Land Law; Ram Bahal Vs. Deputy Director of Consolidation Azamgarh [Supreme Court of India, 08-10-2016]

U.P. Consolidation of Holdings Act – Section 48 – From the findings recorded by the Deputy Director, Consolidation, it is clear that those Khasra/Khatauni have been excluded in which there were over writings or some unwarranted entries. If that be the position, then the order passed by the Deputy Director, Consolidation holding that the contesting respondents acquired the right of Adhiwasi/Seerdars cannot be said to be based on re-appreciation of evidence afresh. It is only a case of examining the correctness and validity of the entries in the Khasra/Khatauni filed by the parties.

2015 (10) Scale 568 : AIR 2015 SCW 6742 : 2016 (157) AIC 164 : 2016 (130) RD 62 : 2016 (1) All. LJ 405 : 2016 (1) JBCJ 142 : 2016 (1) Cal. H.C.N. 131 : 2016 (1) RJ 614 : 2015 (6) RAJ 199

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(RANJAN GOGOI) AND (R.K. AGRAWAL) JJ.

OCTOBER 8, 2015

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3594 OF 2011

Ram Bahal & Anr. …. Appellant(s)

Versus

Deputy Director of Consolidation Azamgarh & Ors. …. Respondent(s)

For Appellant(s) Mr. P. Narasimhan, AOR

For Respondent(s) Mr. R.K. Gupta, Adv. Mr. M.K. Singh, Adv. Mr. A.K. Singh, Adv. Mr. Shekhar Kumar, AOR

J U D G M E N T

R.K. Agrawal, J.

1) The present appeal has been filed against the order dated 28.07.2003, passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 247 of 1997 whereby the High Court dismissed the petition preferred by the appellants herein while confirming the order of the Deputy Director of Consolidation, Azamgarh and the Consolidation Officer dated 11.11.1976 and 29.03.1974 respectively.

Brief Facts

2) The dispute relates to Plot Nos. 795, 796 and 903 situated in village Bahauddinpur, District Azamgarh. The said plots were admittedly recorded in the name of the respondent Nos. 3 and 4 in the basic year record. The names of the appellants were shown to be recorded in the possession column. In the consolidation proceedings, both the appellants and the respondents filed their objections. The appellants claimed their right over the land in question by virtue of their possession and entry in their favour in the revenue records. However, respondent Nos. 3 and 4 prayed for expunction of the names of the appellants who have been wrongly recorded. Oral and documentary evidence were filed before the Consolidation Officer in respect of respective cases. The Consolidation Officer, vide order dated 29.03.1974, allowed the petition filed by the respondent Nos. 3 and 4 herein and directed for expunction of the names of the present appellants which were shown to be in possession. Being aggrieved, the appellants preferred an appeal before the Settlement Officer, Consolidation. The Settlement Officer, Consolidation, vide order dated 15.12.1975, allowed the appeal and the appellants were permitted to be recorded as Seerdar over the land in dispute. Aggrieved by the order dated 15.12.1975, the respondents filed a revision before the Deputy Director, Consolidation. The Deputy Director of Consolidation, vide order dated 11.11.1976, allowed the revision and restored the judgment and order of the Consolidation Officer dated 29.03.1974. The order dated 11.11.1976, passed by the Deputy Director, Consolidation, as also the order of the Consolidation Officer dated 29.03.1974 were challenged by the present appellants before the High Court.

3) In the High Court, the appellants claimed the acquisition of their rights on the basis of adverse possession which according to them have been properly examined by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation and after assessing the material on record a clear finding of fact had been recorded regarding continuous possession of the appellants and therefore, it is not a case for interference by the Deputy Director, Consolidation, in the revisional jurisdiction under Section 48 of the U.P. Consolidation of Holdings Act. Further, it was the case set up by the appellants that there was no perversity in the order of the Settlement Officer, Consolidation or that it was based on no evidence and therefore the finding of fact recorded by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation could not have been set aside by the Deputy Director of Consolidation.

4) It was further claimed that the Deputy Director of Consolidation was not justified in reassessing the evidence and to give his own findings and at the most, he could have remanded the matter to the Consolidation Officer for giving fresh findings.

5) On the other hand, the claim of the contesting respondents was that as the Settlement Officer, Consolidation has allowed the claim ofthe appellants therein by taking erroneous approach of the facts and by not properly interpreting the entry which has been brought on record, the Deputy Director of Consolidation, had every authority to go into the matter and, on proper analysis and after appreciation of the entry, to disagree with the order of the Settlement Officer, Consolidation. It is not a case of reassessment of evidence rather it is a case of correct interpretation of the revenue entry. It was further submitted before the High Court that in the Khatauni extract 1359 Fasli, the contesting respondents have been shown in possession and therefore they became Adhiwasi and Seerdar of the land in dispute and so far possession of the appellants, even if it is recorded, having not been proved to be in accordance with law, they cannot get any right on the basis of adverse possession. Even the entry in favour of the appellants has not been found by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation to be continuous and in accordance with law, and therefore, the plea of adverse possession cannot be accepted.

6) The High Court, after going through the evidence on record came to the finding that the Settlement Officer, Consolidation has referred to the arguments of the parties at quite length but so far as finding part is concerned, has given a clear finding, on the basis of the entries, in favour of Ram Adhar and thereafter his sons becameSeerdar of the land in dispute but not the appellants as Seerdar. The High Court further held that there is no finding by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation that the entry in favour of the predecessors of the respondents is valid and correct and there is also finding about the rights of the respondents. The Consolidation Officer and the Deputy Director, Consolidation had given a finding that the predecessors of respondents were recorded as sub tenants and by virtue of the entry in their favour, they became Adhiwasi and Seerdar which has not been disturbed by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation. The High Court came to the conclusion that the finding in favour of the appellants appears to have been given by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation on the premise that inspite of decree in favour of the respondents under