1. The legal representatives of the defendant are the appellants. The respondent herein field suit O.S.No.181 of 1976 before the District Munsif of Kulithalai against the appellant's father Vadakali Muthuraja for declaration that the respondent temple had title to the suit property, for possession, for Rs.4,380/- by way of accounting for the income, for future profits and for costs, averring as follows:
The suit property is a nanja land of an extent of 73 cents is S.F.No.276/16. Originally it was a dry land. It was comprised in Inam title deed 752 and it was granted to the respondent temple. Except the respondent, nobody else had any manner of right in the said property, that the suit land was Inam land granted to the respondent temple could not either in fact or in law be disputed by the defendants/appellants as the minor inams were notified under Act 30 of 1963 by the Government on 15.2.1967. The Inam Settlement Tahsildar initiated proceedings under Act 30 of 1963 and granted ryotwari patta to Vadakali Muthuraja on payment of consideration due to the Government, The said order was not binding on the respondent and could not affect its title to the suit property. The notification under Minor Inam's Abolition Act (Act 30 of 1963), hereinafter referred to as the Act, was issued on 15.2.1965. In any event, after the said date, Vadakali Muthuraja's possession was unlawful and he was bound to pay the income to the respondent at the rate of Rs. 10 per year to the respondent temple as mesne profits and also surrender possession of the land to the temple. Inspite of repeated requests the said Vadakali Muthuraja did not surrender possession nor did he pay the mesne profits. Hence the suit was filed for the reliefs already mentioned.
2. The defendant Vadakali Muthuraja resisted the suit inter alia contending as follows:
The respondent temple had no title much less any subsisting title on the date of the suit. It never exercised any manner of right over the suit property. It had no right either absolute or prescriptive. The defendant and his predecessors-in-interest were in open, exclusive, long, continuous uninterrupted and actual possession and enjoyment of the suit properties for over 100 years in their own right. They were having the patta in their name and the kist was paid in their own independent capacity. They had title proprietory, possessory and prescriptive over the suit property. Vadakali Muthuraja was bona fide purchaser for a valuable consideration under two sale deeds on 27.10.1960 executed by the predecessors-in-title. On and from that date he was alone in actual possession and enjoyment of the suit land in his own right. He was also granted patta under the Act, after due enquiry. The suit land was a dry land and he had reclaimed it at a huge cost of Rs.7,000 about four years prior to the suit for wet cultivation. The respondent temple was fully aware of the proceedings and he was also party to the same. It was final and conclusive and the respondent temple was bound and was completely estopped from questioning the same. The respondent had not given any reason for non-production of the order in T.K.245/67 dated 15.2.1967 to show that the grant of ryotwari patta was subject to payment of consideration due to the Government and as to why such order was not binding. The respondent's suit was barred by limitation. Vadakali Muthuraja was only in lawful possession and enjoyment of the property in his own right. The suit was liable to be dismissed and the court has no jurisdiction to determine the quantum of fair rent.
3. The trial court framed as many as seven issues and by its judgment and decree dated 14.11.1978 granted the declaration of the title to the suit property in favour of the respondent and for possession of the same and for past mesne profits for a period of three years prior to the institution of the suit. The trial Court also directed ascertainment of future mesne profits from the date of suit till date of delivery of possession to be gone into under Order 20 Rule 12 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The defendant Vadakali Muthuraja filed appeal A.S.No.59 of 1983 before the Principal subordinate Judge, Tiruchirapalli. Pending appeal he died and the appellant herein came on record as appellants in the first appeal. The learned Subordinate Judge framed the appropriate points for determination and by her judgment and decree dated 23.1.1984 confirmed the decision of the trial court and dismissed the appeal. Aggrieved the present second appeal has been filed.
4. At the time of admission the following substantial question of law was framed for determination in the second appeal:
"Whether the Civil Court is precluded from deciding the question of title on the ground that patta has been issued to the plaintiff by the Settlement Authorities.?"
5. Mr.K. Chandra Mouli, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the appellants, submitted as follows:
The Authorities under the Act had a distinct duty to perform and with regard to other things as to the nature of the property and the length of possession, the Civil Court alone had the jurisdiction to try and decide and the decision of the Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal in any proceeding under the Act or any matter falling within its jurisdiction would be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil Court in so far as such matter was in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such suit or proceeding is to be qualified and the Civil Court has got jurisdiction to decide even though patta was granted by the Settlement Officer. The finding of the courts below that only in the case where there were rival claims to the property, the Civil Court has got jurisdiction to interfere is not correct. Further the conclusion based on Ex.A-5 and Ex.A-26 was not final and it was always open to the Civil Court to go into the other questions.
