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Seetharamiah Vs. Land Tribunal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtKarnataka High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.A. No. 1063 of 1980 etc.
Judge
Reported inILR1985KAR975
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Karnataka Land Reforms Rules - Rule 17; Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964 - Sections 34
AppellantSeetharamiah
RespondentLand Tribunal
Appellant AdvocateU.L. Narayana Rao, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.V. Jagannath, Govt. Adv. for R-1 and 6 and ;N.P. Moganna, Adv. R-2 and R-5
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Excerpt:
.....and likelihood of miscarriage of justice -- even where evidence is not recorded by chairman of land tribunal court may decline to interfere if there is no failure of justice.;land tribunal passed the order after affording adequate opportunity to the parties to adduce evidence and after considering the contentions urged and the oral and documentary evidence elaborately. in the writ petition, it was contended that the statements of witnesses have not been recorded in the hand of the chairman vitiating the order. rejecting this contention on the grounds that the assertion is vague and no objection was taken before the tribunal and there is no case made out on merits the findings having been recorded as per law the writ petition was dismissed. in appeal.;parties invoking the..........parties invoking the jurisdiction of this court under article 226 challenging the orders of the landtribunal have to bear in mind that the jurisdiction they invoke is a discretionary jurisdiction. the party has no right as in the case of an appeal. the jurisdiction of this court under article 226 has to be exercised for advancing the cause of justice and not for the mere purpose of upholdingtechnicalities. assuming in a given case both the contesting parties admit that the summary of the evidence recorded by the tribunal is truthful and accurate, can it be said thatthis court is still bound to interfere merely on the ground that the summary of the evidence was not recorded by the chair-man but was recorded in his presence by one of the members of the tribunal or by a member of the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Malimath, C.J.

1. The appellants had presented applications under Section 48-A of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act,), to the Land Tribunal for grant of occupancy rights in their favour in respect of certain lands. The Land Tribunal having rejected their applications,the appellants challenged the order of the Tribunal in Writ Petitions Nos. 4891,15819 and 15819 and 15820/79. The Learned Single Judge, by a common order madeon 15-7-1980, dismissed the said Writ Petitions. Hence these appeals.

2. The Land Tribunal has, after elaborately considering the oral and documentary evidence produced by the parties, written a well considered order dealing with all thecontentions urged by the rival parties. The Land Tribunal had given ample opportunity to all the parties of adducing evidence in support of their respective cases. The Learned Single Judge after carefully considering all the contentions has rightly come to the conclusion that on merits there is no case made out by the appellants calling for interference with the order of the Land Tribunal. As the Land Tribunal has recorded satisfactory findings on proper consideration of all the relevant material after giving an opportunity to all the parties of adducing evidence, it is not possible to interfere with the findings recorded by the Tribunal.

3. It was, however, contended by Sri U. L. Narayana Rao, Learned Counsel for the appellants, that thestatements of the witnesses examined before the Land Tribunal have not been recorded in the hand of the Chair-man and that therefore the entire order of the Land Tribunal stands vitiated. Some contention was urged before the Learned Single Judge, and the Learned Single Judge rejected that contention observing that the assertion of the appellants in this behalf is vague and that noobjection in this behalf was taken before the Land Tribunal. Sri Narayana Rao invited our attention to paragraph-3 of the Writ Petition wherein the averments bearing on this point have been made. It is stated therein that it is now well settled that the evidence of the parties and the witnesses ought to be recorded in the hand of the Chairman and not by a clerk or any member of the Tribunal. It is further stated that the evidence of the witnesses was not recorded in thehand of the chairman as contemplated by Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act. It is also stated that the recording of the evidence in this manner has greatlyprejudiced the case of the appellants inasmuch as what exactly the appellants and their witnesses stated before the Tribunal has not been faithfully recorded. The averments made by the appellants have been denied in the statement of objections riled by Respondents? to 5 who have asserted that therecording of the evidence has been done in accordance with law. Sri Narayana Rao further relied upon a Division Bench decision of this Court reported in Byrappa -v.- State of Karnataka, 1981-2 Kar. L J. 1= ILR (Karnataka) 1981(2) 723, in which it is held that having regard to the requirements of Rule 17 of the Rules framed under the Act. the summary of the evidence in an enquiry before theTribunal should be recorded by its Chairman and this is mandatory and that any breach of this requirement vitiates the proceedings before the Tribunal.

4. it is necessary to point out that the appellants have not stated as to who actually recorded the statements of the parties and their witnesses in this case. It is not the case of the appellants that the recording was not made to thedictation of the Chairman. Nothing is stated as to what was actually done in this behalf. No objection was raised at the time of recording of the depositions before the Tribunal, to the recording of the summary of the evidence by a person other than the Chairman of the Tribunal. Rule 17(1) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Rules, 1974, provides that the Tribunal shall in respect of applications made to it follow the same procedure as specified for a summary enquiry under Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, subject to the condition that the records of the proceedings shall be maintained in a language understood by all its members. Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act prescribes the procedure to be followed for summary enquiry, and it provides that where a summary enquiry is prescribed for determination of any question by or under the said Act or any law for the time being in force, the officer conducting inquiry shall himself, as such inquiry proceeds, record in his own hand, in Kannada or in English or in any other language of the taluk or village as declared by StateGovernment, the summary of the evidence and a minute of the proceedings containing the material averment made by the parties interested, the decision and the reasons for the same. It is having regard to these provisions that have been made applicable to enquiries to be held in the matter of granting occupancy rights under the Act that the Division Bench of this Court has held in Byrappa's case that it is obligatory on the part of the Chairman of the Tribunal to record in his own hand in Kannada or in English or in any other language of the taluk or village as declared by State Government the summary of the evidence. We are in respectful agreement with the view taken by the Division Bench that the law requires that the recording of the summary of the evidence should be in the hand of the Chairman.

5. The question for consideration, however, is as to whether this Court functioning under Article 226 of theConstitution of India must in every case quash the order of the Land Tribunal merely on the ground that the recording of the depositions was not made in the hand of the Chairman himself. Parties invoking the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 challenging the orders of the LandTribunal have to bear in mind that the jurisdiction they invoke is a discretionary jurisdiction. The party has no right as in the case of an appeal. The jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 has to be exercised for advancing the cause of justice and not for the mere purpose of upholdingtechnicalities. Assuming in a given case both the contesting parties admit that the summary of the evidence recorded by the Tribunal is truthful and accurate, can it be said thatthis Court is still bound to interfere merely on the ground that the summary of the evidence was not recorded by the Chair-man but was recorded in his presence by one of the members of the Tribunal or by a member of the staff of the Tribunal Let us also take a case where for one reason or the other the Chairman of the Tribunal is not in a position to write down the deposition of the parties and therefore dictates the summary of the deposition either to a member of theTribunal or to a member of the staff of the Tribunal who records the same accurately. In such an event, would this Court be justified in interfering merely on the ground that therecording of the summary of the evidence has not been made in the hand of the Chairman himself. The Supreme Court has said in G. Veerappa Pillaa-v.- Raman and Raman Ltd., : [1952]1SCR583

'Such writs as are referred to in Article 226 are obviously intended to enable the High Court to issue the in grave cases where thesubordinate Tribunals or bodies or officers act wholly without jurisdiction or in excess of' it, or in violation of the principles of natural justice, or refuse to exercise a jurisdiction vested in them, or there is an error apparent on the face of the record, and such act, omission, error or excess has resulted in manifest injustice.'

It is therefore well settled that the High Court has power to refuse to issue writs under Article 226 of the Constitution if it was satisfied that there was no failure of justice. If we are satisfied that no prejudice whatsoever is caused to the parties, even though the summary of the evidence has not been recorded by the Chairman we may decline to interfere there being no failure of justice. The question as to whether this Court should interfere with the order of the Land Tribunal, must, in our opinion, be guided by considerations ofprejudice and likelihood of miscarriage of justice.

6. In this case, apart from vaguely stating that the summary of the evidence has not been recorded faithfully by the Chairman in his own hand, no other particulars have been furnished by the appellants in their respective Writ Petitions. It is not stated as to who actually recorded the depositions. The records however disclose that all the statements were recorded before the Chairman himself as there is a note to that effect duly signed by the Chairman at the bottom of each of the statements. There is no averment in the Writ Petitions to the effect that any particularstatement in the deposition of any of the witnesses recorded during the course of the enquiry does not represent the true state of affairs. The appellants have not stated as to which statement has been wrongly recorded. If what is recorded by a person other than the Chairman is in accordance with the dictation of the Chairman himself, the recording of such statements must, in our opinion, be regarded as made by the Chairman himself as contemplated by Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act read with Rule 17 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Rules. In this case we aresatisfied having regard to the nature of the averments and the records that what has been recorded as the summary of the evidence of the respective witnesses before the Chairman is not incorrect or inaccurate. The alleged error in the matter of recording depositions has not, in our opinion, resulted in miscarriage of justice. Therefore, these are not fit cases for interference. We must also bear in mind that almost a decade has elapsed without the proceedings reaching the stage of finality. The first order of the Land Tribunal was made in the year 1975 which came to be quashed by this Court whereupon the matters were remitted for freshdisposal. It is after remand that the second order was made by the Tribunal which was the subject matter of the WritPetitions before the Learned Single Judge. A further remand in this case having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, in our opinion, does not in any way advance the cause of justice.

7. For the reasons stated above, we are of opinion that these are not fit cases for interference under Article 226 and that the Learned Single Judge has rightly dismissed the Writ Petitions. Hence all these appeals fail and are dismissed. No costs.

8. An oral request was made for grant of certificate of fitness in this cases. As in our opinion no substantialquestion of law of general importance which needs to be decided by the Supreme Court arises for consideration in these cases, we refuse to grant the certificate prayed for.


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