N.U. Beg, J.
1. This judgment governs the following writ petitions:
1. Writ Petition No. 273 of 1960 Mata Prasad v. Mahant Dewakar Bharti and Ors.
2. Writ Petition No. 276 of 1960 Baldeo Singh v. Matiant Dewakar Bharti and Ors.
3. Writ Petition No. 277 of 1960 Dhan Prasad Singh v. Mahant Dewakar Bharti and Ors.
4. Writ Petition No. 278 of I960 Deep Narain Singh v. Mahant Dewakar Bharti and Ors.
As the facts relating to all the aforementioned four cases are identical, Writ Petition No. 273 of 1960 (Mata Prasad v. Mahant Dewakar Bharti and Ors.) shall be treated as the leading case, and the judgment will be given with reference to the facts stated in this Writ Petition. The four petitioners in these writ petitions mentioned above were all opposite parties in an application under Section 232 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act made by opposite party No. 1, namely, Mahant Dewakar Bharti. This application purported tb be one under Section 20/232 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act. It was filed in the Court of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Balrampur on the 24th of December, 1963. It related to certain tenancy plots situate in village Sanda, Pargana and Tahsil Balrampur, District Gonda. In this application opposite party No. 1 alleged that he was in possession of the plots in dispute since before 1356F. and had become the Sirdar of the said plots. In any event he was the Adhivasi of the plots in dispute; he was therefore, entitled to retain possession of the said plots.
This application was contested by Mata Prasad, Baldeo Singh, Dhan Prasad Singh and Deep Narain Singh all of whom figured as opposite parties hi the said application. After a protracted trial and numerous adjournments in the said case, the Court heard final arguments on the 13th of August, 1957. Thereafter there were no less than eight adjournments. On the 13th of August, 1957 the petitioner Mata Prasad attended the Court of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Balrampur who is opposite party No. 2 in the writ petition. On that date the Court fixed 24th of September, 1957 for delivery of judgment. No judgment was, however, delivered in the case on that date, and the case was adjourned for delivery of judgment to another date. In this manner there were four successive adjournments for delivery of judgment. The petitioner attended the Court on all those dates, but no judgment was pronounced on any of those dates. The petitioner last attended the Court on 8-1-1958. The allegation in the writ petition and the affidavit accompanying the same is that on that date the petitioner made a verbal complaint about the frequent adjournments in the case and unnecessary expenses incurred by the petitioner in having unnecessarily to come to the Court for the purpose of hearing the order. Thereafter the parties were assured that they would be informed about the orders as soon as the same were passed by the Court.
Acting on that assurance the petitioner stopped going to the Court believing that he would be informed about the order if and when the same was passed. Thereafter the petitioner never received any information from the Court in respect of the order passed in the case. On the 2nd of June, 1958 for the first time the petitioner learnt that the final older was passed by the trial Court in the case on the 17th of March, 1958. On the same day the Court had also given a direction to the effect that the parties were to be informed about the order. In spite of the aforementioned direction given by the trial Court, no information whatsoever was ever given to the petitioner. The petitioner, however, within a week of the knowledge of the order filed an appeal against the order of the Court dated the 17th of March, 1958. This appeal was heard by the Additional Commissioner who by his order dated the 31st of July, 1958 allowed the appeal, set asidethe order of the trial Court and remanded the case for a fresh decision in the light of the observations made in his judgment. Against the said order of the Additional Commissioner the opposite party No. 1 filed an appeal before the Board of Revenue. The Board, by its order dated the 30th of August, 1960, allowed the second appeal filed before it on the ground that the appeal before the Additional Commissioner was barred by limitation. Dissatisfied with the order of the Board dated the 30th of August, 1960 the petitioner filed the present writ petition in this Court.
2. The first argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner before me is that the order of the Board dated the 30th of August, 1960 is vitiated by an error apparent on the face of the record. In this connection the learned counsel invited my attention to the following observation in the judgment of the Board:
'No explanation has been given in the affidavit dated 7-6-58 why Mata Prasad failed to attend theCourt on 11-2-58 and 17-3-58. As he was at fault, ho was not entitled to condonation of delay under Section 5 L. Act. The lower appellate court was not justified in condoning the delay. The appeal before the learned Additional Commissioner was barred by limitation.'
