1. This is an application in revision against an order of a learned Magistrate passed under the provisions of Section 133, Criminal P.C. The applicant, Lala Janardan Sarup has recently built a cinema on the edge of the Grand Trunk Road at Muzaffarnagar. In front of the cinema there was a piece of land upon which there have been sheds in existence for a considerable time. After the cinema was built, these sheds were removed and the applicant has built a wall enclosing the cinema. It is alleged on behalf of the Secretary of State through the Public Works Department that the land upon which this wall has been built is Government land, that is, that it is a part of the Grand Trunk Road.
2. It appears that there are municipal drains on both sides of the Grand Trunk Road and this land is on the side of the drain remote from the road itself. Lala Janardan Sarup claimed the land as his property and it is admitted that it has been in his possession for a considerable time. It is alleged by the Public Works Department, as I have already said, that the land is part of the municipal road. The learned Magistrate has gone into the question of the title to the land and relying upon a survey map of the year 1278F has held that the land is the property of the Government.
3. It appears to me that it is not the duty of a Magistrate when acting in accordance with the provisions of Ch. 10, Criminal P.C., to decide questions of title. Under the provisions of Section 139-A it is his duty merely to see that any claim to a piece of land alleged to be a public place or a public way is not frivolous. In the present case Lala Janardan Sarup's claim to the land is supported in some measure by the municipal map which was prepared in the year 1901 and also by the fact that he has been in undisturbed possession of the land for a considerable period. In these circumstances it cannot be said that the claim to the land is not bona fide. I think reliable evidence in the sense in which the term is used in Section 139-A means evidence on which it is possible for a competent Court to place reliance. It does not mean evidence which definitely establishes the title to the land because if that was the meaning of the term it would be unnecessary in any case to refer the matter to the civil Court at all. It was obviously the intention of the legislature that questions of title should not be decided in a summary proceeding by a Magistrate in a criminal Court. I do not think that the order of the learned Magistrate can possibly stand. I therefore set the order aside and direct that proceedings shall be stayed till the existence of a public right in the land has been decided by a competent civil Court.