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P. Sivasankarasubramania Pillai and ors. Vs. Revenue Divisional Officer, TuticorIn and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P. Nos. 1027 and 1225 of 1963 and 424 of 1964 and A.A.A.O. No. 139 of 1964 and CRP No. 2037 of 196
Judge
Reported inAIR1968Mad171
ActsMadras Hereditary Village Officers Act, 1895 - Sections 7; Madras Revenue Recovery Act, 1864 - Sections 37-A, 38, 40 and 59; Madras Subordinate Collectors and Revenue Malversation (Amendment) Regulations, 1828 - Regulation VII - Sections 3; Madras Board of Revenue Regulations, 1803 - Regulations 1 and 2 - Sections 4, 5, 9, 60 to 64 and 67; Madras Revenue Malversation Regulations, 1822 - Regulation IX - Sections 3
AppellantP. Sivasankarasubramania Pillai and ors.
RespondentRevenue Divisional Officer, TuticorIn and ors.
Cases ReferredPrahlada Dolai v. Board of Revenue
Excerpt:
madras revenue recovery act (ii of 1864)--revenue sale--duly confirmed--sale set aside subsequently by district revenue officer suo motu--no petition to set aside sale filed under sections 37-a and 38 of act, nor any suit filed under section 59--validity or order and jurisdiction of district revenue officer considered-- madras subordinate collectors and revenue malversation (amendment) regulation (vii of 1828)--whether supervisory powers given to collectors in regulation cannot be availed of to revise orders passed by deputy collectors--held district revenue officers have power to set aside sale effected and confirmed by subordinate collectors--whether district revenue officer has suo motu jurisdiction to modify order passed by revenue divisional officer in disciplinary proceedings--held..... (1) the above cases have been directed by the learned chief justice to be posted before this full bench as kailasam, j. and venkatadri, j. (sitting singly) before whom these cases came, took the view that there is a conflict between two full bench decisions of this court chittayya v. secretary of state. ilr 55 mad 453: (air 1932 mad 377) (fb) and nagarathnammal v. ibrahim sahib, (fb).(2) w. p. 1027 of 63 arises out of proceedings under the madras hereditary village officers act, madras act iii of 1895. the question raised is whether the district revenue officer has jurisdiction to modify the order passed by the revenue divisional officer in the course of the disciplinary proceedings against a village headman w.p. nos. 1225 of 63 and 424 of 64 arises out of proceedings under the madras.....
Judgment:
(1) The above cases have been directed by the learned Chief Justice to be posted before this Full Bench as Kailasam, J. and Venkatadri, J. (sitting singly) before whom these cases came, took the view that there is a conflict between two Full Bench decisions of this Court Chittayya v. Secretary of State. ILR 55 Mad 453: (AIR 1932 Mad 377) (FB) and Nagarathnammal v. Ibrahim Sahib, (FB).

(2) W. P. 1027 of 63 arises out of proceedings under the Madras Hereditary Village Officers Act, Madras Act III of 1895. The question raised is whether the District Revenue Officer has jurisdiction to modify the order passed by the Revenue Divisional Officer in the course of the Disciplinary proceedings against a village headman W.P. Nos. 1225 of 63 and 424 of 64 arises out of proceedings under the Madras Revenue Recovery Act, Act II of 1864 and the question raised is whether after the confirmation of a revenue sale by the Deputy Collector the District Revenue Officer has jurisdiction to set it aside under Regulation VII of 1828 (The Madras Subordinate Collectors and Revenue Malversation Amendment Regulation 1828) read with section 38 of the Madras Revenue Recovery Act Elaborate arguments were advanced before us about the precise scope of the decision in both the Full Bench cases, as to the relative jurisdiction and powers of the Sub Divisional Officer the District Revenue Officer as well as the District Collector, in regard to proceedings under the enactments aforesaid. After hearing arguments of learned counsel appearing for all parties, it was noticed that there is really no conflict between the two Full Bench decisions of this Court. Even so, arguments were allowed to be proceeded with as Counsel for the petitioner wanted to convince us that the Two Full Bench decision require reconsideration on the ground that certain crucial and relevant aspects were not given adequate consideration in the two decisions. Even at the threshold we may state we are not persuaded that the matter requires a fresh consideration by a larger Bench. With respect, we are of the opinion that the view expressed in the two Full Bench decisions is correct.

(3) W. P. No. 1027/63: The petitioner herein is the village headman of Manjeerkayal and Palayakayal villages of Srivaikuntam taluk, Tinnevelly district. By his proceedings dated 8-12-1961 the Revenue Divisional Officer Tuticorin framed two charges against the village headman: (1) That he did not issue printed receipts as required by the rules for the amounts collected from the pattadars during the years 1957-1960; and (2) He had collected a sum of Rs. 1298-62 and temporarily misappropriated it for a period of six months, and after an enquiry and after hearing the explanations of the village headman, the Revenue Divisional Officer passed an order on 11-1-1962 suspending the village headman for a period of one year reckoning from 6-5-1962. The village headman did not file an appeal against this order of the Revenue Divisional Officer.

(4) But the District Revenue Officer took up the matter suo motu. He was of the view that the case was one of proved misappropriation and tat the punishment of suspension for one year was inadequate. He therefore issued a notice to the village headman to appear before him on 27-4-1962 and to show cause why the punishment should not be enhanced to one of removal from service. After hearing the explanations of the village headman the District Revenue Officer of Tinnevelly passed an order dated 29-6-1962 by which he directed that the village headman should be removed from service. Thereupon the petitioner herein, the village headman, filed a petition before the Board of Revenue objecting that the District Revenue Officer, especially when the village headman had not preferred an appeal to the District Revenue Officer against the order of suspension and the period of suspension of one year had already expired. The Board of Revenue by its order dated 4-3-1963 set aside the order of the District Revenue Officer and remanded the matter for fresh enquiry after furnishing full details of the charges, the dates of collection, the date of remittances etc., thus giving the village headman concerned an adequate opportunity to make a proper defence in respect of the charges. The Board was of the view that the proceedings were irregular inasmuch as the charges were not precise, and did not contain the requisite details. At the same time, the Board overruled the objection raise by the village headman as to the suo motu power of revision of the District Revenue Officer. The Board held that the District Revenue Officer had undoubted jurisdiction to revise the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer by virtue of section 3 of Regulation VII of 1828.

(5) This writ petition has been filed to quash the proceedings of the Board of Revenue and the District Revenue Officer, the main complaint being that the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer had become final, the petitioner not having preferred any appeal and having suffered the punishment of suspension for a period of one year.

(6) W.P. No. 1225 of 63: In a revenue sale held on 20-3-1958 under the provisions of the Madras Revenue Recovery Act the land bearing S. No. 276 of an extent of 14.36 acres situated in the village of Nedambaram, Tiruttani taluk, Chingleput district, was purchased by the petitioner in this writ petition for a sum of Rs. 65/-. This sale was confirmed by the Deputy Collector Manager, Tiruttani on 30-3-1960 and a certificate of sale was also issued. On 22-12-61 one Munikanniah, the second respondent in this petition, filed a petition before the District Revenue Officer, Chingleput to set aside the revenue sale on the ground that out of extent of 14.36 acres comprising the field S. No. 276, land of an extent of 91 cents belonging to Munikanniah and one covered by P. Nos. 11 and 18 of Seethapuram village comprised in the revenue group of Nedambaram was also sold while the arrears due were in respect of P. Nos. 25 and 2 only. The District Revenue Officer after investigation found that this bit of land, 91 cents, covered by P. Nos. 11 and 18 did not belong to the defaulter, Chinna Muniswami and set aside the sale in respect of the entire 14.36 acres by his order dated 22-10-1963. Before passing this order the District Revenue Officer issued a notice to the petitioner in the writ petition on 24-9-63 to appear at the enquiry which was fixed to 3-10-63 the writ petitioner filed an objection statement and also prayed for fixing a suitable date to enable his advocate to present his case in person. The District Revenue Officer however passed the final order on 22-10-63.

The present writ petition has been filed in the ground that the District Revenue Officer, the first respondent herein, has no jurisdiction to set aside the revenue sale, after its confirmation, no petition having been filed to set aside the sale under Section 37-A and 38 of the Revenue Recovery Act, nor any suit under Section 59 having been filed. The main objection that is raised is that the Revenue Recovery Act is a self-contained enactment, containing the entire machinery for the holding of the sales and for the confirmation or cancellation as the case may be, and that the supervisory power of the Collector under Madras Regulation VII of 1828 cannot be availed of to revise the orders passed by the Deputy Collector. On the merits, the complaint of the petitioner is that the auction was held after observing all the formalities, that there was full publicity of the proposed sale by auction, that the objector, Munnikanniah, the second respondent, was aware of the sale. He was also fully aware of the writ petitioner taking possession of the property and effecting considerable improvements investing large sums of money by levelling up the land and improving its soil, etc. The objection has also been raised that the proceedings of the District Revenue Officer offend the rules of limitation, and that in any event the sale ought not to have been set aside in its entirety when the objection by the second respondent regarding the validity or legality of the sale was only in respect of lands in which he was only in respect of lands in which he was interested, namely, an extent of 91 cents. The petitioner has also made the complaint that the proceedings of the District Revenue Officer are opposed to principles of natural justice, as the petitioner was not given adequate opportunity to place his objections with all the materials, with the assistance of his Counsel, and that the District Revenue Officer had acted with undue haste in having disposed of the matter even on 22-10-63.

