The Supreme Court has held that a Civil Court has no jurisdiction to try the civil suit in relation to the land which is subject to ceiling proceedings under Urban Land Ceiling Act.
The bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra also observed that Civil Court have the jurisdiction to declare the proceedings held under the Act, as void or illegal or non est, since it was impliedly excluded and barred under the Act.
The bench held thus while setting aside a Calcutta High Court judgment that held that that the Civil Court has the jurisdiction to try the civil suit in relation to the suit property which was subjected to ceiling proceedings under the Act. (The Competent Authority Calcutta, vs. David Mantosh)
Scanning through the provisions of the Act, the bench observed: “First, the Act is a self contained code in itself, which provides complete machinery while dealing with the rights of the landowners in relation to their lands, which are in excess of the ceiling limits prescribed under the Act. It also provides adequate remedies to correct all kinds of errors committed by the competent authority under the Act; and Second, the Act gives finality to the orders passed by the appellate authority under Section 33, and also provides a bar to file the civil suits in relation to cases falling under Section 30 (5) and Section 40 of the Act.”
The court referred to Constitution bench judgment in Dhula Bai vs. State of MP which held thus: Where the statute gives a finality to the orders of the special tribunals the civil courts’ jurisdiction must be held to be excluded if there is adequate remedy to do what the civil court would normally do in a suit. Such provision, however, does not exclude those cases where the provisions of the particular Act have not been complied with or the statutory tribunal has not acted in conformity with the fundamental principles of judicial procedure.
Applying this principle to the present case, the bench observed that the jurisdiction of the Civil Courts to try the civil Suits with respect to the lands, which were subjected to ceiling proceedings under the Act, is impliedly barred, since the Act excludes the jurisdiction of the Civil Court. The court added: “First, the Act in question gives finality to the orders passed by the appellate authority [refer to Section 33(3)]. Second, the Act provides adequate remedies in the nature of appeals, such as first appeal to the Tribunal and second appeal to the High Court. [refer to Sections 12 (4), 13 and 33 (1)]. Third, the Act is a complete code in itself and gives overriding powers on other laws (refer to Section 42). Fourth, the Act expressly excludes the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in relation to the cases falling under Sections 30 and 40 (refer to Section 30(5) and Section 40).”