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Ramaswami Iyer Vs. Thandavam Pillai (Died) and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1960)1MLJ490
AppellantRamaswami Iyer
RespondentThandavam Pillai (Died) and ors.
Cases ReferredIn Matcharayya v. Chintanna
Excerpt:
- - he has met with varying success. hence this appeal by the defeated plaintiff. (1959)). 9. it is well-settled that in deciding these matters the substance of the plaintiff's claim has to be looked into in deciding the question of jurisdiction but not the form of pleading; the plaintiff's father permitted the defendants to enjoy the suit property doing service during his lifetime. the plaintiffs are entitled to succeed, if they establish that their father permitted the defendants to enjoy the land for a purpose and that the permission given was revoked by his death......the plaintiff who is the karnam of poolanandapuram village seeks in substance the recovery of the suit lands on the ground that they constitute the emoluments of the office of the karnam of poolanandapuram. in order to take the suit out of the mischief of sections 13 and 21 of the madras hereditary village offices act (iii of 1895), the reliefs prayed for are a declaration that the order of the board of revenue passed in 1953 is illegal and that the plaintiff is entitled to recover possession of the suit properties through the revenue courts or to direct the defendants (alienees) to hand over possession of the suit properties to the plaintiff.3. the facts necessary for understanding the claim made by the plaintiff can be gathered from the order of the district collector of madurai sri.....
Judgment:

Ramaswami, J.

1. This pauper appeal is directed against the decree and judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge of Dindigul in O.S. No. 11 of 1954 which was also filed in the pauper form.

2. The plaintiff who is the karnam of Poolanandapuram village seeks in substance the recovery of the suit lands on the ground that they constitute the emoluments of the office of the karnam of Poolanandapuram. In order to take the suit out of the mischief of Sections 13 and 21 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act (III of 1895), the reliefs prayed for are a declaration that the order of the Board of Revenue passed in 1953 is illegal and that the plaintiff is entitled to recover possession of the suit properties through the revenue Courts or to direct the defendants (alienees) to hand over possession of the suit properties to the plaintiff.

3. The facts necessary for understanding the claim made by the plaintiff can be gathered from the order of the District Collector of Madurai Sri N.S. Arunachalam, I.C.S., in R.S.A. No. 2 of 1952. The suit lands which are considerable in extent, were originally service inam lands attached to the karnam's office at Poolanandapuram and there is no dispute that the plaintiff is the hereditary karnam, his father and grandfather having held that office before him. During the investigation by the Inam Commissioner the lands which were in Poolanandapuram were confirmed to the plaintiff's ancestors at 5/8th of the assessment and Inam patta was granted, while in respect of the lands in Chinnamanur which appear to have been Sirkar waste lands granted to meet the insufficiency of the emoluments, they were resumed and fully assessed in the name of the plaintiff's ancestors. Because the lands were in the occupation of another contending claimant for the post, the Collector after the issue of patta placed plaintiff's ancestors in possession of the lands. The rival agitated the matter both in the criminal and civil Courts and the claim of the plaintiff's father for the lands was fully established. During these proceedings it was specifically mentioned that the 'Manibam' consisted of the land and not Tina alone. Some years after, there was a civil litigation in the family of the plaintiff in which the suit lands were claimed as partible. That litigation ended in Gunniyan v. Kamakshi Ayyar I.L.R. (1902) Mad. 339. The two sets of properties in Poolanandapuram and Chinnamanur were considered specifically in that decision and this Court after holding that the properties in one case had been enfranchised and in the other case converted into ryotwari tenure by the action of the Inam Commissioner, proceeded to discuss the result of such enfranchisement. The effect of enfranchisement was declared as freeing the lands from the restrictions regarding alienation and placing them under the ordinary jurisdiction of Civil Courts. This Court further held that the lands after enfranchisement partook the character of joint family properties and enabled not only the person who was appointed to the office at such enfranchisement but also the members of his family to ask for partition of the same and a partition was accordingly ordered. After the partition, the properties went into the hands of various purchasers and the plaintiffs father launched an expedition to recover the same and has been pursuing the same for several years. He has met with varying success. The revenue Courts dismissed the suit. He then moved the civil Courts and the matter was compromised there. He then resigned his post and his son, the present plaintiff has recommenced the litigation.

