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The Province of Madras Represented by the Collector of Tanjore Vs. Sri Vedaranyeswaraswami Devasthanam, Represented by Its Managing Trustee, K. Ponnayya Pandarasannadhi and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported in(1949)2MLJ454
AppellantThe Province of Madras Represented by the Collector of Tanjore
RespondentSri Vedaranyeswaraswami Devasthanam, Represented by Its Managing Trustee, K. Ponnayya Pandarasannadh
Cases Referred and Ramaswamy Goundar v. Ramaswamy Goundar
Excerpt:
.....supply, drainage surplus or irrigation channels in clause (a) arid threshing floor, cattle-stands, village sites and other-lands situated in any estate which are set apart for the common use of the villagers, in clause (b). but that point apart, i have no hesitation in agreeing with the view prima facie accepted by the learned judge as sound that a road poramboke is not communal property. ), quoted above, which although made in connection with a case of river bed or channel poramboke, as already observed by me, is equally conclusive of a case of street poramboke like the present. it is settled law that the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the civil courts is not to be readily inferred but that such exclusion must either be explicitly expressed or clearly implied. it is also well settled..........present case was passed by the district collector and upheld in appeal by the district judge. the learned district munsiff dismissed the suit, finding in favour of the defendants on all the pleas taken by them in answer to the suit. the learned subordinate judge, in appeal, reversed the district munsiff's decision on all the points. the first defendant accordingly appeals against the judgment and decree of the learned subordinate judge.3. the questions which arose for determination in the courts below and which the learned government pleader has argued here are of some importance, although not of any great difficulty. after reserving decision and considering all the questions carefully i have come to the clear conclusion that the appeal must fail.4. the first contention of the learned.....
Judgment:

Raghava Rao, J.

1. This second appeal arises out of a suit by the Sri Vedaranyeswaraswami Devasthanam at Vedaranyam for a declaration against the Province of Madras represented by the Collector of Tanjore as the first defendant that a portion of the Sannadhi Street in the village of Vedaranyam had been wrongly assigned by the first defendant to the second and for recovery of possession of the street property from the second defendant after removing the structures built upon it by him pursuant to the assignment. The plaintiff claimed to be the grantee of the entire village in inam from a Tanjore King of old under a grant which has not been produced but which, as appears from the inam title deed, was confirmed by the British Government in 1863. The plaintiff accordingly urged that the reversionary title to the street which was one dedicated to the public including the villagers was all along vested in it.

2. The second defendant based his title on an assignment made to him by the first defendant after its conversion into ryotwari land as the result of an order of the District Collector of Tanjore under Section 20-A of the Madras Estates Land Act, dated 31st July, 1944, which held that the street was one which had existed from before the permanent settlement, that the reversionary right to it was really that of the Government and that the property was no longer required for the purpose for which it had been originally intended and all along used. Both the defendants pleaded that the order of the District Collector was correct and that in any case, there having been no appeal preferred by the plaintiff against the order in the manner provided for in the sixth column of Part B of the schedule to the Act, the plaintiff was precluded from questioning its correctness by force of Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 189 of the Act. There was also a question of res judicata raised by the defendants in their pleadings on the basis of the decision of the District Court of Negapatam in A.S. No. 35 of 1940 confirmed by the High Court in C.R. P. No. 1506 of 1942 which related to another plot in the suit village and in respect of which an order under Section 20-A of the Act similar to the one in the present case was passed by the District Collector and upheld in appeal by the District Judge. The learned District Munsiff dismissed the suit, finding in favour of the defendants on all the pleas taken by them in answer to the suit. The learned Subordinate Judge, in appeal, reversed the District Munsiff's decision on all the points. The first defendant accordingly appeals against the judgment and decree of the learned Subordinate Judge.

3. The questions which arose for determination in the Courts below and which the learned Government Pleader has argued here are of some importance, although not of any great difficulty. After reserving decision and considering all the questions carefully I have come to the clear conclusion that the appeal must fail.

