V. Ramaswami, J.
1. This is an appeal against the judgment and decree of the learned Subordinate Judge, Karur, on a reference under Section 31, Land Acquisition Act, in L. A. 0. P. No. 16 of 1978. Claimants I to 6 are the appellants.
2. An extent of 1.78 acres comprised in S. F. No. 88 was acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act for the construction of a Depot for Cholan Roadways Corporation, Kumbakonam. The Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation at the rate of Rs. 9,000/- per acre. There was a reference under Section 18 which was also disposed of by the learned Subordinate Judge in L. A. 0. P. No. 15 of 1978, fixing the compensation at the rate of Rs. 15,0001per acre. Since there was a dispute relating to the title, the matter was also referred to the learned Subordinate Judge under S. 31, land Acquisition Act.
3. The said S. F. No. 88 measuring 1.78 acres and another extent of 1.96 acres comprised in S. F. No. 735 were the subject matter of an inam grant. The case of claimants 1 to 6 was that the grant was a personal grant to the Gurukkal of Thirumaleeswarswami Temple at Thirumanilayur, hounded with the condition of services to the temple. They also claimed that they and their predecessors-in-title had been in possession and enjoyment, doing the services in the temple. This inam was notified and taken over as a minor inam under the TamilNadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (Act 30 of 1963). l) The suo motu enquiry held by the Settlement Tahsildar III (S. E.) - Tiruchirappalii, a ryotwari patta was issued to claimants I to 6 under S. 8 (2) of Act 30 of 1963. The Land also stood registered at the time of acquisition in the Permanent Land Register and other records of the Government in the name of claimants I to 6. The said claimants further contended that in view of the patta issued under Section 8 (2) (ii) in their favour, it is not open to the Civil Court to go into the question of title afresh and decide whether the grant was in favour of the temple or it is a Personal grant burdened with service. They also contend ed that the temple is estopped by the principle of res judicata, from claiming that any portion of the compensation amount is due to them in view of the decision of the Settlement Tahsildar, holding that they are entitled to a ryotwari Patta and also in view of the prior proceedings in 0. P. NO. 12 of 1939, 0. P. No. 99/42 and 0. P. No. 104 of 1942. According to these claimants, the title of the temple had been found against in these proceedings
4. The seventh claimant, which is the temple, filed a statement claiming that the original grant as evidenced by the inam Fair Register extract was to the institution and for support of the institution, that the decision of the Settlement Tahsildar that it is a personal grant burdened with service and that claimants I to 6 are entitled to the patta cannot be treated as final and that question of title could be agitated again in a Civil Court.
5. The eighth claimant claimed that he is a cultivating tenant in respect of the land acquired and, entitled to a portion of the compensation. The claim of tile eighth claimant was rejected and be had not filed any appeal and therefore his claim way be kept out of consideration.
6. The learned Subordinate Judge held that the Inam Fair Register extract Showed that the grant was for the temple and not a personal grant burdened with service. On that ground he further Wd that claimants 1 to 6 have no title to the property and that the grant of Patta cannot clothe them with any right to claim compensation amount that view, the compensation was given to the temple.
7. The Inam Fair Register extract has been marked in this case as Ex. A-3. It may be seen from column 2 that the grant has been classified as 'religious' and in Column 8 relating to the description of the inam, it is stated that it is Devadayam granted for the Support of the Pagoda of Thimalilaiswaraswami at Tirumanallur and it is well kept up. On the question of tenure of the grant in column 9 is stated as 'rent free' and under column 10 whether it is hereditary, unconditional for life only or for two or, more lives, it is stated that it is 'Permanent so long as it is well kept up'. The name of the original grantor is given as Thimala Naicker Paligar of Madura. However, the date of the grant is stated as 'not known'. In Fasli 1214, it was registered in the name of the temple as seen from the entry in column 15. Under the columns relating to present owner, it is -mentioned 'Tirumanilaiyur 9151runianfla Iswaraswamt Pujari Subbaraya Gurukkal age 45'. In column 21 relating to the remarks and Deputy Collectors opinion it is stated 'to be confirmed to the Pagoda permanently so long as it is well kept up'. The decision of the Inam Commissioner mentioned therein is that it is confirmed accordingly.
