1. This appeal is by the plaintiff and raises the question of the interpretation of the word 'occupiers' in Section 37, Bengal Village Self-Government Act. Both the plaintiff and her husband have been separately assessed on account of a certain building within the Union. Both of them instituted suits to challenge the assessment. No appeal has been preferred against the decree of the learned Munsif in the husband's suit.
2. There is now-no dispute as to the facts: The plaintiff is a cosharer with her husband in a certain zemindary. The baitakkhana of the building in question is used as an office by the gomosta. On these facts, it has been held that the plaintiff is an occupier of the building. If I have correctly understood the judgment of the learned Munsif, he held that an occupier must be something higher than a licensee, but that the plaintiff was so. The learned Subordinate Judge on the other hand, held that a mere licensee would be an occupier. The term has not been defined in the Act. But I see grave practical difficulties if a mere licensee is held to be an occupier. In the Oxford Dictionary the word 'occupier' is defined as 'a person in possession, especially of land or house, holder, occupant.' In nay judgment, the term connotes at least that the person in question has a right of some kind to he there. Applying this test to the facts of the present case, the plaintiff is not an occupier.
3. But even adopting the interpretation made by the learned Subordinate Judge, it is difficult to see how it can be said that the plaintiff is a licensee. The actual licensee is the gomosta. He works for the plaintiff's husband -the actual owner of the property. There is nothing to show that the plaintiff is in any way responsible. It is not suggested that one of the terms of the contract of service between her and the gomosta is that he should hold his office in this particular place or that she requested her husband to allow him to do so. On the facts found by the learned Subordinate Judge it cannot be said that she is the licensee of her husband with regard to this room.
4. The appeal is accordingly allowed, the decree of the lower appellate Court dismissing the suit is set aside and the plaintiff will be given a declaration that the assessment is ultra vires and an injunction restraining the defendant from realising anything under it. As there is no foundation for her allegation that the defendant was actuated by improper motives in making the assessment, I shall not allow her any costs. Leave to appeal under Section 15, Letters Patent, is granted on the undertaking by Mr. Mukherjee that the respondent will not ask for costs.