(7) In the counter affidavits filed by respondents 1 and 2 the main stand taken is that the second respondent was not a defaulter and the revenue sale inasmuch as it included his land in P Nos. 11 and 18 was illegal as the revenue authorities have brought to sale all the properties included in S. No. 276 under a joint patta, over-looking that that includes not only the lands of the defaulter but lands of the other people who are not in arrears. On the legal question their contention is that the District Revenue Officer has undoubted powers of revision under Madras Regulation VII of 1828 and the same could be exercised even after the confirmation of the sale and even if there was no petition under Ss. 37-A and 38 of the Revenue Recovery Act.

(8) W. P. No. 424 of 1964: This petition has been field to quash the order of the Collector of Coimbatore dated 16-5-1963. The petitioner herein, one Navaneethakrishnan Chettiar, purchased in a revenue sale certain properties of an extent of 11.87 acres belonging to one Kandaswami Gounder, the defaulter. The Sub Collector of Pollachi confirmed the revenue sale after overruling the objections raised by the defaulter by his petition dated 7-2-62. The sale certificate was issued to the petitioner on 5-10-1962. The defaulter took up the matter to the District Collector, Coimbatore who by his order dated 16-5-1963 set aside the sale. The petitioner preferred a petition to the Board of Revenue objecting that the District Collector had no power to set aside the sale, and that the order was also bad inasmuch as the District Collector passed the order without notice to the petitioner. The Board of Revenue rejected this petition on 3-3-1964. It is to quash the order of the District Collector dated 16-5-1963 that the present writ petition has been filed.

(9) After this order of the District Collector, proceedings were taken in the civil court. The writ petitioner the auction purchaser, filed a petition under section 40 of the Revenue Recovery Act before the District Munsif, Udumalpet, praying for delivery of the property that was purchased by him, while the defaulter filed an application for recalling the warrant of delivery on the ground that the District Collector had set aside the sale. The District Collector had set aside the sale. The District Munsif held that the District Collector had no jurisdiction to set aside the sale and directed possession to be delivered to the auction purchaser. On appeal the learned District Judge confirmed the decision of the District Munsif. The defaulter has preferred C. M. S. A. 139 of 1964 and alternatively a revision, C. R. P. 2037 of 1964, against the order of the learned District Judge.

(10) Kailasam, J. called for a finding as to whether the District Collector while setting the sale gave notice to the writ petitioner. Navaneethakrishnan Chettiar, and the District Munsif has submitted his findings (dated 31-5-1965) that the District Collector disposed of the appeal of the defaulter and set aside the sale without notice to the present writ petitioner. The points raised in W. P. 424 of 64 and C. M. S. A. 139 of 64 and C. R. P. 2037/64 are the same, namely, the jurisdiction of the District Collector to set aside the revenue sale after it had been confirmed.

(11) From the above narration of facts it will be seen that the points raised in W. P. Nos. 1225 of 63 and 424 of 64 relate to the stage at which the District Collector can exercise his powers, under the Revenue Recovery Act, of confirming, modifying or setting aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer, as well a the restriction on the power and the jurisdiction of the District Collector as to the period of limitation and the grounds on which the District Collector could interfere with the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer.

(12) In W. P. 1027 of 1963 the point that is in dispute in whether the District Revenue Officer has any jurisdiction to interfere with an order passed by the Revenue Divisional Officer under section 7 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, imposing a punishment upon his subordinates. In these proceedings we are not concerned with the powers of the Board of Revenue, appellate or revisional. Before proceeding further a brief reference to the salient provisions of the relevant enactments can be made.

(13) The first is the Madras Board of Revenue Regulations, 1803, Madras Regulation I of 1803, which was enacted to abolish or abrogate the judicial authority of the Board of Revenue in those districts where zilla courts had been established. The object of the enactment, at the same time, was to preserve and retain the power of the Board, in so far as it related to the executive administration of the public revenue. Sections 4 and 5 of that regulation are clear to the effect that the powers of superintendence of the Board of Revenue and control over the subordinate authorities employed in the executive administration of the public revenue are confined to the (executive) administrative and that this power of revision or superintendence or control will not extend to judicial matters.

(14) The next is the Madras Regulation II of 1803, the Madras Collectors Regulation, which was enacted for describing and determining the conduct to be observed by Collectors as well as for defining the power and authority conferred upon the Collectors. The power of control and superintendence of the District Collector which is defined and contained in section 9 of the Regulation is on the same lines as that of the Revenue Board specified in section 5 of Regulation I of 1803. Section 9 of Regulation II of 1803 is practically the same as section 5 of Regulation I of 1803, with this difference that the word 'Collectors' takes the place of the word 'Board'. In Sections 60 to 64 and 67 of Regulation II of 1803 we find reference to Collectors and Assistants to Collectors.

(15) Madras Regulation IV of 1822 and Madras Regulation III of 1823 were enacted empowering Collectors to deal with cases of malversation by subordinates in revenue affairs prescribing rules to be observed in the investigation of such cases and for recovery of money embezzled or corruptly received by public servants. The next important regulation is Madras Regulation VII of 1828 called the Madras Subordinate Collectors and Revenue Malversation (Amendment) Regulation, 1828. The purpose of the Regulation as indicated by the preamble was to empower subordinate, deputy and assistant Collectors to exercise within their divisions all the powers of the Collector with regard to cases and proceedings under the Madras Revenue Malversation Regulation, IX of 1822. But, section 3 of this Regulation, which confers the power and authority upon the subordinate, deputy and assistant Collectors is significantly in its language taking within its sweep not only mattes (malversation by subordinates) covered by Regulation IX of 1822 but various other proceedings under other regulations and enactments then in force or that may be enacted in future. Section 3 has got a vital bearing upon the points to be decided and it is necessary to set out the same:

"3. First: A Subordinate, Deputy or Assistant Collector in charge of a particular division of a district shall ex-officio have authority to exercise within the division under his charge all the powers granted to Collectors by the Regulations now in force, or that may be hereafter enacted, unless the contrary shall be expressly declared in any Regulations.

"Third--The proceedings of Subordinate, Deputy and Assistant Collectors acting under the preceding clauses shall be subject, in all cases, and in the fullest manner, to the superintendence, control and revision of the Collector, who shall have power either to direct, generally, that the proceedings of any of his, Subordinates, Deputies or Assistants shall be regularly submitted to himself before the decision, order or sentence is carried into execution, and to confirm, modify or annual them or issue any further orders in the case as he may see fit; or in any particular case to direct that the decision, order or sentence of any of his Subordinates, Deputies or Assistants shall not be carried into execution, and to pass such further orders as he may see fit."

(16) Even at this stage it is important to notice that so far as his district is concerned, the entire responsibility is placed upon the Collector and in order to enable him to effectively discharge his duties he is given an all embracing plenary power of control and superintendence over his subordinates, assistant Collectors etc. This power of superintendence is expressly stated to be in the fullest manner and the Collector is conferred the power to confirm, modify or annual the decisions of his subordinates, and he is also clothed with the power to direct his subordinates are carried into execution or even to direct that the decision or order of the subordinate shall not be carried into execution. Another important aspect to be noticed in this Regulation is, this statutory conferment upon the subordinate, deputy and assistant Collectors of all the powers granted to the Collectors under the law include expressly laws in force then, as well laws that may be enacted in future unless there is any express indication to the contrary in any of these laws either then in force or to be enacted in future.

(17) The next is Madras Act VII of 1857 which provides for the appointment of Deputy Collectors and Deputy Magistrates and the conferment upon the Deputy Collectors of the powers of the District Collector as may be assigned to him from time to time by the Collector of the District, subject to the proviso that the same shall be subject to the same control in all respects as in the case of a covenanted Assistant Collector.

(18) The Madras Deputy Collectors Act. VII of 1914 was enacted repealing Madras Act VII of 1857. At the same time it provided that the expressions "Sub Collector" and "Assistant Collector" in section 3 of Madras Regulation VII of 1828 shall include and be deemed always to have included the Deputy Collector appointed under Madras Act VII of 1857. The effect of these Laws and Regulations is that the Assistant Collectors, Sub Collectors and Deputy Collectors have been empowered to exercise all the powers granted to the Collectors, subject to the wide power of superintendence control and revision by the Collector under section 3(3) of Regulation VII of 1828.

