1. The appellants are plaintiffs 2 to 5 in a suit before the learned Subordinate Judge of Devakottai for a declaration that the suit village was not an Inam estate within the definition of Act XXVI of 1948 and Section 3(2)(d) of the Madras Estates Land Act, that Act XXX of 1947 did not apply to it, and that the relevant Notifications of the State Government applying the two Acts to the village were illegal.
2. The learned Subordinate Judge held that the suit was not maintainable, and he pointed out that under Section 9(4)(c) of Act XXVI of 1948, the decision of the Tribunal upon the issue in the suit was final, and not liable to be challenged in a Court of law. The arguments addressed before us resolved themselves into the following proposition. Though it may be indisputable that the decisions of the relevant Tribunals established under Act XX V I of 1948 and Act XXX of 1947 are conclusive upon the question that the village is an Inam estate within the meaning of Section 3(2)(d) of the Madras Estates Land Act, nevertheless, owing to the peculiar feature of this case that the Tribunal constituted under the statute first gave one decision, without the ryots as parties before it, that the suit village did not fall within the ambit of the definition, and subsequently gave a different decision after the ryots had been brought on record, the matter can now be canvassed in appeal before us. The facts here are that the appeal was once disposed of by the Tribunal, and that then the parties inclusive of the present appellants, invited a rehearing of the appeal and a decision afresh as the ryots had not been made parties at the original hearing. The ryots were then impleaded, and the Tribunal proceeded to dispose of the matter before it by holding that the suit village did fall within the category of the definition.
3. It is argued that this decision of the Tribunal was without jurisdiction, that the consent of the appellants could not confer jurisdiction upon the Tribunal and that, hence we must set aside the subsequent order illegally passed, in the present appeal. The argument appears to us to be quite unsustainable, upon two broad grounds. Firstly, whatever view we may take of the technical position whether a quasi-judicial Tribunal would or would not possess rights of review under the Code of Civil Procedure, the proposition certainly seems maintainable that in order to render justice, all such Tribunals, so long as they exercise judicial functions, should be held to possess inherent powers to review their judgments, where due cause is shown. Our attention has been drawn to a decision briefly reported in Balakrishnayya v. State of Andhra (1954) 67 L.W. 36 (Short Notes), where Balakrishna Ayyar, J., held, under somewhat similar circumstances, that the Inam Settlement Officer had no jurisdiction to reopen an enquiry made under Section 9 of Act XXVI of 1948, at the request of the ryots. We do not think that it is necessary to dilate upon this aspect for the learned Judge was dealing with the case of a Settlement Officer making some kind of an administrative enquiry though under the Act. In the present case, we are concerned with a quasi-judicial Tribunal giving a finding in the presence of the parties, whether a pai ticular village did or did not fall within the ambit of the relevant provision. As we have already stressed, there can be no doubt that an inherent power to review should be presumed in all such cases, as it cannot be just and expedient that such Tribunals rendering judicial decisions should be unable to rectify an error apparent on the face of the record, or to exercise powers of review for similar adequate causes.
4. Secondly, and on more important grounds, we think that the present appellants are totally estopped from contending that the Tribunal could not have reheard the appeals, and rendered a decision afresh. This is because the appellants invited such a rehearing and specifically consented to this procedure, in their own interests, so that the ryots may also be bound by the decision. We do not think it is necessary to labour the point that such consent would certainly operate as an equitable estoppel, and would prevent the appellants from contending that the second order in appeal is illegal. From an other point of view, it could even be assumed that the rehearing constituted the Tribunal into a kind of domestic forum at the invitation of the parties, and that the later decision given with the ryots as parties on record was an award binding upon all the parties. From this point of view, also, the appellants are not at liberty to contend that the second decision which is the final decision in the matter, should be interfered with in appeal.
5. Apart from all this, Section 3-A (4)(b) of Madras Act XXIX of 1956 is very clear that the decision of the Tribunal upon such matters on appeal ' shall be final and shall not be liable to be questioned in any Court of law '. We find that a precisely similar provision has been enacted in Section 7(3) of Madras Act XXX of 1956. Whatever might be the powers of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution, so long as this Court is exercising its powers in civil appeal, its jurisdiction to interfere will certainly by affected by these valid provisions of law. Hence we hold upon all the grounds set forth above, that the dismissal of the suit by the learned Principal Subordinate Judge was proper, and that no interference is merited in appeal. The appeal accordingly fails, and is dismissed. The parties will bear their own costs.