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The Secretary of State for India in Council Vs. Ikurti Subrayudu and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai
Decided On
Judge
Reported in16Ind.Cas.18
AppellantThe Secretary of State for India in Council
Respondentikurti Subrayudu and ors.
Cases ReferredRavutha Koundan v. Muthu Koundan
Excerpt:
pensions act (xxiii of 1871), section 4 - grant of land by government--suit for possession--claim as for land revenue alone, whether controlled by section 4--regulation vi of 1831--act iii of 1895, section 21 scope of--whether applies to claims which are denied by plaintiff to be the emoluments of an office--jurisdiction of civil courts--decision of revenue courts as to emoluments of office--subsequent suit in civil court--res judicata. - .....that section enacts that 'no civil court shall entertain any suit relating to any... grant of ... land revenue conferred or made by the british or any former government, whatever may have been the consideration for any such ... grant and whatever may have been the nature of the payment, claim or right for which such . . . grant may have been substituted.' it was not the plaintiff's case, nor the case of the defendants, that the inam, whether it be a karnam service inam, or some other kind of inam, consisted of land revenue. the learned government pleader argues that, when land is granted, the land revenue is part of the grant and, so far as the melvaram right is eoncerned, the suit is not cognizable by the civil court without a certificate from the collector, but there is nothing to.....
Judgment:

1. The plaintiffs in the suit claim to recover certain lands as belonging to them as an inam for the archakathnam or worship of a family deity. They allege that they were dispossessed by defendants Nos. 1 to 3 in execution of a decree of the Revenue Court in Section Section No. 1 of 1891. They impeach the decree as one passed without jurisdiction by the Revenue Court and, therefore, not affecting their rights. The 15th defendant is the Secretary of State for India in Council, and was impleaded as a party in consequence of the contention raised by defendants Nos. 1 to 3. They allege that the lands appertain to the office of Karnam, which is held by the 1st defendant and that the plaintiffs have no right to recover them. They also deny the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts to entertain the suit. It is also contended that the plaintiff's right is res judicata in consequence of the decision in S.S. No. 1 of 1891. A question of limitation was also raised in the lower Courts, but has not been argued before us. Both the Courts have found that the lands are not Karnam service inam lands and that the plaintiffs are the owners. This finding has been attacked before us, but we are unable to agree that the finding can be interfered with in second appeal. The lower Appellate Court relied on Exhibit A, a register of inams prepared in the year 1790, in which the lands are not shown to be karnam inam lands. We do not think that the Subordinate Judge has committed any error in the construction of the document. He observes: ' Plaintiff's grandfather, Venkamrazu, worshipper of God, is described in it as the hereditary grantee of huchalas of land as maniam.' This observation is quite correct and it is quite clear that Exhibit A is inconsistent with the lands being Karnam inam, lands. The Subordinate Judge does not say that the document shows that the land was held by Vencatrazu as archaka inam. He observes only that he is described as a hereditary grantee and is not stated asholding the land as Karnam service mam.Assuming1 that Exhibit VI is in favour ofthe appellant's contention, the SubordinateJudge has taken the document into consideration and given it such weight as, in his opinion,it deserves. It does not appear that Government took any final action on the statementscontained in Exhibit VI. At any rate, wecannot hold that the Appellate Court wasbound to act on the contents of Exhibit VI.We must, therefore, accept the finding thatthe lands belong to the plaintiffs and are notKarnam service inam lands.

