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Arulandu Udayar, K.S. Soosai Udayar, Iru Sowrimuthu Dayar and P.S. Sowrimuthu Udayar and ors. Vs. S.P. Palaniappa Ambalam and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1982)1MLJ257
AppellantArulandu Udayar, K.S. Soosai Udayar, Iru Sowrimuthu Dayar and P.S. Sowrimuthu Udayar and ors.
RespondentS.P. Palaniappa Ambalam and ors.
Cases ReferredK.S. Soosai Udayar and Anr. v. S. Andiyappan Ambalam and Ors.
Excerpt:
- - though there is no such specific provision like section 15 of the act with reference to the ryotwari patta, on an application by a ryot it is clear from the provisions of sections 3(d) and 11 and the rules published in exercise of the powers conferred by section 7, that the assistant settlement officer is the competent authority to deal with an application under section 11 of the act. these decisions are no longer good law in view of the decision of the supreme court in chenchulakshmamma and anr. we have already seen that some decided cases went into the question as to whether a dispute between two or more persons as to who of them is the lawful ryot is comprehended within section 56 and whether the decision by a settlement officer on that question is final and cannot be called in.....v. ramaswami, j.1. ariyakudi, idaiyaur and vettiur were three villages forming part of the sivaganga zamindari. sometime after the settlement of the zamindari in 1801, the zamindar granted in inam certain lands in these villages as a post-settlement dharmilla inam in favour of one sadhananda mudaliar. though the original grant in favour of sadhananda mudaliar is not produced, it is evident from the later records that the entirety of the lands comprised in the grant or a major portion of it, were un-reclaimed waste lands and it was given to the grantee or the purpose of reclamation. the conditions of the cowl are not available, but we can safely presume from the subsequent records that sadhananda mudaliar was conferred only a kudiwaram interest, in the lands and the melwaram was still.....
Judgment:

V. Ramaswami, J.

1. Ariyakudi, Idaiyaur and Vettiur were three villages forming part of the Sivaganga Zamindari. Sometime after the settlement of the Zamindari in 1801, the Zamindar granted in inam certain lands in these villages as a post-settlement dharmilla inam in favour of one Sadhananda Mudaliar. Though the original grant in favour of Sadhananda Mudaliar is not produced, it is evident from the later records that the entirety of the lands comprised in the grant or a major portion of it, were un-reclaimed waste lands and it was given to the grantee or the purpose of reclamation. The conditions of the cowl are not available, but we can safely presume from the subsequent records that Sadhananda Mudaliar was conferred only a kudiwaram interest, in the lands and the melwaram was still vested with the Zamindar. Subsequently, these three villages were granted to certain brahmins and Ariyakudi Sri Thiruvengada Mudayan Devasthanam (hereinafter referred to as the 'Devasthanam') the 14th defendant in the suit. These three villages were later notified and taken over under The Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (XXVI of 1948), which will hereafter be referred to as the 'Act', as under-tenure estate. The classification of these villages, as an under-tenure estate, was never in dispute. Since we have unimpeachable evidence that there was a grant of kudiwaram in favour of Sadhananda Mudaliar in respect of a portion of these villages, prior to the creation of the undertenure estate, we have necessarily to take it that the grant in favour of the Devasthanam and the brahmins was not of both the warams or at least it did not cover both warams in respect of all the lands the villages. Under Exhibit A-1 dated 5th December, 1874 the Devasthanam purchased the kudiwaram light of Sadhananda Mudaliar from the legal heirs of the said person. It, therefore, follows that in respect of the lands purchased under Exhibit A-1 the Devasthanam had become the owner of both the melwaram and the kudiwaram. The extent mentioned in Exhibit A-1 is 270 kurukkams, which is stated to be approximately equivalent to 150 acres, though the boundaries given are for the entirety of the three villa ges. Obviously, the discription of the boundaries covered a larger extent because what is covered by Exhibit A-1 was only part of the three villages and not the whole of them. The description should be understood therefore as implying that the lands are situated within the major boundaries of villages mentioned in the document. But what is relevant for our purpose is that by virtue of the purchase of the kudiwaram under Exhibit A-1, the Devasthanam had become the owner of both the melwaram and kudiwaram in respect of 270 kurukkams, covered by that document. 2. For laying the Railway track, the Government acquired certain lands in those villages. In the dispute relating to the right of payment of the compensation money, the Land Acquisition Court viz., the Sub-Court at Devakottai in O.P. Nos. 69 and 12 of 1932, 18, 30 to 33 and 35 of 1933 divided the lands acquired for purposes of determining the title in three groups after a discussion of the oral and documentary evidence available in which Exhibit A-1, filed in this case, was also filed as evidence. It was held that the Devathanam was the owner of both melwaram and kudiwaram in respect of the entirety of the lands covered under Exhibit A-1 and that therefore those lands, which are grouped under group numbers 1 and 2, which formed part of the properties covered by Exhbiit A-1, belonged to the Devasthanam absolutely. The Land Acquisition Court also gave a finding that the lands in Group No. 3 though situated in the under-tenure villages of Ariyakudi, Idaiyaur and Vettiyur, are not covered by Exhibit A-1 and that the lands belonged to a group of persons, including Udayars and Vallambars. It appears an appeal was filed against this order, but that was dismissed. Since the dispute did not end even thereafter, the parties seem to have entered into an agreement on 1st February, 1945, which is marked as Exhibit A-3 in this case. Since that document is questioned as one brought about in order to avoid the impending legislation of abolition of estates and since Udayars were not parties to that document it is not necessary for us to rely on Exhibit A-3. It may also add that the respondents did not rely on Exhibit A-3 for purposes of these cases, which are before me, and they relied only on Exhibit A-1 and it is therefore, not necessary to set out the details relating to Exhibit A-3. Both the Courts below have held that the present suit properties are portions of the lands purchased by the Devasthanam under Exhibit A-1, dated 5th December, 1974 and therefore we have also to proceed on the basis that they are part| of such lands. The facts up to this stage are findings which could not be disputed by any of the parties in this case.

