N.D. Ojha, J.
1. This special appeal arises out of a dispute in regard to plot No. 867 situate in village Silla Vishanpur, Pergana Koil, district Aligarh. When Consolidation proceedings started in the village aforesaid, the plot stood recorded inter alia in the names of the appellant and respondent No. 4. Respondent No. 4 filed an objection asserting that the appellant had no right in the plot and that his name may be expunged. This objection was allowed by the Consolidation Officer, but on appeal by the appellant it was dismissed by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation. On second appeal by respondent No. 4, the Deputy Director of Consolidation set aside the order of the Settlement Officer, Consolidation and restored that of the Consolidation Officer. A revision filed by the appellant was ordered to be dismissed by the Commissioner on the ground that it was not maintainable in view of the amendment of the Consolidation of Holdings Act in 1963. Thereafter, a writ petition was filed by the appellant which was dismissed by a learned Single Judge by his judgment under appeal.
2. Mohammad Ali Khan, Asghar Ali Khan, Mahmood Ali Khan, and Hamid Ali Khan were the co-sharers of the aforesaid plot. The share of Asghar Ali Khan and Mohammad Ali Khan were auctioned in execution of a decree passed in suit No. 182 of 1932 by the Munsif Koil district Aligarh on 7-10-1942. It was purchased by the appellant. In due course, a sale certificate was issued in his name and possession was delivered through Court on 16-10-1943. It is not disputed that the name of the appellant was mutated in revenue records and continued to be recorded therein. As already pointed out, his name was recorded even in the relevant Khatauni when the consolidation proceedings started. The name of the appellant has been ordered to be expunged on the ground that the plot in dispute being agricultural land was not liable to be sold by a civil Court and, consequently, no title passed in favour of the appellant by virtue of the auction referred to above. The Deputy Director of Consolidation, while allowing the second appeal of respondent No. 4, also held that the appellant was not in possession on his own admission.
3. Learned counsel for the appellant made three submissions in support of, the appeal (1) that the notification and the order which had been relied upon by the Deputy Director of Consolidation and by the learned 'Single Judge for holding that the auction was void, having been held by a civil Court, did not apply to the land in question, inasmuch as what was sold was not agricultural land within the meaning of the said notification; (2) that the finding of the Deputy Director of Consolidation in regard to the appellant's possession was in ignorance of the admissions made by respondent No. 4, as also on a misreading of the appellant's statement; and (3) that even if the sale was void, the appellant on account of his being in joint possession for a period of more than twelve years, became a co-sharer on the expiry of twelve years from the date on which he entered possession in execution of the decree passed by the civil Court.
4. In order to appreciate the first submission of counsel for the appellant, it is necessary to refer to the notification of the year 1934. The said notification is as follows:
'No. 576-IA-93 dated 26th March, 1932. In supersession of notification No. 1887-1-238, dated 7th October, 1911, and in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 68, Civil P. C. 1908, the Governor-in-Council is pleased to declare that with effect from 1st April, 1932, the execution of decrees in cases in which the civil Court has ordered any agricultural land situated in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, or any interest in such land to be sold, shall be transferred to the Collector.'
5. It was urged by the counsel for the appellant that Mohammad AH Khan and Asghar AH Khan, whose interest was purchased by the appellant, were only grove holders of the plot in dispute, and were not the proprietors of the land and, as such, what was purchased by the appellant was not agricultural land within the meaning of the aforesaid notification. We are, however, not impressed by this argument. It is not the appellant's case that only trees were purchased by him. His specific case has been that he had purchased the grove, viz., the trees along with the land on which they stood. It is immaterial whether Mohammad Ali Khan and Asghar Ali Khan were proprietors of the land or not. The auction had taken place on 7.10-1942 when the U. P. Tenancy Act was in force. Section 206 of the U. P. Tenancy Act lays down the rights and liabilities of a grove holder. It says that the rights of the grove holder subsist so long as the grove land retains its character as such, and on the land ceasing to be grove land, the holder shall become hereditary tenant of such land. The said section, further authorises a grove holder to replant trees as they are cut or die. The interest of a grove holder has been made transferable by voluntary transfer or execution of a decree of a civil or revenue Court, or otherwise. Section 206 also provided that the interest of a grove holder shall devolve according to the personal law applicable to him. The notification speaks of agricultural land 'or any interest in such land'. Even if the appellant was not a proprietor, he had, in view of Section 206 referred to above, sufficient interest in the land so as to bring it within the purview of agricultural land as envisaged by the aforesaid notification. The first submission of the learned counsel for the appellant, therefore, fails.
