(1.)These seven appeals by certificate under Article 133(1)(a) of the Constitution of India are from the common judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court dated 20-11-1970 in several appeals and writ petitions. The a pellants are the tenants and respondents are the landholders or their legal representatives, as the case may be, in respect of the tenanted agricultural lands of the hitherto inam estates of Kukunuru and Veerabhadrapuram villages in the West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. After coming into force of the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Con-. version into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 (A. P. Act, 26 of 1948), hereinafter referred to as 'the Estates Abolition Act', the inam estates were abolished and the land stood vested in the Government free of all encumbrances. The pre-existing right, title and interest of erstwhile landholders ceased except to claim ryotwari patta. The tenants were not liable to be evicted pending the proceedings for issuance of ryotwari patta. The respondents landholders, hereinafter referred to as 'the land holders', claimed that the lands in question were either under their personal cultivation or they intended to resume those for private cultivation and as such those were their private lands and they were entitled to ryotwari pattas. The appellants-tenants on the contrary claimed that those were not private lands of the landholders as those were ,neither under their personal cultivation nor they intended to resume those for personal cultivation, but those were in possession of the tenants who were entitled to ryotwari pattas after the abolition of the estates.
(2.)The Settlement Officer of Anakapalle, after making inquiry under S. 15 of the Estates Abolition Act held in all the cases in these appeals, except one (out of which W.P. No. 595/1968 arose) that the landholders failed to establish that they were personally cultivating the lands or they intended to resume the lands for personal cultivation and as such rejected their claims, except in the aforesaid case. The landholders' appeals therefrom to the Estates Abolition Tribunal were allowed relying on, and applying the tests formulated in Periannan v. Amman Kovil, AIR 1952 SC Mad 323 (FB), and holding. that in all cases the landholders were entitled to the grant of ryotwari pattas as the lands were private lands within the meaning of S. 3(10)(b)(i) of the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Estates Land Act, 1908 (A.P. Act 1 of 1908), hereinafter referred to as 'the Estates Land Act', and that the tenants were not entitled to ryotwari pattas in respect of the same. The appellants-tenants moved writ petitions before the High Court of Andhra Pradesh impugning the decision of the Estates Abolition Tribunal. C. Chinnappa Reddy, J. as he then was, sitting singly, after discussing the case law on the question, by a common Judgment in nine writ petitions, observing ,that it was common ground' before the Subordinate Tribunal as well as before him ,that the nature of the lands at the inception, whether ryoti or private, was not known and that the burden of establishing that the lands were private lands was on the landholders; and that it was also common ground before him that apart from the fact that there were occasional changes of tenants, and that the .lands were sometimes leased under short-term leases, there were no other circumstances indicating that the landholders intended to resume cultivation of the lands, held that after the pronouncement of the Court in Chidambaram Chettiar v. Santhanaramaswamy Odayar, (1958) 2 SC 754 : (AIR 1968 SC 1005), the decision of the Full Bench of the Madras High Court in Periannan v. Amman Kovil (AIR 1952 Mad 323) (supra) could no longer be considered good law and that the decision in Jagdeesam Pillai v. Kuppammal, ILR (1946) Mad 687 : (AIR 1946 Mad 214) and in Parish Priest of Karayar v. Thia garaja Swami Devasthanam, App. Nos. 175-178 and 493 of 1946 once more held the field. It was also observed that since in all the cases before him the only mode of proof attempted by the landholders was the grant of short-term leases and change of tenants and rent, it must be held that the lands were not established to be private lands and that no attempt was made to prove personal cultivation or any intention to resume personal cultivation. As the Estates Abolition Tribunal applied the tests laid down by the Madras Full Bench in Periannan's case (supra) and since Periannan's case was no longer good law, the writ petitions had to be allowed and the impugned orders of the Tribunal quashed in eight writ petitions. In Writ Petition No. 695 of 1968 the orders of the Assistant Settlement Officer was quashed.
(3.)The landholders preferred writ appeals therefrom. Two writ petitions, namely, Writ Petition No. 4947 of 1968 and Writ Petition No. 3 1 0 of 1968 were also taken up for hearing analogously. The Division Bench observing that the main question for consideration in the appeals was whether the decision of the Full Bench in Periannan's case (AIR 1952 Mad 323) was good law and it turned on the effect of some important precedents and a review of the principles enunciated by them, and after discussing the case law took the view that in the first place the observations of this Court in Chidambaram's case (AIR 1968 SC 1005) were in accord with the rule in Periannan's case and secondly, even if some of the dicta in the Judgment of this Court in Chidambaram suggested a contrary principle, the effect of the entire observations did not support the contention that Periannan's case, had been impliedly overruled by this Court. The writ appeals were accordingly allowed except Writ Appeal No. 616 of 1969 which was dismissed. Writ Petition No. 4947 of 1968 was allowed and Writ Petition No.310 of 1968 was dismissed taking the same view, 'Hence these appeals by certificate.