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Narayanaswamy Aiyar Vs. D. Venkataramana Aiyar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil;Property
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1916)ILR39Mad239; 31Ind.Cas.326
AppellantNarayanaswamy Aiyar
RespondentD. Venkataramana Aiyar and anr.
Cases ReferredWest Derby Union v. Metropolitan Life Assurance Society
Excerpt:
madras estates hand act (i of 1908), sections 189, 213, 134, 91 and 77 - ryotwari land-owner--illegal distraint--suit for damages--jurisdiction--revenue court--(madras) rent recovery act (viii of 1865), section 49 and 78. - - after all both sub-section (2) of section 213 and section 78 of the old act are nothing but statements of a well-known rule of statutory construction that the creation of new jurisdiction does not affect previously existing jurisdiction in the absence of express provision......were subsequently sold. the plaintiff complains that the distraint was illegal and files this suit for damages in the district munsif's court, tirupur. the question is whether a civil court has jurisdiction to entertain a suit of this description. the solution depends on the correct interpretation of sections 213 and 189 of the estates land act. clause 1 of section 213 which corresponds to section 49 of the repealed rent recovery act, madras act viii of 1865, gives jurisdiction to revenue courts to entertain suits for damages filed by persons deeming themselves aggrieved by any proceedings taken under colour of the act. that the present suit is a suit of that nature scarcely admits of doubt and the plaintiff, if he had chosen, could have filed this suit before the collector, but.....
Judgment:

John Wallis, C.J.

1. I do not think that the fact the proceedings for the recovery of rent by distraint and sale of moveable property which have given rise to this suit, were taken by a land-owner under ryotwari settlement pursuant to Section 134 of the Madras Estates Land Act, or the fact that the present suit was instituted in respect of proceedings so taken not by a tenant of such land-owner but by a sub-tenant makes any difference, because in my opinion the effect of Section 134 is to enable such a land-owner though not governed by the general provisions of the Act to avail himself of the summary remedy thereby provided for the recovery of rent, and the effect of Section 213 Sub-section (1) is to give 'any person deeming himself aggrieved by any proceedings taken under the colour of this Act' a right to sue for damages before the Collector, words which are sufficient to give the Collector jurisdiction in a suit of this nature if filed before him,

2. The question is as to whether suits as to which jurisdiction is conferred upon the Collector under Section 213(1) are withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts by Section 189.

3. Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 213 seem at first sight to suggest that it was contemplated that there should be concurrent jurisdiction in the Collector and the Civil Court in suits falling under Sub-section (1), but as against this we have the-express provisions of Section 189 which after collecting in schedules A and B all the suits and applications to be entertained by the Collector mentioning in each case the governing section goes on to provide explicitly that no Civil Court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction shall take cognizance of any dispute or matter in respect of which such suit or application might be brought or made. These provisions are express and I cannot find anything repugnant to them in the terms of Section 213 which would justify us in holding that suits which fall under Sub-section 1 of that section are triable concurrently by the Civil Court. It is, I think, immaterial whether the result of so holding is to leave little or no effective operation for Sub-sections (2) and (3), for these Sub-sections are in the nature of provisoes, and as pointed out in West Derby Union v. Metropolitan Life Assurance Society (1897) A.C. 647, it would not be legitimate to cut down the operative portion of Section 189 to which these provisoes do not in terms apply merely because otherwise the provisoes would be 'meaningless and even senseless.' What seems to me probable in this case is that Sub-sections (2) and (3) which were drafted in place of Sections 49 and 78 of the old Act were retained by inadvertence after the jurisdiction of the Civil Court had been taken away by Section 189 in this present form. After all both Sub-section (2) of Section 213 and Section 78 of the old Act are nothing but statements of a well-known rule of statutory construction that the creation of new jurisdiction does not affect previously existing jurisdiction in the absence of express provision. I desire to say, though the point in my opinion does nob arise for decision, that the effect of provisions of Sub-section (2) is not to preserve a concurrent jurisdiction in the Collector in the case of suits under Section 91; in my opinion suits under Section 91 are exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Civil Court and do not come within the provisions of Sub-section (1) of Section 213 giving the Collector jurisdiction, because I think that apart from Section 91 no suit would lie to call in question lawful orders of the Collector passed under Section 89 or 90 on the ground that the plaintiff was aggrieved by such lawful orders. The proceedings contemplated under Section 213 (1) are in my opinion unlawful proceedings done under the colour of the Act.

4. Next as regards Sub-section (3), I find it difficult to accept the suggestion that the legislature went to the trouble of enacting Sub-section (3) for the purpose of saving the right to sue in a Civil Court for reliefs other than damages in respect of causes of action as to which suits for damages lie before the Collector under Sub-section (1) even if Sub-section (3) as drafted permits of such suits. These considerations here do not affect my judgment in the order in question and I would answer the reference in. the affirmative.

