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Swaminatha Odayar and ors. Vs. Asan Muhammad Rowther and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1947Mad276; (1947)1MLJ83
AppellantSwaminatha Odayar and ors.
RespondentAsan Muhammad Rowther and anr.
Cases ReferredRaja Rajeswara Sethupathi v. Muthudayan
Excerpt:
- - if he asks for this further relief he would have to be referred to ,1 revenue court and if he failed to ask for such relief, the court would not grant a bare declaration......the plaintiffs. accordingly he dismissed the suit with costs.6. the plaintiffs appealed to the district judge of west tanjore. the district judge agreed with the subordinate judge that the civil court had no jurisdiction, but he refrained from entering into a discussion of the merits. he directed the plaint to be returned for presentation to the proper court. the appeal is from this order of the district judge. in the first instance it came before chandrasel hare aiyar, j., who referred it to a bench for decision as he considered that the judgments of this court in appa rao v. gurraju : (1920)39mlj476 and raja rajeswara sethupathi v. muthudayari : (1928)55mlj379 had bearing on the question of jurisdiction and were in conflict. on the 20th november, 1946, the appeal came up for.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The question in this appeal is whether the Civil Court or the Revenue Court has jurisdiction to decide the questions raised in the plaint.

2. The properties in suit originally formed part of the Tanjore Palace Estate. In Original Suit No. 3 of 1919 of the District Court of West Tanjore the lands with other properties were allotted to one Vasudeva Sahib, a member of the family. The suit took the form of an interpleader action, but it was in effect a suit for partition. There was an appeal to this Court from the decree of the trial Court. The judgment of this Court was delivered on the 24th January, 1924. It was to the effect that Vasudeva Sahib had received more than his proper share in the estate. Consequently the Court modified the decree of the District Court. Restitution proceedings followed and resulted in the sale of the properties in suit to the first defendant on the 23rd December, 1938.

3. It is the plaintiffs' case that the properties with which the present action is concerned were leased to them or their predecessors in title by Vasudeva Sahib in 1925. They comprise 429.41 acres and according to the plaintiffs they form part of an inam village. This allegation is denied by the defendants. On the 12th March, 1928, Vasudeva Sahib sold the lands to one RM. P.R.M.M. Subramaniam Chettiar, plaintiffs 2 to 5 and the predecessors in title of plaintiffs 1 and 2 attorney to Subramaniam Chettiar, who on the 3rd June, 1929, granted them a lease for three years. On the 29th August, 1932, he renewed the lease for seven years.

4. In insolvency proceedings instituted in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Tanjore in 1930, Vasudeva Sahib was adjudicated insolvent. On the 25th January, 1937, the Insolvency Court, on the application filed by the Official Receiver set aside the sale to Subramaniam Chettiar on the ground that it constituted a fraud on the creditors. The decision was confirmed by this Court on the 27th November, 1940. While the appeal was pending the plaintiffs filed a suit in the Revenue Court (Summary Suit No. 47 of 1938) for an order directing Subramaniam Chettiar to tender them a patta. This suit proceeded ex parte and resulted in a decree being passed in the plaintiffs' favour on the 24th September, 1938.

5. On his purchase of the properties in suit the first defendant sought to gain possession, but he was resisted by the plaintiffs who on the 2nd August, 1939, filed in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Kumbakonam the present suit. They asked for a declaration that they are entitled to continue in possession of the lands, having obtained rights of permanent occupancy as the result of the passing of the Madras Estates Land (Third Amendment) Act, 1936. They prayed for consequential relief in the form of a permanent injunction restraining the first defendant from interfering with their possession and enjoyment of the properties. The first defendant pleaded inter alia that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction in the matter. The Subordinate Judge accepted this plea. He then went into the merits of the case and here also found against the plaintiffs. Accordingly he dismissed the suit with costs.

6. The plaintiffs appealed to the District Judge of West Tanjore. The District Judge agreed with the Subordinate Judge that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction, but he refrained from entering into a discussion of the merits. He directed the plaint to be returned for presentation to the proper Court. The appeal is from this order of the District Judge. In the first instance it came before Chandrasel hare Aiyar, J., who referred it to a Bench for decision as he considered that the judgments of this Court in Appa Rao v. Gurraju : (1920)39MLJ476 and Raja Rajeswara Sethupathi v. Muthudayari : (1928)55MLJ379 had bearing on the question of jurisdiction and were in conflict. On the 20th November, 1946, the appeal came up for hearing before a Division Bench consisting of Patanjali Sastri and Bell, JJ., who referied it to a Full Bench.

7. In our opinion it is quite unnecessary for this Court to consider the conflict between Appa Rao v. Gurraju : (1920)39MLJ476 and Raja Rajeswara Sethupathi v. Muthudayan : (1928)55MLJ379 because the conflict is not on the question whether as it of this nature will lie in the Civil Co rt. The conflict is merely with regard to the effect cf a decision of a Revenue Court on a suit filed subsequently in a Civil Court. What the Court is here concerned with is whether the suit is one which falls within Section 189(3) of the Madras Estates Land Act. A perusal of the schedule to the Act makes it clear that it is not a suit which is triable by a Revenue Court. The Civil Court has the right to inquire into the question of title to land forming part of an estate within the meaning of the Estaes Land Act and to give consequential relief, provided that the relief is not in respect of which the Revenue Court has exclusive jurisdiction.

8. Our attention has been drawn to the following observations in the judgment delivered by Phillips, J., in Raja Rajeswara Sethupathi v. Muthudayan : (1928)55MLJ379 :

If the land is riot land, the ryot is bound to accept patta and execute a mushily. If therefore he brought a suit in a Civil Court for a declaration of his right of occupancy, he would be entitled to further relief of the grant of patta. If he asks for this further relief he would have to be referred to ,1 Revenue Court and if he failed to ask for such relief, the Court would not grant a bare declaration. This difficulty has been met by the Legislature by enacting that the Revenue Court shall determine the right of a party to the grant of patta in a suit under Section 55 or 56, and consequently that question must be deemed to be one exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Court.

9. We can see no objection to the statement where the consequential relief sought is the grant of patta. That is not the cones entails relief asked for here. The plaintiffs say that the first defendant has no title whatever to the land, that they are in lawful possession and that therefore they are entitled to an injunction restraining the first defendant from interfering with their possession. Consequential replier of this not re cannot be granted by the R venue Court. The Court which has jurisdiction is the Civil Court, and all the questions raised in the pleadings can be tried by the Civil Court. It will of course be open to the first defendant to contend that the decision in Summary Suit No. 47 of 1938 is not binding on him.

10. It follows that in our opinion the District Judge should have inquired into and decided the case on the merits and not directed the plaint to be returned for presentation to the Revenue Court. The appeal is allowed and the case is remanded to the District Judge for a decision on the merits.

11. The party ultimately successful will be entitled to the costs of this appeal.


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