(19) The next in order comes the Madras Revenue Recovery Act, II of 1864. It purports to be a consolidating legislation concerning recovery of arrears of revenue of the State of Madras and Regulations I and II of 1803 are declared to be inoperative as respects arrears of revenue recoverable under this Act II of 1864. Sections 25 to 44 of this Act deal with the procedure for the recovery of arrears of revenue by attachment and sale of the immoveable property, setting aside of such sales, delivery of possession and such connected matters. Section 37 provides that if the defaulter makes a tender of the arrears before the date of the sale, the sale shall be stayed. Section 37-A provides for the setting aside of the sale of the immoveable property on deposit (by any person owning or claiming an interest in the immoveable property sold) the amount of the arrears of revenue and other miscellaneous amounts mentioned therein. Section 38 provides for the setting aside of the revenue sale in case an application is made to the Collector within thirty days from the date of the sale on the ground that the sale is vitiated by some material irregularity, mistake or fraud in publishing or conducting the same, subject to the proviso that the Collector should be satisfied to the proviso that the Collector should be satisfied that the applicant has sustained substantial injury by reason of the irregularity or the mistakes. Section 38(3) reserves to the Collector a residuary power to set aside the sale. As there is serious controversy about the precise ambit of the Collector's power it is necessary to set out the same:

"Section 38(3):

"On the expiration of thirty days from the date of the sale, if no application to have the sale set aside is made under section 37-A or under clause (1) of this section or if such application has been made and rejected the Collector shall make an order confirming the same; provided that, if he shall have reason to think that the sale ought to be set aside notwithstanding that no such application has been made or on grounds other than those alleged in any application which has been made and rejected, he may after recording his reasons in writing, set aside the sale."

Sec. 38(5) provides for the issue of a certificate of sale by the Collector to the purchaser and for registering the lands sold in the name of the purchaser after the confirmation of the sale. section 39 provides for the publication in the villages in which land sold may be situate and in the office of the Taluk and in the District Gazette details about the revenue sale, name of the purchaser etc. Section 40 provides the machinery for involving the assistance of the civil courts of competent jurisdiction for putting the purchaser in possession. Section 44 provides that the Collector or other officer empowered by the Collector in this behalf may sell the entire land or a portion of the same for the recovery of the arrears subject to the proviso that so far as may be practicable no more land should be sold than may be sufficient to discharge the arrears of revenue and expenses of the same. The next important provision of this enactment is Section 59 which saves the rights of aggrieved persons to seek redress in a civil court subject to the limitation that civil courts shall not entertain any suit unless the same is instituted within six months from the time at which the cause of action arose.

(20) Reference may next be made to the Hereditary Village Offices Act, Madras Act III of 1895 which repealed Regulation VI of 1831. This Act was enacted to provide for the appointment and succession to hereditary village officers, for the hearing and disposal of claims to such offices and emoluments annexed thereto, and for punishment of village officers for misconduct, neglect of duty etc. The village officers were classified into several groups. Section 7 provides for disciplinary proceedings and the procedure to be adopted by the Collector in such proceedings. Section 7(a) and 7(b) confer the power upon the Collector to impose various punishments, fine, suspension, dismissal and removal of the village officer concerned. Section 10(5) provides the procedure to be adopted for appointing a deputy if the office-holder for the time being happens to be a minor. Section 10(6) provides for filling up of the vacancy caused on resignation, dismissal, removal or suspension. Section 13 provides for a right of suit before the Collector for the establishment of a right to the office and for the recovery of the emoluments. Section 15 confers the power upon the District Collector to transfer to his own file any suit on the file of the Revenue Officer in charge of a division of a district or from the file of one such officer to that of another or to the file of an Assistant or a Deputy Collector not in charge of a division. Section 18 provides the machinery by which the officer who is seized of the proceeding is empowered to obtain the decision of the Board of Revenue in the contingencies referred to therein. Section 23(1) provides for an appeal to the District Collector from every order passed by the Collector under S. 6 or S. 7 and from every decree or order passed by a Collector in a suit preferred under S. 13, the time limit being on month. If the said order or decree was passed by the District Collector a right of appeal to the Board of Revenue within a period of three months is also given and the decision of the District Collector on an appeal or that of the Board as the case may be is made final. Proviso to section 23(1) provides that in the case of the head of the village and the village accountant a second appeal shall lie to the Board of Revenue (within three months) against the decision of the District Collector on appeal (a) in suits preferred under S. 13 or (b) dismissing or removing such a village officer. Section 23(2) provides for an appeal against an order passed by a Tahsildar or Deputy Tahsildar within a period of one month to the Collector. Section 24 contains the provision that when an appeal is filed before the District Collector or Collector in respect of any decision rendered by him in another capacity, he shall report the fact to the Board of Revenue or to the District Collector as the case may be, and the appeal shall be disposed of by the said Board or the District Collector and the order passed in such appeal shall be final. It may be noticed that in this Act reference is made to the Collector and the District Collector without any (I of 1891) definition of the same. The Madras General Clauses Act defines the Collector as including every officer, who for the time being, is authorised to exercise the powers for the Collector 'District Collector' is defined as meaning the chief local officer in charge of the revenue administration of a district.

(21) The question whether there is any conflict between the two Full Bench decisions of this Court, (FB) may be first

disposed of. The Full Bench in ILR 55 Mad 453 : (AIR 1932 Mad 377) (FB) was constituted to resolve the conflict between two earlier Bench decisions, Gnanasambandha Pandarasannadhi v. David Nadar (1904) 14 Mad LJ 433 and Brahmayya v. Pappusetty 51 Mad 695.

In David Nadar (1904) 14 MLJ 433 there was a revenue sale and the same was confirmed by the Deputy Collector in charge of the division after dismissing an application to set aside the sale and possession of the property was also delivered to the purchaser, while an appeal to the District Collector was pending against the confirmation of the sale by the Deputy Collector. The District Collector on appeal set aside the sale and an application was made to the District Munsif to redeliver the property to the owner (defaulter). On behalf of the purchaser it was argued that once a certificate of sale was granted by the Deputy Collector, the power of the Collector came to an end. But this argument was not accepted. It was held that the power which the Deputy Collector derived under clause (1) (of section 3) of Madras Regulation VII of 1828 was subject to the complete control of and supervision and revision by the Collector of the District under clause (3) of section 3 of Regulation VII of 1828 by which the Collector may confirm, modify or annual the order of his subordinates. The Bench pointed out that the only authority entitled to act in such matters, i.e. revenue recovery proceedings, is the Collector of the District and that the power of the subordinates of the Collector to deal with such mattes is derived "altogether from outside the Act," Madras Act II of 1864, that the power is derived only under Regulation VII of 1828, and that that power in express language of its conferment is subject to the paramount power of revision of the District Collector.

In Brahmayya v. Pappusetty, ILR 51 Mad 695 = (AIR 1928 Mad 499(2)), the Revenue Divisional Officer confirmed the sale and later on, when he noticed some irregularity he himself wrote to the District Collector for setting aside the sale and the sale was accordingly set aside. The attention of the Bench was not drawn to the previous Bench decisions, (1904) 14 Mad LJ 433, and it was held that the Revenue Divisional Officer is a Collector within the meaning of Sections 37-A and 38 of the Madras Revenue Recovery Act, that the Revenue Divisional Officer therefore was the only officer to confirm the sale or set aside the same, that when he did not set aside the sale under Sec. 38(3) the sale became final and unimpeachable, and that the District Collector had no jurisdiction to set aside the sale relying on the general powers of revision under Madras Registration VII of 1828. It was also held that the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act are complete and cannot be affected by a General Act, like Regulation VII of 1828.

(22) In view of this conflict the Full Bench in ILR 55 Mad 453 = (AIR 1932 Mad 377) (FB) was constituted and in a very brief judgment the correctness of the view of the earlier Bench in (1904) 14 Mad LJ 433, was approved on the ground that the later Bench decision in ILR 51 Mad 695 = (AIR 1928 Mad 499(2)) proceeded upon a misconception that the definition of 'a Collector' in the General Clauses Act applied to Regulation VII of 1828 or to the Revenue Recovery Act. It will thus be noticed that the short or limited question which the Full Bench had to consider related to the jurisdiction of the District Collector to set aside a sale under Sec. 38(3) of the Revenue Recovery Act read with Sec. 3(3) of Madras Regulation VII of 1828 when the Revenue Divisional Officer has already confirmed the sale.

(23) The reference to the Full Bench in (FB) arose on account of the doubts entertained about the correctness of the view taken by an earlier Bench of this Court, consisting of Govinda Menon and Basheer Ahmad Sayeed, JJ., in an unreported case LPA No. 225 of 1952 (Mad), concerning the powers of revision of the Board of Revenue in a proceeding under the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, Act III of 1895. In (FB), on the vacancy caused by a

permanent hereditary karnam the Sub Collector recognised the minor son as the office-holder and appointed a muslim to be the deputy. The mother preferred an appeal to the District Collector who set aside the same and directed the Sub Collector to appoint some other nominee. This muslim deputy preferred a revision petition to the Board of Revenue which set aside the order of the Collector and confirmed the muslim as deputy. The mother preferred a revision petition to the Government which declined to interfere on the ground that they had no powers of revision. A writ petition was filed by the mother to quash the order of the Board of Revenue on the ground that it (the Board) had no jurisdiction to interfere with the order of the District Collector.