2. The next question argued is that the Civil Courts have no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. This argument is based on two grounds. The first ground is that section 4 of the Pensions Act applies. That section enacts that 'No Civil Court shall entertain any suit relating to any... grant of ... land revenue conferred or made by the British or any former Government, whatever may have been the consideration for any such ... grant and whatever may have been the nature of the payment, claim or right for which such . . . grant may have been substituted.' It was not the plaintiff's case, nor the case of the defendants, that the inam, whether it be a Karnam service inam, or some other kind of inam, consisted of land revenue. The learned Government Pleader argues that, when land is granted, the land revenue is part of the grant and, so far as the melvaram right is eoncerned, the suit is not cognizable by the Civil Court without a certificate from the Collector, but there is nothing to show that, in the hands of the Government before the grant of the inam, the land was treated as liable for the payment of land revenue or that the Government intended to split its ownership into melvaram and Itudivaram or make a distinct grant of the land revenue. The Government Pleader does not deny that the decisions of the High Courts would not support his contention except one, tiz , the judgment of this Court in Appeal No. 10 of 1908. That case, however, lends no support to his contention. It is in reality against it. ]t is held that the suit in that case was not cognizable by the Civil Courts because it related to a grant of land revenue. The instrument of grant, it was held, distinctly made a grant of the taxes due to the Government, although it may have been that the Itudivaram also was granted. The the kudivaram and melvaram was regarded as distinct and several. The earlier decisions under Section 4 of the Pensions Act, 1871, were all reviewed in that judgment. The ratio of the decision was, as already indicated, that, where the Court is able to hold that there is a distinct grant of the land, revenue itself, a suit relating to it is not within the cognizance of the Civil Court's except with the sanction, of the Collector. This argument must, therefore, fail.

3. The next contention, urged in support of the plea of absence of jurisdiction in the Civil Courts is that under Regulation VI of 1831, which was the statute in force when the said Suit No. 1 of 1891 was decided, and Section 21 of Act III of 1895, which repealed Regulation VI of 1631 and re-enacted the law applicable to hereditary village offices, this suit is excluded from the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts. We may deal first with Section 21 of Act III of 1895 as stress was particularly laid on the language of that section. It provides that 'No Civil Court shall have authority to take into consideration or decide any claim to recover the emoluments of any such office' i. e., any of the offices specified in. section 3. Now, what is taken Out of the jurisdiction of this ordinary tribunal, according to the language of that section, is a claim to recover the emoluments of an office. The finding of the lower Appellate Court which we have upheld is that the lands in question are not the emoluments of the office of Karnam. The expression 'any claim to recover the emoluments of an office' can only, mean a claim to recover what in fact are the emoluments of an office or possibly, what are claimed by the plaintiff to be the emoluments of an office. It cannot, in our opinion, by any rule of construction, be extended to include a claim to recover what the plaintiff denies to be the emoluments of an office but what the defendant alleges to be such emoluments. The decision of this Court in Kesiram Narasimhulu v. Narasimhulu Patnaidu (1) is strongly relied on by the learned Government Pleader. But that case is of absolutely no use to him. The learned Chief Justice there says:-- Reading the words 'emoluments of any such office' in Section 21 intheir ordinary sense, they would, as it seems to me, apply to a cause in which the plaintiff sues to recover lands which he alleges are the emoluments of his office, this being denied by the defendant. The plaintiff's sole ground of action is that the lands sued for are the emoluments of his office, and it seems to me the claim is none-the-less a claim for the emoluments within the meaning of the section, because the defendant denied that the lands in question constitute the emoluments.' The reason underlying the decision apparently was that the plaintiff, admitting that his claim was to the emoluments of an office, could not take advantage of the defendant's plea; in other words, the plaintiff is bound by his own statements when the question is whether the suit is for the emoluments of an office. With respect to Regulation VI of 1831, it was held in Ravutha Koundan v. Muthu Koundan 13 M.k 41 that the Revenue Court had no jurisdiction to decide what were the emoluments of an office. Neither under Regulation VI of 1831 nor under Section 21 of Act III of 1895, therefore, can it be held that Civil Courts are deprived of jurisdiction to try the present suit.

4. The next contention of the appellant is that the plaintiff is barred by the rule of res judicata from enforcing his claim. According to the ruling in Ravutha Koundan v. Muthu Koundan 13 M.j 41 already referred to, the Revenue Court had no jurisdiction to decide what were the emoluments of an office or to decree possession against a person alleged to be a trespasser. We must, therefore, overrule this contention also.

5. The second appeal must substantially fail. We, however, agree that the Secretary of State for India in Council, who was never in possession of the lands, ought not to have been made liable for mesne profits and we modify the judgment of the lower Appellate Court in so far as it directs the 15th defendant to pay mesne profits. With this modification, we dismiss the second appeal with costs.


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