1. We are invited in this rule to consider, under Section 163 sub-section (3) of the Calcutta Municipal Act of 1899, read with Section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act 1887, the legality of the decision of a Small Cause Court Judge in an appeal preferred under Sub-section (1.) of Section 162 against an order of the Chairman of the Corporation overruling an objection to valuation preferred by the present opposite party. The substantial question of law which requires consideration is whether a compound wall or a boundary wall is a 'building' within the meaning of Section 151 Clause (b) and is liable as such to assessment for Municipal rates. The Small Cause Court Judge in a careful and well-considered judgment has answered the question in the negative. In our opinion, the view taken by him is correct and his decision ought to be affirmed.
2. Section 151 prescribes the mode of ascertainment of the annual value of lands and buildings. Buildings are divided into two classes; Clause (a) relates to buildings erected for letting purposes or ordinarily let; Clause (b) deals with building a not erected for Jetting purposes and not ordinarily let, In, any case which falls within Clause (a) of Section 151, it cannot be seriously contended that a compound wall or boundary wall by itself can be properly described as a building. The question is whether there is in this respect any substantial difference between the two clauses. Now the term 'building' is not defined in the Act although in Section 3 Clauses 3, 4, 14, 24 and 33, we have definitions of building line, building of the warehouse class, domestic building, masonry building and public building. None of these definitions support the theory that a compound or boundary wall was intended by the framers of the statute to be treated as a building. On the other hand, it was ruled by this Court in the case of Corporation of Calcutta v. Jogeswar Laha 8 C.W.N. 487, that a detached wall built of masonry was not a masonry building within the meaning of Clause 25 of Section 3 of the Calcutta Municipal Act. The learned Judges pointed out that the derivative meaning of the term building' might possibly be comprehensive enough to indicate whatever is built, but they observed that various provisions in the Calcutta Municipal Act pointed to the conclusion that the term building' was not intended to include a wall. To take some illustrations: Sections 292, 351, 352 and 427 make it reasonably plain that the distinction between a building and a wall was present to the minds of the framers of the Act and that they did not regard the former as including the latter. The learned Judges further pointed out that if the contrary view were adopted, we might be constrained to uphold the position that a wall constructed from the plinth upward of some material other than masonry, comes under the definition of 'hut.' An interpretation of the Act which leads to a result of this character ought to be avoided if practicable. We may further add that an examination of the provisions of Schedule XVII shows conclusively that the rules laid down for the use of building sites and the execution of building work were never intended to apply to compound walls. It is needless to examine these provisions in detail because even a cursory examination of the rules will show that if a compound wall is treated as a building governed by the rules in question, the rules become in many in stances either meaningless or purposeless. Against all this, we have it pressed upon us on be-half of the Corporation that the term 'building' admits of a very comprehensive interpretation and that consequently we ought not to exclude a compound wall from the scope of the expression 'building.' It is sufficient to point out that the Calcutta Municipal Act must be construed as a whole, and that in other statutes framed for similar purposes the term 'building' has not been usually interpreted in its derivative sense. For instance in Wendon v. London County Council (1894) 1 Q.B. 812 : 63 L.J.M.C. 117 : 9 R. 292 : 70 L.T. 440 : 42 W.R. 370 : 58 J.P. 606, it was ruled that a mere wall could not be deemed a building. Lord Justice Lopes quoted with approval the observation of Cockburn, C.J. in Clarke v. Vestory of Paucnes 34 