1. This appeal, directed against the order of Bhimiah, J., made in Writ Petition No. 7623 of 1976, arises out of the applications of the appellants for grant of occupancy right in respect of a part of the land comprised in R. S. No. 303/B1 of Ranebeunur. Respondents 2 to 4 were the owners of the said land. The Land Tribunal, Ranebennur, rejected the applications of the appellants, who are brothers and aggrieved by the said order, the appellants approached this Court for relief under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India in Writ Petition No. 7623 of 1976, which came up for preliminary hearing before Bhimiah, J. The learned Single Judge rejected the Writ Petition at that stage itself. This appeal is directed against the said order.
2. We heard the learned counsel on both sides. The ground urged by Sri V. S. Gunjal, learned Counsel for the appellants is that the order of the Tribunal, is not a speaking order and that the Tribunal has not given reasons for the conclusion it has reached, viz., that the laad in question does not come within the definition of the word 'land' as defined in Section 2(a)(18) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, hereinafter referred to as the Act. Sri M. Rama Bhat, learned counsel for the contesting respondents, contended that the Tribunal has rejected the applications of the appellants on two grounds and not on one ground. According to the learned counsel, the first ground on which the applications have been rejected is that the appellants were not cultivating the land personally as is the requirement under Section 45 of the Act.
3. We have perused the order of the Tribunal. The Tribunal has given the summary of the respective contentions of the parries The contention of the land-holders was that the laud in question is not land' coming within the purview of the Act, as it is not used for agricultural purposes, but, on the contra, it was a house site. They denied the alleged tenancy claimed by the appellants. The appellants alleged that the land in question is agricultural land and that they were cultivating it for the past several years
4. The statement of appellant-1 was recorded by the Tribunal. On behalf of the owners, respondent-4 was examined. The relevant portion of the order of the Tribunal after referring to the summary of the respective contentions of the parties, reads thus; (Original in canarese omitted--Ed.) Section 2(a)(18) of the Act defines the word 'land' thus:
' 'land' means agricultural land, that is to say, land which is used or capable of being used for agricultural purposes or purposes subservient thereto and includes horticultural land, forest land, garden land, pasture land, plantation and tope but does not include house-site or land used exclusively for non-agricultural purposes'.
Chapter-III of the Act, which provides for vesting of 'tenanted lands' in the State Government and conferment of ownership on tenants, applies only to land as defined in Section 2(a)(18) of the Act. The land in question is situated within the municipal limits of Ranebennur Municipality. The Act does not exclude from its purview land situated within the limits of Municipalities or Corporations, if the land comes within the definition of the word 'land' as defined under Section 2(a)(18) of the Act.
5. When an application is made before the Tribunal for grant of occupancy riphtl under Chapter-III of the Act, the Tahsilclar, who is the Secretary of the Tribunal, has to verify the correctness of the particulars mentioned in the application filed in Form-7 with reference to the entries in the Revenue records. If according to the revenue records, the land applied for is a house-site or converted land for non-agricultural purposes, prima facie, the Tribunal will have no jurisdiction over the subject-matter. But, if the land is not shown as house-site or as land converted for non-agricultural purposes, then the Tribunal has to decide the question, where a contention is raised by the land-holder that it is not land coming within the definition of Section 2(a)(18) of the Act, whether the land is agricultural land which is used or capable of being used for agricultural purposes or purposes subservient thereto. In order to come within the scope of the said definition, it is not necessary that the land should have been used for agricultural purposes, but, it is sufficient if it is capable of being used for agricultural purposes. It has to be noted that the Act is an enactment made to settle agrarian relations in the State of Karnataka. If the land is not agricultural land, no question of any agrarian relationship would arise. Where there is dispute between the parties whether any land is or is not an agricultural land coming within the purview of the Act, that question should be decided by the Tribunal as a jurisdictional fact If the Tribunal comes to the conclusion on the basis of the material before it, that it is not an agricultural land coming within the purview of the Act, then it will have no jurisdiction to proceed further. If, on the contra, it comes to the conclusion that it is an agricultural land, that decision, being a jurisdictional fact, is open to review by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, As that adjudication is not conclusive since it relates to a jurisdictional fact, this Court is entitled to scrutinise the evidence, on the basis of which the adjudication is based. The Tribunal has nowhere held that the land in question is not capable of being used for agricultural purposes. It has said that it has not been used for agricultural purposes. If it had held that the land is not capable of being used for agricultural purposes, and had given reasons, its finding on the jurisdictional fact that the land in question does not come within the purview of the Act, could have been supported. The Tribunal has not rejected the applications of the appellants on two grounds, but only on one ground viz. that the land does not come within the definition of Section 2(a)(18) of the Act. To support that conclusion it has stated that on a perusal of the pahanies, it is seen that the land has been fallow. Apparently, the Tribunal has not looked into the definition of the word 'land' in Section 2(a)(18) of the Act. It has not considered whether the land in question is or is not capable of being used for agricultural purposes. It has not also considered the contention raised by the owners whether the land is merely a house-site. The mere subjective satisfaction of the Tribunal, is not sufficient as has been laid down by this Court in several decisions. The decisions of the Tribunals are subject to review by this Court and therefore, any conclusion reached by the Tribunals, should be supported by reasons and those reasons should bo based on the scrutiny of the material on record and the evidence adduced by the parties. In our opinion, the impugned order o.f the Tribunal cannot be considered as a speaking order. It is void in law.
6. The learned Single Judges observation that there is a finding of the Tribunal that the land was used as a thrashing floor, is patently erroneous. Learned counsel on both sides submitted that the Tribunal has not given any such finding. The learned Single Judge has not considered whether the order of the Tribunal is a speaking order.
7. For the reasons stated above, we allow this appeal and reversing the order of the learned Single Judge, allow the writ petition and quash the order of the Tribunal dated 12-8-1976, and remit the matter back to the Tribunal for adjudication afresh. When the matter goes back to the Tribunal, it has to, at the very out-set, decide whether or not the land claimed by the appellants is 'land' falling within the definition of the land under the Act. If it comes to the conclusion that it is 'land' within the purview of the Act, then it has to decide the further question whether the land is tenanted land which has vested under Section 44 of the Aet and tte appellants are the persons entitled to claim occupancy right under Section 45 of the Act.
8. R. S. No. 303/B1, it was submitted by both sides, measures 1 acre 6 guntas, out of which the appellants claimed only 26 guntas. They have not demarcated the portion of the land claimed by them by giving boundaries. The notice issued to the landowners does not demarcate the land. Before the Tribunal proceeds in the matter, the appellants should demarcate the portion of the land claimed by them by giving correct boundaries. Thereafter, the Tribunal has to issue fresh notice in Form-9 demarcating the laud claimed by the appellants. If the appellants fail to demarcate the portion ol the land claimed by them within six weeks from the date of receipt of this order by the Tribunal, the appellants' applications shall be rejected for non-compliance with the order of this Court. Parries to bear their own costs. Ordered accordingly.
9. Appeal allowed.