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Ramu Reddy Vs. Kamalanatha Reddy and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1983)2MLJ288
AppellantRamu Reddy
RespondentKamalanatha Reddy and ors.
Cases ReferredAravan Servai v. Kamugan Sarvai
Excerpt:
- .....thus:9. (1) the competent authority shall have the power exercisable by a civil court in the trial of suits.(2) the proceedings of the competent authority shall be summary and shall, as far as possible, be governed by the provisions of the code of civil procedure, 1908, (central act v of 1908) with regard to(a) the issue and service of summons;(b) the examination of parties and witnesses;(c) the production of documents;(d) the amendment of pleadings;(e) the addition of parties;(f) the passing of ex parte orders and setting them aside for good cause.(g) the ordering of dismissal for default of appearance and setting aside such orders for good cause;(h) local inspection;(i) the passing of orders; and(f) the enforcement of any order or decision.5. it is well-settled that while.....
Judgment:
ORDER

K. Shanmukham, J.

1. As the questions involved in both the civil revision petitions are the same, a common judgment is rendered.

2. The respondents claiming to be cultivating tenants under the petitioner originally instituted O.S. Nos. 724 and 725 of 1974 on the file of the District Munsif's Court, Tiruvallur, for a declaration that they are the cultivating tenants of the suit properties under the petitioner and for consequential reliefs. The said suits were dismissed by the learned District Munsif. Aggrieved against the said decisions, the respondents had preferred A.S. Nos. 25 and 26 of 1979 on the Sub-Court, Tiruvaller. After having presented the appeals, they rushed to the Revenue Court with two applications, C.T.P. Nos. 1 and 2 of 1981, praying for leave for depositing the rents into the Revenue Court. The petitioner came forward with I.A. Nos. 1 and 2 of 1982 respectively in C.T.P. Nos. 1 and 2 of 1981 with a request to the Revenue Court that pending the appeals, A.S. Nos. 25 and 26 of 1979, the trial of the proceedings before it should be stayed. The Revenue Court dismissed the said two applications and these revisions are against the said order of dismissal passed by the Revenue Court.

3. At the outset, it is necessary to notice that it is the alleged tenants who initiated proceedings in the civil Court, viz., O.S. Nos. 724 and 725 of 1974 on the file of the District Munsif's Court, Tiruvallur, for a declaration that they are the cultivating tenants under the petitioner in respect of the two different sets of properties. Having lost the suits, they were obliged to prefer two appeals as already stated. None-the-less, they had approached the Revenue Court for permission to deposit the arrears of rent under the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Arrears of Rent (Relief) Act, XV of 1980. It is needless to state that unless the respondents are cultivating tenants, they are not entitled to enter the portals of the Revenue Court. Now, the finding of the learned District Munsif in the two suits referred to above is that they are not cultivating tenants as on the date of the institution of the two suits. While so, if theRevenue Court were to proceed with the disposal of these two petitions, C.T.P. Nos. 1 and 2 of 1981, it is necessary to find whether the respondents herein are cultivating tenants or not. If it were to reach a finding contrary to that of the civil Court, there would not be any comity between the two Courts. In my view, such an incongruous situation should not be permitted to occur.

4. At this stage, it is necessary to refer to the rules framed under the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Arrears of of Rent Relief Rules, 1980, pressed into service by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. Rule 9 provides thus:

9. (1) The competent authority shall have the power exercisable by a civil Court in the trial of suits.

(2) The proceedings of the competent authority shall be Summary and shall, as far as possible, be governed by the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, (Central Act V of 1908) with regard to

(a) the issue and service of summons;

(b) the examination of parties and witnesses;

(c) the production of documents;

(d) the amendment of pleadings;

(e) the addition of parties;

(f) the passing of ex parte orders and setting them aside for good cause.

(g) the ordering of dismissal for default of appearance and setting aside such orders for good cause;

(h) local inspection;

(i) the passing of orders; and

(f) the enforcement of any order or decision.