The learned counsel for the petitioner argued that the above quoted observations made by the Board are based on a misapprehension of the contents of the affidavit as well as of the order passed by the Additional Commissioner. A perusal of the order of the Additional Commissioner, which also refers to the affidavit of the petitioner, shows that the petitioner had given an explanation in his affidavit why he failed to attend the Court on subsequent days. The relevant passage in the judgment of the learned Additional Commissioner runs as follows:
'The appellant (who is the petitioner in the present writ petition) has filed an affidavit to the effect that he had been approaching the Court clerk to find out the order but every time he was told that there was nothing for him to worry and that he would be informed of the orders when passed. There is no reason to disbelieve this affidavit. It was highly objectionable that the judgment was not delivered for more than six months and yet the parties were not informed when the judgment was delivered on 17-3-58.
It would not be reasonable to hold under these circumstances that the appellant was negligent. The appellant has filed an affidavit to the effect that he came to know of the judgment on 2-6-58 and within a week thereof he has filed the appeal. There is nothing on the file to show that the appellant was at all negligent. In fact, it was the fault of the learned lower court that the appellant was not given notice under Order 20, Rule 1 C. P. C. The appeal, therefore, is well within time and there is no question of condonation of delay for which there is also an application of the appellant and if the condonation of delay is at ail required, it is also allowed.'
The dates 11th February, 1958 and 17th of February, 1958 are subsequent to me 8th of January, 1958 when the assurance was held out to the petitioner. The statement in the judgment of the Board to the effect that the petitioner had given no explanation as to why he had failed to attend the Court on the 11th of February 1958, and the 17th of March, 1958, is, therefore, obviously incorrect. It is therefore apparent that the petitioner had given an explanation in his affidavit as to why he had failed to attend the Court on days subsequent to the 8th of January,1958, when the assurance was given to him that he would be informed of the orders when the same were passed, and he should not worry about it This explanation of the petitioner was contained in his affidavit also. It was pressed before the learned Additional Commissioner who believed it. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner, therefore, that there is an obvious error apparent on the face of the record in the judgment of the Board is justified and must be sustained.
3. On behalf of the opposite parties it has been strenuously argued that the error if at all is an error of fact and not of law. In my opinion, a finding of fact given by a Court in the absence of any evidence whatsoever in support of it is by itself an error of law. In the present case the error is of a graver type, because, in the present case there was not merely, absence of evidence, but, on the other hand, there was existence of evidence, to the contrary. I have, therefore, no doubt in my mind that there is an error in the judgment of the Board, and the error is a manifest error of law and the present writ petition deserves to be allowed on mis ground alone.
4. The learned counsel for the petitioner however, adduced further grounds in respect of the writ petition, and pointed out other errors in the judgment of the Board. The learned counsel has argued that the Board further overlooked the fact that the learned Additional Commissioner had also given a finding to the effect that in the present case no question of condonation arises. The view of the learned Additional Commissioner was that the petitioner, having come to know the order for the first time on the 2nd of June, 1958, filed the appeal within a week of the date of the knowledge of the order. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner was that the limitation of thirty days prescribed in Rule 339 (2) of the rules framed under the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act should, in such a case, be deemed to commence from the date of knowledge of the passing of the order.
On the other hand, the argument advanced by the learned counsel for the opposite parties was that Rule 339(2) expressly states that the first appeal shall lie within thirty days of the date of the order. The rule therefore, itself states that the limitation should commence from the date of the order, and thereby excludes the application of the principle that limitation should start from the date of the knowledge of the order. No doubt, according to the strict interpretation of the rule, the limitation should be counted from the date of the order. It can, however, be argued that the date of the order cannot be viewed separately from the date of its communication to the party, the one being interlinked with the other. So far as a party is concerned no order should be deemed to have been passed against him unless the said order is communicated to him. In this connection the learned counsel for the petitioner referred to section 341 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act which lays down that unless otherwise expressly provided by or under the said Act, the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, would apply to proceedings under the said Act. In view of this provision of law the provisions of Order XX, Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, would apply to the present case as well. Order XX, Rule 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure runs as follows:
'The Court, after, the case has been heard shall pronounce judgment in open Court, either at once or, as soon thereafter as may be practicable, on some future day; and when the judgment is to be pronounced on some future day, the Court shall fix a day for that purpose, of which due notice shall be given to the parties or their pleaders.'
