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MAHANAND versus GAON SABHA AND ANOTHER

High Court of Judicature at Allahabad

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Mahanand v. Gaon Sabha and another - SECOND APPEAL FROM ORDER No. 395 of 1982 [2004] RD-AH 1459 (20 November 2004)

 

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HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF ALLAHABAD

Reserved

Second Appeal No. 395 of 1982.

Mahanand Vs. Gaon Sabha and another.

Hon. Mrs. Poonam Srivastava, J.

Heard Sri B. K. Srivastava, learned counsel for the appellant. Defendnat-respondent no. 1 Gram Sabha Manik Patti, through its Pradhan Manik Patti, Taluqa Chauthar, Tehsil Gyanpur, District Varanasi has been arrayed as respondent no.1. Sri V.K. Singh has filed his appearance on behalf of respondent no. 1 but is not present in the Court. Learned Standing Counsel appears for the respondent no. 2-State of U.P. through Collector. The second appeal is being taken up in the revised list.

The present second appeal has been filed by the plaintiff against a concurrent judgment and decree dated 14.10.1981 passed by IInd Additional District Judge, Varanasi in Civil Appeal No. 39 of 1971 confirming the judgment and decree dated 17.9.1971 passed by the Munsif Bhado at Gyanpur in Original Suit No. 2 of 1970 between Mahanand Vs. Gram Sabha and another. The sole plaintiff-appellant died and his heirs have been substituted and have already been brought on record on 9.12.2003. A suit for permanent injunction was filed by the plaintiff-appellant against the contesting respondents for restraining them from causing interference in the peaceful possession over the land which is a tank and trees standing on the said land. The suit was dismissed. The appeal was also dismissed by the lower appellate court. The plaint case is plot no. 279 corresponds to plot no. 459 of 1320 settlement year  (area measuring 3 bigha 9 biswa 15 biswansi ) is the ancestral property over which the plaintiff's grandfather Jangi Yadav was in possession during his life time. The disputed land was in shape of pond which was used for rearing fishes besides, a number of trees on the Bhita of the pond planted by the predecessors of the plaintiff-appellant. The plaintiff claimed to be in possession since last more than 60 years. The father of the plaintiff died during life time of Jangi as such after the death of Jangi in the year 1952, the plaintiff succeeded. One Ravi Saran filed a suit in respect of the disputed property against Jangi Yadav which was numbered as Original Suit No. 312 of 1924. Jangi Yadav claimed his title and possession in the said suit which was however decreed, appeal was filed by Jangi Yadav in the Chief Court which was numbered as Appeal No. 57 of 1925. The appeal was allowed and Jangi Yadav was held to be owner of the disputed pond. It was also shown that fourteen trees were planted by him. In another proceedings one Hubraj filed a suit under Section 229-B of U.P. Zamindari Abolition Act against the plaintiff and defendant in the present suit. Gaon Sabha did not contest the suit and did not file any written statement. The said suit ended in a compromise dated 25.4.1961 and plaintiff was found to be owner and Bhumidhar of the suit property. Gaon Sabha did not challenge the said compromise decree.

The consolidation proceedings started and disputed property was recorded in coloumn no. 6, consequently the name of the plaintiff was expunged. It is admitted that there was no contest during consolidation proceedings. After the name of plaintiff was expunged the Sabhapati of Gaon Sabha started causing interference in the plaintiff's possession in the month of June, 1969. The plaintiff gave a notice under Section 106 of the Panchayat Raj Act and under Section 80 C.P.C. to the defendant on 20.10.1969 which was duly served. The notice was replied denying the title and possession of the plaintiff which led the institution of the present suit. The Gaon Sabha contested the suit denying the plaint allegation alleging that land in dispute is the property of the Gaon Sabha in the shape of Pond and the plaintiff has no concerned whatsoever and is not in possession and it was further claimed that the suit was barred by Section 49 of the U.P. Consolidation of Holdings Act  (hereinafter referred as the Act) and the notice was said to be invalid. A number of issues were framed . Issue no. 4 was :

'' whether the suit is barred by Section 49 of U.P.C.H.Act ?'.  

