‘Land Survey Tribunal’ is not an innovation to our judicial system; but a convey of Revenue-court u/s. 106 of B.T. Act and thereafter special miscellaneous jurisdiction of civil court u/s. 143A of SAT Act and is an alternative way for rectifying the wrong record-of-rights in a summary proceeding.
What is Land Survey Tribunal:
The Chapter XVIIA, containing secs. 145A-145I, of the State Acquisition and Tenancy Act was inserted by section 2 of the State Acquisition and Tenancy (Amendment) Act, 2004 (Act No. IX of 2004).
By inserting this chapter the legislature has created a special forum and an alternative way of the civil court for rectification of the record-of-rights in a summary proceeding.
Sec. 145A(1) of the SAT Act provides that the Government may establish special Tribunal(s) specially created for the purpose determination of the disputes arising out of the final publication of the last revised record-of-rights prepared u/s. 144 of SAT Act. The government has already created a Tribunal under this sec. 145A(1) in each District of the country except the three hilly Districts. Such special Tribunals constituted under this sec. 145A(1) are named “the Land Survey Tribunals”.
Distinction between suit for declaration of title to suit lands u/s. 42 of S.R. Act and suit for correction of record of rights u/s. 145A(4) of the SAT Act:
There are clear distinctions between a suit for declaration of title to suit lands u/s. 42 of S.R. Act and a suit for correction or alternation of a record of rights u/s. 145A(4) of SAT Act. Such as:
1.In a suit for correction of a record, the decree only determines the correctness and propriety of a record of rights as finally published u/s. 144 of the SAT Act; whereas a decree for declaration of title determines the title to as well as possession in the suit lands. Consequently the decree for declaration is much stronger than a decree for correction of the record.
2.In a declaratory suit the plaintiff must have to prove both his title to and possession in the suit properties. But in a suit for correction of record strict proof of possession is not material; title and ejmali possession is enough.
3.In a declaratory suit the suit lands must be specified and ascertained; but in case of record correction suit no needs for so strict specification of suit lands.
4.The method of correction of the record-of-rights by the Tribunal is more complicated but the decree of it has less effect than that of civil court; on the other hand the method in a suit for declaration of title is shorter and less complicated than that of the suit in the Tribunal but the decree of civil court has stronger effect over the decree of the Tribunal.
5.The decree in the record correction suit shall take effect in point of time on the date when the record was finally published not on the date when it is passed; whereas, the decree for declaration of title shall be effected both retrospective and at the date when it is pronounced.
Some characteristics of the Land Survey Tribunals constituted u/s. 145A(1) of the SAT Act:
The Land Survey Tribunals constituted u/s. 145A(1) of the SAT Act have some exceptional features. We may enumerate some of them herein below:
1.The Land Survey Tribunal is a special forum and an alternative way of the civil court for rectification of the record-of-rights in a summary proceeding.
2.Land Survey Tribunal is not an innovation to our judicial system; rather it is a convey or substituted shape of the then Revenue-court u/s. 106 of the Bengal Tenancy Act and thereafter special miscellaneous jurisdiction of the civil court u/s. 143A of State Acquisition and Tenancy Act.
3.This Tribunal shall have jurisdiction only upon the last record-of-rights, i.e. the BRS record; if any dispute involves both of the present and the previous records, this Tribunal shall have no jurisdiction upon the said dispute.
4.Prayers as well as the schedule of the plaint of suits before this Tribunal must be specified as to that how and in which portion the record-of-rights (Khatian) in question is to be corrected. Upon a vague prayer as to that the suit Khatian should be corrected as per plaintiff’s share without ascertainment by the plaintiff in the plaint itself the suit must not be decreed.
5.No suit can be filed in such Tribunals after expiry of the statutory period of limitation.
6.Proceeding before the Tribunal is a summary proceeding; the Code of Civil Procedure will not apply in such a proceeding as a whole.
