ABRAHAM Vs. VENKADU
LAWS(APH)-1955-8-22
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Decided on August 05,1955

GUMMALLA ABRAHAM Appellant
VERSUS
LANKAPALLI VENKATESWARLU Respondents

JUDGEMENT

Bhimasankaram, J. - (1.)This Second Appeal and the connected Civil Revision Petition were directed to be posted before a Bench by the Learned Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in order to reconsider the decision in Chinna Nagiah v. Pullayya ' and to define the scope of Sec. 13 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act. They have since been transferred to the Andhra High Court under the Andhra State Act.
(2.)The Second Appeal and the Civil Revision Petition arise out of two Original Suits Nos. 287 and 272 of 1947 respectively. They both relate to what is found to be Chamarri service inam land. The two plaintiffs in O. S. No. 287 of 1947, and the father of the sole plaintiff in O. S. No. 272 of 1947 while being holders of the office of Chamarri service in the village of Arthamuru alienated the items covered in both the suits in favour of one Gummalla Abraham who is the defendant in both the suits, under two separate usufructuary mortgage deeds of the same date i. e. 30-10-1927. The plaintiffs in both the suits question the validity of these alienations and seek to recover the property from the defendant on the ground that The alienations are void in law. The defendant disputed inter alia the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain the suits. The first court found that the lands are inalienable and that the bonds are void but returned the plaints for presentation to the proper Court, being of the view that the suits were not maintainable in the civil court. Appeals were taken to the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Rajahmundry and numbered .as C. M. A. Nos. 69 and 71 of 1948 respectively. The only question argued before the learned Subordinate Judge was whether the Civil Court had jurisdiction to entertain these suits, in view of Sections 13 and 21 of the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act (III of 1895). Both the appeals were allowed by the Subordinate Judge who held that the Civil Court had jurisdiction in the matter. S. A. No. 1183 of 1949 is against the decision of the Subordinate Judge in C. M. A. No. 71 of 1948 which arose out of O. S. No. 287 of 1947, while the Civil Revision Petition No. 1040 of 1949 is against the decision in C. M. A. No. 69 of 1948. Because the other suit O. S. No. 272 of 1947 was remanded to the trial court for the determination of certain issues of fact, a Civil Revision Petition lias been filed against the order of remand.
(3.)The question for determination, therefore, in both these casts ;s whither the suits are maintainable in the Civil Court. The exact scope of Sec. 13 Of the Act which confers an exclusive jurisdiction upon the Revenue Court in regard to certain matters and the effect of Sec. 21 which ousts the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in such matters has been the subject of several decisions of the Madras High Court. There are also two decisions of this Court, both rendered by one of us sitting alone reported in Krishna Reddy v. Venkatasubbiah and Macharayya v. Chintana. In the latter of these two decisions, after a review of some of the Madras rulings in point, the legal position was stated thus:
" To summarise Sec. 21 ousts the jurisdiction of civil courts only in regard to matters in respect whereof jurisdiction is conferred under Sec. 13 on the Revenue Court. A suit by a service-holder claiming a right to succeed or in actual possession of the office for recovery of emoluments is cognisable by the Revenue court. The denial of the character of the property by the defendants does not affect its jurisdiction. But the essential requisite is that the plaintiff shall allege and rely upon the fact that the land is an emolument attached to the office and made that a foundation for the relief claimed. But, if his cause of action and his right to possession do not depend upon his title to the emoluments as a service-holder but on a collateral fact, Sec. at is not a bar. If he is dispossessed by a trespasser, if his lessee refused to deliver possession after the expiry of the term, if a person holding a derivative title under him does not give possession after the termination of the derivative title, either on the expiry of the term or otherwise, in all these cases, his cause of action and his right to relief do not depend upon his title as a service-holder to the emoluments but only on his right to possession."
We think that this passage sums up the position correctly. Now applying these principles to the present case, what is the position? The defendant is a person in possession of the properties under deeds executed by the holders of a-village office and those deeds being in respect of inalienable lands are void. As pointed out by Miller, J. in Kesiram Naiasimhulu v. Narasimhulu Patnaidu a plaintiff in such a case can only succeed by showing (1) that he is the office-holder entitled as such to enjoy the emoluments, and (2) that the land for which he sues constitutes the emoluments of his office. Both these are grounds of suit which give him right of action before the collector under Sec. 13 (1). In that view, these suits would be clearly outside the jurisdiction of the civil court by virtue of Sec. 21. The observations of their Lordships of the Madras High Court in Chinna Nagaiah v. Pullayya are in consonance with the view above expressed. That was a case very similar to the present case. There the validity of a sale deed of certain service inam lands executed by the plaintiff in favour of the contesting defendant was questioned and possession was sought. In the plaint, the plaintiffs stated that they owned the land as blacksmith inam and that according to law any sale in respect of service inam land is not valid. The prayers in the plaint were for the cancellation of the sale deed and for recovery of possession. Reilly. J. made the following remarks in his judgment :
" Now of the two prayers in the plaint, which I have mentioned, I do not think there can be any doubt the substantial relief prayed for was the recovery of possession. In such a case, when the plaintiffs describe the land as village service inam land, as Artisan inam in this case, and sue for recovery, Secs. 13 and 21 (Madras Act III of 1895) exclude the jurisdiction of the civil Courts and make the suit one to be tried by a revenue court".
Ananthakrishna Ayyar J., the other Judge, concurred in his colleague's judgment and observed as follows :
" Now on my reading of the plaint, the substantial point of dispute in the present case is whether the suit lands constitute the emoluments of the office of the village blacksmith; and such a question, when it arises in a suit, can only be decided by the revenue court. No doubt a suit filed to recover possession of such lands on the ground that the lands were leased to a tenant and that the term of the lease was over but that the tenant was holding over and seeking to recover possession from him in those circumstances, would be cognizable by a civil court. In such a case the question whether the lands constitute the emoluments of the office would not properly arise."
We express our respectful agreement with the views of the learned Judges in that case. Though that case was not referred to in either of the judgments of this court, there is no conflict between the law as laid down in that case' and that as laid down in the two cases of this court already referred to. In the earlier cases decided by this court also, similar observations were made and it was held that " If it is not necessary for the plaintiff either to ask for recovery of the office or to ask for the recovery of the emoluments attached thereto, he could seek relief in a civil court."
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