Gundaji Satwaji Shinde v. Ram Chandra Bhikaji Joshi Case Summary 1979

Gundaji Satwaji Shinde v. Ram Chandra Bhikaji Joshi Case Summary 1979

Gundaji Satwaji Shinde v. Ram Chandra Bhikaji Joshi case dealt with whether the plaintiff is an agriculturist and whether the jurisdiction of the civil court is barred under Section 9 of CPC, considering the express provisions of Section 85 read with Section 85A of the Bombay tenancy and Agricultural Land, 1948?

An appeal under Article-133 of the Constitution to the Supreme Court on a certificate of the High Court.

Facts:

  • Gundaji (Appellant/ Plaintiff) contracted with Ramchandran (Respondent/ defendant) to buy land from him. Later, the defendant refused to honor the contract. The plaintiff brought a suit for specific performance against the defendant before the civil court.
  • The defendant contested the suit of the plaintiff on two grounds:
    • That the plaintiff was not an agriculturist within the meaning of S-63 of the Bombay tenancy and Agricultural Land, 1948 and therefore prohibited from purchasing the land. The contract to sell the land being contrary to law is void and not enforceable.
    • That, the issue of whether the plaintiff is or not an agriculturist is an issue that can only be determined by the court of Mamlatdar, as provided by Section 85, read with S-85A of the Act. Therefore, under the provision of Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the jurisdiction of the civil court is barred.

Legal Issue:

Whether the plaintiff is an agriculturist and whether it barred the jurisdiction of the civil court under Section 9 of CPC, in light of the express provisions of Section 85, read with Section 85A of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Land, 1948?

Ratio Decidendi:

  • If there is an issue that had to be settled, decided, or dealt with by the competent authority under the Tenancy Act, the jurisdiction of the Civil Court will be barred and it will have to be referred to the competent authority under the Tenancy Act.
  • Therefore, the court overruled the decision of the High Court, which had upheld the jurisdiction of the civil court to deal with the issue instead of referring it to the Mamlatdar

The decision of the Court:

  • There can be a civil suit properly constituted which the civil court will have jurisdiction to entertain, but an issue may arise upon a contest when contentions are raised by the party against whom the civil suit is filed. Upon such contest, issues will have to be determined to dispose of the suit.
  • If any such issue arises which is required to be settled, decided, or dealt with by the competent authority under the Tenancy Act, even if it arises in a civil suit, the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to settle, decide and deal with the same would be barred by the provision in Section 85 and the Civil Court will have to take recourse to the provision in Section 85-A for reference of the issue to the competent authority under the Tenancy Act.

Relevant Paragraphs from the judgment:

  • Uninhibited by the decisions to which our attention was invited, the matter may be examined purely in the light of the relevant provisions of the statute. Section 70 (a) constitutes the Mamlatdar a forum for performing the functions and discharging the duties specifically enumerated. One such function of the Mamlatdar is to decide whether a person is an agriculturist. The issue arising before the Civil Court is whether the plaintiff is an agriculturist within the meaning of the Tenancy Act. Maybe jurisdiction may be conferred on the Mamlatdar to decide whether a person is an agriculturist within the meaning of the Tenancy Act but it does not ipso facto oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to decide that issue if it arises before it in a civil suit. Unless the Mamlatdar is constituted an exclusive forum to decide the question above mentioned, conferment of such jurisdiction would not oust the jurisdiction of the Civil Court.
  • It is settled law that the exclusion of the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts is not to be readily inferred, but that such exclusion must either be explicitly expressed or clearly implied [see Secretary of State v. Mask, AIR 1940 PC 105]. However, by an express provision contained in Section 85, the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to settle, decide or deal with any question which is by or under the Tenancy Act required to be settled, decided, or dealt with by the competent authority is ousted. The Court must give effect to the policy underlying the statute set out in express terms in the statute.
  • There is, therefore, no escape from the fact that the legislature has expressly ousted the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to settle, decide or deal with any question which is by or under the Tenancy Act required to be settled, decided, or dealt with by any of the authorities mentioned and in this specific case the authority would be the Mamlatdar as provided in Section 70(a).
  • The legislative scheme emerges from a combined reading of Sections 70, 85, and 85-A appears to be that when in a civil suit properly brought before the Civil Court an issue arises on rival contentions between the parties which are required to be settled, decided, or dealt with by a competent authority under the Tenancy Act, the Civil Court is statutorily required to stay the suit and refer such issue or issues to such competent authority under the Tenancy Act for determination.
  • On receipt of such reference from the Civil Court, the competent authority shall deal with and decide such issues under the Tenancy Act and shall communicate its decision to the Civil Court and such court shall thereupon dispose of the suit under the procedure applicable thereto.
  • To avoid any conflict of decision arising out of the multiplicity of jurisdiction by the Civil Court taking one view of the matter and the competent authority under the Tenancy Act taking a contrary or different view, an express provision is made in Section 85 (2) that no order of the competent authority made under the Act shall be questioned in any Civil Court. To complete the scheme, sub-Section (2) of Section 85-A provides that when upon a reference a decision is recorded by the competent authority under the Tenancy Act and the decision is communicated to the Civil Court, such Court shall thereupon dispose of the suit under the procedure applicable.
  • Thus, the finding of the competent authority under the Tenancy Act is made binding on the Civil Court. It would thus appear that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to settle, decide or deal with any issue which is required to be settled, decided, or dealt with by any competent authority under the Tenancy Act is totally ousted. This would lead to the inescapable conclusion that the Mamlatdar while performing the function and discharging duties as are conferred upon him by Section 70, would constitute an exclusive forum, to the exclusion of the Civil Court, to decide any of the questions that may arise under any of the sub-clauses of Section 70. Section 70(a) requires the Mamlatdar to decide whether a person is an agriculturist.
  • Therefore, if an issue arises in a Civil Court whether a person is an agriculturist within the meaning of the Tenancy Act, the Mamlatdar alone would have exclusive jurisdiction under the Tenancy Act to decide the same and it ousted the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. The Civil Court as required by a statutory provision in Section 85-A will have to frame the issue and refer it to the Mamlatdar and on the reference being answered back, dispose of the suit under the decision recorded by the competent authority on the relevant issue.
  • To translate it into action, if the Mamlatdar were to hold that the plaintiff is not an agriculturist, obviously his suit for specific performance in the Civil Court would fail because he is ineligible to purchase agricultural land and enforcement of such a contract would be violative of the statute and, therefore, opposed to public policy.

Found the Gundaji Satwaji Shinde v. Ram Chandra Bhikaji Joshi case summary useful? We have a bunch of useful topics from the code of civil procedure that will help you in your preparation here >>> CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.

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Om Ram

Om Ram

Om Ram is currently a 2nd-year LL.B. student at Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. Previously he did Life Sciences from SVC, Delhi University. He shows his life journey by making Legal Vlogs on a YouTube channel named 'Om Ram'. He has interests in Law, Science & Film making. Some of his notable work related to photography and other interests can be seen on his Instagram. He also has a channel named 'Law Planet' where he along with his sister makes videos to make people aware of laws and their rights.
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