PETITIONER: SITA RAM BHAU PATIL Vs. RESPONDENT: RAMCHANDRA NAGO PATIL (DEAD) BY L. Rs. & ANR. DATE OF JUDGMENT20/01/1977 BENCH: RAY, A.N. (CJ) BENCH: RAY, A.N. (CJ) BEG, M. HAMEEDULLAH KAILASAM, P.S. CITATION: 1977 AIR 1712 1977 SCR (2) 671 1977 SCC (2) 49 ACT: Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Lands Act 1948--Sec. 76--Power of Revenue Tribunal to interfere with findings of fact. Indian Evidence Act--Sec. 17-Admissibility aid rele- vance of admission--Entries in record of right--Presumptive value. HEADNOTE: The appellant was owner of the suit land. The appel- lant's wife sold this land to respondent No 1. Thereafter, the appellant made an application under s. 70(b) of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Lands Act, 1948, for a decla- ration that he was a tenant of two of the 4 plots of the land. The dispute went up to the Maharashtra Revenue Tribu- nal who rejected the claim of the appellant to tenancy. Thereafter, the respondent filed an application under sec- tion 70(b) of the said Act praying for a declaration that the appellant was not a tenant in respect of the remaining two survey numbers also. The respondent alleged that he never leased the land to the appellant and that he came to know of the entry of the record of rights for the year 1955-56 on the strength of mutation alleged to have been made on 30.1.1966. The respondent was cross-examined and it was suggested to him that he had made an admission in previ- ous deposition although the said deposition was not shown to the respondent. After the cross-examination of the respond- ent was over, a certified copy of the said deposition was placed on record. Thereafter the appellant was examined and he relied on the extract of the record of rights. The Mamlatdar rejected the claim of the appellant to be a tenant which was confirmed by the Deputy Collector. The Maharash- tra Revenue Tribunal held in exercise of its revisional powers that the appellant was proved to be a tenant of the land and set aside the concurrent findings of the two au- thorities below. In a writ petition filed by the respondent under Art. 227 of the Constitution the High Courts set aside the order of the Revenue Tribunal. Dismissing the appeal by Special Leave, HELD : 1. Admission on which reliance has been placed by the appellant suffers from 3 infirmities: (i) Earlier deposition related to two different survey numbers. Whatever was stated about another survey number is irrelevant and inadmissible. Since under s. 17 of the Indian Evidence Act an admission is a statement, oral or documentary, which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact. (ii) In fact there was no admission in the earlier proceed- ings; and (iii) The deposition was not brought to the notice of re- spondent when he was being cross-examined. Privy Council has laid down in the case of Bal Gangadhar Tilak that before any person is to be faced with any statement he should be given an opportunity to see that statement and to answer the statement. [673 E, 674 A-C, 675 A-E] Bal Gangadhar Tilak v. Shrinivas Pandit 42 Indian Ap- peals 135 at page 147, applied. 2. There is a presumption about the correctness of the record of rights. However, there is no abstract principle that whatever will appear in the Record of Rights will be presumed to be correct. In the present case it is shown by evidence that the entries are not correct. [676 B-D] 672 3. Under section 76 of the Act power of Tribunal to interfere is limited. There was no error of law on the face of the record. If the authority entrusted with adjudication goes into the question and assesses the same, the decision may 'be right or wrong but that will not go to show that there is any error of law on the face of record. [676 E, 677 A-B] JUDGMENT:
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 1997 of 1968.
Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment and Order
dated the 13th February, 1968 of the Bombay High Court in
Special Civil Application No. 643 of 1967.
B.N. Lokur and A. G. Ratnaparkhi for the Appellant.
S.V. Gupte, R.B. Datar and Sanjeev Kumar for Respondents.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
RAY, C.J. This appeal by special leave is from the
judgment dated 13 February 1968of the High Court of Bombay.
The appellant was owner of land covered by Survey No.
201/2, 194/13, 200/29 and 194/15. The appellant’s wife sold
this land to respondent No. 1 on 14 June 1946.
On 12 April 1962 the appellant made an application
under’ section 70(b) of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural
Lands Act (hereinafter referred to as the Bombay Act) for a
declaration that he was a tenant of two of the four plots of
land namely, Survey Nos. .194/15 and 200/29. This dispute
between the appellant and the respondent in regard to
alleged tenancy claim for these two survey numbers went up
to the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal. The Tribunal by order
dated 19 March, 1954 rejected the claim of the appellant to
tenancy in respect of the land covered by Survey Nos. 200/29
Thereafter the respondent filed an application on 24
January 1963 under section 70(b) of the Bombay Act for a
declaration that the appellant was not tenant of the remain-
ing two Survey Nos.201/2 and 194/13. The respondent alleged
that he never leased the land to the appellant. The re-
spondent further said that he came to know about entry in
the record of rights for the years 1955-56 on the strength
of mutation alleged to have been made on 30 January 1956 and
sanctioned on 13 November 1956. This application of the
respondent was resisted by the appellant on the ground that
he was tenant of these two survey Nos. 201/2 and 194/13.
The matter was heard by the Mamlatdar. By an order
dated 31 July 1963 the Mamlatdar rejected the claim of the
appellant to be. a tenant. Thereafter the matter was taken
up to the District Deputy Collector. The Deputy Collector
by his order dated 27 June 1966 upheld the Mamlatdar’s
order. Before the Mamlatdar and the Deputy Collector the
respondent examined himself. He was cross examined and his
attention was drawn in cross examination towards an alleged
admission about the appellant being his tenant in the depo-
sition. recorded by the Tenancy Aval Karkun in an earlier
case on 10 September 1962. The respondent denied that he
made.any admission. The previous deposition was not shown
to him on that day.
On 9 July 1963 a certified copy of the deposition in the
earlier proceedings was placed on record. On that very day
the. appellant examined himself, saying that he was a tenant
of the land and he had no other evidence to show in support
of his case except the certified copy of the statement which
was produced on that day.
The appellant also relied on the extracts of the record
of rights showing that the respondent was shown as ‘Kabze-
dar’ of Survey Nos. 201/2 and the appellant was shown as
tenant of the same. In regard to Survey No. 194/13 it also
appeared from the record of rights that the respondent was
shown as ‘kabzedar’ and the appellant as a tenant.
On this evidence the Mamlatdar held that the appellant
was not Cultivating the lands as a tenant of the respondent
and he declared that the appellant was not a tenant. The
Deputy ColleCtor affirmed the order of the Mamlatdar.
The Maharashtra ReVenue Tribunal however by its order
dated 9 January 1967 held that the appellant was proved to
be a tenant of the land. The respondent thereupon took the
matter to the High Court under Article 227. The High Court
set aside the order of the Revenue Tribunal. The appellant
obtained special leave from this Court.
On behalf of the appellant three contentions were advanced.
First, that the respondent was bound by his admission that
the appellant is a tenant. Second, there is a presumption
of the correctness of the record of rights under section
135-J of the Bombay Land Revenue Code 1879. Third, the
Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal was justified in setting aside
the findings of fact of the Mamlatdar and the Deputy Collec-
tor because of error of law.
The admission on which reliance has been placed by
counsel for the appellant suffers from three infirmities.
In the deposition of the respondent in Tenancy Case No.
6/61-62 dated 10 September 1962, the respondent gave evi-
dence in regard to dispute between the respondent and the
appellant in relation to Survey Nos. 200/29 and 194/15
respondent said that he never kept the appellant as a tenant
on the land. In cross examination it was suggested
to the respondent that the land bearing Survey No. 201/2
belonged to the respondent and that the appellant is a
tenant in the land. The respondent said as follows:
“The land Survey No. ‘201/2 situate in Balkum belongs to
me in Balkum. The applicant is a tenant in the said land.
I do not take the rent in respect of the said land ……..
