1. This application for awrit of certiorari arises out of a ceiling proceeding under Chapter IV of the Orissa LandReforms Act. The petitioner and hisbrothers were treated to belong to one familyand certain of their lands were classified asClass I and the ceiling proceeding was concluded accordingly. Appeal and revisionhaving yielded no benefit, the petitioner hastaken shelter in this Court.
2. So far as the question of separation/ partition is concerned, we have not been convinced about the merits of the petitioner's case. The said finding of the Revenue Authorities is not available to be impeached and is, therefore, sustained. There is, however, much force in the submission of the counsel for the petitioner that the adjudication of the question of classification has been perfunctory.
3. Local inspection was made by the Revenue Officer and it was found that the petitioner has set up his own water pump run by diesel and water channels were found to have been constructed. From this the Revenue Authorities concluded that lands of the opposite parties were of Class 1 except one plot which was classified as Class IV. Section 2(5-a) of the Act defines classes of land. As far as is relevant, Class I land means:
'Irrigated land in which two or more crops (i) were in any year within a period of three years before the commencement of the Orissa Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1973, grown or (ii) can be grown in a year'. Section 2 (13) defines irrigated land as: ' 'irrigated land' means land which is assured of irrigation from an irrigation project constructed or maintained or improved or controlled by the Central Government or the State Government or by a body corporate established under any law for the lime being in force and includes land which is assured of irrigation from any private source by means of lift irrigation from any perennial water source operated by diesel or electric power, but does not include continually water-logged lands or sandcast lands'.
4. The Revenue Officer should have kept in mind the aforesaid definitions while classifying the lands. Adjudication of the question of classification necessitated adequate evidential materials. Firstly, the land should be irrigated as denned and should satisfy the definition of Class I land by fulfilling the requirements of the definition. The ipse dixit of the Revenue Officer, it should be remembered, is not final or conclusive. In a proceeding under Chapter IV property rights of citizens are involved and the proceedings very often relate to middle class and poor people. In a social welfare society law is made for the benefit of the people and not for trampling on their rights. Adjudication in this sensitive field requires cautious judicious approach and not an approach in a cavalier fashion,
5. It is. difficult to understand how on the materials the Revenue Officer could conclude that the land was a Class I, i.e., land in which two of mere crops were grown within a period of 3 years before the commencement of the Orissa Land Reforms (Second Amendment) Act, 1975, or two or more crops could be grown in a year. Conclusion is rash and unsustainable. It should not also be forgotten that local inspection is made for the purpose of appreciating materials on record and not for collecting evidence or use one's knowledge or observation gathered by way of local inspection as evidence. The Revenue Officer was acting as a Court and he could not substitute his own impression as evidence in the case. The simple reason being that in a country governed by the rule of law and certain established principle of judicial procedure the party against whom materials are to be utilised to his prejudice must have an opportunity of testing the correctness or worth thereof and should have an opportunity to rebut the same if he so desires. If the Revenue Officer utilised his impression as evidence the person is deprived of the valuable right. The Revenue Officer may not be actuated by mala fides, but being a human being could be mistaken.
6. In the result, the adjudication regarding classification cannot be sustained by materials on record and is hereby vacated. We quash Annexures 1, 2 and 3 accordingly and remit the matter to the Revenue Offices for readjudication of the question of classification only and disposal according to law. The finding regarding separation/partition, it is reiterated and is hereby concluded against the petitioner and is not available to be canvassed.