W. Comer Petheram, Kt., C.J.
1. These are two groups of second appeals. The first group begins with No. 1454 of 1889, and goes up to No. 1502 of 1889; the second group begins with No. 1438 of 1890, and goes up to No. 1470 of 1890, and includes another case, No. 1171 of 1890. They arise out of suits for rent brought in respect of land situated in an estate in the district of Patna. The first group were a number of cases instituted in the month of May 1887, the second group were a number of cases instituted in the month of May 1888. They are between the same parties, and in respect of the same lands, but the first set of cases was tried in the first instance by one Munsif, and in appeal heard by one Subordinate Judge; the second set of cases was tried by another Munsif, and the appeals from his judgment in those cases heard by another Subordinate Judge, and all these four officers have come to the same conclusion upon the facts.
2. As I said just now, these are suits for rent, and the only question which had to be tried was, what was the rate of rent which the defendants were to pay to the plaintiffs for the occupation of their holdings. The plaintiffs in all these cases gave a certain amount of evidence, and all four officers--both the two Munsifs who heard the suits in the first instance, and the two Subordinate Judges who heard the appeals--have absolutely disbelieved the plaintiffs' case. They have come to the conclusion that the case as presented on the part of the plaintiffs was untrue, that the evidence which was laid before them was of a fictitious kind, and that it was impossible to act upon it, and consequently they have come to the conclusion that the only decree they could give in favour of the plaintiffs was a decree for the amount of rent admitted by the defendants; and no doubt that is the position which the plaintiff, the landlord, must find himself in when he attempts to prove the rate of rent by evidence which cannot be relied upon; he then necessarily occupies the position of claiming rent for a holding of which he has given no evidence that can be relied upon, and the consequence of that is, that the only thing the Court can do is to give him a decree for the rent admitted by the defendant. These being second appeals, these findings of fact are binding upon this Court unless the first Court of Appeal has committed some error in law in arriving at those findings which gives us jurisdiction to interfere.
3. The first point that has been raised--and that is with reference to all these cases--is, that the learned Munsifs and the learned Subordinate Judges have committed an error of law in not giving proper effect to certain registers known as the Teis khana registers.
4. It appears that both the Munsifs and the Subordinate Judges have held that those were public documents within the meaning of Section 35 of the Evidence Act, and were evidence, but they considered that, having regard to their nature, their value as evidence upon this point was very slight, and that it was impossible to act upon them if the rest of the plaintiffs' case were concocted.
5. As to that we think that the lower Courts are right. We think that even if these papers are evidence, they are not conclusive evidence, and as to their probative value, that was a matter for the Judges who had to try the question of fact; and both the Judges and the Munsifs thought that though they were evidence, their probative force, having regard to the mode in which the registers were kept, was slight, and therefore it was not safe to act upon them; and we cannot say they were wrong. But in saying this it must not be supposed that we think they are public documents at all under Section 35 of the Evidence Act. They are documents which are prepared in the zemindar's serishta by a person who is called the patwari, who is paid by the zemindar but approved by the Collector, and these registers are no doubt kept for the information of the, Collector. The question is, does that make them public books or records kept by a public servant in the discharge of his official duty? So far as we can see, they are not official or public documents, and a patwari does not appear to us to be a public servant or to have any official duty. He is a person who is a servant of the zemindar; his duties are performed in the serishta of the zemindar on information supplied by the zemindar and nobody else. It is true that the object of the books is to afford information to the Collector, but that does not make them binding as official records of the facts contained in them, so far as we can see. It appears to us that quite sufficient amount of importance was given to these documents, and it cannot be said that any error of law has been committed in not acting upon them.
6. The other point was, that in the first set of cases which were instituted in 1887, the Munsif declined to allow certain questions to be put to some of the witnesses, and the Subordinate Judge, in dealing with that objection, says he thinks that the questions ought to have been put, but does not think it necessary to remand the cases on that ground, because in his opinion, even if the answers had been what the appellant expected them to be, that would not have affected the merits of the case.
7. If the matter had stood there alone, no doubt a good deal might be said on behalf of the appellants to have the cases remanded in order to have those questions put to the witnesses; but, as 1 said just now, the same points that arose in those cases were tried over again in the other suits which were instituted in the year 1888. In these suits, those questions were put to the witnesses and answers obtained from them, but the answers did not affect the conclusions as to the facts which were arrived at both by the Munsif who heard these cases in the first instance or by the Subordinate Judge who heard them in appeal, they being different officers to those who heard the cases which were instituted in 1887.
8. We think that these are nothing but questions of fact which have been decided in these cases by the first Court of Appeal; that no error in law has been committed by that officer which has affected the decision of these questions of fact; and that all these appeals must be dismissed with costs.