Sadasiva Ayyar, J.

5. It seemed to be admitted in the arguments on both sides that Clause (2) of Section 213 of the Estates Land Act and the proviso which forms Clause (3) of the same section are somewhat ambiguously worded.

6. Reading however Section 213 (1), Section 189 and Clause (2) of schedule A together, I feel little doubt that the present suit (which is a suit seeking redress by way of damages and brought by a person feeling himself aggrieved by proceedings taken under the colour of Sections 77 and 134 of the Act) has been taken away out of the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. Clause 2 of Section 213 preserves the Civil Court's jurisdiction only incases ' not taken out of its jurisdiction by the Act' and suits for damages brought on particular causes of action are so taken away by Section 189 of the Act read with Section 213, Clause (1) and Schedule A. 21. In other words, Clause 2 of Section 213 saves the Civil Court's jurisdiction only where the suit is not brought for the relief of pecuniary damages for proceedings taken under colour of the Act, that is, where it is brought for other remedies (such as injunction, declaration, possession, etc.), if any, open to the plaintiff under the ordinary law. Similar provisions in other rent, revenue and similar special Acts showing a reluctance on the part of the legislature to take away the jurisdiction of Civil Courts over suits involving claims for other than pecuniary damages while conferring jurisdiction on Revenue Courts to entertain suits for the award of pecuniary damages in parti- ' cular cases, can, it seems to me, be quoted in support of the above view, The proviso forming Clause 3 of Section 213 takes away the jurisdiction of the Civil Court even in respect of cases claiming other redress than pecuniary damages if the redress of damages bad been already claimed by the plaintiff in a suit filed before the Collector under Clause 1 of Section 213.

7. After giving my best consideration to the whole matter, I agree with my Lord that the present suit is exclusively cognizable by the Revenue Court. It is unnecessary for the decision of this case to express a final opinion on the questions whether the remedy by a suit in the Collector's Court to set aside a distress under Section 95 can be availed of by a Government ryot's tenant whose moveables have been distrained under Section 77 and whether assuming that he could do so, the jurisdiction is an exclusive one in the Revenue Court, schedule A, Clause 10, referring only to a suit by a 'ryot' under Section 95, and the word 'ryot' being defined in Clause 15 of Section 3 of the Act so as to exclude a Government ryot's tenant from its connotation.

Srinivasa Ayyangar, J.

8. Defendants Nos. 1 and 2 who are landowners under ryotwari settlement with the Government availing themselves of the powers given them under Section 134 of the Madras Estates Land Act, distrained the crops on the land of the plaintiff, their tenant. The distrained crops were subsequently sold. The plaintiff complains that the distraint was illegal and files this suit for damages in the District Munsif's Court, Tirupur. The question is whether a Civil Court has jurisdiction to entertain a suit of this description. The solution depends on the correct interpretation of Sections 213 and 189 of the Estates Land Act. Clause 1 of Section 213 which corresponds to Section 49 of the repealed Rent Recovery Act, Madras Act VIII of 1865, gives jurisdiction to Revenue Courts to entertain suits for damages filed by persons deeming themselves aggrieved by any proceedings taken under colour of the Act. That the present suit is a suit of that nature scarcely admits of doubt and the plaintiff, if he had chosen, could have filed this suit before the Collector, But this would not take away the jurisdiction of the ordinary Civil Courts and Clause 2 of Section 213 which corresponds to the first clause of Section 78 of the repealed Act provides that 'this section shall not be deemed to bar any right of action in a Civil Court in any case not taken out of its jurisdiction by this Act.' Now Section 189 of the Act takes away the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts in respect of suits of the nature specified in part A of the schedule to the Act and suits of the nature now in question are specified in the schedule (see No. 21 of the schedule). The words of the section are quite clear and unambiguous, and if the matter had rested there, there could be no doubt that a Civil Court could not take cognizance of this suit. But it is said that this construction renders the proviso to Section 213 meaningless, because there can hardly ever be a case to which it would apply. I think it quite possible to give a meaning to the proviso consistent with the construction I put on Section 189. Persons deeming themselves aggrieved by proceedings taken under colour of the Act are not confined to relief by way of damages. They may be entitled to ask for other reliefs such as an injunction, a declaration, or recovery of the specific property. See Zamindar of Ettayapuram v. Sankarappa Reddiar I.L.R. (1904) Mad. 483. Even if the appellant is correct in his contention that the proviso would be rendered nugatory by the construction I put on Section 189, following the principle of the decision in West Derby Union v. Metropolitan Life Assurance Society (1897) A.C. 647, I should still come to the same conclusion as the words of Section 189 are quite clear and unambiguous.

9. I agree to the answer to the reference.


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