Krishna Rao, J.
1. This appeal is filed against the order of our learned brother Chinnappa Reddy, J., dismissing Writ Petition No. 310 of 1967.
2. The writ Petition is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India to quash an order of the Revenue Divisional Officer, Narasaraopet dismissing an application filed by the petitioners to excuse the delay in filing an appeal before him under the provisions of the Andhra Inams Abolition Act, hereinafter referred to as 'the Act', and in the alternative to quash the patta issued by the Inams Tahsildar on 24-8-1966.
3. The dispute is as regards certain service Inam lands bearing S. No. 52 about Ac. 5-77 cents in extent, T. D. No. 1114, situate in the village Pasumarru. An enquiry under Section 3 (1) of the Andhra Inams Abolition Act, 1956 was conducted, as a result of which it was held that the Inam lands belong to individuals situated in a ryotwari village The decision under Section 3 was duly published on 30-10-1961.
4. Therefore Respondents 2 and 3 in the Writ Petition, hereinafter referred to 'as respondent'. filed applications for the grant of a ryotwari patta. In pursuance of these applications a notice was issued to them fixing a date of hearing. It is stated that at the hearing the respondents and the village Karnam and some others were examined in support of the respondents' clam for obtaining a patta. On the basis of this enquiry a patta was issued under Section 7 in favour of the respondents.
5. Subsequently in a dispute between the petitioners and the respondents in criminal cases regarding possession, the respondents produced the patta granted in their favour. The petitioners at once applied for a certified copy of the order under Section 7 of the Act; but they received an endorsement stating that there were no proceedings under the said section. But they where given a copy of the patta issued in favour of the respondents. The petitioners thereupon filed an appeal before the Revenue Divisional Officer with an application to excuses the delay in filing the appeal stating that they had no notice of the enquiry under Section 7 of the Act and that they knew about the issue of patta only when it was produced by the respondents in the criminal case. The application to condone the delay was dismissed. Aggrieved by this order, the petitioners filed the above writ petitioning this Court seeing to quash the order of the appellate authority as will as the issue of patta by the Tahsildar.
6. The learned Judge dismissed the Writ Petition holding that he is not prepared to interfere with the discretion exercised by the Revenue Divisional Officer in refusing to condone the delay. In this appeal we have called for the entire record and on a scrutiny of the same we find that though some statements were recorded under Section 7 of the Act, no order was passed by the Tahsildar as contemplated therein. The file only shows the following order:-------
'for orders whether pattas may be prepared . . . . . . . . . . . . put up the Act . . . .. . . . . . . Act put up. Issue patta. 24-8-66'
7. A perusal of the provisions of Section 7 sub-clause (1) of the Act shows that the Tahsildar should either suo motu or on application filed before him, serve notices on persons interested in the grant of ryotwari patta. After giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard and examining all the relevant records, the Tahsildar should determine the persons entitled to ryotwari patta in accordance with the provisions of Section 4 and grant them ryotwari patta in the prescribed form. There can be no doubt that these provisions envisage a quasi-judicial enquiry to be conducted by the Inams Tahsildar. A similar view was expressed by Ramachandra Rao, J., in Writ Petition No. 4928, dated 17-3-1970. sub-Clause (2) of Section 7 provides an appeal against the said order before the Revenue 'divisional Officer. Under the relevant rulers an authenticated copy of such order should be filed along with the Memorandum of Appeal. The procedure indicated under Section 7 involves the following stages;------
(1) Issue of notices to interested persons.
(2) A determine of the persons entitled to the patta, and
(3) The grant of a patta in favour of such persons.
The record discloses that no such order determining the persons entitled to ryotwari patta was at all passed by the Tahsildar. There was, therefore, no order on the basis of which the petitioners could have appealed even assuming that they were bound to file an appeal.
8. The learned Counsel for the respondents contended that the petitioners never took part in the enquiry under Section 3 of the Act and that they are therefore not persons interested and entitled to a notice of enquiry under Section 7. In other words, it is urged, the words 'persons interested' occurring in sub-clause (1) of Section 7 have reference only to the persons who appeared at the enquiry under Section 3. According to the respondents they appeared at the enquiry under Section 3 and notices were issued to them about the date of enquiry and that there was no duty on the part of the Tahsildar to issue notices to anyone else. We are unable to accede to this extreme contention. Rule 5 sub-cl. (2) of the Rulers framed under the Inams Abolition Act clearly lays down that the notice referred to in sub-section (1) of Section 7 shall be served not only on the persons who applied for the grant of a patta, but also on all other persons interested. This clearly contemplated that there was a duty on the Tahsildar to issue notice of the said enquiry to all persons interested. There is no definition of the word 'persons interested' under the Act or the Rules. In the context of the enquiry under Section 7 read with Section 4 of the Act, it is enough for the purpose of our case to hold that persons in possession of the property are certainly 'persons interested', in an enquiry as to who is entitled to the grant of a ryotwari patta. It is stated in the affidavit filed in support of the Writ Petition that the petitioners are in actual possession of the lands paying taxes to the Government and that their names could be easily ascertained from the revenue records. The case of the petitioners is that the respondents, in collusion with the Karnam, managed to obtain the patta behind the back of the petitioners. We have scrutinized the certified copies of the revenue records produced before us by the learned counsel for the petitioners and we are satisfied that the petitioners are certainly persons interested, entitled to notice under Section 7 of the Act. We have also pointed out that the Tahsildar has not passed any order, that is to say, an order containing reasons as to who is entitled to a patta. The issuance of the patta in a pro forma only embodied the result of the decision contemplated under Section 7 (1).
9. The learned Counsel for the respondents, however, argued that Section 7 (1) does not contemplate the passing of a written order. We cannot agree with this contention. When once an appeal is provided against the said order it follows that the Tahsildar should pass a speaking order, so that the appellate authority may be in a position to examine the correctness of the said order. The word 'determination' occurring in Section 7 (1) of the Act means nothing more than to decide and to express in writing the decision arrived at as a result of the enquiry. It is, therefore, apparent from a perusal of the record that no order contemplated by Section 7 (1) of the Act was passed by the Tahsildar. Hence any ryotwari patta issued in the absence of such an order cannot stand under law. We find that this is a fit case in which the appellate authority should have excused the delay and allowed the appeal directing the Tahsildar to conduct a regular enquiry followed by an order determining the persons entitled to a ryotwari patta. But instead of sending the matter to the appellate authority, we think the proper course is to direct the Inams Tahsildar himself to conduct the enquiry afresh after giving notice to the petitioners as well as respondents 2 and 3 fixing a date for the enquiry. The Tahsildar is directed to hear the parties and examine and witnesses on behalf of the parties. He is also directed to scrutinise all the relevant records including the Inam fair Register and the Inam-B-Register in order to determine the person or persons entitled to ryotwari patta.
10. We, therefore, allow this appeal and the Writ Petition and quash the patta dated 24-8-1966 issued by the Tahsildar in favour of the 2nd Respondent. The Writ Appeal is accordingly allowed, but we direct the parties to bear their own costs in this appeal as well as in the writ petition.
11. Appeal allowed.