1. This writ petition has been directed t be posted before a Division Bench on a reference made by Basireddi, J,, When the matter came up before him in the first instance, he came to the conclusion that a question of some importance and which recurs, often, arises for consideration in this case. The learned Judge though that it is necessary to have a clarification or definition of the expression 'revenue account' which occurs in the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Inams (abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (1956) hereinafter referred t as the Inams Abolition Act.
2. The facts that have given rise to this writ petition lie within a narrow compass. In the affidavit filed by the formed it is stated that the village of Korapa formed part of the Zamindari estate of Salur, and that in the distant past a grant was made of a part of the village, and that the area, which was the subject-matter of the grant, constituted a hamlet of the village of Korapa. The portion so granted, was named Krishnapuram. The grant was recognised by the Government and a title deed No.72, dated 22-1-964 was granted after the inquiry by the Inam Commission. The case of the petitioner is that the entries in the inam fair Register as also the Inam Title deed described the inam as Krishnapuram, hamlet of Korapa.
3. The petitioner's predecessor-in-title acquired title to Krishnapuram in the year 1873 by purchase; and since then, the possession thereof has been held by the petitioner and her predecessors It is averred by the petitioner that when disputes arose between the tenants and the inamdar suits for eviction has been filed on several occasions and decrees for eviction were obtained and decrees for eviction were obtained in numerous instances. In those proceedings, the defence raised by the tenancy that they acquired occupancy rights was negatived by the courts and adjudication rested on the basis that Krishnapuram was not an estate within the meaning of the Madras Estates Land Act. The petitioner also referred in the affidavit the decisions under the Madras Act 30 of 1947 and the Madras Act 26 of 1948. Under the latter Act, 26 of 1948l. Under as a result of the suo motu enquiry, that the inam is not an estate. After the commencement of the Inams Abolition Act the Inam Tashildar, Bobili commenced that Krishnapuram constitutes as inam village within the meaning of the Inams Abolition Act. This decision was confirmed on appeal by the Revenue Divisional Officer Parvathipuram. The writ petitioner is based on the ground among others that the tribunals failed to take into account the relevant material. It is urged that he decision rested entire on the alphabetical list of villages. Which according to the petitioner cannot be classified as a revenue account. The decision is based on irreliable date and ignores large volume of evidence which the tribunals were bound to take into account.
4. In the counter-affidavit filed by the 3rd respondent in the writ petitioner it is submitted that the predecessors of the petitioner held only the melwaram interest and that it no time did they hold any larger lager interest in the inam.. It is also stated in the counter-affidavit that Krishnapuram a village e with comes within the definition an inam village under the Inams Abolition Act.
5. The main question that arises for consideration in this writ petitions whether the decision of the Revenue Divisional Officer affirming that of the Inams Tahsildar is in conformity with the provisions of the Act. The contention urged on behalf of the petitioner is that the Tribunal failed to take into account the entire evidence bearing on the control very. The criticism is that the decision is based on a rejection of relevant evidence and solely on the entry in the alphabetical list of villages. Neither all the revenue accounts had been taken into consideration, nor did the tribunal take cognizance of other material which is relevant for the education of the entries in the revenue account. The Revenue Divisional Officer persuade the alphabetical list of village. He is of the view that it clearly shows that Krishnapuram is an inam village. He then proceeded to add:-
'No doubt that the documents submitted by the appellant, the title deed and the Inams B-Statement etc. go to show and in support of their contention that Krishnapuram is a hamlet of Korpara, which is zero-yati village. But in view of the definition of the Act and the limited scope for determining the factors with reference to Government accounts, there is no need for me to go into the details and the origin of the village and documents submitted by the appellant.'
Section 3 of the Inams Abolition Act provides that as soon as may be, after the commencement of the Act, the Tashildar may and determine whether a particular land in his jurisdiction is an inam land, and secondly whether such inam land in Ryotwari., Zamindari or inam village and thirdly whether such an inam land is held by any institution. The Act defines inam village as a Village designated as such in the revenue accounts of the Government and includes a village so designated immediately before it village so designated immediately before It was notified and taken over by the Government under the Madras act 26 of 1948. The functions of the Tahsildar are thereof clear. He has to determine whether a given extent of land comes within the category of inams and whether the land is situate in an inam village. Inn answering the question whether the land is situate in a inam village. In answering the question where, the land is situate in an inam village, the definition contained in Section 2 (d) furnishes the test to be adopted As the determination of the question must be made in relation to the revenue accounts of the Government the connotation of that expression assume great importance in the proceeding prescribed by section 3 of the Inams Abolition Act. The Act does not specify or described the accounts which are deemed relevant or material for the determination of the question. No other statute also has furnished any classification or description of 'revenue accounts'. There are however of few decisions where the connotation of 'revenue accounts' has been considered.
6. In Ramamurthy Sastry v. State of Andhra Pradesh, (1964) 1 Andh WR 307 a decision rendered by one of us, Ekbote, J., it was observed:
'The Manual of village Accountants and that of Taluk Accounts also do not anywhere define or precisely give the idea as to what 'revenue accounts' mean. This expression, however has not only been used in the Act but appears to have now been freely used in several other Acts. It has nowhere been however defined.'
