under Section 20A(1)(a) of the Madras E.L. Act as amended by Madras Act 8 of 1934, the lands mentioned in the schedule below are declared to be no longer required for the purpose for which they were originally intended.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Taluk Village S. No. Extent Original classification. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bezwada South Vellur 16 0-85 Agakodu P.W.D. 17 1-72 Drainage channel 18 1-19 Poramboke Sd/- 29/10 Collector
(2) The Zamindar is requested to state whether he has any oral or documentary evidence to prove that the reversionary right in the lands vest in him and to adduce it if any; before the Collector within sixty days from the date of this order.
Try. Deputy Collector,
11. For determining the effect of that order, it is necessary to refer to some of the provisions of the Estates Land Act. Section 3(2) of that Act defines 'ryot' as meaning:
a person who holds for the purpose of agriculture ryoti land in an estate on condition of paying to the land- holder the rent which is legally due upon it
'Ryoti land' is defined in Section 3(16) which says:
'Ryoti land' means cultivable land in an estate other than private land but does not include-
(b) throshing-floor, cattle-stands, village sites, and other lands situated in any estate which are set apart for the common use of the villagers.
12. Section 20 A of the Estates Land Act says:
(1) Subject to such rules as the State Government may prescribe in this behalf, the District Collector may on the application of the landholder, a ryot or any other person interested-
(a) declare that any land or any portion of any land which is set apart for any of the purposes referred to in Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause 16 of Section 3 is no longer required for its original purpose; and
(b) by order in writing direct-
(i) that any such land or portion in respect of which such declaration is made be used for any other specified communal purpose; or
(ii) if such land or portion is not required for any communal purpose, that it be converted into ryotwari land or landholder's ryoti land according as the reversionary rights in such land vest under the terms, express or implied of the sanad, title-deed or other grant (in the Government) or in the landholder:
Provided that before making any such declaration and order, the District Collector shall have due regard to any other customary rights of the landholder or the ryots in the user of such land or portion and shall satisfy himself that the exercise of such rights would otherwise be provided for adequately if the declaration and order are put into effect:
Provided further that in the case of any land of the description referred to in Sub-clause (a) of Clause 16 of section 3 the reversionary rights in which vest in the landholder under the terms, express or implied, of the sanad, title-deed or other grant, any order under Sub-Clause (i) of Clause (b) shall be made only with the consent of the landholder.
(2) Without the written order of the District Collector under Clause (b) of Sub-Section 1, no land which is set apart for any of the purposes referred to in Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause 16 of Section 3 shall be assigned or used for any other purpose. Nothing contained in this sub-section shall affect or take away or be deemed to affect or take way the customary rights of the landholder or the ryots in the user of any such land.
13. Before the Collector can order the diversion, of the use of any communal land, he should first declare that the land or any portion of that land is no more required for any of the purposes referred to in Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause 16 of Section 3 and he should further make an order in writing directing that the same be used for any other specified communal purpose or if the same is not required for any communal purpose, that it be converted into ryotwari land or landholder's ryoti land. It clear from Sub-section 2 of Section 20-A that without a written order of the District Collector under Clause (b) of Sub-section 1, no land which was set apart for any of the purposes referred to in Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause 16 of Section 3 can be assigned or used for any other purpose. The order of the Collector on which the first appellant has relied is an incomplete order. Apart from making a declaration that Survey Nos. 16 to 18 are no more required for purposes for which they were originally intended, the Collector did not appear to have made any order under Clause (b) of Section 20-A. Hence despite the order of the Collector, Survey Nos. 16 to 18 continue to be communal lands.
14. Reliance was next placed by the appellants on the order of the Estates Manager dated December 21, 1952 (Ex. B-2) for claiming title to the suit properties. In this order the Estates Manager proceeded on the basis that the Collector's order to which we have already made reference had already converted Survey Nos. 16 to 18 into ryotwari lands. This is an erroneous assumption. That assumption cannot confer any right on the 1st appellant. The Estates Manager is not shown to have had any power under any law to convert the communal lands into ryoti lands. Hence his order cannot be considered as having validly converted the suit lands into ryoti lands.
15. Lastly appellants sought support from the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer made on December 10, 1955 (Ex. B-30). This order was made during the pendency of the suit and without notice to the plaintiffs-respondents. It is purposed to have been made under Section 11(a) of the Estates Abolition Act. Under that order the Assistant Settlement Officer granted to the 1st appellant ryotwari patta in respect of Survey Nos. 16 to 18. Section 11 of the Estates Abolition Act, does not authorise the Assistant Settlement Officer to convert the communal land into a ryoti land. That section reads:
Every ryot in an estate shall, with effect on and from the notified date, be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of-
(a) all ryoti lands which, immediately before the notified date, were properly included or ought to have been properly included in the holding and which are not either lanka lands or lands in respect of which a land-holder or some other person is entitled to a ryotwari patta under any other provision of this Act; and
(b) all lanka lands in his occupation immediately before the notified date, such lands having been in his occupation or in that of his predecessors-in-title continuously from the 1st day of July 1939:
Provided that no person who has been admitted into possession of any land by a land-holder on or after the 1st day of July, 1945 shall, except where the Government after an examination of all the circumstances otherwise direct, be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of such land.
