Decided on March 18,1960

KAJOR Appellant
PRATAP Respondents

Referred Judgements :-



- (1.)THIS is a regular civil second appeal by the plaintiff Kajor against the judgment of the learned District Judge, Bhilwara dated the 12th August, 1958, in a suit for possession relating to certain agricultural land.
(2.)THE land in dispute is described in the plaint as Khasra No. 1746 measuring four bighas and six biswas situate in village Rehad, Tehsil Shahpura. THE plaintiff's case was that he had been in peaceful possession of the suit land and that he was dispossessed thereof by the defendant on Baisakh Sudi 15, Svt. 2008 corresponding to the 21st May, 1951. THE present suit was, therefore, filed in the court of the Sub-Divisional Officer, Shahpura on the 3rd December, 1954, when the Rajasthan Revenue Courts Procedure and Jurisdiction) Act, 1951, (No. 1 of 1951) (hereinafter referred to the Act of 1951) was in force.
The defendant resisted the suit, his case being that his mother had during his minority entrusted the land in suit to the plaintiff for cultivation on condition that the latter would return it to the defendant when he came of age. The defendant further contended that he had paid a sum of Rs. 31/- to the plaintiff as price of certain improvements made by the latter and that he had only entered into possession of the suit land with the consent of the plaintiff on the date on which he is alleged to have dispossessed the plaintiff, that date being the 21st May, 1951. It may also be pointed out at this stage that the defendant raised a plea of limitation, and among other issues which chiefly related to the title of the respective parties, an issue on the question of limitation was also settled. As the contest between the parties mainly centered round the question of title, the Sub-Divisional Officer sent the issues relating thereto to the Civil Judge, Shahpura. The latter in due course came to the conclusion that the land did not belong to either of the parties to the suit but as a matter of fact it belonged to one Bakhtawar. There is evidence to show that this Bakhtawar is the maternal-uncle of the plaintiff and Bakhtawar's son Devi was examined at the trial and his testimony is that his father had given the land in suit to the plaintiff for maintenance. The Sub-Divisional Officer after deciding the other issues in favour of the plaintiff, decreed the plaintiff's suit. The defendant then went in appeal to the learned District Judge, Bhilwara, who reversed the decision of the trial court and dismissed the plaintiff's suit. The main findings of the learned District Judge are these. Firstly he found that the plaintiff had failed to establish that he was the owner of the land and, therefore, he had no right to bring the suit under sec. 183 of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act (No. III of 1955 (hereinafter called the Act of 1955 ). The learned District Judge further found that assuming that the plaintiff was a tenant of the land in suit having been put into possession thereof by Bakhtawar, the original owner, he could only proceed against the defendant under sec. 186 of the Act of 1955, and that as that section provided a period of three months' limitation only, the plaintiff's suit was barred by time as it had been brought more than 3-1/2 years after the alleged dispossession. The judgment of the learned District Judge is, with all respect not a little confused, and he further seems to have held that the plaintiff had in fact no remedy even under sec. 186 of the Act, thereby obviously suggesting that the remedy of the plaintiff was to file a suit in the civil courts although he has not said so in so many words, and in arriving at this conclusion he seems to have placed considerable reliance on Orilal vs. Ganeshi{l), The learned Judge, therefore, allowed the appeal and dismissed the plaintiff's suit. Aggrieved by the aforesaid judgment and decree, the plaintiff has come to this Court in second appeal.

Having heard learned counsel for the parties at considerable length, I have come to the conclusion that this appeal must be allowed. The first and the foremost question which falls for consideration on the findings of the learned District Judge is whether the suit was exclusively triable by a revenue court within the meaning of the Act of 1951 which was in force at the time the suit was brought, and further whether there is anything in the Act of 1955 which changes the complexion of the suit. In order to determine the question of Jurisdiction in a matter like this, it is well settled that one must look at the allegations made in the plaint reading them as a whole and it has then to be seen whether the suit falls within sec. 7 of the Act read with the first or the second schedule contained in it. The material portion of sec. 7 is that all suits and applications of the nature specified in the first and second schedules shall be heard and determined by a revenue court. The relevant items of Schedule-I, Group-B, to which learned counsel for the appellant invites my attention are items Nos. 10, 11 and 12, and his submission is that the present suit properly falls within item No. 10. These items read as follows: - S. No. Description of Suit or application Period of limitation 10. For the ejectment of a trespasser, taking possession of land without lawful authority. 12 years. 11. For the ejectment of a trespasser, taking possession of land duly let out to others. 3 years. 12. For recovery of possession by a person who has been wrongly ejected or for compensation or for both. 3 years.

It will be seen that the period of limitation prescribed for a suit under item No, 10 is 12 years whereas that prescribed for a suit under the two other items is three years in each case. According to the case disclosed by the plaintiff in his plaint, he was in peaceful possession of the land in suit which was agricultural, and the defendant had taken unlawful possession of it without any authority to do so The plaintiff's case, therefore, was that the defendant was a rank trespasser. I have no doubt that entirely disregarding for the moment the further controversy with which I propose to deal in some detail presently, such a suit properly falls within one of the three items mentioned above. It was, therefore, exclusively triable by a revenue court under sec. 7 of the Act of 1951 within the meaning of one or other of these items. Sub-sec. (2) of sec. 7 provides that where a suit is of a nature specified in the first or second schedule of that Act, it must be heard and determined by a revenue court, and no court other than a revenue court shall take cognizance of such a suit or application. The explanation to the section makes the matter clearer still when it lays down that if the cause of action is one in respect of which relief might be granted by the revenue court, it is immaterial that ,the relief asked for from the civil court is greater than, or additional to, or is not identical with that which the revenue court could have granted. I, therefore, hold that the present suit was exclusively triable by a revenue court by virtue of the provisions of the Act of 1951, broadly referred to above.

The question which next assumes importance and which has been debated with considerable force at the bar of this court is which of these three items is properly applicable to the present suit. Learned counsel for the respondent strenuously urged that the proper item applicable was item No. 12 whereunder a period of three years' limitation only is provided while learned counsel for the appellant contended with equal force that his suit fell within the four walls of item No. 10 for which a larger period namely of 12 years' limitation is provided.

It may be stated at once that so far as item No. 11 is concerned, it is not attracted in the present case because it is no body's case that this was a. suit for ejectment with respect to land which had been let out to the plaintiff. The real controversy, therefore, is as to which of the two items,' namely, 10 or 12 correctly applies in the present case. Learned counsel for the parties have referred me to a number of decisions relative to these items; but I consider it unnecessary to discuss all of them at length because in some of these cases the point was of no materiality to the question of jurisdiction arising in them as to whether item No; 10 or item No. 12 applied, as it was sufficient to dispose of the question of jurisdiction to hold that the suit fell within one or the other of the two items, and, therefore, it was exclusively triable by a revenue court. See Chandan Mal vs. Dawar (2 ).

Then there is another type of case in which it could not possibly be said that the suit was against a trespasser because on the plaintiff's own admission, the defendant was a superior proprietor, and, therefore, in such a case item No. 10 could not possibly apply. See, for example, Bhura Lal vs. Thikana Badi Sadri (3):-

In the last-mentioned case, reference was made, to Nawalji vs. Jagji (4), and the question in that case arising for decision was whether the suit was triable by a civil court under sec. 9 of the Specific Relief Act or by the revenue court under item No. 12 of Group 3 of Schedule I of the Act of 1951. It was held by Wanchoo, C. J. as he then was that : | Item No. 12 contemplated a suit by a person who had his title as a tenant and had been ejected otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the revenue law. On the facts it was found that the plaintiff was claiming some sort of title as tenant and was not merely basing his case on earlier possession followed by dispossession, and, therefore, it was held that the suit fell under item No. 12 of the First Schedule and was exclusively triable by a revenue court. This was later explained in the Bench decision of Bhura Lal vs. Thikana Badi Sadri (3), to which Wanchoo, C. J. and I were both parties, that the ruling in Nawalji's case (4) should be limited to that particular case and that it was not intended to lay down a general rule of universal application that a suit under serial No. 12 should be by a tenant exclusively and not by a person claiming any other title, and it was held that "a suit will nevertheless fall under this item if the plaintiff is not a tenant but claims some other kind of title as that of an under-proprietor, provided his case is that he has been wrongfully ejected from his agricultural land. "

