1. This appeal is preferred by one Sankaralinga Thevar against the judgment of Ismail, J., in W.P. No. 2075 of 1974 dismissing his petition for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the District Revenue Officer dated 20th April, 1974 confirming that of the Revenue Divisional Officer, dated 7th December, 1973.
2. The appellant applied to the Specia Tahsildar (Tenancy Records) and Records Officer for his name to be included as a tenant in respect of the lands in question. The Records Officer allowed the petition ex parte as the civil Court had declared the appellant as tenant of the lands on due enquiry and under the documents. In the result, the appellant Sankaralinga Thevar was included as a tenant of the lands of the counter petitioners (respondents 1 to 3 herein). The counter petitioners (landlords) fled an appeal before the Revenue Divisional Officer, namely, the Appellate Authority. The Appellate Authority held that the decision of the Records Officer having included Sankaralinga Thevar, the present appellant before us, as a tenant of the lands is not correct. He set aside the order of the Records Officer.
3. The revision to the District Revenue Officer by the tenant Sankaralinga Thevar (Appellant) failed. The appellant, therefore, filed the writ petition which was dismissed in limine at the admission stage.
4. The question that arises for consideration relates to the extent of the jurisdiction of the civil Court in these proceedings. The appellant filed a suit O.S. No. 432 of 1971 and that suit, as already stated, was decreed in his favour. It was found that the plaintiff, namely, the appellant before us, is the cultivating tenant and there was no surrender of possession. The judgment of the District Munsif is dated 19th April, 1972. Against that judgment, respondents 1 to 3 herein have preferred an appeal and that is pending before the Subordinate Judge, Madurai. When the Records Officer took the petition for disposal on 2nd August, 1972, the judgment and decree of the civil Court were in force and following the civil Court's judgment, the Records Officer allowed the petition of Sankaralinga Thever (Appellant). It may be noted that on the date when the civil Court passed the decree, Section 16-A was not in force. It was enacted as an amendment which came into force on 27th November, 1972. When the appeal was taken by the Revenue Divisional Officer on 7th December, 1973, the amendment had come into force; so also when the revision was taken up by the District Revenue Officer.
5. The question that arises is as to the effect of the civil Court's decree. It may be noted that on the date the civil Court passed its decree and judgment, Section 16-A was not in force and the jurisdiction of the Civil Court was not barred. The result is that there is a valid civil Court decree and judgment, which can be set aside only by a process known to law i.e., preferring an appeal to the appellate civil Court which, respondents have done.
6. It was contended by the learned Counsel for respondents 1 to 3 that after Section 16-A was enacted, the Revenue Divisional Officer and the District Revenue Officer had jurisdiction under the Act to determine the record of rights, ignoring the decree of the civil Court. We are unable to accept the contention. When once a civil Court passed its judgment and decree under the same Act validly with jurisdiction, it can be set aside only by a procedure known to law. Any other Tribunal constituted by law cannot act in such a manner as to set aside the Civil Court's judgment and decree. In this view, the Revenue Divisional Officer and the District Revenue Officer erred in ignoring the civil Court's judgment and decree. The question as to the rights of parties and also the question as to the jurisdiction of the civil Court will all have to be argued when the appeal is heard by the appellate Judge. The order of the Revenue Divisional Officer and the District Revenue Officer, when the decree of the civil Court is in operation, cannot be sustained.
7. In the result, the writ appeal is allowed and the orders of the Revenue Divisional Officer and the District Revenue Officer are set aside. After the decision of the civil Court in the appeal, the Revenue Divisional Officer will proceed according to law. Respondents 1 to 3 before us i.e., the appellants in the civil appeal would be at liberty to raise all legal contentions that are open to them in law. No costs.