Skip to content


Annamalai Ayee Chatram by Trustees, N.N.C.Ar.Rm. Arunachalam Chettiar and ors. Vs. K. Ramabhadra Vandayar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1958)1MLJ317
AppellantAnnamalai Ayee Chatram by Trustees, N.N.C.Ar.Rm. Arunachalam Chettiar and ors.
RespondentK. Ramabhadra Vandayar and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....lands. these lands were leased to certain persons who were cultivating tenants as defined by the tanjore tenants and pannaiyal protection act (xiv of 1952) which i shall hereafter refer to as the act. the tenants filed on 26th june, 1956, a petition before the conciliation officer, kumbakonam, under section 13(1) of the act invoking the jurisdiction of the officer to settle their dispute with their landlords as regards certain remissions of rent which they claimed, based on the poor harvest of the land leased to them and also a further claim to deduction for the cost of the manure put in by them. the conciliation officer held on enquiry and recorded findings which in a large measure gave relief to the tenants. this order was passed on 20th september, 1956. section 13(2) of the act.....
Judgment:

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. These three petitions have been heard together as they raise a related point as regards the effect and construction of the Madras Cultivating Tenants (Amendment) Act, XIV of 1956. The precise questions involved in the Writ Petition and in the Civil Revision Petitions are slightly different and they would therefore, be dealt with separately. I shall first deal with W.P. No. 39 of 1957.

2. The petitioners are landlords in the District of Tanjore in their character as trustees of a chatram charity which owns about 42 acres of wet lands. These lands were leased to certain persons who were cultivating tenants as defined by the Tanjore Tenants and Pannaiyal Protection Act (XIV of 1952) which I shall hereafter refer to as the Act. The tenants filed on 26th June, 1956, a petition before the Conciliation Officer, Kumbakonam, under Section 13(1) of the Act invoking the jurisdiction of the Officer to settle their dispute with their landlords as regards certain remissions of rent which they claimed, based on the poor harvest of the land leased to them and also a further claim to deduction for the cost of the manure put in by them. The Conciliation Officer held on enquiry and recorded findings which in a large measure gave relief to the tenants. This order was passed on 20th September, 1956. Section 13(2) of the Act enacted:

Against any final order passed by a Conciliation Officer under Sub-section (1) an appeal shall lie to the Revenue Court within thirty days of the passing of the order unless the court in special circumstances of any case condones, the delay in preferring the appeal within that time ; and the decision of the Revenue Court on such appeal shall be final.

Seeking to avail themselves of the remedy thus conferred the landlords filed an appeal on 18th October, 1956, to the Revenue Court constituted under the rules by the Revenue Divisional Officer, within the time limited by law. The Revenue Court, however, refused to entertain the appeal and returned the memorandum of appeal holding that its jurisdiction was barred by the provisions of Act XIV of 1956. It is the correctness or the legality of this order that is challenged in the Writ Petition. The order of the Revenue Court which is challenged before me is very short and the only reason given for holding its jurisdiction barred is by a reference to Section 11(2) of Act XIV of 1956. Before dealing with the enactment just now mentioned it would be necessary to refer to an intermediate enactment which has relevance to the question now under consideration--Act XXV of 1955.

3. The territorial extent of the Tanjore Act was primarily the District of Tanjore, though power was reserved to the State Government to extend its provisions to adjoining districts. This was followed by Act XXV of 1955--The Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955, an enactment whose territorial operation was confined to areas outside inter alia, the areas to which the Tanjore Act applied (Section 1(2)(iii)).

4. This 1955 Act was, compared to the Tanjore Act, less elaborate. Its operative sections were only two--Section 3 protecting cultivating tenants against eviction, except for stated reasons and by application to the Revenue Divisional Officer and Section 4 which conferred on cultivating tenants a right to be restored to possession--again subject to conditions and by application to the Revenue Divisional Officer of the area. It would thus be apparent that the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955, left wholly unaffected the provisions of the Tanjore Tenants and Pannayal Protection Act.

