Ahmmedkutty & ANR Vs. Parambur Mariakutty Umma & Ors  INSC 44 (8
Thomas & D.P. Mohapatra
(civil) 3067 of Thomas J.
Though the appellants in these two appeals are two different persons it would
be advantageous to dispose of these two appeals together by a common judgment,
on account of a common factor involving in both cases.
Land Reforms Act, 1963 came into force there was prohibition in holding land in
excess of the ceiling limit fixed thereunder. Taluk Land Board is one of the
authorities under the Act to fix the area of the land in possession of
landholders. One Moosakutty Haji made a declaration of the various lands in his
possession. (His widow is arrayed as respondent No.1 in these appeals since Moosakutty
Haji had died). The Taluk Land Board found that the said Haji had 877.500 acres
of land and on it premise determined that the excess land in his possession
(beyond the ceiling limit) was 788.72 acres. Moosakutty Haji was directed to
surrender the said excess land.
so, the appellants in Civil Appeal No.3067 of 1997 (the office bearers of Vallambram
Juma Masjid) put-forth a claim that an area of 6.82.500 acres of land in Survey
No.629 of Wandoor Amsan was erroneously recorded as the land in the possession
of t he said Moosakutty Haji. According to the appellants, the said land was
leased by the landowner to other persons long before the commencement of the
Act and in 1984 the Land Tribunal, Wandoor had granted Certificate of Purchase
as per Section 72-K of t e Act to the tenants thereof. The tenants have gifted
the said land to the aforementioned Juma Masjid as per registered documents
executed in 1986. Appellants, therefore, contended that the said area should be
de-linked from the account of Moosakutty Haji.
similar claim was made by the appellants in CA No.8475 of 1997 on the following
area of 1.5 acres in Survey No.357/1 was outstanding on lease with two persons
(Krishnan and Achuthan) long before the commencement of the Act and those
persons assigned their rights in favour of the appellants. The Land Tribunal
issued a Certificate of Purchase in suo motu proceedings No.88/97. Thus the
aforesaid 1.5 acres of land could not have been included in the account of Moosakutty
Haji, according to the appellant.
seems the Taluk Board ignored the Certificate of Purchase and counted the
aforesaid area of land in the account of Moosakutty Haji and then determined
the excess land surrenderable by him. The High Court in revision petition filed
by the appellants u nder Section 105 of the Act did not interfere with the
aforesaid finding of the Taluk Land Board. Learned single judge of the High
Court any tenancy prior to 1.4.1964 the Taluk Land Board was right in not
acting on the Certificate of Purchase issued by the Land Tribunal. Under the
circumstances it could not be treated as conclusive. Even otherwise has
the absence of any material to show it was not accurate on its face."
Similar observations were made about the claim put forward by the appellant in
the other appeals also.
the appellants did not succeed in their claims and hence they have challenged
the order of the High Court in these appeals filed by special leave.
Iyer, learned senior counsel for the appellant contended that learned single
judge of the High Court has not taken into account the legal implications of
Section 72-K of the Act which rendered a Certificate of Purchase as
"conclusive proof of the assignment to the tenant of the right, title and
interest of the landowner and the intermediaries, if any, over the holding or
the portion thereon to which the assignment relates." When the enactment
enjoined that any evidence would be treated as conclusive proof of certain
factual position or legal hypothesis the law would forbid other evidence to be
adduced for the purpose of contradicting or varying the aforesaid
conclusiveness. This is the principle embodied in Section 4 of the Evidence
Act, when it defined "conclusive proof." "Conclusive proof. -
When one fact is declared by this Act to be conclusive proof of another, the
Court shall, on proof of that one fact, regard the other as proved, and shall
not allow evidence to be given for the purpose of disproving it," Of
course, the interdict that the court shall not allow evidence to be adduced for
the purpose of disproving the conclusiveness, will not prevent a party who
alleges fraud or collusion from establishing that the document is vitiated by
such factors. Exc ept regarding the said limited sphere the conclusiveness of
the document would remain beyond the reach of controvertibility.
this context a reference can be made to Chettiam (AIR 1979 SC 1573) where a two
Judge Bench of this Court has observed that "if a certificate of purchase
is issued by the Land Tribunal to any s uch person and he tenders it in
proceedings before the Taluk Land Board, the Board is required by law to treat
it as conclusive proof of the fact that the right, title and interest of the
landowner (and intermediary) over the land mentioned in it has bee assigned to
him. It is however not the requirement of the law that the certificate of
purchase shall be conclusive proof of the surplus or other land held by its
holder so as to foreclose the decision of the Taluk Land Board." Learned
Judges then stated that by using the expression "conclusive proof" it
only means that no contrary evidence shall be effective to displace it, unless
so-called conclusive proof is inaccurate on its face, or fraud can be shown.
After referring to Halsbury's Laws of England (para 28, Vol. 17 of 4th edn.) it
was further observed that "it will not therefore be permissible for the
Board to disregard the evidentiary value of the certificate of purchase merely
on the ground that it has not been issued n a proper appreciation or
consideration of the evidence on record or that the Tribunal's findings suffers
from any procedural error." In the present case no party has averred that
the Certificates of Purchase were collusively obtained. In fact, even the authorised
officer who was to make a report under Section 105-A of the Act mentioned in
the report that the said areas were covered by pertinent to point out that the authorised
officer did not even suggest that the certificates were procured collusively.
Even the Taluk Land Board did not hold that the certificates of purchase were t
certificates of purchase referred to above. It is e product of any fraud or
collusion. It was unnecessary for the High Court to have remarked that the
certificates were procured collusively as nobody had alleged them to be so.
Land Board appears to have sidelined those two legally formidable conclusive proof
while considering the claims put forward by the appellants. In the absence of
any material to doubt the correctness of the Certificates of Purchase learned
sing le judge should have given due weight to those documents as law enjoins.
At any rate the party who relied on the certificates had no burden to prove
that the certificates were issued after due deliberations or that there was no
collusion or fraud in iss ing the same. The Taluk Land Board and the High Court
had put the burden on the appellants to substantiate the validity and
correctness of the certificates. The said approach is fallacious and hence
result, we allow these appeals and uphold the claim of the appellants in regard
to lands for which the claims were made.