(24) From the above it will be seen that the only point that arose for decision in that case related to the powers of revision of the Board of Revenue. It was held that under Sec. 5 of the Board of Revenue Regulation I of 1803 the power of superintendence and control of the Board of Revenue was limited to the executive administration of the revenue, and that under the guise of superintendence and control over persons employed in the executive administration the Revenue Board cannot give instructions to the subordinate authorities in respect of other matters. After an examination of the provisions of the various enactments (referred to earlier in this Judgment) the Full Bench held that the holders of offices governed by Act II of 1894 or Act III of 1895 cannot in relation to their offices be dealt with except in the manner provided by the relevant statute, and that "neither the Revenue Divisional Officer, nor the District Collector nor the Board of Revenue can touch them except in the manner that the statute permits". It was pointed out that "when a statute takes over and occupies the field previously not regulated by legislation the rights and powers conferred and the obligations imposed by the statute must be worked out within the statutory frame work." It was also held that the Board of Revenue has no general powers of supervision or revision as such a power is not conferred under Act III of 1895. The Full Bench pointed out that though an appeal before the District Collector in respect of an order of appointment of a deputy under Sec. 10(3) would not lie the order of the District Collector could be treated as intra vires as an order in revision by virtue of Sec. 3(3) of Regulation VII of 1828. It is important to notice that in recognising the power of revision of the District Collector under Regulation VII of 1828 the Full Bench referred with approval to the two Bench decisions of this Court, Srinivasa Aiyangar v. Jagannatha Aiyangar, 1938-2 Mad LJ 488 = (AIR 1935 Mad 903) and Seshagir Sarma v. State of Madras in which the

revisional power of the District Collector was upheld by virtue of Regulation VII of 1828. There is no conflict between (FB). The two decisions dealt with two different enactments, though in both, the scope of the powers of the District Collector under Regulation VII of 1828 came up for discussion. The important point to be noticed is that such observations as are made in the judgment of the later Full Bench only support the ratio decidendi in the earlier Full Bench, ILR 55 Mad 453 = (AIR 1932 Mad 377) (FB) though there was no specific reference to that decision. In other words, far from the later Full Bench revealing any divergent note, the trend of reasoning therein, so fare as the power of revision of the District Collector under Regulation VII of 1828 is concerned it is on the same lines as the earlier Full Bench.

(25) The Full Bench decision in ILR 55 Mad 453 = (AIR 1932 Mad 377) (FB) is binding upon this Bench as constituted and it directly governs W. P. Nos. 1225 of 63 and 424 of 64. But as the judgment therein is very brief containing no discussion and as it simply affirms the correctness of the earlier Bench decision in (1904) 14 Mad LJ 433 overruling the later Bench decision in ILR 51 Mad 695 = (AIR 1928 Mad 499(2)), we permitted learned counsel (appearing on all sides) to address arguments as they wanted an opportunity to convince us that the Full Bench decision in ILR 55 Mad 453 = (AIR 1932 Mad 377 (FB) may have to be referred to a fuller Bench as requiring a reconsideration. In this judgment we are dealing with these arguments only in that particular context, and for that limited purpose of expressing our opinion that ILR 55 Mad 453 = AIR 1932 Mad 377 (FB) does not require reconsideration.

(26) Mr. V.K. Tiruvenkatachari, the leading Counsel, for the petitioners stressed the following points. The Madras Revenue Recovery Act is a self-contained enactment, that the entire procedure or machinery as well as the jurisdiction and the power of the Collector to set aside or confirm a sale are contained in Section 37-A and Sec. 38 that apart from those provisions, there is no other residuary power in the exercise of which the District Collector could set aside a revenue sale. If no application to set aside the sale had been made within the time limit of thirty days from the date of the sale, (barring cases of fraud under Sec. 18 of the Limitation Act, which would give an extended period after the discovery of the fraud), and if the sale had been confirmed by the Sub Collector the purchaser could not be deprived of the valuable rights that have accrued to him by the exercise of the revisional power by the Collector at any time he so pleases. This power of superintendence, control and revision which is reserved to the Collector under Regulation VII of 1828 is only to operate as a check and control over the acts and decisions of subordinate or assistant Collectors, so that they would act strictly in conformity with the within the limits of the several Regulations and Acts. As this is the sole object of the reservation of the power of superintendence and revision, the District Collector will have no jurisdiction to interfere with such acts or decisions of the subordinate or assistant Collectors, if their acts or decisions in enforcing or administering the several laws are not vitiated by any error of law or fact or illegality or irregularity. If the Sub Collector confirms the sale either after dismissing an application filed to set aside a sale on the ground of some material irregularity, mistake or fraud under Sec. 38(1) or on the ground that he saw no reason to set aside the sale under the proviso to Sec. 38(3), the District Collector cannot interfere with that decision under Regulation VII of 1828. Learned Counsel urged that Sec. 3(3) of Regulation VII of 1828 cannot have an independent operation and that the power of the District Collector should be exercised in harmony with the scheme and the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act. Recognition of any residuary power (in the Collector) not subject to any limit of time, or any other restriction with regard to the actual incidents of the sale would defeat and cut at the root of security of title acquired in revenue sales. If the title acquired under the revenue sale were to be so precarious and indefinite as being exposed to this risk of being set aside or cancelled by the District Collector at any time he so pleases and without any restriction, nobody would purchase any property in a revenue sale with the result that the purpose of the Revenue Recovery Act would be frustrated and arrears of revenue could never be realised.

(27) In support of this contention, learned Counsel placed reliance upon a later Full Bench decision of this Court in

Venkatanarasimhacharyulu v. The Secretary of State for India, ILR 1942 Mad 264 = (AIR 1941 Mad 933) (FB), and the observations at page 267, suggesting the view that if the Subordinate Collector has confirmed the sale the only remedy is that the power of the District Collector under Regulation VII of 1828 must be invoked within thirty days or in the case of fraud within thirty days after the discovery of such fraud.

(28) We are not inclined to accept this contention as the several limbs thereof are contrary to the plain language of the provisions, Section 38 of the Revenue Recovery Act and Sec. 3 of Regulation VII of 1828. While determining the legality of the order of the District Collector which sets aside or modifies the decision of the Assistant or the Sub Collector the question has to be considered with respect to three distinct separate aspects: (1) when the Revenue Divisional Officer ex-officio exercises the powers of the Collector, is there any restriction or limit as to the time or the circumstances under which a sale can be set aside or confirmed by the Revenue Divisional Officer? (2) If the Revenue Divisional Officer has confirmed or set aside the sale and if the v is of the contrary view, is there any time limit within which the District Collector should exercise the powers of revision expressly reserved under Sec. 3(3) of Regulation VII of 1828? (3) Has the District Collector any jurisdiction to interfere with the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer even when the former is satisfied that the act done or the decision rendered by the Revenue Divisional Officer is correct and is in conformity with the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act?

(29) As regard aspect (3) it has to be recognised that even though the power of superintendence, control and revision reserved to the Collector under Sec. 3(3) of Regulation VII of 1828 is in very wide terms and the proceedings of the Subordinate or Assistant Collector are subject to revision in "the fullest manner" a restriction has to be imposed as necessarily flowing from the provisions of the particular statutes which the Subordinate or Assistant Collector enforces or administers. The wide language employed in Sec. 3(3) of Regulation VII of 1828 does not mean that the Collector can pass any order which the Subordinate or Assistant Collector could not himself have passed under Sec. 38. The power of revision would extend only to the limit of enabling the District Collector to substitute his own order which he could have passed within the frame-work of the Revenue Recovery Act and within the strict limits and subject to the provisions of Section 38(1) and 38(3). In this connection reference may be made to the two recent decisions of the Supreme Court arising under the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act in Arunachalam Pillai v. M/s. Southern Roadways Ltd., and Abdul Mateen v. Ram Kailash, AIR 1963 SC

64.

(30) In , the Supreme Court had to consider the scope of the power of revision which was vested in the State Government under Sec. 64-A of the Motor Vehicles Act (Madras Amendment). The argument was that the provision empowering the Government to pass such orders in reference thereto as it thinks fit is very wide in expression and does not admit of any limitation. The Supreme Court rejected this argument holding that however wide the expression may be, it does not mean that the State Government could pass an order in exercise of revisional jurisdiction which the authority whose order the Government was revising had no jurisdiction to pass. The Supreme Court observed that no such unrestricted authority was vested in the Government and that the words 'as it thinks fit' must mean 'within the ambit of the provisions of the Act'. In the later decision. AIR 1963 SC 64 the Supreme Court had to consider the ambit of the power of revision of the State Government under Sec. 64-A (Bihar Amendment) of the Motor Vehicles Act. That section provided that "the State Government may, on an application made to it in this behalf within thirty days of the passing of the order in the course of any proceeding taken under this chapter by any authority or officer subordinate to it, call for the records in such proceeding and after examining such records pass such orders as it thinks fit". After referring to the earlier decision in the Supreme Court pointed out that when the

revisional power is exercised the revisional authority is as much subject to the statutory provisions in the Motor Vehicles Act as the subordinate original authority i.e., the Regional Transport Authority. It was emphasised that while dealing with a revision the State Government must act in the same manner as the Regional Transport Authority and its order will be subject to the same restrictions as those impose upon the Regional Transport Authority.

(31) Reference may also be made to the following oft-quoted observations of Lord Sumner in Rex v. Nat Bell Liquors Ltd., 1922-2 AC 128 at page 156:

"Its jurisdiction is to see that the inferior court has not exceeded its own and for that very reason it is bound not to interfere in what has been done within that jurisdiction for in so doing it would itself in turn transgress the limits within which its own jurisdiction of supervision not of review is confined. That supervision goes to two points one is the area of the inferior jurisdiction and the qualification of its exercise; the other is the observance of the law in the course of its exercise."