3. The three villages were notified and taken over by the Government under the Estates Abolition Act on 7th September, 1949. The four suits, from which these Second Appeals arise, were filed under Order 1, Rule 8 of the Civil Procedure Code, by the eight karai Vallambars of the three under-tenure villages, for a declaration that they are entitled to the kudiwaram rights in the suit properties and for an injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with their possession and enjoyment or in the alternative for recovery of possession. Though the plaintiffs are the same in all the four suits, the defendants are different. The schedule to O.S. No. 100 of 1951 contained four items. The trial Court held that in respect of three items viz., (1) T.S. Nos. 507; (2) 510 and 238; and (3) T.S. No. 491, the plaintiffs were entitled to the kudiwaram right and accordingly decreed the suit in respect of the same. He rejected the suit in respect of one other item measuring 6 acres. The defendants preferred an appeal in A.S. No. of 1963 on the file of the District Court, Ramanathapuram against that portion of the decree, which held that the plaintiffs were entitled to the kudiwaram right and the plaintiffs filed cross-objections in respect of the 6 acres disallowed. Both the appeal and the cross-objections were dismissed by the learned District Judge. In O.S. No. 101 of 1951 the suit properties comprised of 5 items. The suit was decreed only in respect of item No. 3, viz., T.S. No. 522 and dismissed in respect of other items. The plaintiffs and defendants 1 and 3 filed appeals in the District Court in A.S. Nos. 303 and of 1963 respectively, questioning the judgment and decree in so far as they are against them. The learned District Judge, while confirming the decree of the trial Court and dismissing the defendants 'appeal, allowed a portion of the plaintiffs' appeal in respect of items land 5, which covered T.S. Nos. 515 and 524. It is against this judgment the Second Appeal No. 594 of 1977 has been filed by the first defendant in the suit. There was only one item in each of the suits in O.S. Nos. 133 and 134 of 1952. The trial Court decreed the suit, as prayed for, and the appeal preferred by the defendants was dismissed. The first defendant has filed S.A. No. 595 of 1977 against O.S. No. 133 of 1952 and defendants 2 and 13 in O.S. No. 134 of 1952 have filed S.A. No. 526 of 1977.

4. Broadly stated the finding in the Land Acquisition Original Petitions would conclude a large portion of the dispute. As already stated, in those proceedings, the Devasthanam was held to be owning both the warams in respect of the lands covered by Exhibit A-1 in this case. The finding of both the Courts below also was that the suit properties are part of the land comprised in Exhibit A-1 document. The Devasthanam was, therefore, necessarily entitled to both kudiwaram and melwaram. However, in these proceedings, the Devasthanam had not claimed in itself the kudiwaram right. They supported the case of the plaintiffs that the plaintiffs are kudiwaramdars in respect of the suit lands. This in effect means that they have conferred the kudiwaram right, which was vested in them, on the plaintiffs. The only document, on which they could rely in respect of such vesting of the kudiwaram right on the plaintiffs, was only Exhibit A-3 which, as we have already stated, could not be relied on in these proceedings. The claim of the defendants that they are entitled to the kudiwaram rights was not based on any grant of such right by the Devasthanam. They have, therefore, necessarily to prove as to how they became entitled to the kudiwaram. Since the Devasthanam, who was the original owner, had conceded the claim of the plaintiffs, and since the defendants did not claim title to the kudiwaram through the Devasthanam and there being no other independent evidence to show as to how the defendants had acquiredt he kudiwaram right, the Findings of the Courts below that in respect of those lands, for which a decree had been granted, normally have to be accepted.

