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Tanjore Palace Devasthanam by Its Hereditary Trustee Raja Sri Rajaram Rajah Sahib Vs. Estates Abolition Tribunal by Chairman and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1957)2MLJ67
AppellantTanjore Palace Devasthanam by Its Hereditary Trustee Raja Sri Rajaram Rajah Sahib
RespondentEstates Abolition Tribunal by Chairman and ors.
Cases ReferredBavanarayana v. Venkatadu
Excerpt:
- .....in the hamlet of melveli thottam forming part of village of kasba melveli thottam was part of an inam estate which could validly be notified and taken over by government under act xxvi of 1948. the main village of melveli thottam included a hamlet which also went by the same name and it is common ground so far as this case is concerned that melveli thottam was the subject of an inam grant. what we are concerned with is the grant of two bits of land of an extent of 59.40 acres and 15.59 acres in the hamlet of melveli thottam. though during the course of the enquiry before the tribunal there appears to have been some controversy as to whether 74.99 acres which was the total extent of the grant to the two devasthanams constituted the entirety of the hamlet, it is clear now that this.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. This petition raises for consideration the point regarding the construction of the Madras Estates Abolition Act (XXVI of 1948) which so far as I am aware has not yet come up for consideration before this Court.

2. The petitioner is the hereditary trustee of the two Devasthanams managed by the Rajah of Tanjore. This petition has been filed to quash an order of the Estates Abolition Tribunal, Madurai, holding that 74.99 acres of land situated in the hamlet of Melveli Thottam forming part of village of Kasba Melveli Thottam was part of an inam estate which could validly be notified and taken over by Government under Act XXVI of 1948. The main village of Melveli Thottam included a hamlet which also went by the same name and it is common ground so far as this case is concerned that Melveli Thottam was the subject of an inam grant. What We are concerned with is the grant of two bits of land of an extent of 59.40 acres and 15.59 acres in the hamlet of Melveli Thottam. Though during the course of the enquiry before the Tribunal there appears to have been some controversy as to whether 74.99 acres which was the total extent of the grant to the two Devasthanams constituted the entirety of the hamlet, it is clear now that this extent merely represented a part only of the area of the hamlet. I shall now proceed to narrate the history of the grant in relation to the Devasthanams. These lands were granted in inam to the Devasthanam by the then Rajahs of Tanjore long before 1855. It is a well-known fact that all the lands including all the private lands of the Rajah were taken over by the East India Company as forfeited to them. It is also a matter of common knowledge that there was a rendition of these properties by the British Government in 1862. This rendition, however, was confined to what might be termed the private properties of the Rajah and the properties possessed by the Rajah as hereditary trustee were restored to him in 1863 and they have continued in their management ever since.

3. The history of these proceedings has been set out at length in the judgment of Govinda Menon, J., as he then was in Chidambaram Chettiar v. Ramaswami (1957) 1 M.L.J. 72 , and I do not consider it necessary to go over this ground. It is sufficient to state that the decisions of this Court have held that the restoration of the other properties to the Rajah constituted a grant by the British Government so as to render them inam village within the meaning of the Estates Land Act (I of 1908). But we are not now concerned with the grant of the private properties but only with the properties held by the religious institution of which the Rajah of Tanjore was the hereditary trustee. In regard to this I have already stated before the hereditary trusteeship and the right to manage these properties were recognised by the British Government from 1863 onwards.

4. The question which now arises for consideration is whether by reason of this grant by the British Government or its recognition or confirmation by it, the extent of 74.99 acres falls under Section 2(7) of the Estates Abolition Act so as to permit of its being notified and taken over by the Government under Sections 1(4) and 3 of the Act.

5. The Settlement Officer who first considered the matter held that it was an inam estate. The basis of this order was the decision of the Full Bench of this Court in Sundaram Ayyar v. Ramachandra Ayyar : AIR1918Mad435 , to the effect that the villages restored to the Rajah by the rendition of 1862 constituted inam grants so as to render the villages estates within the meaning of Section 3(2)(d) of the Estates Land Act. Basing himself on this he held that as the lands in dispute were in the village, they also partook of the same tenure. From this order of the Settlement Officer, the petitioner took the matter on appeal to the Abolition Tribunal. The Tribunal were divided in their opinion. The Chairman and the Revenue Member followed the same reasoning as that of the Settlement Officer and held that either the rendition of 1862 or the recognition by the British Government of the hereditary trustee's right to manage was sufficient to render the grant of these lands one satisfying the terms of Section 3(2)(d) of the Estates Land Act. On the other hand, the second member who dissented held that the restoration of the trusteeship was not a grant by the British Government or confirmation or recognition by the British Government of a grant by the previous ruler. It is the correctness of the decision of the majority of the Tribunal holding these lands to be part of the inam estate that is challenged in this writ petition. In view of the manner in which I propose to approach this question, I do not consider it necessary to examine and pronounce upon the points of difference between the majority of the Tribunal and the dissenting member. I will start by repeating what I mentioned a little earlier that it is common ground that 74.99 acres comprising the two grants do not exhaust the hamlet. It does not therefore matter whether Melveli Thottam was originally a village or was merely a hamlet being a village of a larger entity. The grant to these trusts was therefore of a minor inam and it is also common ground that the minor inams were in existence at the time of the grant of the village this being rendition in 1862. In Narayanaswami Naidu v. Subramanyam (1915) 29 M.L.J. 478 : I.L.R. 39 Mad.683 , a Bench of this Court held that where there was a grant in inam of a named village the presence in that village of previously existing minor inam grants did not detract from the grant being of a village to bring it within Section 3(2)(d) of the Estates Land Act. A different view was, however, entertained by some of the decisions of this Court, see for example Viswanatham Brothers v. Subbayya : AIR1945Mad378 , in which it was held that when two independent title-deeds were granted one for minor inam and subsequently for major inam the major inam would not be an inam village within Section 3(2)(d) because the entire area of the village was not the subject of that grant. The Legislature, however, intervened with Act II of 1945 which introduced Explanation (1) to Section 3(2)(d). That Explanation was in these terms:

(1) Where a grant as an inam is expressed to be of a named village, the area which forms the subject-matter of the grant shall be deemed to be an estate notwithstanding that it did not include certain lands in the village of that name which have already been granted on service or other tenure or been reserved for communal purposes.

