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1985 (5) TMI 251

y , Gopal Snbramanium and Mrs. S. Balakrishnan for the Respondent JUDGMENT TULZAPURKAR, J. These appeals raise a common question of law for our determination, namely, whether a Civil Court's jurisdiction to determine the nature of the land in respect whereof a Ryot has sought a Ryotwari Patta under s. 11 of the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act 1948 (for short the Act) is ousted or barred under s. 64-C of that Act ? The ma I facts giving rise to the question in both the appeals are almost similar and therefore, it will suffice if facts obtaining in Civil Appeal No. 474 of 1971 are alluded to in details. In this case one Ramalinga Samigal Madam, a religious Math through its trustee Sutha Chaitnya Swamigal filed a suit (O.S. No. 184 of 1959) in the Court of District Munsiff at Manamadurai for declaration of its title to the suit land admeasuring 3.55 acres being a portion of Survey No. 114 and for an injunction restraining the State of Tamil Nadu (Defendant-Appellant) from interfering with its possession and enjoyment of the same. The Plaintiff-Madam claimed title to the suit land on the basis of its long and uninterrupted possession since prior to 1 .....

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lenged but the technical plea of the lack of jurisdiction on the part of the Civil Court in the light of s. 64-C of the Act was pressed. In view of the importance of the question the learned Single Judge referred the case to the Division Bench who negatived the contention and dismissed the appeal. The Division Bench took the view that there was no provision under s. 11 read with proviso cl. (d) of s. 3 of the Act for the ascertainment of the character of the land (whether it was ryoti land or communal land) and that the decision of Settlement Officer whether the land is ryoti or not is an incidental one merely for the purpose of granting the Ryotwari Patta and Civil Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the nature of the land when that aspect is specifically put in issue, is not taken away under s. 64-C of the Act; and what is more the Division Bench further held that the plaintiff's suit was not for obtaining a ryotwari patta in its favour (which matter lay within the powers and jurisdiction of the Settlement Officer) but the suit was for injunction restraining the defendant from disturbing plaintiffs' possession and enjoyment of the suit land on the basis of its tit .....

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ion to adjudicate upon the nature or character of the land must be regarded as having been ousted or excluded by the Legislature. In order to appreciate this contention it will be necessary to set out the relevant provisions on which the reliance has been placed by the Counsel for appellants. Section 64-C of the Act runs thus: "64-C. Finality of orders passed under this Act.- (1) Any order passed by the Government or other authority under this Act in respect of matters to be determined for the purpose of this Act shall, subject only to any appeal or revision provided by or under this Act, be final. (2) No such order shall be liable to be questioned in any Court of law." Section 11 so far as is material runs thus: "11. Lands in which ryot is entitled to ryotwari patta.-Every ryoti in an estate shall, with effect on and from the notified date, be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of- (a) all ryoti lands which, immediately before the notified date, were properly included or ought to have been properly included in his holding and which are not either lanka lands or lands in respect of which a land- holder or some other person is entitled to a ryotwari patta under a .....

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eld to have been excluded or ousted. Counsel therefore urged that the High Court's view deserves to be quashed. On the other hand Counsel for the respondents contended that it is well settled that exclusion of Civil Court's jurisdiction is not to be readily inferred and has to be provided for in express terms or by necessary implication. Counsel urged that there is no express exclusion and if regard is had to the scheme of the Act, particularly the provisions dealing with the grant of ryotwari patta to a Zamindar or landholder under ss. 12-15 in contrast with the grant thereof to a ryot under s. 11 it will appear clear that qua the former there may be such exclusion of Civil Court's jurisdiction but qua the latter none is intended. Counsel also urged us to accept the view taken by the High Court on the point. The principles bearing on the question as to when exclusion of the Civil Court's jurisdiction can be inferred have been indicated in several judicial pronouncements but we need refer to only two decisions. In Secretary of State v. Mask and Company,(1) the Privy Council at page 236 of the Report has observed thus: "It is settled law that the exclusion of th .....

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expressly bars the civil court's jurisdiction but such exclusion has to inferred by be clear implication in view of s.64-C which accords finality to any order that may be passed by the Government or other authority under the Act in respect of matters to be determined for the purposes of the Act, subject only to any appeal or revision provided by or under the Act and also because the section goes on to provide that no such order shall be liable to be questioned in any court of law. Therefore, an examination of the scheme of the Act and the relevant provisions thereof including s. 64-C becomes necessary before such exclusion of civil court's jurisdiction by necessary implication can be inferred. The Act, as its Preamble indicates was put on the statute book with a view "to provide for the repeal of the Permanent Settlement, the acquisition of the rights of the land-holders in permanently settled and certain other estates in the State of Tamil Nadu and the introduction of the ryotwari settlement in such estates"; in other words the avowed object or purpose of the Act was to repeal the permanent settlement and acquire the rights of the land- holders i.e. all intermedi .....