7.At the establishment of this Tribunal the civil court’s jurisdiction in respect of correction of the last record-of-rights has been ousted. But it has not ousted civil court’s jurisdiction upon the suits for declaration of title.
8.If two suits are filed at the same time, one is for correction of the record in the Tribunal and another is for declaration of title before the civil court for the same lands and between the same parties; the first suit shall be stayed u/s. 10 of CPC but not vice versa.
9.This Tribunal cannot take oral evidence by examining the witness in the dock upon examination-in-chief and cross-examination; however, if it requires necessary, it can take oral evidence from the witnesses on affidavit.
10.In a suit for correction of record before this Tribunal the plaintiff needs not prove his possession over whole suit lands upon which he wants to correct his share in the Khatian; rather his ejmali or constructive possession in the khatian’s lands supported by title may be suffice for correction the Khatian.
11.This Tribunal shall have power only to declare any last record-of-rights to be wrong and also to order for correction of the said record according to its decision. This Tribunal shall have no power to declare any person’s right and title to the suit lands.
12.The decree by the Land Survey Tribunal must be specified as to how and in which share the record-of-rights in question shall be corrected; and any decree without such specifications shall be infructuous as being useless.
13.This Tribunal cannot grant any interim or interlocutory relief.
14.In a suit for correction of record before this Tribunal part decree may be granted to that portion or share upon which the plaintiff can prove his right.
15.The decree of this Tribunal shall take effect at the point of time when the record was finally published and not on the date when it would be passed.
16.Decree of this Tribunal shall be executed by the Revenue-officer concerned under the mandate of s. 54 of SAT Act.
17.The decisions of this Tribunal may not absolute in all cases; rather in exceptional cases any party aggrieved by any decision of this Tribunal may go to the civil court for establishing his right and title if he acquires it otherwise than the record-of-rights.
Mentionable all these above mentioned characteristics shall be widely discussed herein below and in various chapters herein after.
The Land Survey Tribunal is an alternative way for rectifying the wrong record-of-rights in summary proceeding:
We may mention that the Land Survey Tribunal as constituted u/s. 145A of the SAT Act obviously an alternative way for rectifying the wrong record-of-rights in a summary proceeding. We may place decisions in this support that: Sec. 143A has authorized a person aggrieved by an order or omission of entry in the record-of-rights finally published under Chapter IV of the Act to file a suit for correction of such record in the civil court. It is obviously, therefore, that an alternative right has now been provided for a detailed prove into the matter and for rectifying an erroneous entry in a record-of-rights, 23 DLR 60, 31 DLR 421
Land Survey Tribunal is not an innovation to our judicial system; but a convey of Revenue-court u/s. 106 of B.T. Act and civil court u/s. 143A of SAT Act:
The Land Survey Tribunal as constituted u/s. 145A(1) of the SAT Act is not an innovation to our judicial system; but it is a convey of or, in other words, a substituted shape of the Revenue-court as was prevailing u/s. 106 of the then B.T. Act as well of the Civil Court’s special miscellaneous jurisdiction as created u/s. 143A of the SAT Act. However, the name of this “Land Survey Tribunal” itself is an innovation and early to insertion of this “Chapter XVIIA” in the SAT in 2004 such a Tribunal was totally unknown to the history of our judicial system.
Now we may see these provisions of laws for correction of the record-of-rights as was prevailing earlier in our judicial field.
Provisions for correction of record-of-rights u/ss. 106/111A of B.T. Act:
The Bengal Tenancy Act in its sec. 106 provided provisions for suit for correction of the record-of-rights. Accordingly, any person was allowed to dispute the final publication of the record-of-rights published u/s. 103A(2), i.e. the C.S. or R.S. record, by filing a suit before the Revenue-officer concerned and the Revenue-officer would hear and decide the dispute.
As per provisions of sec. 111A of B.T. Act suits were not entertainable in the civil courts in respect of any record-of-rights published u/s. 101 of the Act, i.e. the C.S. or the R.S. records. But any person who was dissatisfied with any entry in, or omission from such records-of-rights which concerns a right of which he is in possession, might institute a suit for declaration of his right under Chapter VI of the Specific Relief Act, 1877.
