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PROVISIONS OF CPC NOT APPLICABLE TO LAND TRIBUNAL

K. Somashekara Shetty vs Devaki And Ors. ILR 2005 KAR 3534, 2005 (5) KarLJ 248 It is clear from the provisions of Section 2(a) and Section 2(35) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act that the provisions of the CPC are applicable only to Courts as defined under the Act and are not applicable to the Land Tribunals. Section 48-A of the Act provides for enquiry by the Tribunal. Sub-section (5) of Section 48-A of the Act States that where an objection is filed disputing the validity of the applicant's claim or setting up a rival claim, the Tribunal shall, after enquires, determine, by order, the person entitled to be registered as occupant after holding an enquiry. Therefore the provisions of CPC are not applicable to the Land Tribunal. Therefore, adopting the procedure prescribed in the CPC as amended by Act No. 22/2002 in the matter of examination-in-chief of the witness by way of affidavit is contrary to mandatory procedure prescribed in Rule 17 of Karnataka Land Reforms Rules. The Tribunal is required to record evidence as provided in Rule 17(5) of the Rules. It is not permissible to the Tribunal for accept examination-in-chief by way of affidavit.


It is not permissible to record evidence in English language not understood by all the members of the Tribunal because Rule 17(1) clearly states that the record of the proceedings shall be maintained in a language understood by all its members. Summary enquiry as provided in Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act is prescribed for determination of the question in controversy. The procedure prescribed by the Act and the Rules referred to above has to be followed by the Land Tribunal while holding inquiry.

The Land Tribunal being a creature of statute, has to follow the procedure prescribed in the Rules while determining any question by or under the Act. Merely because there is no prohibition to do it in any other manner, the Tribunal cannot adopt a different procedure, which would defeat the aim and object of the legislation.

It is the case of the petitioner that the land in question is a punja land and is not capable of cultivation. There is no finding recorded by the Tribunal on this aspect of the matter. When the landlord contends that the land is not capable of being cultivated, it is incumbent upon the Land Tribunal give a finding on this point, if necessary by holding a spot inspection. Further, the Land Tribunal is not justified in accepting the examination-in-chief of the witnesses by way of affidavits, particularly in English. It has not recorded a finding whether its members understand English language. In my view, the procedure followed by the Tribunal is contrary to law.

QUOTED CITATIONS

This Court in Bheemappa v. Land Tribunal, Jamakhandi, 1977 (2) Kar.LJ 190 has held that the combined effect of Rule 17 of the Land Reforms Rules and Section 34 of the Land Revenue Act is that evidence should be recorded in the hand-writing of the officer conduting an inquiry. This is a clear obligation imposed upon officers or authorities entrusted with the duty of holding a formal inquiry, recording of evidence on cyclo-styled pro-forma is impermissible.

In Dattatraya Pandit v. Land Tribunal, Hukkeri, 1997 (2) Kar. L.J 209, this Court has held that under Rule 17 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Rules, the Tribunal has to follow the procedure laid down by Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act for holding enquires. It is further held that the said provisions do not permit the Tribunal to dispose of the cases merely on affidavits. It is as follows; "According to Rule 17 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Rules, the Tribunal has to follow the procedure laid down by Section 34 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act for holding enquiries. Section 34 read with Sections 35 and 36 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act requires that the proceedings of the Tribunal should be held in open and it does not permit the Tribunal to dispose of cases merely on affidavits of parties in which case, the opposite party will have no opportunity of contesting the evidence by cross-examination. No following the above procedure is an illegality which vitiates the proceedings."

In Byrappa and Anr. v. State of Karnataka and Ors., 1981 (2) Kar.L.J.1 a Division Bench of this Court has held that having regard to the requirements of Rule 17 of the Rules, the summary of the evidence in an inquiry before the Tribunal should be recorded by its Chairman and this is mandatory. Any breach of the requirement vitiates the proceeding before the Tribunal.

In Seetharamaiah B.N. and Ors. v. Land Tribunal, Virajpet and Ors., 1985 (1) Kar.L.J. 369, a Division Bench of this Court has held that if the Chairman of the Tribunal is not in a position to write down the deposition of the parties and therefore, dictates the summary of the deposition either to a member of the Tribunal or to a member of the staff of the Tribunal who records the same accurately, any order passed on the basis of the evidence so recorded shall not be interfered with by the High Court.

In Sanna Karibasappa v. Mudegowdra Mahadevappa and Ors., 1978 (2) Kar.L.J. 26 this Court has held that maintaining the order sheet and recording the final order in English, a language not understood by all the members of the Tribunal is a clear violation of the mandatory provisions of Rule 17.

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