8. The total extent granted is shown w 3 acres 47 cents only, whereas as seen from Ex A-9, S. No. 88 measures 1.78 and S. F. No. 735 measures 1.96, making a total of 3.74. There could be no doubt that the cumulative effect of these entries in the Inam Fair Register Extract could lead to the conclusion that the grant was in favour of the temple and for the maintenance of the temple and it was not a personal grant made in favour of the archakas of the temple with a condition of service attached to the same. The question, therefore, arises for consideration as to whether, in view of the decision in the settlement proceedings holding that the inam was in favour of the predecessors-in-title of claimants I to 6 they are entitled to patta under Section 8 (2) (ii) of Act 30 of 1963 and the temple is not entitled to claim title or question the decision of the Settlement Tahsildar on the question of title in these proceedings and whether the decision made by the Settlement Tahsildar operates as res judicata. We will consider the question of res judicata with respect to earlier proceedings in 0. P. No. 12 of 1939'. 0. P. No. 98/42 and O. P. 104/42 when we discuss the question of res judicata separately.
9. The TamilNadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as Act 30/1963) came into force, with effect from 5-2-1964. On and from the appointed date, every minor inam including communal land, poramboke and other lands situate within the boundaries thereof shall stand transferred to the Government and vest in them free of all encumbrances. Under Clause (d) of Section 3, the Government may, after removing any obstruction that may be offered, forthwith take possession of the minor inam.
The proviso under this clause reads:
'Provided that the Government shall not dispossess any Person who is personally cultivating any land in the minor inam, until the Assistant Settlement Officer and the Tribunal and the Special Appellate Tribunal
on appeal, if any, decide that such person is not actually entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of that land under the provisions of this Act.
Explanation: - For the purpose of this proviso, a person is said to personally cultivate a land when he contributes his own physical labour or that of the members of his, family in the cultivation of that land'.
under Clause (e) the inamdar or any other person whose rights stand transferred or cease and determine under Clause (b) or (c) thereof shall be entitled only to such. rights and privileges as are recognised or conferred on him by or under this Act.
10. Section 8, which is the material provision for the Purpose of this case, reads as follows:
'8 Grant of ryotwari pastas: - (1), Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) every person who is lawfully entitled to the kudivaram in an inam land immediately before the appointed day whether such person is an inamdar or not shall, with effect on and from the appointed day, be entitled to ryotwari patta in respect of that land.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), in Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 (Madras Act 22 of 1959) and in the Madras (Transfered Territory) Incorporated and Unincorporated Devaswoms Act, 1959, (Madras Act 30 of 1959), the following provisions shall apply in the case of lands in ah iruvaram minor inam granted for the support or maintenance of a religious institution or for the performance of a charity or service connected therewith or of any other, religious charity-
(i)' where the land has been transferred by way of sale and the transferee or his heir, assignee, legal representative or person deriving rights through him had been in exclusive possession of such land-
(a)for a continuous period of sixty years immediately before the 1st day of April, 1960, such person shall, with effect on and from the appointed day, be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of that land;
(b) for a continuous period of twelve years immediately before the -1st day of April, 1960, such person shall, with effect on and fro the appointed day, be entitled to a rotwari patta if be pays as consideration to the Government in such manner and in such. number of instalments as may be prescribed, d an amount equal to twenty times the difference between' the fair rent in respect of such land determined in accordance with the provisions -contained in the- Schedule -and the land revenue due on such land
(ii) in the case of any other land the institution or, the individual rendering service shall, with effect on and from the appointed day, be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of that land.
Explanation: - For the purpose of this sub-section, 'land revenue, means the ryotwari assessment including the additional assessment, watercess and additional water-cess.
(3) Any arrear of the amount due from any person under Clause (i) (b) of sub-section (2) shall be recovered together with such interest as may be prescribed as if it were an arrear of land revenue.
(4) The Government shall within, such period as may be prescribed pay to the institution concerned in one lump sum the amount specified in Clause '(i) (b) of sub-' section (2) and such payment shall be made in such form and manner as may be prescribed.
