(1.) HOOJA Member This is an appeal against the order of the Jagir Commissioner, Jaipur dated 24. 2. 64. The brief facts of the case are that a sum of Rs. 67,455/12 was deducted from the compensation of the appellant Shri Chandra Kant Rao who is the ex-jagirdar. of erstwhile jagir of Sarol District Jhalawar by the Jagir Commissioner in compliance of Form No. 10 as envisaged in Rule 37-C (4) of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagir Rules, 1954. The jagirdar protested against the deduction of the full amount from his compensation claim on 28. 3. 60 in view of the 'rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956. On this petition, the Jagir Commissioner ordered on 30. 8. 60 that in view of the provision of Rule 87 (c) (4) it was not within his competence to amend the certificate in form No. 10. The Jagirdar, therefore, approached the Finance Department, but no relief was granted by them. Thereupon the Jagirdar filed a writ petition before the Hon'ble High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution of India. The High Court accepted the writ petition and set aside the order of the Jagir Commissioner and directed him to entertain the representation of the petitioner and to determine what amount was recoverable from the petitioner under sec. 22 (l) (e) of the Act and how it should be adjusted vide their order dated 5. 9. 62 reported as RLW 1963 page 111. Accordingly, the Jagir Commissioner proceeded to examine the case in compliance of the above order of the High Court but came to the conclusion that the Rajasthan Jagirdars Debt Reduction Act, 1956 empowers only a Court to reduce the amount due in accordance with the formula given in Schedule I of that Act and that reduction can be effected only through a decree as defined in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, vide bis order dated 24. 2. 64. He further observed that the benefit envisaged in the Act relates only to private suits and is not applicable to public debts. Keeping in view the limited scope of the judicial work entrusted to the Jagir Commissioner under the provisions of the Jagir Act, he rejected the petition of the Jagirdar appellant.
(2.) HAVING felt aggrieved by the order of the Jagir Commissioner, Jaipur dated 24. 2. 64, the jagirdar has come up in appeal before the Board of Revenue. The learned counsel for the appellant has argued that the Jagir Commissioner should have acted in accordance with the direction of the High Court dated 5. 9. 62. He has urged that the Jagir Commissioner had erred in holding that he is not a 'court'. He has further argued that under sec. 46 of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act the jurisdiction of Civil Courts in respect of any matter which is required to be settled, decided or dealt with by any officer or authority under this Act has been barred. Hence, the Civil Courts cannot decide the issue involved in this case and the Jagir Commissioner in refusing to act on the ground that he is not a 'court' has barred a remedy which was open to him to enforce his right despite the clear orders of the High Court referred to above.
On the other hand, the learned Government Advocate has argued that sec. 2 (e) of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956 has been declared ultra vires by the Supreme Court vide their order dated 26. 2. 64 in the case of State of Rajasthan vs. Mukan Chand (AIR 1964 S. C. , p. 1633 ). As such, public debts have been brought on par with private debts. However, in the case of Th. Bhanu Pratap Singh vs. The State of Rajasthan (1964 RLW, p. 83) the Rajasthan High Court has held that the Code of Civil Procedure and the Evidence Act do not apply to the proceedings before the Jagir Commissioner. This matter, having again come up for decision before the High Court in the case of Raja Narain Singh vs. State of Rajasthan (RLW 1965 p. 143) it was observed that a claim which is made by a Jagirdar for compensation is not in the nature of a suit and it would not be proper to say that by producing his account books, he wants to fasten any liability on the State. It is quid pro quo for the property of which he is deprived by the State in accordance with the Act. The records of the Jagirdar, which were thus taken over from his possession under the law, could not be thrown out with the mere observation that by themselves they could not be deemed sufficient to charge the State with any liability, unless each item was corroborated by independent evidence. In this view of the matter, the inference, therefore, would be that Jagir Commissioner was not a court but a quasi-judicial Tribunal. He, however, added that the State had filed an appeal before the Supreme Court in this connection and the matter had not yet been laid to rest. In our opinion, there is substance in the arguments of the learned counsel for appellant. The directive of the High Court is clear and unambiguous. The Jagir Commissioner cannot travel beyond its scope. The observations made by the High Court, in the cases referred to by the learned Government Advocate, about the applicability of the Code of Civil Procedure to the matters under determination by the Jagir Commissioner, seek to certify the procedural law, but they do not restrict jurisdiction of the Jagir Commissioner in respect of matters lying within the scope of his enquiry. At any rate, so far as the present appeal is concerned, as stated above the directive of the High Court is without any ambiguity and must be carried out. In not doing so we, hold, the Jagir Commissioner has manifestly fallen into an error. We therefore accept the appeal and direct the Jagir Commissioner to examine the claim of the appellant in the light of the observations made above and in accordance with the directions of the High Court.
