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Raja V.K.M. Surya Row Bahadur Vs. the Secretary of State for India in Council - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1913)ILR36Mad57
AppellantRaja V.K.M. Surya Row Bahadur
RespondentThe Secretary of State for India in Council
Cases ReferredMr. J.P. Wise v. Ameerunnissa Khatoon
Excerpt:
accretion - island formed in the mouth of a river subsequently becoming joined to the mainland, ownership of. - - 4. a special feature of the case is the existence of a series of excellent maps and charts prepared by officers of the indian navy and others and bearing dates 1842, 1846, and 1857. these enable us to follow, with some degree of certainty, the process of formation of the lands in question. and the appellant's vakil has sought to make capital out of the fact that the land lying west of this again marked a in exhibit ii, which was presumably formed in precisely the same way as block b, has not been included in the reserve. seaward of the sand hills is a stretch of sandy mud, the result of further deposit of silt, and there can be no doubt that the whole of block b as well as..........original line of sand hills be treated as an accretion to the neighbouring coast line or as an island formed in the sea.9. in the latter case the sand hills and all accretions to them are the property of the crown. vide sri raja chelikani rama rau v. secretary of state for india i.l.r., (1910) mad., 1, to quote no other authorities.10. from the fact stated it will be clear that when the sand hills first rose above high water level and became dry land they must have been separated from the coast by a strip of water of greater or less breadth. there is no reason to suppose that it was even of great depth; but some water there must have been even at low tide (vide exhibit v). as to width, it was probably coterminous at high water with the 'swamp.' are these facts inconsistent with the.....
Judgment:

1. This appeal relates to a claim preferred by the Raja of Pittapur (appellant) to two blocks of land situated on the coast of the Godavari district near the mouth of the Coringa river, and included in the Coringa Extension Forest Reserve. They are marked B and C in the Reserve map--Exhibit II. The nature of the appellant's claim to the latter block is expressed somewhat ambiguously in the plaint, but the case now put forward is that both blocks are accretions to the lands of appellant's zamindari and therefore his property.

2. The District Judge has found that both blocks are not accretions to appellant's lands, but islands formed in the sea, and therefore the property of Government. He has further found that as both blocks came into existence after 1842, that is, within 60 years of the date of Reservation notice (1901), it is impossible for appellant to have obtained a title as against Government by adverse possession.

3. It may be mentioned here that claims to the same blocks on similar grounds were put forward by another neighbouring landholder. His claims were enquired into in the same proceedings and eventually disposed of by this Court in Second Appeals Nos. 1434 and 1435 of 1904 [vide Sri Raja Chelikani Rama Rau v. Secretary of State for India I.L.R., (1910) Mad., 1 and dismissed, the District Judge's findings being upheld. This decision is, of course, not binding on the present appellant whose appeal was presented three and a half years out of time, the delay being excused on the ground of his minority.

4. A special feature of the case is the existence of a series of excellent maps and charts prepared by officers of the Indian Navy and others and bearing dates 1842, 1846, and 1857. These enable us to follow, with some degree of certainty, the process of formation of the lands in question. The evidence they furnish of the state of things in the years to which they relate is entitled to incomparably more weight than any oral testimony; and the District Judge was quite justified in treating the latter as negligible.

5. As regards the second point above referred to, these maps are conclusive. The maps of 1842 show no trace of the disputed blocks. The learned vakil for the appellant argues that these maps embody the result of surveys made some years before, and therefore it cannot be inferred that the lands might not have been formed more than a year prior to the date of publication and therefore more than 60 years before 1901. But Exhibit IX, a map bearing date 1846, and which there is no reason to suppose to record any but a then recent survey, shows that at that time the blocks in question, while in process of formation, were only dry at low water or half tide. It is clear therefore that they could not possibly have been the subject of effective occupation.

6. Appellant can therefore only prove his case by showing that the lands when first formed were accretions to his lands. In the case of Block B, the determination of this question involves the consideration of a somewhat difficult legal point regarding the nature of an accretion. But in the case of Block C, the matter is simplified. [Their Lordships having held on the facts that with regard to Block C, the coast line in its proximity was not proved to belong to the appellant, the judgment continued.]

7. The case of Block B is different. This is a much smaller strip of land forming the coast line north of the Mutlapalem creek. It undoubtedly lies due east of that portion of the coast line as existing in 1842 or earlier which belonged to the Pittapur zamindari, and, if it is an accretion at all, it is an accretion to that portion. Its western boundary is an imaginary line running due north and south; and the appellant's vakil has sought to make capital out of the fact that the land lying west of this again marked A in Exhibit II, which was presumably formed in precisely the same way as Block B, has not been included in the reserve. It is suggested that it was excluded, because it belonged to the appellant and it is argued that if this excluded portion belongs to him so must the leeward extension of it which forms Block B. This argument, however, depends on the fallacy that in selecting a forest reserve the Forest Department always includes all land liable to inclusion; of course this is not so. The advantages of a straight boundary, the necessity of leaving some margin for free use, and other considerations all come into play; and as far as we can see there is no ground whatever for holding that the Government has tacitly recognised that the land west of Block B is private land. How then was the land of which Block B is the eastern portion formed? Was it formed as a gradual accretion to the coast line of appellant's villages as the appellant contends, or was it originally thrown up above high water mark in the shape of an island or islands separated from the coast by a stretch of water, which has since disappeared and become dry land?

