1. This appeal arises out of a suit to recover arrears of Patni rent. The taluk was created or confirmed by a Kabuliyat dated 25th Assar 1257, corresponding with the 8th July 1850. The rent reserved is therein stated to be Company's Sicca Rs. 96' and the question in controversy is whether the plaintiffs-landlords are entitled to Rs. 96 in current coin or the equivalent in current coin of 96 Sicca rupees.
2. The word Sikka or Sicca, meaning originally, it would seem, a die or stamp, came next to mean a stamped coin and more particularly the silver coinage of the Kings of Delhi. Lastly Sicca rupiya' became the name specifically given to the rupee coined by the East India Company from the year 1773 and bearing inscriptions denoting that it had been struck by King Shah Alam at Murshidabad in the 19th year of his reign. From Acts XVII of 1835 and XIII of 1836 it appears that this rupee being latterly coined only at the mint in Calcutta became known as, the Calcutta Sicca rupee. The 1st of the aforesaid Acts prohibited the further coinage of the Sicca rupee and introduced the coin to be denominated and thereafter known as 'the Company's rupee.' Under the second Act Sicca rupee ceased to be legal tender from the 1st of January 1838.
3. The question then is whether the rupee mentioned in this document of 1850 is the 'Calcutta Sicca rupee' or the Company's rupee exclusively current after the year 1837. In the course of the argument we have been referred to the cases reported as Ram Saran Sing v. Gyan Sing 6 C.L.J. 637, Ram, Khelwan Singh v. Kumar Rai 6 C.L.J. 667, Kameshar Koer v. Gobardhan Lal 7 C.L.J. 202, Mir Tapurah Hossein v. Gopi Narayan 7 C.L.J. 251 and Kamaleshwari Pershad v. Ranai Singh 20 Ind. Cas. 171 : 19 C.L.J. 348 : 17 C.W.N. 1159, but these cases do not help us. They merely determine that when the rent is fixed in Sicca rupees, the difference in value between the Sicca rupee and the Company's or ourrent rupee is realisable as part of the rent and is not to be regarded as an Abwab. Here the question is which of the two coins was intended, and the difficulty is caused by the collocation of the two terms 'Company' and 'Sicca'. It does not appear that the Sicca' rupee though coined by the Company ever became known as the 'Company's Sicca' and the 'Company's' rupee has always borne the special signification given to it by Act XVII of 1835.
4. The words Company's Sicca' rupees must, therefore, be regarded as at best ambiguous and to ascertain the true intention of the parties we must look to the surrounding circumstances.
5. Of the earlier document referred to in the Kabuliyat we have no information and its date has not been ascertained. By the year 1850 Sicca rupee had long ceased to be legal tender. The stamp on the Kabuliyat is Rs. 3. Now if by Rs. 96 had been intended the equivalent of Rs. 96 Sicca in current coin, that is Rs. 102 6-8, then under Regulation X of 1829, (the Stamp Law then in force) Schedule A, Articles 28 to 31, the duty payable was Rs. 4. The reference, therefore, in the penultimate sentence of the Kabuliyat is clearly to Rs. 96 in current coin. Lastly the principal plaintiff deposes that he succeeded to the property some 25 years before suit, and throughout that period realised Rs. 96 in current coin as the rent annually payable. He further admits that his predecessor also accepted rent at that rate. This course of conduct, the date of the document, the stamp duty paid, and the reference to current coin in the sentence referring to the Stamp Act lead us to the conclusion that in this case the rent annually payable is not the equivalent of 96 Sicca rupees, but is Rs. 96 in current coin.
6. To the extent thus indicated we decree this appeal and modify the decrees of the Courts below. Parties will have proportionate costs throughout. Interest on costs at 6 per cent.