Decided on September 23,1963



- (1.) This is a plaintiffs' appeal against the Decree dated 8th November, 1958, of the lower appellate Court, reversing the decree dated 27th February, 1956 of the trial Court and dismissing the suit with costs. The substantial question that arises for determination is whether the suit is barred either by section 65 of Madras Act XXVI of 1948 or by section 58 of Madras Act II of 1864.
(2.) The first plaintiff and his sons, who are plaintiffs 2 and 3, are the owners of the plaint schedule lands which are about Ac. 35-00 in extent and are situate in the unsurveyed village of Kesapuram in Tekkali taluk. It appears that the entire extent except a small portion was waste land, when the first plaintiff's father purchased it in or about 1898. The first plaintiff's father and the first plaintiff reclaimed and improved the lands, and an extent of about Ac. 5-00 is now rain-fed wet while the remaining extent of about Ac. 30-00 continues to be dry land. The plaintiffs were paying Rs. 5 per year as Kattubadi to the Zamindar of Tarla and a small amount as quit rent. The village of Kesapuram was notified as an inam estate under Madras Act XXVI of 1948, now called the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 and hereinafter mentioned as the Act. On 1st October, 1951 it was taken over by the Government. On 30th October, 1954, upon the first plaintiff's application, the Additional Assistant Settlement Officer, Vizianagaram, ordered the issue of a ryotwari patta to him in respect of the suit lands under section 13 (b) (iii) of the Act. The plaintiffs alleged that the village of Kesapuram is not an inam estate and that they would take separate steps to establish this plea. Their main case is that, the suit lands are their private lands and that they are liable to pay only the Kattubadi amount as land revenue until a ryotwari settlement is effected under section 22 or the land revenue is determined under section 23 (b) of the Act. They are aggrieved because in 1954 the officers of the defendant, which is the State of Andhra represented by the District Collector of Srikakulam district, imposed land revenue of Rs. 274-1-0 for faslis 1361, 1362 and 1363 and attached their crops. It is pointed out by them that the levy is in excess of the prevailing rate of about Rs. 2-11-0 per acre for dry lands in the locality. On these allegations, they instituted the suit for a declaration that the levy of assessment of land revenue for the plaint schedule lands is illegal and contrary to the provisiont of Madras Act XXVI of 1948 and as such unenforceable, and for an injunction restraining the defendant from collecting the land revenue in accordance with that levy. The defence was that the land revenue was calculated under section 23 of the Act and the Rules issued thereunder on the basis of the classification of the lands as ' wet' in the Inam ' B ' Register. It was also contended by the defendant that the suit is not maintainable by reason of section 65 (1) of the Act.
(3.) The learned District Munsif, who tried the suit, found on a consideration of the evidence, that the suit lands were dry lands and were not liable to be assessed as wet lands. He also found that as the lands are admittedly private lands, the land revenue had to be determined under section 23 (b) of the Act. As the defendant did not adduce any evidence to show that necessary orders were made by the Board of Revenue, to whom the Government had delegated their powers under section 23 (b), the learned District Munsif held that the levy of wet assessment by the Estate Manager was illegal and arbitrary, and that the defendant was only entitled to collect the Kattubadi amount. He overruled the objection that the suit is not maintainable and decreed the declaration and injunction prayed for by the plaintiffs. The defendant appealed to the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Srikakulam. The learned Subordinate Judge held that as the plaintiffs were, by Exhibit A-1, granted a patta under section 13 (b) (iii) of the Act, there was a decision that the suit lands are not private lands and this decision became conclusive under section 15 of the Act in the absence of an appeal by the plaintiffs to the Tribunal under section 15 (2). He also held that although the suit lands were in fact dry lands, the defendant cannot be blamed for adopting their classification as wet lands which is found in the Inam ' B ' Register and the Land Register (Exhibits B-1 and B-2). In this view, he accepted the defendant's contention that the assessment was fixed under section 23 (a) (iii) of the Act and held that the assessment was neither arbitrary, nor capricious nor illegal. He also found that the suit was barred under section 65 of the Act and by section 58 of the Madras Revenue Recovery Act (II of 1864). He accordingly ordered that the suit be dismissed.;

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