advocatemmmohan

My photo

ADVOCATEMMMOHAN -  Practicing both IN CIVIL, CRIMINAL AND FAMILY LAWS,Etc.,

WELCOME TO LEGAL WORLD

WELCOME TO MY LEGAL WORLD - FOR KNOWLEDGE IN LAW & FOR LEGAL OPINIONS - SHARE THIS

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Both the above suits were clubbed together. Evidence was recorded in Original Suit No.32/1974, whereupon, it was held, that the appellant was a cultivating tenant in respect of the above agricultural land, long prior to the notified date (-17.01.1959), and that, the appellant had occupancy rights over the above land, prior to taking over of the ‘Inam Estates’ by the State Government, under the 1948 Act. And further that, with effect from the notified date – 17.01.1959, the relationship of landlord and tenant, between the erstwhile landowner Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu – respondent no.1, and the ryot stood terminated. And that, the appellant was entitled to a “ryotwari patta” for the suit land. This determination was recorded in Original Suit No.32/74, consequent upon the appellant being able to establish the above position, through the evidence of an “archaka” and a “trustee” (P.W.2 and P.W.3 respectively), of the temple in question. The appellant was also able to demonstrate, that the appellant and his predecessors-in-interest, were cultivating tenants of the suit land, long prior to the notified date – 17.01.1959. It is in the aforesaid view of the matter, that Original Suit No.32/1974 came to be decreed. 11. As against the above, the Estate Officer, Devasthanam, could not establish the execution of the alleged rent deed (kadapa), dated 29.11.1970, in favour of the appellant. And as such, the Devasthanam could not establish the relationship of landlord and tenant, between Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu and the appellant, as alleged. It was therefore, that Suit No.73/1974 was dismissed. The judgment and decree in Original Suit Nos.32/1974 and 73/1974 were passed on 31.10.1977. It is not a matter of dispute between the rival parties, that the aforesaid determination attained finality between the parties.

                                                                  Reportable

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  11306     2016
                  (Arising out of SLP(C) No.14895 of 2010)

Dokiseela Ramulu
.......Appellant
                                   versus

Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu and others                   .......Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T

Jagdish Singh Khehar, J.

1.    Leave granted.

2.    The present controversy admittedly relates to 1 acre and 80-1/2  cents
of agricultural land.  Out of the above land,  33-1/2  cents  is  in  Survey
No.123/5, and the remaining 1 acre and 47 cents is in  Survey  No.129/2,  of
the  revenue  estate  of  Sangam  Agraharam  Village  in   Vangana   Mandal,
Srikakulam District, in the State of Andhra Pradesh. It is the case  of  the
appellant before this Court, that he is a poor landless  person,  and  that,
his family has been in occupation of the  above  land  for  many  years.  In
fact, it is the appellant’s case, that his forefathers had been  cultivating
the above land, which eventually passed on to him, and members of his  joint
family.
3.    The Rent Reduction Act was applied to Sangam  Agraharam  Village  vide
G.O.M.S.No.3724 dated 31.03.1950.  As indicated above, the land in  question
was a part of Sangam Agraharam village. Sangam village was  declared  as  an
‘Inam Estate’, within the meaning of Section 3(2)(d) of the  Madras  Estates
Land Act.  Eventually the same, was abolished  through  the  Andhra  Pradesh
(Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Conversion  into  Ryotwari),  Act  1948
(hereinafter referred to as ‘the 1948 Act’).
4.    The State Government notified Sangam Agraharam village, under  Section
3 of the 1948 Act, vide Notification No.28 dated 17.01.1959.  It  is  not  a
matter of dispute, that the land which is  subject  matter  of  the  instant
controversy, was notified and published in Part-I of  the  State  of  Andhra
Pradesh Gazette, under the 1948 Act.
5.    On 25.02.1959, the notified land  in  Sangam  Agraharam  village,  was
taken over by the State Government.  The  appellant,  and  before  him,  his
forefathers were cultivating tenants in respect of  the  land  in  question,
for many years prior to the taking over of the  above  land/estate,  by  the
State Government. On and with effect from the notified  date,  the  landlord
and tenant relationship between the appellant and the erstwhile  landlord  –
respondent no.1 (– Sri Sangameswara Swamy  Varu)  herein,  therefore,  stood
terminated statutorily.  The landlord's right thereafter, was  only  limited
to compensation. Possession of such  lands,  was  also  transferred  to  the
State Government, except  land  in  possession  of  persons  entitled  to  a
“ryotwari patta”. A cultivating tenant was  entitled  to  “ryotwari  patta”,
under Section 11 of the 1948 Act. In order to demonstrate the  position,  as
expressed hereinabove, Sections  3  and  11  of  the  said  Act,  are  being
extracted hereunder:
“3. Consequences of Notification of estate:-- With effect on  and  from  the
notified date and save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act-

