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Narasimha Raghavachari Vs. the Secretary of State for India in Council - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1931Mad135; (1931)60MLJ137
AppellantNarasimha Raghavachari
RespondentThe Secretary of State for India in Council
Cases ReferredSeshachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R.
Excerpt:
.....as is shown by the north arcot district manual of 1881, in which a reference is made to a mirasi right, to the hereditary possession of cultivable lands, as well as to the gradual transfer in some instances of all the shares of the several mirasidars to one individual,,in which case the village that came into the possession of a single person was styled as ekabhogam; it is, indeed, stated that mirasi privileges, which were termed swastiams, were enjoyed by brahmins, but even the earlier edition of the district manual does not refer to any such privileges as still continuing. proof is needed that the description still has the same significance that originally attached to it, and has not become a mere expression like the title of a sinecure holder. this, however, he has failed to..........about three miles of the chingleput district border. he claims to be ekabhoga mirasidar of the suit village, melwarma. the word 'ekabhogam,' according to the glossary in the north arcot district manual of 1895, means the possession or tenure of all the lands of a village by a single individual or family without any co-sharer. survey no. 128-1, the extent of which is 66/83 acres, has been assigned by the revenue divisional officer of cheyyar to some adi dravidas of a neighbouring village and the plaintiff says that the grant is in violation of his right to the said land as, in his capacity as ekabhoga mirasidar, he and his ancestors before him have been in exclusive possession of all the village lands, including waste, poramboke and communal lands. even if the government reclaims any.....
Judgment:

Bardswell, J.

1. This appeal is by the plaintiff. He is Monegar of a village in the North Arcot District within about three miles of the Chingleput District border. He claims to be ekabhoga mirasidar of the suit village, Melwarma. The word 'ekabhogam,' according to the Glossary in the North Arcot District Manual of 1895, means the possession or tenure of all the lands of a village by a single individual or family without any co-sharer. Survey No. 128-1, the extent of which is 66/83 acres, has been assigned by the Revenue Divisional Officer of Cheyyar to some Adi Dravidas of a neighbouring village and the plaintiff says that the grant is in violation of his right to the said land as, in his capacity as ekabhoga mirasidar, he and his ancestors before him have been in exclusive possession of all the village lands, including waste, poramboke and communal lands. Even if the Government reclaims any waste land for the purposes of cultivation and in the interests of revenue it has no right to assign it to strangers but the plaintiff as ekabhoga mirasidar has a preferential right to an assignment in his favour. He has, therefore, sued for a declaration that the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer of Cheyyar of 3rd June, 1924, assigning the suit land to some Adi Dravidas, is illegal, ultra vires and not binding on him. His suit has been dismissed and so he is appealing.

2. In his evidence the plaintiff as P.W. 1 defines his mirasi rights as meaning that he alone is to be pattadar of all assessed lands in the village, that no land is to be assigned to anyone else, and that he is entitled to the assignment of trees and to the rocks in the village. There is no doubt but that mirasi rights such as those to which the plaintiff lays claim used to be enjoyed to a considerable extent throughout the Presidency, but, as has been pointed out in Seshachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1, those rights gradually got lost, though they survived in the Districts of Chingleput and Tanjore. They also survived in the North Arcot District which is the district with which we are now concerned, as is shown by the North Arcot District Manual of 1881, in which a reference is made to a mirasi right, to the hereditary possession of cultivable lands, as well as to the gradual transfer in some instances of all the shares of the several mirasidars to one individual,, in which case the village that came into the possession of a single person was styled as ekabhogam; and it is remarked that instances of such a form of tenure are still to be found in those parts of the District which border on Chingleput. But a little later on the same District Manual refers to a report by a Collector of the District, soon after the cession of the Carnatic, that the mirasi system had no existence in North Arcot, There is a less ambiguous statement of the position in the revised District Manual of 1895, from which the remark as to there still being instances of the mirasi tenure to be found in the North Arcot District is omitted.

3. Further it is to be observed that both these editions of the District Manual say that the hereditary mirasi rights over cultivable land belonged only to the Vellalas, whereas the plaintiff in the present case is a Brahmin. It is, indeed, stated that mirasi privileges, which were termed Swastiams, were enjoyed by Brahmins, but even the earlier edition of the District Manual does not refer to any such privileges as still continuing. The claim, then, of the plaintiff is not one that starts with the initial advantage of being rendered probable, in the light of what has been shown to be the practice, by any recognised authority upon the state of affairs in the District of North Arcot.

