Annamalai Chetti vs Colonel J.G. Cloete on 17 January, 1883

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Madras High Court
Annamalai Chetti vs Colonel J.G. Cloete on 17 January, 1883
Equivalent citations: (1883) ILR 6 Mad 189
Bench: Innes, Kindersley


1. On the 14th June 1877, the defendant, a Settlement Officer, purporting to act under Madras Act XXVIII of 1860, passed a decision demarcating the boundaries of certain villages in the ‘Salem District, some of which are in plaintiff’s mitta. He gave notice of his decision to the plaintiff in an endorsement of the 20th June 1877, on a letter addressed by plaintiff to him. On 18th August 1877, plaintiff brought this suit to set aside this decision.

1. The District Munsif considered plaintiff was not in time, as his appeal (see Section 25, Act XXVIII of 1860) was not brought within two months from the date of the decision; and he dismissed the suit.

3. The Subordinate Judge in appeal considered that the decision of the Settlement Officer, though purporting to be under Act XXVIII of 1860, was upon a matter in which he had no right to exercise the power conferred by that Act, or that, if he had, his procedure was not in accordance with what is required by the Act, as the evidence on which his decision was based was not adduced before him, and there was nothing to show that he made it known to jibe parties. He, therefore, remanded the case for disposal by the District munsif on the merits.

4. The District Munsif, and the District Judge, before whom the case came |n appeal, have found that the boundary, as fixed by the Settlement Officer, is the proper boundary, and the plaintiff’s suit, therefore, stands dismissed.

5. Plaintiff now appeals on several grounds.

6. We have first to consider whether under Section 25 of the Act plaintiff was in time. This point was only raised in the appeal to the Subordinate Judge, it is necessary to determine it as it affects the jurisdiction of the Civil

7. We think he was in time. If there was any decision at all in the sense of the Act, it could not date earlier than the date of the communication of it to the parties; otherwise, they might be barred of their right of appeal without any knowledge of the decision having been passed.

8. As to the points on which plaintiff has appealed, it is only necessary to consider the second.

9. We are of opinion that the procedure was altogether irregular and the decision cannot be binding on plaintiff.

10. The Act requires the officer to take the evidence himself. He cannot delegate this duty. Colonel Cloete contented himself with accepting the report of a subordinate, Booth Singh, and writing a decision at Coimbatore. We must hold that the decision is wholly void and should be set aside. We, therefore, allow the appeal; but each party will bear his costs throughout.

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