It seems to me clear that not only all the accounts maintained for the revenue Administration both at the village and both at the village and taluk levels touching the question under enquiry will have to be taken into consideration, but the scope of the enquiry regarding the revenue accounts
would have to be from the origin of the grant to the date of its abolition.'
It is therefore clear that the range of Revenue Accounts, from the chronological point of view, extends into the past to the known origin. It is also laid down definitely that the enquiry is not to be limited to revenue accounts of a specified category. The enquriy should be all enbracing and comprehensive and all registers accounts tenants etc., maintained of the land revenue administration constitute the subject-matter of the enquiry.
7. Before adverting to other decisions that defined the meaning of 'revenue accounts' it is not inappropriate to trace the legislative history of the relevant expressions. In the Madras Estates Land Act 1908,' village' was defined to mean any local area situated in or constituting an estate which designated as a village in the revenue accounts and for which revenue accounts are separately maintained by one or more Karnmas. The need for the definition arose because a distinctions recognized and maintained between minor inams and inam villages such as Shortriems, Agraharms and Mokkhas. The later were equated with the Zamindari estates because inam grants comprising an entire village or more then one village were presumed to be grants of land revenue alone. The statute had to furnish the index of the local are that could reasonably be understood to answer the description of 'village' in relation to an inam grant and the determination as to whether a local area was a village was to be done in the light of the date emerging from revenue accounts.
8. The definition of 'village' indicated that a local area for which a revenue village establishment was maintained and for which accounts bearing on the imposition and collection of revenue were separately kept was to be treat ass a village. The Madras Estates Land Act did not specify what accounts could be classified as revenue accounts. That was perhaps because by that date, the expression 'revenue accounts' had in official or legislative terminology, acquired a precise meaning and content, and a formal definition was considered superfluous or inappropriate. From the speech of the Hon'ble Mr. G.S. Forbes introducing the Madras Estates Land Bill, 1905(See pages XX and XXI of appendix 1 of the Commentaries on Estates Land Act, Ramdas, 1915 Edn). it is clear that the expression 'revenue accounts' was intended to have reference primarily to the accounts bearing on the revenue administration built on the nucleus which it was the duty and function of village establishment to maintain. The base of the revenue accounts of the Government is the frame work maintained by the village establishment. On this base was built the fabric of revenue administration and the accounts kept of the higher strata. The preamble to the Karnam Regulation XXIX of 1802 passed on the same day as the permanent settlement Regulation XXV of 1802 emphasize the utility and the importance of the village accounts in words which bear repetition.
'The office of Karnam being still of great importance to the preservation of the rights and property to the preservation of the rights and property of the people, it is expedient to provide for the continuance of that office of an efficient establishment for the purpose of facilitating the decision of suits in courts ............. to procure authentic information and accounts.'
It is worthy of that the registers and accounts were considered a dependable guide for decisions of courts where question bearing on tenure had to be decided.
9. The second of the Regulation enacts that an office of record under a Karnam, shall be established in each village of a District where the land revenue arising from such village ....... may amount to the annual sum of four hundred pagodas or upwards. In the case of smaller villages provisions was made for the discharge of the duties or Karnams office by grouping them together. Section 11 prescribed inter alia, that Karnams shall keep complete registers of the extent of the lands in the village and shall specify the lands exempted from payment of revenue and shall keep true accounts of the gross produce of all lands and the particulars of shares of the landholder and ryot where such share is in vogue. The karnmas are also enjoined upon to enter in their registers the rates and amounts of all fees and 'merass' appropriate to the officer and servants of the village. It is interesting to note that the two expressions 'registers' and 'account; are used in an identical scene while prescribing the duties of Karnmas. The manner of the usage of the two expressions does not denote any differential shades of meaning. The impression one gains is that they were employed as convertible terms and both were alike intended to mean the official records which the Karnams were under an obligation to the Karnams were under an obligation to maintain. No distinction in regard to the denotation or the import of the two words appears to have been made. The expression 'revenue accounts' used in the later day enactments must, therefore be traced to the nucleus of village records, which was in existence even before the permanent settlement of 1802 and must be held to include the official accounts as also the registers which were intended to furnish authentic information for facilitating among other objectives ' the decision of suits in the Courts of judicature'. (See the first section of Regulation XXIV of 1802).
10. The permanent Settlement Regulation makes it obligatory (See section 1) on the Zamindars to support the regular and established number of Karnams in the several villages of their respective Zamindaries. The Karnmas are not liable to be dismissed from their office except by the sentence of a Court of judicature. The Regulation also provides for the choice of a successor when a vacancy occurs in the office of Karnam. The choice should in the first place be made out of the members of the family who are capable of performing the duties of the office. The emphasis was on the continuity of the function by the members of the same family with a view to preserve not only the importance of the office but also to ensure the proper maintenance of registers and as counters.
11. The statues concerning village establishments that came into existence subsequently, also throw some light on the question. The Proprietary Estates 'Village service Act (Act II of 1894) provided by Section 32 that the Board of Revenue may with the approval of the Government, make rules in regard to the duties of the several villages officers and the description and from of accounts and registers to be kept by them. Likewise, the Hereditary Village-offices Act. (Act III of 1985) provided that the Board of Revenue may make rules prescribing the duties of the holders of the village offices and the description and forms of the accounts and registers to be kept by them. The Board of Revenue is also empowered make rules of the custody, production and transfer of the accounts and other record kept by the holders of village officers.
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