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Badam Suryanarayana and ors. Vs. Yalla Bullayya Alias Venkatachelam (Dead) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1927Mad568; 101Ind.Cas.85; (1927)52MLJ323
AppellantBadam Suryanarayana and ors.
RespondentYalla Bullayya Alias Venkatachelam (Dead) and ors.
Cases ReferredGadadhara Das Bavaji v. Surya
Excerpt:
.....by his own servants or by hired labour, which would be cogent proof of the land having been enjoyed as private land. there is, therefore, good ground for holding upon the evidence on record that the suit land was not the private land of the zamindar at the time of the grant but must have been only ryoti land......the entry in the record-of-rights that defendants 1 and 2 have permanent occupancy rights in the suit lands is not correct. plaintiffs' suit was dismissed by both the lower courts on the ground of limitation and on the merits. the main contention of the plaintiffs was that the suit land, which formed part of the pittapur zemindari, was granted as a kattubadi inam prior to the permanent settlement and that the plaintiffs' father became the purchaser of this land in 1892 from the original inamdars. the contention of defendants 1 and 2 is to the effect.2. that the suit is barred by limitation, that the plaintiffs should have filed this suit in the district munsif's court but have.con-trived to file it in the court of the subordinate judge by overvaluing their claim for purposes of.....
Judgment:

Sundaram Chetty, J.

1. Plaintiffs 1, 2 and 4 have preferred this second appeal which arises out of a suit brought for a declaration that the entry in the record-of-rights that defendants 1 and 2 have permanent occupancy rights in the suit lands is not correct. Plaintiffs' suit was dismissed by both the Lower Courts on the ground of limitation and on the merits. The main contention of the plaintiffs was that the suit land, which formed part of the Pittapur Zemindari, was granted as a Kattubadi Inam prior to the Permanent Settlement and that the plaintiffs' father became the purchaser of this land in 1892 from the original inamdars. The contention of defendants 1 and 2 is to the effect.

2. that the suit is barred by limitation, that the plaintiffs should have filed this suit in the District Munsif's Court but have.con-trived to file it in the Court of the Subordinate Judge by overvaluing their claim for purposes of jurisdiction and that the suit land is a Dharmilla inam, that is, a post-settlement inam granted by the Zamindar of Pittapur, and that they have permanent occupancy rights in the same.

3. The record-of-rights was finally published in May, 1913. This fact is not in dispute. Under Article 120 of the Limitation Act, the plaintiffs should have filed this suit for a declaration within six years from the date of such publication. Their plaint was actually presented in the Subordinate Judge's Court, Cocanada, on the 7th of July 1919, on which date that Court reopened after the summer vacation. The suit was valued for purposes of jurisdiction at Rs. 4,000. This valuation is attacked on the other side as an over-valuation arbitrarily made by the plaintiffs in order to get over the bar of limitation with which they would be successfully confronted in case the suit was laid in the District Munsif's Court, Cocanada, which re-opened on the 16th June 1919 after the summer recess.

