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Peyyeti Jagannadha Rao and anr. Vs. Pamarti Venkateswara Rao and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy;Civil
CourtAndhra Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. Petn. Nos. 1626 and 1627 of 1957 and 730 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1960AP49
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 3 and 115; Andhra Tenancy Act, 1956 - Sections 16; Tenancy Laws
AppellantPeyyeti Jagannadha Rao and anr.
RespondentPamarti Venkateswara Rao and ors.
Appellant AdvocateV. Partha Sarathi and ;K. Narasimham, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateP. Rama Rao, ;N.V. Ranga Rao, ;G. Chandra Sekharasastry and ;M. Suryanarayana Murthy, Advs.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
civil - authority of court - sections 3 and 115 of code of civil procedure, 1908 and section 16 of andhra tenancy act, 1956 - whether order passed by revenue divisional officer in appeal against order of tahsildar under section 16 can be revised under section 115 - officer discharging function under section 16 do not fall in category of court - tribunal in question not civil court subject to authority of high court - order of tahsildar and revenue divisional officer can not be revised under section 115. - - 6. in this connection, we will do well to recall the oftquoted remarks of their lordships of the privy council in shell co. there is a very interesting discussion on this aspect of the matter in the judgment of mahajan j. that circumstance does not make them any thing else but..........the learned judges remarked that the superintendence vested in the high court by section 15 of the high courts act could be exercised only over 'courts which are subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the high court.'12. the ruling of a full bench of the madras high court in abdul sattar v. special deputy collector, vizagapatam. ilr 47 mad 357; (air 1924 mad 442) (fb) is also pertinent in this regard. the question there was whether the collector, who refused to made a reference under section 18 of the land acquisition act, was a court subordinate to the high court so as to attract the provisions of section 115 c. p. c., and the full bench answered it in the negative. the learned judges opined that though the collector was acting judicially in deciding whether a reference should be made.....
Judgment:

Chandra Reddy, C.J.

1. In these Civil revision petitions, a preliminary objection is raised as to whether an order passed by the Revenue Divisional Officer in an appeal against the order of the Tahsildar under Section 16 of the Andhra Tenancy, Act (XVIII of 1956) is liable to be revised under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure,

2. It is necessary for us to state the facts that have given rise to these revisions having regard to the nature of the present enquiry. The point that calls for determination depends upon whether the Tahsildar and the Revenue Divisional Officer adjudicating disputes under this Act constitute 'Civil Courts' subordinate to the High Court within the purview of Section 115 Civil Procedure Code.

3. Since the problem has to be tackled with reference to Section 16 of the Andhra Tenancy Act, 1956, it is useful to read it here :

'16 (1) Any dispute arising under this Act between a landlord and a cultivating tenant, including any question relating to the determination of fair rent or the eviction of a cultivating tenant shall on application by the landlord or the cultivating tenant, as the case may be, be decided by the Tahsildar after making an inquiry in the manner prescribed,

(2) Against any order passed by the Tahsildar under Sub-Section (1), an appeal shall He to the Revenue Divisional Officer, within thirty days of the passing of the order; and the decision of the Revenue Divisional Officer on such appeal shall fee final.'

Stress is laid by Sri Narasimham, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, on the provision in the section giving a finality to the decision of the Revenue Divisional Officer, He argues that any Tribunal whose decision is final should be regarded as a Civil Court for purposes of Section 115 C. P. C. He also relied upon Rule 3(6) of the Rules framed by the State Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 19 of the Andhra Tenancy Act, 1956. That rule confers certain powers on the Tahsildar holding an inquiry under the Act, such as the power to summon witnesses and call for production of documents, to examine parties and witnesses on oath and affirmation and reduce into writing statements made by the persons BO examined and to enter upon and inspect any land and do any other act which, in his Opinion, may be necessary for carrying out the provisions, of the Act and the rules framed thereunder.

According to Sri Narasimham, importance should be attached to rule 3(7), which requires the Tahsildar to pronounce every order passed by him in open Court. He argues that the rule making authority could not have meant anything else bat to assimilate the position of a Tahsildar to that of a Civil Court.

4. We do not think that any of these tests propounded by Sri Narasimham are decisive in the matter. The very circumstance that only some of the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code were specifically made applicable to an enquiry by the Tahsildar indicates that he cannot be regarded as a Civil Court. If he were a Court, it would attract all the provisions of the Code and any provision in the Act in that behalf will be a superfluity. Nor could the fact that the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer is invested with finality be decisive. There are several Tribunals whose decisions are declared to be final by the statutes concerned. That does not carry with it the implication that such Tribunals are Civil Courts within the meaning of Section 115 C. P. C. Rule 3(7) also does not carry the matter any further. Its only implication is that the order should be pronounced openly in the presence of all parties.

5. In our opinion, the Tahsildar and the Revenue Divisional Officer on whom certain powers are conferred to decide certain disputes between the landlord and the tenant as indicated in the section, are administrative Tribunals empowered to discharge functions of a quasi-judicial nature. Assuming that the functions that they discharge are judicial in nature, still it is difficult to treat them as civil courts subordinate to the High Court The mere fact that a Tribunal has all the trappings of a Court does not necessarily make it a Court. That is not a conclusive factor.

6. In this connection, we will do well to recall the oftquoted remarks of their Lordships of the Privy Council In Shell Co., of Australia Ltd. v. Federal Commissioner of Taxation, 1931 A. C. 275 at pp. 296 & 297. They are as Follows:

'The authorities are clear to show that there are tribunals with many of the trappings of the Court, which, nevertheless are not Courts in the strict sense of exercising judicial power. It is conceded in the present case that the Commissioner himself exercised no judicial power. The exercise of such power in connection with an assessment commenced, it was said, with the Board of Review, which was in truth a Court. In that connection, it may be useful to enumerate some negative propositions on this subject: (1) A tribunal is not necessarily a Court in this strict sense because it gives a final decision. (2) Nor because it hears witnesses on oath. (3) Nor because two or more contending parties appear before it between whom it has to decide. (4) Nor because ft gives decisions which affect the rights of subjects. (5) Nor because there is an appeal to a Court. (6) Nor b2 because it is a body to which a matter is referred by another body.'

7. Their Lordships held that the Board of Revenue was not a Court. So, even if a Tribunal has many of the attributes of a Court, it could not, nevertheless, be regarded as a Court.

(S) Further, in order to invoke Section 115 C. P. C., it should be established that, in addition to its being a Court, it is a Court, which is Subordinate to the High Court. Section 3 C. P. C., says what Courts are Subordinate to the High Court. It reads:

'For the purposes of this Code, the District Court is subordinate to the High Court, and every Civil Court of a grade inferior to that of a District Court and every Court of Small Causes is subordinate to the High Court and District Court.' It is clear that it is only the hierarchy of courts mentioned therein that are subordinate to the High Court which alone are governed by Section 115 C. P. C.

9. We will now consider the provisions of the Madras Civil Courts Act (III of 1873) which are helpful here. That Act was passed to consolidate and amend the law relating to the Civil Courts of the Madras Presidency subordinate to the High Court. Part II of that Act, which deals with 'Establishment and Constitution of Civil Court', sets out the Courts which are subordinate to the High Court. It is in the light of these provisions that the expression 'Civil Court subordinate to the High Court' has to be construed. Viewed from that angle, the oniy reasonable conclusion is that it is only Courts, which are subject to the authority of the High Court, that should be deemed to be Courts subordinate to the High Court. In Phul Kumari v. State, (S) : AIR1957All495 Desai J.. expressed the opinion that 'subordination' as expressed in Section 3 C. P. C., was 'for the purposes of the Code'', and there would be no justification in bringing in other Courts within the subordination of the High Court, unless there was a statutory provision. The learned Judge said:

'The words 'subordinate Court' in Section 115 must be understood in the sense given to them in Section 3. Otherwise, the words 'for the purposes of this Code' would be rendered useless.' We express our respectful agreement with the principle enunciated by the learned Judge in this case.

10. Our conclusion is reinforced by abundant authority. In Rajah of Mandasa v. Jagannayakulu, AIR 1932 Mad. 612 (FB), a Full Bench of five Judges of the Madras High Court held that a Revenue Officer, making a settlement of rent under Chapter II of the Estates Land Act, was not a Civil Court. The judgment in Manavala Goundan v. Kumarappa Reddy, ILR 30 Mad. 326 Is also of some help in the context of the present enquiry. , There it was laid down that a District Registrar exercising powers in an appeal presented under Section 73 of the Registration Act, was not a 'Court' within the meaning of Section 622 C. P, C., of 1882 (corresponding to Section 115 of the present Code). In the course of his judgment, Subrahmanya Ayyar J., observed as follows:

'The word 'Court' in Section 622 C. P. C. should be understood in its ordinary legal sense, 'a place where justice is judicially administered.'

