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Vijaysingh and anr. Vs. Competent Authority, Sub-divisional Officer, Tarana - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtMadhya Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 75 of 1970
Judge
Reported inAIR1978MP72
ActsMadhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960 - Sections 11, 11(3), 11(4), 11(5) and 46; Limitation Act, 1963 - Sections 5, 29 and 29(2)
AppellantVijaysingh and anr.
RespondentCompetent Authority, Sub-divisional Officer, Tarana
Appellant AdvocateW.Y. Pandey, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateS.R. Joshi, G.A.
Cases ReferredIn Ramgopal v. Chetu
Excerpt:
- - the trial court as well as the lower appellate court held that civil court had no jurisdiction in view of the provisions contained in sub-section (4) of section 11; therefore, a second appeal was preferred to this court. 5. section 11, sub-sections (3), (4) and (5) to which reference has been made earlier clearly go to show that questions of title cannot be decided by the competent authority conclusively. this clearly goes to show that so far as the decision on the question of title is concerned the competent authority is not vested with jurisdiction to decide the matter finally......appellants. a draft statement was notified as contemplated in sub-section (3) of section 11 by the competent authority. no objection to the draft statement had been made on behalf of the appellants within thirty days as provided for in that sub-section; but an objection petition was filed after the period of thirty days. this petition was rejected by the competent authority on the short ground that it was filed beyond the period prescribed under sub-section (3) of section 11 of the ceiling act and that section 5 of the limitation act 1963 was not applicable to an objection petition under sub-section (3) of section 11 of the ceiling act. aggrieved thereby the plaintiff appellants filed a suit before the civil court agitating certain questions of title and also challenging the order passed.....
Judgment:

Oza, J.

1. This reference has been made by a learned single Judge of this Court and the questions that are referred to us are:

(1) Whether the Civil Court has jurisdiction to entertain a suit independently of Sub-section (4) of Section 11 of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act 1960?

(2) Whether for preferring an objection under Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act 1960, Section 5 of the Limitation Act would be applicable in view of the provisions contained in Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act (No. 36 of 1963)?

2. The facts giving rise to the present reference in brief are that proceedings under Section 11 of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act 1960 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Ceiling Act') were initiated against the appellants. A draft statement was notified as contemplated in Sub-section (3) of Section 11 by the Competent Authority. No objection to the draft statement had been made on behalf of the appellants within thirty days as provided for in that sub-section; but an objection petition was filed after the period of thirty days. This petition was rejected by the Competent Authority on the short ground that it was filed beyond the period prescribed under Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Ceiling Act and that Section 5 of the Limitation Act 1963 was not applicable to an objection petition under Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Ceiling Act. Aggrieved thereby the plaintiff appellants filed a suit before the Civil Court agitating certain questions of title and also challenging the order passed by the Competent Authority. The trial Court as well as the lower Appellate Court held that Civil Court had no jurisdiction in view of the provisions contained in Sub-section (4) of Section 11; therefore, a second appeal was preferred to this Court. The learned single Judge of this Court by his order dated 17-7-1970 felt that the two questions mentioned above being questions of law of general importance should be decided by a larger Bench and referred the matter to Hon'ble the Chief Justice for constituting a Larger Bench. Consequently, the matter has been placed before us.

3. Section 11 of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act 1960 reads:

'11. Preparation of statement of land held in excess of the ceiling area-- (1) On the basis of information given in the return under Section 9 or the information obtained by the competent authority under Section 10, the said authority shall after making such enquiry as it may deem fit, prepare a separate draft statement in respect of each person holding land in excess of the ceiling area, containing the following particulars:--

(i) the name and address of the holder; (i-a) if the holder is a member of a family, names, addresses and ages of members of the family;

(i-b) if the holder, who is a member of a family has major sons, names, ages and addresses of his major sons' and land held by each of them as on 1st January, 1971;

(ii) full particulars of land held by him and other members of his family within the State and the total area of such land;

(iii) the total area of land which the holder is entitled to hold in accordance with the provisions of this Act;

(iv) the description of land which he desires to retain;

(v) the description of the land which the competent authority proposes to declare surplus; and

(vi) such other particulars as may be prescribed :

Provided that if the holder fails to specify the portion of land which he wishes to retain, the competent authority shall, to the extent possible, include the encumbered and improved land in the land to be retained by the holder :

Provided further that a joint statement may be prepared in respect of holders who are members of a joint Hindu family or who hold land jointly or as tenants-in-common.