4. During all the earlier stages of the litigation it has been uniformly found that the land in Poolanandapuram had been enfranchised and that the lands at Chinnamanur had been given on ryotwari patta. In fact the plaint in the suit filed by the plaintiff's father averred that the property had been enfranchised and the decisions of the Munsif's Court, Dindiguland this Court in Ghnniyan v. Kamakshi Ayyar I.L.R. (1902) Mad. 339, in appeal were that the lands were enfranchised. The plaintiff's contention has been that the decision of this Court has been overruled in Musti Venkata Jagannadha v. Musti Veerabhadrayya (1921) 41 M.L.J. 1 : L.R. 48 IndAp 244 : I.L.R. (1921) Mad. 643. But the difference in view between the two decisions relates exclusively to the nature of the property vested on enfranchisement, whether it enures to the individual holder of the office at the time of enfranchisement or to his family as such. About the legal incidence of enfranchisement, how it permits the holder to dispose of the land without the restrictions imposed by Regulation VI of 1831 and the competency of the Civil Courts to decide on all such matters, there is unison between the two decisions. It is clear from these decisions that the office-holder gets the right of alienation in return for the payment of favourable assessment and if there is any dispute regarding the validity of the disposal of the lands of the office-holder, such disputes can only be adjudicated upon by the civil Courts and not by the revenue Courts.

5. In these circumstances the plaintiff filed an application before the Deputy Collector, Usilampatti, for recovery of the emoluments alleged to be attached to the karnam's office of Poolanandapuram village in the Periakulam taluk. This application under Section 13 of the aforesaid Act was dismissed. There was an appeal and this was disposed of by Mr. N.S. Arunachalam, I.C.S., District Collector, Madurai. He held that there could be no recovery of the alleged emoluments, because there had been enfranchisement of the lands long long ago and that the lands which could be alienated by the office-holder after such enfranchisement could not be recovered as inalienable emoluments attached to the office of the karnam. Therefore, he dismissed the appeal. There was a further appeal to the Board of Revenue and which appeal also shared the same fate.

6. The plaintiff has thereupon filed the suit which has given rise to this appeal in the pauper form for the reliefs mentioned above. The learned Subordinate Judge came to the conclusion that when the suit is in substance and in essence for recovery of emoluments of a hereditary office falling within Section 13 of the aforesaid Act, it is barred from being agitated in the civil Court by Section 21 of the said Act. He therefore dismissed the suit. Hence this appeal by the defeated plaintiff.

Section 13 states:

Any person may sue before the Collector for any of the Village-Offices specified in Section 3 or for recovery of the emoluments of any such office.

Section at states:

No civil Court shall have authority to take into consideration or decide any claim to succeed to any of the offices specified in Section 3 or any question as to the rate or amount of die emoluments of any such office.

7. The learned advocate for the appellant Mr. K.V. Srinivasa Ayyar advanced a. novel argument before us that Section 21 would bar only a claim which was both for recovery of the emoluments of such office and that the claim for the emoluments of the office alone would not be barred.

8. We do not find the slightest difficulty in rejecting this contention which has only the merit of novelty, because it is opposed to a plain reading of the section reproduced above and secondly, the point is concluded by authority. This Court in a long series of decisions has held that a suit for recovery of the lands forming the emoluments of a hereditary office specified in the Act is cognizable by the revenue Court only; Pichuvayyan v. Vilakudiyan : (1897)7MLJ196 , R.G. Orr. v. Secretary of State : (1900)10MLJ261 , Sundarapandia Thevan v. Valathiappa Thevan I.L.R. (1902) Mad. 490 Narasimhulu v. Narasimhulu : (1906)16MLJ514 , Audirazu Veerayya v. Adirazu Sangayya : (1910)20MLJ281 , Devineni Pattayya v. Chelsani Badrayya (1916) 5 L.W. 151, Vanchinatha Iyer v. Rajagopala Iyer : (1921)41MLJ372 . Kandappa Asari v. Singara Chandid (1926) 25 L.W. 299, Ramalingam v. Veerabhadrudu : (1935)69MLJ890 , Kajuluri Veeranna v. Tilapudi Venkayya : AIR1937Mad159 , Tadipalli Venkatasastry v. Venkata Jagamadharao : AIR1948Mad200 , (see also discussion' : When revenue Courts have jurisdiction' at page 47 and following and 'When civil Courts have jurisdiction' at page 64 and following of the valuable monograph on the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, second edition, published by the M.L.J. (1959)).

