(Prayer: Appeal filed under Section 30 of the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963 (Act 30 of 1963) 37(1) of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, against the fair and executable orders in I.T.C.M.A.No.4 of 1982 dated 16.07.1983 on the file of the Court of Inam Abolition Tribunal (Sub-Court) Pudukkottai, confirming the order on R.P.No.319/A/72 dated 1.5.1972 on the file of the Assistant Settlement Officer, Pudukkottai.)
K. Ravichandrabaabu, J.
1. This appeal is filed under Section 30 of the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari Act), 1963 (herein after called as ''the Act'') against the order, dated 16.07.1983, passed by the Inam Abolition Tribunal (Sub-Court), Pudukkottai, confirming the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer, Pudukkottai, dated 01.05.1972.
2. The Assistant Settlement Officer through his proceedings in RP No.319A/72, dated 01.05.1972, directed for grant of ryotwari patta in the name of the Time-Being Trustee of Nallur Chatram for all the lands mentioned in the schedule of the order, except the land in S.No.118/7 of Lakshmanapatti village, under Section 11(2)(b) read with Section 8(5) of the Act 30/63, subject to the condition laid down in Section 21 of the Act. Against the said order, after nearly 20 years, an appeal was preferred by the State of Tamil Nadu represented by the Collector of Pudukkottai before the Inam Abolition Tribunal, Pudukkottai. The Tribunal, by its order, dated 10.07.1983, confirmed the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer, Pudukkottai, and dismissed the appeal. Thus, the present appeal is filed before this Court.
3. Perusal of the records pertains to the present appeal would show that this appeal itself was filed on 14.07.1997 i.e., nearly after a period of 14 years from the date of the order passed by the Tribunal. Probably, after condoning the delay, this appeal might have been numbered by the Registry.
4. The case of the appellant is as follows:-
The subject matter lands are minor inams. An extent of 208.60 acres were registered as inam in Nallurchatram village and the inamdar was given all the privileges attached to Brahmadayam inams as notified by the Durbar in the Notification of the year 1903. The original inamdar Appavu Ayyar had been the owner of Sarvamanyam lands in several villages and he surrendered the inam lands to the Durbar and got the lands in question in exchange by means of Sannads. His family later instituted Charity of Nallur. There is no direct grant to the charity. The ex-durbar settled this inam jointly in the name of trustee and two of the living heirs of the original inamdar in case No.103. After the advent of Act 30/63, inam lands were vested with the State on and from 02.02.1966. The Assistant Settlement Officer, Pudukkottai, therefore, took suo motu action and after an enquiry, directed to issue ryotwari patta for an extent of about 1,501.60 acres in favour of the trustee, Nallur Chatram. Some of the lands have been let on waram on payment of rent in cash. The tenants have been selling and mortgaging lands among themselves and they were not disturbed at any point of time. In the year 1983, suits were filed against the tenants for the recovery of loans. In 1946, lands were surveyed and registered in the names of the respective tenants. Therefore, neither the inamdar nor ex-durbar ever interfered with the right of the tenants and the inamdars never exercised exclusive Kudivaram rights. The Assistant Settlement Officer erred in treating the lands as service tenure lands within the scope of Section 8(5) of the Act. The Assistant Settlement Officer failed to note that the lands were at its inception purchased by Appavu Ayyar. The persons, who are in actual possession and enjoyment of the land, were not enquired into and no notice was issued to them. Likewise, no notice was issued to the Tahsildar either. Publication of general notice is not sufficient, especially when specific objections have been raised before the Assistant Settlement Officer by the tenants. The order of the Assistant Settlement Officer is vitiated for non-conformity with the principles of natural justice.
5. The case of the contesting respondents is as follows:-
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ct matter lands are minor inam lands. The same was granted by the Pudukkottai Durbar in the name of one Brahadambal Ammal for carrying on Charity namely, feeding wayfarers at a Chatram at Nallur. After the demise of the said Brahadambal, her adopted son by name, Muthukrishna Iyer was conducting Charity and thereafter, his son Chidambara Iyer followed the same. However, after some time, the said Chidambara Iyer was not performing the Charity properly. Therefore, a scheme suit was filed before the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai in O.S.No.76 of 1951. A scheme decree was passed on 13.09.1957, wherein and whereby, the Tahsildar, Kulathur, was appointed as a sole trustee of the said trust for one year. I.A.No.147 of 1966 was filed for appointment of trustee. The said I.A was ordered on 30.01.1970 thereby appointing K.S.Vaidyanatha Sastri and Ramasamy Iyer, a Senior Advocate as trustees. However, the said Ramasamy Iyer got relieved from the post of trustee leaving the said Vaidyanatha Sastri alone as the sole trustee. The said Vaidyanatha Sastri was administering the Nallur Chatram Trust. After introduction of the Inam Act 30 of 1963, the inam lands vested with the State with effect from 02.02.1966. Sections 8 and 9 of the Act deal with the eligibility for grant of ryotwari patta. Accordingly, the Assistant Settlement Officer, Pudukkottai, initiated suo motu enquiry and found that Chidambaram Iyer was the direct descendant by Brahadambal Ammal to whom the title deed was granted; Charity was being performed by the trustee Vaidyanatha Sastri, who was entitled to get ryotwari patta; lands were service tenure lands within the scope of Section 8(5). Accordingly, he granted ryotwari patta on 01.05.1972 except the lands at S.No.118/7. The appeal filed against the said order before the Tribunal was dismissed also by holding that the appeal was barred by time. The present appeal filed before this Court also was after a lapse of 16 years. The said Vaidyanatha Sastri died on 21.08.2004. In I.A.No.243 of 2006, one K.V.Ramachandran and his son were appointed as trustees, by Sub-Court, Pudukkottai. On 02.08.2007, the said K.V.Ramachandran passed away leaving behind his son by name, R.Natarajan and his wife as legal heirs. In I.A.No.199 of 2008, the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai appointed the said R.Natarajan, the respondent herein as one of the trustees along with Kesava Rao, the 3rd respondent herein on 30.07.2008 and thus, the said Kesava Rao was continuing as Managing Trustee and the 2nd respondent herein as trustee. Thereafter, by another order made in I.A.No.313 of 2009 in O.S.No.76 of 1951 dated 18.08.2009, the respondents 4 to 8 herein were also appointed as trustees along with respondents.
6. Mr.K.Chellapandian, the learned Additional Advocate General appearing for the appellant submitted as follows:-
After the introduction of the Inam Act 30 of 1963, which came into force on 05.02.1964, all inam lands stood transferred to the Government. The transfer is automatic and therefore, no notice is required. The Assistant Settlement Officer granted ryotwari patta to trustees of the Nallur Chatram except one land by suo motu proceedings, which is erroneous. The trustees of Nallur Chatram are not entitled to get ryotwari patta, because they are not cultivating the lands and consequently, they are not having Kudiwaram rights. Therefore, grant of ryotwari patta in their favour was not in consonance with Section 8. The trustees were not doing any charity. Only the person, who is cultivating the land, alone is entitled to get ryotwari patta. The Assistant Settlement Officer has not enquired into the claim. In this case, there is no claim by any person and therefore, he ought not to have issued ryotwari patta in favour of the Nallur Chatram Trustee, that too, by invoking suo motu proceedings.
7. Mr.A.L.Somayaji, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondents 2 to 8 submitted as follows:-
The claim of the appellant before all the authorities below as well as before this Court is totally unsustainable and against the scheme decree passed by the competent Civil Court in O.S.No.76 of 1951 on the file of the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai. The present claim was made under Section 8 of the said Act and therefore, only in the absence of any claim under Section 8, application of Section 9 would arise. The Assistant Settlement Officer, in pursuant to the initiation of suo motu proceedings, issued notice to the parties, and made paper publication. The Collector was also a party to the proceedings. The Assistant Settlement Officer's order was challenged before the Tribunal after 10 years. The Tribunal found that the said appeal was barred by time, as contemplated under Section 11(3). No fraud or mistake of fact was pleaded by the Government at any point of time to get over the period of limitation. The Assistant Settlement Officer is having power under Rule 9(3) of the Rules made under the said Act to initiate suo moto proceedings, if no claim is made. Therefore, concurrent views expressed by the Assistant Settlement Officer and the Special Tribunal below need not be interfered with, after long such a period of time.
8. Mr.M.Vallinayagam, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondents 9 and 10 submitted as follows:-
The chatram became the owner of the property after settlement proceedings. The respondents 9 and 10 would succeed automatically if the respondents 2 to 8 succeed.
9. Mr.A.Arumugam, learned counsel appearing for the 11th respondent submitted as follows:-
11th respondent is a cultivating tenant in respect of the portion of the subject matter of land and is sailing with the case of the appellant. Under Section 8(5) of the Act, priority should be given to persons in possession of the property. Only when the persons under categories 1 and 2 contemplated under Section 8(2) are absent, consideration of persons under the third category would arise. The trust is not in occupation of the property and they are not doing the service. No records were produced. As per Section 11(2) of the Act, an occupant of the land is entitled to notice. No such notice was served. The trust can seek patta only when they do some service. On the other hand, cultivating tenants are entitled to get patta.
10. Mr.A.L.Somayaji, learned Senior Counsel for the respondents 2 to 8, by way of reply, submitted as follows:-
Under suo motu power contemplated under Rule 9, no notice is required to be issued on the occupant. The trust is functioning by a scheme decree framed by the Court and therefore, the appellant and the 11th respondent are not entitled to raise all these contentions before this Court. If they have any grievance as if the trust is not doing any service, they should only move the Civil Court, which framed the scheme.
11. Heard both sides and perused the materials placed before us.
12. The point for consideration in this appeal is as to whether the order passed by the Special Tribunal under Section 11(3) of the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari Act), 1963, calls for any interference by this Court by exercising the power conferred under Section 30 of the Act.
13. The matter arises under the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari Act), 1963. The subject matter lands were minor inam lands. In pursuant to an enactment of the Act and by virtue of Section 3 of the Act, which deals with vesting of minor inam in Government, these lands were vested with the Government on and from the appointed date. Thus, all the rights and interest created by the inamdars in or over inam before appointed day cease to exist thereafter. However, Section 8 of the Act since contemplates grant of ryotwari patta, the Assistant Settlement Officer granted such patta under Section 8(5) of the Act, in favour of the first respondent herein, by his proceedings dated 01.05.1972. Under the above said provision of law, an individual, who held the minor inam before the appointed day, on condition of rendering service to the religious, educational or charitable institution, is entitled to get the ryotwari patta, however subject to the provisions of Section 21.
Section 8(5) reads as follows:-
'8. Grant of ryotwari pattas-
(5) In the case of a minor inam held immediately before the appointed day by an individual on condition of rendering service to a religious, educational or charitable institution, the grant of ryotwari patta under sub-section (1) or shall be subject to the provisions of Section 21.'
14. Section 21 deals with service inam, wherein it is contemplated that the service holder, shall subject to the provisions of sub-section 3 therein, be bound to continue to render the service after the appointed day. It is also contemplated under sub-clause 6 of Section 21 that if the service holder failed to render the service, the prescribed officer shall notify such failure in such manner as may be prescribed and then declare that the service holder's right to occupy the land shall be seized and determined and the institution shall be at liberty to make such arrangements as it feels fit for performance of the service and shall be entitled to hold the land as its absolute property, however, to the payment of the assessment fixed under Section 16 or under Section 16(A), as the case may be. Explanation I to section 21 further contemplates that service holders includes his heirs. For proper appreciation, the relevant clauses under Section 21 are extracted herein:-
'21. Service inams – (1) The provisions of this Section shall apply in respect of any minor inam which was held immediately before the appointed day by an individual (hereinafter referred to in this section as the service-holder) on condition of rendering service to a religious, educational or charitable institution.
(2) The service-holder shall, subject to the provisions of sub-section (3), be bound to continue to render the service after the appointed day.
(3) (i) Where a service-holder is entitled to a ryotwari patta under Section 8 in respect of any land, he shall have the option-
(a) either to pay to the religious institution the amount specified in sub-section (4) and on such payment the land shall, notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (7), be discharged from the condition of the service; or
(b) to hold the land and continue to render service subject to the provisions contained in sub-section (1), (2), (6) and (7),
(ii) The option referred to in clause (i) shall be exercised within such time from the appointed day, and in such manner as may be prescribed.
(4) The amount referred to in sub-section (3) shall be twenty times the difference between the fair rent in respect of such land determined in accordance with the provisions contained in the Schedule and the land revenue due on such land.
(5) Where the service-holder has exercised his option to pay the amount specified in sub-section, (4) the tasdik allowance referred to in sub-section (6) in respect of the period subsequent to the date of the exercise of such option shall be the absolute property of the institution and the institution shall be at liberty to make such arrangements as it thinks fit for the performance of the service.
(6) (a) For so long as the service-holder renders the service, the institution shall pay to the service-holder the tasdik allowance paid by the Government under Section 20.
(b) If the service-holder fails to render the service, the prescribed officer shall, after such inquiry and after such notice to the service-holder as may be prescribed in this behalf, notify such failure in such manner as may be prescribed. He shall then declare that the tasdik allowance payable to the institution in respect of the period subsequent to the failure shall be the absolute property of the Institution and the institution shall be at liberty to make such arrangement as it thinks fit for the performance of the service.
(7) (a) For so long as the service-holder renders the service, he shall be entitled to occupy permanently the lands in respect of which he is entitle to patta under Section 9, subject, however, to the payment of the assessment fixed under Section 16 or under section 16-A, as the case may be in respect of such lands.
(b) If the service-holder fails to render the service, the prescribed officer shall, after such inquiry and after such notice to the service-holder as may be prescribed in this behalf, notify such failure in such manner as may be prescribed. He shall then declare that the service-holder's right to occupy permanently the land under clause (a) shall cease and determine, and the institution shall be at liberty to make such arrangement as it thinks fit for the performance of the service and shall be entitled to hold the land as its absolute property subject, however, to the payment of the assessment fixed therefor under section 16 or under section 16-A as the case may be.
Explanation I – For the purpose of this section, -
(i) service-holder includes his heirs;
(ii) non-performance of the service due to illness or other temporary disability shall not be deemed to be failure to render service, provided that the service-holder makes alternative arrangements for rendering the service during the period of such illness or of other temporary disability.
Explanation II- For the purposes of sub-section (4) 'land revenue' means the ryotwari assessment including the additional assessment, water-cess and additional water-cess.'
15. The purpose of enacting the Act 30 of 1963 was considered and discussed by the Division Bench of this Court in case reported in 1987-100-L.W.721 (Alagappa Gounder vs. Sivamalai Gounder) wherein at paragraphs 8 and 9, it has been observed as follows:-
8. But the Minor Inams Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari Act (Act 30 of 1963) stands on a different footing. Inams were granted by Sovereigns for religious and charitable purposes. In some cases, the Inam Comprised of right to collect the assessment in a particular village, and the same is termed as an Inam estate. In some cases it comprised of land free of assessment which is called Iruvaram Inam lands. Inam which comprised of Iruvaram lands, which do not fall in the category of Inam estates, are called Minor Inams. Such minor Inams were alienated indiscriminately by the Inamdars and the purpose of the grant was not achieved. There were difficulties in resuming the inam by the Government on account of long possession by the alienes and the rights flowing from such long possession. Hence, the Legislature thought fit to recognize the possessory right acquired and to impose a ryotwari assessment on such lands, Act 30 of 1963 was enacted not with a view to take over the entire interest but only for the purpose of abolishing the Inam tenure and convert the same into Ryotwari tenure. The result is the assessment is levied on the lands and the right vested in the person in possession is recognised. The rights of a ryot who is in enjoyment of a minor inam land, who is lawfully entitled to the Kudiwaram right and who satisfies the conditions laid down under the Act, are recognised and a ryotwari patta is given to him under the provisions of Act 30 of 1963. Thus the rights are not extinguished as in the case of estates, but on the other hand the right in the minor Inam lands is confirmed and recognised by the issue of ryotwari patta. The vesting contemplates under Act 30 of 1963 is a notional vesting to enable the Government to effect a settlement and levy assessment. The rights of the persons in possession conforming to the conditions laid down in the said Act are not affected by the provisions of Act 30 of 1963. The proviso to S.3 of Act 30 of 1963 lays down that the Government shall not dispossess any person of any land in a minor inam in respect of which the person in possession is entitled to ryotwari patta pending decision of the appropriate authority under the Act, whether the person is entitled to ryotwari patta.
9. It is will be inequitable to apply the principles mentioned by the Supreme Court in a case relating to an estate, to a minor inam. In so far as minor inams are concerned, the vesting is notional and does not affect the Kudiwaram right lawfully enjoyed or acquired as laid down in Act 30 of 1963. The vesting contemplated under Act 30 of 1963 is only to enable the Government to effect a ryotwari settlement and not extinguish the existing rights in an inam land.'
16. A Full Bench of this Court in its decision reported in 1998-2 L.W. 189 (Srinivasan and 6 others vs. Sri Madhyarjuneswaraswami, Pattavaithalai) has observed at paragraph 14 as follows:-
'14..................A comparison of the provisions contained in the Abolition Act, the Inam Abolition Act as also the Minor Inams Act, would go to show that the ultimate object of one or the other of these legislations is the introduction of ryotwari settlement in the areas covered and notified under the respective enactments, after abolishing existing land tenure and acquiring the rights of the landholders or inamdars concerned, who, under the system of land tenure which was in vogue in those areas, were considered to be intermediaries in between the actual tiller of the soil and the State and that the other provisions pertaining to the constitution of authorities, their power, jurisdiction and the finality given to the orders passed, or incorporation of a provision in the nature of res judicate providing for the binding nature of the orders on the parties to the same and persons claiming under them in any suit or proceedings in a civil court in so far as such matters are in issue between the parties or persons in such suit or proceedings, are almost identical and similar, except certain differences which, in our view, may not be that much relevant for the issue before us. Even while dealing with this aspect of the matter, the Supreme Court in the decision reported in AIR 1986 SC 794 = 98 L.W. 849 (supra) observed that the powers of the statutory constituted under the Act are exercised in a summary manner and the claims of occupants comes to be determined only incidentally and they cannot be equated with the civil courts in respect of what they could do or the nature of relief that they could grant. A careful analysis of the scheme underlying these Abolition laws would go to show that the vesting on abolition under everyone of these legislation is subject to the pre-existing rights of the occupants, except in respect of what are known as public or communal properties, meant for common use and the grant of patta has been always considered and held to be in recognition of their pre-existing rights. The provisions relating to abolition and vesting, of the properties do not have the effect of obliterating or destroying such pre-existing rights, if any, except in respect of public or communal properties and the rights which inhere are the basic and fundamental rights which entitle a person to preferentially get patta under these legislations, and the same could not be equated to the grant of patta by way of assignment under the Revenue Standing Orders or under rules of assignment outside the scope of the statutory enactments. Similarly, a meticulous analysis of the scheme underlying the provisions of the Act, dealing with the nature of rights dealt with by the various authorities, the manner in which such authorities adjudicate such rights and the consequences of such adjudication, disclose that they do not mean and even intend to be a substitute or alternate mode of resolution of the ordinary civil right of a citizen or for that matter persons asserting competing claims, in their attempt to project a claim for patta...................'
17. Thus, the above rulings will make it clear that enactment of the Act will not take away the pre-existing right if any, except in respect of public or communal property and such previous existing right entitles a person to get patta preferentially under such enactment. Therefore, it is evident that grant of such patta under the said special enactment cannot be equated with the grant of patta by way of an assignment by the Revenue Department under the revenue standing orders. Therefore, the pre-existing right play a major role for considering and granting the patta under this special enactment.
18. Let us now consider the factual aspects of the matter. It is not in dispute that the subject matter lands are minor inam lands. It is also not in dispute that in pursuant to the introduction of Act 30 of 1963 and notification issued under the said Act under the relevant provisions, the subject matter lands got vested with the Government as contemplated under Section 3 of the said Act. After vesting of such lands and for the purpose of issuing ryotwari patta, as contemplated under Section 8 of the said Act, the Assistant Settlement Officer commenced suo motu enquiry into the nature and history of the lands for the purpose of deciding as to who is entitled to get patta in respect of the subject matter lands. The Assistant Settlement Officer took such proceedings suo motu, since no claim was made by any persons and no application in Form 4 was received by him for grant of ryotwari patta either under Section 8 or under Section 9 of the said Act. At this juncture, it is relevant note that Rule 9 of the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari Act), 1963, which deals with enquiry into claim for ryotwari patta under Section 8 or 9, empowers the Assistant Settlement Officer to enquire into the nature and history of the land suo motu for the purpose of determining as to whether any person is entitled prima facie to a ryotwari patta in respect of that land.
19. Based on such suo motu enquiry, the Assistant Settlement Officer issued notice to the persons whom he prima facie considered eligible for grant of patta on the basis of the village and settlement record. Apart from issuing such notice in Form 5 to those persons, the Assistant Settlement Officer also published a notice in Form 6 inviting objection if any from the interested persons. The Settlement Officer recorded in his proceedings that those notices were served and published in the prescribed manner.
20. Thus, the Assistant Settlement Officer considered the eligibility for grant of ryotwari patta in respect of the land except a land in S.No.118/7 at Lakshmanapattai village, with which we are not concerned in the present appeal. The Assistant Settlement Officer found that the subject matter lands covered by DD No.9248 was originally granted by Pudukkottai Durbar in the name of one Brahadambal ammal for conducting a Charity namely, feeding wayfarers at a Chatram at Nallur from out of the income of the land. He further found that after the death of the said Brahadambal ammal, her adopted son Muthukrishna Iyer was conducting the Charity and later his son Chidambaram Iyer did not properly perform the Charity which had resulted in filing of the scheme suit on the file of the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai in O.S.No.76 of 1951 to frame a scheme for performance of the Charity. It is further found by the Assistant Settlement Officer that scheme decree was framed on 13.09.1957 in the said suit for the management of the Charity by appointing the Tahsildar, Kulathur, as the sole trustee. However, the Tahsildar, Kulathur, did not continue as the sole trustee and on the other hand, by way of an Interlocutory Order made in I.A.No.147 of 1966 dated 30.01.1970, the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai, appointed one K.S.Vaidyanatha Sastri who was the claimant before the Assistant Settlement Officer and another by name, Ramasamy Iyer, Senior Advocate as the trustees of the said Charity. However, the said Ramasamy Iyer got relieved from the post of trustee thereby leaving the said K.S.Vaidyanatha Sastri alone as the sole trustee of the Nallur Chatram. The said Vaidyanatha Sastri was examined as P.W.1 before the Assistant Settlement Officer, who deposed that except in respect of the land in S.No.118/7, as the immediate agnate of the last trusee Chidambaram Iyer, he is entitled to ryotwari patta for subject matter lands. The Assistant Settlement Officer also pointed out that Chidambaram Iyer S/o Muthukrishna Iyer though an interested party, has not appeared for enquiry in spite of pre notices were duly served and published in the prescribed manner. The Assistant Settlement Officer also found that the Chidambaram Iyer was the direct descendant of Brahadambal ammal, who was cited as first defendant in the scheme suit. It is also noted by the Assistant Settlement Officer that the said Chidambaram Iyer remained ex-parte and consequently the Sub-Court appointed the Tahsildar, Kulathur, as trustee. It is a matter of fact that thereafter the Sub-Court appointed the claimant K.S.Vaidyanatha Sastri and another as trustees, out of whom, the claimant alone continued as the sole trustee. Though the said Vaidyanatha Sastri sought for grant of ryotwari patta in his name as a member connected with the family of the Brahadambal Ammal, the Assistant Settlement Officer found that his claim for exclusive ownership is not tenable, more particularly, when the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai, appointed him only as a trustee to look after the trust lands and to perform the Charity and that the claimant is not the direct descendant of the said Brahadambal Ammal. The Assistant Settlement Officer further pointed out that the lands were endowed for the performance of charity and therefore, they are not alienable. Consequently, as he found that the Vaidyanatha Sastri was holding those subject matter lands only in his capacity of trustee appointed by the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai and that the evidence of P.W.1 and C.W disclosed that the Charity was being performed by the then trustee namely, Vaidyanatha Sastri, the Assistant Settlement Officer came to the conclusion that the said Time-being trustee, who was performing the Charity, was entitled to ryotwari patta under Section 8(5) of the Act. Accordingly, he directed the ryotwari patta be granted in the name of the said Time-being trustee of Nallur Chatram for the subject matter lands.
21. The above factual findings of the Assistant Settlement Officer were put to challenge before the Special Tribunal which in turn confirmed the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer. The Tribunal pointed out that the Assistant Settlement Officer has conducted enquiry as per the provisions of the Act and that the Government did not produce any document to show that the original inamdar, namely, Appavu Iyer was in possession of the land and that there was no grant to the Charity. The Tribunal also observed that the Board of Revenue has found in its order in D.P.Ms.No.12/1 dated 03.07.1965 that the Pudukkottai Durbar has originally granted the lands in the name of one Brahadambal Ammal for conducting the Charity. The Tribunal also pointed out that though the appellant stated that the tenants were paying rent to the inamdar and that they were selling and mortgaging the lands, no document was filed to show about the rights of the tenants.
22. Challenging the above findings rendered by the Special Tribunal confirming the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer, the present appeal is filed before this Court.
23. The main contention of the appellant is that the trustees are not cultivating the subject matter lands and therefore, they are not entitled to the grant of ryotwari patta. It is also the contention of the appellant that the trustees are not doing the Charity and therefore, granting patta under Section 8(5) is not justifiable. The same contention is raised by the impleaded 11th respondent, claiming to be a tenant.
24. First of all, we would like to point out that consideration of the present appeal and the grounds raised herein cannot be made solely based on the present state of affairs, as alleged by the appellant, even assuming it to be true. On the other hand, we need to turn ourselves and look back the period of 46 years from now, to consider the facts and circumstances as existed at that point of time, when the Assistant Settlement Officer passed the order, dated 01.05.1972 and granted patta.
25. Perusal of the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer, which we discussed elaborately supra, would show that all the contentions raised before us were not raised before the Assistant Settlement Officer at the time of enquiry. It is contended as if the Tashildar was not issued with a notice by the Assistant Settlement Officer. However, the findings rendered by the Assistant Settlement Officer that notice in Form No.5 and notice in Form 6 were issued in the prescribed manner and the findings rendered by the Tribunal at paragraph 13 that notice in Form No.5 was issued to the persons prima facie considered for eligible for patta; that notice in Form 6 was also published inviting objection; that all these notices were issued in the public place such as Taluk Office, Village savadi and other public places; that the abolition of inam and taking over the land by Government was published in the Gazatte; that the Tahsildar and District Collector were supplied with the Gazattee; that the Tahsildar was the trustee of the suit land from the date of taking over the lands by the Government; that the Assistant Settlement Officer had perused the title deed No.9248 which was available in the Taluk Office; that the Karnam of the suit village was examined as C.W.1 who represented on behalf of the Tashildar in the enquiry, would indicate that the Tashildar had notice in the enquiry and therefore, the present contentions raised by the appellant for want of notice on the Tahsildar cannot be sustained. Even otherwise, when it is claimed that such notices were also pasted in the notice board of Taluk Office, it is very difficult to comprehend that the Tahsildar was not aware of the proceedings before the Assistant Settlement Officer. Nothing prevented him from raising objection in writing against grant of patta in favour of the Trustee of Nallur Chatram. When a public notice is issued, the legal presumption is that every public is aware of such notice including the concerned officials. Neither the 11th respondent herein nor any other persons seems to have made any claim or objection before the Assistant Settlement Officer. Though it is sought to be contended that some persons made claim, no materials is placed before us in support of such contention.
26. It is further contended by the appellant that the claimant is not doing the cultivation and therefore, not entitled to patta. We have already pointed out that such objection could be considered taking note of the event that had taken place at the relevant point of time at which such claim was made and patta was granted and not by taking note of the present state of affairs, as projected by the appellant. The Assistant Settlement Officer has granted the patta under Section 8(5) of the Act, since the claimant was the trustee of a charitable institution namely, Nallurchatram. Therefore, in our considered view, the personal cultivation requirement as contemplated under the sub-section 1 of Section 8 does not arise since the sub-section 2 of Section 8 deals with Iruvaram minor inam lands granted for the support or maintenance of religious institution or performance of the charity or service connected therewith of any other religious charity. No doubt, under Section 8(5), such grant of ryotwari patta was subject to the provisions of Section 21 where service inam are considered. In order to get a ryotwari patta by a service holder under Section 8(5), such person should continue to render the service after the appointed day. In this case, the Assistant Settlement Officer has found that the said service was being performed by the said trustee Vaidynatha Sastri, based on the evidence of P.W.1 and C.W. When such being the factual findings rendered by the said authority as early as in the year 1972, the appellant herein is not entitled to raise an objection as if the said trustee was not doing the service continuously and consequently the patta ought not to have been granted. No material is placed either before the Assistant Settlement Officer or before the Tribunal proving the contra.
27. At the same time, it is to be noted that the Assistant Settlement Officer has granted ryotwari patta in the name of the Time-being Trustee of Nallurchatram under Section 8(5) subject to the condition laid down in Section 21 of the said Act. Therefore, if the conditions laid down in the section 21 are not being complied with, it is always open to the concerned authorities under the above said Act 30 of 1963 to take action and proceed in accordance with the procedure contemplated under Section 21, in case, if the service holder fails to render the service. Even otherwise, admittedly, the said Vaidyanatha Sastri was appointed as a trustee by virtue of an order passed by the Civil Court in the scheme decree made in O.S.No.76 of 1951. Therefore, if any person is aggrieved against the functioning and performance of such Trustee or anybody claiming under such person, he is entitled to move the Court where the scheme decree was framed and seek for appropriate modification of the same. Without doing so, filing of the present appeal cannot be considered as a proper course of action.
28. The learned counsel Mr.A.Arumugam, appearing for 11th respondent contended that the tenants who are doing the personal cultivation, should have been considered first for grant of ryotwari patta under Section 8(1) of the Act before ever considering the claim of the claimant under Section 8(5). In other words, his contention is that Section 8(1) excludes considering the other claim under sub-clause 2 and sub-clause 5. A careful perusal of the relevant Section 8 does not indicate that grant of such ryotwari patta should be made in preference of clause of persons referred to under sub-clause 1, sub-clause 2 and sub-clause 5. Nowhere it indicates that Section 8(1) excludes the claim under Section 8(2) and 8(5). On the other hand, perusal of Section 8 sub-section 1 would show that consideration of a claim under sub-section 1 is subject to the provision of sub-section 2.
29. Likewise, perusal of the sub-section 5 of Section 8 also would indicate that it is not as though the claim under the said provision shall be considered in the absence of any claim under Section 8(1) or (2). In other words, it is seen that every claim under Sections 8(1), 8(2) and 8(5) are independent claim and one does not exclude other. Therefore, when the Assistant Settlement Officer, after issuing public notice had come to the conclusion that the first respondent herein being the service holder was entitled to patta, the 11th respondent herein, who was nowhere in the picture all along, is not entitled to canvass the correctness and otherwise of the order passed by the Assistant Settlement Officer as well the Tribunal below.
30. Further, it is to be noted that the action of the appellant in pursuing matter is liable to be rejected, even on the sole ground of delay and laches. The Assistant Settlement Officer passed an order on 01.05.1972. However, without filing an appeal within one year from the date of date of the decision, as provided under Section 11(3), the very appeal before the Tribunal itself was filed after nearly 11 years. The said aspect was considered by the Tribunal and found that the appeal was also barred by time. It is true that the appeal was not dismissed only on the ground of limitation, but also by considering the merits of the matter. Though such an order was passed by the Tribunal on 16.07.1983, the present appeal was filed before this Court only on 13.03.1987 i.e., nearly after four years and got it numbered only in the year 1999, i.e, after 12 years from the date of filing. This conduct of the appellant would show that they are not so serious about the matter and thus this appeal is filed for the sake of filing an appeal against the order passed by the Tribunal in order to give quietus to the legal battle.
31. Even though we are convinced to dismiss the present appeal based on the above stated reasons and circumstances, we make it very clear that such dismissal will not prevent the appellant herein or any other aggrieved person to initiate proceedings against the holders of the ryotwari patta, the subject-matter herein, based on the present state of facts and circumstances, if such facts and circumstances give scope for interference with the patta already granted. It is an admitted fact that thought the claimant namely, the said Vaidyanatha Sastri claimed patta in his individual name, the Assistant Settlement Officer found that the same is not permissible, in view of the fact that the said claimant was functioning as a trustee to look after the trust land in pursuant to the scheme decree passed by the Sub Court, Pudukkottai. The Assistant Settlement Officer has also pointed out that the lands are not alienable. Therefore, considering all these aspects and also the fact that the vast extent of lands are the subject matter of ryotwari patta granted in favour of the trustee of the said Nallurchatram, it is better for the Government to work out their remedies in accordance with law, more particularly, either as provided under Section 21 of the said Act, if service is not being continued or by approaching the civil Court which framed the scheme decree and seek for appropriate orders by placing all the material facts and circumstances. Needless to say that if any such approach is made, the Civil Court will consider the and pass orders on merits and in accordance with law, after giving due opportunity of hearing to all the interested parties. We are not inclined to interfere with the orders of the Assistant Settlement Officer and the Tribunal below only on the reason that the case as projected by the appellant now could not be fit in as though the case as existed at the time of issuing patta, in the absence of convincing materials in support of such claim.
32. Considering all these aspects, we find no reason to interfere with the order passed by the Tribunal which in turn confirmed the order of the Assistant Settlement Officer. Accordingly, the appeal fails and the same is dismissed. However, liberty is granted to the aggrieved parties either to move under Section 21 of the Act 30 of 1963 or before the Sub-Court, Pudukkottai, seeking for appropriate relief in the said scheme suit. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are also dismissed.