1. These proceedings arise out of a reference made by the Civil Judge, Junior Division, Wani, In Civil Suit No. 40 of 1967 under Section 125 (1) of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region) Act, 1958, the issues referred to the Tenancy Court were as follows:
'(a) Whether the defendant No. 1 was the statutory tenant of the plaintiff on 5-6-1959?
(b) If yes, whether that right was suspended during the period of subsistence of the deed dated 5-6-1959?
(c) Whether the right of the defendant as a lessee had merged in the deed?
(d) Whether the right of the defendant as a tenant would review in the case of resumption if granted?'
It was contended the landholders that the suit land was given to Maroti Rama and Sitaram Baba on lease in the year 1958 and subsequently they had surrendered the possession of the disputed field to the petitioners. Thereafter, it was mortgaged in June 1959 to the respondents. It was the contention of the landholders that initially the field was leased to one Maroti Rama and Sitaram Baba and thereafter Maroti Rama instead of cultivating personally subleased the suit field to his brother Balaji. Thus in short it was contended by them that they had not given the land in question to the respondents on lease, and therefore, they are not tenants. When the matter came before the Tenancy Court, the Court permitted them to file documents and adduce evidence. The respondents also filed the cross-statements on which they were relying.
2. After appreciating all the evidence on record the Tenancy Naib Tahsildar came to the conclusion that the respondents No. 1 Balaji was a statutory tenant. He also answered the other issues accordingly.
3. Being aggrieved by this order the landholders filed an appeal which was heard and decided by the Sub-Divisional Officer Wani vide his order dated 7-6-1972. The Sub-Divisional Officer also agreed with the appreciation of the evidence as well as finding of fact recorded by the tenancy Naib Tahsildar. In para. 4 of his order the Sub-Divisional Officer referred to the crop-statement for the year m1957-58 and has relied upon deposition of petitioner No. 1 Hanifabi in revenue case No. 1/59/1 (B) wherein she has admitted that Balaji was her tenant. He has also relied upon he oral evidence adduced on behalf of the tenants and came to the conclusion that respondent Balaji is the tenant of the suit filed.
4. Being aggrieved by this order the landholder then field a revision application before the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal. The Revenue Tribunal also agreed with the appreciation of the evidence and the concurrent finding of fact recorded by the authorities below, and therefore, dismissed the revision application. Against these orders the present writ petition has been filed.
5. Shri Darda, the learned counsel for the petitioners contended before me that the suit filed was in possession of one Maroti by virtue of an Issarchitti and a mortgage deed. The suit field was never leased out to Balaji. The Batai Patra on which reliance was placed on behalf of the tenant was not proved. He further contended that the authorities below have committed an error in relying upon an admission related to the year 1957-58 and had no relevance to decide the question of Tenancy in the year 1958-59. He further contended that the crop-statements filed by the tenants were able to prove their contractual tenancy by adducting a cogent and reliable evidence. According to the learned counsel, the burden was upon the tenants to prove their tenancy and they have failed to discharge the said burden. In view of this, it was contended by Shri Darda, that the orders passed by the authorities below are not only perverse, but are vitiated by an error apparent on the face of the record. It is not possible for me to accept these contentions.
