1. This is an appeal by the defendant in a suit for recovery of arrears of rent in respect of land situated within the Municipality of Chittagong, on the basis of a registered kabuliat. The case of the plaintiffs in the suit was that the Chittagong Cotton Mills, Ltd., the defendant in the suit, by their Managing Agents, the Chittagong Trading Company, Ltd., and two of its Directors took a lease of the lands described in the plaint, by executing a kabuliat on 8th October 1926, and have been in possession as lessees thereafter. That in spite of repeated demands there was failure on the part of the defendant to pay rent due; and that the defendants were in terms of the lease liable for rent due at the date of the institution of the suit with interest at 25 percent per annum till realization. The claim of the plaintiffs was resisted by the defendant; and on the pleadings of parties, five distinct issues were raised on the merits of the case before the Court. The learned Subordinate Judge appears to have considered three issues bearing upon the merits of the claim by the plaintiffs together, and the other two issues separately. The decision of the Court below was arrived at on the material points involved in the case, disallowing questions during the cross-examination of one of the principal witnesses examined on the side of the plaintiffs. The decision of the lower Court was in favour of the plaintiffs, so far as the liability of the defendants in the suit for rent was concerned, but the rate of interest claimed by the plaintiffs was reduced to 12 per cent from 25 per cent as provided in the lease. The defendant appealed to this Court and the plaintiffs preferred cross-objections.
2. It appears to us to be clear that the procedure adopted by the Court below in disallowing questions in cross-examination was wholly unjustifiable, regard being had to the nature of the issues raised in the suit; furthermore, the Judge's manner of dealing with the points arising for consideration in the case, on the pleadings of parties, and on the issues raised for determination in the suit was wholly unsatisfactory. The two issues, Nos. 1 and 2, raised questions relating to the validity of the lease which was the basis of the claim before the Court and the right of plaintiff 1 to bring the suit. These issues were raised in view of the statements of the defendant before the Court, contained in paraSection 8 and 4 of their written statement, in which the validity of the lease and the right to claim rent were distinctly challenged. In the written statement, there was a specific claim for abatement of rent on grounds stated. In our judgment none of the material points arising for consideration in the case, in view of the averments made by the defendants in their written statement, were properly considered by the Court below, and that the decision given by the Court followed upon the unjustifiable procedure of shutting out material evidence in the case. It may also be mentioned that the reason given by the Judge in the Court below for reducing the rate of interest from 25 per cent to 12 per cent simply on the ground of equity and justice does not commend itself to us, in view of the clear stipulations contained in the lease, as to payment of interest on arrears of rent.
3. In the above view of the case, before us, the appeal by the defendant and the cross-objections preferred by the plaintiffs must be allowed; and we direct accordingly. The decision and decree of the Court below are set aside, and the case is remanded to the lower Court for a retrial of the same in accordance with law after the parties concerned have been given opportunity of placing further evidence before the Court if they desire to do so. The costs in the case, including the costs in this appeal, will abide decision after remand.