In view of the above provision of the law the learned counsel for the petitioner argued that it was incumbent on the Court to give notice to the parties of the date of the pronouncement of its judgment. The present case is a stronger one, because, apart from the statutory provision mentioned above, the party had also been orally assured by the Court that he need not worry by coming to Court repeatedly as notice of the date of the pronouncement of judgment would be issued to him. The party acting on the above assurance ceased to come to the Court. In this situation, the learned Additional Commissioner rightly held that no blame would attach to the party in respect of the ignorance of the date of the order and it was the fault of the trial court that the appellant was not given notice under Order 20, Rule 1, C. P. C. Further, the present case is a stronger one, because, apart from the above assurance, the Court had on the date of passing the order itself given an express direction to the effect that the parties be informed of the date of the order (Fariqain ko hukum ki ittila diya javey) vide order of the Court dated the 17th of March, 1958 which is the date of the order, A copy of the order sheet for the above date is filed as Annexure 4 along with the Rejoinder Affidavit.
Therefore, in the present case, in spite of the provisions of Order 20, Rule 1, and also in spite of the aforesaid direction of the Court to that effect, no intimation was sent to the petitioner conveying the information of the date of the order. The allegation of the opposite party in paragraph 15 of the Counter-affidavit, on the other hand, is that the petitioner and opposite party No. 1 were informed of the various dates which were fixed in the case under section 202 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act for passing of the final order. This is obviously wrong. In fact, the finding given in the judgment of the Board itself falsifies the aforementioned allegation made by the opposite party No. 1 in its counter-affidavit The judgment of the Board on this point contains the following finding:
'The court, however, delivered the judgment and ordered that the parties be informed. There is nothing to show that any information had been sent to either party.'
The learned Additional Commissioner had also given the same finding and it is on the basis of this finding that he was of opinion that the date of the order in the present case should be deemed to be the date when they knowledge of its existence was first brought home to the petitioner. In respect of the above opinion of the learned Additional Commissioner, the learned counsel for the petitioner relied on the principle laid down in Raja Harish Chandra Raj Singh v. Deputy Land Acquisition Officer : 1SCR676 . In this case, their Lordships were dealing with the interpretation of the proviso (b) of Section 18(2) of the Land Acquisition Act (1894) which prescribes a period of six months as limitation from the date of the award for an application of reference to the Collector. The principle laid down by their Lordships is summarised in the first paragraph of head-note (a) as follows:
'Where the rights of a person are affected by any order and limitation is prescribed for the enforcement of the remedy by the person aggrieved against the said order by reference to the making of the said order, the making of the order must mean either actual or constructive communication ofthe said order to the party concerned. So the knowledge of the party affected by the award made by the Collector under Section 12 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, either actual or constructive is an essential requirement of fairplay and natural justice. Therefore the expression 'the date of the award' used in proviso (b) to Section 18(2) of the Act must mean the date when the award is either communicated to the party or is known by him either actually or constructively. It will be unreasonable to construe the words from the date of the Collector's award used in the proviso to Section 18 in a literal or mechanical way.'
It is no doubt true that their Lordships further observed that the award in such a case can also be treated as an offer or tender. They, however, referred to cases under other Acts as well and approved of the said cases which applied the same principle to cases under these Acts. They also observed that if a strict construction is put on the terms of such a statute, it would result in creating the bar of limitation against a party even though the party himself was not to be blamed in the matter. The same result would follow in the present case.