XX XX XX XXAssuming that the functions which the Registrar exercises in a case such as was before him in the present instance were altogether judicial, that would not warrant the conclusion that his decision was that of a Court.'

The latter case was referred to with approval by a Full Bench of the Madras High Court in Krishnammal v. Krishna lyengar, 15 Ind Cas 652 (Mad).

11. A decision of the Calcutta High Court also is instructive in this behalf. In Uma Charan Mandal v. Midnapur Zamindary Co., Ltd., AIR 1914 Cal 890 (2): 23 Ind Cas 896, the learned Judges expressed the opinion that the proceedings of a Settlement Officer for settlement of fair rent under Section 85 of the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act could not come within the purview of Section 115 C. P. C., as the officer making the settlement was not a Court subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court but was subordinate to the Commissioner. The learned Judges remarked that the superintendence vested in the High Court by Section 15 of the High Courts Act could be exercised only over 'Courts which are subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court.'

12. The ruling of a Full Bench of the Madras High Court in Abdul Sattar v. Special Deputy Collector, Vizagapatam. ILR 47 Mad 357; (AIR 1924 Mad 442) (FB) is also pertinent in this regard. The question there was whether the Collector, who refused to made a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, was a Court Subordinate to the High Court so as to attract the provisions of Section 115 C. P. C., and the Full Bench answered it in the negative. The learned Judges opined that though the Collector was acting judicially in deciding whether a reference should be made under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act or not, it was very doubtful if he sat as a Court and that, at any rate, he was not a Court subordinate to the High Court within the meaning of Section 115 C. P, C. In the course of the judgment, Schwabe C. J., who spoke for the Court, observed thus;

'There is no power of appeal from his decision to any one, either to the District Court or to this Court. There is nothing in the Act to show that he is, in the true sense of the word in any way subordinate to the High Court. As far as Madras is concerned, the Courts recognised are those Courts, which are referred to in various statutes, such as the Madras Civil Courts Act. His Court, if a Court at all must be a Civil Court. The Civil Courts are enumerated in the Civil Courts Act, and the Court of the Collector sitting under the Land Acquisition Act finds no place in that enumeration.'

Applying this ratio decidendi there can be no doubtthat the position of a Tahsildar or a Revenue Divisional Officer discharging functions under Section16 of the Audhra Tenancy Act cannot be equatedto that of a Court, since they do not fall withinthe category of Courts enumerated in the MadrasCivil Courts Act. '

13. A Bench of the Orissa High Court in Jagabandbu Das v. Babaji Jena, : AIR1953Ori274 took the view that a Collector functioning under Section II of the Orissa Tenants Protection Act (III of 1948) which provided that;

'any person aggrieved by an order of the Collector made under this Act may within thirty days from the date of such order, appeal to the prescribed superior Revenue. Authority whose decision thereon shall be final subject to revision by the Board of Revenue'

was not a Court for purposes of Section 115, C. P. C.

14. We may now turn our attention to the pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Bharat Bank Ltd. Delhi v. Employees of Bharat Bank Ltd. Delhi, 1950 S. C. 188 at p 197. The question that called for decision in that case was whether an Industrial Tribunal could come within the purview of Article 136 of the Constitution of India or not. In dealing with that matter, their Lordships went into the question whether an Industrial Tribunal was a Court or not. There is a very interesting discussion on this aspect of the matter in the judgment of Mahajan J., (as he then was). He has pointed out the difference between a Tribunal and a Court and referred [o the characteristics and distinct features of a Court. His Lordship extracted several of the rules governing an enquiry by an Industrial Tribunal and found that the whole procedure adopted is modelled on the Code of Civil Procedure.

Reference was also made to Section 11(3) of the Industrial Disputes Act which, among other things, laid down that every inquiry or investigation by a Tribunal shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of Sections 193 and 228, Penal Code. The learned Judge also adverted to the fact that the Tribunal is deemed to be a Civil Court for certain purposes as laid down in rule 21 of the rules and Section 11 of the Industrial Disputes Act. It was thought that though an Industrial Tribunal had all the necessary attributes of a Court of justice, it had no other function except that of adjudicating on a dispute:

'That circumstance does not make them any thing else but tribunals exercising judicial power of the State though in a degree different from the ordinary Courts and to an extent which is also different from that enjoyed by an ordinary Court of law. They may rightly be described as quasi-judicial bodies because they are out of the hierarchy of the ordinary judicial system......'