Therefore, we find that earlier under the then B.T. Act the special forum for correction of the record-of-rights was from the Revenue-officers themselves not from judicial officers. However, any person having right and title aggrieved by any such record could file suits in general civil courts for establishing his right and title by a declaration u/s. 42 of the Specific Relief Act.
Provisions for correction of the S.A. record-of-rights; sec. 143A SAT Act; now repealed by Ordinance no. LXIV of 1975:
After publication of the S.A. record in 1962-63, the Government enacted special provisions in 1967 for correction of the mistakes in the said SA record by inserting sec. 143A in the SAT Act. This section provided that any person aggrieved by an entry or omission of entry in the record-of-rights prepared or revised and finally published under Chapter IV might file an application along with necessary requisites, for the purpose of correcting mistakes in such record-of-rights in the civil court which would have jurisdiction to entertain a suit for possession of the land to which such entry relates or in respect of which such omission was made.
Therefore, for correction of the S.A. record as well the legislature created a special forum by filing an application before the ordinary civil court for that purpose.
But for this provision of this sec. 143A various types problems, e.g. of multiplicity of suits, double-jeopardizes, conflicting decisions from two concurrent forums, arose and therefore, soon after then its creation this section was repealed in 1975. Since then the common means of suits for establishing one’s rights and title in the civil court by a declaratory suit u/s. 42 of S.R. Act had been exercised in our judicial system.
But in 2004 by inserting sec. 145A of the SAT Act the legislature has made provisions that the Government may establish special Tribunal(s) being named “Land Survey Tribunal” for the purpose of correction of the last revised record-of-rights, i.e. B.S./R.S./BRS record. Under this section the government has made such Tribunals.
Under such provisions of law we find that earlier there were special forums for the purpose of correction of the records-of-rights and this “Land Survey Tribunal” is a substituted figure of those forms of special courts u/s. 106 of the B.T. Act and u/s. 143A of SAT Act as introduced in 2004 by sec. 145A of the SAT Act.
Establishment of Land Survey Tribunals; how much necessary:
We have already seen above that, in most parts of the country except in some area, the subject-matter of the Land Survey Tribunal, i.e. the BRS record-of-rights, was draftly published long ago ( in 1980s) and meanwhile it also has been finally published a considerable period back. By this time rights and title have been accrued to various persons by several ways. In such circumstances, the situation does not need for correcting the record-of-rights in position of long back; rather it, in appropriate cases, needs to declare one’s right or title by the civil courts.
We shall also see later that the decision of the Land Survey Tribunals cannot be conclusive determination of the disputes between the parties. Any person to whom any right and title has been accrued by title deeds or by long term possession may resort to the universal way of civil court for establishing his such right u/s. 42 of the S.R. Act even though he might lost in the said Tribunal. In such cases, the parties would lead to multiplicity of proceedings.
Under the circumstances, we find that the decrees passed by the Tribunals have more complicated method but has little force of effect to determine the rights and title of the parties finally; and on the other hand settlement of the dispute in a civil court in a suit for declaration of title is easier but have stronger effect. Therefore, we may recommend that the universal method of suits for declaration of title, as was allowed by sec. 111A of the then B.T. Act and thereafter as have been exercised in our judicial system for long, may be the most appropriate way for determining the rights of the parties.
N.B. Recently I have written a book namely “Law and Procedure of the Land Survey Tribunal”, A book of laws relating to the record-of-rights, presumptive value of the record-of-rights, procedures and ingredients of suit for correction of the record-of-rights in the Land Survey Tribunal, ouster of civil court’s jurisdiction by this Tribunal and eventhough maintainability of suits for declaration of title before the Civil Courts, appeal and revision against the decisions of this Tribunals, execution of decree of this Tribunal and model pleadings and judgments respecting the Land Survey Tribunal, yet to be published. This article is a chapter of that book.