Procedure Applicable To Revenue Officers
Ajay Kumar Jindal, Advocate[1*]
Abhay Kumar Jindal, Advocate[2*]
Email Id : email@example.com, Abhayjindal14@yahoo.co.in
Date : 19/02/2022
Location : Ch. No. 425, 4th Floor, Advocates Complex, District Courts, Ludhiana, Punjab
📱 +91 9814712425, +91 9814912425
Procedure Applicable To Revenue OfficersIntroduction:- Under the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887, the hierarchy of officers has been created. No officer can diligently perform his duties unless and until he knows the power vested to him and the procedure which has to be followed by him in discharging the duties assigned to him under the Act. In India, there was various princely estates prior to independence, which were governed by the kings, Nawabs and other rulers. There was no uniformity in the procedure, which was followed by the officers appointed by such States. What to say of uniformity of procedure, there was no written procedure, which a common man could come to know for redressal of his grievances. After the advent of Britishers in India, they started formulating the Acts, rules and regulations besides the procedure to be followed by the officers, so appointed in all the Acts. The purpose of prescription of the procedure was that both the parties may know as to what procedure has to be followed by them in a particular case. In all the areas, which came under the governance of Britishers, the same procedure was made applicable. Uniformity of procedure was adhered to in all the Acts. The principles of natural justice is the foundation of such procedures. Fair opportunity was granted to both the parties to present their case and submit their arguments. The provisions for procedure has been made in all the enactments which have been passed from time to time till date. Without prescribing the procedure, the act can be compared with a marriage procession party without a bridegroom. Thus, you will find that in each and every enactment, procedures and rules have been made therein. The Punjab Land Revenue Act (herein after referred to as "Act") is not an exception in this regard. Persons entitled to appear:- The persons who are authorized to appear before a revenue officer, has been prescribed under section 18 of the Act. As per the said sections, the following persons can cause their appearance before a revenue officer for applications and acts done before him.
a) By the parties themselves; or
b) By their recognized agents or a legal practitioner.A proviso has been added in this section, which prescribes that a employment of a recognized agent or legal practitioner shall not excuse the personal attendance of the parties to any proceedings in any case, in which personal attendance is specially required by an order of the officer. Revenue Officer:- Revenue officer has been defined in section 3(12) of the Act as under:-
"Revenue officer in any provision of this Act, means a revenue officer, having authority under this Act to discharge the functions of a revenue officer under that provisions."Thus, the mere appointment of a revenue officer is not a essential ingredient for a revenue officer to Act. The revenue officer must be having the authority under this Act to discharge the functions of a revenue officer under the particular provisions. Legal Practitioner:- The use of word legal practitioner has been made in section 18(b) of the Act. Legal practitioner has been defined in section 3(13) of the Act as under:-
"Legal practitioner means any legal practitioner within the meaning of the legal practitioners act 1879(XVIII) except a Mukhtar."After the passing of the Advocates Act, 1961, now the work of legal practitioner has been taken over by the Advocates who obtain a license to practice law under the provisions of Advocates Act. The concept of legal practitioner stands repealed. Nowadays, there is no legal practitioner which will be found working in any court of law. Thus, the appearance can be made by the parties or the power of attorneys (Recognized agents) or an Advocate before the Revenue officer. Powers to make rules:- Without conferring the powers as to make the rules for procedure, no rule can be passed or formulated by any officer. Under section 17 of the Act, the State Govt. has been entrusted with the Powers to make rules, consistent with the Act for regulating the procedure of revenue officer under this Act in cases, in which a procedure is not prescribed by this Act. Thus, State Govt. is the only competent authority to make rules. However, the said rules of procedure have to be consistent with the Act for regulating the procedure of the revenue officer. Nature of the Rules:- Under section 17(2) of the Act, the nature of the rules have been prescribed by the legislature, which covers the following aspects:-
(a) For the mode of enforcing orders of ejectment from and delivery of possession of criminal property and rules providing for those matters;
(b) All are any of the powers in regard to contempts, resistance and the like, which a civil court may exercise in execution of a decree, whereby it has adjudged ejectment from or delivery of possession of such property.