(a) the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Permanent Settlement Regulation,  1802,
the Estates Land Act, and all enactments applicable to the  estate  as  such
except the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates  Land  (Reduction  of  Rent)
Act, 1947, shall be deemed to have been repealed  in  their  application  to
the estate;

(b) the entire  estate  (including  minor  inams  (post-settlement  or  pre-
settlement) included in the assets of the zamindari estate at the  permanent
settlement of that estate; all communal lands  and  porambokes;  other  non-
ryoti lands; waste lands; pasture lands; lanka  lands;  forests;  mines  and
minerals;  quarries;  rivers  and  streams;  tanks  and  irrigation   works;
fisheries; and ferries), shall stand transferred to the Government and  vest
in them, free of all encumbrances; and  the  Andhra  Pradesh  (Andhra  Area)
Revenue Recovery Act, 1864, the  Andhra  Pradesh  (Andhra  Area)  Irrigation
Cess Act, 1865 and all other enactments applicable to ryotwari  areas  shall
apply to the estate;

(c) all rights and interests created  in  or  over  the  estate  before  the
notified date by the Government cease and determine;

(d) the Government may, after removing any obstruction that may be  offered,
forthwith take possession  of  the  estate,  and  all  accounts,  registers,
pattas, muchilikas, maps, plans and other documents relating to that  estate
which the Government may require for the administration thereof:

Provided that the Government shall not dispossess any person of any land  in
the estate in respect  of  which  they  consider  that  he  is  prima  facie
entitled to a ryotwari patta –

(i) if such person is  a  ryot,  pending  the  decision  of  the  Settlement
Officer as to whether he is actually entitled to such patta;

(ii) if such person is a landholder pending the decision of  the  Settlement
Officer and the Tribunal on appeal, if any, to  it,  as  to  whether  he  is
actually entitled to such patta;

(e) the principal or any other landholder and any other person whose  rights
stand transferred under clause (b) or cease and determine under clause  (c),
shall be entitled only to compensation from the Government  as  provided  in
this Act;

(f) the relationship of landholder  and  ryot  shall  as  between  them,  be
extinguished;

(g) ryots in the estate and persons holding under  them  shall,  as  against
the Government, be entitled only  to  such  rights  and  privileges  as  are
recognized or conferred on them by or under this Act, and any  other  rights
and privileges which may have accrued to  them  in  the  estate  before  the
notified date against the principal or any other  landholder  thereof  shall
cease and determine and shall not be enforceable against the  Government  or
such landholder.
            xxx             xxx              xxx
11. Lands in which ryot is entitled to ryotwari patta :-
Every ryot 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
landholder or some other person is entitled to a ryotwari  patta  under  any
other provision of this Act; and

(b) all lanka lands in his occupation immediately before the notified  date,
such lands having been in his occupation or in that of his  predecessors-in-
title continuously from the 1st day of July, 1939;

Provided that no person who has been admitted into possession  of  any  land
by a landholder on or after the first day of July, 1945 shall, except  where
the Government, after an examination  of  all  the  circumstances  otherwise
direct, be entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of such land.

