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Chikkanna Chettiar Alias V.S. Nanjappa Chettiar Vs. V.S. Perumal Chettiar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1940Mad474; (1940)1MLJ732
AppellantChikkanna Chettiar Alias V.S. Nanjappa Chettiar
RespondentV.S. Perumal Chettiar and anr.
Cases Referred and Bhagwati v. Ram Kali
Excerpt:
- - such dispute' (the dispute regarding apportionment) forms no part of the award and it would indeed be strange if a controversy between two people as to the nature of their respective interests in a piece of land should enjoy certain rights of appeal, which would be wholly taken away when the piece of land was represented by a sum of money paid into court. a case like the present one. it is not going much further to say that the same principle applies when an act like the land acquisition act provides for reference of disputes to the district court and gives the provincial government power to substitute for the district judge another judicial officer who admittedly decides the dispute as a civil court......decision of a subordinate judge appointed by the provincial government under section 3(d) of the land acquisition act, 1894, to decide a dispute referred by the collector under section 30 of the act. that section empowers the collector to refer to 'the court' a dispute as to the apportionment of the amount of compensation settled under section 11 or as to the persons to whom the compensation is payable. section 3(d) defines the word 'court' as meaning a principal civil court of original jurisdiction, unless the provincial government has appointed (as it is empowered to do) a special judicial officer to perform the functions of the court. in this case the government of madras appointed the subordinate judge of salem to perform the functions of the court under the act. the petitioner was.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. This revision petition raises the question whether an appeal lies from the decision of a Subordinate Judge appointed by the Provincial Government under Section 3(d) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to decide a dispute referred by the Collector under Section 30 of the Act. That section empowers the Collector to refer to 'the Court' a dispute as to the apportionment of the amount of compensation settled under Section 11 or as to the persons to whom the compensation is payable. Section 3(d) defines the word 'Court' as meaning a principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction, unless the Provincial Government has appointed (as it is empowered to do) a special judicial officer to perform the functions of the Court. In this case the Government of Madras appointed the Subordinate Judge of Salem to perform the functions of the Court under the Act. The petitioner was dissatisfied with the decision of the Subordinate Judge and filed an appeal to the District Judge of Salem, but the District Judge dismissed the appeal on the ground that it was incompetent by reason of the decision of this Court in Krishnamoorthi Aiyar v. The Special Deputy Collector of Land Acquisition, Kumbakonam (1935) 71 M.L.J. 76 : I.L.R. 59 Mad. 554. The petitioner conceded that this was the effect of the decision, but he contends that it does not correctly state the law. He says that the judgments of the Privy Council in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 and Bhagwati v. Ram Kali (1939) 2 M.L.J. 98 : L.R. 66 IndAp 145 : I.L.R. 1939 All. 460 leave no doubt that an appeal does lie.

2. Before proceeding to examine the authorities which have been quoted to us in the course of the arguments I will refer to other provisions of the Land Acquisition Act which have bearing on the question under discussion. Section 18 says that any person who has not accepted an award may require the Collector to refer the matter for the determination of the Court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the person to whom it is payable, or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested. Therefore a person interested can require the Collector to refer a dispute as to the apportionment to the Court, just as the Collector may refer it on his own initiative under the provisions of Section 30. As the result of the decision of the Privy Council in Rangoon Botatoung Co. Limited v. The Collector, Rangoon (1912) 23 M.L.J. 276 : L.R. 39 IndAp 197 : I.L.R. 40 Cal. 21 , Section 26 of the Act was amended, and it is now provided that an award made under Section 18 shall be deemed to be a decree and the statement of the grounds of the award a judgment within the meaning of Section 2, Clause (2) and Section 2, Clause (9), respectively, of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. The effect of this amendment is to bring the award within the purview of Section 54. Section 31 says that on making an award under Section 11 (which relates to the inquiry into the area of the land, the compensation payable for it, and the apportionment of the compensation) the Collector shall pay the compensation awarded by him to the persons entitled thereto, unless prevented by one or more of the following contingencies:--(i) If they shall consent to receive it, (ii) or if there be no person competent to alienate the land; or (iii) if there be any dispute as to the title to receive the compensation or as to the apportionment of it. In such circumstances the Collector shall deposit the amount of the compensation in the Court to which a reference under Section 18 would be submitted. Section 53 says that save in so far as they may be inconsistent with anything contained in the Act the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure shall apply to all proceedings before the Court under the Act. Section 54 reads as follows:

Subject to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, applicable to appeals from original decrees, and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment for the time being in force, an appeal shall lie only in any proceedings under this Act to the High Court from the award, or from any part of the award, of the Court and from any decree of the High Court passed on such appeal as aforesaid an appeal shall lie to His Majesty in Council subject to the provisions contained in Section 110 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and in Order 45, thereof.