5. However, the learned Counsel appearing for the appellants, relying on certain proceedings taken under the Abolition Act, claimed that they were held entitled to the kudiwaram in respect of some of the properties which were dealt with under the Act and those proceedings having become final, it is not open to the civil Court to go behind those orders and give any declaration in favour of the plaintiffs. During the settlement proceedings, some of these appellants filed petition before the Final Settlement Inquiry Tahsildar (General Enquiry, Karaikudi) for grant of a ryotwari patta under Sections 11(a)18(4) and 19 of the Act, impleading the plaintiffs herein and the Devasthanam as respondents. By an order, dated 15th December, 1959 the Settlement Tahsildar who is invested with the powers of Assistant Settlement Officer and competent to entertain applications under Sections 11(a)18(4) and 19 of the Act held that in respect of Survey No. 507/4, which is portion of Survey No. 507, item No. 1 of O.S. No. 100 of 1951, one Arulandu Udayar, the first defendant in the suit, was entitled to a miscellaneous patta under Section 18(4) of the Act. Similarly, certain defendants were granted ryotwari patta under Section 11(a) of the Act in respect of some other portions of the suit-lands. Relying on this order, the learned Counsel appearing for the appellants, contended that it is a complete answer to the plaintiffs' claim of kudiwaram right, that it is not open to the civil Court to go behind this Order or question the correctness of the same, which has become final and that by colluding with the plaintiffs, Defendant No. 14 is not disputing the right of the plaintiff. If the plaintiffs and the Devasthanam, who were parties to these proceedings, were aggrieved by the order of the Settlement Tahsildar, they should have preferred appeals or revisions, as provided under the Act and that it is not open to them now to contend that either they are not final or they are open to question in these proceedings. In this connection, the learned Counsel particularly relied on Section 64-C of the Act, which reads as follows:

64-C (1) Any order passed by the Government or other authority under the Act in respect of matters to be determined for the purposes of this Act shall, subject only to any appeal or revision provided by or under this Act, be final.

(2) No such order shall be liable to be questioned in any Court of Law.

It as, therefore, become necessary to decide the question as to what are the matters to be determined for the purposes of the Act, because only those orders in respect of the matters to be determined for the purposes of the Act are final and not liable to be questioned in a Court of Law. I may also clear one other aspect viz., that even treating Section 64-C of the Act as not expressly or impliedly barring a suit, the orders coming under those provisions shall have to be treated as a complete answer if any dispute relating to the matters decided under those orders, arise in the suit. In order to understand as to what matters are made final under Section 64-C of the Act, we have necessarily to refer to the scheme of the Act.

6. Under Section 3 of the Act, with effect on and from the notified date, the entire estate (including all communal lands; porambokes; other non-ryoti lands; waste lands; pasture... lands; lanka lands; forests, mines and minerals; quarries; rivers and streams; tanks and irrigation works; fisheries and ferries), shall stand transferred to the Government and vest in them, free of all encumbrances and all rights and interests created in or over the estate before the notified date by the principal or any other landholder, shall as against the Government cease and determine. As seen from the long title to the enactment, the Act was intended to provide for the repeal of the permanent settlement, the acquisition of the rights of the landholders in permanently settled and certain other estates and the introduction of ryotwari settlement in such estates.

7. In order to effectuate a ryotwari settlement it is necessary to decide the nature of the land in the estate, which is vested in the Government and the rights of the persons who are in occupation of the lands. As part of the settlement proceedings, therefore, the competent authorities would have to decide as to whether a particular land is a ryoti land or a private land or whether the land is a tank or other poramboke or non-ryoti land, as also whether the lands are waste, lanka, forests, rivers or other lands. This classification is necessary not only for the purpose of finding out the rights of the person if any in occupation but also for adopting or fixing rates of assessment in respect of each category of land. The determination of the rights of the person in occupation is also necessary in order to determine as to who the person is that is liable to pay the assessment in respect of the lands, which are subject to such assessment. While determining such nature of the land or the rights of the person in occupation, a dispute may arise either between the Government and the ryot, or between the Government and the landholder, or between the land-holder and the ryot or a triangular fight among all the three people. Such dispute may also relate either to the nature of the land alone or both with reference to the nature of the land as also to the right of the person who is in occupation, or a person claiming any right under the Act. Section 11 of the Act deals with the grant of ryotwari patta in respect of ryoti lands and Sections 12, 13 and 14 of the Act deal with the grant of such patta in respect of private lands. The forum of determination, so far as private lands are concerned, is prescribed under Section 15 of the Act, which authorises the Settlement Officer to examine the nature and history of the land in respect of which the landholder claim ryotwari patta under Sections 12, 13 or 14 and provides for an appeal to the Tribunal against the order of the Settlement Officer. Though there is no such specific provision like Section 15 of the Act with reference to the ryotwari patta, on an application by a ryot it is clear from the provisions of Sections 3(d) and 11 and the rules published in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 7, that the Assistant Settlement Officer is the competent authority to deal with an application under Section 11 of the Act. The Act originally contained a provision in Section 56, which enabled the settlement Officer to decide as to 'who the lawful ryot in respect of any holding' is, but this provision was deleted in 1958 by Madras Act XXXVII of 1958.