(5) In the case of a minor inam held immediately before the appointed day by an individual on condition of rendering service to a religious, educational or charitable institution, the grant of ryotwari patta under sub-section (1) or (2) shall be subject to the, provisions of Section 21.'
11. Section 21 subject to which the pattas are issued under, Section 8, reads as follows
'21. Service inams: (1) The provisions of this section shall apply in respect of any minor inam which was held immediately before the appointed day by an individual (hereinafter referred to in this section as the service-holder) on condition of render the service to a religious, educational or charitable institution.
(2) The service holder shall subject to the provisions of sub-section (3) be bound to continue to render the service after the appointed day.
(3) (i) Where a service-holder is entitled to a ryotwari patta under Section 8 in respect of any land, he shall have the option-
(a) either to pay to the religious institution the amount specified in sub-section (4) and on such payment the land shall, notwithstanding anything contained in sub-:section (7), be discharged from the conditions of the service; or
(b) to hold the land -and continue - to render service subject to the provisions 'contained in sub-sections- (1), (2), (6) and (7).
(ii) The option referred to in Clause (i) shall be exercised within such time from the appointed day, and in such manner as may be prescribed.,
(4) The amount referred to in sub-sec. (3) shall be twenty times the difference between the fait rent in respect of such land determined in accordance with the provisions contained in the Schedule and the land revenue due on such land.
(5) Where the service holder has exercised his option to pay the amount specified in sub-section (4), the tasdik allowance referred to in' sub-section (6) in respect of tb4; period subsequent to the date of the exercise of such' option shall be the absolute property of the institution and the institution shall be at liberty to make such arrangements as it thinks fit for the performance of the service,
(6) (a). For so long as the service-holder renders the service the institution shall pay to the service-holder the tasdik allowance paid 'by the Government tinder, S. 20.
(b) If the service-holder fails to render the service, the prescribed officer shall, after such inquiry and after such notice to the service-bolder as may be prescribed in this behalf, notify such failure in such manner as way be prescribed. He shall then declare that the tasdik allowance payable to the institution in respect of the period subsequent to the failure shall be the absolute Property of the institution and the institution's shall be at liberty to make such arrangement, as it thinks fit for the performance of the service.
(7) (a) For so long as the service-bolder renders the service he shall be entitled to occupy permanently the lands in respect of which he is entitled to a patta under S. 8, subject, however, to the payment of the
Assessment fixed under Section 16 or under Sec6bn 16-A, as the case may be in respect of such lands.
(b) if the service-bolder fails to render the service, the Prescribed officer shall, after such inquiry and after such notice to the service-holder as may be prescribed in this behalf, notify such failure in such manner a,, may be prescribed. He shall then declare that the service-holder's right to occupy permanently the land under Clause (a) shall cease and determine and the institution shall beat liberty to make such arrangement as it thinks fit the performance of the set-vice and shall-be, entitled to bold the land. as its absolute property subject, however, to the payment of the assessment fixed there-for tinder Section 16 or under Section 16-A as the case my be.'
12. Under Section 11, the competent authority to inquire into the claims of any person for a ryotwari patta under that Act in respect of any inam land and decide in respect of which land claim should be allowed, is The Assistant Settlement Officer concerned. The procedure to be followed i1a holding the enquiry is provided under subsection (2). of Section 1.. Sub-section (3) of this section confers a right of appeal to the Government as well as any person aggrieved by such decision to a Tribunal.
13. Section 43 relating to res judicata and Section 46 relating to finality of orders passed under The Act read as follows:
'43. Res judicata: - (1) The decision of a Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal in any proceeding under this Act on any matter falling within its jurisdiction shall be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil Court, in so far as such matter is in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such suit or proceeding.
(2) The decision of a Civil Court (not being the Court of a District Munsiff or a Court of Small Causes) on any matter falling within its jurisdiction shall be 'binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any proceeding under this Act before a Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal in so far as such matter is in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such proceeding'.
'46. Finality of/ orders passed under this Act. (1) Any order passed by any officer, the Government or other authority or any decision of the Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal under this Act in respect of matters to be determined for the purposes of this Act shall, subject only to any appeal or revision Provided under this Act, be final'.
14. As may be seen from these Provisions, a right of appeal is provided to a Tribunal against the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer and that order 'of the Tribunal is final and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law. There could be no doubt that, if the decision of the Tribunal on appeal against the order of the Assistant, Settlement Officer is final Section 46, if no appeal is filed, a similar finality shall be attached to the, decision of the Assistant Settlement Officer Also.
15. A similar question was decided by the Supreme Court while considering the provisions of Section 56 (2) of the Andhra Pradesh Estates Abolition Act, in the decision in Oduru Chengulakshmamma v. Duvvuru Subramanya. Reddy : 1SCR1006 . That provision read:
'Any person deeming himself aggrieved by any decision of the Settlement Officer, under sub-section (1) may within three months from the date of the decision or such further time as the Tribunal may in its discretion allow, appeal to the Tribunal, and its decision shall be final and not be liable to be questioned in any Court of law.' The Supreme Court observed :'Sub-section (2) of Section 56 of Act XXVI of 1948 categorically declares that the decision of the Tribunal deciding the appeal shall be final and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law, in so far as it relates to any of the matters covered by sub-section (1). It goes without saying that if no appeal is filed, a similar finality shall attach to the decision of the Settlement Officer.'
16. The decision of the Assistant Settlement Officer which had thus become final under Section 46 operates as res judicata under Section 43 and binding 'on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil Court. In so far as such matter is in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such suit or proceeding'. it is therefore necessary to prove and establish that the person, against whom the order is claimed to be binding and not liable to be questioned, was a party to the proceeding and had notice of the same. If the person was neither a party, to the proceeding nor had notice of the proceeding, so far as he is concerned, the order is non est and the finality attached to the' order could not be pleaded against him.
17. At this stage, we may -notice certain facts relating to the grant of patta under Section 8 (2) (ii) in favour of claimants I to 6. One Krishna Gurukkal son of Kalyanasundara Gurukkal, the predecessor-in-title of claimants I to 6. in respect of, the Gurukkal services, filed a petition in 0. P. No. 12 of 1939 under S. 84 (2) of TamilNadu Act 2 of 1927 to declare the temple of Sri Thiruvaliswarar Thirumanilyyur as an excepted temple on t1w ground that he is hereditary trustee of the temple and also the hereditary Gurukkal of the temple and as a temple with a hereditary trustee, it is to be declared as an excepted temple under the Act. That petition was dismissed by an order dated 6-2-1941 marked as Exhibit A.5 in this case holding that the petitioner was not a hereditary trustee of the temple and the office of trusteeship was also not hereditary.
18. Subsequently, one Panchanatha Subramania Iyer filed O. P. No. 98 of 1942 claiming to be a trustee appointed by the Temple Committee praying for delivery of possession of the suit Properties comprised in S. F. No. 88 measuring 1.78 acres and S. F. No. 735 measuring 1.96 acres which were in the possession of the father of claimants I to 6. This petition was resisted by the respondent to the petition contending that as Archaka or Gurukkal of the temple, he is entitled to be in possession of the lands and that the lands have been in the possession and enjoyment of his predecessors-in -title, who were doing Archaka or Gurukkal duties. In the order dated 18-8-1943 in 0. P. No. 98 of 1942 it is stated that there was no dispute that the respondent was an Archaka or a Gurukkal, that his predecessors-in-title have been Archakas or Gurukkals for a number of years and that they were in possession of the lands for a long number of years. The point for consideration as stated in the order was: 'The question is whether as Archakas and Gurukkals, they cannot be allowed to be in possession of the lands'. The learned District Judge who disposed of the petition, after noting the statement in the counter, observed:
'in a case like this, where the respondents claim to be the Archakas and Gurukkals. and where, the Board itself has admitted that persons doing such work are entitled to be in possession, it seems to me that these are not fit cases to pass orders wider Sec. 78 dispossessing the Archakas and Gurukkals and directing possession to be handed over to the petitioner.'
