Ramanna Vs. Land Tribunal, Mandya Taluk & Ors  Insc 728 (12 July 2007)
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT & LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
1. Challenge in this appeal is to the order passed by learned Single Judge
of the Karnataka High Court allowing the revision petition filed under Section
121-A of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 (in short the 'Act'). The
non-official respondent No.2 C.L. Thammaiah (since dead and substituted by his
legal heirs) had filed the revision before the High Court questioning
correctness of the order dated 28.2.1990 passed by the Land Reforms Appellate
Authority, Mandya, reversing the order passed by the Land Tribunal, Mandya on
Stand before the High Court was that the claim for grant of occupancy, though
initially accepted by the Land Tribunal was erroneously rejected by the
Appellate Authority on re- appreciation of the evidence.
2. Background facts as noticed by the High Court in a nutshell are as
Thammaiah had two brothers, viz. Linge Gowda and Bore Gowda. Bore Gowda is
no more and his wife and daughter, Kempamma and Sunandamma are respondents 3
and 4 respectively in this appeal. Admittedly, prior to 1960 there was a
partition amongst the 3 brothers, viz. Thammaiah, Linge Gowda and Bore Gowda.
The land Survey No.86/1 of Chikkaballi, Mandya Taluk, along with other lands
fell to the share of Bore Gowda. It is not disputed that on 18.11.1960 Bore
Gowda mortgaged the land in question in favour of Thammaiah for a period of 10
years. Though the mortgage period was upto 1970, on 27.8.1963 the said Bore
Gowda redeemed the mortgage. It is the case of the original tenant Thammaiah
that on 30.8.1963 Bore Gowda executed a lease deed in his favour in respect of
14 items of land including the land in question and since then the original
tenant and after his death his legal heirs are in possession and enjoyment of
the land as the tenants. Appellant-Ramanna, claimed to be the purchaser of the
land from Karigowda in the year 1972.
According to him, on 30.9.1963 the land in question was sold by Bore Gowda
in favour of his father-in-law, Karigowda, and after about 9 years Karigowda
sold the land to appellant and handed over possession also. It is also
undisputed that, after the sale transaction in favour of appellant, as the
original tenant Thammaiah, resisted appellant from cultivating the land in
question on the ground that he is the tenant.
Appellant-Ramanna filed a suit in 0.S. No.26 of 1972 and during the pendency
of the suit, as the provisions of the Act came to be amended and Civil Courts
were barred from deciding the question of tenancy, the said suit was not
finalised. As stated earlier, after coming into force the Act as amended by
Karnataka Act No.1 of 1974, the original tenant, Thammaiah, filed application
in Form No.7 claiming occupancy rights in respect of all the 14 items of lands
including the land in question. Before the Land Tribunal statements of the
parties were recorded and relying upon the agreement deed and the rent receipts
the Tribunal proceeded to grant occupancy rights in favour of the original
tenant Thammaiah by the order dated 2.8.1975. The said order was challenged by
appellant before the High Court by way of a writ petition and the High Court
remanded the matter to the Land Tribunal for fresh disposal in accordance with
law. After the remand, once again the parties were given opportunity to adduce
evidence and, after recording of such fresh evidence, the Tribunal again gave
occupancy rights to the said Thammaiah. Aggrieved by the same, appellant
approached the Appellate Authority. Even before the Appellate Authority
opportunity to lead additional evidence was given to the parties and, after
recording such evidence, the Appellate Authority doubting the veracity of the
lease deed rejected the claim of the revision petitioners. Hence revision
petition was filed before the High Court.
3. Stand before the High Court was that the Appellate Authority should have
held that Thammaiah was a deemed tenant in terms of Section 4. It was also
submitted merely because the alleged lease deed was not a registered document
as required under law, the same cannot be treated to be a concocted document.
On the basis of the said agreement 14 lands belonging to Boregowda were leased
out to the tenant Thammaiah and except that land in dispute the remaining 13
lands which were given to the wife and daughter under a deed of settlement had
been granted to the original tenant only on the basis of the said agreement.
4. Stand of the respondents before the High Court was that appellate
authority dealt with each of the issue elaborately and in detail and the court
exercising its revisional jurisdiction under Section 121-A of the Act should
not interfere with the findings of fact arrived at by the Appellate Authority.
It was pointed out that Karigowda the predecessor in title was in possession of
the land in question was its owner since 13.9.1960 as was held by the appellate
authority. Therefore no lease could have been created by Boregowda and after
1972 as there was a sale by Karigowda and as there was no subsisting
relationship of landlord and tenant between himself and revision petitioner or
between Karigowda and the revision petitioner since 1963. The Revision
petitioner was not entitled for grant of occupancy right.
5. The High Court was of the view that there was no discussion about the
genuineness of the lease deed. Finally, it was concluded that Karigowda was not
examined either before the Tribunal or before the Appellate Authority by
Ramanna, to substantiate his case that it was Karigowda who was the owner of
the land from 1963 to 1972 from whom Ramanna purchased the land in the year
1972. Accordingly the order of the appellate authority was set aside.
6. In support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant submitted
that the High Court's order is not supportable on facts and in law. The High
Court has erroneously observed that there was no discussion about the
genuineness of the lease deed. The admitted fact is that possession was taken
at the time of redemption. The possession had given to Karigowda and Karigowda
had given it to the appellant. Basis of the claim was the lease-deed and the
rent receipts. In the revenue records name of Thimmayya was not there.
7. Learned counsel for the respondent on the other hand supported the order
of the High Court.
8. Few important dates need to be noted. In the year 1960 there was a
partition and the ownership of disputed property Survey No.86/1 along with some
other plots came to Boregowda. On 18.11.1960 Boregowda mortgaged the property
with his own brother Thammaiah for a period of ten years.
9. The said property was redeemed on 27.8.1963. On 30.9.1963 Boregowda sold
the property to his father-in-law Karigowda.
10. As noted above the admitted position is that possession was taken at the
time of redemption, and the possession was given to Karigowda, and Karigowda
had handed over possession to the appellant.
11. On 1.3.1974 the Act was enacted. It was specifically provided that the
lands vest in the Government and tenants were given right to claim occupancy
rights. Thammiah filed the petition before the land Tribunal and claimed to be
the tenant under Karigowda. Interestingly Boregowda was not seen after the
sale. The claim of tenancy was initially accepted. But the High Court set aside
the order and remanded the matter for fresh consideration. The Land Tribunal
again granted claim of occupancy tenant.
12. Before the Appellate authority following points were formulated for
(a) Whether the disputed land is fit for agriculture? (b) Whether the
disputed land was tenanted as on 1.3.1974 or immediately prior thereto? (c) As
on 1.3.1974 or immediately prior to that, whether the first respondent was a
tenant cultivating the disputed land lawfully under Boregowda? (d) Whether the
order of the Land Tribunal is valid? (e) What is the proper and suitable order
that can be passed in this appeal?
13. As noted above basis of the claim was the lease- deed and the rent
receipts. The Appellate Authority noted that there was no dispute that Thammiah
was in possession of the disputed land. Appellant had purchased the land under
sale- deed on 21.7.1972. In order to prove that he was lawfully cultivating the
land relied Thammiah upon the Gutha Agreement dated 30.8.1963 and the Gutha
receipts dated 2.3.1964, 28.2.1966, 18.1.1965, 6.3.1970, 2.3.1969 and
16.2.1968. The appellate authority noted that Thamaiah attempted to secure
tenancy rights in the land that has gone to the share of his younger brother.
It was, therefore, known to him that on 13.9.1963 Boregowda had sold the
disputed land under a sale deed to his father in law Karigowda. Karigowda in
his statement before the Land Tribunal made some significant statements. The
Appellate Authority noted that after partition in the family Boregowda had
mortgaged with possession of the land that came to his share for a period of 10
years by receiving a loan from Thammaiah. Before completion of the ten years
period Boregowda repaid the mortgaged amount on 27.8.1963 and obtained back the
possession. Boregowda discharged the mortgaged loan of Thammaiah on 27.8.1963.
In his cross examination Thammaiah had admitted that after redeeming the
mortgage for about 2 to 3 years he had not done guthige of the land and gave
the same to his younger brother for a period of three years on concession.
After he left the village continuing the guthige of the land again he himself
was doing it.
14. The Appellate Authority referred to the statement in the cross
examination and came to hold that he was not in possession of the land on
30.8.1963. The Pahani documents of the land were examined and it was noted that
the possession and enjoyment of land by Thammaiah was not there from 30.9.1963
and the same was not established. In the Pahari documents of the land his name
was not entered as tenant. On 30.9.1963 Boregowda sold the disputed land to his
father in law. After such sale in the Kandayam Patta Book and Pahari documents
of the disputed land name of the Karigowda the purchaser was entered. He had
even paid the land tax to the State Government. Thammaiah who was the village
Patel has himself written remarks in the Putta Book by receiving the land tax
in the Kandayam Patta Book. He had signed for having received the land tax in
Contrary to what the High Court has observed, the Appellate Authority in
detail has examined the question as to the genuineness of the lease deed. In
the statement recorded by the Land Tribunal has been clearly admitted that the
disputed land was being cultivated by the Koregowda and his son in law
Boregowda jointly. Therefore, the Appellate Authority inferred that the sale
deed was in force. After examining the materials on record, the Appellate
Authority recorded a categorical finding that the lease deed was not a genuine
document and it was not a believable document. The Appellate Authority noted
that Thammaiah was Patel of the village and he had full knowledge of the
transaction. High Court erred in holding that there was no discussion on the
factual aspect as to the genuineness of the document. No evidence was adduced
to substantiate the claim of possession. It was also not shown as to when
possession was taken from Korigowda.
15. Above being the position the High Court should not have interfered with
the factual findings recorded by the appellate authority while exercising
jurisdiction under Section 121-A of the Act. The order of the High Court is not
sustainable and is set aside.
16. The appeal succeeds but in the circumstances without any order as to