Sita Ram Bhau Patil Vs. Ramchandra
Nago Patil & ANR  INSC 20 (20 January 1977)
RAY, A.N. (CJ) RAY, A.N. (CJ) BEG, M.
HAMEEDULLAH KAILASAM, P.S.
CITATION: 1977 AIR 1712 1977 SCR (2) 671 1977
SCC (2) 49
Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Lands Act 1948--Sec.
76--Power of Revenue Tribunal to interfere
with findings of fact.
Indian Evidence Act--Sec. 17-Admissibility
aid relevance of admission--Entries in record of right--Presumptive value.
The appellant was owner of the suit land. The
appellant's wife sold this land to respondent No 1. Thereafter, the appellant
made an application under s. 70(b) of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural
Lands Act, 1948, for a declaration that he was a tenant of two of the 4 plots
of the land. The dispute went up to the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal who
rejected the claim of the appellant to tenancy.
Thereafter, the respondent filed an
application under section 70(b) of the said Act praying for a declaration that
the appellant was not a tenant in respect of the remaining two survey numbers
also. The respondent alleged that he never leased the land to the appellant and
that he came to know of the entry of the record of rights for the year 1955-56
on the strength of mutation alleged to have been made on 30.1.1966. The
respondent was cross-examined and it was suggested to him that he had made an
admission in previous deposition although the said deposition was not shown to
the respondent. After the cross-examination of the respondent was over, a
certified copy of the said deposition was placed on record. Thereafter the
appellant was examined and he relied on the extract of the record of rights.
The Mamlatdar rejected the claim of the appellant to be a tenant which was
confirmed by the Deputy Collector. The Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal held in
exercise of its revisional powers that the appellant was proved to be a tenant
of the land and set aside the concurrent findings of the two authorities below.
In a writ petition filed by the respondent under Art. 227 of the Constitution
the High Courts set aside the order of the Revenue Tribunal.
Dismissing the appeal by Special Leave,
HELD : 1. Admission on which reliance has
been placed by the appellant suffers from 3 infirmities:
(i) Earlier deposition related to two
different survey numbers. Whatever was stated about another survey number is
irrelevant and inadmissible. Since under s. 17 of the Indian Evidence Act an
admission is a statement, oral or documentary, which suggests any inference as
to any fact in issue or relevant fact.
(ii) In fact there was no admission in the
earlier proceedings; and (iii) The deposition was not brought to the notice of
respondent when he was being cross-examined. Privy Council has laid down in the
case of Bal Gangadhar Tilak that before any person is to be faced with any
statement he should be given an opportunity to see that statement and to answer
the statement. [673 E, 674 A-C, 675 A-E] Bal Gangadhar Tilak v. Shrinivas
Pandit 42 Indian Appeals 135 at page 147, applied.
2. There is a presumption about the
correctness of the record of rights. However, there is no abstract principle
that whatever will appear in the Record of Rights will be presumed to be
correct. In the present case it is shown by evidence that the entries are not
correct. [676 B-D] 672
3. Under section 76 of the Act power of
Tribunal to interfere is limited. There was no error of law on the face of the
record. If the authority entrusted with adjudication goes into the question and
assesses the same, the decision may 'be right or wrong but that will not go to
show that there is any error of law on the face of record. [676 E, 677 A-B]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 1997 of 1968.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and
Order dated the 13th February, 1968 of the Bombay High Court in Special Civil
Application No. 643 of 1967.
B.N. Lokur and A. G. Ratnaparkhi for the
S.V. Gupte, R.B. Datar and Sanjeev Kumar for
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
RAY, C.J. This appeal by special leave is from the judgment dated 13 February
1968of the High Court of Bombay.
The appellant was owner of land covered by
Survey No. 201/2, 194/13, 200/29 and 194/15. The appellant's wife sold this
land to respondent No. 1 on 14 June 1946.
On 12 April 1962 the appellant made an
application under' section 70(b) of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Lands
Act (hereinafter referred to as the Bombay Act) for a declaration that he was a
tenant of two of the four plots of land namely, Survey Nos. .194/15 and 200/29.