Balwantsingh, Member - J regret that I do not agree with the view taken by my learned brother. My observations are as below : Jagirdars Debt Reduction Act came into force on 26th February, 1957 and the Supreme Court vide AIR S. C. page 1633 has held that there is no distinction between the private debts and the State debts. The procedure how the debts will be scaled down is clearly laid down in the Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act by the decree of the civil court. The Rajasthan High Court in its decision reported in RLW 1964 page 83 have clearly held that the Jagir Commissioner is not a court and C. P. C. and Evidence Act is not applicable. Under these circumstances the Jagir Commissioner would not be a competent court for the purpose of deciding cases of the Debt Reduction Act. The High Court has given an order in this particular case that the Jagir Commissioner should decide those cases but perhaps the earlier cases of the Rajasthan High Court were not brought to the notice of their Lordships. As it involves a substantial point of law, the matter may be referred to the Chairman for putting it up before the larger bench.
On reference, S. L. Kakar, Member - This case has been put up before me as a result of difference of opinion between two Members of the Bench vide their decision dated 30. 4. 1965.
The facts, in brief, are that Shri Chandra Kant Rao was awarded compensation in respect of his resumed jagir in District Kota on 1. 8. 1954 under Sec. 32 of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagir Act, 1952. A certificate under Sec. 10 for the recovery of Rs. 67,495/2/- was issued by the Finance Department for the recovery of this amount from the compensation payable to him. No objection was raised by Shri Chandra Kant Rao to this certificate, but after coming into force of the Rajasthan Jagirdar's Debt Reduction Act, 1956 (Act No. 9 of 1957), he filed an application to the Jagir Commissioner claiming the benefit of Sec. 8, read with Schedule III of that Act. The Jagir Commissioner rejected his prayer on the ground that under Rule 3/c (4) of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Rules, 1954, the certificate issued was final and he had no jurisdiction to go into the claim of the appellant. Against this order, the appellant went for the issue of a Writ of Mandamus to the Jagir Commissioner or, in the alternative, to the Government, to hear his representation and to decide it on merits before recovering the arrears of the State loans under Sec. 22 (i) (e) of the Jagir Act. He also prayed that the order of the Jagir Commissioner for deduction of Rs. 67,495/2/- from the compensation payable to him without first determining his claim for the reduction of his debt under S. 8 of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956, be set aside.
The High Court in their judgment Chandra Kant Rao versus State of Rajasthan (R. L. W. 1963 page 111) held that it was the duty of the Jagir Commissioner to hear and determine the objections of the petitioner in order to determine the exact amount recoverable from him under the law. As pointed out earlier, the petitioner could not have raised any objection with reference to the provisions of Act No. 9 of 1957 when the notice was first served upon him under Rule 37g (1) because that Act had not come into force by then and there is nothing wrong if he made a representation before the Jagir Commissioner in that respect at later date. The petitioner cannot be deprived of a benefit under Act No 9 of 1957 merely because the said Act came into force later. This Act does not contemplate any such discrimination among Jagirdars.