19. It may be mentioned that a counter-affidavit was filed on behalf of the Religious Endowments Board in that O.P. Though the entries in the Inam Fair Register showed that the original grant was in favour of the temple was managed by a trustee appointed by the village Temple Committee or the trustee appointed by the Hindu Religious Endowments Board, and all along the lands were allowed to be in possession and enjoyment of the Archakas or Gurukkals of the temple in consideration of their rendering service in the temple. At the tow when the Inam wag notified and taken over under. Tamil Nadu Act 30of 1963, it was also found that claimants 1 to 6 were in possession of the suit lands and personally cultivating the same and accordingly they were not dispossessed in view of the proviso to S. 3 (d) of the Act. At the time- of the suo Motu enquiry by the Settlement Tahsildar who is the competent Assistant Settlement Officer within the Meaning of the Act, the claimants were found to be in possession and enjoyment. The claimants herein were examined as P. Ws. I to 6 and they had stated before the Settlement Tahsildar that they are doing the Pooja service regularly by fixing turns among themselves and that the land was in their possession and enjoyment. The two village officers who were examined as C. Ws. I and 2 also corroborated the evidence of the P. Ws. and stated that the claimants were doing poojas, regularly and that they are in possession of the lands. It is in that view, the Assistant Settlement Officer thought that the claimants are entitled to ryotwari patta under s. 8 (2) (ii) of the Act.
20. The next question, therefore, for consideration is whether the temple was a party to the proceedings and had notice of the same so as to make the order of the Settlement Tahsildar final and binding on the temple under S, 46 or barred under S. 43. As already stated, the Assistant Settlement Officer initiated proceedings under S. 11 of the Act suo motu. The order further states that 'necessary notices have- been served and published as per rules The procedure for enquiry into claims for ryotwari Patta under S. 8 or 9 of the Act is found in the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Rules, 1965. Rule 9 states that if ii, respect of any land no person has applied for the grant of the ryotwari patta within six months from the appointed date, the Assistant Settlement Officer shall proceed to enquire into the nature and history of the land suo Motu and determine it any person is prima facie entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of that land. The Assistant Settlement Oflicer shall fix a date for enquiry and shall cause a notice in Form No. 5 to be served on the person who has applied for a ryotwari patta and who, in the opinion of the Assistant Settlement officer, is prima facie entitled to a ryotwari patta, to produce any record and make any representations which he may wish to make at the enquiry. Copies of this notice in Form No. 5 'be sent to the Tahsildar, the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Madras and the Board of Wakfs, Madras.. Copies of the notice shall be sent to the Tahsildar in duplicate for causing publication in the village at least fifteen days prior to the date of hearing by affixture in the village chavadi on any conspicuous public place in the village which should be specified and announcing the fact by beat of tom to in and for m turning the original with a certificate that the notice was duly published in the village as required and in token thereof signatures of the villagers have been obtained. The Assistant Settlement Officer is also required by clause (5) of R. 9. to publish a notice is Form No. 6 informing all those, whom it may concern about the proposed enquiry and calling for objections, if any, to the proposal to grant the ryotwari patta and informing that such objections will have to be filed within a week of the date of the notice and also request and all interested persons to be present at the enquiry either in person or through an authorised representative and make their representations. This notice in Form No. 6 also is required to be sent to the Tahsildar of the Taluk and the Deputy Tahsildar of the Sub-Taluk, the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Madras and the Board of Walkfs, Madras. The Tahsidar was also required to re-submit the notice with a certificate relating to the due publication and announcement of the notice. It is in pursuance t of this notice, claimants, to 6 MW their statements praying for the issue of a ryotwar patta in their favour. But neither the Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable & Endowments, Department Madras, nor any trustee of the institution appeared. In fact, the Settlement Tahsildar in his order specifically noted: 'It is said that the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board has since appointed a trustee, but no objection has been received'. . The decision of the Assistant Settlement Officer is also requested to be published in Form No. 8 which is to contain the decision of the Assistant Settlement Officer and further informing that any person aggrieved by the decision may prefer an appeal to the Tribunal within three Months from the date of the decision. The manner of publication is found in Form No. 8. It requires the village officers to publish the same by (1) affixing in the village chavadi or in some conspicuous public place in the village which is to be specified and (2) by announcing the, fact by beat of tom. The village officer should return the original with the certificate of having duly published the same. Since the order, specifically stated that necessary, notices have been served and published as per the rules and there being no evidence to show that this statement in the order is in any way incorrect, we have to presume that the necessary notices were issued and published as per the rules. In the foregoing circumstances ' we are of the view that the temple shall be deemed to be a party to the proceedings and had notice of the same and that therefore the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer shall be deemed to be binding on the temple.
