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The Secretary of State for India in Council Represented by the Collector of Chingleput Vs. Kasturi Reddi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1902)12MLJ453
AppellantThe Secretary of State for India in Council Represented by the Collector of Chingleput
RespondentKasturi Reddi
Cases Referred and Collector of Salem v. Rangappa I.L.R.
Excerpt:
- - that officer submitted a report (exhibit ii), dated 6th october 1896, stating that the land was useful 'to a large number--about 3,000,-of the cattle of the village that the villagers turned out en masse and bitterly complained against the assignment of the land as' it was used by them as a grazing ground, and that, in his opinion, the prayer of the petitioners, that the land should be reserved for communal purposes was a reasonable one. if he had so acquired title, he has a right to possession and it is perfectly immaterial whether the land was delivered to him by the revenue officers or without such delivery he entered in possession of the land. the distinction as to the extent to which acts and declarations of a private agent bind his principal and those of public agents bind.....bhashyam aiyangar, j.1. this is an appeal preferred on behalf of the secretary of state for india in council and the admitted facts of the case so far as they are material, are as follows:the land in question (survey no. 159) lying in the non-mirasi village of santavelur, in the chingleput district (measuring 166 30 acres,) and assessed at rs. 43-10-0, has been classed as 'assessed waste' in the settlement register. the respondent and one srinivasulu reddi, both being resident ryots of the said village, were the competing applicants before the deputy tahsildar of satyavedu, in whose territorial jurisdiction the said village is situate, for obtaining the land, on the ordinary ryotwari tenure subject to the ' payment of the said assessment. the deputy tahsildar passed an order assigningtthe.....
Judgment:

Bhashyam Aiyangar, J.

1. This is an appeal preferred on behalf of the Secretary of State for India in Council and the admitted facts of the case so far as they are material, are as follows:

The land in question (Survey No. 159) lying in the non-mirasi village of Santavelur, in the Chingleput District (measuring 166 30 acres,) and assessed at Rs. 43-10-0, has been classed as 'assessed waste' in the Settlement Register. The respondent and one Srinivasulu Reddi, both being resident ryots of the said village, were the competing applicants before the Deputy Tahsildar of Satyavedu, in whose territorial jurisdiction the said village is situate, for obtaining the land, on the ordinary ryotwari tenure subject to the ' payment of the said assessment. The Deputy Tahsildar passed an order assigningtthe land to Srinivasulu Reddi in preference to the respondent. Against this, the respondent preferred an appeal to the Deputy Collector in charge of the Trivellore Division in which the. said village is comprised and that officer by his proceedings (Exhibit H), dated 25th June 1896, cancelled the assignment in favour of Srinivasulu Reddi and assigned the whole extent of Survey No. 159 to the present respondent, (who, it is recited in the proceedings, agreed to pay up the full assessment) and communicated the same to the Deputy Tahsildar, who by his order Exhibit (J), dated 29th July 1896, communicated it to the Munsif and Karnam of Santavelur, directing them to register the whole extent of Survey No. 159 to the account of the respondent. Against the order of the Deputy Collectof, Srinivasulu Reddi preferred an appeal to the Collector of the District which was dismissed on the 10th August 1896 (Exhibit L) on the ground that he saw no reason to interfere. While the said appeal was pending before the Collector, certain ryots of the village, by a petition (Exhibit I), dated 30th July 1886, represented to the Collector that if the land be assigned on Darkhast, it will entail great hardship by depriving ''several cattle of their resource of water during the hot season' and prayed that the assignment of the same may be cancelled. The Collector by his endorsement thereon, dated 14th August 1896, forwarded the same for report to the Deputy Collector, who, in his turn, by endorsement, dated 27th August 1896, forwarded it to the Deputy Tahsildar for early report. That officer submitted a report (Exhibit II), dated 6th October 1896, stating that the land was useful 'to a large number--about 3,000,--of the cattle of the village that the villagers turned out en masse and bitterly complained against the assignment of the land as' it was used by them as a grazing ground, and that, in his opinion, the prayer of the petitioners, that the land should be reserved for communal purposes was a reasonable one. With reference to this report made by the Deputy Tahsildar, the Collector on the 23rd October 1896, observed that the Deputy Collector ' may revise his order as he thinks fit, in the light of the facts now before him' and by endorsement (Exhibit V), dated 4th February 1897, referred the petition of the ryots to the Deputy Collector for disposal. The Deputy Collector who was the successor in office of the Deputy Collector who had made assignment of the land to the respondent--by his proceedings (Exhibit VI), dated 25th February 1897, cancelled the assignment and directed the Deputy Tahsildar to submit the necessary application for transferring it to grazing ground poramboke. The village officers had not formally placed the respondent in possession of the land, nor had any patta been issued to him. He, however, appears to have taken possession of the land himself and as an attempt was made by the Revenue Officer to levy from him what is styled a penal assessment,' he brought this suit for a declaration of his right to the land.

