A. Varadarajan, J.
1. The petition is to revise the order of the learned Subordinate Judge, Udumalpet made in E.A. No. 360 of 1974 which was filed under Section 20 of the Tamil Nadu Agriculturists Relief Act, 1938 for stay of the execution of the decree obtained by the respondent against the petitioner in O.S. No. 231 of 1970 on the file of the same Court in E.P.R. No. 60 of 1974.
2. The petitioner alleged that after the decree had been obtained he paid Rs. 400 on 22nd November, 1972 and that he is an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of Act IV of 1938 and to have the decree scaled down. He alleged that he would file a petition for the purpose of sealing down of the debt under Section 19 of the Act and prayed that the execution petition should therefore be stayed under the provisions of Section 20 of the Act. The respondent opposed the petition contending that the petitioner was assessed to profession tax and owns two houses and one shop and pays property tax to the extent of Rs. 1,500 per annum and is not an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act. The petitioner produced the kist recepits Exhibits A-1 and A-2 to show that he pays kist and owns agricultural lands. But, under Section 3 proviso (c) of the Tamil Nadu Agriculturists Relief Act, 1938, the person shall not be deemed to be an agriculturists, if he has, in all the four half years immediately preceding the 1st March, 1972, been assessed to property tax and house tax, provided that the aggregate annual rental value of such building and lands is not less than Rs. 1,200. Or the basis of the extract from the property tax demand register Exhibit B-1 the lower Court found that the petitioner was paying property tax on properties, the annual rental value of which exceeded Rs. 1,200 and held that the petitioner is not an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act and there fore was not entitled to have the execution proceedings stayed under the pro visions of Section 20.
3. The learned Counsel for the petitioner raised two contentions, namely that the lower Court erred in finding that the annual rental value exceeds Rs. 1,200 and that it also erred in going into the question whether the petitioner is an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act in the petition filed under Section 20 of the Act for stay of his execution proceedings, while according to the learned Counsel that question should be considered only in the enquiry under Section 19 of the Act for scaling down the debt..
4. There is nothing to show that the annual rental value arrived at in Exhibit B-1 is not the net annual rental value but the gross rental value. That objection also does not appear to have been taken before the lower Court. The learned judge has found from columns 5 and 6 0f Exhibit B-1 that the annual rental value comes to more than Rs. 1,200. The petitioner himself appears to have contended in the counter statement filed in E.P. No. 60 of 1974 that the shop fetches a rent of Rs. 300 per mensem and is worth Rs. 60,000 an that the upset price may be fixed at Rs. 75,000. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the petitioner pays property tax on house properties whose annual rental valve exceeds Rs. 1,200 in the four half years. Therefore the petition is not an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act.
6. The learned Counsel for the petitioner invites my attention to the decision of Natarajan, J. in C.R.P. No. 2866 of 1973 and in Dorairajan v. Mohammad Kuthoose (1974) 87 L.W. 877 where the learned judge has held that on the institution of an application under Section 20, the executing Court should immediately grant a stay of the execution of the decree and that it would be anomalous to consider in that application whether the petitioner is entitled to the benefits of the Act and that this question would arise for consideration only in the application for scaling down the debt which may be filed by the petitioner. With respect, I am unable to agree with the learned judge, for Section 2G leads thus:
Every Court executing a decree-passed against a person entitled to the benefits of this Act, shall, on application stay the proceedings until the Court which passed the decree has passed orders on an application made under Section 19.
6. The section does not say that execution must be stayed in all cases where it is represented that an application under Section 19 of the Act would be filed. Therefore, in my opinion when an application under Section 20 is filed and it is opposed on the ground that the petitioner is not a person entitled to the benefits of the Act, that question has to be gone into and considered before the stay can be granted under this section. There would be no question of any hardship in such a case, for, the parties are at liberty to adduce oral and documentary evidence with respect to their contentions and any finding regarding the question whether the petitioner is an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act or not will be binding on both the parties and it cannot be stated that any hardship is caused to one party or the other by an enquiry under Section 20 of the Act. Therefore. I hold that the lower Count was right in going into the question whether the petitioner is an agriculturist entitled to the benefits of the Act in the petition filed under Section 20. The finding of the Court below that he is not such a person is correct, having regard to Exhibit B-1.
7. This petition is therefore dismissed with costs.