(c) Under section17(3) of the Act, a revenue officer may refer any case, which he is empower to dispose of under this Act to another revenue officer for investigation and report and may decide the case upon the report subject to the rules made under this section.Thus, powers have been given to the revenue officer to entrust the case to any other revenue officer or to make an investigation at the spot and report the matter to the revenue officer, by whom the case has been sent. Powers of revenue officers to summon persons:- It is, within the powers of revenue officer to summon any person whose attendance he considers necessary for the purpose of any business before him as a revenue officer (Section 19(1)). Thus, the power of summoning any person vest with the revenue officer only when he considers necessary for the purpose of any business before him, whose attendance he considers necessary. Thus, reasons have to be assigned by the revenue officer, as to why he is summoning a particular person for attending the proceedings. Rights of the persons so summoned:- According to section 19(2), a person so summoned shall be bound to appear at the time and place mentioned in the summons in person or, if the summons so allows by his recognize agent or legal practitioner. The right has been given to the person who has been summoned for appearance before a revenue officer that he can appear either himself or through his recognized agent or legal practitioner by virtue of section 18 of the Act. Statement of the person so summoned When the person who has been summoned to attend the proceedings before the revenue officer shall be bound to state the truth upon any matter respecting which he has been examined or make statements and to produce such documents and other things relating to any such matter as the revenue officer to record the statement of the person on oath. In case, the person so summoned to make a statement does not speak truth, then appropriate proceedings can be initiated against him for making a false statement before the said revenue officer. Otherwise also it is the bounden duty of all persons who appear in legal proceedings to speak the truth and truth only, though, the people don't speak truth when the come to the court. Mode of service of summons:- Section 20 of the Act prescribes various mode of service of summons. The mode prescribed under this section is akin to the procedure prescribed under order 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure. It may not be an exaggeration if we say that the powers of the revenue officer to serve the summons on the persons have the basis in the Code of Civil Procedure.
(a) Summons can be served personally on the person to whom it is addressed or his recognized agent or an adult male member of his family usually residing with him (Section 20(1)) of the Act.
(b) If the service cannot be made or if the acceptance of the summons is refused, the summons may be served by posting a copy thereof as the usual or last known place of residence of the person to whom it is addressed or if that person does not reside in the district in which the revenue officer employed and in case to which the summons relates has reference to the land in that district, then, by posting a copy of the summons on some conspicuous place or near the estate, where the land is situate (20(2) of the Act.
(c) In case the summons relate to a case, where the person having the same interest are so numerous that person service of all of them is not reasonable practicable, it may, if the revenue officer so directs, be served by delivery of a copy to such of those person, as the revenue officer nominate in this behalf and by proclamation of the contents thereof for the information of other person interested (20(3) of the Act. Such persons receive the summons in a representative capacity and are bound to inform the concerned persons.
(d) The summons may be served on the direction of the revenue officer, on the person named therein either in addition to, or in substitution for, any other mode of service, by forwarding the summons by post in a letter addressed to the person and registered under part(3) of the Indian Post Office Act, 1866. Thus, summons can be sent to a person through registered post (section 24) of the Act.
(e) When the summon is so forwarded in a letter and it is proved that letter was properly addressed and duly posted and registered, the revenue officer may presume that the summons was served at the time when the letter would delivered in the ordinary course of post. Thus, powers have been vested on the revenue officer to raise a presumption regarding the due service of summons on the persons concerned in case the above said conditions are fulfilled. Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act also raises a presumption in case an official act is done in the usual course of business by the concerned officer.Supplemental Powers of the Revenue Officer:- Section 21 of the Act, it has been provided that the notice, order of proclamation or copy of any such document issued by revenue officer for service on any person, shall be delivered in the manner provided in section 20 of the Act for the service of his summons. In this section, it has been made mandatory on the revenue officer to get the service affected strictly in the manner provided section 20 of the Act. In case there is any deviation or violation of the procedure prescribed under section 20 of the Act, the said service of the summons is vitiated and can be set-aside by a higher authority on the ground of non-following of the mandatory procedure and showing the prejudice caused to him by such non-service of summons. Mode of Proclamation:- In section 20(3) of the Act, it has been laid down by the legislature that summons may be sent by proclamation of the contents thereof for the information of the other persons interested. The said section does not prescribed the mode of proclamation. Section 22 of the Act prescribed that mode in which it says that it shall in addition to any other mode of publication which may be prescribed in any provision of this Act, be made by beat of drum or other customary method and by posting a copy thereof on a conspicuous place in or near the land in which it relates. Thus, publication in any newspaper, munadi by beat of drum or by pasting the copy of summons in or near the land to which the proceedings relate may be resorted to by the revenue officer. The Punjab Land Revenue Rules:- Under the Act powers have been bestowed upon the State Govt. to make rules for regulating the procedure to be followed by the revenue officer. Rule 34 to 43 of the said rules provide for the procedure, which ought to be followed by the revenue officer.
