Decided on January 21,1963

R.PENTAMMA Appellant


- (1.) The record of this case reveals a bundle of illegalities apparent on its face. The procedure Adopted by the Tribunals below is contrary to the provisions of the Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act 1948 (which will be referred to as the Act) and the Rules framed thereunder. I have therefore no alternative but to quash the entire proceedings before the Tribunals below and leave the parties to take such steps as they deem fit for obtaining ryotwari pattas under section 11 (a) of the Act, in accordance with the prescribed procedure. It may be mentioned straightaway that the Government, who are not interested in who gets a ryotwari patta, have taken the stand that the procedure followed by the Assistant Settlement Officer and the Estates Abolition Tribunal is highly irregular, and the proceedings should therefore be set aside and a de novo enquiry may be ordered.
(2.) The relevant facts are briefly as follows :- In S.R.No.155/1585 of 1958 the Assistant Settlement Officer, Kakinada, on a report by the field staff, started a suo motu enquiry under section 15 (1) of the Act in respect of the schedule land, which is a darmila mam not burdened with service, of an extent of Acs. 4-00, situated in the village of Kolimeru, after complying with the procedure prescribed by the Rules with regard to the publication of notices. Section 15 (1) deals with the claim of a landholder for a ryotwari patta and provides : "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".
(3.) At the said enquiry, three persons by names Perayya, Ramakrishna Rao and Venkataramana, figured as petitioners apparently because they were considered to be landholders. The two writ-petitioners (Pentamma and her son Venkataswamy) as well as the first respondent in this Writ Petition (Lakshmanna) figured as respondents, objecting to the grant of ryotwari patta to the landholders on the ground that they the writ petitioners on the one side and the first respondent on the other had acquired occupancy rights in the land. Before the Assistant Settlement Officer, Perayya gave up his claim and the enquiry continued with regard to the claim of Ramakrishna Rao and Venkataramana. Oral and documentary evidence was adduced by the claimants as well as by the objectors and on an appreciation of the entire evidence, the Assistant Settlement Officer negatived the claim of the landholders and summed up his conclusion thus : "The schedule land is a darmila inam land not burdened with service lying in the estate village of Kolimeru. The inamdars are admittedly thejomurthula people through whom R-3's wife finally inherited the land which passed on to P-2 and P-3, who are no other than the sons of R-3. It is admitted by P-3 that the land was never cultivated by them and that it was being cultivated by R-3 all along on lease. So, though they are the landholders, they never cultivated the land personally with their own servants or hired labour continuously from 1st July, 1939. So, they have no claim for the grant of a ryotwari patta under section 12 (b) (iii) of the Abolition Act. I therefore disallow their claims under section 15 (1) of the Act.";

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