1. The Revenue Officer for the settlement of rents in the villages of Kalagampudi and Pedamamidipalli, Narasapur Taluk, Kistna District made a Record of Rights under Oh. XI of the Estates Land Act. The appeal of the proprietor of.... Pedamamidipalli to the Board of Revenue against the Record of Rights made by the Revenue Officer has been dismissed. He now moves the High Court to revise the order of the Board of Revenue.
2. Two points arise for decision in this case (1) Has the High Court revisional jurisdiction over the orders of the Board passed under Sections 171 and 172 of the Estates Land Act? and (2) If the question of jurisdiction is answered in the affirmative, should the High Court exercise its revisional jurisdiction in this case.
3. The first point has been fully argued by Mr. Ramadoss for the petitioner and Mr. Venkatarayaliah for the respondents. We have also heard the Government Pleader to whom we gave notice to appear for the Board of Revenue as it was represented to us that a number of civil revision petitions were pending in the High Court in which the question of jurisdiction was involved. After a careful consideration of the arguments in the case, I see no reason to change my view expressed in Burla Appanna v. Anala Latchayya 79 Ind. Cas. 372 : 47 M. 250 : 45 M.L.T. 735 : 33 M.L.T. 92 : 18 L.W. 849 : A.I.R. 1924 Mad. 119. I do not wish to repeat here the reasons which I gave in that case but will deal briefly with the arguments of the learned Government Pleader.
4. His contention is that the Board of Revenue is not a Civil Court and jurisdiction is given to it under the Estates Land Act to hear appeals from and to revise, the orders of the Collector and the Settlement Officer and the High Court cannot revise the orders of the Board of Revenue either under Section 115, C.P.C., or under Section 107 of the Government of India Act, 1915. His argument is based upon the observations made by the learned Chief Justice in Abdul Sattar Sahib v. Special Deputy Collector, Vizagapatam : AIR1924Mad442 . In that case it was held that the High Court could not interfere in revision with the order of a Land Acquisition-Officer who refused to refer a case to the District Court under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. As the decision is that of a Full Bench I am bound by it, but I may be permitted to remark, why could not the High Court interfere with the order of a Land Acquisition Officer if he refused to refer a case to the District Court when the High Court has jurisdiction to determine any question that may arise on a reference being made? In other words, if the Land Acquisition Officer makes a reference to the District Court, an appeal lies from the District Court to the High Court; but if he does not refer the case to the District Court, the High Court is said to have no power to direct him to refer the case to the District Court. If a Collector refused to refer a case to the Civil Court, he does something which he ought not to do, and the High Court which has the power to hear and determine matters on a reference being made to the District Court cannot be said to have no power to direct the Collector to do what he is bound to do. However, as that case has no application to the present, I refrain from making any further comment. The decision in Kokku Parthasarathy Naidu v. Chintalachervu Koteswara Rao : (1924)46MLJ201 has no application to the present case. According to that decision, where the Legislature erects a Tribunal for the purpose of determining any question which arises under a particular enactment, the High Court cannot interfere with the decision of that Tribunal, unless the High Court is empowered under the enactment which erected the Tribunal to hear appeals from such Tribunal or unless the enactment erecting the Tribunal makes it a Civil Court within the meaning of Clause 16 of the Letters Patent of the Madras High Court.