This issue was decided separately on 17.10.1970. The aforesaid issue was decided in negative and finding was arrived at that the tank and trees on the Bhita are not covered by definition of "land" as defined in the Act. However, the plaintiff-appellant examined himself as PW-1, Ramdeo as PW-2 and Pardeshi as PW-3. The defendant examined as DW-1-Sher Bahadur Pradhan, Ganpat as DW-2, Raghunath as DW-3 and Mata Saran as DW-4. The suit was dismissed on 17.11.1971 against which Civil Appeal No. 39 of 1971 was filed in the court of IInd Additional Civil Judge, Varanasi which was also dismissed on 14.10.1981. The second appeal was admitted on a number of substantial questions of law on 9.9.1982. The counsel for the appellant Sri B.K. Srivastava has raised as many as 10 questions of law but at the time of argument only four questions of law has been pressed before this Court which are quoted below:-

(1) Whether the suit is hit by Section 49 of U.P.C.H. Act ?

(2) Whether the decree passed by the competent court is not binding on parties ?

(3) Whether a finding recorded by the competent court will not operate as resjudicata in subsequent suit ?

(4) Whether the trees and property in dispute will not be deemed to be settled with appellant under Section 9 of U.P.Z.A. Act ?

The trial court had decided the issue no. 4 in negative holding that Talab and trees which is the subject matter of the dispute are not covered within the definition of the ''land' and as such the suit was not barred. The lower appellate court however recorded a contrary finding on the said issue. The counsel for the appellant has argued that without considering the reasons and finding of the trial court, the lower appellate court arrived at a contrary finding holding the plot in question as ''land' and consequently held that the suit is barred by Section 49 of the Act. It was vehementally argued that the findings of the lower court on issue no. 4 does not stand the test of judgment of reversal. Reliance has been placed by counsel for the appellant in Mahavir Jain Vs. Additional District Judge, Jhansi and others, A.R.C., 1985 (1) 368,  This Court had laid down that once the appellate court records a finding contrary to the one arrived at by the prescribed authority, he has to give reasons specifically and discuss the law as to why the appellate court is not in agreement to the findings of the prescribed authority. The second submission of the counsel for the appellant is that the findings on issue nos. 1,2 and 3 to the effect that both the courts have recorded a finding against the plaintiff-appellant regarding the ownership of the disputed property. However, the courts have agreed that the trees belong to the plaintiff but have recorded a finding that the pond and trees will vest in Gram Sabha under Section 117 of the U.P.Z.A. Act. These findings have been assailed by the counsel for the appellant on the basis of argument that the courts below have failed to record a positive finding as to whether the tank was in existence prior to the date of vesting or it came in existence at a subsequent stage. The prior litigations which has not been disputed by the Gaon Sabha admittedly shows that the tank exists prior to the date of vesting and continues to be in possession of the appellant and his predecessor and would not vest in Gaon Sabha. The plot in question which is in shape of tank and a number of trees planted by the predecessor of the plaintiff on the bhita are in continuous possession for more than 100 years and on the date of vesting, it would stand settled, under Section 9 of U.P.Z.A. and L.R. Act. There is no finding arrived at by both the courts below where it was specifically pleaded and evidenced that water logging continues for the whole year and Singhara is grown in the said tank, as such the plaintiff has acquired Sirdari rights. Reliance has been placed on another decision of this Court in the case of Ram Nath and others Vs. Board of Revenue U.P. at Allahabad and others, A.W.C. 1980, 134 where this Court had held that it was necessary for the courts to record a finding as to whether tank was in existence on the date of vesting or it was on a subsequent date. If the tank was in the tenancy of the plaintiff prior to the date of vesting, the tenure holder could not be divested of his right unless the proceedings under Zamindari Abolition Act are initiated, the pond would not vest in Gaon Sabha. Another decision relied upon by the counsel for the appellant is Farid Ahmad and others Vs. The Dy. Director of Consolidation Azamgarh and others, A.W.C. 1978, 507.  The courts below have not taken into consideration the previous litigations in respect of the same disputed property in the year 1924 and thereafter 1961. It is note worthy that during the consolidation proceedings no one came forward to file any objection and proceedings ended at the stage of Assistant Consolidation Officer. It has further been argued by counsel for the appellant that the plot in question was given by Maharaja of Varanasi in the year 1910 to the predecessors of the plaintiff-appellant. This was never sought to be cancelled either by the State or Gaon Sabha. No proceedings were initiated under the U.P. Tenancy Act, 1939 where the period of limitation for initiating ejectment proceedings of such occupant is provided under Section 172 is only one year. In absence of any steps taken by the defendant-respondents, they can not have any claim whatsoever. It was also stated that Agra Tenancy Act, 1976 prescribes the period of limitation of one year under Section 84 of the Act for ejecting a tenant and limitation of 12 years under Section 24 for ejecting a trespasser but no such steps were taken. Great emphasis was laid on the judgment of the previous litigation relating to the year 1924 and 1961 in respect of the same land. Reliance was placed on a Supreme Court decision in the case of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Vs. K.M. Krishnaiah, 1998(2) A.W.C. ( S.C.), 1240. The Apex Court had stated in paragraph 9 of the said judgment as under:-