We may also refer to the observations of Bhashyam Aiyangar, J. in the Secretary of State v. Kasturi Reddi ILR 26 Mad 268 at pages 281-282. In that case it was held that if a dharkast grant has been made by a subordinate revenue officer acting within the scope of his authority and if the same has been confirmed by the appropriate appellate authority his action or decision cannot be set aside by the Government After referring to Sec. 3 of Regulation VII and in particular the clause "shall be subject in al cases and in the fullest manner to superintendence, control and revision of the Collector" the learned Judge observed that when the Revenue Divisional Officer ex-officio exercises the power of the District Collector the respective actions of the subordinate revenue officers, are not subject to any control other than that specially provided by the dharkast rules.

(32) We are of the clear opinion that the power of revision of the District Collector is confined to the ambit of the provisions of the Act, and cannot extend to collateral mattes or objects alien to the enactment in question. For instance, it would not be competent to the District Collector to set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer, because, it so pleases, even though he is of the opinion that the decision of the Sub Divisional Officer is in perfect conformity with the provisions of the Act, and if the District Collector himself was seized of the proceeding under Sec. 38 (instead of the Revenue Divisional Officer) right from its inception, he would have passed an identical order. Relying upon the wide language in Sec. 3(3) of the Regulation, the District Collector cannot exercise an undefined, unrestricted or an unlimited plenary power outside the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act. For instance, he cannot set aside the revenue sale because the purchaser belongs to a particular community, or to a particular political party or he already owns a vast extent of property in that locality or village. These are totally extraneous considerations, nothing whatsoever to do with the object or the purpose of the Act or its scheme. The correct legal position is that wherever the legality or the correctness of the order of the District Collector passed in revision under Sec. 3 of Regulation VII is questioned, it must be shown that the District Collector acting within the scope of his authority could have himself passed the order in question, if he had acted as the original authority. His decision should conform to the limitations and restrictions, whatever they may be, express or arising by necessary implication in the context of Sec. 38.

(33) We shall now take up for consideration, aspect No. 1, i.e. the authority and jurisdiction of the Revenue Divisional Officer when he acts under Sec. 38. Sec. 38 contains two limbs. It provides a right to the party aggrieved to apply within thirty days from the date of the sale to set aside the same on the ground of material irregularity, mistake or fraud. The Revenue Divisional Officer can pass appropriate orders thereon, either setting aside the sale or confirming the same. The proviso to Sec. 38(3) confers the power to set aside sale even if no application had been made or even if an application has been made and rejected, on grounds other than those alleged in such an application.

For exercising this power, under this proviso there is no time limit specified. After the expiry of thirty days from the date of the sale, the aggrieved party loses the statutory right; but it is still open to the Revenue Divisional Officer to set aside the sale if he is satisfied that there are sufficient reasons, germane and relevant, to the provisions of the Act. After the revenue sale is confirmed, the Revenue Divisional Officer, may come to know that the revenue sale was a fraudulent one, in the sense, that there was a conspiracy between the defaulter and the purchase, as a result of which the property was sold without due publicity, resulting in loss to the Government. When large arrears were due to the Government, valuable property would have been manoeuvred to be purchased for a ludicrously low or inadequate price leaving still a large sum by way of arrears after the realisation of the sale proceeds. It may be that the valuable property sold is the only property of the defaulter, with the result that the Government's chances of recovering the balance of arrears still due would be completely lost; or it may be that the revenue sale was so manoeuvred as to defeat the rights of encumbrancers or persons who have attached the property of the defaulter and, the purchaser and the defaulter may both be interested in defeating the claims of those persons. One can visualise various circumstances under which the Revenue Divisional Officer may deem fir to set aside the sale either for purposes of protecting the interests of the State, or where the machinery of the Revenue Recovery Act has been abused in a fraudulent manner. The only restriction is, that the residuary power should be exercised only to effectuate the purposes and the object of the Act. When the Deputy Collector confirms a sale he may be totally ignorant and unaware of the fraud or conspiracy and if his prior confirmation of the sale should operate as a bar to the exercise of the power, the proviso would become futile and illusory. Such instances will no doubt be rare and it is only to provide for such contingencies that this power is reserved. The further enlargement of time, in the case of fraud by the operation of Sec. 18 of the Limitaiton Act would serve only a limited purpose i.e., when private parties are aggrieved by revenue sales. in a case where the interests of the State suffer by a fraudulent sale for an inadequate or low price, there is no question of an application to set aside the sale and it is the duty of the Revenue Divisional Officer to set aside the same when he becomes aware of the fraud and the conspiracy. It is true that in the proviso nothing is mentioned as to the "grounds" other than those alleged in the application which has been made and rejected. One view to take may be that the grounds on the basis of which though not alleged in the application the sale may be set aside by the District Collector, must be any one of the grounds mentioned in Sec. 38(1). The other view is, that it may be 'any ground', but subject however to the important condition that such ground though not covered by Sec. 38(1) must not be foreign to the purposes of the Act.

(34) In Narayanan Chettiar v. Secretary of State, 1941-1 Mad LJ 543 = (AIR 1941 Mad 561) the Sub Collector confirmed the revenue sale as there was no application under Sec. 38(1). An attaching creditor filed an application under Regulation VII before the Collector who set aside the Sub Collector's order of confirmation of sale, on the ground of some mistake in the description of the property, and that the property was wrongly sold in one lot instead of two lots fetched was very low. A suit to set aside this order of the District Collector was filed and the same was dismissed by the courts below. On second appeal this dismissal was confirmed by Horwill, J. upholding the power of the District Collector in setting aside the confirmation of the sale of the Sub Collector. The learned Judge observed that when the Collector set aside the sale under Sec. 38(3); his powers "are very much wider than those of Sec. 38(1) and the sale can be set aside for very many more grounds than those mentioned in Sec. 38(1)." The learned Judge also observed that all that is necessary under Sec. 38(3) before setting aside the sale is that the Collector should have reason to think that the sale ought to be set aside, and that, if the Collector had given any substantial reasons why the sale should be set aside his order is good and it is not necessary that the District Collector should find a material irregularity or that the price was unduly low.

(35) This decision was rendered prior to the Constitution; now, the question may arise, whether the conferment of such a wide power without indicating the proper guiding principles would not be unconstitutional as being arbitrary. The power under the proviso will be valid if the "other grounds" specified therein are restricted to the purposes and the scheme of the Act. It is unnecessary for us to express our final opinion as in the instant case the sale was set aside by the Collector for reasons covered by Sec. 38 as property of a person who was not a defaulter had been sold. A party is not as of right entitled to ask the Sub Collector as of right entitled to ask the Sub Collector to set aside a sale under the proviso to Sec. 38(3), if he does not exercise his right to apply to set aside the sale within one month under Sec. 38(1). The power reserved under the proviso is in the exercise of the discretion of the authority. The authority may refuse to exercise the power if the party aggrieved is guilty of laches or had slept over his rights or had encouraged the purchaser to make investments and improvements in the property involving large capital. The authority may refuse to interfere if such interference would result in injustice or affect rights of innocent third parties, who might have subsequently purchased the property for valuable consideration. These are all considerations which should weigh with the authority concerned. Even so, we are not prepared to read into the proviso any time limit beyond which this power cannot be exercised, especially when in the same section a time limit of one month is fixed in the case of an application and no such time limit is mentioned in the proviso. Similarly in the case of a right of suit under Sec. 59 of the Act a time limit has been fixed. For all these reasons we are of the view that the Sub or Deputy Collector will have jurisdiction to set aside the sale even after confirmation.

(36) From the foregoing it necessarily follows, and it is a fortiori, that (aspect No. 2) there can be no time limit within which the District Collector should or could exercise his powers of revision. In this connection it must be borne in mind that as observed by the Bench of this Court in (1904) 14 Mad LJ 433:

"the power of the subordinates of the Collector to deal with revenue sales has to be derived altogether from outside the Act (Act II of 1864)" and is derived only from the Regulation, either expressly or by necessary implication arising out of the enforcement of the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act, II of 1864. There is no express time limit in the Regulation. If confirmation of the sale by the Revenue Divisional Officer is fixed as the time limit, the power of revision of the District Collection will become useless and illusory in a vast majority of cases. The District Collector in the normal course may not be aware of the proceedings of the Sub or Deputy Collector. The sale would have been confirmed by the Sub Divisional Officer though vitiated by his wrong or improper application of the provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act, or as a result of some fraud and conspiracy between the defaulter and the purchaser. The interests of the State would suffer if the confirmation of the sale by the Deputy Collector is to be treated as final. Further, the party aggrieved would have applied to the Deputy Collector to set aside the sale but his application would have been dismissed and the sale automatically confirmed. If the expiry of the time limit is to operate as a bar preventing the party from invoking the powers of revision of the District Collector the erroneous or wrong order of the Revenue Divisional Officer would become final, a result, which would cut at the very root of the reservation of the power of revision to the Collector under Sec. 3(3) of Regulation VII. In the case of revenue sales there are various stages. It cannot be denied that it will be open to the District Collector to intervene at any stage and direct the course of the proceedings in the exercise of his powers of revision. The District Collector can himself take up the entire matter or may give directions to the Sub Collector to proceed in a particular manner. For instance, he may give directions regarding the fixing of the date of sale, regarding the publicity of the sale, the parcelling out of lands and fixing the lots of the sale or even granting time to the defaulter to pay the arrears in instalments. We are unable to see why any particular significance should be attached to the act of confirmation, as distinguished from the other steps taken by the Sub Divisional Officer. Everyone of his acts including the act of confirmation would be subject to the revisional power of the District Collector at any stage. We have no hesitation in holding that far from the confirmation of the sale by the Sub Collector operating as a time limit the power of the District Collector to set aside a sale must be recognised at any stage, and only then, the main object underlying the Regulation would be achieved. Any other view would result in strange and absurd results virtually making the Sub Collector the head of the revenue administration in the district.

