1. The defendant before the Panchayat Court, Chingleput who sought to set aside the decree dated 25-6-1970 passed by the Panchayat Court in case No. 137 of 1969, before the District Munsif, Chingleput, is the petitioner herein. The grounds on which the decree of the Panchayat Court was sought be set aside are:(1) that the Panchayat Court acted with gross partiality,(2) that the decree was arbitrary and perverse(3) that it was illegal and there was material irregularity, and(4) that the decree did not contain any reasons for its decision as required by Section 46 of the Village Courts Act. The respondent before the District Munsif filed a counter, denying all the allegations in the petition.
2. The learned District Munsif dismissed the petition holding that there was no material irregularity in the decree, that the gross partiality alleged was not established, that the decree was neither unjust nor without jurisdiction and that the perusal of the decree showed that both the parties were enquired and as per the opinion of the members of the suit was decreed. The learned District Munsif also stated that on a perusal of the notes-paper on the date of the decree showed that the daily entries in the plaintiff's note book were seen by the members and the suit was decreed. The present revision petition is preferred against the order of the learned District Munsif.
3. The main contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the decree passed by the Panchayat Court is not in terms of Section 46 of the Madras Village Courts Act as the requirements specified therein have not been complied with. The relevant part of Section 46 reads as follows :--
'The decree shall contain the numbers of the suit, the names of the parties, the particulars of the claim, the names of the witnesses examined, the titles of the exhibits read the decision thereon and the reasons for such decision which shall specify the sum of money adjudged the movable property to be delivered, the sum to be paid in default of delivery and the amount of costs and by what parties and in what proportions such costs shall be paid.'
The contention of the learned counsel is that the Panchayat Court stated its decision, but reasons for such decision have not been given.
I shall now extract the relevant part of the decree:
(Original in Tamil omitted )
The question for consideration is whether the part of the decree of the Panchayat Court extracted above satisfies the requirements of Section 46.
4. The distinction between a judgment and a decree, as found in the Civil Procedure Code, has not been maintained under the Village Courts Act. Nowhere in the Village Courts Act is there a reference to the judgment in a suit or proceeding before the Panchayat Court. Section 73 of the Village Courts Act provides for revisions to the District Munsif from the proceedings of Village Courts. The grounds on which such revisions are entertained are(1)corruption, gross partiality or misconduct of the Village Court(2)its having exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or otherwise acted illegally or with material irregularity and(3) the decree or order being clearly unjust. It is therefore seen that one of the grounds on which a revision petition could be maintained is that the decree or order is clearly unjust. Whether a decree is unjust or not cannot be found without looking into the grounds on which it is based. That is evidently the reason why Section 46 requires the reasons to be given in support of such decision. The order extracted above, beyond stating that the parties (plaintiff and defendant) were examined, does not state whether the plaintiff's or defendant's evidence is acceptable or not acceptable. No reference is made as to whether any documentary evidence was filed. I have also looked into the notes paper and the docket sheet and I do not find any record of the members having looked into any document before arriving at the decision. It is no doubt true that the members of the Panchayat need not give elaborate reasons in support of their conclusion, but there must be some indication that they applied their minds to the contentions of the parties. The statement in the decree, that the parties were examined, cannot be said to comply with the requirement of S. 46.
5. Order XX. Rule 4, Civil P. C. in the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act makes a distinction between the judgment of Courts of Small Causes and the judgments of other Courts. The judgment of a Court of Small Causes need not contain more than the points for determination and the decision thereon. Even so Jagadisan. J. in K. S. R. Acharya v. Mrs. Halima Meeran, : AIR1963Mad87 held that a judgment in a New Trial application by the learned Judges of the Court of Small Causes which ran-'Heard, there is no question of law dismissed'-is no judgment at all. Of course, under the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act, Order XX maintains the distinction between a judgment and a decree. If Section 46 had omitted to state the words 'and the reasons for such decision', there will be no scope for any argument. But by the insertion of those words in Section 46, the requirements of a judgment are incorporated in Section 46, as it were and some material indicating the reasons for the decision should also be stated as forming part of the decree of the village Court as required by Section 46. As I observed earlier, there is no such indication in the decree of the village Court and the learned District Munsif, in dismissing the revision petition filed under Sec. 73 of the Village Courts Act, acted in the exercise of his jurisdiction with material irregularity.
6. In the result, the revision petition is allowed and the matter remitted to the village Court for further disposal in accordance with the above observations.
7. Petition allowed.