2. On behalf of the Secretary of State for India in Council, a written statement was filed contending that 'the Civil Courts are not competent to take uognizan6e of the orders passed by Revenue Officers under Darkhast rules' and that the land claimed by the respondent ' has not been handed over to the plaintiff nor has patta been issued to him' and issues were framed with reference to these contentions.

3. In my opinion these contentions are entirely beside the point, the real question in the case being', whether the respondent has, as against the Crown acquired a valid title to the land. If he had so acquired title, he has a right to possession and it is perfectly immaterial whether the land was delivered to him by the Revenue Officers or without such delivery he entered in possession of the land. It is equally immaterial whether a patta was issued to him or not. A reference to the form and wording of a patta (see Revised Forms of village accounts,' p. 57; and Board of Revenue (Revenue Settlement, &c.;) Proceedings, No. 342, 11th July 1900, page 4) will show that as correctly characterised by the District Judge, it is in the nature of a mere bill and is not, nor does it purport to be in the nature of, a grant or conveyance See Freeman v. Fairlie1 1 M.I.A. 335. He is entitled to specific performance of the contract, if there was a valid contract binding' upon the Crown and he can claim the issue of patta if necessary. The Deputy Collector, after assigning the land to the respondent, directed the village officers through the Deputy Tahsildar to register the land in respondent's name. I presume that this is the registration of proprietors of land contemplated by Regulation' XXVI of 1802. Whether this direction was given effect to, by actually entering respondent's name in the village register as proprietor of Survey No. 159, does not appear. But that is equally immaterial, if the assignment be binding upon the Crown and the respondent can, if necessary, take step(s to enforce the registry of the land in his name under Regulation XXVI of 1802.

4. The solution of the question involve the following issues:

(1). Whether the Deputy Collector, the Divisional Officer who, it is alleged, made the grant, was competent to make a grant which would bind the Crown.

(2). Whether it was competent to him or to his successor in office, to annul and revoke such grant.

(3). Whether, if he could not do so of his own accord or on application made to him, it was competent to him to do so by reason of the Collector having authorised him to revise his order of assignment in the light of the facts then brought to notice.

5. The plea on behalf of the Crown that the Civil Courts have no jurisdiction to take cognizance of orders passed by the Revenue officers under the Darkhast rules is altogether untenable Collector of Salem v. Rangappa I.L.R. 12 M. 404. It may be that no one can advance in a Civil Court any claim against the Crown or any one claiming under it, to the grant to him, under the Darkhast rules, of land for which he has applied to the Revenue authorities under those rules Subbaraya v. The Sub-Collector of Chingleput I.L.R. 6 M. 303. Whether any such claim can in certain cases be taken cognizance of by Civil Courts in what are styled 'mirasi' villages, need not be considered in this case, for the village in question, though it is now in the District of Chingleput, is admittedly a ' non-mirasx' village. But when a person claims that a grant has been made to him by an officer on behalf of the Crown, the mere fact that the alleged grant purports to have been made under the Darkhast rules does not affect the jurisdiction of Civil Courts to determine whether a grant has been made which would bind the Crown or any one claiming under it subsequent to such grant Collector of Salem v. Rangappa I.L.R. 12 M. 404.