6. The learned Senior Counsel referred to the preamble in the Act and the following sections: section 3(b),(d) proviso, section 8(2), section 43 and section 44. Apart form the sections, the learned Senior Counsel also relied on the following decisions in support of his contentions:
(1) The State of Madras represented by the Collector of Ramanathapuram at Madurai v. Ramalinga Swamigal Madam (North Thiruppachetti) represented by N.S.K. Paramasiva Thevar and others, 1969 (II) MLJ 281; (2) State of Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Samigal Madam, ; (3) T.K. Ramanujam Kavirayar and others v. Sri-La-Sri Sivaprakasa Pandara Sannadhi Avargal, 1988 (2) L.W. 513; (4) R. Manicka Naicker v. E. Elumalai Naicker etc., .
The learned Senior Counsel also referred to two other decisions and the Supreme Court has taken a contrary view. They are:
(1) Vatticherukuru Village Panchayat v. Nori Venkataram Deekshithulu and others, 1991 Supp.(2) SCC 228 and (2) Vanathan Muthuraja v. Ramalingam alias Krishnamurthy Gurukkal and others, .
The learned Senior Counsel also referred to A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak and another, on the doctrine of per incuriam.
7. The preamble to the Act runs as follows:
"An Act to provide for the acquisition of the rights of inamdars in minor inams in the State of Tamil Nadu and the introduction of ryotwari settlement in such inams."
Section 3(b), (d) and proviso run as follows:
"3. With effect on and from the appointed day and save as other wise expressly provided in this Act.
(b) every minor inam including all communal lands and porambokes, waste lands, pasture lands, forests, mines and minerals, quarries, rivers and streams (tanks and ooranies (including private tanks and ooranies) and irrigation works) fisheries and ferries, situated within the boundaries thereof, shall stand transferred to the Government and vest in them free of all encumbrances, and the Madras City Land Revenue Act, 1851 (Central Act XII of 1851) except sections 2 and 12, the Madras City Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, 1867 (Tamil Nadu Act VI of 1867), the Tamil Nadu Revenue Recovery Act, 1864 (Tamil Nadu Act II of 1964), the Tamil Nadu Irrigation Cess Act, 1865 the Tamil Nadu Act VII of 1865), the Tamil Nadu Transferred Territory) Ryotwari Settlement Act, 1964, and all other enactments applicable to ryotwari lands shall apply to the minor inams.
(d) the Government may, after removing any obstruction that may be offered, forthwith take possession of the minor inam and all accounts, registers, pattas, muchilikas, maps, plans, and other documents relating to the minor inam which the Government may require for the administration thereof:
Provided that the Government shall not dispossess any person who is personally cultivating any land in the minor inam, until the Assistant Settlement Officer and the Tribunal and the Special Appellate Tribunal, on appeal, if any, decide that such person is not actually entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of that land under the provisions of this act.
Explanation: For the purposes of this proviso a person is said to personally cultivate a land when he contributes his own physical labour or that of the members of his family in the cultivation of that land.
Section 8 runs as follows:
8(1). Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2), every person who is law fully entitled to the kudivaram in an inam land immediately before the appointed day whether such person is an inamdar or not shall, with effect on and from the appointed day, be entitled to ryotwari patta in respect of that land.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub section (1), in the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1959 (Tamil Nadu Act XXII of 1959((and in the Tamil Nadu Transferred Territory) Incor-porated and Unioncorporated Devaswoms Act, 1959 (Tamil Nadu Act XXX of 1959) the following provisions shall apply in a case of lands in an iruvaram minor inam granted for the support or maintenance of a religious institution or for the performance of a charity or service connected therewith or of any other religious charity.........
Section 43 runs as follows:
43. (l) The decision of a Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal in any proceeding under this act on any matter falling within its jurisdiction shall be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil Court, in so far as such matter is an issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such suit or proceeding.
(2) The decision of a Civil Court (not being the Court of a District Munsif or a Court of Small Causes) on any matter falling within its jurisdiction shall be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any proceeding under this Act before a Tribunal or the special Appellate Tribunal in so far as such matter is in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such proceeding.
