Herath v Peter
COURT OF APPEAL
S. B. GOONEWARDENE, J. (P'CA) AND
C:A. APPLICATION No..102/82(F)
D.C. MATUGAMA NO. 233/LNOVEMBER 01, 1989
Agrarian Services Act, No. 58 of 1979, Sections 45(1) and 45(3) – Register of te-nant-cultivators maintained under Section 45(1) – Inclusion of name of defendant-res-pondent in register – Is District Court precluded from determining whether such a de-fendant-respondent is in fact, the tenant-cultivator?
Evidence – Entries in a register declared by statute to be "prima facie evidence" ofthe facts therein – Evidentiary value thereof.
The plaintiff-respondent filed action in the District Court claiming ownership to anextent of paddy land. The District Judge upheld this claim rejecting the defendantsposition that he was the tenant-cultivator as evidenced by entries in the AgriculturalRegisters.
In appeal it was argued for the defendant-appellant that, in terms of the AgrarianServices Act, the Agricultural Tribunal had exclusive jurisdiction to decide the questionas to the' status of a person who claims to be the tenant-cultivator of a paddy field, andthat the District Court was precluded from deciding that question. /
The effect of an entry in the register being declared "prima facie evidence of thefacts stated therein"- is that it is evidence which appears to be sufficient toestablish the fact unless rebutted or overcome by other evidence.
In the instant case, the entry . in the register would not prevent theplaintiff-appellant from leading evidence to the contrary to the satisfaction of theDistrict Court that the defendant-appellant is not, despite his registration as such,
Sri Lanka Law Reports
/1989/2 Sri LR
in law a "tenant-cultivator" as set out in the Agrarian Services Act.
Any dispute in respect of a paddy field arising between a landlord and a tenantwould have to be determined in the manner provided for in the Agrarian ServicesAct, and cannot be brought before a Court of Law.
However, the above principle will apply, only where each party admits the statusclaimed by the other, ie. of landlord and tenant. The jurisdiction of the Court is notousted where the status is denied.
Cases referred to:
Henrick Appuhamy v. John Appuhamy 69 NLR 32
Dolawatte v. Gamage and another S.C. Appeal No. 45/83 – S.C. Minutes of27.09.85.
APPEAL from judgment of District Court, Matugama
D. R. P. Goonetilleke for defendant-appellant
D. J. Walpola with J.C. Nilanduwa for plaintiff-respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
November 01, 1989
S. B. GOONEWARDENE, J. (P/CA)
This appeal is taken against the judgment of the District Judgeupholding the case of the plaintift-respondent that he was the ownerof the extent of paddy field which constitutes the subject matter ofthis action and that the defendant appellant was without any lawfulright, forcibly in possession of the same.
The case set' up by the defendant briefly was that although theplaintiff was the owner of this extent of paddy field, that he was itstenant cultivator and therefore entitled to the protection given by law,to Such a tenant cultivator. Several extracts from the AgriculturalRegisters had been produced but the District Judge found that allfthese extracts do not support the claim of the defendant, that he was.the tenant cultivator and indeed with reference to those thatpurported to support his claim the District Judge entertained doubts;as to the authenticity of the entries therein.
At the hearing before us Counsel arguing the appeal for the,defendant-appellant called in aid the judgment in Henrick Appuhamy |v. John Appuhamy (1) and contended that it is within the exclusivejurisdiction of the Agricultural Tribunal to decide the question as tothe status of a person who claims to be the tenant cultivator of apaddy field.
Herathv Peter (S,B. Gooriewardene, J.)-
Subsequent to the decision of that case this question received theconsideration of the Supreme Court in the case of Dolawatte v.Gamage and Another (2). In that case the present Chief Justice (withSharvananda, C.J. and Wanasundara, J. agreeing) set out theprinciple applicable that the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Tribunal isexclusive only in circumstances where each party admits the statusclaimed by the other of landlord and tenant respectively but thatwhere there was a dispute as to that status the jurisdiction of theDistrict Court is not ousted.
Applying the principle in that case we are of the view that theDistrict Judge properly exercised a jurisdiction granted to him by lawand arrived at findings on the material placed before him which beingfindings of fact we are not disposed to interfere with. We wouldtherefore affirm the judgment of the District-Judge and dismiss thisappeal but without costs.
Since, as far as we are aware, the case of Dolawatte v. Gamageand another (supra) has not been reported and it lays down animportant princip.e of law we think it desirable that a copy of thatjudgment be appended hereto as an annexure, so that it can, if soadvised, get reported in the offcial law reports in the volume currentfor this year.
WEERASEKERA, J. I agree.
HERATH v. PETER