(37) The legal position would be the same even if it should be held that under aspect No. 1, the Revenue Divisional Officer will have no power to set aside the sale under the proviso to Sec. 38(3) once he has confirmed it. If the revenue sale is such that it ought not to have been confirmed and by such confirmation the power of the Deputy Collector to set aside the sale on other grounds is extinguished, the District Collector under the powers of revision is entitled to set aside the revenue sale for the reasons mentioned in the proviso to Sec. 38(3).

(38) If the contention of Mr. V.K. Tiruvenkatachari that once a Deputy Collector confirms the sale he cannot retrace his steps under the proviso to Sec. 38(3) were accepted, it would result in the anomaly that the Revenue Divisional Officer passing a wrong order and committing a mistake in confirmating the sale deprives himself by his own mistake of the power to proceed under the proviso. That apart, the District Collector does not labour under any such restriction of disability. The power of revision of the District Collector is derived under Regulation VII of 1828 and it extends over every stage of the proceeding of the Deputy Collector. If the District Collector take the view that an application to set aside the sale was wrongly dismissed by the Deputy Collector resulting again in a wrong order of confirmation and if the District Collector allows the application to set aside the sale, the act of confirmation by the Deputy Collector would also get vacated. By the same process of reasoning, if the Deputy Collector in a particular case should have acted under the proviso to Section 38(3) but he had failed to do so, the District Collector will have ample jurisdiction to set under the Regulation. We are of the clear opinion that so far as the District Collector is concerned, there is no limitation of restriction on his powers to revise the order of the Subordinate Collector except that it should be for effectuating the purposes of the Act Long lapse of time, consequent appreciation in prices, negligence and laches of the party aggrieved, the conduct of the party giving rise to equitable estoppel, intervention of rights of third parties, who have become bona fide transferees for valuable consideration, and who have invested large sums of money by way of reclamation and improvement of lands or putting up buildings are all circumstances which will be taken into account by the District Collector when exercising his powers of revision. The undoubted authority and jurisdiction should not be mixed up with the discretion involved in the exercise of the same. The wider the power the greater is the circumspection and discretion required in exercising it.

(39) It only remains to refer to the Full Bench decision ILR (1942) Mad 264 = (AIR 1941 Mad 933) (FB) on which considerable reliance was placed by Mr. V.K. Tiruvenkatachari in support of his contention that there is a time limit for applying to the District Collector for redress regarding a revenue sale. In that case a revenue sale vitiated by fraud and collusion took place on 18-7-1932 and confirmed by the Deputy Collector on 28-9-1932. The party aggrieved, discovered the fraud on the 15th of November, and applied to the Collector on the 18th November to set aside the sale. The Collector by his order dated 30-6-1933 declined to interfere. The aggrieved party filed the suit on 18-7-1933. The main point that arose for decision in that case related to the question of limitation under Sec. 59 of the Act which provides that an aggrieved party may file a civil suit within a period of six months from the time at which the cause of action arose. In second appeal Venkataramana Rao, J. was inclined to take the view that time would commence to run only after the sale became finally confirmed, namely, the order of the District Collector dismissing the application of aggrieved party, and not from the date when the Deputy Collector confirmed the sale. The learned Judge was of the view that this view of the scope of the section followed from the leading decision of the Privy Council in Baijnath Sahai v. Ramgut Singh, (1896) 23 Cal 775 (PC). The learned Judge however feeling himself bound by a later decision of this Court in Chinnammal Achi v. Saminatha Malavaroyan, (1907) ILR 30 Mad 367 held that time commenced to run from the earlier date, i.e. the date of the order of the Deputy Collector but granted a certificate under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent. The matter came up before the Full Bench which overruled, (1907) ILR 30 Mad 367, and held that the cause of action arose only when the sale became final confirmed by the order of the District Collector. From the above narration it will be seen that the direct point which arose for decision was altogether different and the Full Bench had not to consider whether there was any time limit within which the District Collector should exercise his powers under Regulation VII. The following observation at page 267 (of Mad LJ) = (at p. 933 of AIR).

"The fact that a Subordinate Collector has confirmed the sale does not, however, prevent an aggrieved party from taking advantage of clause 3(3) of the Regulation of 1828 and in case of fraud he has thirty days from the discovery of the fraud in which to apply to the Collector for redress".

only deals with the right of the party aggrieved to apply to set aside the sale. The party could well have applied to the Sub Collector himself for setting aside the sale involving the provisions of Sec. 18 of the Limitation Act (on the ground of fraud) but he applied to the District Collector. In that case the application to set aside the sale was in time as Sec. 18 of the Limitation Act was rightly invoked; the Full Bench did not have to consider whether there was any restriction as to time as to the exercise of the revisional power by the District Collector. In other words, the whole discussion proceeded on the footing that the District Collector has within time exercised the power of revision under Sec. 3(3) of the Regulation, the only question being as to the point of time at which the cause of action arose. We are therefore unable to agree with Mr. V.K. Tiruvenkatachari that this decision supports his extreme contention.

(40) It is also important to observe that the observations of the Full Bench in (FB) concerning the exact scope of the

decision of Satyanarayana Rao, J. in Venkatasubba Rao v. Ananda Rao, tend to the same view that we have expressed above.

In the question arose about the correctness of the

order of the District Collector setting aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer appointing a deputy under Sec. 10 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act. Dealing with the power of the District Collector under Sec. 3 of the Regulation of 1828 Satyanarayana Rao, J. took the view, that once the order of the Sub Collector has been carried into execution the District Collector should not undo what has been done by his subordinate and that it did not matter how the proceedings of the Sub Collector came to the notice of the District Collector. The Full bench had observed that this reasoning was not correct. The Full Bench clearly pointed out that the use of the expression in Sec. 3(3) of the Regulation "in all cases and in the fullest manner" was designed to confer upon the District Collector plenary powers of supervision and that far from intending to limit the power this expression intended to emphasise the unlimited nature of the power. The Full Bench was of the clear view that there was no warrant whatsoever for the construction that, once the orders of the Sub Collector have been put into effect the District Collector will have no more power in relation to those orders as that would "drastically curtail the power of the District Collector and emasculate the section."

(41) The same view was taken in a Bench decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Ramachandra Rao v. Seshaia, 1957-2 Andh WR 106. That decision dealt with a case under the Hereditary Village Offices Act. The District Collector reversed the order of the Subordinate Collector after the time for preferring an appeal had lapsed. The legality of this order of the District Collector was canvassed and the Bench took the view that even if the appeal to the District Collector was not maintainable as having been barred there was nothing which would preclude the District Collector from interfering with the proceedings of the Assistant or the Sub Collector, and that that authority is derived from Section 3 of Regulation VII of 1828. There too reliance was placed upon the observations of Satyanarayan Rao, J. in in support of the contention that once the order of

the Revenue Divisional Officer had been carried into effect the juridiction of the Collector came to an end. But this argument was rejected. Reference may be made to the following observations at page

109.

"With great respect to the learned Judge, we do not think we could share his view. The preamble to the regulation recites that the powers of Collectors are conferred on the Sub-Collectors and Assistant Collectors subject to revision and correction by the Collectors Section 3 of the Regulation lays down in unmistakable terms that the proceedings of Subordinate and Assistant Collectors shall be subject to superintendence, control and revision of the Collector Thus, the Collector is invested with power inter alia to correct a mistake. That being so, it cannot be postulated that when once the orders of a Sub-Collector or Assistant Collector have been carried into effect, the District Collector will have no authority to revise that order. To say this, will be to curtail the powers of the Collector to a large extent. It may be that in particular cases, the exercise of such power after a lapse of a long period may work a great hardship to the parties. The District Collector normally may not revise orders of the R.D.O. if the party concerned has slept over the matter for a long period. But that is not the same thing as laying down as a general proposition of law that in no case could a Collector use the powers of revision when once the order of the Subordinate Collector has been put into effect. The actual decision of Mr. Justice Satyanarayana Rao may be justified because more than five years had lapsed after the order of the R.D.O. was made".

The same notion was expressed by a Full Bench of the Madras High Court in (FB) Further when a order is prima facie

illegal not only the Collector is entitled to exercise that power, but it is his duty to correct it even after it is carried into execution."

(42) Our attention was also drawn to the Bench decision in Sundaram Ayyangar v. Ramaswamy Ayyangar, ILR 41 Mad 955 : (AIR 1918 Mad 92) and the following observations at p.958 (of ILR Mad) : (at p. 93 of AIR):

"The order under section 38(3) of Act II of 1864 was, however, passed in this case by the District Collector, and when his order was confirmed by the District Collector it became a final order passed by the Collector within the meaning of section 38(3) and neither he nor the District Collector had himself power under the Act to pass any further order. We cannot accept a further contention that the proviso clause of section 38 gives power to set aside a sale after it has been confirmed under the first part of the section. The power given under that clause is one that must be exercised in lieu of the confirmation of sale."