(3.)THE two cases which appear to deal with the distinction between items Nos. 10 and 12 are Pancha vs. Chatra (5) and Mina vs. Board of Revenue, Rajastban (6 ). But, it is contended on the side of the respondent, that they do not afford any clear or definite guidance and with all respect this submission does not seem to be entirely without force. I would, therefore, prefer to interpret the various items having regard to their plain language putting the natural meaning on the words used therein. And when I do so, I cannot help saying that the language, of these items is not at all precise and happy and they would be found to be overlapping each other in some cases. So fat as item No. 12 is concerned, it inter alia provides for a suit for compensation and such a suit would be outside the ambit of the other two items. In other words, a suit for compensation must be filed within a period of three years from the date of cause of action, and if it is not so filed; it would be barred by limitation. A suit under this item may be filed even against an erring landlord. Similarly item No. 11 would appear to specifically provide for a suit for ejectment wherein land has been duly let out to others. But apart from these limitations, all the three items likewise seem to me to cover a suit against a trespasser, although items Nos. 10 and 11 specifically mention the word "trespasser" while item No. 12 does not do so; but that, in my opinion, hardly makes any difference. Again, item No 12 mentions the person by whom the suit is to be brought, while the other two items do not make any reference to the person who may bring a suit thereunder. In this connection it was vehemently submitted by learned counsel for the respondent that item No. 10 is intended to cover a suit by a landlord while item No. 12 refers to a suit by a tenant. To my mind, such a distinction cannot be maintained in view of the current of authority in this Court. See Bhura Lal vs. Thikana Badi Sadri (3) in which it was definitely laid down that it would be open to an under proprietor to bring a suit against a superior proprietor under item No. 12 and the earlier case of Nawalji vs. Jagji (4) was distinguished and held to be confined to the facts of that particular case, and it was further made clear that the decision in that case was not intended to lay down any general rule that item 12 was limited in its application to a suit by a tenant only. Again, there is nothing in the wording of item No. 10 by which the operation of this item may be necessarily limited to a suit by a landlord and by no other person. A suit by a landlord or a person deriving title or possession from him or by a tenant may, broadly relying on the language of items Nos. 10 and 12 ( provided that it may not specifically fall under item No. 11 ) fall equally within the four walls of either item No. 10 or item No. 12 and in so far as they do so, they would be found to overlap each other. "the difficulty in properly interpreting these items is not a little due to the circumstance that the substantive provisions with reference to which these items have been enacted were not incorporated in the Act of 1951. This difficulty is further accentuated because while the period of limitation fixed for suits under item No. 10 is 12 years, a far lessor period being three years has been provided under the other two items and we would not have been faced with any such difficulty if a uniform period of limitation had been prescribed under all these items. Be that as it may, I have no hesitation in saying that a suit by a person in peaceful possession of an agricultural land for ejectment of a trespasser who has dispossessed the former may fall not only under item 12 (or even under item No. 11 in a conceivable case) but may also fall under item No. 10, and where such over-lapping of the items should occur. I am definitely inclined to hold the view that the larger period of limitation should be held to apply on the principle that where there is any reasonable doubt as to whether a longer or shorter period of limitation applies to a given suit, the court should favour the interpretation which would advance the remedy rather than the one which would hamper it. Reference may be made in support of this view to a Full Bench decision of this Court in Jeth Mal vs. Amb Singh (7), where the principle is accepted that where the language of a law relating to limitation is not precise and is of doubtful import, such law may be construed equitably or reasonably, that is, such construction thereof may be adopted which favours the right to sue rather than which bars that right.
Viewed in this light, it clearly seems to me that the present suit is with respect to an agricultural land and also is for the ejectment of a trespasser who is alleged on the allegations made in the plaint to have taken possession of such land without lawful autho-rity. Again, this was not a suit for compensation at all, and it cannot also be said that it was a suit in connection with land which had been duly let out to any body. In these circumstances, it seems to me impossible to exclude the application of item No. 10 to a suit of the present description and on the whole, therefore, I come to the conclusion that this was a suit to which item No. 10 clearly applied on the language thereof. It must follow as a corollary from what I have stated above that this suit was within limitation at the time it was brought having regard to the provisions of the Act of 1951, which was in force at the time of the institution of the suit.