8. In State of Madras v. Karuppaiah Ambalam 1958 LW155 : (1959) 1 MLJ 185, Justice Ramachandra Iyer (as he then was) observed:

Section 3(d) proviso, implies that it was for the Settlement Officer to decide whether a ryot or landlord would be entitled to a patta. Section 15 directs the Settlement Officer to examine the nature and history of all lands in respect of which the landholder claims patta to decide as to or for what lands patta should be given to him. There is no provision for deciding the character of the lands which is claimed to be ryoti lands as it is evidently presumed that every cultivable land is ryoti land.

After stating this, the learned Judge proceeded to observe:

But Section 3(d), proviso, would seem to contemplate a decision by the Settlement Officer as to whether a person in possession would be entitled to patta which would include a determination whether a land was ryoti land or not. rules have been framed under Section 67 of the Act to regulate the granting of pattas by a Government notification, dated 2nd March, 1955. Section 65 of the Act states that no suit or other proceeding shall lie against the Government for any act done or supposed to be done under this Act or any rule made thereunder. Where there is a dispute as to who the lawful ryot is in respect of a holding such dispute should be decided by the Settlement Officer under the provisions of Section 56 of the Act. Any person deeming himself aggrieved by any decision of the Settlement Officer has got a right of appeal to the Tribunal.' As may be seen this decision and some other decisions which made similar observations are to the effect that it only enables a Settlement Officer to decide whether a person in possession would be entitled to a patta and not determination as to the nature of the land as such. The decision in State of Madras v. Ramalingaswamigal Madam and Ors. (1969) 2 M.L.J. 281 : (1969) ILR 2 Mad. 742 was a case which was decided with reference to the provisions subsequent to the repeal of Section 56 of the Act. Even the provision in Section 56 was construed by this Court in State of Madras v. Karuppiah Ambalam (1959) 1 MLJ185 : 1958 LW 155, which was approved by a Bench in Adakalathammal and Ors. v. Chinnayyan Panipundar and Ors. : AIR1959Mad447 as enabling the Settlement Officer to decide a dispute as to who the ryot entitled to obtain a ryotwari patta is and that it does not bar the civil Court's jurisdiction as to who is the owner of the kudivaram right in respect of the ryoti land and entertaining a suit for possession by a person who had been in possession and who had been dispossessed. It is on the basis of the interpietation given with reference to Section 56 as not ousting the jurisdiction of the civil Court that even after the repeal of Section 56, it was held in State of Madras v. Ramalinga swamigal Madam and Ors. (1969) 2 M.L.J. 281 : : (1969)2MLJ281 , that the decision of the Settlement Officer under Section 11 read with Section 3(d) and the rules, whether a land is a ryoti land or not is only for purposes of granting a ryotwari patta and that any decision as to the question of title by statutory authority is only an incidental matter which would not preclude a Civil Court independently enquiring into it in a properly instituted suit. In that view it was held further that Section 64-C cannot be held to be a bar for a declaration of title and for an injunction. These decisions are no longer good law in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Chenchulakshmamma and Anr. v. Subrahmanya Reddy : [1980]1SCR1006 . In that case also the Supreme Court considered the scope of Sections 3 and 56 of the Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 and as to the finality attached to the determination as to who is the lawful ryot. That was also a case where the suit was filed for a declaration of title of the plaintiff and for recovery of possession. The defendant con tended that the civil Courts could not take cognisance of the suit in view of the provisions of the Abolition Act, but this was overruled by the trial Court on the strength of the decision in Krishnaswami Thevar v. Perumal Konar (1961) 1 MLJ 168, wherein it was held that the Settlement Officer has no jurisdiction under the Act to adjudicate upon rival claims for grant of patta and that such disputes fell within the jurisdiction of the civil Courts. The appeal preferred against the decree was also dismissed. The High Court, in second appeal, observed that the only question requiring determination by it was whether the plaintiff who was admittedly the owner of the property lost his right by reason of the patta having been granted to defendant-I and answered the question by relying on Krishnaswami Thevar v. Perumal Konar (1961) 1 MLJ 168 and A.R. Sanjeevi Naicker v. P.M. Shanmuga Udayar (1965) 2 MLJ204, that it was competent for a civil Court to adjudicate upon the title of the parties notwithstanding the grant of a patta under the Act to one them. Before the Supreme Court the defendants relied on Section 56 of the Act in support of their contention that the suit was barred and the civil Court could not adjudicate upon the title of the parties in view of the patta granted to the defendant No. 1. After quoting the section, the Supreme Court held:

Sub-section (2) of the section categorically declares that 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. One of such matters is covered by clause (c) of Sub-section (1) and embraces the determination of the question as to who the lawful ryo tin respect of any holding is. Questions which a Settlement Officer may be called upon to decide under the said clause (c) would certainly include such as may have resulted from a dispute between two or more persons as to who of them is the lawful ryot; and once a dispute of that type has been adjudicated upon by the Settlement Officer, his decision becomes final unless an appeal is filed before the Tribunal, in which event it is the decision of the Tribunal to which finality attaches. In either case the decision is not liable to be called into question in any Court of law. We need not go into further details on the question of interpretation of Section 56 of the Madras Act inasmuch as our view is fully supported by another decision of this Court in Muddada Chayannav Kamam Nara-yara : [1979]3SCR201 . In that case Chinnappa Reddy, J., who delivered the judgment of the Court was concerned with the interpretation to be placed on Section 56 of the Andhra Act which repeats word for the contents of Section 56 of the Madras Act. In holding that the authorities mentioned in Sub-section (2) of Section 56 of the Andhra Act had exclusive jurisdication to decide a dispute between rival claimants for a ryotwari patta, this Court approved the decision in T. Munuswami Naidu (died) v. R. Venkafa Reddi : AIR1978AP200 (F.B.) in which the same interpretation had been given to Section 57 of Andhra Act as a result of an elaborate discussion. This Court further held that Cherukuru Muthayya v. Gadde Gopalakrishnayya AIR 1974 AP 35 (F.B.), which was also decided by a Full Bench but had been overruled by a larger Full Bench in Munuswami case A.I.R. 1978 A.P. 200 : : AIR1978AP200 (F.B.) had been wrongly decided.

In view of this decision of the Supreme Court, the reasoning of the Bench in State of Madras v. Ramalingaswamigd Madam and Ors. (1969) 2 M.L.J. 281 : : (1969)2MLJ281 : (1969) ILR 2 Mad. 742 and the decisions cited therein are no longer available and that therefore, it has to be held that there was a machinery to decide the character of the land viz., whether it is ryoti and also as to whether a particular person in occupation is entitled to a ryotwari patta as against the claims made by others and that any decision rendered by such competent authority on any of the issues to be decided, was final and binding on the parties and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law.

9. Section 56 was repealed by Madras Act XXXIV of 1958 and Section 64-C was inserted by Madras Act XLIV of 1956. Whether the repeal of Section 56 has taken away the jurisdiction of the Settlement Officer to determine the nature of the land and. as to who is entitled to a ryotwari patta is the next question that arises for consideration. None of the decisionsreliedon Section 56 as the provision that enables the Settlement Officer to determine the nature of the land. That is found in Section 3(d) read with Section 1 and the rules framed under Section 67 of the Act. We have already seen that some decided cases went into the question as to whether a dispute between two or more persons as to who of them is the lawful ryot is comprehended within Section 56 and whether the decision by a Settlement Officer on that question is final and cannot be called in question in any Court of law, and it was held that such dispute was comprehended but it was not finally decided and the civil Court's jurisdiction is not taken away but these decisions in so far as they held that the finding is not final and the civil Court's jurisdiction is not taken away are no longer good law in view of the Supreme Court judgment cited above. We have also noticed that the ryotwari settlement implies a decision or determination both on the question of nature of the land and the person who is entitled to ryotwari patta. Even without Section 56 therefore, jurisdiction is vested in the Settlement Officer to decide a dispute between two or more persons as to who, of them is the lawful ryot. The original Act did not contain a provision similar to Section 64-C. After it was inserted by the Amending Act in 1956, the decision of the Settlement Officer which is certainly for purposes of the Act was made final and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law. Section 11, the proviso to Section 3(d) and the rules published in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 7, read in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Chenchulakshmimma and Anr. v. Subramanya Reddy : [1980]1SCR1006 , clearly shows that the Act has constituted the Settlement Officer as the competent authority to examine the nature of the lands and as to who is the person entitled to the ryotwari patta, and the decisions which have held that there is no machinery for the purpose of deciding the dispute between rival claimants for the issue of ryotwari patta under Section 11 are, therefore, no longer good law.

10. The same result could be reached also on a different ground. So far as the decisions under Section 15 are concerned, this Court has been taking a consistent view that in view of the finality attached to the order of the Tribunal and in particular, in view of the provisions of Section 15(2)(b), there was exclusion of jurisdiction of the civil Courts in the matter of both decisions as to the nature of the land as also the person who would be entitled to a ryotwari patta. The disputes which will be comprehended under Section 15 of the Act may be grouped under two categories. Firstly, the landholder may claim the land as his private land but the Government is contending that it is not a private land and that it is either poromboke or other non-ryoti land and, therefore, the landholder is not entitled to a ryotwari patta. Secondly, the dispute, may be with reference to cultivable land in an estate and the landholder might claim that land as his private land, but a ryot may dispute his claim and contend that it is a ryoti land which was included in his holding and, therefore, he was entitled to ryotwari patta. Though the claim of the ryot in such a case is one that may fall under Section 11, since the landholder also claims the same land as his private land, the claim or application of the landholder will have to be dealt with only under Section 15. Therefore, in a case where the dispute is between the landholder and the ryot necessarily the matter will have to be decided under Section 15 though on a finding that the landholder had failed to establish that it is his private land the ryot will be given patta under Section 11. In the decision reported in Narayanaswami Vellalar v. V. Rangaswamy Konar and Ors. (1972) 86 L.W. 276, Ismail, J. (as he then was), considered the finality attached to the orders made under Section 15 and the bar of civil Court's jurisdiction with reference to the provisions under Section 15. After - quoting the provisions of Sections 15, 64-A and 64-C, the learned Judge observed:

Simply as a matter of constuction, without any reference to any decided cases, it will follow that Section 15 (I) of the Act vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Settlement Officer to examine the nature and history of all lands in respect of which the landholder claims ryotwari patta under Sections 12, 13 or 14, as the case may be and to decide in respect of which lands the claim should be allowed. The jurisdiction of the Tribunal on appeal will be co-extensive with that of the Settlement Officer under Section 15 (1) and therefore the Tribunal also has got identical jurisdiction to examine the nature and history of all the lands in respect of which the landholder claims ryotwari patta and to decide in respect of which lands the claim should be allowed. Then comes the crucial provision, namely, clause (b) of Sub-section (2) of Section 15. It provides in express and unambiguous language that the decision of the Tribunal on any such appeal shall be final and not be liable to be questioned in any Court of law. When the Section refers to the decision of the Tribunal, that must be correlated to the obligation and the jurisdiction of the Tribunal or the Settlement Officer, as contemplated by Section 15(1), namely, to examine the nature and history of all lands in respect of which the landholder claims ryotwari patta and to decide in respect of which lands his claims should be allowed. Therefore the decision rendered by the Settlement Officer and the Tribunal, as a result of the examination of the nature and history of the land as to its character and the decision as to in respect of which land, the landholder will be entitled to. a patta, are all matters entrusted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Settlement Officer and the Tribunal. The decision contemplated in Section 15 (2)(b) of the Act refers to the determination of these questions entrusted to its exclusive jurisdiction and such determination has been rendered final in specific and unqualified terms by that section. The language of Section 15(2)(b) as it stands is absolute and unqualified and does not admit of any exception or qualification.

This reasoning of the learned Judge is equally applicable to a decision by a Settlement Officer under Section 11 read with Section 3(d) and the rules. There is also no reason to restrict the finality under Section 15(2) in respect of one finding namely, that it is a private land or not and that the landholder is or is not entitled to a patta and not to the finding that it is a ryoti land or in respect of which somebody who claimed patta was entitled to a ryotwari patta. It is useful again to recall the provisions of the Act as they stood originally and the subsequent amendments. Corresponding to Section 15(2)(b) there was a provision limited for ryoti lands alone in Section 56(2). Sections 64-A and 64-C were not there. With respect to a decision under Section 15, the finality was provided in Section 15(2)(6) itself. With reference to a decision as to who the lawful ryot is, finality was attached under Section 56(2). In view of these provisions, there was no necessity for a provision like Section 64-C. If the Act had come up for construction as it was originally enacted the same reasoning as has been mentioned in the decision in Narayanaswami VelaUr v. V. Rangaswamy (1973) 86 L.W. 276, would have been available also in respect of ryoti lands and there was no necessity to rely on Section 56 for that purpose. Section 56 was repealed and Section 64-C was inserted by subsequent amendments. While the original scheme of the Act provided for the finality attached to the orders and their non-liability to be questioned in civil Courts, in their respective places the legislature by inserting seotion 64-G had compendiously provided for a finality in respect of every order that is made under the Act in respect of matters to be determined for the purpose of the Act. So construed, even in respect of orders made under Section 11, the finality under Section 64-C will attach. In fact the learned Judge in Narayanaswami Vehlar v. Rangaswami Konar and ors. (1973) 86 LW 276, considered the scope of Section 64-G also with reference to the language used in Sections 15(2) (b) and 64-G and observed:

Section 64-C(1) refers to 'matters to be determintd for the purpose of this Act' whilst no such limiting expression occurs in Section 15(2)(b) of the Act. Assuming that even in the absence of such a limiting expression Section 15(2)(b) has to be construed as only having an application to matters to be determined for the purpose of the Act, I am unable to see what expression in Section 15(2)(b) has to be construed as only having an application to matters to be determined for the purpose of the Act, I am unable to see what exactly is the purpose of the Act, apart from the determination of the character of land and pieces and parcels of lands to which a landholder is entitled to a ryotwari patia. The contention of Mr. Vedantachari is that Section 22 of the Act provides for settlement, just like in the case of a ryotwari area, and it is for purpose of effecting that settlement, the decision contemplated by Section 15 has to be arrived at incidentally and therefore the determination as to the character of land cannot be said to be for the purpose of the Act and consequently it cannot be said to be final. I am unable to see any substance in this argument. Ryotwari settlement has nothing whatever to do with tie character of the land as private or ryoti. On the other hand, it has got everything to do with the classification of the soil with reference to the rate of assessment that may be provided for different classes of lands having regard to their nature, as wet, dry or manavari, and having regard to the irrigation facilities available. But the question whether a land is a private land or a ryoti land has absolutely no relevancy whatever for effecting a ryotwari settlement and for the purpose of imposing the rate of assessment depending upon the classification or tharam of the soil. Therefore, I am unable to agree with the learned Counsel that the determination whether aland is private or ryoti is only incidental to effecting a ryotwari settlement and in itself is not the determination of a question entrusted to the exclusive jurisdiction of the authorities concerned. An extension of this argument is that the exclusive jurisdiction of the Settlement Officer and that of the Tribunal under Section 15 is merely to grant a ryotwari patta. As a matter of fact, an examination of the provisions of the Act will show that there is not a single Section dealing with the grant of ryotwari patta. All that the provisions of the Act deal with is the entitlement to a ryotwari patta, and its determination The grant of ryotwari patta being merely a consequential act following the determination of the right of the person to obtain a patta in respect of particular lands, it is more or less in the nature of a decree following a judgment and the decision that is contemplated by Section 15 is the judgment and not the decree which must necessarily follow and flow from the determination as to the entitlement of the landholder to a ryotwari patta in respect of particular lands. Therefore, the scope and ambit of Section 15 of the Act makes it absolutely and abundantly clear that the jurisdiction conferred on the Settlement Officer and the Tribunal is for the purpose of ascertaining and determining the nature and history of the land and for determining the entitlement of the landholder to a ryotwari patta in respect of such land and the grant of ryotwari patta as such is totally outside the scope of that Section that being a mechanical action not involving determination of any question The determination itself his been provided for only under Section 15. Therefore, I am unable to agree with the contention of the learned Counsel that the finality contemplated by Section 15(2)(b) is only for the purpose of the Act in the sense that it is only for the purpose of granting a ryotwari patta and not for determining the character of the land as such.

(Italics is mine)

I am in entire agreement with these reasonings and conclusion of the learned Judge. am also of opinion that the same reasonings are equally applicable to a case of determination under Section 11 and even in respect of such determination, the finality provided under Section 64-G would attach. Since the learned Judge has considered all the earlier decisions in Narayattaswami Velalar v. V. Rangaswamy Konar and Ors. (1973) 86 L.W. 276 it is not necessary for me to refer to those decisions which have taken a similar view with respect to the provisions of Section 15(2)(b). The three decisions which are not referred but which have taken a similar view, are one reported in Rainasabapathy Servai v. Sannasi Ambalagaran (1956) 1 M.L.J. 190 : : (1956)1MLJ190 and the decisions of Varadarajan, J., in P.A. Shukur v. K.S. Sundara Mudaliar and Anr. (1976) I.L.R. 1 Mad. 366 and Chinnappa Gounder & Ors. v. S. Seshadri Iyengar and Anr. (1980) I.L.R. 1 Mad. 477 : A.I.R. 1981 Mad. 8 It necessarily follows that the decision as to the nature of the land and the person entitled to patta under Section or a similar finding that it is ryoti land and not a private land and that a claimant was entitled to a ryotwari patta in proceedings under Section 15 are final and not liable to be questioned in a civil Court. Therefore, in a case whether there is a claim by a person other than the landholder for a ryotwari patta under Section 11 and that claim is resisted by another who, in turn claims the right in himself, the decision given by the Settlement Officer is final and binding m the parties when the same dispute is to be decided in a civil Court.