This dispute between the appellant and the respondent in regard to alleged
tenancy claim for these two survey numbers went up to the Maharashtra Revenue
Tribunal. The Tribunal by order dated 19 March, 1954 rejected the claim of the
appellant to tenancy in respect of the land covered by Survey Nos. 200/29 and
Thereafter the respondent filed an
application on 24 January 1963 under section 70(b) of the Bombay Act for a
declaration that the appellant was not tenant of the remaining two Survey
Nos.201/2 and 194/13. The respondent alleged that he never leased the land to
the appellant. The respondent further said that he came to know about entry in
the record of rights for the years 1955-56 on the strength of mutation alleged
to have been made on 30 January 1956 and sanctioned on 13 November 1956. This
application of the respondent was resisted by the appellant on the ground that
he was tenant of these two survey Nos. 201/2 and 194/13.
The matter was heard by the Mamlatdar. By an
order dated 31 July 1963 the Mamlatdar rejected the claim of the appellant to
be. a tenant. Thereafter the matter was taken up to the District Deputy
Collector. The Deputy Collector by his order dated 27 June 1966 upheld the
Mamlatdar's order. Before the Mamlatdar and the Deputy Collector the respondent
examined himself. He was cross examined and his attention was drawn in cross
examination towards an alleged admission about the appellant being his tenant
in the deposition. recorded by the Tenancy Aval Karkun in an earlier case on 10
September 1962. The respondent denied that he made.any admission. The previous
deposition was not shown to him on that day.
673 On 9 July 1963 a certified copy of the
deposition in the earlier proceedings was placed on record. On that very day
the. appellant examined himself, saying that he was a tenant of the land and he
had no other evidence to show in support of his case except the certified copy
of the statement which was produced on that day.
The appellant also relied on the extracts of
the record of rights showing that the respondent was shown as 'Kabzedar' of
Survey Nos. 201/2 and the appellant was shown as tenant of the same. In regard
to Survey No. 194/13 it also appeared from the record of rights that the
respondent was shown as 'kabzedar' and the appellant as a tenant.
On this evidence the Mamlatdar held that the
appellant was not Cultivating the lands as a tenant of the respondent and he
declared that the appellant was not a tenant. The Deputy ColleCtor affirmed the
order of the Mamlatdar.
The Maharashtra ReVenue Tribunal however by
its order dated 9 January 1967 held that the appellant was proved to be a
tenant of the land. The respondent thereupon took the matter to the High Court
under Article 227. The High Court set aside the order of the Revenue Tribunal.
The appellant obtained special leave from this Court.
On behalf of the appellant three contentions
First, that the respondent was bound by his
admission that the appellant is a tenant. Second, there is a presumption of the
correctness of the record of rights under section 135-J of the Bombay Land
Revenue Code 1879. Third, the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal was justified in
setting aside the findings of fact of the Mamlatdar and the Deputy Collector
because of error of law.
The admission on which reliance has been
placed by counsel for the appellant suffers from three infirmities.
In the deposition of the respondent in
Tenancy Case No. 6/61-62 dated 10 September 1962, the respondent gave evidence
in regard to dispute between the respondent and the appellant in relation to
Survey Nos. 200/29 and 194/15 respondent said that he never kept the appellant
as a tenant on the land. In cross examination it was suggested to the
respondent that the land bearing Survey No. 201/2 belonged to the respondent
and that the appellant is a tenant in the land. The respondent said as follows:
"The land Survey No. '201/2 situate in
Balkum belongs to me in Balkum. The applicant is a tenant in the said land.
I do not take the rent in respect of the said
I have prior to 15-20 years purchased this
land from Sitaram Bhau. Even the land bearing S. No. 201/2 was purchased right
from him. I have never cultivated the land bearings S. No. 201/2. It was barren
at that time. When this land was to be acquired I learnt whether Sitaram Bhau
was cultivating this land .... or whether his name has been entered as a tenant
against this land(?) I cannot say as to whose land is around the land beating
S. No. 201/2 or other Land." 674 This evidence read in its entirety is not
an admission at all. A person who says that 'I have taken no rent' obviously
says that there is no relationship of landlord or tenant.
