A. Narayana Pai, C.J.
1. The petitioner, who was working as a Patwari of Nalwar village in Chittapur Taluk, Gulbarga District, questions the validity of what is described as an order by the Tahsildar terminating his employment as Patwari.
2. It appears that the above order was intended to put the 3rd respondent in the place till then occupied by the petitioner.
3. It is an admitted fact that the petitioner was actually working as Patwari of the village on 1st April 1964 when the Mysore Land Revenue Act came into force. He therefore, contends that he is entitled to continue in office by virtue of Sub-section (2) of Section 16 thereof till another person is appointed by the Deputy Commissioner under Sub-section (1) of Section 16.
4. The answer of the contesting 3rd respondent to this claim is that he was the Pattedar Patwari of the village and that in certain litigation which terminated by an order of the Board of Revenue of Hyderabad dated 8th July 1955 it was decided that both he, the 3rd respondent, and the petitioner were jodi pattedars or joint holders of the patwargiri of the village Nalwar. By the same order the enjoyment thereof by the two was directed to be effected in turns of five years each. It so happens that the previous five years' turn of the 3rd respondent expired on 1963 and the petitioner entered upon his turn of five years.
5. The 3rd respondent therefore contends that not the petitioner alone, but both the petitioner and himself are persons holding that office within the meaning of Sub-section (2) of Section 16 of the Mysore Land Revenue Act and therefore entitled to the deeming provision thereof and thus continue until another person is appointed by the Deputy Commissioner under Sub-section (1).
6. Now, Sub-section (2) of Section 16 reads:--
'Persons holding the office of a Village Accountant for a village or group of villages immediately prior to the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be village Accountants for such village or group of villages till another person is appointed under Sub-section. (1).'
7. Before proceeding to consider these contending views, we may dispose of the contention raised in the counter-affidavit on behalf of the State Government that Patwari is not a Village Accountant at all. That is quite an inaccurate understanding of the situation. Patwari is the term used in Hyderabad for the office which goes by the name of Shanbhogue in Mysore, both of whom do writing work and maintenance of accounts in connection with revenue affairs of a village and therefore are Village Accountants.
8. The only point for consideration therefore is which of the two versions regarding the holding of an office for purposes of Sub-section (2) of Section 16 of the Mysore Land Revenue Act, 1964, is correct.
9. Mr. Murlidhar Rao for the petitioner insists that a person holding office for purposes of Sub-section (2) of Section 16 can be no other than the person actually working or discharging the functions of the office on the date the Act came into force. He relies upon an observation of this Court in the case of Narasimha Murthy v. State of Mysore, (1968) 2 Mys LJ 366 at page 377:--
'It is reasonable to understand the word 'holding' in the expression 'persons holding the office of a Village Accountant for a village or group of villages immediately prior to the commencement of this Act, occurring in Section 16 (2) of the Land Revenue Act, as being wide enough to include all persons actually in that office at the time Including Shanbhouges like the petitioners.'
This sentence does not support the suggestion that the persons holding any office for purposes of Sub-section (2) of Section 16 should necessarily be those who actually discharge the functions of the office. If there are two persons who are jointly entitled to the office, the fact that either on an understanding between them or on an order of the Court they discharge the functions in turns, does not mean that when one person is working the other person loses his character as holder of the office. Indeed in relation to hereditary village offices, the expression 'holder' has always been taken to mean a person who has an interest in a village office according to the law governing the same. That is the actual definition of the 'holder of a village office' or 'holder' given in Clause (g) of Section 2 of the Mysore village Offices Abolition Act. To the said clause there is appended a proviso which reads:--
'Provided that where any village office has been entered in a register or record under an existing law relating to such village office, as held by the whole body of persons having interest in the village office, the whole of such body shall be deemed to be the holder.' In our opinion, this explains why in Section 16 (2) of the Land Revenue Act, plural is used with reference to 'holding' whereas singular is used in relation to 'office'. The expression used, it will be remembered, is - 'Persons holding the office of a Village. Accountant ......'
10. On the language of the section and on the facts as found by the judgment on both the petitioner and the 3rd respondent, we have no doubt in our mind that both of them should be regarded as persons holding the office of the Patwari of the Village Nalwar at the time the Mysore Land Revenue Act, 1964, came into force.
11. Mr. Murlidhar Rao, has however, urged that such an interpretation would be in contravention of the constitutional principle that right to no public office shall be acquired by succession. It is enough to say that when persons who have already acquired that right make an adjustment between them, there is not commenced a series of successions, but what is put through is an arrangement for enjoying the right acquired by succession by plurality of persons.
12. It is also obvious under Section 16 (2) that a single person appointed by the Deputy Commissioner under Sub-section (1) and posted to take possession of the same from whoever is functioning in the office would be sufficient to displace the whole body of persons who may come within the description of a holder of an office on the date of the coming into force of the Mysore Land Revenue Act.
13. On the facts of this case therefore, we have no doubt that there has not been any contravention of either the Constitution or the Land Revenue Act or the Mysore Village Offices Abolition Act, when the petitioner was asked to make way for the 3rd respondent.
14. The Writ Petition is dismissed.