4. There is no doubt as to the continuance of some such mirasi privileges as are claimed by the plaintiff in the Chingleput District. What is the nature and extent of such privileges has been discussed in Seshackala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1. The learned Judge who has decided the suit under appeal thinks that, considering that the suit village is within a short distance of Chingleput border, it is not unreasonable for plaintiff to claim that his village is a mirasi village after the Chingieput pattern. He points out that the village is not an ordinary ryotwari village, in that no pattadar other than the plaintiff is to be found in it, and he thinks, therefore, that the plaintiff is entitled to rely on his position as involving the existence of some right greater than that of the ordinary ryot. The learned Judge has then proceeded to consider what such right may be with reference to Seshachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1 and has come to the conclusion that in the light of that case the plaintiff has not on the facts established his right to such a decree as that for which he has sued. We are of opinion that in so dealing with the case the learned Judge has not looked at it from the right angle. It cannot be presumed merely from the geographical position of his village and from the fact that he is, or has been hitherto, the only pattadar in it that the plaintiff must be a mirasidar after the pattadar of the mirasidars of Chingleput. It is not even as if there was any evidence to show that the suit village had at one time belonged to Chingleput District and had been transferred to the District of North Arcot. Even, too, in Sashachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1 it has been held by Kumaraswami Sastri, J., that, though in mirasi villages the rights of Government over waste are subject to the rights of the mirasidars, yet the nature and extent of such right's are not uniform throughout the Presidency, but vary, and that the onus is on the mirasidars to prove that any specified incident attaches to mirasi rights in any particular District or portion thereof; and Sadasiva Aiyar, J., in his order of reference in the same case, has pointed out that from the decision in Sakkaji Ran v. Latchniana Gaundan I.L.R. (1880) M. 149, it is clear that the extent of the mirasi right in one village was not the same as that of the mirasi right in another village even in the same District. It is, therefore, absolutely incumbent on the plaintiff to prove what rights, if any, he possesses as ekabhogam mirasidar and we cannot start with the assumption that, because he is styled ekabhogam mirasidar as is shown to be the case, and has been hitherto the sole pattadar in a village that lies close to the Chingleput border, he must have certain privileges and then proceed to see what those privileges are, with reference not to any evidence on record but only to opinions expressed as to those privileges in Scshachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1 or any other reported decisions.

5. Proof that the plaintiff has the privileges which he claims is entirely wanting. He says that he had a sanad which was filed in some proceedings in 1880, but he does not explain why this sanad, or a copy of it, could not be put in. He merely says that he never got it back. None of his witnesses shows, nor even attempts to show, that only he has the right to patta for all the cultivable land in the village. On the other hand he himself has admitted that his cultivation of the suit' land has been treated as unauthorised, apparently without his making any protest. The witness who is most favourable to him is the karnam, D. W. 2, who has described him as ekabhogam mirasidar in official documents, who would call him hereditary mirasidar of the village and who says that 'Mirasidar' means owner of the village. This witness, however, does not say what rights attach to the position of an ekabhogam mirasidar, while the mere fact that the plaintiff is so described goes for very little. Proof is needed that the description still has the same significance that originally attached to it, and has not become a mere expression like the title of a sinecure holder. Such proof is entirely lacking. There is, of course, the fact that he has been hitherto the sole pattadar in the suit village; but it is for him to show that this is by virtue of some right which he possesses, and this he has not done. The existence of such a right in him cannot be merely inferred. As to the meaning of 'owner' which D.W. 2 gives to the word 'mirasi,' it is one that can only be accepted with qualification. The Glossary in the North. Arcot District Manual of 1895 explains mirasi tenure 'as that under which the lands of a village are divided among certain families who are called mirasidars, while Seshachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1 indicates that the right of a mirast-dar to cultivable land in a village was not an absolute but a preferential one, and Wallis, C.J., has remarked in his judgment in this case that even as regards cultivable waste the mirasidar's ownership has not been fully established.

6. In the same case it has been remarked by Ayling, J., that he could find no authority in support of any right of recovery by the mirasidars of arable waste granted by Government to another person. It is, of course, at such a recovery that the plaintiff is aiming in this suit. The same opinion has been more strongly expressed by Turner, C.J., in Subharaya Mudali v. The Sub-Collector of Chingleput I.L.R. (1883) M. 303, when he says that a Civil Court cannot compel the Revenue authorities to make settlement with a particular person, and that in the matter the discretion of the Revenue; authorities is uncontrolled. This view has been referred to with approval in Theivu Pandithan v. Secretary of State for India I.L.R. (1898) M. 433.

7. We may note that the decision in Seshachala Chetty v. Chinnaswami I.L.R. (1916) M. 410 : 32 M.L.J. (Sup.) 1, to which many references have been made in this judgment and which has been called a great deal to our attention on the hearing of this appeal, is one as to whether or no, in a mirasi village, a mirasidar was to be presumed to be the owner of the gramanatham. The decision was adverse to the mirasi claims of presumptive ownership and that is all that the case decides, all that is said as to the general rights of a mirasidar being by way of discussion. None the less we should have to treat the opinions of the various learned Judges who dealt with the case with considerable respect could the plaintiff show that his case was a case to which they applied. This, however, he has failed to do, while even that decision itself, in the judgment of Kumaraswami Sastri, J., is an authority showing that the plaintiff must establish the rights to which he lays claim by evidence.

8. As he has entirely failed to achieve this, his suit has been rightly dismissed. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs.


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