Pigot and Beverley, JJ.
1. We think that the appeal must be allowed; that the proceedings are bad from the beginning; and in dealing with the matter we must make an order in the alternative, that is to say, that the powers which we exercise in respect of those proceedings must be exercised in the alternative. We first declare that, assuming the proceedings to be such as to give us under the law a jurisdiction in second appeal, we must declare that the appeal must succeed; and secondly, under the assumption that the proceedings were absolutely bad and void ab initio, we must set them aside under our powers of supervision, as made in error by an officer who had no power to entertain them or to do any judicial act in regard to them. The Settlement Officer, we are of opinion, had no power under the Bengal Tenancy Act to entertain at least any dispute between the persons interested in the zemindari of the so-called plaintiff, the estate under the Court of Wards, and the persons interested in the neighbouring estate as to the title to any land; and the dispute in this matter is distinctly put as one arising out of the improper inclusion within the land of the neighbouring zemindar represented by Hari Moni, of land which the plaintiff, the disqualified person whose estate is under the Court of Wards, alleges to be part of his estate. Now we express no opinion in this case as to whether, for the sake of convenience, a Settlement Officer may or may not record in his record of rights his belief, whether expressed by a map or otherwise, as to the boundary of the estate upon which he was engaged under the order. In the present case, indeed, the officer may perhaps have been empowered under the rules issued under Section 189 to make a map of the district or estate as a Settlement Officer. Of that we know nothing; but we are clear that no challenge of the correctness of the expression of his opinion as to the boundary, supposing that he was entitled to make it, as to which we say nothing, could be used to found proceedings under Sections 106 and 108, as the matter of a dispute which could be judicially enquired into and determined under these sections of the Act. Were that so, it would lead to the formidable result that officers of the position who must needs be employed in the preparation of these records of right might perhaps find cast upon them the duty of inquiring into and deciding matters of disputed titles to land, of indefinite importance. Looking at the terms of Sections 102, 103 and 106, we think that there is no reason whatever for supposing that any such thing was contemplated by the Legislature.
2. The whole of the proceedings, therefore, which now are before us on appeal or quasi-appeal from the date of the so-called plaint to the proceedings before the District Judge, initiated by the lunatic's next friend, are bad and must be all quashed; as nought.
3. We think ourselves at liberty to add that we should regret greatly that any defective proceedings such as these should at all hamper or cast discredit on what, sitting here, we allow ourselves to say is greatly to be desired, viz., the encouragement of a record of rights in all estates to which the Court of Wards' powers extend.