I have prior to 15-20 years purchased this land from Sita-
ram Bhau. Even the land bearing S. No. 201/2 was purchased
right from him. I have never cultivated the land bearings
S. No. 201/2. It was barren at that time. When this land
was to be acquired I learnt whether Sitaram Bhau was culti-
vating this land …. or whether his name has been entered
as a tenant against this land(?) I cannot say as to whose
land is around the land beating S. No. 201/2 or other
This evidence read in its entirety is not an admission
at all. A person who says that ‘I have taken no rent’
obviously says that there is no relationship of landlord or
The first infirmity in regard to this admission is that
whatever was said by the respondent in regard to Survey No.
201/2 is irrelevant and inadmissible in the deposition of
the respondent in that case. Section 17 of the Indian
Evidence Act states that ‘An admission is a statement, oral
or documentary, which suggests any inference as to any fact
in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the
persons, and under the circumstances, hereinafter men-
tioned’. In regard to dispute between the appellant and the
respondent arising out of Survey No. 194/15 and 200/29,
Survey Nos. 201/2 and 194/13 were neither issues in fact
nor relevant fact.
The second infirmity against this admission being used
against the respondent is that as long as the respondent was
under cross examination, it was not brought to his notice.
It is said by counsel for the appellant relying on the
decision of this Court in Bharat Singh and Anr. v. Bhagira-
thi reported in 1966(1) S.C.R. 606, that this admission was
proved by the appellant and this admission on the ruling Of
the decision of this Court (Supra) is substantive evidence
and is therefore admissible against the respondent.
The decision of this Court in Bharat Singh’s
case (Supra) is that:
“Admissions have to be clear if they are to
be used against the person making them.
Admission proved are said in the decision to
“admissible evidence irrespective of
whether the party making them appeared in the
witness box or not and whether the party when
appearing as witness was confronted with
those statements in case it made a statement
contrary to those admissions”.
Counsel for the appellant submitted that the respond-
ent even though not confronted with the admissions would be
bound by his admissions and the appellant would be enti-
tled to rely on the admissions as admissible. There is the
observation in the very next sentence in the aforesaid
decision of this Court that “the purpose of contradicting
the witness under section 145 of the Evidence. Act is very
much different from the purpose of proving .the admission”.
It, therefore., follows that admission is relevant and it
has to be proved before it becomes evidence.
If admission is proved and if it is thereafter to be
used against the party who has made it the question comes
within the provisions of Section 145 of the Evidence Act.
The provisions in the Indian Evidence Act that ‘admission
is not conclusive proof’ are to be considered in regard ,to
two features of evidence. First, what weight is to be
attached to an admission ? In order to attach weight it has
be found out whether the admission is clear, unambiguous and
is a relevant piece of evidence. Second, even if the admis-
sion is proved in accordance with the provisions of the
Evidence Act and if it is to be used against the party who
has made it, “it is sound that if a witness is under cross
examination on oath, he should be given an opportunity if
the document are to be used against him, to tender his
explanation and to clear up the point of ambiguity or dis-
pute. This is a general salutary and intelligible rule”
(see Bal Gangadhar Tilak v. Shrinivas Pandit 42 Indian
Appeals 135 at page 147). The Judicial Committee in that
case said, “it has to be observed with regret and with
surprise that the general principle and the specific statu-
tory provisions have not been followed”. The general prin-
ciple is that before any person is to be faced with any
statement he should be given an opportunity to see that
statement and to answer the same. The specific statutory
provision is contained in Section 145 of the Indian Evidence
Act that “A witness may be cross-examined as to previous
statements made by him in writing or reduced into writing,
and relevant matters in question, without such writing
being shown to him or being proved; but if it is intended to
contradict him by the writing, his attention must, before
the writing can be proved, be called to those parts of it
which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him”.
The fore, a mere proof of admission, after the person whose
admission is alleged to be has concluded his evidence, will
be of no avail a cannot be utilised against him.
The third infirmity with regard to this admission is
whether this is a clear and unequivocal admission. The High
Court said that”a certified copy of the deposition was
placed on record on 9 July 1973, on which day against it
does not appear that the contents of the deposition were
read out to the respondent or that any attempt was made to
obtain leave of the Court to further cross examine the
witness.” .The contents of the’ alleged admission .to which
reference has been made are not unambiguous and cannot be
accepted as an admission.The contents are that he was not
receiving any rent and the land was fallow. Therefore, the
High Court was right in rejecting the contentions advanced
by the appellants that there was any admission and in set-
ting aside the decision of the Revenue Tribunal.
The second’ contention on behalf of the appellant is
that the certain record of rights relied on by the appellant
would establish that the appellant was a tenant. The High
Court’ rightly accepted the contention of the respondent
that after a careful consideration of the evidence on record
the fact finding courts, i.e. the Mamlatdar and the Special
Deputy Collector recorded a finding that the appellant had
not cultivated the land in dispute as the tenant of the
respondent. Therefore the Revenue Tribunal had no jurisdic-
tion to interfere and set aside the finding of fact.
As to the record of rights it appears that the High
Court referred to two important features. It is true that
the record of rights relate to Survey Nos. 201/2 and 194/13
and there is mention of the appellant as tenant. There is
also a reference to the mutation proceedings. The name of
the respondent is shown as Kabjedar. Two of the
important heads in the record are ‘Mode’ and ‘Crops & fal-
lows’. The Mode is shown as “I” and under Crops and fallows
entry ‘Paddy’ is shown. The High Court referred to this
feature of the record of rights Mode “I” means that the
respondent cultivated as owner of the land that was never
even case of the appellant. The High Court rightly said
that the irresistible conclusion therefore is that the
extracts from the record of rights contain entries which do
not have any relation to true facts. If that is the posi-
tion with regard to these extracts, these cannot be relied
on for inference that actually the land was cultivated and
paddy crops were grown on the said land.
With regard to the record of rights counsel for the
appellant said that presumption arises with regard to its
correctness. There is no abstract principle that whatever
will appear in the record of rights will be presumed to be
correct when it is shown by evidence that the entries are
not correct. Apart from the intrinsic evidence in the
record of rights that they refer to facts which are untrue
it also appears that the record of rights have reference to
the mutation entry that was made by the Circle Officer on 30
January 1956. Counsel for the respondent rightly contended
that no presumption could arise for two principal reasons.
First, the oral evidence in this case nullified the entries.
in the record of rights as showing a state of affairs op-
posed to the real state of affairs and, second, no notice
was ever given to the respondent with regard to mutation
proceedings. Therefore the respondent is right in contend-
ing that no presumption can validly arise from the record of
The third contention on behalf of the appellant that the
Tribunal was justified to interfere because of error of law
is also unacceptable. The provisions contained in section 76
of the Bombay Act enumerate the grounds on which there can
be revision by the Revenue Tribunal. One of the grounds is
that there is ‘error of law’. In the present case the
manner in which the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal entertained
the revision was by holding, as follows:
“There is evidence that the applicant
(meaning thereby the appellant) has been in
actual possession of land since 1956-57
However, the authorities below have rejected the entries as
well as the opponents’ (meaning thereby the respondent)
admission on the ground that the applicant did not support
the entries by producing the rent receipts. According to
the authorities below the burden was on the applicant to
prove his case by producing evidence to corroborate the
entries. The appellate authority has also observed that the
alleged admission of the opponent, made in the other case
was rejected by the Revenue Tribunal. The authorities below
arrived at the conclusion that the applicant’s possession
was otherwise than lawful. This concurrent finding of the
authorities below is being challenged by the applicant in
this revision application.”
The Revenue Tribunal seemed to consider the approach of
the a Mamlatdar and the Deputy Collector to be erroneous
because according to the Revenue Tribunal the burden was
shifted to the respondent
to rebut the entry in the record of rights and .that the
respondent failed to discharge that burden. When the entire
evidence is before the Court, it is well settled that the
burden of proof becomes immaterial.
Further the Revenue Tribunal fell into error of enter-
taining the Revision when there was no error of law on the
face of the record. The presumption which was said to arise
in the record of rights was before the Deputy Collector as
well as the Mamlatdar. If the authority entrusted with
adjudication goes into the question and assesses the same,
the decision may be right or wrong but that will not go to
show that there is any error of law on the fact of record.
All the three contentions advanced by the appellant
fail. The appeal is for the foregoing reasons dismissed
P.H.P. Appeal dis- missed. 678