1. This revision is directed against the judgment and decree passed by Lok Adalat organised by Tehsil Legal Services Committee, Udhampur dated 29-12-1998. By means of this decree, suit of the respondent-plaintiff has been decreed against the petitioner for permanent prohibitory injunction restraining them from interferring in plaintiff's possession over the land, which was subject-matter of the suit and Kotha constructed thereon, situated in village Narore, Tehsil Udhampur.
2. Suit was filed by the respondent to the effect that petitioners may be restrained from interfering over the land, which was the subject matter as detailed in the plaint. As per case set up, respondent was in cultivating possession of the land in question on the spot. He further claimed that so far as share of Nek Ram - petitioner is concerned, the same has been taken over by means of a lease deed 'pata-nama' and affidavit adated 06-12-1994. Copy of Khasra Girdawari and photostatt copy of Patta nama' and affidavit was atached withteh plaint on 18-11-1998. Petitioner without any right to forcibly interferredd with the land and Kotha, whereas they have no right to do so.They were asked to desist, but of no use. In this background, decre has been prayed for.
3. Respondent No.1 admitted the claim in writing and when respondents 2 and 3 appeared, they wanted the mater to be referred to Lok Adalat, that is how the mater came up bfore Lok Adalat and compromise decree has been passed.
4. Before adverting to the merits of the case, pleaded facts need to be noted. These are that the land in question was earlier governed by the Jammu & Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act. Its mutation under Section 4 of the said Act was attested in favour of the State Government and thereafter in favour of the petitioner- Nek Ram u/s 8 Respondent resumed half of the land as per the provions of this Act, whereas obtained possession of the remaining half in terms of 'Patta-nama' and agreement referred to in the plaint. That is how he came into possession of the entire land.
5. In the aforesaid back ground, the purpose of enacting Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976 needs to be noted. This Act was enacted with the object to provide for transfer of land to tillers thereof subject to certain conditions as well as for better utilisation of land in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.A owner as defined in this Act is entitled to hold land upto to a certain extent and the remaining land vestes in the State Government. Similarly where the land is in occupation of tenant, rights of the owners are extinguished and/or vested in the State Government. In such a situation, the tenant becomes prospective owner and is thereafter ownership rights are conferred upon the tenant under Section 8, thus the tenant becomes its absolute owner, which is in consonance with not only the purpose and object, but is also in accordance with law.
6. When the matter was heard, Mr. Goel, learned counsel appearing for the respondent raised a serious contention regarding maintainability of this Revision Petition. According to him, order passed by the Lok Adalat is not by a Court and as it is not a Court Subordinate to the High Court, therefore, this revision merits dismissal. In support of his contention, reliance is placed by Mr. Goel on AIR 2000 S.C.485, Kashab Narayan Banerjee and others, Appellants v. State of Bihar, Respondent and AIR 2000 S.C.2023. P. Sarathy, Appellant v. State Bank of India, Respondent and he urged that the rvision petition is liable to be dismissed. On the other hand, Mr. Raina, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that looking to the scheme of the Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act and then appreciating the submission of Mr. Goel will result in not only circumventing the provisions of law, but also playing fraud on the said statute. He further urged that if the revision is dismissed, this Court would be putting its seal of approval on a decree, which is not only illegal and contrary to law, but is void abinitie. By referring to Section 20(2) of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1997, Mr. Raina urged that the prohibition is against filing of the appeal, but not against the revision.
7. After having considered respective submissions urged on behalf of the parties as also case law cited at the bar, and the provisions of the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act together with J&K Legal Services Authority Act, 1997, for the reasons set out hereinafter, this revision petition deserves to be allowed. In the face of the admitted facts by learned counsel for the parties, petitioner No.1became owner of the land in question as per provisions of the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act. There is a prohibition of transfer of land under Section 28-A of the said Act and in case there is contravention of Section 28-A(1), the person contravening can be dispossessed of such land as per sub-section (2) of the said Section. But a void action cannot be upheld by the Civil Court. This is precisely what was urged by Mr.Goel for dismissal of this Revision Petition. So far as objections regarding maintainability of this revision is concerned, it may be observed that neither the provisions of the J&K Legal Services Authority Act not the two decisions cited by Mr. Goel in any manner improve the case of the respondent. In the case of Keshab Narayan Banerjee and others vs. State of Bihar Supra) a question was whether the Compensation Officer appointed under the Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950 was not a Court. In the context of Section 195(1)(b)(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, it was held that is not a Court. This decision has no relevance in the context of the present case and is thus wholly inapplicable, so far as decision in the case of P. Sarathy v. State Bank of India (Supra) is concerned, this case also does not advance his line of argument. In this case, mater being considered was regarding exclusion of time spent in prosecuting another proceeding in relation to Section 14 of the Limitation Act. It was held that proceedings must be in Court, which does not have to be a Civil Court. After holding so, that the Deputy Commissioner of labour (Appeals) under Tamil Nadu Shops and Establishment Act, being an Appellate Authority was held to be a Court and thus benefit of Section 14 could be obtained by the party concerned. In this case, question being examined was on the language of Section 14 of the Limitation Act.
8. In the context of both these decisions, it may be observed that a decision cannot be read out of the context, wherein it is given. That being so, both these cases are of no help for the proposition put up by Mr.Goel.
9. It may be appropriate under Section 20 of the aforesaid Act of 1997, appeal is not maintainable and rightly so.Reason being that decision given by the Lok Adalat is a decision based on compromise. Even under the ordinary law of the land,a compromise decree cannot be challenged in appeal. In case it was intended to exclude the maintainability of revision also, there was nothing that could prohibit the legislature to do so by making a provision in the Act itself. Admittedly, this has not been done. As such, revision is competent and therfore, plea to the contrary is hereby rejected.
10. In a given situation, like the present one, I have no hesitation to observe that even if no appeal/revision was maintainable, it was felt that this is a fit case, where this Court in exercise of powers vested in it of superintendence and control must examine the case with a view to keep the authorities below within the bounds of its limits. In case this is not done, it will be giving a license to the Courts as well as the authorities to not only subvert law, but pass decrees, for which they have no jurisdiction and also holding what is void under the law.
No other point is urged.
11. In view of the aforesaid discussion, this revision is allowed and as a consequence of it, the judgment and decree passed by the Lok Adalat on 29-12-1998 in case titled as Salay Ram V. Nek Ram and others, is hereby set aside. Parties are relegated to the stage of filing of the suit itself. Petitioner-defendants will be at liberty to file their written statement as per law, whereafter trial court is directed to proceed with the determination of suit on all aspects including its maintainability, etc., etc. Parties through their learned counsel are directed to appear in the Court of Munsiff, Udhampur on 12th December, 2000.