5. It is well-settled that while interpreting the provision in an enactment or a rule, none should be made ineffective or otiose. Therefore, it would follow that both the sub-rules cover two different areas, though in some cases there may be overlapping. If so interpreted it is clear that Sub-rule (1) confers powers exercisable by a civil Court in the trial of suits on the Revenue Courts, while Sub-rule (2) confers such powers specified therein which are set out in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. One relates to pre-trial, while the other relates to matters 'in the course of trial'. Any reasonable interpretation of the rule on its plain language, which will avoid such an incongruous situation referred to above, has, in my view, to be readily accepted. Except items (b) and (c) found in Sub-rule (2), the other items do not relate to the trial of suits, I am not prepared to accept the argument advanced by the learned Counsel for the respondents that the powers that are conferred on the Revenue Court are those enumerated in Sub-rule (2) and that no other powers are conferred on the Revenue Court. If such an interpretation were to be accepted, Sub-rule (1) of Rule 9 will become redundant. I have already pointed out that such an interpretation should not be encouraged. As stated earlier, the two sub-rules cover two different areas. So far as Sub-rule (1) is concerned, the powers of a civil Court in the trial of suits are expressly conferred on the Revenue Court. Then,the immediate question is what are the powers exercisable by civil Court in the trial of suits? In my considered opinion, the powers exercisable by a civil Court in the trial of suits will also embrace staying the trial; such a power could be exercised by a civil Court either under Section 10 or under Section 151, Civil Procedure Code depending upon the circumstances of each case. In the instant case, the primary question that has to be determined by the Revenue Court is whether the respondents are cultivating tenants entitled to seek relief under the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Arrears of Rent (Relief) Act XV of 1980. If they are not cultivating tenants, certainly they are not entitled to approach the Revenue Court nor are they entitled to seek any relief under the said Act. The trial Court has held against the respondents; of course the matter is still at large, because the respondents had preferred two appeals. But so long as the appeals are pending, it is neither expedient nor prudent that the Revenue Court should investigate the very question which was disposed of by the trial Court an d pending in the first appellate Court. Further any disposal by the Revenue Court will not serve the ends of justice, because it is the ultimate result in the appeals that would be binding on both the parties. If it is possible to construe Sub-rule (1) of Rule 9 as conferring a power to stay the trial of the suit either under Section 10 or Section 151, Civil Procedure Code, on the Revenue Court, there is no difficulty in holding that the Revenue Court can stay the trial of the petitions on its file pending disposal of the appeals.

6. Though such a question as in the instant case did not arise in Aravan Servai v. Kamugan Servai : (1958)2MLJ505 , a learned Judge of this Court (Ramaswatni, J.) opined that if there are pending proceedings in a civil Court where a prima facie decision has been given that the relationship of landlord and cultivating tenant does not exist and the opposite party rushes to the Revenue Court in order to obtain a decision to the contrary, the Revenue Divisional Officer shall not proceed with the matter, but should await the decision of the civil Court, and the moment the civil Court finds that the relationship of landlord and cultivating tenant exists, it should transfer the proceedings, and further the moment it is found that such a relationship does not exist the Revenue Divisional Officer must respect the finding of the civil Court and dismiss the application before himself. In that reported case, the facts are that the tenant filed a petition on 30th November, 1966, under Section 4(5) of the Act XXV of 1955 giving the date of eviction as May, 1956, for restoration and possession and the same was numbered as R.A. No. 23 of 1957. On 30th January, 1956, the landlord filed a counter specifically pointing out that the District Munsif had granted him an injunction in O.S. No. 470 of 1956. Nevertheless, the Revenue Court directed restoration. In the meanwhile, O.S. No. 470 of 1956 on the file of the District Munsiff's Court, Kulithalai transferred to the District Munsif's Court, Turaiyur and numbered as O.S. No. 493 of 1959) was decreed in favour of the landlord. The revision was filed against the decision of the Revenue Court directing restoration. It is on these facts that the learned Judge made the above observations.

7. Mr. R. Sundaravaradan, the learned Counsel for the respondents, would submit that such an observation is not stare decisis, but is purely an obiter. I am unable to agree. Here the facts are more disadvantageous to the tenants than in the other case. Here, after having failed before the civil Court they had rushed to the Revenue Court-It is necessary to point out that Sub-rules (1) and (2) of Rule 9 of the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Arrears of Rent (Relief) Rules, 1980, are verbatim on the same as Sub-rules (i) and (ii) of Rule 8 of the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Protection Rules, 1955. I, therefore, find that the ratio laid down in the above decision directly applies to the instant case. Thus I find that I have to my support the decision of a learned Judge when I hold that under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 9 the powers exercisable by a civil Court in the course of a trial are specifically vested on the Revenue Court.