Section 44 runs as follows:
44. In proceedings under this Act relating to any inam granted for the benefit of any religious, educational or charitable institution or granted to any individual for rendering service to a religious, educational or charitable institution or for the purpose of rendering any service it shall be presumed unless the contrary is proved that the inam consists not merely of a grant of the melvaram in the land but also the kudivaram therein.
8. The decision in The State of Madras rep. by The Collector of Ramanathapuram at Madurai v. Ramalingaswamigal Madam, (North Thiruppachetti) rep. by N.S.K. Paramasiva Thevar and others, 1969 (II) M.L.J. 281 arose under the Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (Act XXVI of 1948). The plaintiffs claimed title to the suit property by virtue of their possession which is protected under section 3(d) of that Act. There is no machinery in the Act to determine whether a land in an estate is a ryoti land or a communal land. Even in respect of an enquiry for grant of a ryotwari patta under section 11 read with section 3(2) of the Act, the decision as to question of title by the statutory authorities is only an incidental matter which would not preclude a Civil Court independently enquiring into it in a properly constituted suit. It was held that section 64-C of the Act cannot be held to be a bar to the suits as the suits were not for grant of ryotwari patta which alone could be determined by the authorities appointed under the Act. The Bench referred to a number of authorities on the jurisdiction of Civil Court and Tribunals constituted under Special Act and came to the above conclusion. This decision was taken on appeal to the Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Swamigal Madam, the decision was affirmed and the Supreme Court in paragraph 12 observed as follows:
"12. Now turning to the question raised in these appeals for our determination, it is true that s.64-A 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 c.(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, , 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 vita] difference indicated above, in between the two sets of provisions dealing with grant of 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 or character of the concerned land. Approaching the question from this angle it would be seen in the first place that S.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 amindars, Inamdars, Jagirdars or under- tenure-holders etc. and to convert all landholding 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 revenue 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 could not 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 purpose 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."
The Supreme Court ultimately held:
"Having regard to the above discussion we confirm the High Court's view that the Civil Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate on the real nature of the land is not ousted under S.64-C by reason of the Settlement Officer's decision to grant or refuse to grant a patta under S.11 read with the proviso to S.3(d) of the Act."
9. In T.K. Ramanujam Kavirayar and others v. Sri-La-Sri Sivaprakasa Pandara Sannadhi Avargal etc., 1988 (2) L.W. 513 this decision was followed, though our High Court's decision arose under Act 30 of 1963. The matter came on a reference by the learned single Judge who felt that there was a conflict between two Division Benches of this Court in Udaiyappan v. Karuppan, 1982 TNLJ 490 and Subramania Guruckal v. Arulmighu Thirumaleswaraswami Deity, 1984 (97) L.W. 243. Justice shanmukham also in a particular case postponed his judgment awaiting a decision of the Division Bench.
10. The Division Bench found that the controversy which was referred to a Full Bench, stood expressly covered by the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Swamigal Madam, and the matter was therefore not required to be
decided by a Full Bench and that it could be properly decided by a single Judge. Accordingly, the appeals were heard by Srinivasan, J. as he then was, and the learned Judge observed that the ratio of the Supreme Court in State of Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Swamigal Madam, referred to supra will apply to cases arising under the Minor Inams Act that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to decide the question of title was not ousted by the provisions of the Minor Inams Act. The learned Judge also observed as follows:
"There is no section in the Minor Inams Act similar to section 56 of the Andhra Pradesh Estates Abolition Act... The machinery provided under the Act for deciding the claims for ryotwari patta is a common one. There is no separate machinery for deciding the claims under section 8(1) of the Act and a different machinery for deciding claims under section 8(2). Once it is found that a dispute between two persons claiming as rival kudivaramdars cannot be finally decided by the authorities under the Act, it has to follow that any decision of such authorities cannot conclude the matter and exclude the jurisdiction of Civil Court. It is not possible to hold that while a decision of a claim under S.8(2) of the Act will exclude the jurisdiction of the Civil Court, a decision of a claim under section 8(1) of the Act will not have that effect....If a Civil Court holds that a person to whom patta is granted under the Act is not entitled to the land, the Revenue Authorities after taking note of the same, should amend the registers accordingly. It is only the person who will be entitled to get patta from the Government. The various provisions in the Act which are consequential to the grant of patta under the Act will also apply to such cases."
