1. This is a Revision Application from the order of the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Kagal, declining to make a Reference to the authorities under the Bombay Tenancy Act, 1948, under Section 85 - A thereof, of the issue as to whether the present petitioner is a tenant within the meaning of that Act. The plaintiff - landlord had filed the suit in that Court for possession of his half share in land bearing S. No. 84/1 and for mesne profit. By his written statement, the first defendant - tenant had, inter aliaa, contended that the court had no jurisdiction to decide whether he was a tenant under the Bombay Tenancy Act and hence an issue in that behalf should be referred to the competent authorities under that Act for decision. The trial court declined to make the Reference on the ground that that issue had already been decided against the present petitioner on 18-10-1960 by the authorities under the said Act in proceedings under Section 88 - C between the same parties in respect of the same land initiated by the plaintiff - landlord, and directed that the hearing of the suit be proceeded with. It is against that order that the first defendant - tenant has approached this Court in Revision.
2. Various elaborate arguments have been advanced by Mr. Sali on the Petitioner's behalf, but it is not necessary to deal with all of them. Only two narrow questions arise : (1) Did the question in regard to the applicability of the Bombay Tenancy Act fall to be decided in proceedings under Section 88 - C thereof; and (2) Does Section 85 - A require that the question as to whether a person is a tenant under that Act must be referred to the authorities under it in every case, even though it may have already been decided by those authorities in previous proceedings between the same parties in respect of the same land.
3. As far as the first question is concerned, in my opinion, the question had to be decided in proceedings under Section 88 - C. I do not agree with Mr. Sali that in those proceedings the tenancy authority had only to consider two things viz. (a) whether the land was less than the economic holding of 16 acres; and (b) whether the total annual income thereof was less than Rs. 1500/-. The authority concerned had first to decide whether the land in question was agricultural land within Section 2 (8) of the Act. In the proceedings under Section 88 - C between the parties in respect of this very land the tenancy authority has in terms held by his Order dated 18-10-1960 that the major portion being grass land, the Bombay Tenancy Act was not applicable to it. From that decision it necessarily follows that the first defendant was not a 'tenant' within the meaning of Section 2 (18) of the Act,as he sought to contend in the present suit. I am not concerned with the merits of that decision. Moreover, there was an appeal filed by the present petitioner against that decision which was dismissed by the Deputy Collector on 30th June 1969. I do not accept the petitioner's contention that the Mamlatdar's order dated 25-11-1965 in proceedings which were initiated in the ordinary course under Section 32 - G holding that, in view of the minority of the plaintiff - landlord, the Tiller's Day was postponed necessarily, implied a decision to the contrary viz. that the land was agricultural land. In view of the finding that the landlord was a minor, no other question arose in those proceedings and the short order dated 25-11-1965 shows that the question as to whether the said land was agricultural land was, in fact, not decided or even considered by the tenancy officer.
4. As far as the second question formulated by me above is concerned, on first impression, Section 85 - A does seem to suggest that a Reference must be made to the tenancy authorities each time a question under the Act arises, but on a close scrutiny of the language used in that section I have come to the conclusion that I am not driven to a construction which would lead to such an oppressive and unreasonable result. If a defence under the Tenancy Act is raised, the suit, no doubt, 'involves' an issue under that Act. That issue would be 'required' by that Act to be decided by the authorities under it. The use of the mandatory words 'shall stay', by themselves, would suggest that in every such case the suit must be stayed by the trial Court and a Reference made to the appropriate authority under the Act. Those words must, however, be read and understood in the context of the language used in sub - section (2) of S. 85 - A itself. Sub - section (2) deals with the proceedings and the decision that must inevitably follow upon a Reference made by the Civil Court under sub - section (1). If, therefore, there is anything in the language employed in sub - section (2) which shows that the legislature could not have contemplated a Reference in certain case, sub - section (1) must necessarily be construed as limited to that extent. In my opinion, the words 'and decide such issues' in sub - section (2) clearly negative a Reference in cases in whose issues have already been decided by the competent authority under the Act in earlier proceedings between the same parties in respect of the same land, for it could never have been contemplated by the legislature that the same issue or issues should be decided again and again by the authorities under the Act resulting municipality of proceedings, and perhaps, even in conflict of decisions.
5. In the result, I hold that the decision of the lower Court was right and this Revision Petition must be dismissed with costs.
6. Revision dismissed.