1. This appeal arises out of a suit brought by the zamindar of Ratnavaram in the Court of the Sub-Collector of Bezwada. It was a suit for rent filed against two defendants, and so far as the descriptive matter in the plaint itself is concerned, it was filed against them on the ground that they owed it as pattadars of patta No. 20 of the village of Ratnavaram. Attached to the plaint was a schedule in which a description of this land was given. Before the suit was tried the plain-tiff had realised that the particulars of the description were inaccurate, and in fact he alleged that by a clerical error they had been copied from a patta, also No. 20, relating to the village not of Ratnavaram but of Thallabella. Plaintiff accordingly applied to the Sub-Collector for leave to amend the schedule. The Sub-Collector refused to grant leave. Plaintiff then applied under Section 205, Madras Estates Land Act, to have this order revised by the District Collector of Kistna. In February 1940 the Collector dismissed this application. The suit proceeded to trial and eventually it was dismissed by the Sub-Collector on the main ground that it was impossible to grant a decree on so defective a plaint. Plaintiff then appealed to the learned District Judge of Kistna. The learned Judge held that the errors in the schedule were obviously due to a clerical mistake and that from the recitals in the plaint the plaintiff clearly intended to file his suit in respect of patta No. 20 of Ratnavaram. He held that in these circumstances the amendment ought to have been allowed and he repelled the argument addressed against the amendment on the score of limitation. On these matters there has been no dispute in the appeal before me. A further contention was however raised on behalf of defendant 2 before the learned District Judge to the effect that as the Collector had already on revision refused to allow the amendment, the District Judge had no jurisdiction to allow it. The Judge refused to accept this contention, allowed the amendment and remanded the suit to the Sub-Collector for disposal according to law. This is an appeal by defendant 2 against that order of remand.
2. The only serious point taken in the appeal is that the learned District Judge had no jurisdiction to allow the amendment. The argument is that this matter has already been decided by the District Collector and his decision is res judicata in the present proceedings. In support of this argument reliance is placed upon a judgment of a Bench of this Court reported in Chinnappa Reddi v. Official Receiver, Guntur A.I.R. 1935 Mad. 835 to which I was myself a party. That was a case dealing with the decision of an executing Court that it had jurisdiction to decide matters arising in that particular execution. This decision was given in spite of a contention that by reason of Section 37, Provincial Insolvency Act, the executing Court had no jurisdiction. It was held by us that the executing Court had inherent jurisdiction to deal with any matter in execution provided the petition lay otherwise within its jurisdiction and it had jurisdiction therefore to decide whether it had jurisdiction or not. Although that decision was eventually proved to be wrong the decision was nevertheless res judicata. In that ruling we drew a clear distinction between the decisions of Courts which had an inherent jurisdiction to come to those decisions, and cases in which Courts had no jurisdiction at all. In the former case the decisions were merely voidable, in the latter they were void and could not be relied upon as constituting res judicata.
2. It seems to me clear that the present case is not one in which there is any question of inherent jurisdiction lying in the Court of the District Collector. The District Collector's jurisdiction is severely limited, not only by the fact that it is conferred upon him by a particular Act like the , Estates Land Act and therefore deals with a very restricted subject-matter, but also by reason of the terms of Section 205 itself. It cannot be seriously argued that in the general sense of the word a District Collector has jurisdiction to decide civil disputes. The terms of Section 205 are as follows:
The Board of Revenue or the District Collector may call for the record of any proceeding before a Collector from whose decision no appeal lies, if such officer appears to have exercised a jurisdiction not vested in him by law, or to have failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or while acting in the exercise of his jurisdiction to have contravened some express provision of law affecting the decision on the merits, where such contravention has produced a serious miscarriage of justice; and the Board of Revenue or the District Collector, as the case may be, may, after hearing the parties if they attend, pass such order as seems fit.
The main question therefore to be decided is whether the issue of the allowing or refusing to allow the amendment in the present plaint was a proceeding before a Collector from whose decision no appeal lies. If it were not, clearly the District Collector had no jurisdiction to entertain any application in revision. It has been clearly pointed out in Paramaswami Iyengar v. Alamelu Nachiar Ammal A.I.R. 1919 Mad. 510 that 'proceeding' in Section 205 relates only to a proceeding in a suit from which no appeal lies. Clearly an appeal does lie from the decision in the present suit. The authority in Paramaswami Iyengar v. Alamelu Nachiar Ammal A.I.R. 1919 Mad. 510 has been reaffirmed by another Bench of this Court in Mahant Prayag Dossjee v. Chinna Rama Naidu A.I.R. 1935 Mad. 309. There can therefore be no doubt that the District Collector had no jurisdiction to pass the order in revision which he passed in so far as it decides on the merits that no amendment should be allowed. The result is that the decision of the learned District Judge cannot be attacked on the ground of res judicata. As already indicated it has not been seriously challenged on any other ground. This appeal accordingly fails and is dismissed with costs.