8. Here again the maps and charts, Exhibits I, IV, V and IX are of invaluable assistance. Exhibits I and IV dated 1842 show no sign of these lands. Exhibit IX dated 1846 shows a large extent of sand or mud bordering the outlet of the Coringa river and stretching as far north as the Cholinga creek which is about opposite the middle of what is now Block B. This sand or mud was then submerged at high water and even at low tide would appear to join the mainland only at its southern extremity, at the mouth of the Coringa river; one may say with confidence that the whole formation was due to the gradual deposit of silt brought down the Coringa river and slowly piled up no either side of its mouth as it debouched into the sea. This map shows the first traces of a further development, which is more obvious in Exhibit V of 1857. As the soft mud rose to low water level it was bisected by the flow of water from the much smaller Mutlapalem creek and in this way two blocks were formed, the northern one being that of which Block B is a portion. Exhibit V shows for the first time dry land. We have a long narrow strip of land running north and south from about a mile north-east of Mutlapalem to the Cholinga creek. Between it and the coast of the mainland lies a strip of 'swamp' in the middle of which is a narrow channel of water. The 'swamp' appears to vary in width from less than a furlong to nearly half a mile. Seaward of the sand hills is a stretch of sandy mud, the result of further deposit of silt, and there can be no doubt that the whole of Block B as well as the adjacent land marked A in Exhibit II is formed out of this original line of sand hills and the accretions thereto caused by the continued deposit of silt. It is necessary to go into the facts thus fully in order to apply the doctrine of accretion to them, the fate of Block B depends simply on whether the original line of sand hills be treated as an accretion to the neighbouring coast line or as an island formed in the sea.

9. In the latter case the sand hills and all accretions to them are the property of the Crown. Vide Sri Raja Chelikani Rama Rau v. Secretary of State for India I.L.R., (1910) Mad., 1, to quote no other authorities.

10. From the fact stated it will be clear that when the sand hills first rose above high water level and became dry land they must have been separated from the coast by a strip of water of greater or less breadth. There is no reason to suppose that it was even of great depth; but some water there must have been even at low tide (vide Exhibit V). As to width, it was probably coterminous at high water with the 'swamp.' Are these facts inconsistent with the 'sand hills' being treated as an 'accretion' to the mainland?

11. In our opinion they are lands so formed and in the first instance a vertical raising of the bed of the sea, rather than a lateral extension of the pre-existing land. And as regards the latter, they would, after the disappearance of the water originally intervening, be better described (if we may coin a word) as an adjunction rather than an accretion. A good deal of light is thrown on the true meaning of the latter expression by some remarks of their Lordships of the Privy Council in Sri Balusu Ramalakskmamma v. The Collector of the Godavari District I.L.R., (1899) Mad., 464 wherein they speak of 'a promontory pushed out by imperceptible deposits.'

12. The theory of accretion and the principles on which it is based are discussed by this Court in Secretary of State for India v. Kadiriutti I.L.R., (1890) Mad., 369 and we may also refer to the remarks in Coulson and Forbes' 'Law of Waters' 3rd edition, pages 42 and 43. It is in our opinion impossible to speak of the process which took place in this case as a gradual and imperceptible accretion. The mainland here received no addition at all until the space of water which originally interposed between it and the sand hills was turned into dry land and the addition which it then received was an addition of a fairly large stretch of dry land which had come into existence some appreciable time before.

13. As remarked in the 'Law of Waters,' 'Where the increase is sudden or perceptible the land gained belongs to the Crown.' And it would not for a moment be contended that if a piece of land of equal size had even severed from the land and surrounded by the sea it would not remain the property of the original owner. None of the basis on which the doctrine of accretion depends will cover a case of this kind.

14. It is of course possible to imagine a case in which the raising of the bed of the sea was so nearly uniform that it might be very difficult to say whether the dry land resulting therefrom was, at its first appearance, detached from the mainland or adhering to it. But this is certainly not such a case; and while we would guard ourselves against laying down any principle of general applicability, we feel no hesitation in deciding the present case on the lines above indicated.

15. We need do no more than refer to the argument of appellant's vakil that we should have regard to the provisions of the Bengal Alluvion and Deluvion Regulation (Regulation 11 of 1825). This regulation has no applicability to the Madras Presidency and no authority has been quoted for holding that the test of fordability laid down therein is based on any principle of English Law, which it would be our duty to follow. For the same reason the case, Mr. J.P. Wise v. Ameerunnissa Khatoon (1865) 2 W.R., 34 has no applicability.

16. The finding of the District Judge that Block B is not. an accretion to appellant's land is correct.

17. This second appeal is dismissed with costs.


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