V L Patil
Vs. Arjun Halappa Naikawadi & Ors  INSC 904 (7 August 1996)
M.M. Punchhi, M.M. Venkataswami K. (J)
1996 SCALE (5)824
O R D
appellant, the aggrieved party in these two special appeals, was granted/leave
limited to the question as to whether the learned Single Judge of the High
Court was justified in passing strictures against the appellant. On merit of
the matter, the fate of the cases stands sealed.
reference to the appellant in the judgment of the learned Single Judge is in
two capacities : (i) as a party- respondent connected with the merits of the
brooding presence as a Minister of the time to have influenced the
decision-making of the Land Tribunal, it being a land reforms matter. The
learned Single Judge in paragraph 4 of his judgment observed as follows :
in this case it appears to me that the regular procedure prescribed by the Land
Reforms Act for conferring occopation of the lands immediately prior to 1.8.1974
had been abused by the Chairman and the members of the Tribunal to casue wilful
loss to the petitioners and they did not have the courage of their convictions
to stand up to the machinations of respondent - 3 (the appellant herein) who
was admittedly a Minister of the State Government at the relevant time." (emphasis
supplied) On appeal to the Division Bench of the High Court at the instance of
the appellant, the Division Bench in para 31 of its judgment observed as follows
earlier observed, we do not find any direct evidence to hold that the impugned
order was passed by the Tribunal at the behest of the appellant who exercised
his influence on them. But the facts and circumstances of the case leave no
manner of doubt that after the passing of a decree in the partition suit, a
determined effort which was within the knowledge of the appellant, was made to
defeat the claim of Naikwadi family, which in our view was wholly
unjustified." The Bench further observed in paragraph 37 as follows :
arrived at the aforesaid conclusion, one question still remains to be answered
i.e., whether respondent - 3 (appellant) exerted his extra constitutional power
and influence on the members of the Tribunal who yielded - to such influence.
On this aspect, it was very fairly conceded by Mr. Bannurmath, learned counsel
for the writ petitioners, that there was no evidence to prove any direct link
between the appellant and members of the Tribunal. Even we, after going through
all the relevant evidence find that there is no positive direct evidence to
prove the exervising of the extra constitutional power and influence on the
members of the Tribunal.
being so, the next question that arises for consideration whether there is any
circumstantial evidence on the basis of which such an inference can be drawn.
In our view on the facts and circumstances of this case, it would be too much
stretching to hold that to procure the impugned order such an influence was
exerted by the appellant (respondent-3) himself.
facts of the case do reveal the revival of interest of respondents - 3 in the
land in dispute and the determined effort of Smt. Aruna Devi to deny the
possession of the Naikwadi family and defeat their claim. But these facts plus
the fact that respondent - 3 was a Minister in the State cabinet by themselves,
in our opinion do not lead to a positive conclusion that the impugned order is
the outcome of the exercise of extra- constitutional power and influence on the
members of the Tribunal, yet suspicion is left unerased that the impugned order
may have been passed to please respondent-3 or at his behest." We have
been taken through the other relevant portions of the judgments of the learned
Single Judge as well as that of the Division Bench which reflect on the conduct
of the appellant in his capacity as a litigant, for it was his lands which were
being subjected to the provisions of the relevant Land Reforms Act. His conduct
as a litigant could definitely be commented upon by the courts and that part of
the order would have to sustain, for expunction of remarks cannot be sought by
a litigant if those were legitimately made from the conclusions and inferences
drawn by a court.
here we have his name as a Minister brought in to cast a shadow on the merits
of the matters and this is a pinch unbearable to the appellant.
evident from the afore=extracted passage from the judgment of the learned
Single Judge that the spelled out a direct nexus between the conduct of the
members of the Tribunal and the appellant being a Minister at the relevant
time. The Division Bench however could not sustain that view of the Single
Bench as is evident from the two afore- extracted passages from its judgment.
It has been viewed that there was neither direct nor circumstantial evidence to
prove any nexus between the appellant and the members of the tribunal, The
finding was dressed down to be described as an 'usnerased suspicion' that the
impugned order may have been passed to please respondent No.3 (the appellant)
or at his behest. On such infirm and shaky finding, we are not prepared to
sustain the remarks passed by the High Court against the appellant as a
Minister. In our view, the High Court at both the stages was in error in
linking or dragging the appellant's name as a Minister with the deliberations
of the Tribunal. The tribunal may have gone wrong or right on the merit of the
matters but the presence of the appellant as being a Minister at the relevant
time could not be linked in any manner with the legal proceedings. The remarks
which reflect the conduct of the appellant as a Minister are hereby expunged
from the judgments at all places wherever figuring but the remarks confined to
his conduct as an individual litigant shall sustain.
appeals are partially allowed to the afore extent.