(2) The transferor shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to be the holder of land the transfer of which--

(i) has been declared to be void under Sub-section (1) of Section 4; or

(ii) has been found by the competent authority on such enquiry as may be prescribed to be in contravention of the provisions of Sub-section (1) of Section 5.

(3) The draft statement shall be published at such place and in such manner as may be prescribed and a copy thereof shall be served on the holder or holders concerned, the creditors and all other persons interested in the land to which it relates. Any objection to the draft statement received within thirty days of the publication thereof shall the duly considered by the competent authority who after giving the objector an opportunity of being heard shall pass such order as it deems fit.

(4) If while considering the objections received under Sub-section (3) or otherwise, the competent authority finds that any question has arisen regarding the title of a particular holder and such question has not already been determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, the competent authority shall proceed to enquire summarily into the merits of such question and pass such orders as it thinks fit:

Provided that if such question is already pending for decision before a competent court the competent authority shall await the decision of the court. (5) The order of the competent authority under Sub-section (4) shall not be subject to appeal or revision, but any party may, within three months from the date of such order institute a suit in the civil Court to have the order set aside, and the decision of such Court shall be binding on the competent authority but subject to the result of such suit, if any, the order of the competent authority shall be final and conclusive.

(6) After all such objections, pending proceedings and the suit, if any, filed under Sub-section (5) have been disposed of, the competent authority shall, subject to the provisions of the Act and the rules made thereunder make necessary alterations in the draft statement in accordance with the orders passed on objections, the decision of the competent Court and the decision of the civil suit as the case may be and shall declare the surplus land held by each holder. The competent authority shall, thereafter publish a final statement specifying therein the entire land held by the holder, the land to be retained by him and the land declared to be surplus and send a copy thereof to the holder concerned. Such a statement shall be published in such manner as may be prescribed and shall be conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein.

(7) Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-sections (4), (5) and (6), where the competent authority finds that a person holds land, other than the land in respect of which a question of title has arisen or is pending before a competent Court, in excess of the ceiling area, it may proceed to declare such land to be surplus forthwith. The land so declared surplus shall be incorporated in the final statement published under Sub-section (6).

(8) Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, if the land in excess of the ceiling area consists of a small strip of land, which cannot be cultivated economically or which cannot be detached from the land having regard to the efficient use thereof for agricultural purposes, the holder of the land may be permitted by the competent authority for reasons to be recorded in writing to retain the said strip of land subject to a maximum of one acre in excess of the ceiling area.'

Sub-section (3) of this section provides for drawing up of a draft statement and its publication in the manner provided therein. It is also contemplated that if any objection to the draft statement is to the raised it must be filed within thirty days of the publication of the draft statement and on such objection being filed the competent authority will decide that objection giving the objector an opportunity of hearing. Sub-section (4) of this section further provides that whenever the competent authority finds either on the basis of any objection filed under Sub-section (3) or otherwise that any question of title of a particular holder deserves to be considered that question shall be decided in accordance with the decision of a Civil Court if there is already a decision by a competent Court; otherwise it shall proceed to decide that question summarily and shall pass orders. It is further provided that if such a question is pending for decision before a competent Court the competent authority shall await the decision on that question. Sub-section (5) of this section provides that there shall be no appeal or revision against the order of the competent authority passed under Sub-section (4) of Section 11; but any party to the proceedings could file a civil suit within three months from the date of such order in a Civil Court to set aside the order of the competent authority and the decision of the Civil Court shall be binding on the competent authority. It is further provided that subject to the decision of the Civil Court the order passed by the competent authority shall be final and conclusive.

4. Section 46 of the Ceiling Act provides for the bar of jurisdiction of the Civil Court:

'46. Save as expressly provided in this Act, no Civil Court shall have any jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question which is by or under this Act required to be settled, decided or dealt with by the competent authority.'

This section thus provides that except in cases which have been specifically provided for in this Act a Civil Court will have no jurisdiction to settle, decide or deal with any question which under this Act is required to be settled, decided or dealt with by a competent authority. This provision therefore bars the jurisdiction of the Civil Court only about questions which are triable by the competent authority under the provisions of this Act. The questions which are not within the jurisdiction of the competent authority to decide cannot be held to be covered by the provisions of Section 46. It is also clear from this provision that even about those questions which are within the jurisdiction of the competent authority, but in respect of which there is an express provision for going to the Civil Court, the Civil Court will have jurisdiction to try those questions.

