1. In 1935 one Krishnamurthi who was then a minor was registered as the village headman of the village of Bijjiputti, Itchapuram taluk, Srikakulam district and the petitioner was appointed under Section 10(5), Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act (3 of 1895) to discharge the duties of the office until the person registered as heir attained majority and qualified himself to discharge the duties of the office. In 1948, as the said Krishnamurthi did not qualify himself, he was removed from the office for which he had been registered and in the vacancy thus arising, the third respondent to this application, one Barla Surayya, was registered as the office holder. As he was a minor at the time, the petitioner himself was again appointed as the deputy of this Surayya by the Assistant Collector, Srikakulam.
Subsequently, the mother and guardian of the minor, filed a petition before the Revenue Divisional Officer on 9-3-1949 making adverse allegations against the petitioner and praying that he may be removed and another person may be appointed to do the duties of the office. The Revenue-Divisional Officer by his order dated 9-11-1949 removed the petitioner and appointed one Barla Appadu in his stead. It is said that this order was passed without any enquiry and without any notice to the petitioner.
Against this order of the Revenue Divisional Officer, the petitioner filed what he calls an appeal to the District Collector, Vizagapatam, who by his order dated 9-6-1950, set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer and restored the petitioner to the position which he was occupying. Barla Appadu carried the matter to the Board of Revenue but the Board refused to interfere with the order of the District Collector. Appadu there-upon filed a petition before the Government of Madras and the Government passed the following order on 17-1-1951 :
'The Government have perused the connected records. They consider that in the best interests of the minor, the petitioner's nominee should be appointed as the Deputy. They accordingly direct that Sri Barla Appadu be restored as Deputy Headman of Biggiputtuga village, ousting the present incumbent, Sri Bendlam Seshagiri Sarma. The petitioner is referred to the Board of Revenue for orders on her petition.'
2. Though this order was communicated to the mother and guardian of the minor, it does not appear to have been communicated to the petitioner himself. It is also clear that the petitioner was not given any notice before the said order was passed. Apprehending that in pursuance of this order of the Government, he may Be removed from office, he rushed to this court with an application for a writ of 'certiorari' to call for the records of the case and to quash the order of the Government.
3. We have no hesitation in holding that the Government had no power whatever to pass any order in this matter. Appointments, dismissals and other matters of and pertaining to the hereditary village officers mentioned in the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act are governed entirely by the provisions of that statute. There is no provision in that Act conferring any power on the Government to interfere with the orders of any of the Subordinate revenue authorities entrusted with specified powers by the provisions of that Act The learned Advocate General referred us to the Board of Revenue Regulation under which it was said the Government have the power to interfere with certain orders of the Board of Revenue because the proceedings of the Board of Revenue are subject to the control and supervision of the Government.
We do not desire to say anything about the powers of the Government to interfere with the orders of the Board of Revenue generally because we are convinced that the Board of Revenue itself had no power to interfere with the order passed by the District Collector in a case like the present. Under Section 10(5) of the Act, it is the Collector who has got the power to appoint a qualified person to discharge the duties of the office when a minor is registered as heir. Ordinarily, this power is exercised by the Revenue Divisional Officer.
This is because of the provisions of Regulation 7 of 1828, viz., the Madras Subordinate Collectors Regulation. Under Sub-clause (3) of Clause 3 of that Regulation the proceedings of subordinate and Assistant Collectors are made subject in all cases and in the fullest manner, to the superintendence, control and revision of the Collector, who shall have power either to direct, generally, that the proceedings of any of his subordinates or Assistants shall be regularly submitted to himself before the decision, order or sentence is carried into execution, and to confirm, modify or annul them, or issue any further orders in the case, as he may see fit; or in any particular case to direct that the decision, order or sentence of any of his subordinates or Assistants shall not be carried into execution, and to pass such further orders as he may see fit.
It is evidently under the provisions of this Regulation that the orders passed by the Sub-Collectors and Revenue Divisional Officers are revisable by the District Collector. In this case the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer removing the petitioner and appointing another as the person to discharge the duties of the office during the minority of the registered heir was liable to be revised by the District Collector. The District Collector in the exercise of this power set aside the order of the Revenue Divisional Officer and restored the petitioner to his original position. This order of the District Collector was not subject to any appeal or revision and we are unable to discover any statutory power under which either the Board of Revenue or the Government could interfere with his order. A similar view appears to have been taken by Subba Rao J. in an application recently disposed of -- 'C. M. P. No. 9034 of 1950 (Mad) (A)' and we agree with his reasoning and conclusion. The order of the Government in this case must, therefore, be quashed with the result that the order of the District Collector will be restored.
4. There will be no order as to costs.