Chandrika Misir & ANR Vs. Bhaiya
Lal  INSC 125 (31 July 1973)
CITATION1973 AIR 2391 1974 SCR (1) 290 1973
SCC (2) 474
U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms
Act, 1951 and Rules-Sections 209 and 331-Whether Civil Court had Jurisdiction
to entertain the suit-Limitation.
Appellants brought this suit against the
present respondent for possession of certain Bhumidhari plots. The plots had
been purchased in the name of the appellant's uncle. After the death of the
uncle who died is sunless, the plots were recorded in the name of his widow.
The widow died in 1948.
The appellants as the next reversions claimed
title to the plots. The respondent contended that the suit was barred by
The courts below were unanimously of the
opinion that the plaintiffs had title to the property and the defendant had
none. The learned Munsiff however dismissed the suits as being barred by
limitation. In appeal, the learned Additional Civil Judge reversed the finding
and decreed the--suit. In second appeal the High Court was of the view that the
period of limitation was not the one which was prescribed under the Limitation
Act, but the one which was provided in Appendix 2 of the U.P. Zamindari
Abolition and Land Reforms Rules, 1952, which was 2 years from 1-7-1952.
Since the suit was filed on 5-9-1955, it was
barred by limitation.
Dismissing the appeal,
HELD (i) Sections 209 and 331 of U.P.
Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act 1951, when read together, showed that
a suit, like the present one, had to be filed in a Special Court created under
the Act within a period of limitation specially prescribed under the Rules made
under the Act, and the jurisdiction of the ordinary Civil Courts to entertain the
suit was absolutely barred.
[292C] Since the Civil Court which
entertained the suit suffered from an inherent lack of jurisdiction because of
special provisions of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act 1951,
the present appeal filed by the appellants had to be dismissed. [293B]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION :-Civil Appeal
No. 2032 of 1968.
Appeal by certificate from the judgment and
decree dated January 31., 1968 of the Allahabad High Court in Second Appeal No.
2128 of 1963.
Yogeshwar Prasad and M. Veerappa, for the
Uma Mehta, S. K. Bagga and S. Bagga, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
PALEKAR. J.-This is an appeal by special leave against the Judgment and decree
of the Allababad High Court in Second Appeal No. 2128 of 1963. The plaintiffs
brought the suit against one Bhaiya Lal, the present respondent, in respect of
certain Bhumidari plots' The plots had been purchased in the name of one
Markandey the uncle of the plaintiffs.
After the death of Markandey. who died
without issue, the plots were recorded in the name of his widow Jagdamba.
Jagdamba died in 1948. The plaintiffs as the
next reversioners claimed 291 title, to the property. They alleged that the
respondent was interfering with their possession and hence they prayed for a
permanent injunction. In the alternative, they also asked for the relief of
possession. The suitwas filed on 59-1955.
Several pleas were taken on behalf of the
defendant one of them being a plea of limitation. The courts were unanimously
of the opinion that the plaintiffs, being the next heirs, had sufficient title
to the property while the defendant had none whatsoever. The learned Munsif in
whose court the suit was filed however, held that the suit was barred by
limitation. In appeal the learned Additional Civil Judge, Varanasi, held that
the plaintiffs claim was not barred by limitation. Accordingly, possession was
decreed in favour of the plaintiffs.
In second appeal the High Court found that
the question of limitation could not be properly determined unless there was a
specific finding on two issues one relating to the commencement of the
possession of the plots in 1951-52. The finding on the second issue was
Chandrika Misir, at the time of filing the suit. The High Court remanded these
two issues to the First Appellate Court for a finding. The finding on the first
issue was that the defendant took actual possession of the plots in 1951-52.
The finding on the second issue was that plaintiff No. 1 Chandrika Misir was a
minor when Jagdamba died in 1948 and that he attained majority in the year 1955
and not before that.
When the case again came before the learned
Chief Justice for the disposal of the appeal, these findings were accepted as
they were findings of fact. The only point that the High Court had to decide
was whether the suit which had been filed on 5-9-1955 i.e. the year in which
the plaintiff no.