It may be noted here that the Rajasthan High Court in Mukan Chand vs. Rao Raja Inder Singh (I. L. R Rajasthan IX page 547) had already held that the exemptions contained in the definition of 'debt' in Sec. 2 (e) are discriminatory and are hit by Article 14 of the Constitution. These are, however, severable from the remaining provisions of the Act. The following portion out of the definition of 'debt' was accordingly held to be void: - "or a debt due to: (i) The Central Government or Government of any State, (ii) a local authority; (iii) a scheduled bank; (iv) a co-operative society; and (v) a waqf, trust endowment for a charitable of religious purpose only, or (vi) a person, where the debt was advanced on his behalf by the Court of Wards. " This judgment of the Rajasthan High Court was upheld on appeal in Supreme Court in State of Rajasthan versus Mukand Chand and others (A. I. R. 1964 Supreme Court 1683), wherein their Lordships observed "that the fact that the debts are owed to a government or local authority or other bodies mentioned in the impugned part of S. 2 (e) has no rational relationship with the object sought to be achieved by the Act. Further, no intelligible principle underlies the exempted categories of debts. The reason why a debt advanced on behalf of a person by the Court of Wards is clubbed with a debt due to a State or scheduled bank and why a debt due to a non-scheduled bank is not excluded from the purview of the Act is not discernible. " These authorities, therefore, place the private and the public debts at par under the definition of 'debt' contained in Sec. 2 (e) of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956. The learned counsel for the appellant while arguing before the High Court in Chandra Kant Rao versus State of Rajasthan had urged that even though Sec. 8 of Act No. 9 of 1957 has been so worded as to make it expressly applicable to court decrees, it should be interpreted liberally so as to allow the benefit to persons against whom proceedings for recovery of State dues have been taken under Rule 37-C of the Rules. He also argued that the meaning of the terms "count" and "decrees" in Sec. 8 should be so construed as to place the proceedings of recovery of State dues otherwise than by recourse to a civil court at per with those taken in execution of a decree of such court; so that full effect may be given to the principle laid down in Mukanchand's case. On these points, their Lordships of the Rajasthan High Court observed as follows: - "how far the decision of this Court in Mukan Chand's case could help the petitioner, and how far he could succeed in claiming the benefit of Sec. 8 of Act, No. 9 of 1957, are points that cannot be considered by us, for they have to be examined by the Jagir Commissioner under Sec. 32 (l) (b) of the Act. "
They, therefore, could go no further than to hold that the petitioner's representation ought to have been considered by the Jagir Commissioner under Sec. 32 (1) (b) of the Act.
An appeal was filed on behalf of the State in the Supreme Court in India, and the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 640 of 1964 upheld the order of the High Court and observed: - "the question whether the debt was one to which the Debt Reduction Act applied, has therefore not been decided. There are no materials on the record from which the nature of the debt due by the respondent whe-ther it was a secured or an unsecured debt may be determined. No materials are placed before us which would enable us to determine the terms of the contract under which the loan was borrowed, nor do we know whether there was in operation any law which rendered debts due by a Jagirdar secured debts. The question whether under the Debt Reduction Act a proceeding before the Jagir Commissioner in respect of a debt, even if it be regarded as an unsecured debt, may be regarded as a proceeding before a Civil Court so as to render the relevant provisions of the Debt Reduction Act applicable thereto was also not investigated by the High Court. All these questions may be tried in due course and according to law when the Jagir Commissioner deals with the respondent's representation as directed by the High Court. "
In the meanwhile the case was sent back to the Jagir Commissioner in pursuance of the directions of the High Court and the Jagir Commissioner held on the authority of Th. Bhanu Pratap Singh, Ex. Jagirdar of Dudu vs. State of Rajasthan (R. L. W. 1964 page 83) that the Jagir Commissioner is not a court within the meaning of Sec. 16 of the Evidence Act. He is a persona designate, and in so far as he has been empowered by the Act to decide claims of compensation payable to a Jagirdar under the Jagir Act, he is required to act in a quasi-judicial manner. That being so their Lordships observed, that neither the Evidence Act nor the Code of Civil Procedure applied to such proceedings before the Jagir Commissioner. Their Lordships in the aforesaid case specially referred to the provisions of Sec. 32 of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act, 1952, which provided for the determination of compensation payable to a jagirdar for the resumption of jagir even in those cases where he may not have filed the statement of claim for such compensation. Procedure like this hardly conforms to the basic requirements of Code of Civil Procedure or the Land Revenue Act in so far as the trial of a civil or revenue suit is concerned. Sec. 32 further provides that the Commissioner shall make such enquiry as he deems necessary before awarding compensation which may suit the requirements of all cases before him. Such enquiry need not be in accordance with the requirements of C. P. C. or Evidence Act. The Rajasthan Jagirdar's Debt Reduction Act, 1956 empowers only a Court to reduce the amount due in accordance with the formula given in Schedule I of that Act. Reduction can be effected only through a decree which has been assigned the meaning to it as defined in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
Against his order, an appeal was filed to the Board of Revenue under Sec. 39 of the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagir Act, 1952. One of the Members of the Division Bench has held that the direction of the High Court was clear and unambiguous. The Jagir Commissioner could not travel beyond its scope. The observations made by the High Court in the cases referred to by the learned Government Advocate, about the applicability of the Code of Civil Procedure to the matters under determination by the Jagir Commissioner, sought to clarify the procedural law, but they did not restrict the jurisdiction of the Jagir Commissioner in respect of matters lying with the scope of his enquiry. At any rate, so far as the present appeal was concerned, as stated above the directive of the High Court was without any ambiguity and must be carried out.
It may be stated here that the High Court, as stated above, had left the question whether the appellant could take benefit of the decision in Mukand Chand's case open for decision of the Jagir Commissioner, and as was observed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No. 640 of 1964, the question whether under the Debt Reduction Act, a proceeding before the Jagir Commissioner in respect of a debt even if it may be regarded as unsecured debt may be regarded as a proceeding before a Civil Court so as to render the relevant provisions of the Debt Reduction Act applicable thereto, was also not investigated by the High Court. These questions were left for the Jagir Commissioner to decide. The Jagir Commissioner had gone into these questions saying that he was not competent to give benefit of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act to the appellant for the reasons stated above. There was, in my opinion, therefore, no question of the Jagir Commissioner not having implemented the direction of the High Court. The other learned Member, Shri Balwant Singh, held that in view of the judgment in Bhanu Pratap Singh, ex-Jagirdar of Dudu vs. State of Rajasthan (RLW 1964 p. 83), the Jagir Commissioner would not be a competent court for the purpose of deciding cases of the Debt Reduction Act. This learned Member also thought that the High Court had given an order that the Jagir Commissioner should decide those cases. This, as I have stated above, was however not a correct position. The rule laid down in Rao Chandra Kant vs. State of Rajasthan (RLW 1963 p. 111) never meant that the Jagir Commissioner was competent to give relief to the appellant under the Rajasthan Jagirdars Debt Reduction Act.
