1. The first point argued in this second appeal, by Mr. Appa Rao for the appellant, is that the present suit is incompetent, as the plaintiff did not get a decree from the Collector fixing the rate of rent.
2. His contention is that Section 77 of the Estates Land Act had no application to a case like the present one, as the amount claimed is not an arrear of rent; for, the rent had not been fixed by the Collector or agreed upon by the tender of patta and the exchange of muchilika. The defendants are admittedly ryots, who have occupancy right to their holding.
3. The plaintiff sued in O.S. No. 699 of 1914 in the District Munsif s Court of Chodavaram, for ejecting the appellants from their holdings on the ground that they were not tenants.
4. The District Munsif found that the appellants were tenants and his decision was affirmed on appeal by the Subordinate Judge On second appeal, the High Court interfered, only with regard to the claim for rent
5. When the appellants are found to be tenants and their possession is not challenged by the plaintiff, the question is whether the plaintiff can sue for rent under Section 77.
6. Mr. Appa Rao has addressed to me a very able argument, to show that a suit under Section 77 would not lie. His contention is that the rent ought to have been determined under Section 45 of the Estates Land Act, before a suit could be brought under Section 77 But Section 45 has no application to a case like the present; for, it refers only to persons who without the consent of the land-holder occupy ryoti lands, which they had not acquired by inheritance or by legal transfer The respondent's Vakil drew my attention to Section 25 of the Estates Land Act, as applying to this case. But that has no application to the present case, for, it cannot be said that the appellants have been let into possession by the landlord, after the commencement of this Act. The appellants' ancestors were given the land for services to be rendered to the inamdar. It has been found that they had occupancy right and what was granted in inam was only the melwaramdar's right. That being so, can the defendant resist a suit for rent?
7. My attention has not been drawn to any provision in the Act, for the purpose of showing that a land-holder could not sue a tenant for rent, under circumstances like these. It cannot be said that a landlord cannot sue his own ryot for rent, simply by reason of the fact that the rent has not been specifically determined. When the land-holder brings a suit for rent, before the Collector, under Section 77 of the Estates Land Act, if the tenant disputes the amount claimed, the Collector can determine what the proper rate is. It is not necessary that the landlord should first bring a suit for determining what the amount is, which the ryot is bound to pay and then bring another suit for the recovery of rent. It would lead to multiplication of proceedings and I do not think that the Act contemplates any such double proceedings, for the purpose of recovering rent from the tenant by the landlord. I think Section 77 does apply to a case like this and, therefore, the plaintiff s suit is quite competent.
8. The next contention is that the suit is barred by limitation. Under the Estates Land Act, the arrears of rent can be claimed for three years (vide Sch. A, Article 8). In this case, the rent is claimed for the last ten years. The contention of Mr. Appa Rao is that Section 14 of the Limitation Act does not save limitation, because the cause of action in the former suit was different from the cause of action in this suit. In the former suit, the plaintiff did claim mesne profits in the alternative. That is quite clear from the plaint Ex. 11, the judgment of the District Munsif, and Ex. B, and that of the Subordinate Judge. On second appeal, the High Court held that a Civil Court could not give a decree for rent. The plaintiff who had collected rent from the appellants had to pay back the amount, on the reversal of the decree of the Subordinate Judge by the High Court. It is quite clear, therefore, that the plaintiff did claim rent in the previous suit for three years before the date of suit and for subsequent mesne profits. The second appeal was disposed of on the 1st of December 1920. The present suit was filed on 29th July 1921. Inasmuch as the plaintiff did claim rent in the previous suit, on the ground that the appellants were bound to pay rent, I think the cause of action in the previous suit was not different from the cause of action in this suit.
9. In this view of the case, it is unnecessary to consider the various cases quoted by Mr. Appa Rao. When the plaintiff prosecuted a suit bona fide in a wrong Court for a number of years and by reason of the defect of jurisdiction of that Court he is led to file another suit in another Court, which has jurisdiction, it cannot be said that limitation runs against him. Section 14 of the Limitation Act is clear in its terms and it does enable the plaintiff to deduct the time, during which he was prosecuting his suit in another Court, when he brings his suit for the same relief, before the proper Court.
10. In the result the second appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.