11. The next question that has to be determined is with reference to the claim made under Section 18(4). Section 18 deals with the vesting of buildings situated in estates. After dealing with certain buildings which originally belonged to the erstwhile land-holder, Sub-section (4) provided that every building other than a building referred to in Sub-sections (1),(2) and (3) thereof shall, with effect from the notified date, vest in the person who owned it immediately before that date, and 'building' is defined in Sub-section (5) of that Section as including the site on which it stands and any adjacent premises occupied as an appurtenance thereto. A Division Bench of this Court in Silambani Sri Chidambara Vinayagar Swami Devasthanam through its trustees ST. MR. VR. Murugappa Chettiar and Ors. v. Duraisami Hadar and Ors. : AIR1971Mad474 construing the provisions of Section 18(4) held that in order to enable a person to claim that the buildiag is vested in him under Section 18(4), it is necessary that there is a canleseence of the ownership of the building as well as of the site on which it stands. In another Division Bench judgment in K. Vellappa Gounder and Sons by partner K. Vellappa Gounder and Ors. v. K.S. Thirugnanasambandum Chettiar and Ors. : AIR1981Mad100 to which I was a party, applying the principles in Silambani Sri Chidambara Vinayagar Swami Devasihanam through its trustees : AIR1971Mad474 ST. MR. V.R.Murugappa Chettiar and Ors. v. Duraisami Nadar and Ors. : AIR1971Mad474 to a case arising under Madras Act XXX of 1963, it has been held that in a case where there is no coalescence of such interest and the persons who claimed the patta only was able to prove that he is the owner of the building, the land shall be deemed to have vested in the Government and that, therefore, the landholder will not be entitled to get a ryotwari patta in respect of that land. It was further held that only those persons who were owning the buildings that could apply to the Government for the grant of ground rent patta outside the provisions of the Act. Sub-section (6) provides that if any question arises whether any building or land falls or does not fall within the scope of Sub-sections (1)(2)(3)(4) or (5) of Section 18, it shall be referred to the Government whose decision shall be final and not lable to be questioned in any Court of law. The Government have delegated this power to the Assistant Settlement Officers. It may be seen, as noted in an earlier part of this judgment, that Sub-section (6) of Section 18 was there even in the original Act that is, before the insertion of Section 64-C and it is in those circumstances, the finality attached to that order is mentioned in the Section itself. Even if that Section had not mentioned about the finality, Section 64-C would have covered a Iderision given under Sub-section (6). In the Iresult, therefore, the order of the Settlement Officer in Exhibit B-23 in so far as it related to the grant of miscellaneous patta under Section 18(4) and a ryotwari patta under Section 11(a) is final and binding between the parties and not liable to the questioned in these proceedings. In fact, when on an earlier occasion the matter came to this Court on a preliminary issue, Justice Ramachandra Iyer (as he then was), in the decision reported in K.S. Soosai Udayar and Anr. v. S. Andiyappan Ambalam and Ors. (1959) 1 M.L.J. 195 : (1958) L.W. 857 dismissed the appeal with the following observations:

It may bn that during the course of the suit if the defendant is able to obtain patta from the authorities he can produce that patta as an answer to the plaintiff's claim that he has got superior title against whom a decree for possession cannot be granted.

Accordingly, the second appeals ate allowed in so far as they relate to that portion of the building and site which is comprised in T.S. No. 507/4 in respect of which Section Arulandu Udayar was given a ryotwari patta under Exhibit B-23 as also in respect of T.S. Nos, 510 and 522/3 for which Section 11(a) patta was granted in favour of Arulandu Udayar. In other respects, the second appeals are dismissed.

12. The plaintiffs have filed cross-objections in Second Appeals Nos. 593 and 594 of 1977. The cross-objection in Second Appeal No. 593 of 1977 related to six acres of land in respect of which the trial Court dismissed the suit and the appeal filed by the plaintiff was also dismissed. But instead of filing a second appeal, the plaintiffs have chosen to file a cross-objection. The cross-objection itself is not maintainable as A. Section No. 304 of 1963 filed by the plaintiffs had been dismissed in respect of this land and, therefore, the plaintiff should have filed a regular appeal. Apart from this the findings of the Courts below are that these six acres have not been shown to be covered by Exhibit A-1. That is a finding of fact. As already stated, except with reference to those lands which are covered by Exhibit A-1, the Devasthanam has not so far proved to be the owner of both warams. Accordingly the cross objection filed in Second Appeal No. 593 of 1977 is dismissed.

13. The plaintiffs have also filed a cross-objection in Second Appeal No. 594 of 1977 in respect of items 2 and 4 viz., T.S. Nos. 521 and 523. In respect of these items also the trial Court dismissed the suit, and the appeal filed by the plaintiffs was also dismissed. But without filing a regular second appeal, this cross-objection has been filed. The same reasons which are mentioned for dismissing the cross-objection filed in Second Appeal No. 593 of 1977 are applicable to those two items as well. Accordingly the cross objection filed in Second Appeal No. 594 of 1977 is also dismissed. In the circumstances of this case, the parties will bear their respective costs both in the second appeals and in the cross-objections.


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