6. I shall, therefore, now proceed to consider the legal basis on which such grants stand and the bearing' which the so-called Darkhast rules have on the question. The law, applicable to the subject is contained in the following statutes: 21 and 22 Viet. Ch. 106, Sections 39 and 40; 22 and 23 Viet. Ch. 41. Sections 1 and 2; 32 and 33 Viet. Ch. 29, Section 1; 33 and 34 Viet., Ch. 59, Sections 1 and 2;' India Act XV of 1895 (Crown grants). Section 39 and 40 of 21 and 22 Viet. Ch. 106 vested all lands and here determents and other real and personal estate of1 the East India Company', including such as may thereafter be acquired, in the Crown, to be applied and disposed or for the purposes of the Government of India and empowered the Secretary of State in Council to sell and dispose of the same, as he may think fit, the necessary conveyance and assurances being required to be made by the authority of-the Secretary of State in Council under the hands and seals of three members of the Council his provision which restricted the authority to sell and dispose of all real and personal estate vested for the time being in the Crown, to the Secretary of State in Council alone, was found to be extremely inconvenient in an administrative point of view, and it was, therefore, enacted by Section 1 of 22 and 23 Viet. Chap. 41 that the Governor-General of India in Council, the Governors in Council of Fort St. George and Bombay, respectively and the Lieutenant-Governor of North-Western Provinces or any officer for the time being entrusted with the Government, charge or care of any Presidency, Province or District in India, may, subject to such provisions or restrictions as the Secretary of State in Council with the concurrence of a majority of votes at a meeting shall from time to time prescribe, sell and dispose of all real and personal estate whatsoever in India for the time being vested in the Crown, within the limits of their respective Governments, provinces or districts and to enter into any contracts whatsoever within the said respective limits for the purpose of the Government of India. Section 2 prescribed the form of any contract, deed or other instrument, which they may enter into and the mode of executing' the same.

7. As this form was not adopted in regard to the title-deed issued by the Inam Commissioner in the Presidency, a special statute 32 and 33 Viet. Ch, 29 was passed validating the same.

8. Section 1 of that statute--which is now spent--runs as' follows:--' No title-Seed for Inam lands issued by the Inam Commissioner in the Presidency of Fort St. George up to the date of the passing of this Act shall be deemed, invalid on the ground that such deed is not expressed therein to have been executed by order of the Governor-in-Council, or that it is expressed to have been executed on behalf of the Governor-in-Council of Fort St. George, instead of on behalf of the Secretary of State for India in Council; and all such title-Heeds shall be read and have the same effect, as if they were expressed to have been executed by order of the Governor-in-Council and on behalf of the Secretary of State for India in Council.' As it was discovered that the objection to which the Inam title-deeds were open was equally applicable to several other clauses of deeds, contracts and instruments made for the purpose of disposing of real and personal estate in India vested in the Crown and for other purposes, a general statute (33 and 34 Viet. Ch. 59) was passed validating such contracts, deeds and instruments and authorising the Governor-General, by resolution in Council, from time to time, to vary the form of execution prescribed by 22 and 23 Viet. Ch. 41 and to empower such authorities as to him may seem expedient, to vary it within the respective limits of their local jurisdiction.

9. The expression 'or any officer for the time being entrusted with the Government charge or care of any presidency, province or district' occurring in section 1 of 22 and 23 Viet. Ch. 41 has been construed in practice as including only Lieutenant-Governors and Chief Commissioners and not ' District Officers in the special Indian sense' [Ilbert, (Government of India : page 171, Section 33(4)a)]. The authority conferred upon the Governor-General by Section 2 of 33 and 34 Viet. Ch. 59 to vary the form of execution and to empower local authorities to vary the same within the respective limits of their local jurisdiction, appears to have been exercised by the resolution of the Government of India, in the Home Department of March 28, 1895 [Ilbert, 'Government of India' p. 172, Section 33(4)(d)] though 'a copy of this resolution is not accessible.' Though the Government of India and Local Governments were empowered by 22 and 23 Viet. Ch. 41, to sell and dispose of all real and personal estate whatsoever in India, for the time being vested in the Crown, yet it will be noted that the exercise of such power is made subject to such provisions or restrictions as the Secretary of State in Council, with the concurrence of a majority of votes at a meeting shall from time to time prescribe. The provisions or restrictions which may be so prescribed are really in the nature of statutory bye-laws, which if infringed by the Government of India or any Local Government, will invalidate, as against the Crown, the disposal of such real or personal estate. It appears that such provisions or restrictions have been prescribed by the Secretary of State in Council, though authentic copies of the same are not available and they do not seem to have been published in the official gazette nor in the two volumes of 'Local Rules and Orders.

