1. This is an appeal by the plaintiff in a suit for recovery of possession of lands on declaration of title. The lands were originally Chowkidari chakran lands included in a revenue paying estate situated within the jurisdiction of-the Collector of Murshidabad. The chowkidars who were in occupation disappeared many years ago. The Zemindar thereupon appropriated the lands, dealt with them as included in his estate, and settled them with the defendants as tonants. The Subordinate Judge has found that the defendants have been in occupation for many years as tenants, under the proprietor. On the 21st January 1909, the lands were resumed by the Government, and, on the day following, they were transferred to the zemindar in accordance with the provisions of the Village Chowkidars Act, 1870. On the 23rd December 1911, the plaintiff obtained a permanent under-tenure from the zemindar and, on the 3rd October 1912, he instituted this suit for ejectment of the defendants on the ground that they were trespassers, unlawfully in occupation of the disputed lands. The Court of first instance decreed the suit. Upon appeal that decision has been reversed by the Subordinate Judge. In this Court, the decision of the lower Appellate Court has been attacked on the ground that, on the facts found, the zemindar had no authority to settle the lands with the defendants before they had been resumed and transferred to him under the provisions of the Village Chowkidari Act and that the defendants must consequently be treated as trespassers. In our opinion, there is no foundation for this contention.
2. The decision of the Judicial Committee, in the case of Ranjit Singh v. Kali Dasi Debt (1) leaves no room for doubt that these chowkidari chakran lauds formed part of the revenue paying estate and that the zemindar had a qualified title therein. Consequently, when the lands were resumed under the Village Chowkidari Act and were transferred to the zemindar in accordance with its provisions the estate taken by the zemindar was in confirmation and by way of continuance of his existing estate. It is thus impossible to maintain the proposition that when the land vacated by a chowkidar passed into the possession of the zemindar, the latter became a trespasser. The zemindar, no doubt, incurred a liability to pay additional revenue to the Government in respect of this land. The amount of such revenue was determined by an appropriate proceeding under the Village Chowkidari Act when the lands were resumed and transferred to the zemindar. But, as explained by the Judicial Committee, the zemindar had a subsisting interest in the land, and the new estate vested in him was merely in continuation and confirmation of that preexisting interest. What, then, is the true position? The chowkidars vacated the lands; the grantor of the plaintiff thereupon took possession of those lands and allowed the defendants to occupy the lands as his tenants possibly on the erroneous assumption that they formed mal lands of his zemindari; subsequently a transfer was effected in his favour under the provisions of the Village Chowkidari Act. The plaintiff is clearly not competent to contend that the defendants, who were brought upon the lands as tenants by his grantor, are trespassers. An argument has been based on Section 51 of the Village Chowkidari Act, to the effect that the Section applies only to cases where there has been a contract by the zemindar in respect of lands other than chowkidari chakran lands In our opinion, there is no foundation for this limied construction or Section 51. The object of Section 51 is to maintain the validity of contracts made in respect of chowkidari chakran lands, and. it is immaterial whether such contracts do or do not also include other lands which are in no way affected by the resumption proceedings. We hold accordingly that the Subordinate Judge has taken a correct view of the relative rights of the parties and that the suit has been properly dismissed. It is not necessary for us to determine the precise status of the defendants as tenants under the plaintiff; for it is a sufficient answer to the claim for ejectment that the defendants are not trespassers but tenants. The decree of the Subordinate Judge is accordingly affirmed and this appeal dismissed with costs.
3. The judgment will govern the other appeal (Second Appeal No. 158 of 1915) which is also dismissed with costs.