"Under section 8(2) of the Minor Inams Act, the only question to be considered is whether the original grant was of an iruvaram minor inam for the support or maintenance of a religious institution or for the performance of a charity or service connection therewith or of any other religious charity. If the land in such iruvaram minor inam had been transferred by way of sale, the provisions of clause (i) of subsection (2) would apply and in other cases, clause(ii) would apply. There is no scope for enquiry by the Settlement Officer with reference to the rights of a person in occupation vis-a-vis the lands covered by sub section (2) of section 8 as on the date of the notification. Nor is there any provision for deciding any dispute between two rival claimants who claim to be the inamdars or two rival claimants who claim to be lawfully entitled to kudivaram on the date of the notification.......It is not possible to accept the contention of Mr. Kumar that all the rights of persons in occupation of minor inam lands as on the date of the notification stood wiped out and the legislature intended only to create fresh rights. If that is so, the language of section 8(1) of the Minor Inams Act would be different and the proviso to section 3(d) would be absent.
Learned Counsel submits further that the provisions of sections 8 and 11 of the Minor Inams Act are analogous to the provisions of sections 12 to 15 of the Abolition Act and if an order passed under section 15 of the Abolition Act is final, capable of excluding the jurisdiction of the Civil Court, the order under section 11 of the Minor Inams Act should also have a similar effect. This contention of learned counsel is based on the fact that the Minor Inams Act provides for determination of the claims by a machinery consisting of a hierarchy of authorities just like the Abolition Act with reference to claims under sections 12 to 14 of that Act.
I am unable to agree with that contention and here are my reasons:
There is a basic difference between the provisions of section 15 of the Abolition Act and section 11 of the Minor Inams Act. Under the former, the Settlement Officer has to examine the nature and history of the lands in dispute and decide the character thereof. It is the jurisdiction to enquire into and ascertain the character of the land in claims made under sections 12 to 14 of the Abolition Act which has been excluded from the purview of the Civil Courts. But, under section 11 of the Minor Inams Act, there is no question of deciding the character of the land as such. If the land is notified as minor inam and if the classification is to be challenged, it has to be made before the Tribunal constituted under Tamil Nadu Inams (Supplementary), Act 31 of 1963. Hence, the scope and nature of a dispute under sections 12 to 14 are entirely different from that of section 8 of the Minor Inams Act, Just because a machinery is provided under the Act to decide certain matters, it does not mean that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to decide the question of title to the land is excluded. The decision by the authorities under the Act is only "for the purposes of the Act". In such cases, it is necessary to see if the statute creates a special right or a liability and provides for the determination of the right or liability and lays down that all questions about the said right and liability shall be determined by the Tribunals so constituted and whether remedies normally associated with actions in Civil Court are prescribed by the statute or not. There is no doubt that the remedies normally associated with actions in Civil Courts are not prescribed by Minor Inams Act. Nor can it be said that the Act creates a special right in favour of any particular person. On the other hand, a reading of the provisions of the Act makes it clear that there is a recognition of the pre-existing rights. The proviso to section 3(d) of the Minor Inams Act protects the possession of any person who is considered prima facie to be entitled to a ryotwari patta under the Act pending the decision of the appropriate authority. If the Act is to be construed as one wiping out all the pre-existing rights and starting with a clean slate, there would have been no necessity for the inclusion of the aforesaid proviso. Again, section 8(1) of the Minor Inams Act declares that every person who will be lawfully entitled to the kudivaram in an inam land immediately before the appointed day, shall be entitled to ryotwari patta in respect of that land. The exception thereto is provided in section 8(2). The provisions of section 11 of the Abolition Act in all cases which are not covered by section 8(2) of the Minor Inams Act, the Settlement Officer will have to decide the question as to who is lawfully entitled to the kudivaram immediately before the appointed day. This necessarily involves a recognition of a pre-existing right."
11. In R. Manicka Naicker v. E. Elumalai Naicker and others, in a case arising under Act 30 of 1963, the Supreme Court observed as follows:
"9. The Madras Minor Inams (Abolition and conversion into Ryotwari Act, 1963) is an Act to provide for the acquisition of right of inamdars in Minor Inams in the State of Madras and for the introduction of ryotwari settlement in such Inams. Under section 3 of the said Act, on and from the appointed day (and save as otherwise expressly provided in the Act) Minor Inams shall vest in the Government. The inamdar and any other person whose rights stand transferred under the said section or stand ceased and determined, shall be entitled only to such rights and privileges as are recognised or conferred on him under the said Act. Section 8 of the said Act provides for the grant of ryotwari pattas to every person who is lawfully entitled to the 'kudivaram' in an inam land immediately before the appointed day whether such person is an inamdar or not. Section 9 provides for the grant of ryotwari pattas in cases specified therein. Section 13 provides as follows:
13(1) : Every building situated within the limits of an inam land shall, with effect on and from the appointed day, vest in the person who owned it immediately before that day but the Government shall be entitled for each fasli year commencing with the fasli year in which the appointed day falls to levy the appropriate assessment thereon.
