1. The learned District Judge's decision to exclude from consideration Exhibits C, II and III appears to us to be wrong. If they were put forward as containing an agreement to lease, the want of registration is undoubtedly a fatal objection to their admissibility and they could not be adduced as evidence of a written agreement to lease, which under Section 37 of the Registration Act is compulsorily registrable. But there is nothing to prevent these documents being admitted as evidence to prove an oral agreement to enter into a lease, or a license to build on the land. If the former transaction were established, the defendant might possibly plead that the plaintiffs were equitably estopped from evicting him or at least bound to compensate him : and in the case of a license ho might put forward a similar plea with special reference to Section 60 of the Easements Act. We do not consider that the failure to specifically set up the case of a license in the written statement should prevent the District Court from considering such a plea, seeing that it was taken in the District Munsif's Court.
2. It follows from the above that the District Judge has wrongly excluded important evidence from consideration. We must call for findings on the following issues :
(1) Whether there was an oral agreement between the 1st plaintiff's predecessor and the defendant's father to enter into a lease : and if so, what were to be the terms of the proposed leased
(2) Did the 1st plaintiff's predecessor give the defendant's father a license to build on the plaint land within the meaning of Section 52 of the Easements Act?
(3) If either an oral agreement or a license is proved, are the plaintiffs thereby estopped from evicting the defendant : or, if not estopped, are they bound to pay him any, and, if so, what, compensation?
3. The findings should be submitted within one month from the date of this order and seven days will be allowed for filing objections.
4. In compliance with the order contained In the above judgment, the District Judge of Tinnevelly submitted the following
FINDINGS,--Findings have been called for on the following issues :
(1) See above
5. II. Issue I.--It seems to me perfectly clear from Exhibit II that there was an oral agreement between 1st plaintiffs predecessor and defendant's father to enter into a lease. That document shows that 1st plaintiff's predecessor ,had agreed to give defendant's father a permanent lease at a rent of Rs. 6 a year for a consideration of Rs. 60, at the same time reserving authority for the addressee to substitute for such a permanent lease one for a term of 12 years. The addressee having taken no steps to enter into a lease of either description with the proposed lessee, I think I am justified in finding, as the latter was in presuming, that there was an agreement to enter into a permanent lease for building purposes.
6. III Issue II.--I do not think that what was contemplated between the parties amounted to a license. For a license is for a particular purpose while a lease is intended as here to pass an interest in property.
7. IV Issue III.--On the finding that there was only an oral agreement, plaintiffs are not, I think, estopped from evicting defendant. The latter cannot succeed by setting up, instead of a legally registered lease, a mere oral agreement on the part of plaintiff's predecessor with himself to lease the suit property [Gopalasami Chettiar v. Fischer 28 M. 328 : 15 M.L.J. 14.]. A lease for the term asserted by him requires registration under Section 107, Transfer of Property Act. Where there is no registered instrument, there is no lease and the supposed lessor can evict. And it is not open to the supposed lessee to argue that his lessor is equitably estopped by his conduct in letting him remain on the land and build. For there can be no estoppel against the plain provisions of a Statute [Jagadbandhu Saha v. Radha Krishna Pal 4 Ind. Cas. 414 : 36 C. 920., Abdul Aziz v. Kantha Mallick 10 Ind. Cas. 467 : 38 Ca. 512 : 13 Cri.L.J. 693.].
8. I would, therefore, find that defendant having no registered lease, is liable to eviction and that plaintiffs are not estopped from evicting him. As, however, he seems to mo to have been misled by the inaction of the addressee of Exhibit II into the belief that he would get a permanent lease and was entitled to build, I consider that he should be paid compensation. He values his building at Rs. 500 and the other side puts it at Rs. 250. The true value is probably between those figures, but my predecessor thought that Rs. 250 would be adequate compensation and I have been shown no ground for holding that he undervalued the building.
9. This second appeal coming on for final hearing after the return of the findings of the lower Appellate Court upon the issues referred by this Court for trial, the Court delivered the following
10. We accept the findings except as regards the amount of compensation. On this point we called for a linding from the learned District Judge, as we did not consider that his predecessor had recorded a definite finding. He was not justified in simply following his predecessor, especially as he considered a higher figure to be nearer the truth. We do not, however, propose to refer the matter again. On thy moagre evidence on record, we fix the amount of compansation at Rs. 375 and direct in modification of the lower Appellate Court's decree that plaintiffs ho put in possession of the property on payment of this amount to defendants.
11. Each side will bear its own costs through-cut.