8. Nevertheless, the learned Counsel for the respondents brought to my notice the following decisions; Appai Coundan v. Perichi Counder : (1958)2MLJ99 ; Ramaswami Raja v. Ellappa Counder : (1960)2MLJ555 and Naina v. Trustees of Kailasanathar Temple : (1963)1MLJ180 . I may straightway point out that in all these decisions, the Court was not concerned with the two sub-rules as in Rule 9, but was concerned only with a particular rule, which is similar to Sub-rule (2) of Rule 9. Therefore, these decisions are really of no assistance to the respondents.

9. In Appai Coundan v. Perichi Goundar : (1958)2MLJ99 it was ruled that the Revenue Divisional Officer did not possess the power to set aside the ex parte order in the absence of an express provision in the rule itself. In Ramaswami Raja v. Ellappa Counder : (1960)2MLJ555 , where the earlier decision is referred to by the learned Judge, it is pointed out that by virtue of the earlier decision, there had been an amendment to the Rules. The principle that was laid down by Ramachandra Ayyar, J. (as he then was), is that there is no express power either in Act XXV of 1955 or in the Rules made thereunder enabling the Revenue Court to grant an injunction restraining the landlord from interfering with the possession of the tenant. The learned Judge was construing in that case Rule 8(ii) of the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Protection Rules, 1955. The said Rule 8(ii) enumerated certain specific powers, viz.,the issue and service of summons, the examination of parties and witnesses, the production of documents, the amendment of pleadings, the addition of parties, the passing of ex parts orders and setting them aside for good cause, the ordering and dismissal for default of appearance and setting aside such orders for good cause, local inspection and the passing of orders. Because there is no express rule enabling the Revenue Court to grant an order of injunction, the learned Judge held that in. the absence of express rule, the Revenue Court has no competence to pass an order of injunction. But, with great respect to the learned Judge, T find that the effect of Rule 8(i) of the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Protection Rules, 1955, was not considered by him. Rule 8(i) provides that every Court constituted under the Act shall have the powers exercisable by a civil Court in the trial of suits. I have already pointed out that the two sub-rules cover two different fields, though in two cases, there is overlapping, and that any other interpretation will render the sub-rule ineffective.

10. Veeraswami, J. (as he then was), in Naina v. Trustees oj Kailasanathar Temple : AIR1964Kant38 , held that neither under the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection Act nor under the Rules framed thereunder is a Revenue Court granted a power of review, and in the absence of such a power, a quasi-judicial Tribunal like the Rent Court with defined powers under the Act, cannot be treated like a civil Court under the Civil Procedure Code or other enactments. So far as that principle is concerned, it cannot be disputed. But the question here is what are the powers conferred on the Revenue Court under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 9. The decisions referred to above have not considered this question. So I am constrained to reiterate that these decisions will in no way help the respondents. Besides there is an. express mandate under Sub-rule (1) of Rule 9 that the Revenue Court shall have the powers exercisable by the civil Court in the trial of suits (Italics supplied by me). The expression 'in the trial of suits' can safely be construed as 'in the course of the trial of the suits'. I have pointed out earlier that the power exercisable in the trial of suits will also comprise the power to stay the trial.

11. It is pertinent to point out that the eminent Judges who rendered Ramaswami Raja v. Ellappa Counder : (1960)2MLJ555 . and Naina v. Trustees of Kailasanathar Temple : (1963)1MLJ180 , respectively have not noticed the decision of Ramaswami, J., reported in Aravan Servai v. Kamugan Sarvai : (1958)2MLJ505 . I am to reiterate that Ramaswami, J., was concerned with the question directly and did hold that in a case as the present one, the Revenue Court shall stay the trial of its proceedings pending disposal of the issue in the civil Court.

12. The result is that both the revisions succeed and the orders passed by the Revenue Court are set aside, and the proceedings before the Revenue Court are stayed pending disposal of the appeals, A.S. Nos. 25 and 26 of 1979 on the file of the Sub-court, Tiruvallur. There will be no order as to costs.


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