Under the above circumstances I see no reason why the salutary principles laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the above case should not be made applicable to the circumstances of the present case as well. I am, therefore, in agreement with the view taken by the learned Additional Commissioner to the effect that in the circumstances of the present case the limitation should be deemed to commence from the date of the knowledge of the order by the petitioner. In this view of the matter the appeal filed before the Additional Commissioner would be within limitation and no question of condonation of delay would arise. The Board in their judgment completely overlooked this aspect of the matter which was emphasised by the learned Additional Commissioner in his judgment. This is another manifest error of law apparent in the judgment of the Board.
5. Learned counsel for the petitioner urged still another ground of error apparent on the face of the record in the judgment of the Board. The learned counsel invited my attention to the provisions of Section 331(4) of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act to the effect that a second appeal shall lie under the said Act only on the ground specified in Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure from any final order passed in an appeal in the cases referred to therein. Under Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure a second appeal is maintainable only on the ground that the decision of the first appellate court is contrary to law or to some usage having the force of law, or has failed to determine some material issue of law or usage having the force of law or suffers from a substantial error or defect in the procedure provided by the Code or by any other law for the time being in force.
In the present case, the first appellate court had given a clear finding to the effect that the petitioner was not negligent, that he was in fact informed that he need not worry and that the date of the order would be communicated to him. This version of the petitioner was believed by the first appellate court. This was a finding of fact which would not be interfered with by the Board at the stage of second appeal in the absence of any of the aforementioned grounds specified in Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In fact, in the present case the Board did upset the aforesaid finding of fact on a complete misapprehension of the evidence on record. It appears to me that the grievance of the learned counsel for the petitioner in this regardis justified and his argument on this point has also force.
6. In this connection the learned counsel for the petitioner invited my attention to a judgment of a Bench of the Allahabad High Court consisting of Sen and Niamatullah JJ. in the case of Rama Shanker v. Janki Prasad : AIR1931All28 . In this case the learned Judges took the view that where a court below upon consideration of the facts before it and the surrounding circumstances comes to the conclusion that no proper case has been made put for exercising its discretion for extending the period of limitation under Section 5 of the Limitation Act, and dismisses the appeal on that ground, there does not appear to be any point of law involved in the case under Section 100 of the Code of Civil Procedure. This case no doubt dealt with a contrary situation. The general principle laid down in this case would, however, equally apply to a reverse situation as well. This case would lend support to tile argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner. The judgment of the Board, therefore deserves to be quashed on the third ground taken in the writ petition as well.
7. Learned counsel for the petitioner adduced yet another ground in support of his writ petition. It is to the effect that an application by a party under Section 232 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act is maintainable only where the case of a party is that it has been deprived of possession and wants to be put back in possession. In the present case the opposite party No. 1 made the application under Section 232 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act with the allegation that he was already in possession of the property and should be allowed to retain the same. Therefore, on the own allegation of the opposite party No. 1 the application was not maintainable under the aforesaid section and should have been dismissed. This aspect of the matter is also mentioned by the learned Additional Commissioner in his order. Referring to the application of the opposite party No. 1 the learned Additional Commissioner observed as follows:
'In this application, however, there is no allegation of dispossession and, as such, it is a question to be considered whether this application, at all, comes within the purview of Section 232 Z. A. L. R. Act, A clear plea was taken in the lower court regarding con-maintainability of this application but the learned lower court framed no issue and has given no finding. The order under appeal, therefore, is illegal on that account too and cannot be upheld.'
The Board have not referred to this aspect of the petitioner's case at all even though this was a point that was relied on by the learned Additional Commissioner. This may be due to the fact that it was of opinion that the appeal deserved to be dismissed in limine as being barred by limitation. As, however, the Board's order is being upset by me and the question raised in this application might be the subject matter of further consideration by the Revenue Courts, I refrain from expressing any opinion on the merits of the case of the petitioner on this point. In case this point is pressed before them, it will be open to them to give their own independent view in this regard.
8. For the above reasons I am of opinion that this writ petition must succeed.
9. I, accordingly, allow this writ petition and quash the order of the Board dated the 30th of August, 1960, and direct that a writ of certiorari quashing the said order of the Board should be issued. The applicants in the aforementioned writpetitions shall be entitled to their costs against opposite party No. 1.