1. This is an appeal by the plaintiffs against a decision which dismissed their suit on the ground that a possessory title had been established to the property in dispute by the defendants. What is relied on by the plaintiffs is an order made by the Survey Officer under the provisions of Act IV of 1897 and the decision of the Survey Officer is this:
As it appears that the Survey of the land Section No. 241 has been made in accordance with the revenue accounts and as this land is in the enjoyment of the defendants the order has been made accordingly.
2. That is an order adjudicating the land to be the property of the present appellants who were defendants in the proceedings before the Survey Officer. It appears to me that J that is a finding by the Survey Officer which is based inter alia on the finding of fact that the land was in the enjoyment actually at the time of the present appellants. That finding was probably made without any adequate enquiry and was almost certainly wrong, because for the purposes of this suit it appears to have been admitted, if we can trust the judgment of the learned. Subordinate Judge that the present respondents had been in possession for over the statutory period of 12 years. But there is a Full Bench decision of this Court which makes it quite clear that, if a finding on such questions of possession is made the ground of the decision; the finding is final and the legislature itself has laid down that the Survey Officer's finding shall be conclusive between the parties, unless the party aggrieved brings a suit to displace it within 12 months.
3. As in this case the present respondents had not taken the trouble of bringing a suit, I think that the Survey Officer's finding is binding upon them.
4. Speaking for myself, I have no doubt that the Subordinate Judge's view is a right one on the true facts and that the Survey Officer's was a wrong one. But the Statute itself states in plain terms that unless the party aggrieved takes steps within 12 months, lie will he concluded by that finding.
5. The second appeal must he allowed with costs throughout.
6. As to the title of the plaintiff, Exhibits A, B and C are conclusive in his favour. (See Section 13 of the Madras Act IV of 1897).
7. It is then contended for the appellant that defendants cannot rely on adverse possession for 12 years--part of which is before the Survey Officer's decision and the rest, after. In support of this he relies on Muthirulandi Poosari v. Sethurama Aiyar 50 Ind. Cas. 43 . I observe from the issues in that case that the plaintiff (who was the unsuccessful party before the Survey Authorities) did not rely on a title by adverse possession. Nor was the question touched upon in the reference to the Full Bench or in the judgment of the Full Bench, though Phillips, J., touches on this point in the Order of Reference. This contention must be disallowed. (Vide Second Appeal No. 1102 of 1909).
8. The next point is, whether we should assume that the present plaintiff was in possession in 1915 (Exhibit B). For this purpose the appellant relies on the finding of the Survey Officer in Exhibit A and the case in Muthammal v. Secretary of State for India 26 Ind. Cas. 817 and argues that the finding of the Survey Officer is binding. On this point I agree with my learned brother's judgment. It follows that the second appeal must be allowed with costs throughout.