5. The next piece of legislation relevant to the present context is the Madras Act XIV of 1956. The Cultivating Tenants Protection Amendment Act, 1956, which having received the assent of the President was published in the Official Gazette on 1st October, 1956. By its Section 2, Sections 1 and 2 of the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act of 1955 were amended by extending the territorial operation of the Act of 1955 to the whole of the State of Madras other than the areas to which the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1929 (XIV of 1930) extends. This of course, meant the extension of the 1955 Act to areas governed by the Tanjore Act and the result of this was that the right of the landlord to evict cultivating tenants even in areas governed by the Tanjore Act came to be regulated by the provisions of the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955. Consequential changes were, therefore, necessary in the Act of 1955 to bring this provision into line with the rest of the Act. Accordingly changes were made in Section 3 of the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955, in regard to the newly brought in tenants (vide Section 4 of Act XIV of 1956). Section 10 specifically referred to the inter-relation between the provisions of the Tanjore Tenants and Pannaiyal Protection Act and the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act and enacted:

If any provision contained in the Tanjore Tenants and Pannaiyal Protection Act, 1952 (Madras Act XIV of 1952) is repugnant to any provision contained in the Principal Act as (sic) by this Act, the latter provision shall prevail and the former provision shall, to the extent of the repugnancy be of no effect.

6. Stopping here, the position can be summarised thus in relation to the matter now on hand. The application filed before the Conciliation Officer by the Cultivating Tenants in this case was to seek an adjudication as regards a claim to a remission of the rent which should be justly allowed to them owing to unfavourable seasons. No jurisdiction was conferred in any officer for dealing with such matter under the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955, as amended with the result that the provisions contained in Section 13(1) of the Tanjore Act were not overriden by any contrary provision contained in the Madras Act XXV of 1955 as originally enacted or even as amended by Act XIV of 1956. It would follow if one is right so far, that from an order passed by the Conciliation Officer under Section 13(1) the right of appeal for which provision was made to the Revenue Divisional Officer under Section 13(2) still continued to be available to the aggrieved party, be he the landlord or the tenant. There was nothing in Act XIV of 1956 read with Act XXV of 1955 affecting or negativing this right of appeal conferred by the Tanjore Tenants and Pann,ayal Protection Act, 1952.

7. Now we go to Section 11 of the Act XIV of 1956, on the basis of which the appeal of the landlord has been rejected by the Revenue Divisional Officer. This section reads:

(1) Any application made to a Conciliation Officer under the Tanjore Tenants and Pannayal Protection Act, 1952 (Madras Act XIV of 1952) and pending on the date of coming into force of this Act 1st October, 1956) shall, if it relates to a matter falling within the purview of the principal Act as amended by this Act, be transferred to and disposed of by the Revenue Divisional Officer who would have had jurisdiction to entertain such application under the principal Act as if it had been made thereunder.

(2) All proceedings pending with the Revenue Court on the date of coming into force of this Act shall be disposed of by that Court as if this Act had not been passed.

In my judgment far from supporting the construction put upon the provision by the Revenue Court, its terms point to just the opposite conclusion. In saying this, I have in mind the words in Sub-section (1) 'shall if it relates to a matter falling within the purview of the principal Act' as amended by the Act of 1956. The matters dealt with by the Madras Act XXV of 1955 were those in relation to eviction of tenants and restoration of tenants. The further provision introduced by the Amending Act of 1956 was as regards the resumption of lands by landlords for their personal cultivation. It was only if there was any provision in the Tanjore Tenants and Pannayal Protection Act, 1952, bearing on any of these three matters, that there was any super session of these provisions under Section 10 and there was a transfer to the new authority under Section 11. Section 11 was obviously designed to carry out the principle laid down in section io, viz., of supersession by the later enactment where the provisions of the two Acts overlapped. Obviously there was no overlapping in regard to a claim for remission of rent under Section 13(1) with the result that Section 10 of Act XIV of 1956 left Section 13 of the Tanjore Tenants and Pannayal Protection Act in this respect unaffected and similarly Section 11(1) would have been inapplicable to such cases.

