(1) This revision petition filed by the plaintiff is directed against the judgment and decree of the District Munsif, Srikakulam, given on 27-4-1962. The necessary facts to appreciate the contention raised before me are, that the plaintiff instituted a suit to recover Rs.471-95 nP together with interest for arrears for rent for the year 1959 and for the balance of the 'ambaram' due for 1960 and 1961 from the defendant who was the cultivating tenant of the plaintiff's land.
(2) The principal contention of the defendant was that the plaintiff had filedion for eviction on the ground of default and it was found by the Tenancy Court that the defendant was not a defaulter. That judgment of the Tenancy Court operates as res judicata, I am not concerned with the other contentions raised by the defendant in his written statement as nothing turns upon them in this revision petition. After recording the evidence adduced by the parties, the Additional District Munsif, Srikakulam, although reached the conclusion that the suit amount is due, dismissed the plaintiff's claim on the ground that the judgment of the Tenancy Court in A.T.A. No. 45 of 1960 operates as res judicata. It is this view which is now assailed in this revision petition
(3) It is argued by the learned counsel for the petitioner that whether the cultivating tenant was a defaulter or not was an incidental question before the Tenancy Court. Its decision on such a question, therefore, does not operate as res judicata. In support of this contention he relied upon the following two decisions: Venkataraya v. Louis Souza, AIR 1960 Mys 209 and Venkatachala Odayar v. Ramachandra Odayar, : AIR1961Mad423 .
(4) The contention of the learned counsel for the respondent, however, is that though S. 11 C.P.C. in terms is not applicable to a judgment given by the Tenancy Court of exclusive jurisdiction, the analogous principles of S. 11 will govern and when the Tenancy Court was required to give a decision whether the cultivating tenant was a defaulter or not, its decision falling within its exclusive jurisdiction must operate as res judicata under the general principles of law. He relied upon a passage appearing at page 40 in Raj Lakshmi Dasi v. Banamali Sen, : 4SCR154 .
(5) It cannot be in doubt that where the former Court is a Court of exclusive jurisdiction, matters decided by it will be beyond the competence of a Court trying a subsequent suit, which was no such exclusive jurisdiction. On general principles of res judicata, the decision of the Tenancy Court, which admittedly hII1 jurisdiction, will be conclusive on matters which are exclusively left for its decision under the Act. It is not in such a case necessary that such a Tenancy Court having exclusive jurisdiction should be competent to hear a subsequently filed suit. Under the said general principle even if the Tenancy Court is not competent under the Tenancy Act to grant a decree for rent as is claimed in the present suit, the question in regard to the rent the determination of which if falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tenancy Court, its decision on such a question would undoubtedly operate as res judicata on general principles of res judicata. The following passage from the decision of the Supreme Court is relevant in this context:-
'When a plea of res judicata is founded on general principles of law, all that is necessary to establish is that the Court that heard and decided the former case was a Court that heard and decided the former case was a Court of competent jurisdiction. It does not seem necessary in such cases to further prove that it has jurisdiction to hear the latter suit. A plea of res judicata on general principles can be successfully taken in respect of judgment of Courts of exclusive jurisdiction like revenue courts, land acquisition courts, administrative Courts etc. It is obvious that these courts are not entitled to try a regular suit and they only exercise a special jurisdiction conferred on them by the statute.'
(6) It will thus be plain that a judgment of a Court of exclusive jurisdiction can operate as res judicata only on a matter which that court could exclusively decide.
(7) It cannot be in doubt that if for the purpose of deciding a question which relates to the exclusive jurisdiction, the special Tribunal finds it necessary to decide another matter, that matter does not become a matter of exclusive jurisdiction and any decision on any such matter neither binds the parties, nor can it operate as res judicata.
(8) What is therefore to be seen is whether the [email protected] relating to rent fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tenancy court. If the scheme of the Andhra Tenancy Act, 1956 is kept in view, with particular reference to S. 13 of the Act, it will be plain that the Tenancy Court has been clothed with exclusive jurisdiction to direct the eviction of the tenants on one of the grounds amongst others that the cultivating tenant is a defaulter. In order to determine the main question in such proceedings i.e., whether eviction can be directed or not, it is necessary to find out whether the tenant is a defaulter. Does such a finding on such a question fall within the exclusive jurisdiction the Tenancy Court? In my opinion, it does not. Merely because the Tenancy Court is required to find out whether the tenant is a defaulter or not in order to give substantive relief of eviction, it cannot be said that the Tenancy Court conferees exclusive jurisdiction for determining all disputes in regard to the rent arising between the landlord and the tenant. Whether the tenant is due some rent or not, and if due what is the quantum, all these are questions which are not left by the Act to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tenancy Court. What is has to merely to find out is whether the tenant is a defaulter or not. Its function does not travel beyond that. It is not necessary for the Tenancy Court to find out what amount exactly is due and for what period, nor can it grant decree for any such amount. If it is found that the tenant is a defaulter for some period of the other, that would be enough for the Tenancy Court to direct the eviction. In other words, any determination of the question to default by that tenant is incidental to the granting of main relief of eviction. However necessary a determination of such a question may be, for the purposes of granting or refusing the main relief, it cannot be validly argued that the determination of all questions, relating to the rent fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tenancy Court.
(9) I am supported in this vie& the following two decisions cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner. In AIR 1960 Mys 209 at p. 211 where KS Hedge, J. held:-
'It is difficult to accept the contentions that the decision given by the Assistant Commissioner operates as res judicata in the present case. It cannot be said that the dispute as regards the rate of rent payable was a matter directly in issue in the proceedings before the Assistant Commissioner. It was only an incidental question. Further the Court of the Assistant Commissioner is not competent to grant the relief prayed for in the present suit. It is a court of special jurisdiction having limited powers. Consequently the rule of res judicata does not come up for consideration.'
In : AIR1961Mad423 a Bench of the Madras High Court in similar circumstances held:-
'The decision of the Revenue Court on the question whether a cultivating tenant is in arrears of rent or not, being only incidental to the exercise of its jurisdiction to grant eviction cannot operate as res judicata in a subsequent civil suit between the parties.'
I do not think that the Supreme Court decision referred to above decided anything contrary to what is stated above.
(10) I am thus satisfied that the decision of the Tenancy Court whether the tenant was a defaulter or not is a decision on incidental matters and it does not fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tenancy Court and as such it cannot operate as res judicata on general principles of law. The lower Court, therefore, in my view has erred in holding that the judgment in A.T.A. No. 45 of 1960 operates as res judicata. As stated earlier, it is conceded that S. 11 C.P.C. if applies to the present case, the said decision would undoubtedly not operate as res judicata, because the Tenancy Court was not competent to hear the subsequent suit. Even on general principles of law for the reasons given above, I have no doubt that the said decision does not operate as res judicata. Consequently, the revision petition Houses and the judgment and decree of the Court below is set aside and the plaintiff's suit is decreed with costs of both the courts.
(11) Revision allowed.