21. This leads us to the question as to whether the determination of the person who is entitled to a ryotwari patta under Section 8 or 9 is 'in respect of matters to be determined for the purposes' of the Act so as to make such order or decision not liable to be questioned in any Court of law under Section 46 and whether such decision or determination is 'on any matter falling' within the jurisdiction of the Assistant Settlement Officer or the Tribunal so as to make it binding on the parties to the proceedings or persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil. Court within the meaning of S. 43 of the Act.
22. Under S. 11, the Assistant Settlement Officer has jurisdiction to 'enquire into the claims of any person for ryotwari patta under this Act in respect of any Inam laid and decide in respect of which land the claim should be allowed'. This provision is analogous to Section 15 (1), TamilNadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (TamilNadu Act 26 of 1948 -- hereinafter referred to as the Abolition Act). Under that provision, jurisdiction is conferred on the Settlement Officer to 'examine the nature and history of all lands in respect of which the land-bolder claims ryotwari patta under S. 12, 13 or 14 as the case may be, and decide in respect of which lands the claim should be allowed'. An appeal is provided under S. 15 (2) against the decision of the Settlement Office,- to the Tribunal, and . (b) of sub-section (2) of S. 1 provided that the decision of the Tribunal on any such appeal shall be final and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law.
23. This provision in S. 15had,come up for consideration in a number of decisions of this Court Suffice it to refer to the decision of Ismail, J. (as he they was)in Narayanaswami Vellalar v. Rangaswami Konar 1973 86 MLW. 276 in which all the earlier decisions were considered and it was held that the Settlement Officer and the Tribunal under Section. 15. Have exclusive jurisdiction to decide. (1) the mature and history of the land, that is to say, whether a land is a private or a ryoti land and (2) to determine the entitlement or right of the landholder in respect of the land for ryotwari patta. The decisions which took the same view and rendered subsequent to this decision are P. A. Sbukur- v. K. S. Sundara Mudaliar ILR (1976) Mad 366by Varadarajan, L as he then was); Chinnappa Gounder v. S. Seshadri Iyengar AIR 1981 Mad 8. and the decision of, one of us reported in Arulandit Udayar V: PalaniapPR Ambalarn : (1982)1MLJ257 .
24. The provisions of TamilNadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion -into Ryotwari) Act (TamilNadu Act'10 of 1963) are analogous to those in the Abolition Act and the language used in Sec. ft relating to the determination of the person Who is entitled to ry6twari patta is very similar to the one in S. 15, Abolition Act. There could therefore be no doubt that the finality attached under Sec. 46 would cover not only the determination of the nature of the land but also the determination of the Person entitled to a ryotwari patta 'in respect of that land. These, two matters being questions to be determined for the Purpose of the Act and are matters failing within the decision of the Assistant Settlement Officer and the Appellate Tribunal under Sec.11, they shall also be binding on the parties and persons claiming under them In any suit or proceeding in a civil Court under S. 43.
25. The learned counsel I for the seventh claimant temple brought to our notice-.the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Second Appeals Nos. 904 and 1250 of 1978 dated 22-10-1982. In that case, the second appeals originally came before a learned single Judge who referred the following questions for determination by Division Bench : -
'Whether the grant of patta under I the Estates Abolition Act is conclusive on, the question of title; in other- words, whether the Civil Courts are barred from deciding the dispute relating to rival claims
26. The answer given by the, Bench was that a determination as to who is entitled to a patta will not bar the jurisdiction of Civil Courts to decide the question of title and in the words of the Division Bench, for the following reasons : -
'1. Act XXVI of 1948 is primarily intended to determine the class of land whether, the land is ryoti or non-ryoti.