8. Coming to Sub-section (2) of Section 11 a positive provision directing the Revenue Court to dispose of proceedings pending before it on 1st October, 1956, cannot be construed as statutory prohibition against the Revenue Divisional Officer as the Rent Court under Section 13(2) of the Tanjore Act entertaining any proceedings after that date. The bar to the jurisdiction which was vested by section: 13(2) of the Tanjore Act must be founded on express enactment and as I have stated earlier Section 13(2) continued to be operative and in full force throughout its territorial extent until the enactment of Act XIV of 1956 on 1st October, 1956 and even then except in regard to particular matters with the result that the petitioner's appeal was properly filed to the Revenue Court and should have been disposed of by it. There was no basis for holding that Section 11 of the Act XIV of 1956 deprived the Revenue Court--Revenue Divisional Officer--of any jurisdiction to entertain the appeal or to decide it. There is one other piece of legislation which has some bearing on the matters now in controversy but it came into effect after the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer in this case. The Tanjore Tenants and Pannayal Protection Act, 1952, was amended by the Madras Act XXV of 1956 so as to confine the principal enactment to pannayals, removing therefrom all reference to cultivating tenants. This came into force on 31st October, 1956. What the effect of this repeal would be if this Act had been in force, after the order of the Conciliation Officer and before appeals were filed to the Revenue Court, it is unnecessary to consider. In the present case an appeal had been filed to the Revenue Court before 31st October, 1956 and so notwithstanding the repeal of the relevant provisions of the Tanjore Tenants and Pannaiyal Protection Act, 1952, the jurisdiction of the appellate authority would continue in respect of pending proceedings.

9. In my judgment the appeal of the petitioners was properly before the Revenue Divisional Officer and his order returning the memo of appeal was illegal. His order is set aside and the rule is made absolute. The appeal will be restored to his file and will be disposed of according to law. There will be no order as to costs in this Writ Petition.

10. C.R.P. Nos. 45 and 46 of 1957. These two Civil Revision Petitions arise out of applications by the tenants to the Conciliation Officer under Section 13(1) by tehants governed by the Tanjore Tenants Act, 1952. There were two applications M.P. Nos. 122 and 123 of 1956 and as the facts were common to both the applications they were tried together by the Conciliation Officer, evidence being recorded in one. The case of the tenants was that they had been in possession of their holdings from a period anterior to the Tanjore Tenants Act, 1952, and that they were entitled under the provisions of that Act to be continued in possession for a period of five years under Section 6(1) thereof which enacted that

Every cultivating tenant who was in possession of any land on the 1st day of December, 1951, shall be entitled to be in possession thereof as such tenant until the expiry of a period of five years from the commencement of the agricultural year 1952-53.

11. Thus far there does not appear to have been any controversy between the tenants and their landlords. The tenants, however, stated that at the commencement of the agricultural year 1956 the landlords unlawfully and by force deprived them of the possession of their holdings, and they sought the aid of the Conciliation Officer, by the applications under Section 13(1) of the Act for being restored to possession. The landlords denied any eviction by them and pleaded that the tenants voluntarily surrendered possession of their holdings at the end of the agricultural year 1955-56 and that thereafter the landlords had the lands cultivated by themselves without reference to these tenants. This application was filed to the Conciliation Officer long before the Act XIV of 1956 was enacted. The Conciliation Officer enquired into the matter and finding the case of the tenants proved, passed an order on 20th September, 1956, directing the landlords to restore the tenants to possession. Under Section 13(2) of the Act, whose terms I have extracted earlier, the landlords filed appeals to the Revenue Court, Revenue Divisional Officer, on 1st October, 1956 and the Revenue Court rejected these appeals , by its order, dated 25th October, 1956, as barred by Section 11(2) of the amending Act XIV of 1956. The landlords have filed these Civil Revision Petitions questioning the legality of the orders of the Revenue Court. It will be seen that there is some slight difference between the matters involved in W.P. No. 39 of 1957 and in the Civil Revision Petitions. Act XIV of 1956 extended the operation of the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955, to areas governed by the Tanjore Tenants Act. Section 10 of the amending Act enacted that if any provisions of the Tanjore Tenants Act, 1952, were repugnant to provisions contained in the principal Act as amended by Act XIV of 1956 the later provision shall prevail.

