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Jurisdiction-Jurisdiction of Civil Court vis-a-vis Revenue Court-Suit for declaration of sale deeds as null and void-In respect of agricultural as well abadi lands-Before Civil Court-Right, title and interest of the co-sharers of the vendor and entries of names in Revenue Record required to be decided-Trial and Appellate Courts holding that Civil Court had jurisdiction to decide the case only to the extent of Abadi land-In Writ Petition, High Court held the suit maintainable before Civil Court-On appeal, held: In the facts of the case, in respect of agricultural land Revenue Court alone had jurisdiction to decide the case and not the civil court-U.P. Zamindari Abolition Act, 1950-s. 299B. Respondent No. 1 – Plaintiff filed a suit seeking cancellation of sale deeds executed by him in favour of the contesting respondents and appellant-defendant on the ground that the same were illegal and null and void as they were not executed with his free will and on his own accord but under intoxication; that he being co-sharer of the property with respondent Nos. 10 to 12 (though their names not entered in Revenue Records), he alone had no right, title or interest to sell the property. Defendants questioned the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. Trial Court held that suit was cognizable by the Civil Court so far as abadi land was concerned and in respect of agricultural land jurisdiction vested with the Revenue Court under Section 299B of U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950. Appellate Court confirmed the order of the trial court. Respondent No. 1-Plaintiff filed a Writ Petition which was allowed by High Court holding that the suit was maintainable before Civil Court. Hence the present appeal. =Allowing the appeal, the Court HELD: 1. In the light of the facts of the case, the Courts below were wholly right in reaching the conclusion that such a suit could be entertained only by a Revenue Court and Civil Court had no jurisdiction. The High Court by reversing those orders had committed an error of law and of jurisdiction which deserves interference by this Court. [Para 16] 2. So far as abadi land is concerned, the trial Court held that Civil Court had jurisdiction and the said decision has become final. But as far as agricultural land is concerned, the Trial Court as well as Appellate Court were right in coming to the conclusion that only Revenue Court could have entertained the suit on two grounds. Firstly, the case of the plaintiff himself in the plaint was that he was not the sole owner of the property and defendant Nos. 10 to 12 who were proforma defendants, had also right, title and interest therein. He had also stated in the plaint that though in the Revenue Record, only his name had appeared but defendant Nos. 10 to 12 have also right in the property. Both the Courts below were right in holding that such a question can be decided by a Revenue Court in a suit instituted under Section 229-B of Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950. [Para 12] 3. Courts below were right in coming to the conclusion that legality or otherwise of insertion of names of purchasers in Record of Rights and deletion of name of the plaintiff from such record can only be decided by Revenue Court since the names of the purchasers had already been entered into. Only Revenue Court can record a finding whether such an action was in accordance with law or not and it cannot be decided by a Civil Court. [Para 13] Shri Ram and Anr. v. Ist Addl. Distt. Judge and Ors., [2001] 3 SCC 24, relied on. Shobha Dixit, Ashok Kumar Sharma and Sanjay Misra for the Appellants. Manoj K. Mishra, Anju, Sheela, Amit Yadav, D.N. Dubey, Kamlendra Mishra and Rachana Srivastava for the Respondents. =2007(2 )SCR395 , 2007(4 )SCC213 , 2007(2 )SCALE607 , 2007(3 )JT282

CASENO.:

Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court (Photo credit: ramesh_lalwani)

Appeal (civil) 3659 of 2003

PETITIONER:
KAMLA PRASAD & ORS

RESPONDENT:
SRI KRISHNA KANT PATHAK & ORS

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/02/2007

BENCH:
C.K. THAKKER & LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA

JUDGMENT:
J U D G M E N T

C.K. THAKKER, J.

This appeal is filed by the appellant-original
defendant Nos. 1 to 6 against an order dated August 10,
2001, passed by the High Court of Judicature at
Allahabad in Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition No. 386 of
1990.
One Kishna Kant Pathak-respondent No.1 herein,
filed a suit against the appellant and respondent Nos. 2
to 12 in the Court of Civil Judge, Jaunpur being Suit No.
110 of 1984. It was averred in the suit that an agreement
to sell dated June 18, 1981 entered into between the
plaintiff and defendant Nos. 1 to 6, sale deed dated
November 7, 1981 executed in their favour and another
sale deed, dated December 16, 1981 executed by the
plaintiff in favour of defendant Nos. 2 & 3 were illegal,
without authority of law and null and void. A prayer was,
therefore, made to cancel those documents. It was
stated by the plaintiff in the plaint that he and defendant
Nos.10 to 12 were co-bhoomidars of the disputed land
and as such defendant Nos.10 to 12 had also right in the
disputed property. The names of defendant Nos.10 to 12,
however, were not entered in the Revenue Record and
only the name of plaintiff was recorded. But in view of
shares of defendant Nos.10 to 12, plaintiff alone had no
right, title or interest to sell the property.
It was also alleged in the plaint by the plaintiff that
he had developed bad habits and defendant Nos.1 to 9
took undue advantage of the said situation. The plaintiff
was under intoxication and the documents got executed
by contesting defendants. The plaintiff did not remember
the execution of the sale deed and its presentation before
the Sub-Registrar, Kerakat. He did not execute the sale
deeds with his freewill and on his own accord. Nothing
was paid to him. He was given tablets by defendant Nos.
1 to 9 and he became unconscious. At the time of
execution of sale deed, the plaintiff was unconscious and
was unable to understand judgment of his act.
Defendant Nos. 1 to 9 became vendees on the basis of
sale deeds but they were liable to be cancelled in view of
the circumstances under which the documents were
executed by the plaintiff.
The contesting defendants raised several
contentions including the contention as to the
jurisdiction of Civil Court to entertain, deal with and
decide the suit. It was contended that in respect of
cancellation of deeds as regards agricultural land, the
suit was not entertainable by a Civil Court as only Court
which had jurisdiction was Revenue Court under the
provisions of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land
Reforms Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”).
It was prayed by the defendants to treat the issue as to
jurisdiction of the Court as preliminary issue and decide
it.
The Trial Court, after considering the contentions of
the parties, held that the suit was cognizable by the Civil
Court so far as abadi land was concerned. It had,
however, no jurisdiction in respect of agricultural land
and to that extent, the preliminary objection raised by
the contesting defendants was well-founded and was
upheld.
The aggrieved plaintiff preferred an appeal being
Civil Miscellaneous Appeal No. 242 of 1986. The appeal
came up for hearing before the III Additional District
Judge, Jaunpur who confirmed the order passed by the
Trial Court and dismissed the appeal. Dealing with
submission of the parties, the Appellate Court observed
that the Trial Court was right in holding that it had no
jurisdiction to decide the question as to validity of sale-
deeds in respect of agricultural land, particularly in view
of the case put forward by the plaintiff in the plaint that
over and above the plaintiff, defendant Nos.10 to 12 had
also share therein. Such a suit, according to the
Appellate Court could be entertained only by Revenue
Court. According to the Appellate Court, how much
share belongs to plaintiff in the disputed land was a
question which could be determined only by Revenue
Court. He was, therefore, obliged to file suit for
declaration in Revenue Court under Section 229B of the
Act.
The Appellate Court also observed that the record
showed that mutation on the basis of the impugned sale
deed had been effected by the revenue authority, name
of the plaintiff had been deleted from Revenue Records
and the names of contesting defendants had already
been entered in his place. Observing that “title follows
possession” and it would be presumed that plaintiff was
not in possession over the disputed land, the Appellate
Court observed that the question of possession of
agricultural land could be decided only by Revenue
Court and Civil Court had no jurisdiction to give any
finding on possession over the agricultural land.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.
The plaintiff challenged the said order by filing a
writ petition in the High Court which was allowed by
holding that since the prayer of the plaintiff in the plaint
was for cancellation of sale deed and declaration that
they were void, only Civil Court had jurisdiction which
could decide such question. The suit was, accordingly,
held maintainable before Civil Court and the orders
passed by both the Courts were set aside.
The aggrieved defendants have approached this
Court. We have heard learned counsel for the parties.
The learned counsel for the appellants-defendants
contended that the Trial Court as well as Appellate Court
were right in holding that Civil Court had no jurisdiction
to decide the question as to ownership of agricultural
land and the only Court which could decide such
question is Revenue Court and the High Court had
committed an error in reversing the said orders which
deserve interference by this Court. It was submitted that
so far as abadi land is concerned, the Court was right
that it could be decided by Civil Court but in respect of
agricultural land, Civil Court has no jurisdiction.
Plaintiff was bound to approach Revenue Court under
the provisions of the Act. It was also submitted that the
High Court had committed an error of law and of
jurisdiction in not considering the fact that the case of
the plaintiff in the plaint itself was that over and above
plaintiff, defendant Nos. 10 to 12 had also right in the
agricultural land. Such a question can be decided only
by Revenue Court in a suit filed under Section 229B of
the Act. It was also submitted that when the name of the
plaintiff was deleted and of the purchasers entered in
Revenue Records, Revenue Court alone could consider
the grievance of the plaintiff. It was, therefore, submitted
that the appeal deserves to be allowed by setting aside
the order passed by the High Court and restoring the
orders of the Courts below.
The learned counsel for the respondent-plaintiff, on
the other hand, supported the order of the High Court
and contended that it rightly decided that Civil Court
has jurisdiction and the case deserves to be decided on
merits by dismissing the appeal.
Having heard the learned advocates for the parties,
in our opinion, the submission of the learned counsel for
the appellants deserves to be accepted. So far as abadi
land is concerned, the trial Court held that Civil Court
had jurisdiction and the said decision has become final.
But as far as agricultural land is concerned, in our
opinion, the Trial Court as well as Appellate Court were
right in coming to the conclusion that only Revenue
Court could have entertained the suit on two grounds.
Firstly, the case of the plaintiff himself in the plaint was
that he was not the sole owner of the property and
defendant Nos. 10 to 12 who were proforma defendants,
had also right, title and interest therein. He had also
stated in the plaint that though in the Revenue Record,
only his name had appeared but defendant Nos. 10 to 12
have also right in the property. In our opinion, both the
Courts below were right in holding that such a question
can be decided by a Revenue Court in a suit instituted
under Section 229B of the Act. The said section reads
thus:
229B. Declaratory suit by person claiming
to be an asami of a holding or part
thereof.(1) Any person claiming to be an
asami of a holding or any part thereof,
whether exclusively or jointly with any other
person, may sue the landholder for a
declaration of his rights as asami in such
holding or part, as the case may be.

(2) In any suit under sub-section (1) any other
person claiming to hold as asami under the
landholder shall be impleaded as defendant.

(3) The provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2)
shall mutatis mutandis apply to a suit by a
person claiming to be a bhumidhar, with the
amendment that for the word ‘landholder’ the
words “the State Government and the Gaon
Sabha” are substituted therein.

On second question also, in our view, Courts below
were right in coming to the conclusion that legality or
otherwise of insertion of names of purchasers in Record
of Rights and deletion of name of the plaintiff from such
record can only be decided by Revenue Court since the
names of the purchasers had already been entered into.
Only Revenue Court can record a finding whether such
an action was in accordance with law or not and it
cannot be decided by a Civil Court.
In this connection, the learned counsel for the
appellant rightly relied upon a decision of this Court in
Shri Ram & Anr. v. Ist Addl. Distt. Judge & Ors., (2001) 3
SCC 24. In Shri Ram, A, the original owner of the land
sold it to B by a registered sale deed and also delivered
possession and the name of the purchaser was entered
into Revenue Records after mutation. According to the
plaintiff, sale deed was forged and was liable to be
cancelled. In the light of the above fact, this Court held
that it was only a Civil Court which could entertain, try
and decide such suit. The Court, after considering
relevant case law on the point, held that where a
recorded tenure holder having a title and in possession
of property files a suit in Civil Court for cancellation of
sale deed obtained by fraud or impersonation could not
be directed to institute such suit for declaration in
Revenue Court, the reason being that in such a case,
prima facie, the title of the recorded tenure holder is not
under cloud. He does not require declaration of his title
to the land.
The Court, however, proceeded to observe:
“The position would be different where a
person not being a recorded tenure holder
seeks cancellation of sale deed by filing a suit
in the civil court on the ground of fraud or
impersonation. There necessarily the plaintiff
is required to seek a declaration of his title
and, therefore, he may be directed to
approach the revenue court, as the sale deed
being void has to be ignored for giving him
relief for declaration and possession”.

The instant case is covered by the above
observations. The lower Appellate Court has expressly
stated that the name of the plaintiff had been deleted
from Record of Rights and the names of purchasers had
been entered. The said fact had been brought on record
by the contesting defendants and it was stated that the
plaintiff himself appeared as a witness before the
Mutation Court, admitted execution of the sale deed,
receipt of sale consideration and the factum of putting
vendees into possession of the property purchased by
them. It was also stated that the records revealed that
the names of contesting defendants had been mutated
into Record of Rights and the name of plaintiff was
deleted.
In the light of the above facts, in our opinion, the
Courts below were wholly right in reaching the
conclusion that such a suit could be entertained only by
a Revenue Court and Civil Court had no jurisdiction. The
High Court by reversing those orders had committed an
error of law and of jurisdiction which deserves
interference by this Court.
For the foregoing reasons, the appeal deserves to be
allowed and is accordingly allowed. The order passed by
the High Court is set aside and that of the Courts below
is restored. In the facts and circumstances of the case,
however, there shall be no order as to costs.

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