The first infirmity in regard to this
admission is that whatever was said by the respondent in regard to Survey No. 201/2
is irrelevant and inadmissible in the deposition of the respondent in that
case. Section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act states that 'An admission is a
statement, oral or documentary, which suggests any inference as to any fact in
issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons, and under the
circumstances, hereinafter mentioned'. In regard to dispute between the
appellant and the respondent arising out of Survey No. 194/15 and 200/29,
Survey Nos. 201/2 and 194/13 were neither issues in fact nor relevant fact.
The second infirmity against this admission
being used against the respondent is that as long as the respondent was under
cross examination, it was not brought to his notice.
It is said by counsel for the appellant
relying on the decision of this Court in Bharat Singh and Anr. v. Bhagirathi
reported in 1966(1) S.C.R. 606, that this admission was proved by the appellant
and this admission on the ruling of the decision of this Court (Supra) is
substantive evidence and is therefore admissible against the respondent.
The decision of this Court in Bharat Singh's
case (Supra) is that:
"Admissions have to be clear if they are
to be used against the person making them.
Admissions are substantive evidence by themselves,
in view of ss. 17 & 22 of the Indian Evidence Act, though they are not
conclusive proof of the matters admitted." Admission proved are said in
the decision to be "admissible evidence irrespective of whether the party
making them appeared in the witness box or not and whether the party when
appearing as witness was confronted with those statements in case it made a
statement contrary to those admissions".
Counsel for the appellant submitted that the respondent
even though not confronted with the admissions would be bound by his admissions
and the appellant would be entitled to rely on the admissions as admissible.
There is the observation in the very next sentence in the aforesaid decision of
this Court that "the purpose of contradicting the witness under section
145 of the Evidence. Act is very much different from the purpose of proving
It, therefore., follows that admission is
relevant and it has to be proved before it becomes evidence.
If admission is proved and if it is
thereafter to be used against the party who has made it the question comes
within the provisions of Section 145 of the Evidence Act.
The provisions in the Indian Evidence Act
that 'admission is not conclusive proof' are to be considered in regard ,to two
features of evidence. First, what weight is to be attached to an admission ? In
order to attach weight it has to 675 be found out whether the admission is
clear, unambiguous and is a relevant piece of evidence. Second, even if the
admission is proved in accordance with the provisions of the Evidence Act and
if it is to be used against the party who has made it, "it is sound that
if a witness is under cross examination on oath, he should be given an
opportunity if the document are to be used against him, to tender his
explanation and to clear up the point of ambiguity or dispute. This is a
general salutary and intelligible rule" (see Bal Gangadhar Tilak v.
Shrinivas Pandit 42 Indian Appeals 135 at page 147). The Judicial Committee in
that case said, "it has to be observed with regret and with surprise that
the general principle and the specific statutory provisions have not been
followed". The general principle is that before any person is to be faced
with any statement he should be given an opportunity to see that statement and
to answer the same. The specific statutory provision is contained in Section
145 of the Indian Evidence Act that "A witness may be cross-examined as to
previous statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing, and
relevant matters in question, without such writing being shown to him or being
proved; but if it is intended to contradict him by the writing, his attention
must, before the writing can be proved, be called to those parts of it which
are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him".
The fore, a mere proof of admission, after
the person whose admission is alleged to be has concluded his evidence, will be
of no avail a cannot be utilised against him.
The third infirmity with regard to this
admission is whether this is a clear and unequivocal admission. The High Court
said that"a certified copy of the deposition was placed on record on 9
July 1973, on which day against it does not appear that the contents of the deposition
were read out to the respondent or that any attempt was made to obtain leave of
the Court to further cross examine the witness." .The contents of the'
alleged admission .to which reference has been made are not unambiguous and
cannot be accepted as an admission. The contents are that he was not receiving
any rent and the land was fallow. Therefore, the High Court was right in
rejecting the contentions advanced by the appellants that there was any
admission and in setting aside the decision of the Revenue Tribunal.