10. It is, however, admitted by the Counsel foi1 the Crown that if the grant in question is regarded as made by or on behalf of the Governor-in-Council of Port St. George, it does not transgress any &1 such provisions or restrictions and that disposals of land--of whatsoever value--under the Daskhast rules are exempted from such provisions or restriction, It is also admitted, with reference to the provisions of 33 and 34 Viet. Ch. 59 and the resolution of the Government of India (dated 28th March 1895 already referred to) that disposals of land, under the ordinary Darkhast rules, need not be made by deed, contract or other instrument made and executed in any particular form. There can hardly be any doubt that all waste lands, whether assessed or otherwise, are, within the meaning of Sections 39 and 40 of 21 and 22 Viet. Ch. 106, 'real estate vested in the Crown, in trust for the purposes of the Government of India,' and that assignment of the same, under the Darkhast rules, whether on payment of a premium or price or without it, subject to the payment of assessment, is, within the meaning of the above statutes, ' sale or disposal of real estate for the time being vested in the Crown,' as much as Inam title deeds, releasing the reversionary rights of Government in the Inam lands are, within the meaning of the said statutes,' disposal of real estate vested in the Crown' and that such sale or disposal, in order that the same may be binding upon the Crown should comply with the provisions of the said statutes. The Crown Grants (India) Act VII of 1895 exempts Crown grants from the operation of the Transfer of Property Act (1882) and Section 17(j) and 90(d) of the Indian Registration Act (1877) exempt from registration, ' grants of immoveable property by Government' and 'all documents purporting to be or to evidence grants or assignments by Government of land or of any interest in land.'

11. Having regard therefore to the two admissions above referred to, made by the Counsel for the Crown and the provisions of the Crown Grants Act and the Indian Registration Act, the question t for consideration is reduced to this--whether in fact a grant or assignment has been made to the respondent, of the land in question by or under the authority of the Governor-in-Council of Fort St. George. The respondent does not contend that the grant has been made on behalf of the Governor-in-Council, by a person duly authorised in that behalf by the Governor-in-Council and that therefore it is as valid against the Crown, as fit had been made directly by the Governor-in-Council. The question, therefore, is narrowed to this--whether a grant purporting to be made under the Darkhast rules by an officer empowered to make such a grant under those rules can be regarded as one made by a person authorised in that behalf so as to give it the same validity as if it was made by the Governor-in-Council himself. It is admitted that the Darkhast' rules which purport to be published in the standing orders of the Board of Revenue have all been made with the previous approval and sanction of Government, though unfortunately no authentic record of these rules and of the sanction of Government thereto is available, so that one may be sure whether what appears in the standing orders is a verbatim edition of the rules or merely a summary thereof and whether some of them are simply interpretations of the rules or amendments thereof made with the sanction pf Government.

12. The only portion of the rules with which the courts need concern themselves $ire those which define the officers competent to make assignments of land, the extent of their authority including the description of lands which the said officers may respectively dispose of under the Darkhast rules and the degree of control by a higher grade officer to which the exercise of such authority is subject; and so far as the present case is concerned, there can be no doubt that the officer under whose grant the respondent claims, was competent to make the grant and the land which he granted--i. e., assessed waste land--was of a description which he was authorised to grant on Darkhast. The bulk of the Darkhast rules, which are in the nature of instructions issued by the Government to the various officers concerned, as to the principles which should guide them in entertaining or rejecting applications for grant of various descriptions of land and determining to which of several competing applicants the grant should be made, if at all, and the procedure to be adopted by them, do not concern the Civil Courts Periya Royalu Reddi v. Royalu Reddi I.L.R. 18 M. 434.

