1. The plaintiff brought the suits, out of which these second appeals have arisen, for the purpose of enhancing the rents of his tenants under the provisions of the Bengal Tenancy Act. A Commission was issued in the first Court to a Sub-Deputy Collector for the purpose of making a local enquiry as provided by Section 31(b) of the Act. The instructions given to him were to ascertain the prevailing rate of rent paid by the tenants and to report whether the defendant's lands were of a similar description with similar advantages with reference to the prevailing rate paid. The Sub-Deputy Collector's report, and this finding is not challenged before me, is as follows: He finds the rates of rent, payable for first class lands, to vary from Rs. 9 to Rs. 10, those for second class lands from Rs. 7 to Rs. 8, those for the 3rd class of lands from Rs. 5 to Rs. 6 and those for lands of the fourth class from Rs. 3 to Rs. 4 per bigha. The Sub-Deputy Collector then proceeded, as appears from his report and the judgment of the lower appellate Court, to apply the provisions of Section 31(A) and in the concluding part of his report, he classified the disputed lands of the defendants, plot by plot, grouping them into the different classes already mentioned.
2. The Court of first instance adopted the report of the Commissioner, and allowed the plaintiff the rates per bigha of Rs. 3, 5, 7 and 10. It was brought to the notice of the Subordinate Judge, for the first time, during the hearing of the argument, after both parties had closed their evidence, that Section 31(A) had not been extended to the District of Mozafferpore where this litigation was being carried on. The District Judge, on appeal, has slightly modified the rates arrived at in the first Court by reducing the highest rate from Rs. 10 to Rs. 9. In other respects, he has taken the prevailing rates of the four classes of lands at the lowest rates reported by the Sub-Deputy Collector.
3. Before me the argument of the learned Vakil for the defendants-appellants is a very simple one. He has urged that there should be a remand In order that the matter may he properly gone into after excluding the report of the Commissioner which, he says, is vitiated by the serious error into which he has fallen in that he applied the provisions of a section which was not in force in the District. I have been unable to appreciate the argument of the learned Vakil in one respect, and that is that he has been unable to state what would be the prevailing rates for the four classes of lands in suit if the rates awarded by the lower appellate Court were set aside. It is difficult to understand what possible answer there could be to that question, because the rates adopted are the lowest rates applicable with respect to these four classes. I understand the argument of the learned Vakil is this that, unless the Court finds the majority of tenants paying one uniform rate, it cannot ascertain any prevailing rate. I do not see that this is a proposition which results -naturally from the sections of the Bengal Tenancy Act. Section 31(a) lays down that in determining what is the prevailing rate the Court shall have regard to the rates generally paid by the tenants. Section 31. (b) provides for a local enquiry to be held under the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 31A introduces a formula, or rule, for facilitating the elucidation of that vexed expression 'prevailing rate'. The report of the Revenue Officer, so far as it deals with facts, is not one which need be interfered with. In the subsequent part of his report, if he has gone astray, and adopted a rule which he ought not to have adopted, that part of his reasoning may be discarded without affecting the merits of the decision.
4. I do not think there is anything in the reported cases, to which my attention has been called, from which the argument of the learned Vakil for the defendants-appellants can derive any support. He Has cited the case of Nabin Chandra Saha v. Kula Chandra Dhur 6 Ind. Cas. 506 : 14 C.W.N. 914 : 37 C. 742. But in the present case, the instructions to the Revenue Officer were adequate and it was on his own responsibility that he proceeded to discuss the rule laid down in Section 31A. The adoption of the lowest rates, as being the prevailing rates, has been sanctioned in the case of Alep Khan v. Raghunath Prosad Tewari 1 C.W.N. 310 as away out or the difficulty which, if the landlord does not object, cannot be challenged by the tenants. It is a useful rule, and in the circumstances of the present litigation, I think it cannot be said that either of the lower Courts, or the Commissioner, has fallen into error in mistaking an average rate for the prevailing rate. No average has been struck, and as I have already mentioned, the lowest rate applicable to each class of land has been assessed on the tenants. That being so, I think there is no reason to remand this case for any further investigation to be made, the facts being beyond all doubt.
5. Under these circumstances, I dismiss this appeal No. 2440 with costs.
6. This decision will govern the analogous Appeals Nos. 3012 to 3048 of 1909.