BIRANCHI PRADHAN AND ORS. Vs. JAGANNATH PATRA
HIGH COURT OF ORISSA
Biranchi Pradhan And Ors.
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S. Acharya, J. -
(1.) THE unsuccessful Defendants in both the Courts below have preferred this Second Appeal. Admittedly the Plaintiff (Respondent herein) is the owner of the suit land comprising of an area of 2.81 decimals in Mouza Basudia. The Plaintiff 's case in short is that late Maguni Pradhan, the father of Defendant no. 1 and husband of Defendant No. 2, was the Bhag tenant under the Plaintiff in respect of the suit land. The said Maguni Pradhan died in October 1964 and thereafter the Plaintiff took khas possession of the suit land and cultivated the same. After some time Defendants 1 and 2 as well as Defendant No. 3 (brother of late Maguni Pradhan) dispossessed the Plaintiff falsely alleging that they were the tenants in respect of the suit land. The Plaintiff asserts that the Defendants are mere trespassers and they have absolutely no interest in the suit land, and on that assertion the Plaintiff prays for a declaration of his title to and recovery of possession of the suit land by evicting the Defendants therefrom.
According to the Defendants, Mohan Pradhan, the father of late Maguni Pradhan was a settled royat of village Basudika and he was in possession of the suit land as a tenant. After the death of Mohan Pradhan, Maguni Pradhan and Defendant No. 3 possessed the suit lands and paid Rajbhag to the Plaintiff. As the said Mohan Pradhan and Maguni Pradhan were, and these Defendants are, the settled Royats of the village and their tenancy in respect of the suit lands was recognised by the Plaintiff, they never ceased to be tenants after the death of Maguni. On the above basis these Defendants claim that they are in possession of the suit lands as tenants under the Plaintiff and as such they are not trespassers on the suit lands. They also allege that the suit was not maintainable in the Civil Court and was exclusively triable by the O.T.R. Collector as, at the time when the suit was filed, a case under the O.T.R. Act was pending between the parties in respect of the suit lands.
(2.) THE trial Court came to the conclusion that there was no relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties and the Defendants were rank trespassers on the suit land and hence they were liable to be evicted. It also found that no case under the O.T.R. Act in respect of the suit property was pending between the parties to the suit and so the suit was maintainable in the civil Court. On the above findings the Plaintiff 's suit was decreed with costs. The Defendants went upon in appeal against the decree of the trial Court. The Appellate Court finds that the claim of the Defendants that they have occupancy right over the, suit land has not been established; that Defendant No. 3 and/or the other Defendants were not bhag -tenants in respect of the suit lands; that the Defendants have failed to establish that they are tenants in respect of the suit lands and so their possession of the same is unlawful; as the Defendants are mere trespassers on the suit lands the Plaintiff is entitled to evict them therefrom. The Appellate Court has also concurred with the finding of the trial Court that by the time of the disposal of the present suit no case under the O.T.R. Act was pending between the parties in the O.T.R. Court in respect of the suit land and as such the Civil Court has jurisdiction to try the suit. It also finds that no case under the O.L.R. Act between the parties was pending for disposal by the time of the disposal of the present suit and as such the civil Court was competent to decide the disputes between the parties. On the above findings the Defendants appeal was dismissed. The only question which has been agitated by Mr. Mohanty, the learned Counsel for the Appellants, is that the Civil Court has no jurisdiction to entertain this suit in view of the provisions of Sections 3, 15, 16 and 67 or the Orissa Land -Reforms Act, 1960 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). Mr. P.C. Misra, the learned Counsel for the Respondents, refutes the above submission of Mr. Mohanty and contends that there is nothing in the O.L.R. Act which provides for a decision of a matter relating to a dispute regarding the existence of relationship of the landlord and tenant between the parties to the suit. He contends that the disputes especially specified under Section 15 of the Act can fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Revenue Court only when the relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties is either admitted, or established in the civil Court, or prima facie found by the Revenue Court only for deciding the particular dispute between the parties. He further contends that Section 16 only provides for the determination of disputes regarding the identity of tenants in cultivation of the land i.e. disputes between one person and another as to who amongst them was really the tenant and the said section is not meant for the determination of relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties to a case.
(3.) THE beneficial provisions of the Act should be liberally construed and if really the legislature intends that certain disputes for which provisions have been made in the Act should be tried not by the ordinary civil Courts but by the Tribunals specially designated by the Act then those disputes cannot be entertained by the civil Courts. At the same time it must be borne in mind that if the statute purports to exclude the ordinary jurisdiction of the civil Court it must do so either by express terms or by the use of such terms as would necessarily lead to the inference of such exclusion. Magiti Sasmal v. Pandab Bissoi and Ors., 1962 S.C.D. 83. The Privy Council in the case Secretary of State v. Mask and Company : A.I.R. 1940 P.C. 105 has observed -
It is settled law that the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the civil Courts is not to be readily inferred, but that such exclusion must either be explicitly expressed or clearly implied.
Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the above -mentioned Magiti Sasamal 's case nave observed that there can be no doubt that ordinarily a dispute in regard to the relationship between the parties such as that between a landlord and a tenant would be a dispute of a civil nature and would fall within the competence of the civil Court. But if any of the parties contends that the jurisdiction of the civil Court to deal with such a civil dispute has been taken a way by any particular provision of the Act then the Court must enquire whether the said provision expressly takes away the said jurisdiction or whether the material word used in the section lead to such an inference or the scheme of the Act inescapably establishes such an inference. Section 15 of the Act expressly and specifically provides for only certain categories of disputes which are within the jurisdiction of the Revenue Officer. The disputes therein specifically provided must therefore be taken to be excluded from the jurisdiction of the civil Court as per Section 67 of the Act. The claim for recovery of arrears of rent by a landlord and the other 3 categories of disputes between the landlord and his Royat or tenant as expressly provided in the said section clearly are disputes which come within a narrow compass dealing with cases of a specific nature between a landlord and a tenant. In none of the said categories of disputes one can any way contemplate a dispute simpliciter regarding the relationship of landlord and tenant between two parties. The disputes contemplated under the said section can be decided only when the relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties is either not in question or is admitted or is prima facie found by the Revenue Officer competent to decide, and for the purpose of deciding the different categories of disputes specifically provided in that section. In case while deciding any particular matter expressly provided in Section 15 the existence of relationship of landlord and tenant is disputed, the competent Revenue Officer may prima facie decide that question merely as a preliminary or jurisdictional fact, but the finding of the Revenue Officer to that effect would neither be final nor conclusive between the parties and can be challenged in a civil Court by a regular suit. See Yellalaka Apanna v. Bhagirathi Padhi and Ors. : 28 1962 C.L.T. 311 and Keshari Devi v. Bhagabati Patodia and Ors., I.L.R. 1965 Cutt 574 I therefore do not see anything in Section 15 to uphold the above -mentioned contention of Mr. Mohanty.;
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