5. When a Settlement Officer makes a Record of Rights under Oh. XI of the Estates Land. Act, he determines the right of the parties; in other words he determines the rights and liabilities of both the landholder and the ryot. His proceedings are governed by the C. P. C:, vide Section 192. Part B of the Schedule of the Estates Land Act, No. 21 provides an appeal to the District Court against an order under Section 137 for the repair of an irrigation work and Nos. 22 and 23 provide for an appeal to the District Court in the case of applications by ryots to execute works in default of the landholder and for the recovery of the costs of the repair of an irrigation work. From a perusal of Parts A and B of the Schedule, it is apparent that wherever civil rights of the parties i.e., landholder and ryot, are determined, an appeal is provided to the District Court. In the case of matters which are entirely within the cognizance of the Revenue Officer, an appeal is provided to the Collector and against his decision a second appeal is provided under Section 190 to the Board of Revenue. A Record of Rights is as important as, if not more important than the terms of a patta, and Section 173 gives liberty to a party to sue to set aside an order of the Settlement Officer in certain cases. Under Section 172 the Board of Revenue may, on an application of its own motion, direct the revision of any Record of Rights or any portion thereof. The mere fact that an appeal lies to the Board of Revenue is no argument for saying that the High Court has no power,, under the Act to revise the orders of a Collector or Settlement Officer acting under Ch. XI. The Calcutta High Court has consistently held that in the case of orders of Collectors or Revenue Officers determining the rights of the landlord and tenant, the High Court has power to interfere in revision with them. In Kartik Chandra Ojha v. Gora Chand Mahto 20 Ind. Cas. 420 : 40 C. 518 : 17 Cri.L.J. 593 it was held that 'Proceedings on applications for enhancement of rent under Section 27 of the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act are judicial proceedings.... The High Court has jurisdiction to interfere in cases where the Courts of Collectors have either exceeded the jurisdiction or failed or refused to exercise the jurisdiction-vested in them by the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act.' The learned Judges observed at page 522 Page of 40 C.-[Ed.] 'From the very nature of the proceedings themselves, and also from the provisions of the Act as contained, for instance, in Ch. XVI it is clear that proceedings on applications for enhancement of rent are judicial proceedings and in view 6f the express provisions of Section 224 (2) which allows in certain cases a second appeal to this Court, it cannot, in our opinion, be contended that Deputy Commissioners in the performance of their judicial duties under the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act are not Courts subject to the appellate jurisdiction of this Court'.
6. The learned Judges held that notwithstanding that the Board of Revenue had revisional jurisdiction over the orders of Collectors, the High Court had revisional jurisdiction over such orders. In Ram Dayal v. Ramadhin 12 A. 198 : A.W.N. (1890) 59 : 6 Ind. Dec. (N.S.) 875 a Bench of the Allahabad High Court held that the High Court has no power under Section 622 to revise an order of a Collector under Section 183 of the North West Provinces Rent Act, XII of 1881 on appeal from an Assistant Collector of the Second Class. The argument of Straight, J., who delivered the judgment of the Court is that if it were held that the High Court had jurisdiction to revise such orders, it might create a dilemma inasmuch as the Board of Revenue also had revisional jurisdiction. The question is whether the High Court could, and not, whether it should, interfere with an order of a Collector after the Board of Revenue had interfered with it. The question does not depend upon any dilemma arising in the exercise of revisional jurisdiction by the High Court as well as by the Board of Revenue. It would be a matter for consideration in each case whether the High Court should exercise its powers or not. If it considers that the case is not a proper case for the exercise of its revisional powers, it would refrain from doing so, but if it is a proper case, the High Court would interfere with such orders.
7. In one portion of the argument the learned Government Pleader almost suggested that if the Board of Revenue declined to interfere with the order of a Collector then the High. Court might interfere but if the Board of Revenue did interfere with such order, the High Court had no power to interfere. Such an argument, though not put forward in so many words by the Government Pleader is on the face of it untenable. It is not seriously contended that Ramamami Goundan v. Kali Goundan 52 Ind. Cas. 634 : 42 M. 310 : 36 M.L.J. 571 was not correctly decided. The same learned Judges who decided Ramaswami Goundan v. Kali Goundan 52 Ind. Cas. 634 : 42 M. 310 : 36 M.L.J. 571 decided Paramaswami Aygangar v. Alamu Nachiar Ammal 49 Ind. Cas. 11 : (1919) M.W.N. 107 : 35 M.L.J. 632 : 9 L.W. 26 : 42 M. 76.