Explanation:-- No lessee of any lanka and no  person  to  whom  a  right  to
collect the rent of any land has  been  leased  before  the  notified  date,
including an jaradar or a farmer on rent,  shall  be  entitled  to  ryotwari
patta in respect of such land under this section.”
                                                         (emphasis supplied)

6.    The appellant having felt threatened of being  dispossessed  from  the
above agricultural land, over which he  was  a  “ryotwari  pattadar”,  filed
Original Suit No.32/1974 before  the  District  Munsif,  at  Palakonda.  The
appellant prayed for a declaration, that the land in question,  was  a  part
of Sangam Agraharam village, to  which  the  Rent  Reduction  Act  had  been
applied vide G.O.M.S.No.3724 dated  31.03.1950,  and  further,  that  Sangam
Agraharam village was an ‘Inam Estate’ within the meaning  of  Section  3(2)
of the Madras Estates Land Act, and hence, was subject to the provisions  of
the 1948 Act.  And  that,  the  ‘Inam  Estate’  stood  abolished  after  the
enactment of the 1948 Act.  The appellant also prayed for an injunction,  so
as to restrain the erstwhile landlord – respondent no.1 (– Sri  Sangameswara
Swamy Varu) from interfering with the appellant's possession.
7.    Simultaneously, Suit No.73/1974  was  filed  by  the  Estate  Officer,
Devasthanam,  asserting  that  the  deity  Sri  Sangameswara  Swamy  Varu  –
respondent no.1, was the absolute owner of the land  in  question,  situated
in Sangam Agraharam village.  It was also the case of the Devasthanam,  that
the appellant was inducted into the above land, at an agreed rent of Rs.103-
78 per year.  It was  the  case  of  Devasthanam,  that  the  appellant  had
executed a kadapa (rent-deed) in favour of the Devasthanam,  on  29.11.1970.
And that, the appellant had been cultivating the  above  land  as  a  tenant
under, the Devasthanam.  Since the appellant had  allegedly  failed  to  pay
rent for the years 1970-71 to 1972-73, despite several demands made  by  the
Devasthanam, the above suit was filed for  the  recovery  of  an  amount  of
Rs.311-34 being rent/damages, for use of the land in  question,   and  also,
for interest and cost thereon.
8.    In Original Suit No.32/1974, filed by  the  appellant,  the  following
issues were framed:
“1.   Whether the plaintiff is entitled to the injunction prayed for?
2.    Whether the suit is framed is not maintainable?
3.    To what relief?”

7.    The following additional issue is framed on 1-8-77:-

      “Whether the plaintiff is entitled for the declaration prayed  in  the
suit?”

9.    In Suit No.73/1974, filed by respondent  no.1,  the  following  issues
were framed:-
“1)    Whether  the  plaintiff  is  entitled  to  collect  rents  from   the
defendant?
2)    Whether the defendant acquired occupancy rights  over  the  lands  for
which rent is claimed?
3)    To what relief?”

10.     Both the above suits were clubbed together.  Evidence  was  recorded
in Original Suit No.32/1974, whereupon, it was held, that the appellant  was
a cultivating tenant in respect of the above agricultural land,  long  prior
to the notified date (-17.01.1959), and that, the  appellant  had  occupancy
rights over the above land, prior to taking over of the  ‘Inam  Estates’  by
the State Government, under the 1948 Act.  And  further  that,  with  effect
from the notified date  –  17.01.1959,  the  relationship  of  landlord  and
tenant, between the  erstwhile  landowner  Sri  Sangameswara  Swamy  Varu  –
respondent no.1, and the ryot stood terminated. And that, the appellant  was
entitled to a “ryotwari patta” for the suit land.   This  determination  was
recorded in Original Suit No.32/74,  consequent  upon  the  appellant  being
able to establish the above position, through the evidence of  an  “archaka”
and a “trustee” (P.W.2 and P.W.3 respectively), of the temple  in  question.
The appellant was also able to  demonstrate,  that  the  appellant  and  his
predecessors-in-interest, were cultivating tenants of the  suit  land,  long
prior to the notified date – 17.01.1959.  It is in  the  aforesaid  view  of
the matter, that Original Suit No.32/1974 came to be decreed.
11.   As against the above,  the  Estate  Officer,  Devasthanam,  could  not
establish  the  execution  of  the  alleged  rent   deed   (kadapa),   dated
29.11.1970, in favour of the appellant. And as such, the  Devasthanam  could
not  establish  the  relationship  of  landlord  and  tenant,  between   Sri
Sangameswara Swamy Varu and the appellant, as alleged.   It  was  therefore,
that Suit No.73/1974 was dismissed.  The judgment  and  decree  in  Original
Suit Nos.32/1974 and 73/1974 were passed on 31.10.1977.  It is not a  matter
of dispute between the  rival  parties,  that  the  aforesaid  determination
attained finality between the parties.
12.   Whilst the claim of the appellant before this Court, was  based  on  a
collective reading of Sections 3 and 11 of the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra  Area)
Estates  (Abolition  and  Conversion  into  Ryotwari)  Act,  1948   (already
extracted above), the claim of the Estate Officer,  Devasthanam  (on  behalf
of Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu) was  based  on  Section  82  of  the  Andhra
Pradesh Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions & Endowments  Act,  1987
(hereinafter referred to as ‘the 1987 Act’).  Section 82 aforementioned,  is
being extracted hereunder:
“82. Lease  of  Agricultural  Lands:-(1)  Any  lease  of  agricultural  land
belonging to or given or endowed for  the  purpose  of  any  institution  or
endowment subsisting  on  the  date  of  commencement  of  this  Act  shall,
notwithstanding anything in any other law for the time being in force,  held
by a person who is not a landless poor person stand cancelled.