The scope of the observations should not be divorced from the context in which they were made. In that case the District Collector confirmed a revenue sale after dismissing an application under section 38(1) of the Act. Then the District Collector. The party aggrieved filed a revision petition before the Board of Revenue which in the exercise of its general powers of supervision directed the Collector to cancel the sale which was accordingly cancelled by him; the legality of the subsequent order passed by the District Collector was canvassed in a civil suit under section 59 of the Act. It was held the original order of confirmation should stand, and that the District Collector had no jurisdiction to pass the subsequent had not jurisdiction to pass the subsequent order, merely because the Board of Revenue directed him to do so. It is true that the power of the District Collector once he confirms the sale, whether acting as the original authority or exercising his powers of revision under Regulation VII of 1828 would come to an end and he cannot go on varying his own orders from time to time. This case is not of much relevance to the instant case in which the question is whether the District Collector can intervene after the District Collector has confirmed the sale. For all these reasons it has to be held that the District Collector can set aside a revenue sale under section 38(3) proviso read with Regulation VII of 1828 at any time so long as he himself has not passed any final order. We have already adverted to the considerations which he should take into account when the exercises the discretion as the ultimate revising authority.

(43) Writ Petition No. 1027 of 1963: The point raised in this case is whether the District Revenue Officer has jurisdiction under Regulation VII of 1828 to revise the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer, who suspended a village headman for a period of one year from which no appeal was preferred by the village headman concerned under section 23 of Madras Act III of 1895. The argument is that so far as the hereditary village officers are concerned, the proceedings of the subordinate officers (Sub Collector, Deputy Collector and Assistant Collector) could be interfered with only in the manner provided under section 23 of the Act either by the District Collector or by the Board of Revenue and if the order passed by the subordinate officer is not covered by the provision under section 23 that order itself is final and that neither the District Collector nor the Board can interfere with an order passed by the Subordinate Officer. It is urged that Madras Act III of 1895 is a self contained, exhaustive enactment dealing with appointment of hereditary village officers, their emoluments, disciplinary jurisdiction over them and the punishments to be imposed with regard to their misconduct, that the powers of the subordinate officers, the District Collector and the Board of Revenue are all to be found only from the provisions of this Act, and that the District Collector cannot exercise any power of jurisdiction to interfere with the order of the subordinate officer outside the provisions of this Act. There is no residuary power continuing to inhere in the District Collector after this Act came into force. It is therefore urged that if in respect of an order of suspension passed by the subordinate officer no appeal is preferred to the District Collector under section 23, that order becomes final and the District Collector has no revisional jurisdiction under Regulation VII of 1828. In support of this, reliance was placed upon some observations in the Full Bench case (FB). We see no warrant whatsoever

for this extreme contention either in the scheme or in the provision of the Act or the reasonings in the Full Bench while specifically dealing with this aspect has clearly laid down that despite the provision for a right of appeal under section 23 the District Collector will continue to have his powers of revision under Regulation VII of 1828, and that there is no inconsistency between Act III of 1895 and Madras Regulation VII of 1828.

(44) Some argument was advanced by Counsel appearing on both sides in an attempt to determine in what context the word 'Collector' is used in this enactment, and our attention was also drawn to various Madras Regulations and enactments to find out whether the word 'Collector' signifies only a District Collector or a District Revenue Officer or would include a Sub Collector, a Deputy Collector and an Assistant Collector. No decisive light is thrown by any of those enactments or even the definitions of 'Collector' and 'District Collector' in the Madras General Clauses Act I of 1891. It must be borne in mind that S. 3 of Regulation VII of 1828 provides that the subordinate. Deputy or Assistant Collector shall ex officio have authority to exercise within the division under his charge all the powers conferred upon the Collectors under the law then in force or to be enacted in future. This statutory conferment of the power is subject to the important condition that there should be nothing to the contrary expressly declared in such enactment. This condition "something expressly to the contrary" (in the legislations in question) may be the entirety of the Act (meaning thereby this ex officio power cannot be availed of by the subordinate officers in respect of any of the provisions of the Act) or in respect of some of the provision of the enactment meaning thereby in certain circumstances subject to certain conditions the Subordinate Officer ex officio can exercise the powers of the District Collector, but in certain cases he will have no such ex-officio powers. So far as Madras Act III of 1895 is concerned, it cannot be disputed that the subordinate officers can exercise ex-officio powers under the Regulation. The word 'Collector' in section 7 which deals with disciplinary jurisdiction would mean the District Collector or the subordinate officers by reason of Regulation VII of 1828. There is nothing in section 7 to the contrary to exclude the applicability of section 3 of Regulation VII: similarly in section 9 and 10. In other words both in the matter of disciplinary jurisdiction and in the matter of appointment and filling up vacancies and appointment of deputies, the Collector as well as the subordinate officers will have concurrent jurisdiction. Suits for recovery of offices and emoluments and for registry as heir can also be filed under section 13 either before the District Collector or his subordinates. Section 15 confers upon the District Collector the power to transfer any suit on the file of the subordinate officer to his own file or from the file of one such officer to that of another or even to the file of an Assistant or a District Collector not in charge of a division for disposal. From this section it is clear that there is a clear indication to the contrary that the power of the District Collector of withdrawal and transfer cannot be exercised by the Assistant or the District Collector. If Section 15 has been worded merely conferring the power of withdrawal and transfer on the 'Collector' it might mean that under S. 3 of Regulation VII of Subordinate Collector also will have a similar ex-officio power. It is only to delimit the power of the Assistant or the Deputy Collector and to confer the power solely upon the District Collector that Section 15 has been so worded.

(45) When we come to Sections 23 and 24 the position is made quite clear. The word 'Collector' in section 23 can mean only the subordinate officer; i.e., the Assistant Sub or District Collector. When the order under section 6 or section 7 or the decision rendered in a suit under section 13 is by a subordinate officer though the expression used is "the Collector" a statutory right of appeal is given to the District Collector. But if the original authority which passed the order is the District Collector himself a statutory right of appeal is given to the Board of Revenue within a period of three months, and the decision of the Collector on appeal, where he acts as the appellate authority, and that of the Board of Revenue, where it acts as the appellate authority is made final. There is the further proviso to section 23 in respect of the offices of head of the village or the village accountant, providing a further (second) appeal to the Board of Revenue against the decision of the Collector in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction in suits preferred under section 13 or concerning the dismissal or removal of such village officers. The significance of this proviso is that in certain matters the decision of the District Collector as appellate authority is final while in certain matter his decision as an appellate authority is subject to a further right of appeal to the Broad of Revenue. The appeal that is provided to the Collector under section 23(2) from an order passed by a Tahsildar or a Deputy Tahsildar could be entertained and disposed of by the Sub Collector by virtue of Regulation VII, because there is nothing in section 23(2) expressly to the contrary to signify that the word 'Collector' in section 23(2) is used only to denote a District Collector and would not take in a Sub or an Assistant Collector Under section 24, just like section 23, we find reference to Collector. District Collector and the Board of Revenue. The Collector in the context of section 24 is used to denote the Sub or Assistant Collector, exercising ex-officio powers under Regulation VII. This Sec. 24 provides for the anomalous situation in which the Sub Collector who ex-officio exercised the powers as Collector under the Regulation happens to become the Collector of the entire District and in such a situation there is no point in providing an appeal to himself against his own decision and therefore the provision is made that the appeal shall be disposed of by the Board of Revenue. From this analysis it will be seen that no rigid or uniform rule can be laid down as to when the use of the word 'Collector' in any statute would include both the District Collector and his subordinates and when it will exclude the latter completely and the whole thing would depend upon the scheme of the Act and the nature and the purpose of the particular provision. In the instant case it is not disputed that the Assistant Deputy or Sub Collector can pass the order of suspension under Sec. 7.

(46) We are unable to agree that the machinery for the right of an appeal in S. 23 will have the effect of extinguishing the revisional power of the District Collector under Regulation VII of 1828. The provision for an appeal is for an entirely different purpose namely, a statutory right of appeal to the aggrieved party. The power of revision and superintendence is a different power altogether, and that is vested in the District Collector with a view to ensure and maintain the efficiently, purity, morale and the discipline amongst the subordinate revenue officials. Both the powers can co-exist and there is nothing so inherently incompatible in the two powers as to make one hold that the existence of the one necessarily means the supersession of the other. The result of accepting such an extreme contention is that in various matters concerning revenue officials the decision of the Sub Collector would become final virtually making him the head of the District. Take for instance the very case in the writ petition. If the charge of misappropriation is proved, it will be absurd to hold that the District Collector cannot take a different view from that of the Sub Collector as to the nature of the punishment imposed is light the party aggrieved may be quite prepared to suffer the punishment and will not care to prefer an appeal. But the interests of the State may demand that a more deterrent punishment, sometimes even dismissal or removal from service, may be called for. It is impossible to accept the contention that because a statutory right of appeal to the aggrieved party is provided, the paramount interests of the State should suffer, the Collector having no power of superintendence and revision. The conferment of a right of appeal to the party aggrieved to the higher authority, at the same time reserving a suo motu power of revision in the higher authority is a quite known and familiar conception. For instance several enactments on taxation combine both the remedies, the only condition being that the suo motu power of revision is not exercised till the time for preferring the appeal had expired or till the appeal is disposed of on merits. Such an overriding power of revision is conferred to provide and deal with situations other than the interests of the party affected while administering the particular enactment. All the decisions, both of this Court as well as of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, have uniformly taken the view that the District Collector can exercise the powers of revision under Regulation VII in respect of proceedings under Act III of 1895.