This result was reached notwithstanding the fact that the determination of the Tribunal not only affects the freedom of contract and imposes pecuniary liability on the employer or confers pecuniary benefits on the employees but it also involves serious consequences as failure to observe those terms makes a person liable to the penalties laid down in Chapter VI. This ruling furnishes an effective answer to the argument of Sri Narasimham that, whenever a Tribunal decides a dispute between the parties, it should be deemed to be Civil Court subordinate to the High Court.

15. In Waryam Singh v. Amamath, : [1954]1SCR565 the Supreme Court took it for granted that the Rent Controller and the District Judge exercising jurisdiction under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 were Tribunals and not Courts. It is true that that point did not fall to be decided and their Lordships did not purport to give any ruling on that behalf. Further the parties seemed to have proceeded on that foot-fag.

16. In Abboy Reddiar v. Collector of Chingleput, : AIR1952Mad45 decided by one of us, it was held that the decision of a District Judge appointed as an arbitrator under Section 19 of the Defence of India Act (1939) did not fall within the ambit of Section 115 C.P.C. Reference was made therein to an earlier decision of the Madras High Court in which it was laid down that the District and Subordinate Judges appointed under Section 12 of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XV of 1946) to hear appeals against the orders of the Rent Controllers acted as persona designata and not as Courts.

The judgment of a Full. Bench of the Madras High Court Lakshmanan Chettiar v. Kannappar, ILR 50 Madras 121: (AIR 1927 Mad 93) (F. B.) laid down that the Chief Judge of the Presidency Small Causes Court at Madras exercising his revisional powers under rule 4 of the Rules framed by the Governor-General in Council under Madras City Municipal Act, was not a Court for purposes of Section 115 C. P. C.

17. It is thus clear that the consensus of judicial opinion is that it is only Courts that are subject to the authority of the High Court that could answer the description of 'Courts' indicated in Section 115 C. P. C., and that that section would not take in Tribunals empowered to discharge, quasi-judicial functions.

18. We may now refer to two rulings relied on by Sri Narasimham in support of his contention that any Tribunal that decides disputes is a Court. In Sri Ramarao v. Surayanarayanamurthi, : AIR1954Mad340 , Venkatarama Aiyar J., expressed the opinion that the Registrar of Co-operative Societies functioning under the Madras Co-operative Societies Act was a Civil Court within the meaning of that expression in Section 25 of the Madras Debt Conciliation Act. The learned Judge thought that it was unnecessary for the purpose of the case before him to attempt an exhaustive definition of the features which distinguish a Court from a Tribunal, He, however, made these observations:

'The right of the Co-operative Society for the recovery of the amounts lent is a civil right which but for the provisions of the Co-operative Societies Act would have to be brought before a Civil Court. Does it lose that character became the Act constitutes a special authority for its adjudication? The authorities dealing with that claim under the Madras Co-operative Societies Act are exercising the functions of a Civil Court.' The position is not the same here. That apart, it was not laid down by the learned Judge that the Registrar wag a Civil Court subordinate to the High Court within the meming of Section 116 C. P. C. The decision in Rajah of Venkatagin v. Shaik Mahaboob Saheb 1943-2 Mad L J 615: (AIR 1944 Mad 139) does not carry the petitioner very far. The question posed there was whether the Sub-Collector acting under Section 15 (4) of Act IV of 1938 and the District Collector purporting to act under Section 205 of Act I of 1908 were hath acting as Civil Courts and were subject to the revisional jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 115 C. P. C.

Their Lordships answered it in the affirmative, having regard to the fact that both the functionaries were described as Courts in the relevant provisions of the statutes. The learned Judges thought that the subordination contemplated by me Code of Civil Procedure was comprehensive enough to include a Sub-Collector and a district Collector hearing and determining disputes of a civil nature. That ease does not furnish any analogy to this case. It follows that the Tribunals in question are not Civil Courts subordinate to the High Court for purposes of Section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code and as such their orders cannot be revised under that section.

19. Consequently, the revision petitions under Section 115 C. P. C., are incompetent and thepreliminary objection is upheld. However, the petitioners are permitted to convert these petitionsunder Article 227 of the Constitution, providedthey pay the deficit court-fee within two weeks.If the deficit court-fee is paid, these petitions willbe posted before a single Judge.


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