2. The question of title is only incidental in the proceedings for the grant of patta and such a decision cannot be said to be final amongst contesting claimants.
3. The Patta issued under Section It of the Act is only a Bill of Revenue and one piece of evidence of title and the same cannot be said to be conclusive in the matter of ownership.
4. The purpose of enquiry under the Act is only to effect a settlement, viz., to decide the assessment in respect of Vie land and ensure the payment of such assessment to the State.
5. There is no provision under the Act to decide the disputes as to title between the two rival claimants.
6. Section 64-C only states that the orders passed in respect of matters to be determined for the purpose of the Act shall not be questioned in any Court of law and nowhere in the Act it is stated that the institution of civil suits to decide the question of title in respect of Properties dealt which under the provisions of the Act is prohibit_ ed and exclusion of Civil Court's jurisdiction can be inferred only if Section 64 creates a hierarchy of authorities to finally decide the dispute.'
27. We have no quarrel with the first reasoning. We are unable to agree with the second, third and the fourth reasoning's. It has been held in a number of Bench decisions and the decision of Ismail, J. (as he then was) in Narayanaswami Velalar v. Rangaswamy Konar, 1973 86 MLW 275 and that of Varadaraian, 1. (as he then was) ,in P. A. Shukur v. K. S. Sundara Mudalar ILR (1976) Mad 366 and Chinnappa Gounder V. Seshadri Iyengar, AIR 1976 Mad 8, that the determination on of ' title is neither incidental to the effecting of ryotwar settlement and incidental to the proceedings for the grant of patta and that the exclusive jurisdiction vested in the authorities was to decide the 'entitlement' or the right of a person to a ryotwari patta, and that the grant of ryotwari Patta is merely a consequential act following the determination of the right of the person to obtain the patta in respect of a particular land. In fact, it is more or less in the nature of a decree following the judgment, and the decision that is contemplated by Section 15 is a judgment The very reasoning found in the third and the fourth grounds above~ referred to was specifically mentioned and rejected. We are also unable to agree that there is no provision under the Act to decide the dispute. as to title between two rival claimants or to the scope of Section 64-C, Abolition Act. In fact, this point in our view is covered by the decisions of the Supreme Court in M. Chayanna. v. K. Narayana : 3SCR201 and Chenchulakshmamina v. Subrahmanya Reddy : 1SCR1006 . The Division Bench of this Court distinguished these two cases on the ground that they related to cases under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Estates Abolition Act in which Section 56 is still in the statute book and that the two decisions cannot apply to a case relating to Section 64-C, TamilNadu Abolition Act. It is true that Provision similar to Section, 56, Tami1nadu Abolition Act which was omitted later was there in the statute book in the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act and the decisions specifically refer to Section 56. However, we have no doubt that the ratio of the judgment of the Supreme Court is much wider and could not be restricted as a decision rendered under Section 56 alone. In M. Chayanna v. K. Narayana : 3SCR201 after tracing the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, Chinnappa Reddy, J. speaking for the Court observed as follows (at page 1323): -
'Now the Act broadly confers on every tenant in an estate the right to obtain a ryotwari patta in respect of ryoti lands which were included or ought to have been included in his holding before the notified date and on the landholder the right to obtain a ryotwari patta in respect of land which belonged to him before tile notified date as his private lands. The Act makes express provision for the determination of claims of a landholder for the grant of ryotwari patta in respect of his alleged private ands, surely, in an Act aimed at the abolition of intermediaries and the introduction ,of ryotwari settlement, there must be a provision for the determination of the claims of ryots for the grant of ryotwari patta'.
Then the learned Judge referred to a Full Bench decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Cherukuru Mucayya v. GaL:Ja Gopalakrishnayya : AIR1974AP85 wherein it was held that Section 56 (1) (c) was intended for the determination as to who the lawful ryoti was only for a limited purpose of fastening the liability to pay arrear of rent which had accrued before a notified date and for no other Purpose. Holding that the approach of the Full Bench was wrong, the Supreme Court observed as follows (at pp. 1323-24): -
'The anomaly is that while express provision is found in Section 15 of the Act for the adjudication of claims by landholders for the grant of ryotwari pattas, there is, if the Full Bench is correct, no provision for. The adjudication of, claims by ryots for the grant of ryotwari pattas. It would indeed be anomalous and ludicrous us and reduce the Act to an oddity, if the Act avowedly aimed at region by the conferment of ryotwari pattas on ryots and the abolition of intermediaries is to be held not to contain any provision for the determination of the vital question as to who was the lawful ryot of a holding. The object of the Act is to protect ryots and not to leave them in the wilderness'.