(47) The first decision to be referred to is the Bench decision of this Court in 1938-2 Mad LJ 488 : (AIR 1938 Mad 903). In that case the Revenue Divisional Officer made a permanent appointment of a village munsif under Section 10(3) after negativing the claims of a minor to the vacancy. On behalf of the minor an appeal was preferred to the District Collector purporting to be under section 23 of the Act and the Collector under the erroneous impression that an appeal lay set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer and upheld the claim of the minor to the office. A suit was filed to set aside this order of the District Collector. The Bench held that there was no conflict between Regulation VII and Madras Act III of 1895, and the right to a suit under section 13 under the Act was not in any way inconsistent with the continuance of the power of superintendence, control and revision given to the District Collector under Regulation VII. In the Bench judgment the crucial aspect was emphasised that it was the Regulation which conferred the ex-officio powers upon the Revenue Divisional Offices and that that very Regulation has reserved the power of revision in the District Collector.

(48) In a later decision 1952-2 Mad LJ 462 : (AIR 1952 Mad 1005), the Bench dealt with the case of appointment of a deputy under section 10(5) of the Act. On appeal to the District Collector the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer was set aside. The aggrieved party took up the matter to the Board of Revenue and failing there filed a petition before the Government, which set aside the order of the District Collector. An application was filed in the High Court for the issue of a writ of Certiorari, Rajamannar, C. J. delivering the judgment on behalf of the Bench held that there was no provision in the Act conferring any power on the Government to interfere with the orders of subordinate revenue authorities entrusted with specific powers under the provisions of the Act, and that in the instant case the Board of Revenue itself had no power to interfere with the order passed by the District Collector. It was also observed that the power of the District Collector under section 10(5) is exercised by the Revenue Divisional Officer because of Madras Regulation VII of 1828, and that under Section 3(3) the proceedings of the Assistant Collectors are made subject in all cases in the fullest manner to the superintendence, control and revision of the District Collector. This decision is clear authority for the position that even though there is no right of appeal under section 23, the District Collector will have powers of revision under the Regulation.

(49) In (FB) the question arose whether the Board of Revenue has any jurisdiction to interfere to set aside the order of the Collector. That was also a case of the appointment of a deputy under section 10(5) of the Act in respect of which there is no right of appeal. But the District Collector, exercising his revisional powers under Regulation VII of 1828, set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer. it is in that context that Balakrishna Ayyar, J., delivering the judgment of the Full Bench made some observations at pages 469 and 474 (of ILR Mad) : (at pp. 308 and 309-10 of AIR) that neither the Revenue Divisional Officer nor the District Collector, nor the Board of Revenue can touch them (interfere with the rights of village officers) except in the manner that the statute permits, and that the rights and powers conferred and the obligations imposed by the statute must be worked out within the statutory frame work. These observations should not be torn from their context. But so far as the precise question, the right of revision of the District Collector, is concerned, there was pointed reference with express approval to the Bench judgment, 1938-2 Mad LJ 488 : (AIR 1938 Mad 903) (FB) referred to earlier. At page 474 (of ILR Mad) : (at p. 310 of AIR) Balakrishna Ayyar, J. formulated the question in these terms:

"In respect of an appointment made under section 10(5) neither a right of appeal nor a right of revision is provided for. The order of the District Collector cannot therefore the interfered with by any higher authority. The question may be asked: has the District Collector power to interfere with an order passed by the Divisional Officer, i.e., the Collector under section 10(5)." This is followed by the discussion about the reasoning in 1938-2 Mad LJ 488 : (AIR 1938 Mad 903) (FB). In the Full Bench decision there is also reference to and the following observation. "If no

appeal is provided for but only a right of revision then that remedy must be sought in aid" again emphasises that the Full Bench has approved the view taken in that under the Madras

Regulation the Collector will continue to have powers of revision.

(50) In a series of decisions in the Andhra Pradesh High Court the same view has been taken (while dealing with the provisions of the Madras Act III 1895) following the decisions of this Court referred to earlier. Reference was already made to the decision in 1957-2 Andh WR 106 in which the Bench had held that even though the time for preferring an appeal had expired, the Collector can exercise the powers of revision under the Regulation.

(51) In Prabhakar Rao v. District Collector, Nellore, 1958-1 Andh WR 164 an order of appointment of deputy passed by the District Collector setting aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer was upheld following on the ground that the Revenue Divisional Officer was exercising the powers only under section 3 of Regulation VII and that his decision was therefore subject to the revisional jurisdiction of the District Collector, expressly reserved in the same section. It was observed that the Revenue Divisional Officer passed the order standing in the shoes of the Collector and that it was necessarily subject to review by the District Collector under the Regulation. This decision of Bhimasankaram, J. in the above case has been affirmed by the Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in W. A. No. 1909 of 1958 (A. P.)

(52) The same view was reiterated in another decision in the same volume, Krishnayya v. Collector of Kristna, 1958-1 Andh WR 287. That case also related to the appointment of a deputy under section 10(5) and the District Collector set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer in an appeal preferred to him. The argument that the District Collector has no jurisdiction because no right of appeal was provided in respect of orders under section 10(5) was rejected on the ground that the District Collector had jurisdiction to interfere and set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer under Regulation VII of 1828. The decisions of the Madras High Court referred to earlier were followed.

(53) The same view was reiterated in the Bench decision in Satyanarayana v. Collector of West Godavary, Eluru 1960-2 Andh. WR 109 in which it was held that though the Collector has no appellate jurisdiction against the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer in the matter of the appointment of a deputy under section 10(5), the Collector has nevertheless ample authority to revise the orders of the subordinate sin the exercise of the powers conferred by the Madras Regulation. The argument was advanced that the view taken by the Bench in must be held to have been overruled by the

observation in (FB). But this argument was not that the Full Bench, far from throwing any doubt upon the correctness of the view taken in completely approved of the view taken therein.

(54) We may also refer to another decision, Prahlada Dolai v. Board of Revenue, 1961-1 Andh WR 174 in which referring to some of the earlier decisions referred to already, it was held that even though there is no right of appeal a revision would lie to the District Collector under Regulation VII of 1828. In view of this uniform course of decisions, we have no hesitation in holding that Section 23 of the Act cannot be so interpreted as to have the effect of extinguishing the power of revision of the District Collector under Madras Regulation VII. Writ Petition No. 1027/63. The question next arises as to the appropriate relief to be granted in this writ petition Following (FB) it has to be held that the Revenue Board has no power of revision in respect of the order passed by the District Revenue Officer under Regulation VII of 1828. At the same time the order of the District Revenue Officer cannot be allowed to stand as several irregularities vitiate the entire proceedings. The charges are incomplete. The charges should furnish the details as to the date of collection the dates of remittance so that the delinquent village headman would have adequate opportunity to offer his explanation. The order of the District Revenue Officer also shows that he has overlooked the fact that these proceedings are vitiated in the manner stated above. The result is the order of the District Revenue Officer and that of the Board of Revenue are quashed and the matter will go back to the District Revenue Officer for disposal according to law and in the light of the observations contained in this judgment. In the concluding portion of the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition the petitioner has explained that as the order of the District Revenue Officer became merged in the order of the Board of Revenue he could not ask for the issue of a Writ to quash the order of the District Revenue Officer even though according to the petitioner his principal complaint is against the District Revenue Officer. It is because of this we are of the view that ends of justice require that the order of the District Revenue Officer should also be quashed.

(55) Writ Petition No. 1225 of 63: In this matter even though we have upheld the jurisdiction and power of the District Collector, Mr. V.K. Tiruvenkatachari complains that the District Collector ought not to have set aside the sale in respect of the entirety of the property but should have confined the order to the extent of 91 cents in old P. Nos. 11 and 18, belonging to the second respondent. He urges that when the defaulter has not cared to prefer any appeal, there was no justification to set aside the entire sale, and that relief should have been granted only in respect of 91 cents, and that the interests of the State do not require such an order. Prima facie we see great force in this contention. But we do not want to express any final opinion for the following reason.

(56) As the order of the District Collector has set aside the sale in its entirety, it cannot be modified in this writ proceeding without the defaulter being made a party to the writ proceeding and without hearing his objections.

(57) Under the circumstances we think the proper course will be to send back the matter before the learned Judge who referred the matter to the Full Bench, so that the petitioner herein will take appropriate steps to implead the defaulter as a party respondent to the writ petition and then the petition will be disposed of in accordance with law after hearing the objections of the defaulter W.P. 424 of 64, C. M. S. A. 139 of 64 and C. R. P. 2037/64.

(58) Learned Counsel for the petitioner in W. P. No. 424 of 1964 mentions that the judgment-debtor is dead and his legal representatives will have to be brought on record. It is unnecessary to say anything about this matter, as this writ petition and the connected C.M.S. No. 139 of 1964 and C. R. P. No. 2037 of 1964 will be disposed of by Kailasam, J. in the light of this judgment.

(59) The parties will bear their own costs in all these matters.

(60) Orders accordingly.


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