3. The petitioner says that a judicial officer appointed under Section 3(d) constitutes a Court and that by virtue of the provision's of Section 53 and of the saving words 'Subject to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 applicable to appeals from original decrees' which precede the restrictive provisions of Section 54, there is a right of appeal.

4. In Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 a dispute arose as to the apportionment of compensation awarded by the Collector. This dispute was decided by the District Court of Tanjore and resulted in an appeal to this Court. In a subsequent suit the title to the land with which the acquisition proceedings were concerned was again disputed and it was this suit which gave rise to the appeal to the Judicial Committee. The area in the subsequent suit was larger than the area with which the proceedings were concerned, but this did not affect the question of title. The Judicial Committee held that the decision of this Court on appeal from the District Court's order of apportionment operated as res judicata. It was argued that the decision of this Court in the proceedings arising out of the land acquisition case could not be regarded as a decree, but their Lordships said that how the proceedings were commenced was a matter which was not material, provided that they were instituted in the manner that gave the Court jurisdiction 'for they ended in a decree made by the High Court and appealable to this Board'. The Board in effect held that the decision of the District Judge, amounted to a decree and that the decision of this Court was a decree appealable to the Board. As the proceedings had resulted in a decree which had decided the question raised in the subsequent suit the decree operated as res judicata. The ground of the decision was stated in these words:

'Such dispute' (the dispute regarding apportionment) forms no part of the award and it would indeed be strange if a controversy between two people as to the nature of their respective interests in a piece of land should enjoy certain rights of appeal, which would be wholly taken away when the piece of land was represented by a sum of money paid into Court.

5. In Bhagwati v. Ram Kali (1939) 2 M.L.J. 98 : L.R. 66 IndAp 145 : I.L.R. 1939 All. 460 , the Privy Council considered the judgment in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , and re-affirmed it. Delivering the judgment of the Board, Lord Porter said:

In order successfully to establish a plea of res judicata or estoppel by record it is necessary to show that in a previous case a Court having jurisdiction to try the question came to a decision necessarily and substantially involving the determination of the matter in issue in the latter case.

It was at one time a matter of doubt in India whether the determination of a Court to which a matter has been referred by the Collector under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act was such a decision. That doubt was resolved by the judgment of this Board in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , which decided that where a dispute as to the title to receive the compensation has been referred to the Court, a decree thereon not appealed from renders the question of title res judicata in a suit between the parties to the dispute. In that case some question arose as to whether any appeal lay to His Majesty in Council in a case where the determination of the Judge ended in an award and not in a decree. The Board took the view that where the matter referred was not the adequacy of the amount of compensation awarded, but a dispute between the persons claiming compensation, involving it may be, difficult questions of title, the resultant decision was not an award but a decree.

6. It will now be convenient to refer to the other authorities which have been referred to in argument. In Mahalinga Kudumban v. Theetharappa Mudaliar (1928) 56 M.L.J. 387, Devadoss and Jackson, JJ., held that an order passed by a Subordinate Judge on a reference under Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act was a decree within the meaning of Section 2(2) of the Code of Civil Procedure and an appeal lay from it under Section 96 of the Code, which provides that an appeal shall lie from every decree passed by a Court exercising original jurisdiction to the Court authorised to hear appeals. Section 13 of the Madras Civil Courts Act, 1873, says that regular or special appeals shall, when such appeals are allowed by law, lie from the decrees and orders of a District Court to the High Court and that appeals from the decrees and orders of Subordinate Judges and District Munsifs shall, when such appeals are allowed by law, lie to the District Court, except when the amount or value of the subject matter of the suit exceeds Rs. 5,000, in which case the appeal shall lie to the High Court. In Mahalinga Kudumban v. Theetharappa Mudaliar (1928) 56 M.L.J. 387, the Court considered the decision of the Privy Council in Rangoon Botatoung Co., Ltd. v. The Collector, Rangoon (1912) 23 M.L.J. 276 : L.R. 39 IndAp 197 : I.L.R. 40 Cal. 21 , and Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320. The Land Acquisition Act was similarly interpreted by Ramesam arid Venkatasubba Rao, JJ., in Venkatareddi v. Adinarayana Rao (1928) 56 M.L.J. 357 : I.L.R. 52 Mad. 142, which also had reference to an order of a Subordinate Judge under Section 30. Varadachariar and Burn, JJ., followed Venkatareddi v. Adinarayana Rao (1928) 56 M.L.J. 357 : I.L.R. 52 Mad. 142, in Appaswami Vannian v. Velu Vaidyan (1934) 40 L.W. 37.

