1. Plaintiffs sue for a declaration that the suit lands form part of the village of Velampattai of which 1st defendant is the land-holder: and not of Thamarakolam of which defendants Nos. 2 to 5 are land-holders.
2. The District Munsif and Subordinate Judge decreed their suit and this Court on second appeal dismissed it, finding that the question of ownership had already been decided in a rent suit by the Revenue Court (Sections 91/21 R.D.O. Devakottah) between plaintiffs and defendants NOS. 2-5 and this constituted res judicata.
3. Hence the Lelters Patent Appeal.
4. Under Section 189(3), Madras Estates Land Act the decision of a Revenue Court on a matter within its exclusive jurisdiction shall be binding in any civil suit. That is to say that the legislature has provided a cheap and speedy final settlement of such rent disputes as are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Revenue Court, but of course never intended that larger questions of title and SO forth should be summarily settled in this fashion. No doubt in settling a rent dispute a Revenue Court may have to consider a question of title. Its decision as regards the rent sued for will be final, but as regards the title, a matter which obviously is not within its exclusive jurisdiction its decision will not be final.
5. That it must be a matter exclusively within the Revenue Courts jurisdiction has been ruled in an unreported case S.A. No. 786 of 1919 which is approved in Sobhanadhri Apparao v. Dathadu - Venkataraji : (1920)39MLJ476 .
6. In the case mainly relied upon by this Court in the Second Appeal, Hoystead v. Commissioner of Taxation (1923) AC 155 : 95 LJ PC 79 : 131 LT 354 : 42 TLR 207, there was no question of Courts of various jurisdiction such as a Revenue and ordinary Civil Court; for both cases came before the same Australian Court. Also in Muhammad Karamat Ali Khan v. Ganeshi Lal 101 Ind. Cas. 516 : 49 A 653 : LR 8 A 125 Rev :. 25 ALJ 467 : AIR 1927 Mad. 552 both suits were cognizable by the Revenue Court. (See p. 660 Page of 49 A.--[Ed]).
7. In Daulat Ram v, Munshi Ram 143 Ind. Cas. 59 : AIR 1932 Lah. 623 : Ind Rul. (1933) Lah. 307 : 34 PLR 462 a Single Judge has held that so long as the decision was within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Court it would be res judicata in the ordinary Court, without considering whether it should not or should be within its exclusive jurisdiction Possibly the Lahore Law corresponding to Section 189(3) of our Act is different; if not, in the light of the Madras rulings quoted above we should be unable to agree with this decision.
8. Rajeswara Sethupathi v. Muthudayana Pilli : (1928)55MLJ379 is no departure from the other Madras rulings, because there the ratio decidendi is that because the decision as to occupancy right is on a matter falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Revenue Court therefore it is res judicata.
9. Once it is found that the plea of res judicata fails, the decision of the Sub-Judge which is on a matter of fact must prevail. The appeal is allowed with costs throughout.
10. I agree that the appeal should be allowed. I prefer, however, to rest my judgment on the ground that the point should not have been allowed to be raised in second appeal. It is a point of law but the basis for the plea of res judicata was not laid by establishing the judgments relied upon as constituting the bar. The plaintiffs had impleaded as defendants both parties claiming title to collect rent, and the 1st defendant in his written statement offered to be joined as plaintiff in the suit., If the point of res judicata had then been raised, he could either have been transposed as plaintiff or could have brought a separate suit. As it is, the parties have had the expense of contesting the suit on the merits, and it is only when they failed on these, that defendants Nos. 2--5 raise the belated plea of res judicata. In my view they should not have been permitted to do this as the basis therefor had not been laid in the lower Courts. In the absence of such a plea the suit clearly lay. I, therefore agree that the appeal should be allowed with costs throughout.