28. This forcible observation of the Supreme Court could not be restricted as merely referring to the provisions of S. 56. It could not have been the intention of the Legislative when omitting Section 56 from the provisions of the Tamilnadu Abolition Act that they wanted to leave the ryots in wilderness. Having regard to the object and Purposes of the Abolition Act, there could be no doubt that the Assistant Settlement 0-ficer has jurisdiction to adjudicate on the claims of ryots for the grant of ryotwari patta. Such an adjudication being essential for the purposes of the Act would be covered by Section 64-C. The decision in Chenchulakshinamma v. Subrahmanya Reddy : 1SCR1006 followed the decision in M.Chayanna v. K. Narayana AIR 1979 SC WO.
29. In fact, as observed in Sanjeevi Nicer v. Shanmuga Udayar 65 2 Mad LT 204, the decisions of this Court had taken the view that both before and after the repeal of Section S6, the issue of patta would not take away the jurisdiction of a Civil Court to adjudicate upon competing titles to lands. Different reasonings have been given in different decisions and it is not necessary for us to trace all those judgments, as, in Our view, the decisions of Varadarajan, J. (as he then was) in P. A. Shukur v. K. S. Sundara Mudaliar ILR (1976) Mad 366 and Chinnappa Gounder, V. V. Seshadri Iyengar AIR 1981 Mad 8, the decision of Ismail, J. (as he then was) in Narayanaswami v. Rangaswami 1973 86 MLW 276 and the decision in Arulandu Udayar v. Palaniappa Ambalain : (1982)1MLJ257 have referred to all the decisions and held that the decisions as to the nature of the land and the person entitled to patta under Section 11 or a similar finding that it is a ryoti land and not a private land are final and not liable to be questioned in a Civil Court and those judgments, in our view, are consistent with the ratio of the two decisions of the Supreme Court above referred to. Since we are of the view that the Supreme Court decisions clearly cover, this question, we are unable to agree with the reasoning and the judgment of the learned Judges of the Division Bench.
30. We may also mention that against the decision of one of us reported in Arulandu Udayar v. Palaniappa Ambalam. : (1982)1MLJ257 an appeal was filed in the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution relying on the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in Second Appeals Nos. 904 and 1250 of 1978. The Supreme Court in S. C. P. No. 7871 of 1981 dated 14-2-1983 dismissed the same, approving the decision in Arulandu Udayar V. Palaniappa Ambalarn : (1982)1MLJ257 .
31. The decisions in O. P. No. 98 of 1942 and 0. P. No. 104 of 1942 were under S. 78, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act. One Panchanatha Subramania yer claiming to be a trustee appointed by the temple committee filed those petitions for recovery Of possession of the lands now in question from Krishna Gurukkal and some others who are the predecessors-in title of claimants 1 to 6. Those petitions were dismissed on the ground that the Gurukkals, were doing archaka service and that they had been in possession and enjoyment of the lands, doing archaka service. This finding may support a contention that the inam was one burdened with service. But having regard to the scope of application under Section 78, it could not be considered that it is a finding on a question of title and thus constituted res. judicata. Even in 0. P. 12 of 1939, there was only an observation that the Gurukkals had been in possession and enjoyment and no definite finding on the question of title was given. In the circumstances, we are unable to agree that there was any finding in 0. P. No. 12 of 1939, 0. P. No. 98 of 1942 or 0. P. No. 104 of 1942 which could be treated as res judicata. However, on our finding on the other point based on the order of the Settlement Officer, this appeal is allowed. The judgment and decree of the Court below are set aside. However, there will be no order as to costs.
32. Appeal allowed.