan Roy : AIR1924Cal388 and Royzuddi Sheik v. Kali Nath Mookerjee 33 C. 985 : 4 C.L.J. 219 referred to by the lower Court, In the former case a suit was instituted in a Small Cause Court on the strength of a verbal promise to pay a rent-decree amount in consideration of not enforcing the said decree, It was held that 'the suit was on a contract no doubt with reference to the amount found due by the judgment but it is a suit on a simple contract and no exception can be taken to the frame of it.' In the latter case, of bond was taken for 'arrears of rent for amount of a rent decree and for cesses etc.' It was held that the 'suit to enforce the bond was in no sense a suit to enforce the original rent charge,' In our opinion in the present case the old obligation to pay rent was superseded by the new agreement under Ex. A which created a new liability. For these reasons we hold that the lower Court had jurisdiction to try these suits.
4. Point No. 2. We are not satisfied that Ex. A is unenforceable because it is opposed to the public policy as laid down in the Estates Land Act. It is conceded that the terms of Ex. A do not specifically contravene any of the provisions of Sections 189, 199, and 211 of the Estates Land Act. What is argued is that these are opposed to the general policy of the law underlying those sections. This argument cannot be accepted. Exhibit A does not purport to oust the jurisdiction of the Revenue Courts in trying cases arising under it and does not', therefore, offend against Section 180. This contention only raises in another form the considerations we have dealt with under Point No. 1.
5. As regards Section 199 we do not think that Ex. A evidences a compromise of the prior suits between the zemindar and the tenants. As a matter of fact the prior suits were withdrawn and dismissed and it is not open to the petitioners now in civil revision petition to i argue that Ex. A is inequitable, and should not on that account be enforced. Then it is said that the effect of enforcing Ex. A is to enforce the payment of a barred debt, i.e., in this case, rents of Faslis 1325, 1326 etc., and thus violate the spirit of Section 211. Assuming that this policy underlies Section 211 we cannot accept the plea that Ex. A contemplates the payment of a barred debt as such. It evidences only an adjustment of the respective claims of the parties during the years referred to in it. In giving effect to its terms we are not concerned with any question relating to the payment of a barred debt. We must, therefore, hold that Ex. A is not objectionable as opposed to public policy, as laid down in the Estates Land Act.
6. Point No. 3. This hits reference to the interest that has been awarded by the decree against each of the tenants. We cannot satisfactorily deal with this question as it was raised for the first time before us in the course of the arguments. It is not clear from the amounts decreed whether the interest has been calculated on the amounts of the faslis from the due dates to the suit dates or whether it is included in the arrear of each fasli. The question should have] been raised in the lower Court for a proper decision. In our opinion the plaintiff is entitled to interests upto Ex. A and since the suit is based on the breach of the agreement contained in it, he is entitled to interest subsequent to it also in the form of damages.
7. In the result these civil revision petitions are dismissed with costs. We fix Rs. 500 as the Advocate's fee in all the cases together.