(3.) IN view of this! difference, the case has been forwarded to me for majority opinion. I have heard the counsel for the appellant and the State. The main point for consideration is whether the Jagir Commissioner would be a Court competent to proceed as per provisions of sec. 3 of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, and also whether he could grant relief as per provisions of sec. 8 ibid. Sec. 3 only authorised the Court for proceeding in the manner prescribed therein. That the Jagir Commissioner is not a Court does not admit of any doubt. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Harinagar Sugar Mills vs. Shyam Sunder (A. I. R. 1961 Supreme Court 1669) made the following distinction between 'courts' and 'tribunals' : "all tribunals are not Courts, though all Courts are tribunals. The word "courts" is used to designate those tribunals which are set up in an organised State for the administration of justice. By administration of justice is meant the exercise of judicial power of the State, to maintain and uphold rights and to punish "wrongs". Whenever there is an infringement of a right or an injury the Courts are there to restore the vinculum juris, which is disturbed. " "with the growth of civilisation and the problems of modern life, a large number of administrative tribunals have come into existence. These tribunals have the authority of law to pronounce upon valuable rights; they act in a judicial manner and even on evidence on bath, but they are not part of the ordinary Courts of Civil Judicature. They share the exercise of the judicial power of the State, but they are brought into existence to implement controversies arising out of some administrative law. They are very similar to Courts, but are not Courts. "
It is apparent that the Jagir Commissioner cannot be called a Court as it has not been set up in the exercise of judicial powers of the State. It is a tribunal set up to decide controversies arising under the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act, 1952. He is of course expected to exercise his judicial discretion in a judicial manner, but that is far from saying that he is a Court appointed to administer the judicial functions of the State. Furthermore, the rule laid down in Thakur Bhanupratap Singh, ex-Jagirdar of Dudu vs. The State of Rajasthan (RLW 1964 page 83), the Rajasthan High Court has clearly held that the Jagir Commissioner is not a Court as the enquiry which he is authorised to conduct need not be in accordance with the principles of Indian Evidence Act or of the Code of Civil Procedure. There is, therefore, no doubt that the Jagir Commissioner cannot be said to be a Court as envisaged in Sec. 3 of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956. The main argument urged by the learned counsel for the appellant before me was that since as a result of Mukand's case the Debt Reduction Act has also been made applicable to the amount due to the Government, there must be some authority to give relief under that Act, and the Jagir Commissioner can only be such authority. It was contended that when the statute grants a relief it must provide for a remedy according to the general principles of jurisprudence. It may be stated that the Legislature never intended to give any relief in respect of public and private debt. That this relief was made available simply because they could not discriminate between the public and prove debts and the distinction made in the statute was held ultra vires cannot lead to the conclusion that the statute provided for a relief, or that the intention of the Legislature was to provide for a relief in case of public debt. The principle of jurisprudence that the relief and remedy must exist in a statute therefore is not applicable in the present case.
It was also urged that a Court can have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter which is required to be settled, decided or dealt with by any officer or authority under this (The Rajasthan Land Reforms and Jagir Resumption) Act. The jurisdiction of the revenue or civil court is therefore ousted so as to render the relevant provisions of the Debt Reduction Act applicable to Public Debts. In my opinion, the jurisdiction of a Civil Court or a revenue court is ousted only in matters which are required to be settled, decided or dealt with by the Jagir Commissioner under the Rajasthan Land Reforms and Resumption of Jagirs Act. The plain meaning of the phrase "this Act" cannot be interpreted to cover any other statute which may refer to matters analogous to those given in the Jagir Act. Under the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956, the jurisdiction of the court competent to decide questions arising under the Debt Reduction Act is, in my opinion, not barred. The Jagir Commissioner not being a court certainly cannot take up powers under the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, which are only conferred on the Court.
The learned counsel for the appellant referred to the observations made by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in N. T. Voluswami Thever vs. G. Raja Nainar (AIR 1959 S. C. 422) wherein it is laid down "it is a sound rule of construction that procedural enactments should be construed liberally and in such manner as to render the enforcement of substantive rights effective. "
With all respects due to these observations, it may be stated that the question of assuming jurisdiction is not a matter of procedure. Jurisdiction is a creation of statute and it cannot be interpreted in a way as to take away the power of the Legislature to confer or deny the same on to a court or a tribunal. The aforesaid observations cannot be construed to mean it.
For the reasons given above, I am in agreement with the view of my learned colleague, Shri Balwant Singh, that the Jagir Commissioner is not a Court and therefore he is not competent to proceed under the provisions of sec. 3 or grant relief under sec. 8 of the Rajasthan Jagirdars' Debt Reduction Act, 1956. .