9. It is well-settled that in deciding these matters the substance of the plaintiff's claim has to be looked into in deciding the question of jurisdiction but not the form of pleading; Dangeti Appanna v. Dangeti Venkataratnam (1956) A.W.R. 659.

10. The learned advocate Mr. K.V. Srinivasa Ayyar relied upon two decisions as establishing his contention set out above. The first is Ramalingamma v. Venkatasubbayya (1953) 1 M.L.J. 789 : 66 L.W. 423. In this case the facts were : A suit for recovery of possession of land was brought alleging that the land was acquired by the plaintiff's husband as service tenure inam with hereditary rights and he was enjoying the said property by rendering the said service and that after his death the property passed to the plaintiff, his widow, by heirship and that she had been in enjoyment of it subsequently but was deprived of it unlawfully by the defendant. It was contended for the defendant that the property being washerman service inam a suit for recovery of possession in respect of it could only be heard by the revenue Court and the civil Court would have no jurisdiction. It was held that the suit for recovery of possession on the foot of trespass was cognizable under the common law by a civil Court, Krishnaswami Nayudu, J., brings home this point by observing:

The present suit is a simple suit to claim possession of the land which the plaintiff was entitled to and has been in possession as heir, the property being village service inam land vested in the family. It cannot be said to be a suit for recovery of emoluments. If the decision of the suit requires an examination of the right of the plaintiff to the office, and also the question as to whether the land forms part of the office, which generally arises when there is a contest between the parties as to their respective claims to the office, or dispute regarding the nature of the properly as to whether it is service inam or private land, then it would be reasonable to hold that it would come within the scope of the suits contemplated under Section 13(1) of the Act III of 1895.

In Matcharayya v. Chintanna (1954) 2 M.L.J. 133 : A.I.R. 1955 A. 15, the learned Chief Justice Subba Rao, has made the position crystal clear as follows:

To summarise, Section 21 ousts the jurisdiction of civil Courts only in regard to matters in respect whether jurisdiction is conferred under Section 13 on the Revenue Court. A suit by a service holder claiming a right to succeed or in actual possession of the office for recovery of the emoluments is cognizable by a Revenue Court. The denial of die character of the property by the defendant does not affect the jurisdiction. But the essential requisite is that the plaintiff shall allege and rely upon the fact that the land is an emolument attached to the office and make that a foundation for the relief claimed. But, if his cause of action and his right to possession do not depend upon his title to the emoluments as a service holder, but on a collateral fact, Section 21 is not a bar. If he is dispossessed by a trespasser, if his lessee refuses to deliver possession after the expiry of the term, if a person holding a derivative title under him does not give him possession after the termination of die derivative title either on the expiry of die term or otherwise, in all these cases his cause of action and his right to relief do not depend upon his title as a service holder, to the emoluments but only on his right to possession.

If the aforesaid principles are applied what will be the result in the present case? The plaintiff's father permitted the defendants to enjoy the suit property doing service during his lifetime. After his death, instead of returning the land to his heirs, they continued in possession as trespassers. The plaintiffs are entitled to succeed, if they establish that their father permitted the defendants to enjoy the land for a purpose and that the permission given was revoked by his death. It is not necessary for them to prove that they are service-holders and that the lands are emoluments annexed to the service. If so, it follows that Section 21 is not a bar to the maintainability of the suit in a civil Court.

We find that these decisions do not support the contention of the appellant.

11. In the result, there are no merits in this appeal. It is hereby dismissed with costs : one set. The Court-fee due to the Government will be paid by the appellant.


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