6. It was by applying this Explanation that the majority of the Tribunal held that the grant of the major inam namely the main village of Melveli Thottam was treated as an inam village and a Inam estate within Section 2(7) of the Estates Abolition Act. In my judgment this proceeds on a misapprehension of the points to be decided. We are not concerned whether the major inam of Kasba Melveli Thottam was an inam estate or not but whether this minor inam was part of an inam estate which could be notified and taken by Government under Act XXVI of 1948. We are not also concerned with the rights as between landholders and the cultivating tenants in occupation of the lands belonging to the temple for that is outside the scope of the enquiry under Section 9 of the Estates Abolition Act and the only point before the Tribunal and before this Court is whether this minor inam is part of an estate.

7. The estates which could be taken over under the Abolition Act are thus set out in Section 1(4). They comprise zamindari, under-tenure or inam estate. The expression 'zamindari estate' is defined in Section 2(16) as meaning,

an estate within the meaning of Section 3, Clause (2)(a) of the Estates Land Act, after excluding therefrom every portion which is itself an estate under Section 3, Clause (2)(b) or (2)(e) of that Act.

8. Clause 2(b) relates to portions of permanently settled estates or temporarily settled estates or temporarily settled zamindaris which are separately registered in the office of the Collector and Section 2(e) refers to portions ' consisting of one or more villages of any of the estates specified above in Clauses (a), (b) and (c) which is held on a permanent under-tenure '. The reason for the exclusion 0 this last category is to be found in the fact that under-tenures are referred to separately in Section 1(4) the relevant portion of which I have already extracted. The definition of ' zamindari estate' continues:

(ii) an estate within the meaning of Section 3, Clause 2(b) or (2)(c), of the Estates Land Act, after excluding therefrom every portion which is itself an estate under Section 3, Clause (2)(e) of that Act

9. This portion of the definition needs no comment. ' Under-tenure estate' is defined in Section 2(15) of the Estates Abolition Act as meaning an estate within Section 3(2)(e) of the Estates Land Act which I have already set out. The ' inam estate' is defined in Section 2(7) as meaning an estate within the meaning of Section 3, Clause (2)(d) of the Estates Land Act but excluding some categories which are not now relevant. The net result of these definitions is that in the case of. minor inams created subsequent to the original grant, that is, what are commonly known as Darmila inams they are within the Abolition Act because they were comprised in and were part of what was originally an estate. If, however, the grant was not by the landholder be he the inamdar or holder of other types of estates, the existence of these minor inams which were recognised by the British Government while not detracting from the grant being one of a village to satisfy the definition in Section 3(2)(d) would still remain a minor inam and cannot be treated as a grant in inam of a village. In other words, though the existence of a minor inam does not prevent the grant of the village in which it exists from being an inam estate, there is no provision in the Estates Land Act or the Estates Abolition Act by which it could be held that the minor inam itself satisfies the definition of an estate within Section 3(2)(d) of the Estates Land Act. Viewed from this aspect Explanation (1) introduced by the Amending Act II of 1945 does not really touch the question. Nor does the decision of the Full Bench in Bavanarayana v. Venkatadu (1953) 2 M.L.J. 748 , in which it was held that the words 'other tenure' employed in Explanation (1) were not to be read ejusdem generis with service tenure render us any assistance. On the other hand, I derive considerable assistance from a passage in the judgment of Venkata-rama Ayyar, J. (as he then was) at page 764, where the learned Judge said referring to Ramaswami V. Jagannathaswami (1950) 1 M.L.J. 18:

There the minor inam was in existence on the date of the grant of the village as an agraharam. The agraharam grant would, therefore, be a whole village under Explanation (I) and as it was.confirmed in its entirety that would clearly be an estate as defined in Section 3(2)(d). The point for decision in that case was whether the minor inam was an estate. It clearly was not and that is what was decided by Krishnaswami Nayudu, J.

10. In my judgment this furnishes the true rule to be applied in this case. If portions of lands in a village are granted in inam, the lands so granted are not constituted an estate within the meaning of Section 3(2)(d) of the Estates Land Act. If subsequent to the date of the creation of this minor inam, the other areas of the village are the subject of a grant the latter is the grant of a whole village and therefore an estate within sections (2)(d), Explanation (1). This later grant, however, does not affect nor is it effective to convert the anterior grant of the land, which never formed part of an estate, into an estate.

11. I agree, therefore, with the dissenting member of the Tribunal who held that the grant in favour of the temple was not an estate which could be notified and taken over under Act XXVI of 1948 though for different reasons. In my judgment the decision of the majority of the Tribunal holding these lands to be an inam estate is erroneous and cannot be supported.

12. The writ petition succeeds and the rule is made absolute. The order of the Tribunal holding 74.99 acres belonging to the tetnples to be an inam estate which can be notified and taken over by the Government is erroneous and is set aside.

13. No order as to costs.


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