At, High Court of Andhra Pradesh
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE M. JAGANNADHA RAO
For the Appearing Parties: C. Poorniah, R. Venugopalreddy, Advocates.
M. JAGANNADHA RAO, J.
(1) THIS second appeal is preferred by the plaintiff against the judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge, Kakinada in A. S. No. , 92/76 which in its turn arose out of O. S. No. 488/73 on the file of the District Munsif's Court, Peddapuram.
(2) THE suit was filed by the appellant-Deity represented by the Executive Officer for possession of the plaint schedule land after ejecting the defendants there from and for future profits. The brief facts as stated in the plaint are like this: The schedule land belongs to the Diety as it was granted to it. The Stanacharya was to look after the administration of the temple and utilise the income for the purpose of Deity. He is therefore in the position of a trustee. The Stanacharya and the Archakas have to take shares for the service of the Deity from out of the income and not the whole income. They have to perform their duties. The patta was granted to the Deity by the Deputy Tahsildar, Peddapuram under the A. P. (Andhra Area) Inams Abolition Act, 1956. An appeal preferred by Yekkirala Laxmi Narasamma before the R. D. O. Peddapuram was dismissed. A further writ petition W. P. No. 1484/64 preferred by the Archakas against the order or R. D. O. was dismissed by the High Court on 21-6-1968. The decision in the writ petition is binding on the archakas. The plaintiff is entitled to possession of the schedule land. The archakas have no right to hand over possession to the 5th defendant.
(3) THE 2nd defendant filed a written statement stating that he has no interest in the office of Stanadhipathi or in t
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e suit property. Defendants 1, 3 and 4 filed a written statement stating that the plaintiff has no title to the property, that the Stanachari is not a trustee and that the grant was made to the archakas and not to the Deity. The so-called patta granted to the plaintiff does not convey any title and it is a void document inasmuch as no notice was given to the 1st defendant or his predecessors-in-title in spite of her title having been declared as long ago as in 1961. The 5th defendant is a tenant of the 1st defendant and it is learnt that late Laxminarasamma executed an agreement of sale in favour to 5th defendant. She bequeathed the land to the 1st defendant under her will, dated 16-6-1967. The suit is therefore liable to be dismissed. (4) THE 5th defendant filed a written statement denying the plaintiff's title. He stated that the patta granted under the 1956 Act does not confer any title to the plaintiff and that late Lakshminarasamma executed an agreement, dated 6-6-1967 in his favour and put him in possession. The suit is barred by res judicata in view of the decision in O. S. No 198/59, district Munsif's Court, Peddapuram as confirmed by the Sub Court in a. S. No. 96/61 and by the High Court in S. A. No. 566/62. That was a suit by the archakas questioning the levy of contribution under the Endowment act and the said suit is decreed on the ground that the grant was to the archakas and not to the Deity. The patta is not binding in view of the decision of the Division Bench in Peda Govindayya vs. Subba Rao. (5) ON the basis of the above pleadings the learned District Munsir' construed the recitals in the Inam Fair Register, Ex. A-3, granted by the british Government and signed by the Inam Commissioner on 1-3-1860 and came to the conclusion that the grant was in favour of archakas and particularly because of the judgment of the High Court in S. A. No. 566/62, dated 16-2-1966. But the learned District Munsif thought that the patta proceedings in favour of the Deity have become final and that therefore the plaintiff could sue on the basis of the said title without being affected by the decision of the High Court in S. A. 566/62. In the result he decreed the suit for possession and directed future profits to be determined. (6) ON appeal to the learned Subordinate Judge, he held that the learned District Munsif was right in holding that on a proper construction of Ex. A-3, the grant was in favour of archakas and not in favour of the deity. He, however, thought that in view of the judgment of the High court in Peda Govindayya case (supra) and particularly in the context of the absence of any notice to the archakas in the patta proceedings under section 3 of the A. P. Inams Abolition Act, before issue of the patta, the patta grnted to the Deity was not binding on the archakas and that therefore, they could resist the present suit notwithstanding the judgment in w. P. 1484/64. In the result the appeal was allowed and the suit was dismissed. (7) IN this second appeal, it is contended by the learned counsel for the appellant, Sri R. Venugopala Reddy that the Lower Court should have held that the grant was in favour of Deity and not in favour of archakas. He also argued that the lower appellate Court was not right in reversing the judgment of the trial court and in holding that the patta granted under the inams Abolition Act was not binding on the archakas and in stating that the question of title to the property could be gone into. (8) ON the other hand, it is contended by Sri C. Poornaiah, the learned counsel for the defendants that the view taken by the lower appellate court is correct and is based upon the judgment of a Division Bench of this court in Peda Govindayya's case (supra) and cannot be interfered with.