13. In the course of argument, I put to the Counsel for the Crown the question as to whether it was his contention that the Governor-in-Council could not, in any particular case or class of cases, lawfully delegate to any of his subordinate officers the power of disposing lands lasted in the Crown, and I also asked him whether any periodical returns of alienations of lands under the Darkhast rules, were made to Government for confirmation. He stated that his contention only was that until there is delivery of possession by the Revenue authorities and the patta is issued, there is no valid grant and that the assignments made in the Darkhast rules are not made subject to confirmation by Government. It must be admitted that there is no statutory provision authorising the Governor-in-Council to delegate his power in this respect to any subordinate officer. Such, however, has undoubtedly been the long-standing practice, and such delegation is essential in the class of cases contemplated by the Darkhast rules for the administration of the Executive Government of the Presidency, which is vested in the Governor-in-Council of Fort St. George by 3 and 4 William IV. Ch. 85, Section 56, subject under Section 69, to the control of the Governor-General of India in Council. In the case of release by the Crown of its reversionary rights in Inam lands, by enfranchisement of the Same, the Governor-in-Council delegated his power to an officer specially appointed for the purpose by an Executive Act, i.e., the Inam Commissioner and when 32 and 33 Viet. Oh. 29 was passed to validate the title deeds issued by him in a form not in conformity with that prescribed by 22 and 23 Viet. Chap. 41, Section 2, it was not considered that it was incompetent to the Governor-in-Council to delegate his powers to the Inam Commissioner as his agent and that it was, therefore, necessary to validate the same by a statutory declaration to the effect that such delegation was valid or that the action of the Inam Commissioner shall be deemed to have been ratified by the Governor-in-Council. In my opinion the various officers specially empowered by the Darkhast rules to dispose of Crown lands thereunder are really agents appointed by the Governor-in-Council in their official capacity by executive orders and are on the same footing as the Inam Commissioner who was appointed as the sole agent in regard to enfranchisement of inams. The authority conferred, under the Darkhast rules, upon the Board of Revenue, the Collector, the Divisional Officer and the Tahsildar including a Deputy Tahsildar, to dispose of various classes of Crown lands v either in the first instance or on appeal made to them, not being conferred upon them by any statute or statutory rules, they dm only be regarded as agents, generally or specially appointed by the Governor-in-Council in that behalf and their acts within the scope of their '' respective authorities are as binding upon the Crown as if they were done by the Governor-in-Council himself and as between the applicants and the Governor-in-Council, the latter should be, , regarded as a principal represented, under the general law, by Such officers as his agents. The distinction as to the extent to which acts and declarations of a private agent bind his principal and those of public agents bind the Government is well pointed out by Story [in his' Law of Agency', 9th edition (1882), Section 307 (a)] in the following terms:--'In respect to the acts and declarations and representations of public agents, it would seem that the same rule does not prevail which ordinarily governs in relation to mere private agents. As to the latter the principals are, in many cases, bound where they have not authorised the declarations and representations to be made. But in case of public agents, the Government or other public authority is not bound unless it manifestly appears that the agent is acting within the scope of his authority or he is held out as having authority to do the act or is employed in his capacity as public agent to make the declaration or representation for the Government. Indeed this rule seems indispensable in order to guard the public against losses and injuries arising from the fraud or mistake or rashness and indiscretion of their agents. [(Foot-note)--' By the law of agency at the common law there is this difference between individuals and the Government--the former are liable to the extent of the power they have apparently given to their agents, while the Government is liable only to the extent of the power it has actually given to its officers.'] And there is no hardship in requiring from private ...persons dealing with public officers, the duty of inquiry, as-to their real or apparent power and authority to bind the Government.' The same distinction was, recognized by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the Collector of Masulipatam v. Gavaly Venkatanarrainapa 8 M.I.A. 529 in the following terms:

Again the acts of a Government officer bind the Government only when he is acting in the discharge of a certain duty within the limits of his authority or if he exceeded that authority, when the Government in fact or in law directly or by implication ratified the excess.

14. Applying, therefore, the above principles of law to the present case, and extracting from the Darkhast rules that portion which really constitutes the power of attorney under which the various officers therein referred to act as the agents of the Governor-in-Council, so much as is relevant and applicable to the present case, the matter stands thus:

Under Standing Order, No. 15, Tahsildars (including Deputy Tahsildars acting within their own division,) may ordinarily grant unoccupied assessed lands to applicants on their own authority subject to an appeal to the Divisional officer, unless such land falls under one or other of the classes specified in clauses 1 to 14 of paragraph 2. The land in question is, as already .stated, unoccupied assessed land, and it is not the case for the Crown that it falls under any of the exceptions above referred to. The Deputy Tahsildar rejected the respondent's application and granted that made by Srinivasulu Reddi, subject to the result of an appeal which under paragraph 13 of the above order lies to the Divisional officer against the action of the Tahsildar in rejecting the respondent's application and granting that of Srinivasulu Reddi. The said paragraph 13 has to be read as part of the power of attorney, and its legal effect is materially to qualify the authority conferred upon an inferior agent (Deputy Tahsildar) by subjecting the exercise of that authority to the control of a superior agent (Divisional officer) who in the event of the applicant being dissatisfied with.' the action of the inferior agent and applying to him by way of appeal^ is authorised to dispose of the land to which the application relates. Paragraph 13 expressly provides that no second appeal shall lie from a Darkhast decision. If the application was originally made to a Tahsildar or Deputy Tahsildar, his action with reference thereto is liable to be superseded by an appeal to the Divisional officer whether such .Divisional officer be the Collector of the District or an Assistant or Deputy Collector. In cases in which the original application may be made to the Divisional officer himself, an appeal will lie to the Collector if the Divisional officer be an Assistant or Deputy Collector or to the Board of Revenue if the Divisional officer be the Collector himself. The action of the officer to whom the appeal lies is final and binding upon Government if his act were within the scope of his authority a The power of attorney not providing for further control by a still higher agent, neither the Collector nor the Board of Revenue can set aside a grant made by the Divisional officer on appeal, and it will Hind the Crown if it were within the scope of his authority.

15. Neither Regulation I of 1803 (Board of Revenue) nor Regulation II of 1803 (Collectors), nor Regulation VII of 1828 has any bearing upon the question. Section 9 of Regulation II of 1803 empowers Collectors to superintend and control, under the orders of the Board of Revenue, all persons employed in the administration of the public revenue 'as far as such superintendence and control may relate to the executive administration of the revenue 'under the Regulations now enacted or hereafter to be enacted.' Section 44 provides that Collectors shall not in any case authorise alienation of land without authority from the Board of Revenue, and Section 42 of Regulation^ of 1803 virtually prohibits the Board of Revenue from making or confirming alienations of land without the authority of the Governor-in-Council. I do not pause to ascertain the provisions of the Company's Charter Act then in force bearing upon the disposal of lands and here determents vested in the East India Company, (vide Section 1 and 2 of 3 and 4, William IV, Chap. 85). Under Section 3 of Regulation VII of 1828 Subordinate and Assistant Collectors in charge of a particular division of a, district are authorised ex officio to exercise, within the division under their charge, all the powers granted to Collectors by 'the Regulations 'now in force or that may be hereafter enacted.' Unless the contrary-shall be expressly declared in any Regulations, the Collectors are also authorised to delegate any of the powers granted to them by any Regulation now in force or that may be hereafter enacted to any of their subordinates or assistants in charge of a division, beyond the limits of the division under his charge. And it further provides that the proceedings of Subordinate and Assistant Collectors acting under the preceding clauses of the section shall be subject 'in all cases and in the fullest manner to the superintendence control and revision of the Collector, etc., (the italics in the above are, mine), and it will be noted that the powers of Collectors above referred to which may ex officio be exercised by any Divisional officer and which may be delegated by the Collector to any Subordinate or Assistant Collector under him are statutory powers and not powers which may be conferred by Government by executive acts and the proceedings of Subordinate and Assistant Collector which in the fullest manner are subject to the superintendence, control and revision of the Collector, are proceedings held by such Subordinate and Assistant Collectors in exercise of the statutory powers above referred to, either ex officio or by delegation from the Collector and not proceedings held by them in exercise of powers specially conferred upon them by an executive order of the Governor-in-Council or other authority. It is therefore clear that in the exercise of the authority conferred by Government under the Darkhast rules on a Tahsildar (including a Deputy Tahsildar), Divisional officer, Collector and the Board of Revenue, their respective action in the disposal of lands under these rules is not subject to any control other than that specially provided by the Darkhast rules, by ,way of one appeal from any of the officers in the District to another officer in the District, or, to the Board of Revenue as the case may be.