Explanation: No lease of any lanka land and no person to whom a right to collect the rent of any land has been leased before the notified date, including an ijardar or a farmer of rent, shall be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of such land under this section.
16. The lands with which we are concerned are not lanka lands nor were they declared to be ryoti lands either under the Abolition Act or under the Estates Land Act. That being so, the Assistant Settlement Officer bad no competence to grant ryotwari patta in respect of those lands-see the decision of the Madras High Court in Valathar Mooppannar and Ors. v. The Board of Revenue, Madras (1966) 1.M.L.J 354. That officer has purported tp grant the patta in question even without notice to the interested parties and that during the pendency of the suit.
17. For the reasons mentioned above, we are unable to accept the contention of the appellants that Survey Nos. 16 to 18 have ceased to be communal lands or that the appellants had obtained any lawful title to them.
18. It was urged that the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer whether the same was in accordance with law or not must be deemed to be final in view of Section 56 of the Abolition Act. This contention is again untenable. Section 56 says:
(1) Where after an estate is notified, a dispute arises as to (a) whether any rent due from a ryot for any fasli year is in arrear or (b) what amount of rent is in arrear or (c) who the lawful ryot in respect of any holding is, the dispute shall be decided by the Settlement Officer.
(2) Any person deeming himself aggrieved by any decision of the Settlement Officer under Sub-section 1 may, within two months from the date of the decision or such further time as the Tribunal may in its discretion allow, appeal to the Tribunal and its decision shall be final and not be liable to be questioned in any Court of law.
19. The decision of the Settlement Officer which is made final under this section must be a decision in respect of one of the matters referred to in Sub-section 1 of Section 56. The controversy with which we are concerned in this case viz. whether the suit lands continue to be communal lands does not fall within the scope of that section. Hence we are unable to accept the contention of the appellant that the order made by the Settlement Officer has become final or conclusive. It is a wholly invalid order. In this view, it is not necessary to consider whether an order made under Section 11 without notice to the interested persons can be considered as a valid order.
20. The contention that the civil courts have no jurisdiction to go into the controversies arising for decision in this case in view of Section 189(1) of the Estates Land Act is again without merit. That section provides:
A District Collector or Collector hearing suits or applications of the nature specified in Parts A and B of the Schedule and the Board of Revenue or the District Collector exercising appellate or revisional jurisdiction therefrom shall hear and determine such suits or applications or exercise such jurisdiction as a Revenue Court.
No Civil court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall take cognizance of any dispute or matter in respect of which such suit or application might be brought or made.
21. The jurisdiction of the civil courts is taken away only in respect of suits or applications of the nature specified in parts (A) and (B) of the Schedule to the Act. No reliance was placed by the appellants on any of the matters mentioned in part (A) of the Schedule. Even as regards matters mentioned in part (B) reliance was only placed on item 5 of that Schedule. Part B refers to applications to be disposed of by a District Collector or Collector. Item 5 refers to a decision of the Collector under Section 20-A(1). We have already come to the conclusion that the Collector had made no order under that section. Hence Section 189 of the Estates Land Act is not attracted to the present case. The dispute with which we are concerned is a civil dispute. Therefore the courts below had jurisdiction to decide the same under Section 9 of the Civil Procedure Code.
22. The only other contention that remains to be considered is that the communal rights in the suit lands stood abolished under Section 3 of the Estates Abolition Act. This contention does (not appear to have been taken before the High Court. Therefore we see no justification to go into that contention. That apart, there appears to be no basis for that contention. Section 3(a) of the Estates Abolition Act, repeals several acts including the Madras Estates Land Act, 1908. In view of Clause (b) of that section all Estates including the communal lands, porambokes and other ryoti lands, waste lands, pasture lands, lanka lands, forests, mines and minerals, quarries, rivers and streams, tanks and irrigation works; fisheries and ferries stood transferred to the Government and vested in them free from all encumbrances. It further provides that the Madras Revenue Recovery Act, 1864, the Madras Irrigation Cess Act, 1865 and all other enactments applicable to ryotwari areas shall apply to that estate. Clause 3 of that section prescribes that 'all rights and interests created in or over the estate before the notified date by the principal or any other landholder shall as against the Government cease and determine.'
23. It is true that the suit lands in view of Section 3 of the Estates Abolition Act did vest in the Government. That by itself does not mean that the rights of the community over it were taken away. Our attention has not been invited to any provision of law under which the rights of the community over those lands can be said to have been taken away. What has been abrogated is the rights and interests created in or over the estate before the notified date by the principal or other landholder. The rights of the community over the suit lands were not created by the principal or any other land-holder. Hence those rights cannot be said to have been abrogated by Clause (c) of Section 3 of the Estates Abolition Act.
24. In the result this appeal fails and the same is dismissed with costs.