7. There are three decisions of this Court which are in conflict with those I have mentioned, namely, Mahant Bhagvati Doss Bavaji v. Sarangaraja Iyengar : AIR1931Mad536 . In the first of these cases Wallace and Stone, JJ., held that where the Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes, Madras, had been appointed the special Judicial Officer under Section 3(d) of the Land Acquisition Act, hp did not constitute a 'principal Civil Court of Original Jurisdiction' within the meaning of that section, but was a special Court having its own statutory status which did not fallow the status of the Court ordinarily presided over by the person who happened to be appointed as its Judge. What the learned Judges here evidently had in mind was that the special judicial officer was the Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes, a Court governed by a special Act of the Legislature which gives no right of appeal to another Court. An appeal from the decision of a Single Judge lies to a Bench of Judges of the Court of Small Causes and the High Court has only powers of revision. It is not necessary to pause to consider whether the judgment in that case is open to question as different considerations apply from those which apply in the present case.

8. Rajagopala Chettiar v. The Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras (1933) 66 M.L.J. 43 : I.L.R. 57 Mad. 271, was decided by a Full Bench consisting of Madhavan Nair, Jackson and Lakshmana Rao, JJ., and the case had reference to the question whether there was an appeal to the High Court either under the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1926, or under the Code of Civil Procedure, from an order passed by the District Judge under Section 84(2) of the Madras Hindu Religious Endowments Act. The provisions of that Act have nothing really in common with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, but in Rajagopala Chettiar v. The Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras (1933) 66 M.L.J. 43 : I.L.R. 57 Mad. 271, the effect of the judgment of the Privy Council in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , was discussed at length, and the respondent places great reliance on the observations made by Madhavan Nair, J., as they are to the effect that the Privy Council was only considering whether the order of this Court on appeal constituted a decree within the meaning of the Code of Civil Procedure of 1882. Under the Code of 1882 the word 'decree' was defined as 'the formal expression of an adjudication upon any right claimed, or defence set up, in a Civil Court when such adjudication so far as regards the Court expressing it, decides the suit or appeal'. The words 'or appeal' have been omitted from the present Code and the Full Bench considered that the presence of these words made all the difference. If the Court had to decide the present petition in the light of the interpretation of Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , in Rajagopala Chettiar v. The Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras (1933) 66 M.L.J. 43 : I.L.R. 57 Mad. 271, we should be bound to hold that an appeal does not lie in. a case like the present one. But the matter does not rest there, because in Bhagwati v. Ram Kali (1939) 2 M.L.J. 98 : L.R. 66 IndAp 145 : I.L.R. 1939 All. 460 , the Privy Council considered its decision in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , in a case which arose after the Code of 1908 came into force, and it has reaffirmed it. Krishnamoorthy Aiyar v. The Special Deputy Collector of Land Acquisition, Kumbakonam (1935) 71 M.L.J. 76 : I.L.R. 59 Mad. 554, was decided by Madhavan Nair and Stone JJ., and the same view of the effect of the decision in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , was taken. The fact that this opinion was expressed in a case relating to the decision of a special judicial officer appointed under Section 3(d) of the Land Acquisition Act led to the conclusion of the Court below that it was binding in the present case.

