1. As law now stands, who is to decide the question of rival tenancy set up by the parties, whether the Civil Court under its general jurisdiction or the Tribunal in its limited jurisdiction, is the short question for decision in this case. The Tribunal is constituted under the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 (called shortly 'the Act').
2. Before going to the facts, I will set out hereunder the relevant provisions of the Act. Section 133 which has been substituted by Karnataka Ordinance 24 of 1975, provides:
'133. Suits involving issues required to be decided under this Act.- (1) If any suit instituted in any Civil Court involves any issues or questions which are required to be settled, decided or dealt with by the Tribunal or any suit is instituted in any such court for possession of or injunction in respect of any land on the allegation that the defendant has trespassed or is trying to trespass on such land and the defendant denies such allegation and claims that-
(i)such land is an agricultural land;
(ii) he is in possession of such land on the strength of a tenancy existing from prior to first March 1974, then the Civil Court shall stay the suit and refer such issues, questions or claims, as the case may be, to the tribunal for decision.
(2) On receipt of such reference the Tribunal shall deal with and decide such issues, questions or claims in accordance with the provisions of this Act and shall communicate its decision to the Civil Court which has made the reference.
(3) Wherein any suit instituted or proceedings commenced in any court, the defendant makes a claim as is referred to in subsection (1), any order made by such court granting temporary injunction or appointing a receiver shall stand dissolved or vacated, as the case may be, in respect of such land.' Section 48-A(5) provides:
'48-A. Enquiry by the Tribunal, etc.(1) Every person entitled to be registered as an occupant under Section 45 may make an application to the Tribunal in this behalf. Every such application shall, save as provided in this Act, be made on or before the 31st day of December 1974 provided that the Tribunal may, within one year from that date for sufficient cause shown admit an application made beyond six months.
xx xx xx xx (5) Where an objection is filed disputing the validity of the applicant's claim or setting up a rival claim, the Tribunal shall, after enquiry determine, by order, the person entitled to be registered as occupant and pass orders accordingly.'
3. Let me now turn to the facts. Respondent-I filed a suit for injunction claiming tenancy in respect of certain agricultural lands and complaining interference from defendant-3. He said that he was a tenant under one Panduranga Prabhu. Defendant-3 denied that claim and said that he himself was a tenant in possession of the lands, but under one Manjunatha Prabhu. On these rival contentions, the trial Court framed several issues out of which only issue No. 12 is relevant for our purpose it reads:
'whether the chalgeni tenancy set up by the 3rd defendant in respect of the plots in S. Nos. 49/10, 18, 19 and 20 of Palimar village and the chalgeni chit dated 20-5-1951 relied on by him are true and valid?
Defendant-3 filed an application I. A. No.18 requesting the Court to refer the said issue to the Tribunal for determination, but the plaintiff opposed the said application. He said that the rival tenancy pleaded by defendant-3 could be investigated by the civil court and that jurisdiction of the Civil Court is not taken away by the provisions of the Act. The trial Court upheld the plea and dismissed I. A. No. 18.
Hence this revision petition by defendant-3.
4. It seems to me that in a case like this, the civil court should not embark upon an enquiry on the claim of rival tenancy set up by the parties. Section 112 (B) (b) confers exclusive jurisdiction on the Tribunal to decide whether a person is a tenant or not. Section 48-A provides for enquiry by the Tribunal on the application made for occupancy right. Under Section 48-A(5), the Tribunal is required to make an enquiry not only on the objection filed disputing the validity of the applicant's claim, but also on the rival claim set up by any other party. When that power is thus specially conferred on the Tribunal to-adjudicate the rival claims it is difficult to say that the civil court still retains its general jurisdiction to decide the same question. If the Civil Court is held to have that power, it would lead to conflicting decisions on the same question, one by the Tribunal and another by the Civil Court. The decision of the Civil Court would not bind the parties when the Tribunal adjudicates the question for the purpose of granting occupancy rights. I think that it is better that the civil court shall keep such question away.
5. Section 133 also lends support to my above view. It is now wide in its amplitude and covers any such question or claim. It provides that in any suit for injunction in respect of an agricultural land, if the defendant denies the allegations of the plaintiff, and claims that he is in possession of the suit land on the strength of a tenancy existing prior to first March 1974, such issue, question or claim shall be referred to the Tribunal for decision. The question or claim set up by the defendant need not be in respect of the tenancy pleaded by the plaintiff under his alleged landlord like Panduranga Prabhu in the present case. His tenancy claim may be under a third party. Such question also falls within the scope of Section 133 and must be referred to the Tribunal as required there under. Whenever such question is referred, the Tribunal is required under Section 133(2) to decide that question or claim in accordance with the provisions of the Act and shall communicate its decision to the Civil Court which has made the reference. The suit thereafter will have to be disposed of in accordance with the decision of the Tribunal. Section 133(2) is also a source of power to the Tribunal to decide the question of rival tenancy if it is referred to it for determination, by the Civil Court.
6. In the result, the revision petition is allowed, the order under revision is set aside, and the trial Court is directed to refer Issue No. 12 to the Tribunal for determination, while staying the suit till a finding is received from the Tribunal.
7. No costs.
8. Revision allowed.