M. Hidayatullah, C.J.
1. This case was first before one of us (Tare, J.) who referred the case to a Division Bench, but in view of the decision of the Bombay High Court in Mahadeo Raoji v. Anant Ganesh, AIR 1957 Bom 147 (PB) (A), I considered it expedient to refer the case to a Full Bench. The point involved in the case has had a long history and it is proper to decide it finally.
2. The Tacts of the case appear sufficiently from the order of reference and need not be restated. In Wasudeo Bamchandra Patil v. Nihalchand Chandanmal, 1942 Nag LJ 34 (B), Greenfield, Revenue Adviser held that orders passed by the Deputy Commissioner under Section 13 of the Relief of Indebtedness Act were appealable and revisable and that the Deputy Commissioner acted as a Revenue Officer and not as a persona designata.
In Ishwari Prasad v. Shankarlal, 1942 Nag LJ 420 (C), the same Revenue Adviser held that an order of the Deputy Commissioner granting p. certificate under Section 13 (3) of the Act was not appealable. In Dayaldas Girdusa v. Ramrao Mukundrao, 1942 Nag LJ 68 (D), Binney, Financial Commissioner took the latter view of an appeal under Section 13-A of the Central Provinces Debt Conciliation. Act (1933) and again in Dhekal v. Kisan, 1943 Nag LJ 119 (E). In Amrit Nagoji v. Mohanlal, 1944 Nag LJ 537 (P), P.S. Rau, Financial Commissioner referred the following question for the opinion of a Bench :
'Is a Deputy Commissioner acting under Section 13 (3) of the Debt Conciliation Act, 1933 and under Sections 13 (3) and 15 of the Relief of Indebtedness Act, 1939 a persona designata, against whose order no revision lies or a revenue officer under Section 9 of the Land Revenue Act whose orders are revisable under Section 39 ibid?'
Greenfield, R. A. and P.S. Rau, P. C. held that the Deputy Commissioner acts as a revenue officer and not as a persona designata.
3. The same question then came before the High Court in another case and I held in Netram v. Laxman, ILR (1948) Nag 142: (AIR 1948 Nag 409) (G), that in passing an order under Section 13 (3) of the Central Provinces and Berar Relief of Indebtedness Act the Deputy Commissioner acts as a revenue officer and not as a persona designata, and that as a revenue officer the Deputy Commissioner can review his own order.
4. In Raghunathsingh v. Board of Revenue, Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1953 Nag 342 (IT), the question was considered by Sinha, C. J., (as he then was) and Mudholkar, J. Their Lordships held that the Deputy Commissioner has numerous functions and sometimes acts as a revenue officer and sometimes merely as an agent of the State Government and sometimes in other capacities. The Bench stated that Section 9 of the Central Provinces Land Revenue Act distinguished between the functions of the Deputy Commissioner under that Act and any other enactment and held that the powers of appeal, revision, etc., cannot be said to be available against the latter class of functions. The conclusions of the learned Judges can be stated in their own words:
'5, Section 13 (3), Central Provinces and Berar Debt Conciliation Act, is not worded in the same terms as Section 13 (3), Relief of Indebtedness Act, and it would seem that this distinction has not been kept in mind while deciding that case. The learned members of the Tribunal held that the Legislature intended that the Deputy Commissioner while deciding cases under Section 13, Relief of Indebtedness Act should act as a Revenue Officer and that when he acts as a Revenue Officer his orders are subject to appeals and revisions as contained in the provisions under the Central Provinces Land Revenue Act or the Berar Land Revenue Code, as the case may be.
The distinction between Sections 13 (1) and 13 (2) on the one hand and Section 13 (3) on the other on which emphasis has been placed by the Board of Revenue has not been borne in mind at all by the tribunal. In our opinion, that distinction is substantial and because of this distinction it must be held that even though a Deputy Commissioner while passing orders under Section 13 (1) and 13 (2), Relief of Indebtedness Act may be said to be acting as a Revenue Officer he cannot conceivably be said to be so acting when he deals with a matter under Section 13 (3), Relief of Indebtedness Act.'.
5. Thus the learned Judges distinguished between Sub-sections (1) and (2), on the one hand, and Sub-section (3), on the other, of Section 13 of the Relief of Indebtedness Act, and held that while in the former sub-sections the Deputy Commissioner can be said to be acting as a revenue officer the same cannot be said of his acting under the latter sub-section. They thus, dissented from the view in Amrit Nagoji v. Mohanlal, (F) (supra) and my view in Net-ram v. Laxman (G), (supra).