9. The latest decision of this Court is that of King, J., in Raja of Sivaganga v. Karuppiah (1938) 49 L.W. 238, and was decided after the District Judge had dismissed the petitioner's appeal. This was a reference to the Subordinate Judge under Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act relating to dispute between a Zamindar and a number of ryots with regard to the distribution of compensation awarded in respect of land which had been acquired. My learned brother, King, considered that the case was governed by the decision of the Privy Council in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , and held that an appeal lay, an opinion which I share, although had it not been for the decision of the Privy Council in Bhagwati v. Ram Kali (1939) 2 M.L.J. 98 : L.R. 66 IndAp 145 : I.L.R. 1939 All. 460 , I should have felt constrained to hold that the interpretation of Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , by the Full Bench in Rajagopala Chettiar v. The Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras (1933) 66 M.L.J. 43 : I.L.R. 57 Mad. 271, was binding on us.

10. In my opinion all controversy is set at rest by the judgment of the Privy Council in Bhagwati v. Ram Kali (1939) 2 M.L.J. 98 : L.R. 66 IndAp 145 : I.L.R. 1939 All. 460 The opinion expressed in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , was there reaffirmed, notwithstanding the alteration mad6 by the present Code in the definition of the word 'decree'. J In the light of the recent pronouncement of the Privy Council, Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , must be taken to decide that an order, not merely the order on appeal, but an order determining a reference under Section 18 or under Section 30 - it is admitted that there is no difference in principle between the two sections - is to be regarded as a decree and not as an award. It follows that the interpretation in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , given by the Full Bench in Rajagopala Chettiar v. The Hindu Religious Endowments Board, Madras (1933) 66 M.L.J. 43 : I.L.R. 57 Mad. 271, can no longer be regarded as being authoritative.

11. It has been conceded by Mr. T.M. Krishnaswami Aiyar on behalf of the respondent that a judicial officer appointed under Section 3(d) cannot be regarded as a persona designata and that he constitutes a Civil Court. But he says that it is a special Court, not one of ordinary civil jurisdiction and therefore a right of appeal must be given by the Act under which the Court is constituted or by some other express provision. That the judicial officer who is appointed by the Provincial Government to take the place of the District Judge constitutes a Civil Court was recognised in Krishnamoorthy Aiyar v. The Special Deputy Collector of Land Acquisition, Kumbakonam (1935) 71 M.L.J. 76 : I.L.R. 59 Mad. 554. In National Telephone Co., Ltd. v. His Majesty's Post-Master General (1913) A.C. 546 Lord Shaw of Dunfermline pointed out that in the general case, when a Court of Record becomes possessed, by force of agreement and statute, of a reference to it of differences between parties, the whole of the statutory consequences of procedure before such a Court ensue. The Subordinate Judge who is appointed under Section 3(d) of the Land Acquisition Act to decide a dispute with regard to the allocation of compensation money does not constitute a Court of record, but admittedly he does constitute a Civil Court and on the strength of the decision in the National Telephone Company's case (1913) A.C. 546, it might reasonably be argued that the proceedings before him are governed by the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure. Support for this argument is to be obtained from the judgment of the Privy Council in Secretary of State for India v. Chelikani Rama Rao (1916) 31 M.L.J. 324 : L.R. 43 IndAp 192 : I.L.R. 39 Mad. 617 . There a claimant whose claim was rejected by the forest settlement officer appealed to the District Court under the Madras Forest Act 1882, which makes no provision for a second appeal and consequently it was contended that there was no right of further appeal. Their Lordships refused to accept this contention, holding that when proceedings of this character reach the District Court that Court is appealed to as one of the ordinary Courts of the country with regard to whose procedure, orders and decrees, the ordinary Rules of the Code of Civil Procedure apply. It is not going much further to say that the same principle applies when an Act like the Land Acquisition Act provides for reference of disputes to the District Court and gives the Provincial Government power to substitute for the District Judge another judicial officer who admittedly decides the dispute as a Civil Court. The argument that there is here a right of appeal is made all the stronger by the provisions of Sections 53 and 54 of the Act. Any controversy, however, is settled by the decision of the Privy Council in Ramachandra Rao v. Ramachandra Rao (1922) 43 M.L.J. 78 : L.R. 49 I.A 129 : I.L.R. 45 Mad. 320 , and Bhagwati v. Ram Kali (1939) 2 M.L.J. 98 : L.R. 66 IndAp 145 : I.L.R. 1939 All. 460 .

12. I would allow this petition and remit the case to the District Judge with the direction that he shall hear and decide the petitioner's appeal in accordance with law. The petitioner is entitled to his costs.

King, J.

13. I agree.

Krishnaswami Ayyangar, J.

14. I agree.


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