1 had attained majority was in time, In an
ordinary suit filed in a Civil Court for possession on the ground of
dispossession the question of limitation, on the above facts, would have hardly
arisen. Jagdamba bad died in 1948 and plaintiff no. 1 the next reversioner came
of age in 1955. The period of limitation would be 12 years and the suit would
be obviously in time. But the High Court was of the view that the period of
limitation was not the one which was prescribed in the Limitation Act but the
one which was laid down in the Appendix to The Uttar Pradesh Zamindari
Abolition and Land Reforms Rules, 1952 which was two years from 1-7-1952 which
was the date of vesting under the U.P.
Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act (Act
No. 1 of 1951). The High Court further held that the fact that the plaintiff
no. 1 was a minor at the time of filing of the suit did not help him because
section 6 of the Indian Limitation Act, 1908 did not govern suits falling under
Act No. 1 of 1951.
Accordingly, the suit was dismissed.
It is from this Order that the present appeal
has been filed by special leave. It is to be noticed that the suit had been
filed in a Civil Court for possession and the Limitation Act will be the Act
which will 'govern such a suit. It is not the case that U.P. Act No. 1 of 1951
authorises the filing of the suit in a Civil Court and prescribes a period of
limitation for granting the relief of possession 292 superseding the one
prescribed by the Limitation Act. It was, therefore, perfectly arguable that if
the suit is one properly entertainable by the Civil Court the period of
limitation must be governed by the provisions of the Limitation Act and no
other. In that case there would have been no alternative but to pass a decree
for possession in fayour of the Plaintiffs. But the unfortunate part of the
whole case is that the Civil Court had no jurisdiction at all to entertain the
suit. It is true that such a contention with regard to the jurisdiction had not
been raised by the defendant in the Trial Court but where the court is
inherently lacking in jurisdiction the plea may be raised at any stage, and, it
is conceded by Mr. Yogheshwar Prasad, even in execution proceedings on the
ground that the decree was a nullity. If one reads sections 209 and 331 of the
U.P. Act No. 1 of 1951 together one finds that a suit like the one before us
has to be filed before a Special Court created under the Act within a period of
limitation specially prescribed under the rules made under the Act and the
jurisdiction of the ordinary civil Courts is absolutely barred. Section 209 so
far as we are concerned reads as follows "209 Ejectment of persons
occupying land without title (1) A person taking or retaining possession of
land otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the law for the time
being in force, and(a) where the land forms part of the holding of a bhumidhar,
sirdar or asami, without the consent of such bhumidhar, sirdar or asami, and
shall be liable to ejectment on the suit in
cases referred to in clause (a) above, of the bhumidhar, sirdar or asami
concerned, and shall also be liable to pay damages.
(2) To every suit relating to a land referred
to in clause (a) of sub-section (1) the State Government shall be impleaded as
a necessary party." In the present case it has been held that the
defendant has been re that the land is bhumidhari land and the plaintiffs are
bhumidhars. taining possession of the land contrary to law being a trespasser;
Therefore, the suit was of a description falling under section 209. Section 331
so far as it is relevant is as follows :
"331. Cognizance of suits, etc., under
(1)...Except as provided by or under this Act
no Court than a Court mentioned in Column 4 of Schedule II shall,
notwithstanding anything contained in the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, take
cognizance of any suit, application, or proceedings mentioned in column 3
thereof." Schedule II at serial no. 24 shows that a suit for ejectment of
persons occupying. land without title under section 209 should be filed in the
court of the Assistant Collector, First Class, which is described as the Court of
Original Jurisdiction. In view of Section 293 331 (1) quoted above it is
evident that the suit made cognizable by a special court i.e. the Court of the
Assistant Collector, First Class, could not be filed in a Civil Court and the
Civil Court was, therefore,, inherently lacking in Jurisdiction to entertain
such a suit. it is unfortunate that this position in law was not noticed in the
several Courts through which this litigation has passed, not even by the High
Court which had specifically come to the conclusion that the period of
limitation was the one laid down by the rules under U.P. Act No. 1 of 1951.
Since the Civil Court which entertained the suit suffered from an inherent lack
of jurisdiction, the present appeal filed by the plaintiffs will have to be dismissed.
As regards costs, we do not think that this
is a fit case in which. the defendant should get his costs in any of the
courts. Though he had no title to the property, he was trying to set up a
title. But his attempt was negatived by all the courts. He did not urge also
the contention with regard to the Jurisdiction of the court at any stage except
in this Court. Therefore, while dismissing the appeal, we further direct that
the plaintiffs and the defendant Shall bear their, own costs throughout.
Appeal dismissed, S. N.