(2) In respect of leases  of  agricultural  lands  other  than  those  lands
situated in Municipalities and Municipal Corporations held by landless  poor
person for not less than six years continuously, such person shall have  the
to purchase such lands for a consideration of seventy  five  per  centum  of
the prevailing market value of similarly  situated  lands  at  the  time  of
purchase and such consideration shall be paid in four equal  instalments  in
the manner prescribed. Such sale may be effected otherwise than  by  tender-
cum-public auction:

Provided that if such small  and  marginal  farmers  who  are  not  able  to
purchase the land will continue as tenants provided, if they  agree  to  pay
at least two third of the market rent for similarly placed  lands  as  lease
amount.

Explanation:- For the purpose of this  sub-section  ‘landless  poor  person’
means a person whose total extent of land held by him either as owner or  as
cultivating tenant or as both does not exceed  1.011715  hectares  (two  and
half acres) of wet land or 2.023430 hectares (five acres) of  dry  land  and
whose monthly income other than from such lands  does  not  exceed  thousand
rupees per mensum or twelve thousand rupees per  annum.  However,  those  of
the tenants who own residential property exceeding two hundred square  yards
in Urban Area shall not be considered as landless poor for  the  purpose  of
purchase of endowments property.

Explanation II:- For the purpose of this  sub-section,  small  and  marginal
farmer means a person who being a lessee  is  holding  lands  in  excess  of
acres 0.25 cents of wet land or acres 0.50 cents of dry land over and  above
the ceiling limits of acres 2.50 wet or acres  5.00  dry  land  respectively
they may be allowed to continue in lease subject  to  payment  of  2/3rd  of
prevailing market rent and excess land held  if  any  more  than  the  above
limits shall be put in public auction.

(3) The authority to sanction  the  lease  or  licence  in  respect  of  any
property or any or interest thereon belonging to or  given  or  endowed  for
the purpose of any charitable or religious  institution  or  endowment,  the
manner in which and the period for which such  lease  or  licence  shall  be
such as may be prescribed.

(4) Every lease or  licence  of  any  immovable  property,  other  than  the
Agricultural land belonging to, or given or endowed for the purpose  of  any
charitable or religious institution or endowment subsisting on the  date  of
the commencement of this Act, shall continue to be in force subject  to  the
rules as may be prescribed under sub-section (3).

(5) The provisions of the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra  Area)  Tenancy  Act,  1956
(Act XVIII of 1956) and the Andhra  Pradesh  (Telangana  Area)  Tenancy  and
Agricultural Lands Act, 1950 (Act XXI of 1950) shall not apply to any  lease
of land belonging to or given or endowed for the purpose of  any  charitable
or religious institutions or endowment as defined in this Act.”
                                                         (emphasis supplied)

The case of respondent no.1 – Sri  Sangameswara  Swamy  Varu  is,  that  any
lease of agricultural land belonging  to,  or  given,  or  endowed  for  the
purpose  of  any  institution  or  endowment,  subsisting  on  the  date  of
commencement of the instant Act, shall stand cancelled.   Based  on  Section
82, it was asserted,  that  all  existing  rights  in  the  appellant  would
automatically stand terminated on the coming into force of the 1987 Act.
13.   In order to support his aforestated contention,  learned  counsel  for
the respondent institution placed reliance on  Muddada  Chayanna  v.  Karnam
Narayana, AIR 1979 SC 1320, on the following:
“3. It is not disputed that the lands are situated in Bhommika  village.  It
is not also disputed that Bhommika village was in Inam estate  and  that  it
was taken over by the Government under the provisions of the Andhra  Pradesh
(Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and  Conversion  into  Ryotwari)  Act.  The
appellant claims that he is the lawful ryot of  the  lands  in  dispute  and
that the respondents are his tenants. On  the  other  hand  the  respondents
claim that they are the lawful ryots of the holding. The question  at  issue
between the parties therefore is, whether the appellant or  the  respondents
are the lawful ryots of the holding.  Under  Sec.  56(1)(c)  of  the  Andhra
Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Conversion into  Ryotwari)  Act
"where, after 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".  Section  56(2)
provides for an  appeal  to  the  Estates  Abolition  Tribunal  against  the
decision of the Settlement Officer and further provides  that  the  decision
of the Tribunal shall be final and shall not be liable to be  questioned  in
any Court of law. Prima facie, therefore, the question  as  to  who  is  the
lawful ryot of any holding, if such question arises for  decision  after  an
estate is notified, has to be resolved by the Settlement Officer and by  the
Estates Abolition Tribunal under Secs. 56(1)(c)  and  56(2)  of  the  Andhra
Pradesh Estates Abolition Act. The Andhra Pradesh Estates Abolition  Act  is
a self contained code in which provision is also made for  the  adjudication
of various types of  disputes  arising  after  an  estate  is  notified,  by
specially  constituted  Tribunals.  On  general  principles,   the   special
Tribunals constituted by the Act must necessarily be held to have  exclusive
jurisdiction to decide disputes entrusted by the statute to them  for  their
adjudication.
            xxx             xxx              xxx
5. A brief resume of the provisions of  the  Andhra  Pradesh  (Andhra  Area)
Estates (Abolition and  Conversion  into  Ryotwari)  Act  relevant  for  our
present purpose is permissible here. As stated in the preamble the  Act  was
enacted  to  provide  for  the  repeal  of  the  Permanent  Settlement,  the
acquisition of  the  Rights  of  land-holders  in  permanently  settled  and
certain other estates and the introduction of  the  ryotwari  settlement  in
such estates. Section 1(4) provides for  the  notification  of  estates  and
Sec. 3 enumerates the consequences of notifying an estate  under  Sec.  1(4)
of the Act. In particular Sec. 3(b) provides that the  entire  estate  shall
stand  transferred  to  the  Government  and  vest  in  them  free  of   all
encumbrances. Section 3(c) provides that all rights  and  interests  created
in/or over the estate by  the  land-holder  shall  cease  and  determine  as
against the  Government.  Section  3(d)  empowers  the  Government  to  take
possession of the estate but saves from dispossession  any  person  who  the
Government considers is prima facie entitled to a ryotwari patta  until  the
question whether he is actually entitled to such patta  is  decided  by  the
Settlement Officer in the case of a ryot or by the  Settlement  Officer  and
the Tribunal on appeal in the case of a land-holder. Section  3(f)  provides
that the relationship of the landholder and ryot shall, as between them,  be
extinguished. Section 3(g) provides that  ryots  in  the  estate  shall,  as
against the Government be entitled only to such  rights  and  privileges  as
are recognised or conferred on them by or under the Act. Section 11  confers
on every ryot in an estate the right to obtain a ryotwari patta  in  respect
of ryoti land which was included or ought  to  have  been  included  in  his
holding on the notified date. Sections 12, 13 and 14  confer  on  the  land-
holder the right to obtain a ryotwari patta in respect of private land in  a
Zamindari,  Inam  and  Under-tenure  estate  respectively.   Section   15(1)
provides for enquiry by the Settlement Officer into claims by a  land-holder
for a ryotwari patta, Under Secs. 12, 13 and 14. Section 15(2) provides  for
an appeal to the Tribunal from the decision of the  Settlement  Officer  and
it declares that the decision of the Tribunal shall be final and not  liable
to be questioned in any Court of law. Section 16 imposes  on  every  person,
whether a land-holder or a ryot who becomes entitled  to  a  ryotwari  patta
under the Act  in  respect  of  any  land,  the  liability  to  pay  to  the
Government the  assessment  that  may  be  lawfully  imposed  on  the  land.
Sections 21 to  23  provide  for  the  survey  of  estates,  the  manner  of
affecting ryotwari settlement and the  determination  of  the  land-revenue.
Secs. 55 to 68 occur under the heading "Miscellaneous". Section 55  provides
for the collection of rent which  had  accrued  before  the  notified  date.
Section 56 provides for the decision of certain disputes  arising  after  an
estate is notified. It provides for the decision of  a  dispute  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 is required to  be  decided  by  the  Settlement
Officer. Against the decision  of  the  Settlement  Officer,  an  appeal  is
provided to the Tribunal and the decision of the Tribunal is declared  final
and not liable to be questioned in any Court of law.

6. Now the Act broadly confers on every tenant in an  estate  the  right  to
obtain a ryotwari patta in respect of ryoti lands  which  were  included  or
ought to have been included in his holding before the notified date  and  on
the land-holder the right to obtain a ryotwari patta  in  respect  of  lands
which belonged to him before the notified date as  his  private  lands.  The
Act makes express provision for the determination of claims  by  landholders
for the grant of ryotwari patta in respect of the alleged private lands.  If
there is provision for the determination of the claims of a  landholder  for
the grant of ryotwari  patta  in  respect  of  his  alleged  private  lands,
surely, in  an  Act  aimed  at  the  abolition  of  intermediaries  and  the
introduction of ryotwari settlement, there  must  be  a  provision  for  the
determination of the claims of  ryots  for  the  grant  of  ryotwari  patta.
Section 56(1) is clearly such a  provision.  But  in Cherukuru  Muthayya  v.
Gadde Gopalakrishnayya (AIR 974 Andh Pra  85)  (FB)  it  was  held  that  an
enquiry as to  who  was  the  lawful  ryot  was  permissible  under  Section
56(1)(c) for the limited purpose of fastening the liability  to  pay  arrear
of rent which had accrued before a notified date and for no  other  purpose.
The conclusion of the Full Bench was based entirely on the supposed  context
in which the provision occurs. The learned Judges held  that  Sec.  56(1)(c)
occurred so closely on the heels of S. 55 and S. 56(1)(a) and (b), that  the
applicability  of  Sec.  56(1)(c)  must  be  held  to  be  "intimately   and
integrally connected" with those provisions. We think that the  approach  of
the Full Bench was wrong. Apart from the fact that Secs.  55  and  56(1)(a),
(b) and (c) occur under  the  heading  "Miscellaneous",  and,  therefore,  a
contextual interpretation may not  be  quite  appropriate,  the  Full  Bench
overlooked the serious anomaly created by its  conclusion.  The  anomaly  is
that while express provision is  found  in  Sec.  15  of  the  Act  for  the
adjudication of claims by land-holders for the  grant  of  ryotwari  pattas,
there is, if the Full Bench is correct, no provision  for  the  adjudication
of claims by ryots for the grant of ryotwari  pattas.  It  would  indeed  be
anomalous and ludicrous and  reduce  the  Act  to  an  oddity,  if  the  Act
avowedly aimed at reform by the conferment of ryotwari pattas on  ryots  and
the abolition of intermediaries, is to be held not to contain any  provision
for the determination of the vital question as to who was  the  lawful  ryot
of a holding.   The object of the Act is to protect ryots and not  to  leave
them in the wilderness.  When  the  Act  provides  a  machinery  in  Section
56(1)(c) to discover who the lawful ryot of a holding was,  it  is  not  for
the Court to denude the Act of all meaning by confining  the  provisions  to
the bounds of Secs. 55 and 56(1)(a) and (b) on  the  ground  of  "contextual
interpretation". Interpretation of a statute, contextual or  otherwise  must
further and not frustrate the object of the statute. We are,  therefore,  of
the view that Cherukuru  Muthayya  v.  Gadde  Gopalakrishnayya  (supra)  was
wrongly decided in so far as it  held  that  ambit  of  Sect.  56(1)(c)  was
controlled by Sec. 55 and S. 56(1)(a) and (b). We do not think it  necessary
to  consider  the  matter  in  further  detail  in  view  of  the  elaborate
consideration which has been given to the case by the later  Full  Bench  of
five Judges of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in T.  Munnaswami  Naidu  v.
R. Venkata Reddi (AIR 1978 Andhra Pra 200) except to add that to  adopt  the
reasoning of the Full Bench of three Judges, in Cherukuru Muthayya v.  Gadde
Gopalakrishnayya  would  lead  to   conflict   of   jurisdiction   and   the
implementation of the Act would be thrown into disarray.”
                                                         (emphasis supplied)

14.    We  have  given  our  thoughtful  consideration  to  the  submissions
advanced at the hands of the learned counsel for the rival  parties.   First
and foremost, it needs to be determined, whether there is an existing  lease
of agricultural land  between  the  appellant  and  respondent  no.1  –  Sri
Sangameswara Swamy Varu.  It is only if there was a  subsisting  lease  when
the 1987 Act was promulgated, Section 82 can be invoked.  We are  satisfied,
that consequent upon issuance of a  notification  under  Section  3  of  the
Andhra  Pradesh  (Andhra  Area)  Estates  (Abolition  and  Conversion   into
Ryotwari), Act 1948 on 17.01.1959, the agricultural land in question in  the
revenue Estate of  Sangam Agraharam village, was duly declared as  an  ‘Inam
Estate’.  The right of the appellant  in  the  aforesaid  ‘Inam  Estate’  is
obviously dependent on  the  determination  of  the  tenancy  claim  of  the
appellant prior to 17.01.1959, i.e., the notified date.  Insofar as  instant
issue is concerned, Original Suit No.32/1974 was decreed in  favour  of  the
appellant, and it was duly declared that the appellant was in possession  of
the land in question.  The appellant and his ancestors were also held to  be
in continuous possession of the land in question, well before  the  notified
date – 17.01.1959.  That being the position, in terms of Section 11  of  the
1948 Act,  the  appellant  automatically  became  entitled  to  a  “ryotwari
patta”.  We say so because, it is only when the  possession  and  occupation
of the agricultural land is subsequent to the first day of July, 1945,  that
the State Government would examine  the  circumstances  of  each  case,  and
thereupon, in an appropriate case, issue a direction, that “ryotwari  patta”
was to be extended to the tenant of such agricultural land.  However,  since
Original Suit No.32/1974 clearly declared, that  the  agricultural  land  in
question was under the tenancy of  the  appellant  and  his  ancestors  well
prior to the notified date – 17.01.1959,  the  appellant  was  automatically
entitled to “ryotwari patta”, in respect of the land in question.
15.   Having concluded as above, we are satisfied, that Section  82  of  the
1987 Act, is inapplicable to the present controversy, because the  appellant
cannot be treated as a lease holder of agricultural land  belonging  to,  or
given, or endowed for purpose of any institution  or  endowment,  subsisting
on the date of commencement of the 1987 Act,  namely,  on  21.04.1987.   The
above position also emerges from the dismissal of Suit No.73/1974  filed  by
the Estate Officer, Devasthanam, wherein the assertion  made  on  behalf  of
Sri  Sangameswara  Swamy  Varu,  that  there  existed  a   landlord   tenant
relationship with the appellant herein, on the basis of  an  alleged  kadapa
(rent-deed)  dated  29.11.1970,  was  rejected.    The   aforesaid   finding
admittedly assumed finality between the parties.  For the above reason,  the
reliance placed on the judgment in the Muddada Chayanna case (supra), is  of
no avail to the respondent institution, because in the  above  judgment  the
undisputed position noticed in paragraph 3 (extracted above) was,  that  the
appellant was the lawful ryot  of  the  lands  in  dispute,  and  that,  the
respondents were his tenants.  The appellant herein, is not  the  tenant  of
Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu.
16.   It is also relevant for us to notice, that  in  order  to  escape  the
binding liability emerging out of the judgment and decree  dated  31.10.1977
(passed in Original Suit Nos. 32 of  1974  and  73  of  1974),  wherein  the
relationship between the appellant and the Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu,  was
held to be not as of tenant and landlord,  learned  counsel  for  respondent
no.1, vehemently contended, that the civil courts  had  no  jurisdiction  in
the matter, and as such, the appellant could not  derive  any  benefit  from
the above judgment.  It is not necessary for us to deal in any detail,  with
the  provisions  relied  upon  by  learned  counsel,  because  the   precise
submission advanced on behalf of respondent no.1, was examined in  State  of
Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Samigal Madam, (1985) 4 SCC 10, wherein  this  Court
held as under:
“12.  Now  turning  to  the  question  raised  in  these  appeals  for   our
determination  (it is true that Section 64-C of the Act  gives  finality  to
the orders   passed by  the Government  or other authorities in  respect  of
the matters  to be determined by them under  the Act   and  sub-section  (2)
thereof provides that no such orders shall be  called  in  question  in  any
court of law. Even so, such a provision by itself is not, having  regard  to
the two propositions quoted  above  from   Dhulabhai's  case  (1968)  3  SCR
662,  decisive   on  the   point   of   ouster   of   the    Civil   Court's
jurisdiction  and several  other  aspects  like  the  scheme  of   the  Act,
adequacy and sufficiency of  remedies provided by it etc., will have  to  be
considered  to  ascertain  the  precise   intendment  of   the  Legislature.
Further, having  regard  to   the  vital   difference  indicated  above,  in
between the two sets of provisions dealing  with grant  of  ryotwari  pattas
to  landholders  on  the  one  hand  and  ryots  on  the   other   different
considerations may arise while deciding the issue of  the  ouster  of  Civil
Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the  true nature  of  character   of
the concerned land. Approaching the  question from this  angle  it  will  be
seen in the first  place that  Section 64-C itself in  terms  provides  that
the finality  to the  orders passed  by  the   authorities   in  respect  of
the matters to be determined by them under the Act is "for the purposes   of
this Act" and not generally nor for any other  purpose.  As  stated  earlier
the main object and purpose of the Act is to abolish all the estates of  the
intermediaries like Zamindars, Inamdars, Jagirdars or  under-tenure  holders
etc. and  to  convert  all  land-holdings  in  such  estates  into  ryotwari
settlements  which  operation  in  revenue  parlance  means  conversion   of
alienated lands into non-alienated lands, that is to  say,  to  deprive  the
intermediaries of their right to collect all  the  revenues  in  respect  of
such lands and vesting the same back in the Government.  The  enactment  and
its several provisions are thus intended to serve the  revenue  purposes  of
the Government, by way of securing to the Government its sovereign right  to
collect all the revenues from all the lands and to facilitate  the  recovery
thereof by the Government and in that process, if necessary,  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 Section 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 facilitate the recovery of such revenue from him by  the  Government;
and therefore any decision impliedly rendered on the  aspect  of  nature  or
character of the  land  on  that  occasion  will  have  to  be  regarded  as
incidental to and merely for the purpose of passing the  order  of  granting
or refusing to grant the patta and for no other purpose.”
                                                         (emphasis supplied)

