1. This is an appeal from an order of remand. The plaintiffs' case is that they have been deprived of their rights by the fraud of the defendants.
2. The question arises out of partition proceedings in the Revenue Court. The allegation is not that the partition proceedings were wrongly decided but that by an improper entry in the papers made through the dishonest intervention of the defendants by a clerk or some official in the administrative department, the effect of the partition has been injuriously to affect the rights of the plaintiffs. The fraud as stated is a remarkably simple and yet an ingenious one. The question was as to the destination of certain trees. If the trees were to go with the land allotted to any particular party, no entry was made in the column provided for remarks, but if the trees were reserved or allotted to some party other than the party who took the land, then an entry was made appropriating the trees to him. The plaintiffs' case is that that entry was made not by the act of the Revenue Court but by the act of the defendants assisted by a dishonest, official. Of course, if that were made out nobody would contend that it ought not to be rectified and it is to be hoped that there is some remedy somewhere to correct faults of that kind. There is dear authority in this Court, namely, the cases reported as Mahadeo Prasad v. Takia Bibi 25 A. 19 ; A.W.N. (1902) 182 and Raghunandan Ahir v. Sheo Nandan Ahir 49 Ind. Cas. 306 ; 17 A.L.J. 97 that an action will lie in the Civil Court to provide a remedy where a person's rights have been infringed by some fraudulent act of the defendant, even although the fraud was one practised upon the Revenue Court, and would affect the result of partition proceedings which are the business of the Revenue Court. On the other hand, there is a Full Bench authority of this Court in Muhammad Sadiq v. Laule Ram 23 A. 291 (F.B.) ; A.W.N. (1901) 86 to the effect that Civil Courts have no jurisdiction to entertain a claim to re-open a partition made in the Revenue Courts. What is the appropriate remedy of a person making such complaint? We think he is not necessarily confined to one remedy. It appears that he might succeed in an application by way of review or some similar application to the Revenue Court itself, although, so far as we can see, it has never been decided by the Revenue Court that it will entertain an application for review, to review its own orders on such matters, and it is no doubt true that the Revenue Courts are neither accustomed to nor are they the most appropriate places for an investigation of a serious matter of that kind. In this particular case the plaintiffs did in fact apply to the Revenue Court and the Revenue Court declined to interfere and with considerable circumspection referred them to another Court, taking care not to inform them what Court it had in its mind. Thereupon the plaintiffs went to another Court, perhaps not unnaturally under the circumstances a criminal one on this occasion, and were there met by the objection that they had not obtained a sanction. It hardly lies in the mouth of the defendants under these circumstances, when the plaintiffs have arrived at last by a process of elimination at the last Court to which they can possibly go, to contend that that Court has no right to entertain the complaint. We think there is nothing to oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in this case and that really we are bound by the authorities, it being clearly understood that the charge of fraud made in the plaint must be proved against the defendants.
3. The Court which decided this question in 25 Allahabad Mahadeo Prasad v. Takia Bibi 25 A. 19 ; A.W.N. (1902) 182 took the somewhat narrow view of refusing to say what the nature of the redress would be. They seemed to think that it would be premature to express any opinion upon that question. We do not share that view. The matter is before us as a matter of principle and there seems no reason why we should not have the courage of our opinions and indicate what the real remedy which the plaintiffs seek is and to which they are entitled, if they establish the facts in their favour. The plaint as drafted no doubt fell somewhat short of what was required when it came to the prayer for relief. We do not think that in a matter which in itself is clearly within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Court, unless the plaintiffs' claim is established, that a mere claim for possession is the appropriate relief, and the first Court itself took that view pointing out that what they wanted was a declaration that certain papers of the Revenue Department had been tampered with and wrong entries surreptitiously made therein. We think the plaintiffs would be well advised to apply to the Trial Court to amend the prayer for the relief from the somewhat general terms contained in Clause B to a definite claim for a declaration that they are entitled (assuming always of course that they establish their case in fact) to have the improper entry in the revenue papers removed, and to be restored to the position in which they were before the entry was made. And farther if they be so entitled on the facts to a declaration that they are entitled to possession of the trees which they claim. Assuming that they succeed, armed with these declarations passed in their favour by a competent Court deciding the matter upon the merits, this could go to the Revenue Officer and, we have no doubt that the Revenue Court over whom of course this Court has no jurisdiction whatever to alter any entry contained in its records, will respect the decree of the Civil Court and act accordingly. The appeal must be dismissed with costs on the higher scale.
4. I concur in the order proposed.