6. We, however, find force in the second and third submissions made by him. In paragraph 2 of the Writ Petition it has been averred that possession was delivered to the appellant through Court amin on 16-4-1943, and that respondent No. 4 himself was a witness to the dakhalnama. These facts have not been denied by respondent No. 4 in his counter affidavit. In paragraph 10 of the writ petition it was stated that respondent No. 4 filed a suit dated 2-8-1949 being Suit No. 479 of 1949 in which he admitted the rights and title of the appellant over the land in dispute on the basis of the public auction through which the appellant purchased the share of Mohammad Ali Khan and Asghar Ali Khan. Paragraph 9 of the counter affidavit contains its reply wherein the filing of Suit No. 479 of 1949 stands admitted. What, however, has been stated is that the said suit was for injunction restraining the appellant from cutting away the trees of plot No. 867 in excess of his share. By signing the dakhalnama respondent No. 4 admitted that possession had been delivered to the appellant, and by filing Suit No. 479 of 1949 he admitted, even on his own showing, in the counter affidavit that the appellant had a share at least in the trees and was in possession over it. The Deputy Director of Consolidation has completely ignored these two documents. The finding in regard to the possession of the appellant is contained in a solitary sentence which reads:
'It is worthy of mention that Wasiq Ali Khan has himself admitted that he neither paid any rent, nor irrigated, the land in suit, nor was in possession.'
A copy of the statement of Wasiq AH Khan has been filed as Annexure A-1, to the counter affidavit. From its perusal it appears that he has asserted that he was being given his share of profits by the respondent, and that while paying the profits to him respondent No. 4 used to deduct the rent payable by the appellant for his share. It is true that he has also stated that he himself did not pay the rent or irrigation charges, but in view of the assertion Aforesaid it cannot be inferred from his statement that he admitted himself to be out of possession. The Deputy Director of Consolidation has ignored that part of the statement of the appellant which has been referred to above and his finding is based on a misreading of the said statement. Respondent No. 4 has neither withdrawn his admissions referred to above, nor has he proved them to be erroneous. An admission is the best evidence that an opposing party can rely upon, and though not conclusive, is decisive of the matter unless successfully withdrawn or proved erroneous. See Narain v. Gopal : 1SCR773 . The Deputy Director in recording the finding about possession of the appellant has thus committed a manifest error of law, inasmuch as he not only ignored the admissions of respondent No. 4 and the continuous entries of his name in village papers, but also misread the statement of the appellant. On the material placed before us, we are clearly of the opinion that the appellant entered into joint possession over the plot in dispute on 16-4-1943 when possession was delivered to him through Court amin and continued in such possession till the consolidation proceedings started.
7. We have now to consider the effect of the appellant continuing in joint possession for more than twelve years from the date on which he was delivered possession by the civil Court in execution of the decree passed in Suit No. 182 of 1932; notwithstanding the fact that the sale in favour of the appellant was void in view of the notification referred to above. In Babji v. Jiwaji AIR 1930 Bom 333, it was held that a person given in adoption, but even after adoption treated as a member of the joint family of his birth openly exercising the rights appurtenant to such a position for over twelve years, acquires a title to joint possession by adverse possession. In Punit Mahton v. Kishun Dayal Mahton, AIR 1947 Pat 380, it was held that there can be adverse possession of a share in property, though that share had not been divided by metes and bounds. It was further held that where 'A' a member of a joint Hindu family executes a deed of gift of an undivided one-third share of his property in favour of 'B' and later on A alleges that the transfer being a dead of gift was not a transfer for legal necessity and was therefore, void, the possession which B obtains under the gift deed, though of a share, is quite incompatible with B's exclusive ownership and is adverse to A, and A's claim to one-third share is barred by limitation, and B would acquire a title to the one-third share. In this case reliance has been placed on certain earlier decisions including one of the Privy Council reported in (1901) ILR 24 Mad 387 (PC).
8. If a person comes in possession under an invalid grant, the nature of his possession is adverse; and if he continues in such possession, be acquires title by adverse possession on the expiry of the statutory period. See Collector of Bombay v. Municipal Corporation of the City of Bombay : 1SCR43 ; State of West Bengal v. Dalhousie Institute Society : AIR1970SC1778 and Bharit v. Board of Revenue : AIR1973All201 . In view of the law laid down in the aforesaid authorities we are of opinion that the appellant by virtue of his joint possession which was adverse in nature and which commenced from 16-4-1943 and continued for more than 12 years till the consolidation proceedings started, had become a co-sharer; notwithstanding the fact that the sale in his favour was void, and was entitled to the share over which he was in possession, viz., which was sold to him.
9. In the result, the appeal is allowed, the judgment of the learned Single Judge is set aside, the order of the Deputy Director of Consolidation is quashed and that of the Settlement Officer (Consolidation) restored. The appellant will be entitled to his costs.