4. The first contention of the learned Government Pleader is that the reversionary right in respect of the street poramboke in the said inam village belonged to the Government. Whatever the arguability of the position taken up by him, on the authority of decisions like Narayanaswamy Naidu v. Secretary of State for India (1912) 24 M.L.J. 36 and Venkatarama Sivan v. The Secretary of State for India : (1919)36MLJ203 might have been prior to the latest ruling of the Privy Council in the Secretary of State v. Krishna Rao (1945) 2 M.L.J.352 : L.R. 72 IndAp 211 : I.L.R. (1946) Mad. 225 (P.G.) the position is, in my opinion, altogether incapable of any serious argument in view of that decision in which, construing an inam title deed like Ex. P-1 in the present case containing the words ' besides poramboke ', their Lordships held that the decision in Narayanaswamy Naidu v. Secretary of State for India (1912) 24 M.L.J. 36. must be regarded as overruled by the Urlam case (1917) 33 M.L.J. 144 : L.R. 44 IndAp 166 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 886 (P.C.) The Privy Council case like the case in Narayanaswamy Naidu v. Secretary of State for India1 was concerned, it is true, not with a street poramboke but with a river bed or channel poramboke used for the purpose of irrigation : but the passage at pages 240 and 241 of the report of their Lordships' judgment which I am quoting supplies, in my opinion, authority which concludes the present case as well adversely to the appellant.

Since the decision of this Board in what usually called the Urlam case (1917) 33 M.L.J. 144 : L.R. 44 IndAp 166 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 886 (P.C.) there can no longer be any question but that a grant of the proprietary interest includes the grantor's rights in tank, river and channel poramboke, and it is unnecessary to consider what effect, if any, such a grant has on what is called communal poramboke, such as burning grounds, threshing floors and the like. In their Lordships' opinion the judgment of the Madras High Court in Narayanaswamy Naidu v. Secretary of State for India (1912) 24 M.L.J. 36 where a contrary opinion was expressed, must be regarded as overruled to that extent, by the Urlam case (1917) 33 M.L.J. 144 : L.R. 44 IndAp 166 : I.L.R. 40 Mad. 886 (P.C.). In the present case the High Court said : ' There is not the slightest indication, that any rights were reserved by the Government except the right to collect Rs. 1,182 every year. Further, the expression ' besides poramboke' was put in to indicate that not merely the lands that were then cultivated, as dry, wet or garden were granted but also all the other rights which the grantor had, as is pointed out by the Judicial Committee in the Swamigal case (1942) 2 M.L.J. 367 : L.R. 69 IndAp 22 : I.L.R. (1942) Mad. 893 (P.C.) With this their Lordships, agree, as they do with the rest of the High Court's judgment.

In the present case, the Court is not concerned with any kind of communal porumboke as to which opinion was reserved by their Lordships but with a street poramboke which, as Mr. Chandrasekhara Aiyar, J., in his unreported judgment in. C.R.P. No. 1506 of 1942, marked as Ex. D-2 seems to have been inclined to think and which I too am inclined to think is not communal land. The learned Judge's, observation in the Civil Revision Petition which has been extracted in paragraph. 18 of the Lower Appellate Court's judgment and to which reference will be made by me in another context hereafter in this judgment runs as follows:

The second point argued before me is that a road cannot be regarded as property set apart for any communal purpose as specified in Sub-clauses (a) and (b) of Clause 16 of Section 3. Ordinarily speaking, a road is poramboke and not communal land as is the case with tank and channel beds and bunds, threshing floors, cattle-stands and village sites. The villagers would no doubt use the road, but other people who are not residents of the village might use the road as well. It is not communal property in the sense in which the other properties in Sub-clauses (a) and (b) are. There is something to be said for this view, but here again the petitioner raised no such objection to the jurisdiction of the Collector to decide the question.