4. No rules appear to have been framed for the valuation of suits for mere declaratory decrees for purposes of jurisdiction. It has been held in Ganapati v. Chathu ILR (1889) M 223 that the value of such a suit for purposes of jurisdiction should be taken to be what it would be if the suit were one for possession of the property regarding which the declaration is asked for. The same principle has been adopted by the Patna High Court in Mohini Mohan Misser v. Gour Chandra Rai (1920) 5 Pat LJ 397. The proper way, therefore, for determining the value of this suit for jurisdiction purposes is to adopt the mode of valuation of a suit brought by a landholder for the recovery of possession of immoveable property from a tenant holding over after the period of the tenancy. According to Section 7, Clause(xi) (cc) of the Court Fees Act the value would be one year's rent and that must be taken as the value for Court-fees as well as jurisdiction. This being the special mode of valuation provided by the aforesaid section, it cannot be contended that the plaintiffs have a right to value the suit as they liked or to ask the Court to take the market value of the land as the value for purposes of jurisdiction.If the suit is one triable by a District Munsif's Court, which would be the case if the correct valuation as set forth above is adopted, the Subordinate Judge should have ordinarily directed the return of the plaint for (presentation to the Munsif's Court. That course was not adopted by him but he tried the suit himself and decided it on the merits also. Even the lower appellate Court did not direct the plaint to be returned for presentation to the Munsif's Court. No doubt Section 15 of the Civil Procedure Code states that every suit shall be instituted in the Court of the lowest grade competent to try it, but this provision does not warrant the inference that if a suit triable by a Court of a lower grade is instituted in a Court of a higher grade, the latter Court would have no jurisdiction to try that suit. Therefore the Subordinate Judge had jurisdiction to try this suit inasmuch as that Court was competent to try it under the powers vested in it by the Madras Civil Courts Act. The Calcutta High Court has held in Matra Mondal v. Hari Mohun ILR (1889) C 155. that Section 15 of the Civil Procedure Code does not preclude a Subordinate judge from trying a suit within the pecuniary jurisdiction of a Munsif's Court. The trial of the present suit by the Subordinate Judge would only amount if at all to an irregularity, but would not affect the jurisdiction of the Court. That being so, I do not think fit to upset the decision on the ground of mere irregularity and direct the plaint to be returned for presentation to a Munsif's Court, which means the commencement of this protracted litigation once again.

5. If there is no question of want of jurisdiction, the present suit which was instituted in the Subordinate Judge's Court on the day of the re-opening of that Court after the summer recess, that is, 7th July 1919, would be within time under Article 120 of the Lumitation Act, taking the cause of action for the suit to be the publication of the entry in question in the record-of-rights; but, it is however contended on the defendants' side that the setting up of permanent occupancy rights by them in their written statement in Small Cause Suit No. 97 of 1910 amounted to a denial of the plaintiffs' right and the suit for a declaration of their right must have been brought within six years from the date of such denial to the knowledge of the plaintiffs and the present suit having been filed more than six years from that date must be deemed to be barred. I cannot accede to such a contention. This is a suit which is specially allowed under the proviso to Section 179 of the Madras Estates Land Act whereby any person who is dissatisfied with any entry in a record-of-rights framed in pursuance of an order made under Sub-section (1) of

6. Section 164, wliich concerns a right of which he is in possession, may institute a suit for declaration of his right under Chapter V,I of the Specific Relief Act, 1877. The plaintiffs' grievance is the entry in the record-of-rights published in May, 1913, that the defendants are ryots with permanent rights of occupancy in the suit land. Such an entry is one covered by Section 185, Clause (b) of the Act. The publication of such an entry in the record-of-rights prepared by a Revenue Officer in respect of an estate under the orders of the Government has got a special evidentiary value, and, if no suit is brought by the plaintiffs to rectify any mistake in such entry, their rights would be permanently impaired. The denial of the lease set up by the plaintiffs in S.C. Suit No. 97 of 1910 (vide Ex. I) or the setting up of permanent occupancy rights by the defendants in their written statement cannot be deemed to be a cause of action, which would be identical with the cause of action, according to the plaintiffs, by reason of the entry in the record-of-rights referred to above. The principle of the decision in Anantarazu v. Narayanarazu clearly applies to the present case and I have no hesitation in holding that the entry in the record-of-rights affords a fresh cause of action to the plaintiffs for filing a declaratory suit and, therefore, the omission to bring such a suit within six years from the date of the previous cause of action is immaterial. I am of opinion that the present suit filed in the Subordinate Judge's Court on the basis of the cause of action which accrued to the plaintiffs by reason of the entry in the record-of-rights is not barred by limitation under Article 120 of the Limitation Act.

