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Basiruddi Chowdhuri Vs. Afsarannessa Bibi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Judge
Reported in40Ind.Cas.833
AppellantBasiruddi Chowdhuri
RespondentAfsarannessa Bibi
Cases ReferredStadhard v. Lee
Excerpt:
landlord and tenant - barga kabuliyat, construction of--tenant, whether bound to pay stipulated sum as value of crops or their market-value--evidence act (i of 1872,), section 92--construction of document--motive of parties, how far relevant. - .....if i do not cultivate the amount of crops in your share will be determined by a reference to the crops raised on neighboring fields. i shall deliver to you the crops. if i neglect to deliver the said crops, i shall pay you rs. 25 per annum on account of the value of the crops. if i fail to deliver the same you will be competent to realise the same by instituting suit in court; any objection to the same taken by me shall not be entertained.' the landlord has instituted this suit for recovery of the value of the crops for the bengali year 1318, and seeks a decree according to the market price. the court of first instance held that the landlord was entitled to a decree at the rate of rs. 25 per year as the value of the crops according to the terms of the contract. the subordinate judge.....
Judgment:

1. This is an appeal under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent from a decision of Mr. Justice Newbould in a suit for arrears of rent. The terms of the contract of tenancy are embodied in a document dated the 10th February 1892, and called a barga kabuliyat; the value of the crops mentioned therein is stated to be Rs. 25 at the commencement of the instrument. The tenant undertook to cultivate the land and raise crops thereon, and covenanted as follows : 'The crops that will be raised at any time on the said land shall be taken to your house, and after making over to you to your entire satisfaction half share thereof, as proprietor's share, I shall take the remaining half share. I shall cultivate, sow and weed and do other things. If I do not cultivate the amount of crops in your share will be determined by a reference to the crops raised on neighboring fields. I shall deliver to you the crops. If I neglect to deliver the said crops, I shall pay you Rs. 25 per annum on account of the value of the crops. If I fail to deliver the same you will be competent to realise the same by instituting suit in Court; any objection to the same taken by me shall not be entertained.' The landlord has instituted this suit for recovery of the value of the crops for the Bengali year 1318, and seeks a decree according to the market price. The Court of First Instance held that the landlord was entitled to a decree at the rate of Rs. 25 per year as the value of the crops according to the terms of the contract. The Subordinate Judge took a contrary view, held that the plaintiff was entitled to the value of the crops according to the market rate, and remanded the case for a fresh investigation. On appeal to this Court the decree of the Subordinate Judge has been affirmed by Mr. Justice Newbould.

2. We are of opinion that upon a plain reading of the terms of the contract the tenant, if he neglects to deliver to his landlord, crops according to the terms of the instrument, becomes bound to pay Rs. 25 per annum on account of the value thereof. But on behalf of the plaintiff the argument has been advanced that this clause was inserted solely for purposes of registration of the document. This is, however, not so stated on the face of the instrument itself, and it has been pointed out repeatedly Afar v. Surja Kumar Ghose 7 Ind. Cas. 842 : 15 C.W.N. 249 : 12 C.L.J. 649; Nilmadhab Mahapatra v. Keshab Lal Mahapatra 40 Ind. Cas. 819 26 C.L.J. 94 decided by Sanderson, C.J. and Mookerjee, J. on the 4th May 1916], that oral evidence is not admissible under Section 92 of the Indian Evidence Act to vary the terms of the contract contained in the document. The landlord has pressed upon the Court the consideration that if the construction pat by the tenant be accepted the contract becomes obviously unreasonable. He argues that the value of the crops will vary from year to year according to their quality and quantity and that it is inconceivable that a reasonably prudent man would have accepted a contract of this character which entitles the landlord to a fixed sum of Rs. 25 only regardless of the quantity and quality of the crops actually raised in a particular year. It is well settled, however, that we cannot ignore the plain terms of the contract because they appear to us to be unreasonable; as Cockburn, C.J., observed in Stadhard v. Lee (1863) 3 B. & S. 364 : 32 L.J.Q.B. 76 : 7 L.T. 850 : 9 Jur. (N.S.) 908 : 122 E.R. 138 : 11 W.R. 361 : 129 R.R. 357, if the terms are clear and unambiguous, the Court is bound to give effect to them without stopping to consider how far they may be reasonable or not. In the present case, however, there may have been good reasons why the parties should have entered into a contract of this nature; they may well have been anxious to avoid elaborate and expensive investigations as to the quality and quantity of crops raised in a particular year and the market-value thereof. But we are really not permitted to speculate about the possible intention and motive of the parties, we are concerned only with their intention as expressed by the words they have deliberately used, and it would be most dangerous to conjecture or guess at what might have been the intention of a man of average prudence. There can, in our opinion, be no doubt as to the meaning of this contract; when that has been ascertained, the landlord and the tenants are equally bound thereby.

3. The result is that this appeal is allowed, the order of the Subordinate Judge set aside and the decree of the Court of First Instance restored with costs in all the Courts.


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