(2) In this section, 'building' includes the site on which it stands and any adjacent premises occupied as an appurtenance thereto."
12. Sections 43 and 46 of the said Act are as follows:
"43(1): The decision of a Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal in any proceeding under the Act on any matter falling within its jurisdiction shall be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceeding in a Civil Court, in so far as such matter is in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such suit or proceeding.
(2) The decision of a Civil Court (not being the Court of a District Munsif or a Court of Small Causes) on any matter falling within its jurisdiction shall be binding on the parties thereto and persons claiming under them in any proceeding under this Act before a Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal in so far as such matter is in issue between the parties or persons aforesaid in such proceeding."
"46(1): Any order passed by any officer, the Government or other authority or any decision of the Tribunal or the Special Appellate Tribunal under this Act in respect of matters to be determined for the purposes of this Act, shall subject only to any appeal or revision provided under this Act be final.
(2) No such order or decision shall be liable to be questioned in any Court of law."
13. The purpose of the said Act is introduction of rytowari settlement in the place of the rights of inamdars in Minor Inams with the exception of certain types of public lands set out in section 10 such as forests, irrigation channels, land which are set apart for the common use of the villagers, rivers, streams, etc. which vest in the Government and in respect of which no ryotwari patta can be granted.
14. The Assistant Settlement Officer is required under section 11 to enquire into the claims of any person to a rytowari patta in respect of any Inam land and to decide it. This enquiry has to be conducted by the Assistant Settlement Officer in the manner set out in Section 11. Under section 12, every person who becomes entitled to a ryotwari patta is required to pay land revenue to the Government as set out therein. The grant of ryotwari patta is for the purpose of collection of land revenue. By eliminating Minor Inams any intermediaries for the collection of land revenue are eliminated. In the case of building situated within an Inam land, section 13 provides that the building shall vest in the persons who owned it immediately before the appointed day but the Government shall be entitled to levy appropriate assessment on it. As the object of the enquiry by the Settlement Officer is the grant of ryotwari patta as a revenue settlement, the grant of a patta cannot be equated with an adjudication of title to the lands in question.
15. In the case of State of Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Swamigal Madam, this Court has construed the provisions of Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 which are similar to the provisions of the said Act. This Court said that the Civil Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate on the real nature of the land is not ousted by reason of the Settlement Officer's decision to grant or refuse to grant a patta. Construing the provisions of section 64-C of the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 which are similar to section 46 of the present Act, this Court held that the finality to the orders passed by the authorities in respect of the matters to be determined by them under the Tamil Nadu Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 is "for the purposes of this Act" and not generally, nor for any other purpose. The main object and purpose of the Act is to abolish all the estates of the intermediaries like zamindars, Inamdars, Jagirdars 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 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 the 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 Court further observed 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 excluded if there is adequate remedy to do what the Civil Court would normally do in the suit. We need not, however, examine this aspect at any length because of the nature of the grant which has been made in the present case which expressly preserves the rights of the respondent in respect of the land."
16. As against these decisions which support the stand that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court is not ousted by the provisions of Act 30 of 1963, there are two other decisions of the Supreme Court already referred to by the learned Senior Counsel. They are:
(1) Vatticherukuru Village Panchayat v. Nori Venkatarama Deekshithulu and others, 1991 Supp. (2) SCC 228) and (2) S. Vanathan Muthuraja v. Ramalingam alias Krishnamurthy Gurukkal and others, .
17. The first of the cases arose under (A.P. Andhra area) Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1956 (Act 37 of 1956). The Supreme Court in paragraph 27 distinguishes the decision of State of Tamil Nadu v. Ramalinga Samigal Madam, in the
"27. In State of T.N. v. Ramalinga Samigal Madam,
strongly relied on by Shri Kanta Rao, the question therein was whether the jurisdiction of the Civil Court was ousted to redetermine the nature of the land rendered by the Settlement Officer under section 11 of the Estate Abolition Act, Tulzapurkar, J. speaking for the Division Bench proceeded on three fundamental postulates, namely that the decision of the Settlement Authorities under section 11 of the Act was for (1) 'revenue purposes', (SCC p.22, para 12), 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 purposes of passing the order of granting or refusing to grant the patta and for no other purpose", (2) only revision against the order and not an appeal; and (3) that by Madras Amendment, section 64-C was deleted. It was unfortunate that it was not brought to the notice of the court that the purposes of Estate Abolition Act was not solely for the purpose of collecting the revenue to the State. The Act has its birth from a long drawn struggle carried on by the ryots in Madras Presidency for permanent ryotwari settlement of tenures and grant of permanent occupancy rights and the Indian National Congress espoused their rights and passed resolution at Avadi Session to make a legislation in that regard. The recovery of revenue was only secondary. In Syamala Rao v. Radhakanthaswami Varu, 1981 (I) APLJ 113 : 1984 Andh. LJ 286, a Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court to which one of us (K. Ramaswamy, J.) was a member considered the historical background, the purpose of the Act and the scheme envisaged therein in extenso and held that the preamble of the Estate Abolition Act was to repeal the permanent settlements, the acquisition of the rights of the landholders in the estates and introduction of the ryotwari settlement therein; under section 1(4) by issuance of the notification the pre-existing rights shall cease and determine; shall vest in the State free from all encumbrances and declared that all rights and interests created in particular over the State 'shall cease and determine as against the Government' protected only dispossession of a person in possession of the ryoti land who was considered prima facie entitled to a ryotwari patta. Section 11 envisaged enquiry into "the nature of the land" and whether "ryotwari land immediately before the notified dates" be properly included or ought to have been properly included in the holding of the ryot.
The enquiry under the Act was entrusted to the revenue authorities who have intimate knowledge of the nature of the lands and the entries in the revenue records of the holders etc. Act created hierarchy of the tribunals, namely Assistant Settlement Officer; Settlement Officer; Director of Settlements and Board of Revenue; provided revisional powers to those authorities and ultimately the order is subject to the decision of the High Court under Article
226. In that view it was held that by necessary implication the jurisdiction of the civil court was ousted, the decision of Settlement Authorities under section 11 was made final and no civil suit was maintainable. The legislature having made the Act to render economic justice to the ryots and excluded the dispute between landholders and the ryots covered under sections 12 to 15 and the ryots inter se under section 56(1)(c), from the jurisdiction of the civil court, it would not be the legislative intention to expose the ryots to costly unequal civil litigation with the State of the dispute under section 11. It is not necessary in this case to broach further but suffice to state that unfortunately this historical perspective and the real purpose and proper scope and operation of Estate Abolition Act was not focused to the notice of the Court. In Jyotish Thakur v. Tarakant Jha, , section 27 of
Regulation III of 1872 provides that in respect of transfer of ryoti interest in contravention of the regulation revenue courts shall not take cognizance of such a transfer. It was contended that by necessary implication the civil suit was not maintainable. In that context this Court held that provisions therein were not intended to be exhaustive to bar the relief in the civil court. In Athmanathaswami Devasthanam v. K. Gopalaswami Aiyangar, the question was whether the civil suit to recover damages and for ejectment of the ryoti lands belonging to the temple was barred. The findings were that the lands were ryoti lands and that the tenant acquired the occupancy rights, but the lease was granted in excess of 5 years. It was contended that it was a transfer without permission of the Endowment Department. While upholding that the lands were ryoti lands and the tenant acquired occupancy rights, this Court disagreeing with the High Court, held that there was no transfer and that the tenant is liable to pay the arrears of rent and the suit was maintainable. In Sri Vedagiri Lakshmi Narasimha Swami Temple v. Induru Pattabhirami, , the contention raised was that section 93 of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951 was a bar to maintain suit for rendition of accounts and recovery thereof against the ex-trustees. This Court repelled the contention and held that the suit for rendition of accounts was not expressly or by necessary implication barred the jurisdiction of the civil court under section 93. In Raja Kandregula Srinivasa Jagannadha Rao Panthulu Bhadur Guru v. State of A.P., , it was