5. Section 11, Sub-sections (3), (4) and (5) to which reference has been made earlier clearly go to show that questions of title cannot be decided by the competent authority conclusively. The scheme of this section goes to show that whenever such a question arises before a competent authority he hag to--

(a) decide it either in accordance with the decision of a competent Court if such a decision is already there;

(b) await the decision of the competent Court if the matter is pending before it;

(c) decide it summarily;

but this summary decision has further been made subject to a decision of the Civil Court. This clearly goes to show that so far as the decision on the question of title is concerned the competent authority is not vested with jurisdiction to decide the matter finally. It is left to the decision of a Civil Court and the decision of the competent authority is described as a 'summary decision'.

6. In this view of the matter, therefore, the effect of Sections 11 and 46 of the telling Act would be that so far as questions of title are concerned there is no bar of the jurisdiction of the Civil Court as Section 46 in the context of Section 11 could not be read to mean that there is any bar about the jurisdiction of the Civil Court so far as questions of title are concerned. In Ramgopal v. Chetu, 1976 Jab LJ 278: (AIR 1976 Madh Pra 160) (FB) a Full Bench of this Court examining the question in the context of the provisions contained in Sections 157 and 57 and 250 and 257 of the Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code held (at p. 163 of AIR):

'Determination of the question of title is the province of the Civil Court and unless there is any express provision to the contrary, exclusion of the jurisdiction of the Civil Court cannot be assumed or implied.'

In view of this decision it is clear that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in respect of questions of title could not be taken away without an express provision taking away the jurisdiction of the Civil Court with regard to such a question. But it also must be understood that when under Sub-section (4) of Section 11 of the Ceiling Act the competent authority chooses to decide a question of title summarily, then either party to the proceeding before the competent authority can only file a civil suit within the prescribed period under Sub-section (5) of that section. The result therefore is that if the competent authority has not decided the question of title under Sub-section (4), then the Civil Court has jurisdiction to entertain a suit independently of the provisions contained in Section 11 of the Ceiling Act. Similarly, if there are no proceedings before a competent authority, then too, the Civil Court will have jurisdiction to entertain a suit pertaining to the question of title. But if there are proceedings before the competent authority and an order is passed under Sub-section (4) of Section 11 deciding the question of title summarily, then the Civil Court will have jurisdiction only in a suit as contemplated under Sub-section (5) of Section 11 of the Ceiling Act.

7. Our answer, therefore, to the first question is that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain a suit pertaining to the question of title has not been excluded under the scheme of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960 and the Civil Court will have jurisdiction to entertain a suit pertaining to the question of title even independently of Sub-section (4) of Section 11 of that Act.

8. Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Ceiling Act provides a period of limitation for filing objections to the draft statement. Section 29 of the Limitation Act 1963 provides:

'29. (1) Nothing in this Act shall affect Section 25 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.

(2) Where any special or local law prescribes for any suit, appeal or application a period of limitation different from the period prescribed by the Schedule, the provisions of Section 3 shall apply as if such period were the period prescribed by the Schedule and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation prescribed for any suit, appeal or application by any special or local law, the provisions contained in Sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) shall apply only in so far as and to the extent to which, they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law.

(3) Save as otherwise provided in any law for the time being in force with respect to marriage and divorce, nothing in this Act shall apply to any suit or other proceeding under any such law.

(4) Sections 25 and 26 and the definition of 'easement' in Section 2 shall not apply to cases arising in the territories to which the Indian Easements Act, 1882, may for the time being extend.'

Sub-section (2) of this section provides that in such cases where a period of limitation different from the period which is prescribed under the Schedule is provided by any local law Section 3 shall be applicable as if the period has been prescribed under the Schedule itself. It further provides that for determining any period of limitation prescribed under the local or special law the provisions contained in Sections 4 to 24 (both inclusive) will be applicable unless they are expressly excluded by such special or local law. Apparently, Sub-section (2) of Section 29 as it stands today is different from how it stood before the Limitation Act of 1963. In the earlier provision, the provisions contained in Section 5 could be applied if they were so applied specifically in the local or special law whereas Sub-section (2) of Section 29 as it stands enacted now makes the provisions contained in Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act applicable except when they are specifically excluded by the local or special law. The provisions contained in the Ceiling Act do not specifically exclude the application of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. Consequently, it cannot be doubted that to an objection application as provided for in Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Ceiling Act, Section 5 of the Limitation Act will be applicable.

9. Therefore, our answer to the second question is that Section 5 of the Limitation Act 1963 will be applicable for considering the question of limitation in regard to an objection petition filed under Sub-section (3) of Section 11 of the Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act 1960.

10. In view of these answers to the questions referred to us the second appeal shall be placed before a single Judge hearing second appeals for decision in the light of the answers to the questions referred to us.


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