6. The scope of the power of this court under Art. 227 of the Constitution of India is by now well established. As observed by the Supreme Court in Babhutmal Raichand v. Laxmibai R. Tarde, : AIR1975SC1297 'the High Court cannot, while exercising jurisdiction under Article 227, interfere with findings of fact recorded by the subordinate court' or tribunal. Its function is limited to seeing that the subordinate court or tribunal functions within the limits of the authority. It cannot correct mere errors of fact by examining the evidence and reappreciating it. If an error of fact, even though apparent on the face of the record, cannot be corrected by means of a writ of certiorari it should follow a fortiori that it is not subject to correction by the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 227. The power of superintendence under Article 227 cannot be invoked to correct an error of fact which only a superior court can do in exercise of its statutory power as a court of appeal. The High Court cannot in guise of exercising its jurisdiction under Article 227 convert itself into a court of appeal when the legislature has not conferred a right of appeal and made the decision of the subordinate court or tribunal final on facts. If these principles are kept in view, in my opinion, the concurrent findings of fact recorded by the authorities below are not open for challenge in this writ petition. In para 4 of its order the appellate authority has referred to all the evidence on record. A reference in that behalf has also been made to the admission of petitioner Hanifabi. Even in the evidence in these proceedings Hanifabi has admitted that Maroti and Balaji are brothers and they are living together. Her statement in the earlier proceedings was put to her in the cross-examination and she admitted that it was correctly recorded. Not only this, but in an application filed by the petitioners in the Court of one Shri V. W. Shaha purkar, Naib Tahsildar Wani, which was registered as Revenue Case No. 1/59/(B)/1961-62 the petitioners had admitted that Balaji had cultivated the suit field. The allegation made therein was that though the field was given on Batai to Balaji he had created a sublease in favour of one Sitaram Baba. It is pertinent to note that such a statement was made by the petitioners under their own signatures. In her deposition in the said proceedings also Hanifabi had stated that the said survey number was given to one Balaji Khapne for cultivation. In the cross-examination she had further admitted that Maroti and Balaji were living together and it was Balaji who was coming to her for payment of money. These admissions of the petitioner Hanifabi is a substantive evidence and in my opinion the authorities below were right in relying upon the same. So far as the averments made in the application are concerned, they were duly proved by filing a certified copy on record. So far as her deposition recorded in the earlier proceedings is concerned, attention of witness Hanifabi was drawn to it when she was in the witness-box. As to what is the evidentiary value of the admission in the earlier proceedings was considered by the Supreme Court in Biswanath Prasad v. Dwarka Prasad, : 2SCR124 . In this context the Supreme Court observed as under:
'There is a cardinal distinction between a party who is the author of a prior statement and a witness who is examined and is sought to be discredited by use of his prior statement, in the former case an admission by a party is substantive evidence it fulfils the requirements of Section 21 of the Evidence Act; in the latter case a prior statement is used to discredit the credibility of the witness and does not become substantive evidence. In the former there is no necessary requirement of the statement containing the admission having to be put to the party because it is evidence proprio vigore: in the latter case the Court cannot be invited to disbelieve a witness on the strength of a prior contradictory statement unless it has been put to him, as required by Section 145 of the Evidence Act. This distinction has been clearly brought out in the ruling in Bharat Singh's case : 1SCR606 . This Court disposed of a similar argument with the following observations:
'Admissions are substantive evidence by themselves, in view of Sections 17 and 21 of the Indian Evidence Act, though they are not conclusive proof of the matters admitted. We are of opinion that the admissions duly proved are admissible evidence irrespective of whether the party making them appeared in the witness-box or not and whether that party when appearing as witness was confronted with those statements in case it made a statement contrary to those admissions. The purpose of contradicting the witness under Section 145 of the Evidence Act is very much different from the purpose of proving the admission. Admission is substantive evidence of the fact admitted while a previous statement used to contradict a witness does not become substantive evidence and merely serves the purpose of throwing doubt on the veracity of the witness. What weight is to be attached to an admission made by a party is a matter different from its use as admissible evidence.'
In my opinion, these observations will aptly apply to the present case also.
7. Apart from the admission of petitioner No. 1 Hanifabi in the earlier case, in the present proceedings also there is enough material on record to record a finding that respondent No. 1 Balaji was the tenant of the suit field. There was oral evidence on record in that behalf which was duly supported by the crop-statement. Once it is found that initially in the year 1957-58 the land was given on lease to Balaji, then, in my opinion, the authorities below were right in coming to the conclusion that subsequent documents will not effect his right of tenancy. It was the case of Balaji that he took the land on lease in the year 1957-58 and then cultivated the same during the subsequent years as a lessee, the evidence of the tenant which is duly supported by the documentary evidence on record, including the admission of petitioner No. 1, has been believed and accepted by all the authorities below. As I am in general agreement with the appreciation of the evidence as well as the finding of fact recorded by the authorities below in that behalf, it is not necessary for me to restate the whole evidence or its effect over again.
8. In the result, therefore, there is no substance in this petition. The petition fails and is dismissed with costs.
9. Petition dismissed.