8. In considering this question, the aim and the scope of the Estates Land Act should be considered. Under the old Rent Recovery Act (VIII of 1865) the High Court had no revisional jurisdiction over the orders of Revenue Courts. Under the Estates Land Act, I of 1908, appeals are provided to the District Court against the Orders of Revenue Courts and the C.P.C. is made expressly applicable to the proceedings of the Revenue Officers and Revenue Courts by Section 192. Under Section 202 the High Court is empowered to make rules consistent with the Estates Land Act declaring that any portion of the C.P.C. shall not apply to suits between landholder and ryot as such or to any specified classes of such suits or shall apply to them subject to modifications specified in the rules. These are' innovations which are made in the present enactment and the object of the legislation was to determine the respective rights and liabilities both of the landholder and the ryot. In all cases where the rights of the landholder or the ryot are affected an appeal is given to the District Court. It would be against the scope of the Act and the specific provisions of Section 199 to hold that the High Court has no revisional jurisdiction over the orders of the Board of Revenue. It is unnecessary in this connection to consider whether the Board of Revenue is a Court subordinate to the High Court. All Courts which are governed by the C.P.C. are Civil Courts and, therefore, the High Court as having the right of superintendence over all the Civil Courts in the Presidency has power over such Civil Courts as are erected by any enactment. The Board of Revenue is authorised under Rule 21 framed by the Governor in Council under Section 215 of the Estates Land Act to hear appeals from the decision of the Collector under Ch. XI. The mere fact that appeals lie to the Board of Revenue would not take away the power of the High Court to revise the orders of the Collector or of the Board of Revenue. It is nowhere said and there is no provision in the Act or in the rules framed under the Act, that the orders of the Board of Revenue are final. The argument advanced in Ram Dayal v. Ramadhin 12 A. 198 : A.W.N. (1890) 59 : 6 Ind. Dec. (N.S.) cannot apply to this case, for the Board of Revenue in this case is only an appellate authority and not a revisional authority. For the above reasons given by me in Burla Appanna v. Anala Latchayya 79 Ind. Cas. 372 : 47 M. 250 : 45 M.L.T. 735 : 33 M.L.T. 92 : 18 L.W. 849 A.I.R. 1924 Mad. 119 I answer the question in the affirmative.
9. Second point.--The Revenue Officer had to determine what was a fair and equitable rent. He thought he was bound by the provisions of Section 30 of the Estates Land Act in determining under Ch. XI what was fair and equitable rent. The provisions of Section 30 of the Act apply to enhancement of rent at the instance of the landholder. Under Ch. XI either the landholder or the ryot may apply to the Government for an order directing that a survey be made and a Record of Rights be prepared by the Revenue Officer in respect of an estate or a portion of an estate. In making the Record of Rights, the Revenue Officer has to be guided by considerations which are not necessarily the same as those arising under Section 30. A Revenue Officer acting under Ch. XI should take into consideration the existing rate of rent, the rise in prices, the time when the rate was last settled and the present state of things as regards the facilities of irrigation and other circumstances which would enable him to settle what is a fair and equitable rent. Whatever may be the rate of rent, if he considers that it is not fair and equitable he is entitled to alter it; and in doing so he is not bound by the rule in Section 30 that the increase cannot be more than annas 2 in the rupee. Under Ch. XI the Revenue Officer may reduce the rent and may settle different rates of rent for land of different value or different fertility, The Revenue Officer, therefore, has not exercised the jurisdiction which he had in determining what is fair and equitable in the circumstances of the case. The High Court does not interfere as a rule with the orders of Courts subordinate to it, over which it has revisional jurisdiction in cases where there is another remedy open for the party than by revision. Section 173 provides for suit by a party who feels aggrieved by the Record of Rights, but none of the Clauses (a) to (f) of Sub-section (3) applies to the present case. The parties have no right of suit in this case and, therefore, this is a case in which the High Court would be justified in exercising revisional jurisdiction.
10. I, therefore, set aside the order of the Revenue Officer for the settlement of rents and direct him to make a proper record of the rent in the light of the remarks made above. Petitioner will have the costs of this application. The costs of further proceedings will abide the result.
11. On the first point I think that the matter is concluded by Ramaswami Goundan v. Kali Goundan 52 Ind. Cas. 634 : 42 M. 310 : 36 M.L.J. 571 a decision from which I see no reason to dissent. On the second I agree that the Revenue Officer in settling a fair and equitable rent is not bound by the provisions of Section 30 of the Act. It is obvious that there is no right of suit in regard to the question raised. If there is, we should not be justified in interfering in revision.
12. I concur in the order proposed.