L. Krishnaswami Naidu And Anr. vs Sriram Sriramulu Naidu on 29 July, 1927

Madras High Court
L. Krishnaswami Naidu And Anr. vs Sriram Sriramulu Naidu on 29 July, 1927
Equivalent citations: (1927) 53 MLJ 727
Author: Curgenven


Curgenven, J.

1. This Letters Patent Appeal is from the judgment of Spencer, J., in S. A. No. 1518 of 1923, dismissing the Second Appeal on the ground that under Section 102, Civil Procedure Code, no such appeal lay, inasmuch as the suit was of a nature cognizable by a Court of Small Causes and the value of the subject matter did not exceed Rs. 500. The suit, which was valued at Rs. 354, was brought by a shrotriamdar to recover melwaram and swatantarams from his tenant. Melzvaram, it is not disputed, is rent, and, under Article 8 of the second schedule of the Provincial Small Causes Courts Act, a suit for rent is cognizable by a Court of Small Causes which has been expressly invested with the power to try such a suit. All Subordinate Judges and District Munsifs within the Madras Presidency have been invested with powers to try rent suits upon the Small Cause Side, provided that they fall within the pecuniary limits of their Small Cause jurisdiction, so that the effect of this article, read with the empowering notification, is to exclude all such rent suits from the second schedule and to make them cognizable by a Small Cause Court. In other words, the effect of the notification is to delete Article 8 from the schedule, and it only remains to inquire therefore whether, by reason of the circumstance that the claim to Swatantarams can be brought under any other article of the schedule, the suit for melwaram and sivatantarams was of a nature not cognizable by a Small Cause Court.

2. The only article which requires consideration is No. 13, which excludes ‘suit to enforce payment of the allowance or fees respectively called Malikana and Haqq or of cesses or other dues when the cesses or dues are payable to a person by reason of his interest in immoveable property or in an heriditary office or in a shrine or other religious institution.’ It has been suggested to us that a swatantaram is a cess payable to a person by reason of his interest in immoveable property, namely, to the shrotriamdar whose interest in the land in respect of which this cess is payable is that of landlord. It is not disputed that a swatantaram is a contribution, collected in this instance at least, by the landlord, towards the cost of the village agency. If authority be required for this view of the nature of the payment, it is to be found in Vadamalai Thiruvanatha Sevuga Pandia Thevar v. Sankaramurthi Naidu (1918) ILR 42 M 197 : 36 MLJ 109, but the point is conceded. It is for consideration, therefore, whether a cess which the land owner collects, but collects for disbursement of the proceeds to the village servants, and not for his own benefit, can be deemed to be payable to him ‘by reason of his interest in immoveable property’.

3. The case Maharaja of Visianagaram v. Veeranna (1911) ILR 36 M 18 : 21 MLJ 819 which is the only case cited to us under this article, related to the recovery of land cess from an inamdar by a zamindar, and although that is not a parallel case, we may quote with approval, the opinion, which the judgment contains, that “the cesses and dues contemplated in Article 13 are payments which a person is entitled to as representing his interest in certain immoveable property, and not because he possesses some interest in immoveable property”.

4. We think it is clear that the words “by reason of his interest” confine the cesses or other dues contemplated by the article to payments to be made to a person claiming to be entitled to them by reason of his interest in the immoveable property, and that they operate to exclude payments to which a landholder receives not for his personal benefit but for some public or communal purpose. Although no doubt it is customary and convenient that the land-owner should collect the Swatantarams, yet he only does so as the administrator of a fund created for a special purpose, and it would be possible to make arrangements for collecting the money without his instrumentality. We think that the, article relates only to payments of money due to a person in consideration of his interest in the property, and that accordingly swatantarams do not fall within its scope.

5. We agree therefore with the learned Judge that the suit was of a nature cognizable by a Small Cause Court and that no second appeal lay. The Letters Patent Appeal is dismissed with costs.

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