conceded that the question whether Kalipatnam Village is an inam estate was to be adjudicated before the Tribunals appointed under the Rent Reduction Act. It was contended that the Tribunals have no jurisdiction to decide the validity of the notification reducing the rent by operation of section 8(1) thereof. It was held that there was no statutory prohibition to determine the nature of the land contemplated by the Rent Reduction Act Accordingly the suit was held to be maintainable. In Dr. Rajendra Prakash Sharma v. Gyan Chandra, , it was found that under section 7 of the
Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950, no proceedings were taken to declare the suit house as an evacuee property. No notification under sub section (3) of section 7 was published in the gazette. Under those circumstances it was held that section 46 did not bar the civil suit. In Anne Besant National Girls' High School v. Dy. Director of Public Instruction, , this Court held that the civil court has jurisdiction to examine whether action or decision of an administrative authority was ultra vires the relevant rules of Grant-in-Aid Code and Rule 9(vii) was held to be ultra vires. Accordingly the suit was held to be maintainable. In Raja Ram Kumar Bhargava v. Union of India, , two
questions were raised, firstly the validity of the assessment and secondly recovery of the tax paid under Excess Profit Tax Act, 1940. On the first question it was held that the suit was not maintainable. On the second question without going into the technicalities of the maintainability of the suit, this Court granted the relief. In Pabbojan Tea Co. Ltd. v. Dy. Commissioner, Lakshimpur, , the questions were whether the
workmen were ordinary unskilled labour or skilled labour; whether the jurisdiction of the authorities under section 20 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 was exclusive and whether the jurisdiction of the civil court was barred. This Court held that the authorities did not hold any inquiry nor received any evidence for determining that issue. No proper hearing was given to the parties to tender evidence. Section 20 is not a complete code as there was no provision for appeal or revision against the orders passed under section 20(3). There was no further scrutiny by any higher authority against the imposition of penalty. The Act in terms does not bar the employers from instituting a suit. In those circumstances, it was held that the legislature did not intend to exclude the jurisdiction of the civil court. The ratio in K. Chintamani Dora v. G. Annamnaidu, , also does not assist Gram Panchayat
for the reason that the decree therein originally granted became final. Subsequently, it was sought to be reopened in a later suit. Under those circumstances the civil suit was held to be maintainable notwithstanding the provisions contained under the Estate Abolition Act."
18. This decision is referred to and followed in S. Vanathan Muthuraja's case, . No doubt, this decision arose
under Act 30 of 1963. The Bench held following the decision in Vatticherukuru Village Panchayat v. Nori Venkatarama Deekshithulu, 1991 Supp. (2) SCC 228 as follows:
"As the grant of patta to the institution became final and title to the property was vested in the institution, none of the parties has any right, title and interest in the property. Therefore, the suit of the appellant in the appeal without impleading the institution was not maintainable."
According to the Supreme Court the Act concerned extinguished the pre-existing right created new rights and required tribunals to enquire into the rival claims and a form of appeal had been provided against the order of the primary authority and thereby the right and the remedy made conclusive under the Act were given finality by the orders passed under the Act, and therefore by necessary implication, the jurisdiction of the civil court stood excluded.
19. The question now is which of the views is to be followed in the present case.
20. Since my dictating the above the Full Bench constituted for the purpose of resolving the conflict rendered its judgment today (30.4.1998). I have had the benefit of going through the Full Bench decision. The Full Bench has referred to an unreported judgment of a three Judges Bench of the Supreme Court in civil appeal No. 5141 of 1993 Sri-la-Sri Sivaprakasa Pandara Sannadhi Avargal v. Smt.T. Parvathi & Ors. wherein the Supreme Court not only approved its earlier decision reported in R. Manicka Naicker v. E. Elumalai Naicker and others, and set the seal of approval to the principles laid down therein, but also categorically held in unmistakable terms that its decision in Vatticherukuru Village Panchayat v. Nori Venkatarama Deekshithulu and others, 1991 Supp.(2) SCC 228 had no application to the provisions or in respect of claims arising under the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963. The Full Bench has held that the Civil Court's jurisdiction to adjudicate the title of the parties is not barred by virtue of the provisions of the said Act. I respectfully follow the Full Bench and I hold that the substantial question of law raised in the present second appeal will have to be answered in favour of the appellant and the nature of the dispute being one relating to adverse possession, the case has to be decided by the courts below.
21. I allow the second appeal and remand the matter to the file of the trial court for deciding the dispute between the parties. There will, however, be no order as to costs.