J.P. 181, to the effect that the mere raising of a wall was not the erection of a building, though the wall might be a building when it was covered over. Similarly in Lavy v. Lendon County Council (1895) 2 Q.B. 577 : 64 L.J.M.C. 202 : 14 R. 634 : 73 L.T. 100 : 43 W.R. 077 : 59 J.P. 360, Lord Justiee Lindley observed that though in one sense every wall, every thing erected, is a building, it does not necessarily follow that this wide interpretation should be adopted when a man erects a wall to mark off his boundary and preserve his rights as the owner. To the same effect, are the decisions iu Ellis v. Plumstead (1893) 68 L.T. 201 : 5 R. 237 : 41 W.R. 496 : 57 J.P. 359; Lord Anckland v. WestministerLocal Board of Works (1872) L.R. 7 Ch. App. 597 : 41 L.J. Ch. 723 : 20 L.T. 961 : 20 W.R. 845; Slaughter v. Sunderland 65 L.T. 250 : 60 L.J.M.C. 91 : 55 J.P. 519 and Foster v. Fraser (1893) 3 Ch. 158 : 63 L.J. Ch. 91 : 3 R. 635 : 69 L.T. 130 : 42 W.R. 11 : 57 J.P. 646. This view is not negatived by the decisions in Long Eaton and Co. v. Midland Railway (1902) 2 K.B. 574 : 71 L.J.K.B. 837 : 80 L.T. 873 : 50 W.R. 693 : 67 J.P. 1 and Aylward v. Mathetvs (1905) 1 K.B. 343 : 74 L.J.K.B. 336 : 92 L.T. 189 : 53 W.R. 292 : 21 T.L.R. 190, to which reference was made in support of this Rule. On the other hand, in Truesdeli v. Gay (1859) 13 Gray 311, it was observed that the term 'building' cannot always be held to include every species of erection on land and that, taken in its broadest sense, it very often means only an erection intended for use and occupation as a habitation or for some purpose of trade, manufacture or ornament, con-stitutinga fabrie or edifice, and not marely a wall, a fance, a gate or the like. In this view a structure can hardly be called a 'building' unless it is capable of occupation as falling within the residential class or within the class connected with commercial industry or in some way or other, [Powell v. Borastom (1865) 18 C.B.N.S. 175 : 1 H. and P. 179 : 3 L.J.C.P. 73 : 11 Jur. (N.S.) 160 : 11 L.T. 4 : 13 W. 465; Morish v. Harish (1865) L.R.I.C.P. 155]. This view need not be adopted in its entirety for our present purposes. It is sufficient to hold that the various provisions of the Calcutta Municipal Act, to which we have already referred, negative the conclusion that a boundary or a compound wall is a building within the meaning of Section 151 Clause (b). We may add that some reference was made at the bar to the provisions of the Bombay Acts VI of 1873 III of 1898, and III of 1901. But no useful purpose would be served by an examination of the Bombay statutes because there a definition of the term 'building' has been attempted by the legislature.
3. In conclusion we may observe that the view we take is in accord with the interpretation put upon the statute by the Municipal authorities themselves till very recently. In deed the case before us is admittedly a test case to determine whether the new construction adopted by the Municipal authorities is or is not correct. It is a well-settled principle of interpretation that Courts in construing a statute will give much weight to the interpretation put upon it at the time of its enactment and since by those whose duty it has been to construe, execute and apply it. [Baleshacar v. Baghiathi 35 C. 701 at p. 713]. We do not suggest for a moment that such interpretation has by any means a controlling effect upon the Courts; such interpretation may, if occasion arises, have to be disregarded for cogent and persuasive reasons and in a clear case of error; a Court would without hesitation refuse to follow such construction. [Evanturel v. Evanturel (1869) L.R 2 P.C. 462 : 6 Moore P.C. (N.S) 75 : 38 L.J.P.C. 41 : 21 L.T.M : 21 L.T. 4 : 17 W.R. 541.] In the present case, however, the language of the statute, whether interpreted by itself with reference to its various provisions or in view of the construction which has been placed upon it by the Municipal authorities for a long series of yours, certainly from 18.99, possibly from 1888 (see Section 122 of Bangal Act II of 1888), does not lend any support to the contention of the petitioner corporation.
4. The result, therefore, in that this rule must be discharged with costs. We assess the hearing fee at 3 gold mohars.