Francis W. Maclean, K.C.I.E., C.J.
1. The principle of the case of Bindubashini Dassi v. Harendra Lal Roy (1897) I.L.R., 25 Cal., 305, which was recently before this Court, governs the present case, though in the facts there is some distinction.
2. The defendants are certain putnidars; they defaulted in their rent; the zemindar took proceedings against them; the property was ordered to be sold; it was sold, and the plaintiff, in May 1892, purchased the putni interest at the sale held in pursuance of the order. On the 12th May 1894, the sale was, in a suit instituted for the purpose, set aside; the zemindar alone appealed against that decision, and the plaintiff was a respondent on the appeal. In April 1895, during the pendency of the appeal, the zemindar applied to the plaintiff to pay the rent which had accrued from the 13th April 1894 to November in that year, and in the same month he instituted proceedings against the plaintiff to enforce his rights upon the footing of the non-payment of the rent. On the 16th May 1895, the plaintiff paid the money claimed amounting to Us. 2,000 or thereabouts. On the 9th August 1895, the appeal was heard and the decision of the Court below setting aside the sale was affirmed. On the 12th December 1895, the present suit was instituted by the plaintiff against the defendants, the bulk of whom are the putnidars, the only other defendant being the zemindar. He claims to recover the Rs. 2,000 upon the ground that when he made the payment he was a person interested in the payment of the money which the putnidar were bound by law to pay, and that he is entitled to be reimbursed by them.
3. Both the lower Courts have decided against him; hence this appeal. The first question is, whether the case falls within Section 69 of the Contract Act. I think it does. It is difficult to say that, at the time the plaintiff made the payment, he was not interested in that payment which the putnidars were bound to make. If the decision of the lower Court had been reversed by this Court, the plaintiff would have been confirmed in his position as putnidar; and as such would have been liable to pay the rent to the zemindar. No doubt at the time he made the payment it had been held that the sale ought to be set aside, in which case his interest in the putni lease was gone. But at the same time an appeal was pending, and there was the possibility at least of a reversal of the decision. Under these circumstances can it be successfully urged that he was a mere volunteer, and not interested in the payment of the money, which, as matters have eventuated, the present respondents are bound by law to pay? We should be placing a narrow construction upon the section if we acceded to this view. If he had not paid it and the decision had been reversed, he would have run the risk of his putni interest being sold at the suit of the zemindar. The defendants have had the benefit of this payment, if it had not been made, their putni lease might have been again put up for sale at the suit of the zemindar. The principles of justice, equity and good conscience appear to me to demand that the plaintiff should be reimbursed by the defendants, the putnidars.
4. But it is said that the concluding sentence of the first clause of Section 14 of Regulation VIII of 1819 virtually bars this suit, and that the plaintiff is not entitled to maintain it, and that he ought to have applied in the previous suit for the reimbursement in question. In point of fact he had made no payment when the suit was before the first Court, though he had when it was before this Court. If the attention of this Court had been directed to the matter, I am not prepared to say that it might not have made an order reimbursing the plaintiff against this payment, or for any other loss he might have sustained, but I am not prepared to say that, when the section speaks only of the Court being careful to indemnify the person paying against all loss, that is sufficient to deprive the plaintiff of a right to maintain the present suit. The language of the section is not sufficiently precise to justify us in saying that the plaintiff's right to sue for reimbursement is taken away.
5. In the result, the appeal will be allowed with costs as against the respondents Nos. 1 to 13 and dismissed with costs as against the respondent No. 14. There must be the usual decree for payment of the amount claimed, with the costs of the suit.
6. I agree with the learned Chief Justice in thinking that this case comes within the scope of Section 69 of the Contract Act, and is governed by the principle laid down in the cases of Dakhina Mohun Roy v. Sharoda Mohun Roy (1893), I.L.R., 21 Cal., 142, and Bindubashini Dassi v. Harendra Lal Roy (1897) I.L.R., 25 Cal., 305.
7. It was contended for the defendants, in the first place, that the plaintiff was not a person interested in the payment of the money in question within the meaning of Section 69 of the Contract Act, and that the present case is distinguishable from the cases to which I have just referred, because the payment here was made after the decision of the first Court in the suit for reversal of the putni sale by which it was held that the sale was invalid, and during the pendency of an appeal preferred, not by the plaintiff, the auction-purchaser, but by the zemindar, at whose instance the putni sale had been brought about; and in the second place, it was contended that the suit was barred by the provisions of the first clause of Section 14 of Regulation VIII of 1819. Then it was, in the third place, contended on behalf of the defendant No. 8, that he ought not to be held liable in any event, as the payment was made by the plaintiff at a time when the putni was in the possession, not of all the putnidar defendants, but of defendants Nos. 1 to 5 only.
8. I am of opinion that the first contention is not sound, and that the circumstances relied upon do not really distinguish this case from the cases to which reference has been made above, and do not take this case out of the purview of Section 69 of the Contract Act. It is quite true that the decision of the first Court in the suit for reversal of the putni sale was in favour of the defaulting putnidars, but that did not preclude the possibility of a contrary decision being arrived at by the Court of Appeal, and the fact of the plaintiff not having been the appellant did not make him any the less a person interested in the payment, when the appeal of the zemindar would, if successful, have inured to the benefit of the plaintiff.
9. Section 69 of the Contract Act does not require that the person who made the payment should have done anything actively to keep up the interest which he claims. All that is required is, that the payment should be made by a person who is interested in the payment; and the plaintiff was clearly interested in the payment that he made, seeing that if it had not been made and the putni had been sold in consequence, it would have prevented him from reaping the advantage that he might have gained in the event of the success of the zemindar's appeal.
10. Nor is there much force in the second contention. All that Section 14 of Regulation VIII of 1819 says, with reference to the point now before us, is this--that 'the purchaser shall be made a party in such suits, and upon a decree passing for reversal of the sale, the Court shall be careful to indemnify him against all loss at the charge of the zemindar or other person at whose suit the sale may have been made.'
11. This, no doubt, provides for the auction-purchaser, in the event of reversal of the sale, being indemnified against all loss that may have been sustained by him, and the remedy is to be at the expense of the zemindar at whose instance the sale was brought about. But it does not say that the remedy prescribed is to be the sole remedy to which the auction-purchaser is entitled, notwithstanding that, by virtue of any other provision of law, he may be entitled to a remedy against any other person than the zemindar.
12. If then Section 69 applies to the case, and as I said above it does apply to it, and the plaintiff is, in consequence, entitled to be reimbursed by the defaulting putnidars, who were bound to pay the money, the provisions of Section 14 of Regulation VIII of 1819, quoted above, cannot, in my opinion, stand in the way of the plaintiff's obtaining such relief. That the defaulting putnidars were liable for the rent, the demand for which was satisfied by the plaintiff's payment, is not disputed, and cannot be disputed. That being so, I do not think that the remedy which the plaintiff has under Section 69 of the Contract Act is curtailed by the provisions of Section 14 of Regulation VIII of 1819 quoted above.
13. As to the third contention, namely, the one urged on behalf of the defendant No. 8, I do not think that his case can be distinguished from that of the other putnidars, defendants, because he was as much bound by law to pay the rent which was paid by the plaintiff as the other putnidars who had been put in possession under Section 501 of the Code of Civil Procedure. There is no valid reason shown why he should be held not bound by law to pay the arrears of rent due on account of this putni when he claims to be interested in the putni just as much as the other putnidars are. The contentions urged before us on behalf of the respondents in support of the lower Court's judgment therefore all fail.