a) Rule 34, the statement and pleadings made by the parties or by on behalf of parties to a revenue to a revenue proceedings, whether oral or written, shall be as brief, as the nature of the case admits. It shall not be argumentative. It should be simple and concise, narrative of the facts, which the parties believes to be material to the case and which he either admits or believes that he will be able to proof.
b) Every written application or statement filed by a party to a revenue proceedings shall be drawn up and verified in the manner provided by Civil Procedure Code of written statement in suits. Thus, the procedure prescribed under the civil procedure code is the mother and source of all the rules, in any act, wherein any such requirement is there.
c) Rule 35 states that in case the death of one of the parties who is a female, shall not cause the proceedings to await. Legal representatives of the said deceased persons can be impleaded as parties.
d) According to rule 36, the revenue has the powers to follow procedure of a revenue court in fixing the date of parties and their witness in adjourning the proceedings and in dismissing the application on default or for the sufficient reasons.
e) According to rule 37, the revenue officer is competent to appoint a commission in respect to the proceedings before a revenue officer as per the provisions of section 75 and 78 of the code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
f) According to the rule 38, the revenue officer has the power to award the expenses to a witness, who is summoned to appear before him for a sum not exceeding the sum to which the witness would have been entitled for a like attendance in a civil court and sum so awarded shall be the cost in the proceedings.
g) According to the rule 39, the revenue officer is not required to write a detailed record of the statement of the parties and witnesses, but the order of revenue officer shall state briefly the person examined by him, the facts to which they deposed and the grounds of the order.
h) Under rule 41 and 42, the provisions regarding the contents of the order and apportionment and recovery of costs have been made.
i) Under rule 43, powers have been given for executing or orders of ejectment etc. which are akin to the provisions prescribed in the code of Civil procedure, 1908 for the time being in force in respect of execution of a decree.
j) Under rule 40, in other proceedings under the land revenue act, not being proceedings under 117 and in proceedings before the revenue officer under the Punjab Tenancy Act, the revenue officer shall make with his own hands a brief memorandum of the statement of the parties at the time when such each statement is made.Conclusion:- From the above said discussion of the said sections and rules, framed prescribing the procedure of revenue officer, it cannot be said that the proceedings before revenue officer are summary in nature, but they are just like the proceedings under taken in civil court. The proceedings conducted before a revenue officer according to the powers conferred on him are exhaustive and exclusive in nature, in which the jurisdiction of the civil court is barred under section 158 of the Act. The exclusion of jurisdiction of civil courts in the matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the revenue officer have been detailed. Thus, it is not appropriate to dub the proceedings before revenue officer as a summary procedure or merely undertaken for fiscal purpose. These are substantive in nature and have to be interpreted as per the discussion made above.
[1*] The author passed degree in Master of Laws from the Panjab University Chandigarh in the year 1978. He has been practicing on civil side at Ludhiana. He has been a guest professor in Panjab University Regional Centre, Ludhiana. The author has written various articles, which have been published in the journals. The author has also addressed various webinars on facebook/youtube on various legal aspects to enlighten the younger generation. He had judged various moot competitions held in PURC, Ludhiana. Contact No. 9814712425, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ch.No.425, 4th Floor, Advocates Complex, District Courts, Ludhiana, Punjab.
[2*] The co-author started attending the courts since May, 2011 and completed his law graduation from Panjab University, Chandigarh and is regularly doing practice on Civil Side. Email:-Abhayjindal14@yahoo.co.in, M No. 9814912425
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