" In our view, this contention is clearly contrary to the rulings of this Court as well as those of the Privy Council. In Srinivas Krishna Rao Kango V. Narayan Devji Kango and others, AIR 1954 SC 379, speaking on behalf of a Bench of three learned Judges of this Court, Venkatarama Ayyar, J., held that a judgment not inter parties is admissible in evidence under Section 13 of the Evidence Act as evidence of an assertion of a right to property in dispute. A contention that judgments other than those falling under Sections 40 to 44 of the Evidence Act were not admissible in evidence was expressly rejected. Again B.K. Mukherjee, J.,( as he then was) speaking on behalf of a Bench of four learned Judges in Sital Das V. Sant Ram and others, AIR 1954 SC 606, held that a previous judgment not inter parties, was admissible in evidence under Section 13 of the Evidence Act as a ''transaction' in which a right to property was ''asserted' and ''recognised'. In fact, much earlier, Lord Lindley held in the Privy Council in Dinamoni v. Brajmohini, 1902 ILR 29 Cal 190 ( 198) (PC), that a previous judgment, not inter parties was admissible in evidence under Section 13 to show who the parties were, what the lands in dispute were and who was declared entitled to retain them. The criticism of the judgment in Dinamoni v. Brajmohini and Ram Ranjan Chakerbati v. Ram Narain Singh, 1895 ILR 22 Cal 533(PC), by Sir John Woodroffe in his commentary on the Evidence Act (1931, P. 181), was not accepted by Lord Blanesburgh in Collector of Gorakhpur v. Ram Sunder, AIR 1934 PC 157 (61 IA 286).

In the circumstances, it is evident that the submission made by counsel for the appellant is sound and the courts below were liable to take the judgments of previous litigation relating to the same suit property into consideration. A perusal of the judgment does not show any finding. The lower appellate court on the contrary has only said that since no plea of adverse possession was raised by the plaintiff his title on the basis of adverse possession can not be considered. The courts below completely lost sight of the fact that the Gaon Sabha at no point of time had taken steps to dispossess the plaintiff but had been in continuous possession much before advent of Z.A.L.R. Act. No objection was raised at any point of time.

Lastly the counsel for the appellant has argued that there was ample documentary evidence such as entries in Khasra and Khatauni to demonstrate that the name of Jangi Yadav was recorded as tenant over the land in suit. No proceedings were initiated by the defendant-respondents under Agra Tenancy Act and U.P. Tenancy Act and consequently on the date of vesting the land would not vest in Gaon Sabha under Section 9 of the U.P.Z.A. Act. The courts below have completely lost sight of the various aspect raised in the second appeal. The appellants continues to be in possession on the basis of an interim order in the present second appeal.

After hearing the counsel for the appellant and perusal of the impugned judgments it is clear that the courts below failed to decide the suit on the basis of oral and documentary evidence. The legal questions involved in the controversy has not been considered at all. The lower appellate court came to a conclusion that the suit was barred under Section 49 of the U.P.C.H. Act without recording any reason and the relevant law on the basis of which he substituted his decision which was in fact a decision of reversion. The issue no. 4 which was decided separately, the trial court had recorded its finding that the land in question is not covered within the definition under the U.P.C.H. Act and in the circumstances, the bar of Section 49 of the said Act will not operate. The lower appellate court had recorded its finding cursorily without assigning any reason whatsoever. The counsel for the appellant has vehementally argued and placed the part of the judgment where the lower appellate court has disagreed with the finding of the trial court. I have given a careful consideration after going through the findings arrived at by the appellate court and hold that the suit is not barred by Section 49 of U.P.C.H. Act and the said findings are set aside. Accordingly, the question of law raised in this appeal is decided in favour of the plaintiff-appellant. The second question of law as to whether previous decree in favour of the plaintiff-appellant are binding on the parties. The courts below have come to a conclusion that since the litigation was not directly with the Gaon Sabha, as such no judgment pertaining to the two suits relating to the year 1924 and 1961 will be binding on the defendants. It has come in evidence that in the suit under Section 229-B of the Act, State of U.P. and Gaon Sabha were also arrayed as party, notice was served to them , publication was also made and ultimately the suit ended in a compromise dated 25.4.1961. No steps were taken by the contesting defendants to get the compromise decree set aside at any stage. In the circumstances, the court can not deny that the said judgments of the two previous suits will have legal evidentiary value under Section 13 of the Evidence Act. The courts below illegally failed to read the said judgments in the evidence. In view of the Apex Court decision in the case of Tirumal Tirupati (supra) it has clearly been held that the previous judgments in inter parties was admissible in evidence under Section 13 of the Evidence Act as a ''transaction' in which a right of property was ''asserted' and ''recognized'. The courts below have completely overlooked the said judgments and proceeded to decide the issues against the appellant. The courts were liable to read the two judgments specially where it was essential to record a finding as to whether the tank in question was in existence prior to the advent of Zamindari Abolition and if not, what will be the rights of the parties on the date of vesting. In other words, assuming the tank was in tenancy of the plaintiff-appellant on and before the date of vesting, they acquired sirdari rights. The suit was filed in the year 1924 by one Ravi Saran and another suit was filed in the year 1961 by one Hubraj but the contesting party was not Gaon Sabha and as such it will not operate as resjudicata, however, the courts below were liable to take into account a very important aspect that the plaintiff-appellant was in possession of the disputed property much before the date of vesting and as such under Section 9 of U.P.Z.A. Act can not vest in Gaon Sabha. The entries in revenue record as shown in column no. 6 can not be held to be conclusive. In any event, Gaon Sabha till date has taken no steps to evict the appellant, it was only when they tried to interfere in their possession, suit for injunction was filed and in the written statement a stand was taken that the property in dispute vested in Gaon Sabha on the date of vesting. Accordingly the question no. 4 is a substantial question of law which the courts below have miserably failed to take into consideration before recording the contrary finding and denying the appellant a valid relief. Accordingly the question no. 4 is also decided in favour of the appellant.  

The substantial question of law no. 2 and 3 relating to the decrees passed by the competent court are binding on the parties and will operate resjudicata in a subsequent suit. I come to a conclusion that the judgments given by the competent court have legal evidentiary value under Section 13 of the Evidence Act but it will not operate resjudicata. The Gaon Sabha was not a party in the litigation pertaining to the year 1924 between Ravi Saran but in the subsequent suit in the year 1961 which was filed by one Hubraj, the State and Gaon Sabha were parties but the same ended into a compromise.  The Gaon Sabha was not a party to the compromise, however notices were served on the Gaon Sabha and State. Service was also effected by publication but since the defendants had not joined hands in the compromise, it will not operate as resjudicata. The two questions of law are decided accordingly.

It is however clear that the right of the plaintiff-appellant was upheld by the two courts and he continued to be in possession. The Gaon Sabha at no point of time had taken any steps or initiated any proceedings to evict the appellant. It was only when the present injunction suit was filed, the Gaon Sabha had taken a stand by filing a written statement and contested the suit. The suit was filed for injunction for restraining the Gaon Sabha, but a perusal of the two judgments show that no discussion has been made on the question of possession, period of possession and the consequent right accrued to the plaintiff-appellant. The trial court has only said that the suit on the ground of possession could be decreed in ordinary circumstances, if the suit was not against the Gaon Sabha. Despite this conclusion, the courts below were liable to record findings on the basis of the findings recorded by the two competent courts in the previous litigations pertaining to the year 1924 and 1961, where the plaintiff-appellant was found to be owner in possession. This necessarily leads to the conclusion that on the date of vesting the plaintiff-appellant was in possession since a very very long time, the courts were liable to record the effect of possession and right viz-a-viz the Gaon Sabha  which has failed to initiate any proceedings against the appellant. The two judgments stands vitiated in law.

For the reasons discussed above, the judgments and decree dated 14.10.1981 passed by the Additional District Judge, Varanasi and 17.9.1971 passed by the Munsif, Bhadohi at Gyanpur is set aside. The appellant is in possession, he will continue to be in possession unless evicted in accordance with law. The Gaon Sabha shall not interfere in the possession of the plaintiff-appellant on the basis of the impugned judgments. This appeal is allowed. There shall be no order as to costs.

Rmk.


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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