Frederick William Gentle, C.J.
1. The appellant was the plaintiff in a suit instituted before the District Munsiff of Repalle claiming a declaration that the decree in Summary Suit No. 4 of 1938 heard by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Tenali, whose decision was upheld on appeal by the District Collector, Guntur, and subsequently by the Board of Revenue, is not binding upon him. The sole matter requiring consideration is whether the Revenue Court had jurisdiction to entertain the summary suit.
2. The appellant had occupied the office of a Karnam of a village named Surapalli for many years. In Summary Suit No. 4 of 1938 the plaintiff in that suit the defendant in the proceedings out of which this appeal arises, claimed that he was properly the karnam of the village. The ultimate result of the appeal to the Board of Revenue was that there was a decree in favour of the plaintiff in the summary suit. It is in respect of that decision that the present appellant seeks a declaration that that decision is wrong, null and void, and is not binding upon him.
3. If the Revenue Courts had jurisdiction to entertain the suit, and it would follow the appeals from the decision in the suit, then the present proceeding by the appellant has no foundation and must fail. The matter came on second appeal before Rajamannar, J. who found that the Revenue Courts had jurisdiction, the Civil Courts had not jurisdiction, and he decided the appeal against the contentions of the present appellant ; but he gave leave for an appeal pursuant to the Letters Patent. Hence the matter has come before this Bench.
4. The question whether the Revenue Court had jurisdiction is dependent upon two sections of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, 1895. Section 13(1), of that Act provides as follows:
Any person may sue before the Collector for any of the village offices specified in Section 3, or for the recovery of the emoluments of any such office, on the ground that he is entitled under Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 10 of the Madras Proprietary Estates Village Service Act, 1894, or under Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 10 or Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 11 or Section 12 of this Act, as the case may be, to hold such office and enjoy such emolument...
5. Section 21 is as follows:
No civil Court shall have authority to take into consideration or decide any claim to succeed to any of the offices specified in Section 3 or any question as to the rate or amount of the emoluments of any such office or, except as provided in proviso (ii) to Sub-section (1) of Section 13 any claim to recover the emoluments of any such office.
The other provisions of Sections 13 and 21 need receive no reference.
6. The office of karnam, to which the appellant seeks to assert a right, is one of those specified in Section 3 of the Act. Section 10 of the Act provides that when. a vacancy occurs in any of the village offices specified in Section 3, the Collector shall fill up the vacancy in accordance with the provisions of that section.
7. Mr. Somasundaram, on behalf of the appellant, argued that the Revenue Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit in which his client was the defendant since, at the time of its institution or at all, there was no vacancy in the office of karnam, and, he contended, that no suit can be entertained by the Collector under Section 13(1) of the Act unless there is a vacancy.
8. In support of his argument, he referred to the words of Section 13, particularly the following:.on the ground that he is entitled under Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 10 of the Madras Proprietary Estates Village Service Act, 1894. or under Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 10 or Sub-section (2) or (3) of Section 11 or Section 12 of this Act, as the case may be, to hold such office and enjoy such emoluments.
He argued that, by those words, the section conferred jurisdiction upon a Collector to entertain a suit only when the provisions of the cited sub-sections existed ; Section 10 of the Act deals with the filling of an office when a vacancy occurs. He therefore argued that no suit in respect of the office can be entertained save when there is a vacancy.
9. In my opinion, that contention is not sound. The authority and jurisdiction which are given to the Collector to receive a suit under Sub-section (1) of Section 13 has a limitation ; but the limitation is that the only suit which a Collector can entertain is one in which a person claims to hold an office or to enjoy its emoluments. The words to which Mr. Somasundaram referred do not relate, as he suggested, but they refer back to the words 'Any person may sue.' The section, to my mind, means this : that any person may sue on the ground that he is entitled under Section 10, Sub-section (2) or Sub-section (3) of the Act to hold an office of which he seeks to obtain possession. These words merely indicate the nature of the suit which the Collector is authorised to entertain by the section. I can find no support in the section for the argument which was put forward on behalf of the appellant. There is no limitation upon the Collector to entertain a suit, save as to the nature of the suit, namely, so far as is material in the present instance, by a person claiming to be the rightful occupant of an office. There is nothing in the section which requires that the suit can be entertained only when a vacancy exists in the office itself. It follows that Summary Suit No. 4 of 1938 was one which the Collector had jurisdiction to entertain and determine, and it also follows that the appeals which followed from the decision in that suit, also were with jurisdiction.
10. Whilst Section 21 of the Act withholds from a civil Court authority to take into consideration or to decide claims to succeed to any office specified in Section 3, I think that little need be said regarding that section. Even in its absence from the statute and even if Section 13(1) were present alone, nevertheless I cannot see that the appellant has any right to challenge the correctness of the decision of the Revenue Courts. If Section 21 were absent from the statute, then an aggrieved person would be entitled either to come to the civil Courts or to seek relief from the tribunal specified in the Act ; and having taken his grievances to the particular special tribunal and having failed there, the matter could not be brought to this Court by way of an appeal from the Revenue Courts. Further, it is quite clear that Section 21 does withdraw from the Civil Courts authority to consider claims arising under the Act. I think it desirable to add that if the tribunal created by Section 13(1) of the Act did in fact act without jurisdiction, then there would still be a right, in respect of Section 21, for the aggrieved person to come to this Court if he could show that the special tribunal had acted without jurisdiction.
11. In my view the appeal from Rajamannar, J., must fail and should be dismissed with costs of the first respondent.
12. I agree.