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12 to 15. Section 11 which deals with the grant of a Ryotwari Patta to a Ryot in ryoti land, in so far as is material, has already been quoted above. Sections 12, 13 and 14 deal with the grant of a Ryotwari Patta to a land-holder in respect of his private lands in Zamindari estate, inami estate, and under-tenure estate respectively and s. 15 which follows upon ss. 12, 13 and 14 and deals with the aspect of determination the nature of character of the lands in which the land-holder is to be granted ryotwari patta is very material and it runs thus: "15 Determination of lands in which the land- holder is entitled to ryotwari patta under foregoing provisions.- (1) The Settlement Officer shall examine the nature and history of all lands in respect of which the landholder claims a ryotwari patta under section 12, 13 or 14 as the case may be, and decide in respect of which lands the claim should be allowed. (2)(a) Against a decision of the Settlement Officer under sub-section (1), the Government may, within one year from the commencement of the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion) into Ryotwari) Amendment Act, 1954, or from the date of the decision, which-ever is later; and .....

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express provision for any inquiry into the nature or character of the land before granting or refusing to grant such patta to the applicant. Even if s. 11 is read with the proviso to cl. (d) of s. 3, whereunder some inquiry is contemplated before granting a Ryotwari Patta to a ryot there is no provision directing an inquiry for the ascertainment of the character of the land, namely, whether it is ryoti land or communal land and the Settlement Officer's decision on this aspect will be incidental to and impliedly rendered only for the purpose of granting or refusing to grant the Ryotwari Patta. There is also this further difference that the Settlement Officer's decision on the nature or character of the land under s. 15 is subject to a regular appeal to the Tribunal under sub-s. (2) thereof while the Settlement Officer's decision to grant or refuse to grant a Patta to a ryot under s. 11 is subject to be revised by the Director of Settlement under s. 5(2) as also by the Board of Revenue under s. 7(c) and the relevant Rules in that behalf and the decision of the Director of Settlement in revision is further revisable by the Board of Revenue under s. 7(d) of the Act. Then c .....

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sary, to deal with claims of occupants of lands, nature of the lands, etc. only incidentally in a summary manner and that too for identifying and registering persons in the revenue records from whom such recovery of revenue is to be made. The object of granting a ryotwari patta is also to enable holder thereof to cultivate the land specified therein directly under the Government on payment to it of such assessment or cess that may be lawfully imposed on the land. Section 16 is very clear in this behalf which imposes the liability to pay such ryotwari or other assessment imposed upon the land to the Government by the patta-holder. The expression "for the purposes of this Act" has been designedly used in the section which cannot be ignored but must be given cogent meaning and on a plain reading of the section which uses such expression it is clear that any order passed by the Settlement Officer either granting or refusing to grant a ryotwari patta to a ryot under s. 11 of the Act must be regarded as having been passed to achieve the purposes of the Act, namely, revenue purposes, that is to say for fastening the liability on him to pay the assessment or other dues and to fac .....

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rived at the Settlement Officer before he passes his order on either granting or refusing to grant such patta. Obviously such decision rendered impliedly on this aspect of the matter will be an incidental one and arrived at in the summary manner only for the purpose of granting or refusing to grant the patta. A summary decision of this type in an inquiry conducted for revenue purposes cannot be regarded as final or conclusive so as to constitute a bar to a Civil Court's jurisdiction adjudicating upon the same issue arising in a suit for injunction filed by a ryot on the basis of title and/or long and uninterrupted possession. Since a fullfedged inquiry on the nature or character of land is provided for under s. 15 in the case of an application by a land-holder the character of the Settlement Officer's decision on such issue may be different but that question is not before us. Thirdly, having regard to the principle stated by this Court while enunciating the first proposition in Dhulabhai's case (supra) it is clear that even where the statute has given finality to the orders of the special tribunal the civil court's jurisdiction can be regarded as having been exclude .....

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reafter an estate is notified, a dispute arises as to (a) whether any rent due from a ryot for any Fasli year is in arrear or (b) what amount of rent is in arrear or (c) who the lawful ryot in respect of any holding is, the dispute shall be decided by the Settlement Officer". Sub- sec. (2) provides for an appeal to the tribunal against the decision of the Settlement Officer and the tribunal's decision in appeal has been rendered final and not liable to be questioned in a Court of law. In both the cases this Court has taken the view that a dispute between two rival claimants as to who is the lawful ryot entitled to the patta of the holding in question had been exclusively left to the determination of the Settlement Officer under that provision and since finality has been accorded to such determination which is not liable to be called in question in any Court of law the Civil Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate upon such dispute has been excluded. Relying upon these decisions, counsel for the appellant urged before us that the civil court's jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the issue of real nature or character of the land should be held to have been excluded under s. 6 .....

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