16. Paragraph 11 provides that orders passed in Darkhast cases should at once be communicated by the Tahsildar to all the parties concerned, and paragraph 14 provides that when an appeal is admitted the admitting authority shall forthwith send a notice to the officer whose dacision is appealed against, informing him of the fact and instructing him to withhold registry of the land until the appeal has been disposed of, or if already ordered, such registry will be only considered as conditional till the appeal is disposed of. Some stress was laid by the Counsel for the Grown upon the concluding portion of paragraph 14 which runs as follows:--' It should be distinctly understood that registry ordered by subordinate officers will be considered only conditional and that it will be liable to cancellation by superior authority, if the grant is found to be irregular and unauthorised although there may be no proof of fraud.' This is nothing more than the explicit statement of the legal consequence of any of the officers authorised to dispose of land under the Darkhast rules acting beyond the scope of their authority, i.e., that such grants will be invalid, and the mere fact that the land has been registered in the name of the applicant can give him no title as against the Crown. When the proposal of an applicant is accepted by an officer duly authorised in that behalf by the Darkhast rules and the acceptance' is communicated to the applicant, there is a valid contract and disposal of the land, unless the grant was procured by fraud See Collector of Ratangiri v. Vyankatrav N. Surve 8 B.H.C. 1:-Ed., misrepresentation, or mutual mistake as to any matter of fact essential to the agreement (Indian Contract Act, Section 17, 18 and 20). The grant, therefore, cannot be annulled or revoked by the officer who made the grant, his successor in office or even by the Governor-in-Council. Under the very terms of the authority conferred upon the various classes of officers, a grant of land made by any one of them within the scope of his authority is subject only to one condition, i.e., it may be revoked or annulled by an officer of a higher grade on appeal preferred to him.

17. Applying these principles to the present case, the grant made by the Deputy Tahsildar to Sriuivasulu Reddi in preference to the respondent being subject to the result of an appeal to the Divisional Officer by the respondent, the respondent acquired a valid title under the grant made to him by the Divisional officer in supersession of that made to Srinivasulu Reddi by the Deputy Tahsildar, He cannot be divested of that title by the Collector, Board of Revenue or even the Governor-in-Council, or by the Crown, and it is admitted that the grant was not the result of any fraud, misrepresentation or mutual mistake as to a material fact. As a matter of fact, a further appeal was preferred by Srinivasulu Reddi to the Collector against the action of the by Divisional officer and the appeal was dismissed. As I understand the Darkhast rules--as they appear in the Standing Orders of the Board of Revenue--the exercise of the authority of the Divisional officer in appeal is not subject to the result of a further appeal, whether the Divisional officer makes a grant refused by the Tahsildar or confirms one made, by him. Even if, in the present case, the Collector had, instead of having dismissed the appeal, allowed it and annulled the grant made by the Divisional officer, that in my view would have been inefficacious. After he had dismissed the appeal preferred to him, he forwarded to the Deputy Collector for disposal, the petition preferred to him by the ryots of the village praying that the land should be set apart for communal purposes, and in doing so, he expressed it as his opinion that the Deputy Collector might, if he saw fit to do so, revise his former order in the light of the circumstances subsequently brought to notice by the Deputy Tahsildar.

18. The grant made by the Deputy Collector to the respondent on 'the 25th June 1896 took effect when it was communicated to him apparently on or about the same date, or at any rate when it was communicated to him through the village officers on the 29th July 1896, (Exhibit J) and they were directed to register the land in the name of the respondent in the land register of the village the Collector's opinion that the Deputy Collector could revoke the grant, if he deemed fit to do so, is clearly erroneous and it cannot, therefore, confer upon the Deputy Collector an authority which he does not possess under the power of attorney which has to be extracted from the Darkhast rules. The cancellation of the grant by the Divisional officer and the assignment of the laud by him for communal purposes of the villagers are void as against the respondent. If the land were really required for communal purposes of the ryots of the village, the only legal course open to Government is to acquire the same under the Land Acquisition Act.