6. In Chhotelal v. Narayan, Misc. (First) Appeal No. 172 of 1953, D/- 5-4-1954 (Nag) (I), the matter came before me again but in another form. There, the certificate under Section 13 (3) of the Relief of Indebtedness Act was granted by the Additional Deputy Commissioner. Raghunathsingh v. Board of Revenue (H), (supra) was cited before me to show that the Deputy Commissioner when acting under that sub-section acts not qua revenue officer but more like a persona designata. I analysed the scheme of the Act again and stated my opinion as follows :
'5. The scheme of the Section of the Relief of Indebtedness Act is to invest the Deputy Commissioner and other revenue officers with certain powers, but one such power, namely, the granting of the certificate, is vested only in the Deputy Commissioner. That, with all due respect, is not sufficient to make the Deputy Commissioner a persona designata any more than in any other Act where only the Deputy Commissioner is mentioned.
If the Deputy Commissioner acts qua revenue officer in Sub-sections (1) and (2) and presumably again in Sub-section (4) of the section in common with other revenue officers, it is difficult to see how he ceases to be a revenue officer only for purposes of the third sub-section where he exercises powers which are not thought fit to be conferred on other subordinate revenue officers. The section must be interpreted uniformly as far as possible and the contrast between the third sub-section and the other three is in the matter of exclusive power wielded by the Deputy Commissioner in one case and powers wielded by the Deputy Commissioner and also other subordinate revenue officers in other cases.'
However, though, I said that the view in the two cases, dissented from in Raghunathsingh v. Board of Revenue (H), (supra) was correct, I considered myself bound by the dictum of the Divisional Bench and held that the certificate granted by the Additional Deputy Commissioner was bad.
7. Reference was also made before me to a decision in Dr. T.H. Rane v. Additional Deputy Commissioner. Nagpur, Misc. Petn. No. 180 of 1950, D/- 12-7-1951 (Nag) (J), but I declined to consider it because it related to the Central Provinces and Berar Letting of Houses and Rent Control Order, 1949 read with the Central Provinces and Berar Regulation of Letting of Accommodation Act, 1946.
However, I pointed out that if the Deputy Commissioner could be said to act qua revenue officer under Sub-section (3) of Section 13 of the Relief of Indebtedness Act, then Section 9-A of the Central' Provinces Land Revenue Act would be a sufficient answer to the contention. Since I was compelled by authority to hold that the Deputy Commissioner acted as a persona designata and not as a revenue officer, I held that Section 9-A of the Central Provinces Land Revenue Act did not apply either.
8. In Misc. (Second) Appeal No. 139 of 1953 (Nag) (K), the matter came before late Rao, J., and myself again. We felt that the decision in Raghunathsingh v. Board of Revenue (H), (supra) was incorrect. We referred three questions for the decision of a Pull Bench. The order of reference is not before me, but it is easy to see what the questions must have been :
(1) Whether the Deputy Commissioner while acting under Section 13 (3) of the Relief of Indebtedness Act, acts as a revenue officer or as a persona designata?
(2) Whether under Section 9-A of the Central Provinces Land Revenue Act, the Additional Deputy Commissioner can exercise the powers under Section 13 (3) of the Relief of Indebtedness Act?
(3) Whether Raghunathsingh v. Board of Revenue (H), was correctly decided?
The Full Bench of Chagla, C.J. Mudholkar and Gokhale, JJ., heard the reference. The opinion of the Pull Bench was delivered by Chagla, G. J., with whom there was no dissent of any kind. The Pull Bench decided question (2) taut felt it unnecessary to answer questions (1) and (3).
9. I am quite clear, and I say it respectfully, that the Full Bench could not go to consider question (2) at all unless it first decided whether Raghunathsingh v. Board of Revenue (H) (supra.) was correctly decided or not and unless it rejected the reasoning therein on. which question (1) was framed. The powers of a persona designata cannot be exercised by any other person, not even by a subordinate equated with him. A persona designata is :
'A person pointed out or described as an individual, as opposed to a person ascertained as a member of a class, or as filling a particular character.'
By this test the Deputy Commissioner acting I under Section 13 (3) of the Relief of Indebtedness Act cannot be said to be a persona designata. Indeed, Section 13 confers some powers on the Deputy Commissioner and other subordinate revenue officers and some on the Deputy Commissioner alone. That does not mean that in the latter case the Deputy Commissioner acts otherwise than as a revenue officer. The view of the Division Bench with all due respect, was erroneous and should have been pronounced as such. I do so now.
10. The reasoning of Chagla, C. J., in the case in Bombay covers all that need be said on the 2nd question. It is only necessary for me to say that I entirely concur with it. The view incidentally shows that the case in Misc. Petn. No. 180 of 1950 (Nag) (J), (supra) should no longer be considered as a binding authority without further examination. It is significant that even Mudholkar, J., agreed with the view and had nothing to say in support of his earlier opinion on'the subject.
11. Following Chagla, C. J.'s view in Mahadeo v. Anant (A) (supra) I hold that the certificate granted by the Additional Deputy Commissioner was in order. I, therefore, dismiss the appeal with costs.
B.K. Choudhuri, J.
12. I agree.
P.K. Tare, J.
13. I agree.