It seems to me that the learned Judge's reference in this observation to tank and channel beds and bunds as communal poramboke is not in accord either with the remarks of the Privy Council in The Secretary of State v. Krishna Rao (1945) 2 M.L.J. 352 : L.R. 72 IndAp 211 : I.L.R. (1946) Mad. 225 (P.C.) in which their Lordships advert to a possible distinction between tank, river and channel poramboke on the one hand and commual poramboke such as burning grounds, threshing floors and the like on the other, or with the tenor of Section 3, Sub-section (16) of the Madras Estates Land Act which from the definition of 'ryoti land ' separately excludes beds and bunds of tanks and of supply, drainage surplus or irrigation channels in Clause (a) arid threshing floor, cattle-stands, village sites and other-lands situated in any estate which are set apart for the common use of the villagers, in Clause (b). But that point apart, I have no hesitation in agreeing with the view prima facie accepted by the learned Judge as sound that a road poramboke is not communal property. And if as to road poramboke or what is sometimes called in the Telugu part of the Presidency as Puntha poramboke, the. law is clear in zamindari areas as laid down by Varadachariar, J., in Maharajah of Pithapuram v. The Chairman, Municipal Council, Cocanada : (1936)71MLJ749 after a review of all prior decisions and a careful examination of principle with which I respectfully agree that the right of reversion is in the landholder and not in the Government, there is no reason on principle why the same should not be the case in whole inam village areas; nor can there be any doubt about the matter in view of the remarks of the Privy Council in The Secretary of State v. Krishna Rao (1945) 2 M.L.J. 352 : L.R. 72 IndAp 211 : I.L.R. (1946) Mad. 225 (P.C.), quoted above, which although made in connection with a case of river bed or channel poramboke, as already observed by me, is equally conclusive of a case of street poramboke like the present. The first contention of the learned Government Pleader must accordingly be repelled.

5. The learned Government Pleader's second contention that the suit is barred by Section 189 of the Madras Estates Land Act might, at first sight, seem sound; but must, in my opinion, go the same way as the first. The principles in the light of which the point falls to be decided are to be found stated by the Privy Council, in a passage in the decision in Secretary of State for India v. Mask & Co.(1940) 2 M.L.J. 140 : L.R. 67 IndAp 222 : I.L.R. (1940) Mad. 599 (P.C.) which runs in these terms:

It is settled law that the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the civil Courts is not to be readily inferred but that such exclusion must either be explicitly expressed or clearly implied. It is also well settled that even if jurisdiction is so excluded, the civil Courts have jurisdiction to examine into cases where the provisions of the Act have not been complied with, or the statutory tribunal has not acted in conformity with the fundamental principles of judicial procedure.

Applying these principles it seems to me as clear as clear could be that if, as held by me already, the property is not one in respect of which reversionary rights can vest in the Government, the District Collector had no jurisdiction to make the order of conversion into ryotwari land which he did make under Section 20-A (b)(ii) of the Madras Estates Land Act. The case would then be one in which ' the provisions of the Act were not complied with,' in the language of Lord Thankerton in the Privy Council decision just referred to and the plaintiff would not stand confronted with any effective bar in his way under Section 189 of the Act.

6. The third and last contention on behalf of the Government has in my judgment even less of merits than the other two. In the first place the decision of the District Judge in A.S. No. 35 of 1940 relied upon as res judicata related to a different plot of land in the suit village. Further, the view in revision expressed by Chandra sekhara Aiyar, J., in Ex. D-2 so far as it goes sounds rather in favour of the plaintiff, although his Lordship refused to interfere in revision at that juncture. Moreover, as rightly held by the lower appellate Court in the present case on the authority of the decisions in Varagunarama Pandia Chinnathambiar v. Rengasami Naidu : AIR1939Mad901 Chakrapani Rao v. Venkatadri Appa Rao : AIR1937Mad303 . The Raja of Sivaganga v. Venkatachalam Cketty (1934) 67 M.L.J. 268 and Ramaswamy Goundar v. Ramaswamy Goundar : AIR1943Mad59 the doctrine of res judicata can have-no application to decisions of revenue authorities on questions' of title, like orders under Section 20-A of the Madras Estates Land Act. All the points taken for the appellant failing, the second appeal fails and is dismissed with costs of the first respondent.

(Leave to appeal is refused).


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