(9) ON the first question relating to the nature of the grant, it may be noted that in the judgment in S. A. No. 566/62 decided by Chandrasekhara sastry, J. it was held that this very grant was a grant in favour of the archakas and not in favour of Deity. The learned Judge construed the various columns in the Inam Fair Register of 1960 and particularly the entries in Column 10 wherein the words "hereditary" are used. These words have to be read along with the entry in Column 8 wherein it is stated that the Inam is Devadayam for performing the duties of Stanacharya in the pagoda referred to in column No. 1. In Column 11 it is "stated that the name of the original grantor is unknown and in Column 14 relating to the name entered in the register prepared under Madras Regulation 3] of 1902, it is stated that in the permanent account the name of Yekklrala Alvacharyulu is entered. In Column 16 relating to the particulars regarding the present owner and his place of residence the name of Yekkirala Appalacharyulu is mentioned. In Column 18 his relationship with the original grantor is described as 'son of the permanent inamdar'. In Column 21 relating to the 'remarks' it is mentioned as follows : "this inam being of older date than 50 years is to be confirmed as long as the duties of Stanachari are performed". In Column 22 it is said 'confirmed'. (10) IN S A. No. 566/62 which arose out of the suit filed by the archakas for a declaration that contribution cannot be levied under Sec. 76 of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act, 1951, chandrasekhara Sastry, J. considered the above , recitals in the Inam Failregister and pointed out that the various entries therein and particularly column 10 showed that the grant was to the archakas on hereditary basis and it was that was confirmed in Column 22. It was particularly pointed out that in the column relating to confirmation it was not stated that it was confirmed subject to the performance of duties as Stanacharya, as was done in cases where it was not a grant in favour of archakas, absolutely. The learned Judge also distinguished the Division Bench decision in Punniah vs. Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamyvaru and pointed out that in that case column 10 did not use the word 'hereditary' but used the words 'so long as service is performed'. In this context, I may also refer to a judgment of a division Bench of this Court in Vallabha Rajaswamy Varu vs. D. Hanumacharyulu wherein all the leading decided cases with regard to the construction of Inam Fair Register are dealt with. In that case also, it was held that the grant was in favour of archakas and was not burdened with service. The learned Judges distinguished the various other rulings cited before them wherein the grant was burdened with service. In particular, they referred to Punniah's case (supra) and observed as follows :"in Punniah vs. Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Varu (supra) it was held that the use of the expression 'devadayam' does not by itself import that the grant was in favour of the institution, that it only signifies that it is a gift for the purpose connected with religion, that in the absence of confirmation to named individual with the added obligation of performance of service, the grant could not be regarded as a personal one and that the confirmation being couched in passive language, viz. , 'so long as the service is performed' is a clear indication that it pertains to the office. "(11) THE learned Judges also referred to the judgments of the Supreme court in Satyanarayana vs. Venkatappayya and Lakshmi Narasimhachari vs. Agastheswara Swami Varu wherein their Lordships of the Supreme Court made,,a distinction between a grant merely confirmed so long as service is performed and a grant confirmed to a party so long as the service is performed, and that it was only in the latter case and not the former that is held to be a personal grant burdened with service. (12) IN the present case the grant is merely confirmed and that means it is confirmed to the person whose hereditary rights are mentioned in the other columns. (13) I, therefore, entirely agree with the construction of this very grant by Chandrasekhara Sastry, J. in S. A. 566/62. (14) AS the learned counsel for the appellant has contended that neither the Endowment Department nor the temple were parties to O. S. No. 198/59 out of which the second appeal No. 566/62 arose, and that the judgment in the S. A. doss not speak as is res-judicata, I have independently considered the entries in the Inam Fair Register, Ex. A-3, and come to the same conclusion as Justice Sastry(15) THE next contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the patta granted to the Deity has become final. In this context reliance is placed on the judgment in W. P. No. 1484/64, dated 21-6-1968. I may here point out that writ petition decided by Gopalrao Ekbote, J. (as he then was on 21-6-1968 was one preferred by family members of the archakas questioning the grant of patta to the Deity under the Inams Abolition Act. The learned Judge pointed out that the Deputy Tahsildar had originally granted patta under Section 3 in favour of Deity on 26-10-1960 and that instead of questioning that order the archakas filed an appeal No. 4/62 before the R. D. O. against the order granting patta under Section 7 (2) and that appeal was barred by limitation. It was also held that once the order under Section 3 granting patta by the Deputy fahsildar was not questioned, the archakas could not file an appeal against the order granting patta under section 7 (2). The writ petition was dismissed on that ground. (16) THE question for consideration is whether the decision of the deputy Tahsildar in the proceedings under the Inams Abolition Act operates as res judicata in the present suit.(17) THE lower appellate Court has clearly held, accepting the contention of the archakas that when the Deputy Tahsildar proceeded to hold under Section 3 of the A. P. Inams Abolition Act, 1956 that the Deity was entitled to be granted patta he did not issue any notice, to the archakas. It does not even appear that the decision of the High Court in S. A. No. 566/ 62, dated 16-2-1966 was brought to his notice by the temple authorities. Inasmuch as the archakas did not have any notice of the said proceedings but came to know about the same only after the patta was issued, they took the proceedings aforementioned. But in my view the decision of the Deputy tahsildar under Section 3, without notice to the archakas, is not binding on the archakas and the said decision cannot be treated as res judicata in the present proceedings. (18) ALTERNATIVELY, I hold that the patta is not binding on the civil court. In this context reference has to be made to the decision of the division Bench in Peda Govindayya vs. Subbarao (supra). In that case it was clearly held that the patta granted under the A. P. Inams Abolition act, 1956 cannot be treated as binding on the Civil Court, It was held that the Act postulated conversion cf the Inam tenure into ryotwari by levying full assessment and that any decision rendered in such proceedings was not binding when the question of title arose in a Civil Court. It was observed after referring to Section 14 as follows :"the above provisions of the Act make it clear that the sole object of the Act is to alter and abolish the inam tenure, and ryotwari pattas are granted to individuals for the sole purpose of collecting the land revenue thereon. The enquiries under the Act are stated to be summary and the scope of the enquiries and the remedies provided under the Act are not as adequate and effective as the ordinary remedies open before a Civil Court. The revenue authorities are not entrusted with the duties of adjudicating upon the title of persons in possession under general law. Even if the Revenue authorities decide the disputes of rival claimants, the said decision cannot operate as res judicata between the parties in a Civil Court. As there is no express provision in the said Act that decisions of Revenue authorities under the Act are binding on a Civil Court, the finality attaching to the decisions of the Revenue authorities under the Act is always understood as being final only before the Revenue authorities and for the purpose of the Act and nothing more. As observed by varadachari, J. in Kamaraja Pandiya vs. Secretary of State after referring to the earlier cases of the Madras High Court. A statute may attach finality to particular orders, in the sense of precluding further appeal to the statutory authorities ; whether it was intended to go further and oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts as well will depend not upon words of that kind but upon the general scheme of the particular legislation. "their Lordships then held there having regard to the object and scheme of the Act, they were not prepared to hold that the decision of the Revenue authorities under the Act are binding on the Civil Court.(19) THE learned counsel for the appellant has, however, referred to a decision of this Court in Sri Bhavanarayana Swamy Temple vs. Rudraiah. That case merely decided that the patta holder is not liable to render service to the institution any longer after the patta was granted. That was a case in which the patta was granted in favour of the service holder and no question as to whether the opposite party viz. , the Deity could contend that the patta was not binding on it, arose. The only question decided therein was as to whether, after the grant of patta the service holder could be compelled to render service. It was held that he cannot be so compelled. Obviously the view of the learned Judges was that when the office holder was originally granted the inam by paying land revenue at a reduced rate in consideration of the services, the said consideration was no longer available for the benefit of the office holder when the full assessment was levied. Consequently the obligation regarding performance of service could not be enforced. The learned Judges also made reference to Peda Govindayya vs. Subba Rao (supra) above referred to and distinguished the same. There is no conflict between Peda Govindayya's case (supra) on the one hand and between rudraiah's case (supra). (20) I, therefore, agree with the lower appellate Court that notwithstanding the judgment in the writ petition the archakas can still contend that the grant was not in favour of the Deity and that the patta is not binding on them. (21) FOR the aforesaid reasons the second appeal fails and is dismissed, but in the circumstances, without costs.
"1988 (2) ALT 277"