The next question is whether the conclusion to which I ,have come above is in any way affected by the provision of the Act of 1955 which came into force on the 15th October, 1955, and when the present suit was pending. The substantive law governing the matter appears to me to have been contained in sec. 183 of this Act. This section reads as follows - "ejectment" of trespassers - (1) A trespasser shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any provision of this Act, be liable - (a) if he has taken or retained possesion of any land without lawful authority, to ejectment on the issue of a notice by the Tehsildar in case of land held directly from the State Government and in other cases on the suit of the person or persons entitled to admit him as tenant and also to pay as penalty for each agricultural year during the whole or any part whereof he has been in such possession a sum which may extend to six times the annual rent, and (b) if he has prevented any other person from occupying land duly, let out to such person, to ejectment on the suit of such person and also to pay damages which may extend to six times the annual rent. (2) In either case such trespasser shall, upon payment of the penalty or damages, as the case may be, have the right of tending, gathering and removing any ungathered crops. " The word "trespasser" according to the amended definition given in clause (44) of sec. 5 or the Act means a person who takes or retains possession of land without authority or who prevents another person from occupying land duly let out to him. The expression "tenant" according to the definition given in clause (43) of sec. 5 includes a "sub-tenant". The effect of sec. 183, in so far as it is material for our purposes, is that a suit for ejectment against a trespasser with respect to agricultural land (and such a person is one who has taken or retained possession of any such land without lawful authority) can be brought by a person who would be entitled to admit him as a tenant which term also 'includes a sub-tenant. It may also be added that limitation for such a suit is provided under item No. 23 of the third Schedule of the Act of 1955 as 12 years commencing from the point of time when the cause of action arises. I pause here to point out that this does away with the confusion, and quite properly; arising out of the imperfect wording of items Nos. 10, 11 and 12 of the Act of 1951 to which I have made reference above, and provides a uniform period of 12 years for a suit for ejectment or for recovery of possession beginning from the date of trespass, if I might say so.

Yet another thing which may conveniently be pointed out at this place is this. The learned Judge of |the lower appellate court placed his reliance on Orilal vs. Ganeshi (1) when he seems to suggest, although he does not say that in clear words, that a suit of the present character against a rank trespasser was a suit of a civil nature. So far as that aspect of the matter is concerned, it is sufficient to point out that at the best that view is based on sec. 180 of the U. P. Tenancy Act (No. XVII) of 1939, the language of which in no way resembles that of sec. 183 of the Act with which we are concerned. It is indeed well established that it would be quite unsafe to interpret the language of one Act with reference to decisions given under another Act when the two Acts are not in pari materia and their scheme and language are not identical, and, further, that the golden rule of interpretation is (barring rare or exceptional cases and that is not the case here) to put the interpretation on the provisions of the Act coming up for interpretation such that its language naturally bears. Any interpretation of sec. 183 of our Act, therefore, based on considerations which arise out of the particular provisions of sec. 180 of the U. P. Act should be utterly misplaced and perfectly contrary to well accepted canons of interpretation of statutes. In this view of the matter and having proper regard to the provisions of sec. 183 of our own Act, I think that the law laid down in Orilal vs. Ganeshi (1) cannot furnish any correct guidance for a proper interpretation of sec. 183 of our own Act, and this section must receive the interpretation which it naturally bears, and if the section is so interpreted it clearly leads to the conclusion that a suit of the present description would also fall within the four walls of sec. 183 and further there is nothing in the said Act, therefore, which affects the conclusion at which I have arrived in the foregoing part of this judgment.


Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.