19. The second appeal, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs.

Moore, J.

20. A Deputy Collector on appeal reversed an order of a Deputy Tahsildar and directed that certain assessed lands should be made over to the respondent (plaintiff) (Exhibit H, dated 25th June 1896).' What appears to have been taken as a second appeal against this order was preferred to the Collector (vide Board's Standing Order 15, paragraph 13, which directs that there shall be no second appeal in Darkhast cases), but it was dismissed by him on the 10th August 1896.' (Exhibit L). The order of the Deputy Collector was communicated to the Subordinate Revenue authorities, and the Deputy Tahsildar on the 29th July 1896 sent an order to the head of the village directing that the land should be registered in the name of the respondent (Exhibit J). Subsequently representations were made to the Collector by the villagers that the land was required for grazing purposes and that it should be reserved, as poramboke. Enquiries were made and the Collector eventually gave the Deputy Collector permission to revise the order of his predecessor in the light of the facts that had subsequently been brought to notice (Exhibit IV). The Deputy Collector accordingly on the 25th February 1897 directed that the assignment of the land to the respondent should be cancelled, and ordered the Deputy Tahsildar to submit the necessary application for transferring the land to 'grazing ground poramboke.' The respondent on this preferred the present suit against the Secretary of State for India for a declaration of his right to the land that bad been directed to be registered in his name. The District Munsif dismissed his suit, but the District Judge reversed his judgment and gave the plaintiff a decree as prayed for. The Secretary of State has preferred this second appeal.

21. The main ground of appeal as taken in the memorandum is that 'the rules of the Revenue Board drawn up for the guidance of Revenue officers in disposing of waste lands do not constitute rights enforceable in a Court of law.' When the appeal was being argued the Government Pleader, however, also tried to show that the action of the Revenue authorities was not in reality unwarranted by the Darkhast rules. This contention, it is clear to me, cannot be maintained. The rules which are to be found in Standing Order 15 do not empower a Collector or Deputy Collector to act as has been done in the present case. The order of the Deputy Tahsildar declining to make over the land to the respondent having been set aside on appeal by the Deputy Collector, by whom a grant was made of it to the respondent, it was not open to a Deputy Collector, who subsequently succeeded that officer in charge of the division, even with the sanction of the Collector, to cancel the order granting the land to the respondent and direct that it should be transferred to poramboke. The terms of the standing order are clear as to this. The concluding portion of paragraph 14 of Standing Order 15 is as follows: - 'It should be distinctly understood that registry ordered by Subordinate officers-will be considered only conditional and that it will be liable to cancellation by a superior authority, if the grant is found to be irregular and unauthorised although there may be no proof of fraud.' Here the grant is not alleged to have been either irregular or unauthorised.

22. All that was found was that as the land was shown to be useful to the villagers for grazing their cattle it was inadvisable to grant for cultivation. There having been a valid grant of the land it was not open to the Revenue authorities the cancel the grant on the ground that it appeared to be advisable to convert the land into poramboke. That no patta was issued in the name of the respondent for the land is immaterial. It having been ordered that the land should be registered in his name and the grant in pursuance of which registry war, directed not having been shown to be irregular and unauthorised, the respondent acquired a valid title to the land which it was not in the power of the Revenue authorities to set aside.

23. The Darkhast rules are rules drawn up in the first instance by the Board of Revenue, but sanctioned by Government and promulgated under its authority. When, in accordance with those rules, a grant of land is made by the Revenue official authorised under them to make the grant, it would be impossible to hold that it is open to Government or to any subordinate acting on its behalf to cancel the grant and refuse to make the land over to the grantee, and when such a revocation of a grant is irregularly ordered by a Collector in violation of a distinct provision in the rules, the decisions in Kullappa Naik v. Ramanujachariar 4 M.H.C.R. 429 and Collector of Salem v. Rangappa I.L.R. 12 M. 404 are, in my opinion, sufficient authority for the proposition that it is open to a Civil Court to give the grantee a decree declaring his right to the land.

24. This second appeal should, in my opinion, be dismissed with costs.


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