The second' contention on behalf of the
appellant is that the certain record of rights relied on by the appellant would
establish that the appellant was a tenant. The High Court' rightly accepted the
contention of the respondent that after a careful consideration of the evidence
on record the fact finding courts, i.e. the Mamlatdar and the Special Deputy
Collector recorded a finding that the appellant had not cultivated the land in
dispute as the tenant of the respondent. Therefore the Revenue Tribunal had no
jurisdiction to interfere and set aside the finding of fact.
As to the record of rights it appears that
the High Court referred to two important features. It is true that the record
of rights relate to Survey Nos. 201/2 and 194/13 and there is mention of the
appellant as tenant. There is also a reference to the mutation proceedings. The
name of the respondent is shown as Kabjedar. Two of the 9--112SC1/77 676
important heads in the record are 'Mode' and 'Crops & fallows'. The Mode is
shown as "I" and under Crops and fallows entry 'Paddy' is shown. The
High Court referred to this feature of the record of rights Mode "I"
means that the respondent cultivated as owner of the land that was never even
case of the appellant. The High Court rightly said that the irresistible
conclusion therefore is that the extracts from the record of rights contain
entries which do not have any relation to true facts. If that is the position
with regard to these extracts, these cannot be relied on for inference that
actually the land was cultivated and paddy crops were grown on the said land.
With regard to the record of rights counsel
for the appellant said that presumption arises with regard to its correctness.
There is no abstract principle that whatever will appear in the record of
rights will be presumed to be correct when it is shown by evidence that the
entries are not correct. Apart from the intrinsic evidence in the record of
rights that they refer to facts which are untrue it also appears that the
record of rights have reference to the mutation entry that was made by the
Circle Officer on 30 January 1956. Counsel for the respondent rightly contended
that no presumption could arise for two principal reasons.
First, the oral evidence in this case nullified
in the record of rights as showing a state of
affairs opposed to the real state of affairs and, second, no notice was ever
given to the respondent with regard to mutation proceedings. Therefore the
respondent is right in contending that no presumption can validly arise from
the record of rights.
The third contention on behalf of the
appellant that the Tribunal was justified to interfere because of error of law
is also unacceptable. The provisions contained in section 76 of the Bombay Act
enumerate the grounds on which there can be revision by the Revenue Tribunal.
One of the grounds is that there is 'error of law'. In the present case the
manner in which the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal entertained the revision was
by holding, as follows:
"There is evidence that the applicant
(meaning thereby the appellant) has been in actual possession of land since
However, the authorities below have rejected
the entries as well as the opponents' (meaning thereby the respondent)
admission on the ground that the applicant did not support the entries by
producing the rent receipts. According to the authorities below the burden was
on the applicant to prove his case by producing evidence to corroborate the
entries. The appellate authority has also observed that the alleged admission
of the opponent, made in the other case was rejected by the Revenue Tribunal.
The authorities below arrived at the conclusion that the applicant's possession
was otherwise than lawful. This concurrent finding of the authorities below is
being challenged by the applicant in this revision application." The
Revenue Tribunal seemed to consider the approach of the a Mamlatdar and the
Deputy Collector to be erroneous because according to the Revenue Tribunal the
burden was shifted to the respondent 677 to rebut the entry in the record of
rights and .that the respondent failed to discharge that burden. When the
entire evidence is before the Court, it is well settled that the burden of
proof becomes immaterial.
Further the Revenue Tribunal fell into error
of entertaining the Revision when there was no error of law on the face of the
record. The presumption which was said to arise in the record of rights was
before the Deputy Collector as well as the Mamlatdar. If the authority
entrusted with adjudication goes into the question and assesses the same, the
decision may be right or wrong but that will not go to show that there is any
error of law on the fact of record.
All the three contentions advanced by the appellant
fail. The appeal is for the foregoing reasons dismissed with costs.
P.H.P. Appeal dismissed.