7. On the merits, it seems to me on a careful consideration of the arguments advanced on both sides that the conclusion arrived at by the Lower Courts is correct. Both these Courts have found upon the evidence that the suit land is a post-settlement inam. The gravamen of the plaintiffs' case was that this was a pre-settlement inam and therefore the plaintiffs cannot be deemed to be landholders within the meaning of the definition in the Estates Land Act and the defendants have not acquired any permanent occupancy rights therein. They have sadly failed to make out that it is a pre-settlement inam and the finding of the Lower Courts that it is a dharmilla inam appears to be unassailable. Even in the former Small Cause Suit it was admitted by the plaintiffs that the grant was a post-settlement inam (vide Ex. I). Though there has been some conflict of opinion, that conflict has been set at rest by the recent Full Bench decision of the Madras High Court and it may now be taken as settled that, where a Zamindar makes a post-settlement inam grant of a portion of a village with both varams on a permanent kattubadi, the grantee is a landholder within the meaning of Section 3, Clause (5) of the Madras Estates Land Act vide the Full Bench decision in Brahmayya v. Achiraju. This is in accordance with a previous decision in a L.P. Appeal which is reported in Gadadhara Das Bavaji v. Suryanarayana Patnaik. The observations of Ayling., as regards the effect of such a grant on page 687 in Gadadhara Das Bavaji v. Suryanarayana Patnaik are as follows:

What was the effect of the grant? It seems to me it was to place the inamdar in the same position as his grantor, subject only to the liability to pay quitrent which prevented him from being viewed as an owner of an 'estate'. He could deal with the land exactly as the Zamindar could before the transfer--either cultivate it himself, or admit somebody else as a tenant under him. If, as in the present case, he adopted the latter course, he placed the tenant in exactly the same position as the Zamindar would have done if the admission had been by him.

8. Vide also the decision in Appala Narasimhalu v. Sanyasi.

9. It is argued by the learned vakil for the appellants that the decisions in Gadadhara Das Bavaji v. Suryanarayana Patnaik and Brahmayya v. Achiraju proceeded on the footing that the land was ryoti land at the time of the grant by the Zamindar and therefore the principle of those decisions cannot be applied to all dharmilla inams, unless the subject of the inams is held to be ryoti land. If a dispute arises as to whether a particular land is ryoti land or the private land of the landholder the enquiry has to be made on the footing that the land shall be presumed not to be private land until the contrary is shown--vide Section 185 of the Act. Even according to Section 23 of the Act, when it becomes necessary to determine whether any land is old waste or ryoti land other than old waste, it shall be presumed to be ryoti land other than old waste until the contrary is proved. No doubt these sections lay down rules of evidence and do not indicate any rule of substantive law. It is contended on the appellants' side that even these rules of evidence cannot be applied when the question to be determined is the character of the land at the time of the grant and not at the time of the suit. This contention is in a way supported by the observations of Venkata-subba Rao, J., in a recent decision reported in Veerabhadrayya v. Rajah Naganna Naidu. Be this as it may, the plaintiffs,who have brought the present suit for a declaration that the entry in the record-of-rights is incorrect, will have to make out that the suit land is either a pre-settlement inam or was the private land of the Zamindar at the time of the grant even if it was a dharmilla inam, in order to entitle them to get the declaration sought for. They have failed to make out either of these positions. The learned Subordinate Judge has found on a consideration of the evidence on record that the suit land was waste at the time of the grant. If so, it was not under the cultivation of the landholder by his own servants or by hired labour, which would be cogent proof of the land having been enjoyed as private land. Ryoti land is cultivable land in an estate other than private land. There is, therefore, good ground for holding upon the evidence on record that the suit land was not the private land of the Zamindar at the time of the grant but must have been only ryoti land. The evidence on the defendants' side shows that they have been in possession of the suit land for several years both before and after the passing of the Estates Land Act paying rent to the inamdars. That being so, they must be deemed to be ryots in possession of ryoti land in the estate of the landholder within the meaning of Section 6 of the Act, and, as has been held in Gadadhara Das Bavaji v. Surya-narayana Patnaik.

10. For these reasons I uphold the conclusion arrived at by both the Lower Courts and hold that the entry in the record-of-rights is correct and the plaintiffs' suit has been rightly dismissed. In the result, the second appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.


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