1. In this case the plaintiff (respondent) instituted a suit in a Revenue Court under Section 55 of the Estates Land Act. His suit in respect of the plaint land was dismissed on the ground that he was not entitled to demand a patta. He has brought the present suit to obtain possession of the suit land, and the question that now arises for decision is whether the decision in the prior suit in the Revenue Court is res judicata or not. The Section applicable is Section 189 (3) of the Estates Land Act. It says:
The decision of a Revenue Court or of an appellate or revisional authority in any suit or proceeding under this Act on a matter falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Revenue Court shall be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil Court in which such matter may be in issue between them.
2. This question has been considered in several cases, but in most of these cases the circumstances were not the same as here. In Ramadina Das Gosayiji Garu v. Boishamo Mundalo (1921) 14 L.W. 251 and Second Appeals Nos. 1002 and 1213 of 1916 on the file of the High Court the prior litigation in the Revenue Court had been in respect of commutation of rent and it was held in a subsequent suit in a Civil Court that the decision as to title in the Revenue Court did not constitute res judicata as it was a decision on a matter which did not fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Revenue Court. Second Appeal No. 786 of 1919 on the file of the High Court was concerned with the decision in a suit for rent for a particular fasli and the same view was held. In all these cases it is clear that the question decided in the Revenue Court was not one falling within its exclusive jurisdiction so far as those suits were concerned. There is, however, a decision in Appa Rao v. Gurraju : (1920)39MLJ476 in which the facts are very similar to the present; the suit in the Revenue Court in that case being one under Section 58 of the Estates Land Act for enforcing a patta, and it was there held that the decision of the Revenue Court on the title to the land or occupancy rights was not res judicata in a subsequent suit in a Civil Court. Sadasiva Aiyar, J., who delivered the leading judgment, has unfortunately based his judgment on a misapprehension that Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code is not applicable to proceedings under the Estates Land Act, although it is expressly made applicable under Section 192. He accordingly came to the conclusion that Section 189(3) was enacted in the place of Section 11, Civil Procedure Code, and was not intended to go beyond Section 11 and to constitute the decisions on issues arrived at in the Revenue Court in suits cognizable exclusively by the Revenue Court binding on a Civil Court as res judicata, Spencer, J., no doubt held that the decision as to title in the Revenue Court was a decision on an incidental matter inasmuch as the patta had been ordered and its provisions were settled. If in the present case the decision as to the occupancy right of the plaintiff can be deemed to be on an incidental matter, I entirely agree that it would not constitute res judicata in subsequent civil proceedings. I am, however, of opinion that it is not a decision on a mere incidental matter, but a decision on a matter falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Revenue Court. Under Section 57,
in adjudicating suits under Sections 55 and 56, the Collector shall first inquire whether the party sued is bound to grant or accept a patta and, unless this be proved, the suit shall be dismissed.
3. A suit for the grant of a patta lies within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Courts and cannot be brought in a Civil Court under Section 189(1) of the Estates Land Act. When the legislature lays down that in such a suit the Revenue Court must decide in the first place whether the party sued is bound to grant or accept a patta, it seems to me to indicate that the question is one within the exclusive jurisdiction of that Court; that is to say, Section 189(3) is applicable and the decision is res judicata in subsequent civil proceedings. It is argued that only a suit for patta is within the exclusive jurisdiction of Revenue Courts and that a suit may be brought in a Civil Court to establish occupancy right. If the land is ryoti land, the ryot is bound to accept patta and execute a muchilika. If, therefore, he brought a suit in a Civil Court for a declaration of his right of occupancy, he would be entitled to the further relief of the grant of patta. If he asks for this further relief he would have to be referred to a Revenue Court, and if he failed to ask for such relief, the Court would not grant a bare declaration. This difficulty has been met by the legislature by enacting that the Revenue Court shall determine the right of a party to the grant of patta in a suit under Section 55 or 56, and consequently that question must be deemed to be one exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Court.
4. In order to test the correctness of this view, the result of a contrary conclusion may be considered. In the present case it has been held that the plaintiff is not entitled to a patta and consequently is not bound to execute a muchilika. If, however, the Lower Courts' decision is correct, the plaintiff will be entitled to possession of certain lands which are ryoti lands within the meaning of the Estates Land Act, but he will not be bound by any patta or muchilika. In fact, his possession would be one of absolute ownership, for it has been finally decided that he is not entitled to be a tenant. The result, therefore, of holding that the prior decision is not res judicata would result in making the plaintiff, who only claims occupancy rights, the absolute owner of the land. It is to prevent such absurdity that the legislature has enacted Section 57 and Section 189(3).
5. A further point has been raised by the appellant and that is that the finding of the Lower Courts as to the plaintiff's occupancy right is wrong in law and should be reversed, but in the view I have taken on the question of res judicata, it is unnecessary to decide this point.
6. In the result the appeal is allowed and the plaintiff's suit dismissed with costs throughout.
Madhavan Nair, J.
7. I agree and have nothing to add.