For reason of the above legal position declared by this  Court,  it  is  not
possible to accept, that the judgment and decree dated 31.10.1977,  was  not
binding on the Sri Sangameswara Swamy Varu.
17.   It is also not possible for us to accept, that  the  claim  raised  by
the appellant was barred by limitation. It was never in dispute between  the
parties, that the appellant was in  possession  of  the  land.   Only  that,
respondent no.1 claimed that the appellant was in possession  of  the  land,
as its tenant.   Our  instant  determination  on  the  issue  of  limitation
emerges  from  the  fact,  that  the  appellant  had   preferred   Execution
Application No.18/2007 when respondent no.1  allegedly  tried  to  interfere
with the possession of the agricultural land  in  question,  on  06.07.2005.
There was no justification for determining  limitation,  with  reference  to
the date when the decree  in  Original  Suit  No.32/1974  was  passed.   The
relevant  date  for  determining  limitation  was   06.07.2005,   when   the
appellant's possession was  allegedly  threatened.   Viewed  as  above,  the
claim raised by the appellant, was certainly not barred by limitation.
18.   Having concluded as above, we  are  of  the  view,  that  the  instant
appeal deserves to be allowed, and the same is accordingly allowed, and  the
impugned order passed by the High Court is set aside.



                                                                        ……..
.....................................J.
               (JAGDISH SINGH KHEHAR)




      …….......................................J.
                           (ARUN MISHRA)

New Delhi;
November 29, 2016.



-----------------------
16


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.