12. The Writ Petition was concerned with the claim to remission of rent, a relief not covered by the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act but the point involved in the Civil Revision Petitions is as regards restoration to possession and this is a matter in regard to which provision is made by Section 4 of the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955. Section 4 enacted that

every cultivating tenant who was in possession of any land on the 1st December, 1953 and who was not in possession thereof at the commencement of that Act.

(namely, 29th September, 1955) could apply to the Revenue Divisional Officer for restoration to possession. Bearing in view the dates specified Section 4 as just now extracted would not apply but this section was amended by the insertion of a new Sub-section (5), by Act XIV of 1956, which ran:

Any cultivating tenant who after the commencement of this Act (i.e., 1st October, 1956) has been evicted except under the provisions of Sub-section (4) of sections shall be entitled to apply to the Revenue Divisional Officer within two months from the date of such eviction or within two months from the date of coming into force of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection (Amendment) Act, 1956, for the restoration to him of the possession of the lands from which he was evicted and to hold them with all the rights and subject to all the liabilities of a cultivating tenant.

The eviction complained of in the present case was within Sub-section (5) and was after the commencement of the Act (29th September, 1955). If, therefore, the tenants had waited till 1st October, 1956, when Act XIV of 1956 came into force they could have filed applications under Section 4(5) of the 1955 Act.

13. They had, however, filed applications to the Conciliation Officer before that date. If the proceedings had been pending before the Conciliation Officer uptill 1st October, 1956, these proceedings would have by virtue of Section 11(1) of Act XIV of 1956, stood transferred to the Revenue Divisional Officer for disposal. But they had been disposed of by the Conciliation Officer before that date and he passed his order before 1st October, 1956.

14. The question that has now to be considered in this context is as to the effect of the supersession of the provision in Section 13(1) of the Tanjore Tenants and Pannayal Protection Act as regards a claim to restoration of possession by Section 4(5) of the Cultivating Tenants Protection Act introduced by Act XIV of 1956 on the rights of the aggrieved party. The Revenue Court has held that Section 11(2) did not apply. The appeal from the order of the Conciliation Officer was filed on 1st October, 1956 and the Act XIV of 1956 also came into force on 1st October, 1956. One possible view to take would be that as the law does not in general take into account fractions of a day, the appeal filed on ist October, 1956, should be deemed pending on that date when the 1956 Act came into force, so as to bring the appeal within the scope of Section 10 (2). It is unnecessary to canvass the correctness of the view but I might observe that the inclination of my opinion is that the appeal was not pending before the Revenue Court at the commencement of the Act, since the Act was in force from after the midnight of 30th September, 1956. This, however, does not conclude the point. Under Section 13(2) of the Tanjore Act, 1952, the petitioner had a vested right to appeal and canvass the correctness of any decision of the Conciliation Officer should it go against him. In the absence of any positive provision depriving him of his right, he would be entitled to exercise it. The mere supersession of the provisions of Section 13(1) by which the jurisdiction of the Conciliation Officer became vested in the Revenue Divisional Officer under Section 4(5) of Act XXV of 1955 did not by itself operate to put an end to this right. I have already pointed out that the grant of a positive power to the Revenue Court--Revenue Divisional Officer--to proceed with matters pending before it under Section 11(2) cannot be construed as a prohibition that if the matter was not already pending, he was deprived of jurisdiction to entertain the appeal. Of course, the jurisdiction was not conferred by Act XIV of 1956 depriving the parties of their statutory right of appeal which they possessed under Section 13(2) of the Tanjore Act. In this connection I might usefully refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in Veeray a v. Subblah Chowdhury (1957) 3 M.L.J. 1 : 1957 S.C.J. 439 : (1957) 2 An.W.R. 1 where their Lordships dealt with the right of appeal conferred by Sections 109 and no of the Civil Procedure Code in relation to the right of appeal conferred by Article 133 of the Constitution.

15. I therefore hold that the appeal filed by the petitioners before the Revenue Court was properly entertainable by it and that the orders rejecting them are not legal. The two Civil Revision Petitions are, therefore, allowed and the orders of the Revenue Divisional Officer set aside,

16. The Revenue Court will restore the appeals to its file and dispose of them in accordance with law. No order as to costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //