Imam and Chapman, JJ.
1. The petitioner in this case is one of a large number of sebaits who worship two family deities and manage the debutter properties dedicated to the gods in tarns settled by Court. The petitioner's last turn of worship and to hold and manage the properties was in 1905-1906. Since then he has had no hand in the management of the properties and it is difficult to say when he will get a turn again as a suit has been instituted to settle a fresh scheme of worship and management. One of the properties dedicated to the gods is bustee No. 112 Machua Bazar Street in the town of Calcutta. The Corporation of Calcutta, by a notice dated the 3rd February 1910, under Section 408 of the Calcutta Municipal Act (Beng. III of 1899), called upon the petitioner as owner to carry out certain improvements in that bustee in accordance with the standard plan prepared by the Corporation. On non-compliance with the notice, the petitioner was convicted under Sections 574 and 408 of the Calcutta Municipal Act. Since then he has been served several times with similar notices and on non-compliance has been convicted each time under Sections 574 and 408. It is against the last of such convictions that the petitioner has moved this Court.
2. The Rule in this case was issued on the ground that the petitioner not being in possession of the debutter properties, nor having any control over the management of the same, is not liable to be punished for non-compliance with the direction in the notice under Section 408.
3. The only question that requires to be considered in this case is whether the petitioner is an 'owner' within the meaning of the Act. According to the Act 'owner' includes 'the person for the time being receiving the rent of any land or building or of any part of any land or building, whether on his own account or as agent or trustee for any person or society or for any religious or charitable purpose, or who would so receive the same if the land, building or part thereof were let to a tenant' (Section 8, Sub-section 32). The petitioner undoubtedly does not come within this definition as he has not been receiving the rent since 1906, nor can he be said to be entitled to receive the rent if the land were let to a tenant, and he cannot be held to be an owner in any other sense, as, on the authority of several reported cases, it has to be held that a sebait is only a manager for the deity. In the case of the petitioner, the conviction is wrong inasmuch as, though he may be regarded as a manager for the deity, yet he is not receiving the rent. In these circumstances, the conviction must be set aside, and the Rule must be made absolute. The fine, if paid, shall be refunded.