Spread the love

Justice PANKAJ MITHAL and Justice PRASANNA BHALACHANDRA VARALE set aside the impugned order of High Court and appellate court in the matter relating to declaration of title Under the Land Consolidation Act

The dispute involves 0.32 decimal of land in Kishanpur village, Sitamarhi district, Bihar, which was originally part of Rambati Kuwer’s land. Rambati Kuwer leased this land to Makhan Singh in 1341 , who later passed it on to the plaintiff-appellant i.e. his adopted son.The plaintiff applied for correction of records under the Section 10(B) of the Bihar Consolidation Act, which was granted in 1979. The correction was not contested by any party, including the State of Bihar.

The State Authorities claimed ownership of a 4-acre 58-decimal land, including the plaintiff’s land, as pond land. They began interfering with the plaintiff’s possession, prompting him to file Suit No.103/2004 against the State of Bihar. He filed the suit under Section 80 of the CPC. The suit was based on the plaintiff’s title to the land inherited from Makhan Singh and confirmed through a 1979 judgment in the consolidation proceedings. The plaintiff argued that the State had no right over the land since it was legally his which was leased by the ex landlord.

The State officers received the summons but didn’t respond with a written statement. Despite multiple chances, they didn’t contest the allegations. Eventually, on February 4, 2006, their right to file a statement was closed, and the case proceeded under Order VIII Rule X of the Civil Procedure Code. Since the allegations weren’t disputed, no issues arose, yet the trial court still decided on the case’s merits, ruling in favor of the plaintiff. However, this decision was overturned by the appellate court and upheld by the High Court.

The plaintiff argues that they or their predecessor have been in possession of the land since it was settled in favor of Makhan Singh by Rambati Kuwer. During consolidation proceedings, the plaintiff’s rights over the land were recognized, and their name was officially recorded in the records. Therefore, the State of Bihar cannot claim the land or disturb their possession without following legal procedures and compensating them. The lower appellate courts made a mistake in overturning the trial court’s decision because the Consolidation Officer’s ruling is final and conclusive, and sufficient evidence supports the plaintiff’s claim to the land.

The defense presented by the Learned Counsel for the State of Bihar argues that the land in question, C.S.P. No. 332, is pond land and cannot be settled in favor of the plaintiff-appellant, as they do not have possession over it. Additionally, they contend that the civil suit filed by the plaintiff-appellant is not maintainable due to the bar imposed by Section 37 of the Consolidation Act. Therefore, the appellate courts were justified in reversing the trial court’s order and dismissing the suit.

The pivotal question for consideration, based on the submissions and circumstances presented, is whether the Civil Court can reverse or disregard the order of the Consolidation Authority confirming the plaintiff-appellant’s title over the land in question and directing for the recording of their name in the record of rights under Section 10(B) of the Consolidation Act, given the bar imposed under Section 37 of the Act.While revenue entries typically don’t establish land title, when revenue or consolidation authorities possess powers similar to Civil Courts to determine parties’ rights, their final orders or entries must be respected and enforced.

Under the Consolidation Act, consolidation authorities have full competence to handle land title issues within consolidation, barring specific circumstances. They possess powers akin to Civil Courts in deciding title questions, subject to judicial review by the High Court under Articles 32, 226, and 227 of the Constitution of India.In essence, the Consolidation Act outlines that all land rights within the consolidation are determined by consolidation authorities, with the register of rights being final and conclusive. These determinations cannot be disputed later. The Act establishes a separate forum to handle matters falling under its purview, barring the Civil Court’s jurisdiction. Consolidation authorities possess powers similar to Civil Courts in deciding land title issues, subject to judicial review by the High Court. Therefore, the Act empowers consolidation authorities to decide land title matters while excluding Civil Court jurisdiction, except in specific cases.

In light of the facts presented, although the plaintiff-appellant wasn’t required to file a civil suit to assert their rights over the land, as these were already determined by the Consolidation Court’s order dated 12.11.1979, such a suit isn’t barred by Section 37 of the Consolidation Act. This is because the suit doesn’t challenge any order of the Consolidation Court under the Act. Therefore, the Civil Court cannot disregard or reverse the Consolidation Officer’s final order. Hence, the appellate courts’ judgments dated 20.10.2011 and 14.07.2008 are overturned, and the court of first instance’s judgment dated 04.07.2006 is reinstated, decreeing in favor of the plaintiff-appellant. As a result, the appeal is allowed without costs.


Written by: Ayesha Hussain, College name : Surendranath Law College, 4th year B.A.LL.B(HONS), Intern under Legal Vidhiya 


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *