SHARVANANDA, J.—-Sawairiya v. Pema
1977 Present: Malcolm Perera, J., and Sharvananda, J.M.N. SAWSIRIYA, Respondent-Appellantand
Y. D. PEMA, Applicant-Respondent.
S. C. 73/75—A. T. 21/2/P/l
Agricultural Tribunal—Jurisdiction to enter into inquiry regardingeviction■—Is the applicant a tenant cultivator—Preliminary quest-ion to be determined by Tribunal—Applicant found to haveceased to be a cultivator within the meaning of section 54—Hasthe Tribunal jurisdiction—Agricultural Lands Law, No. 42 of1973, sections 2, 3, 19, 54.
Tribunal entrusted with judicial functions by statute—Can itdelegate such function to any other person or body —Effect of suchdelegation.
Held : (1) That the Agricultural Tribunal to whom an applicationhas been made by a person claiming to be a tenant cultivator seek-ing relief on the basis that he has been evicted, has first to decidethe preliminary question whether at the time of the alleged evictionthe applicant was the tenant cultivator within the meaning of theprovisions of the Agricultural Lands Law, before proceeding todecide the question whether that person had been evicted. If onthe evidence placed before it the Tribunal comes to the conclusionthat the applicant has ceased to be a cultivator within themeaning of section 54 of the said Law by reason of the fact thathe had ceased to cultivate the field let to him, it has no furtherjurisdiction to enter into the inquiry relating to eviction. Jurisdic-tion of the Agricultural Tribunal is confined to eviction of a tenantcultivator only.
(2) That the Agricultural Tribunal cannot delegate a judicialfund ion which it exercises in terms of the Agricultural LandsLands Law to a third party. No judicial tribunal can delegate itsfunctions unless the statute creating that tribunal enables it to doso expressly or by necessary implication.
PPEAL from an order of the Agricultural Tribunal.
Both parties absent and unrepresented.
Cur. adv. vult.
March 11, 1977. Sharvananda, J.
In this case, the complaint stated that he was the ande-cultivator of the field called “ Nethigossa ” and that in March,1973, he was evicted from this field by the respondent. The res-pondent, in his evidence, has stated that he purchased the saidfield from one Podi Appuhamy. He admitted that at the time ofhis purchase, the complainant was in possession of the field asande-cultivator. According to him, the complainant had neglectedthe maintenance of the field and taken no interest in the culti-vation of the field. The respondent complained thui. as a result
SHARVANANDA, J.-—Sowairiya v. Pema
of the complaint’s neglect, extensive damage had been causedto the field. The respondent had invited the ande-cultivator tojoin him in the cultivation of the field, but the complainant hadnot accepted the offer. Since the ande-cultivator was notcultivating the field, the respondent started cultivating the fieldin question in March, 1973. The respondent stated that thanks tohis efforts, the yield had doubled. According to the respondent,the reason why he took over the cultivation of the field from theapplicant was because the applicant had shown no interest inits cultivation and the field was lying fallow.
By its order, the Agricultural Tribunal found that the com-plainant was, in fact, the ande-cultivator of the field and thatin March, 1973, he had been evicted from the field by the res-pondent. The Tribunal also accepted the evidence of the respon-dent that the complainant had shown no interest in thecultivation of the field and had ceased to cultivate the field forno valid reason. It disapproved the conduct of the! applicant andstated that it is a loss to the country to allow an ande-cultivatorof the applicant’s type, who had shown no interest in cultivatingthe field, to be holding on to the field. Having reached thatconclusion, it directed the Cultivation Committee of Eheliyagodato inquire whether the complainant was working the field effi-ciently and that if he had failed to do so, to take action againsthim. It is to be noted that no notification, in terms of Section 19of the Agricultural Lands Law, had been given by the tenant-cultivator to the landlord or the Cultivation Committee that hewas unable to cultivate the field during the paddy cultivationseason.
In my view, the Tribunal has misdirected itself in delegatingits functions of adjudication to the Cultivation Committee ofEheliyagoda. A judicial function, such as the Tribunal was exer-cising in this case, cannot be delegated to a third party. Nojudicial tribunal can delegate its functions unless the statutecreating that tribunal enables it to do so expressly or by necessaryimplication. While an administrative function can often be dele-gated, a judical function cannot, unless the statute authorises thedelegation. The relevant provision of the Agricultural Lands Law(section 3) does not lend itself to such construction. Havingreached the conclusion that the applicant was not cultivatingthe field in question, the Tribunal had to make consequentialorder thereon. It had erred in delegating its judicial functionsunder the Agricultural Lands Law, No. 42 of 1973 (hereinafterreferred to as the Lands Law) to the Cultivation Committeeby the direction referred to above.
SHARVANAHDA, J.—Sawairiya v. Pema
In view of the fact that the Tribunal has accepted the evidenceof the respondent-appellant that with a view to efficiently culti-vating the field he was compelled to take over the cultivation ofthe field in question as .the applicant was not, in fact, cultivatingthe field, the question arises whether there was ‘ eviction ’ ofthe applicant in terms of the Lands Law. The jurisdiction of theAgricultural Tribunal is confined to eviction of a tenant-cultivatoronly.
The inquiry under section 3(3) of the Lands Law is initiatedby a tenant-cultivator- The function of an Agricultural Tribunalon an application made under section 3 (3) is to decide the ques-tion whether or not such a tenant-cultivator had been evicted(section 3). Section 54 of the Lands Law defines the ’word “ evict ”to mean, in relation to a tenant-cultivator “ to deprive, by director indirect method, the tenant-cultivator of his right to use,occupy and cultivate the whole or any part of the extent ofthe paddy land let to him A tenant-cultivator, in terms ofsection 2 of the Lands Law, is the cultivator of any extent of apaddy land let to him. ‘ Cultivator with reference to any extentof any paddy land, has been defined to mean any person whocarries out two or more of the operations of ploughing, sowingand reaping and the operation of tending or watching the cropin each season in which paddy is cultivated on such extent. Thestatutory obligation of a cultivator is to cultivate the field everypaddy cultivation season as long as he continues to be the ande-cultivator, and, if he does not so cultivate it, he ceases to havethe character of cultivator and a fortiori of a tenant-cultivator.The character of tenant-cultivator endures only so long as heperforms the obligation of cultivating the field let to him. It is theactivity of cultivation, within the meaning of the Lands Law,which sustains the character of tenant-cultivator. The LandsLaw does not provide that once a person becomes a tenant-cultivator, he remains a tenant-cultivator irrespective of thefact whether he cultivates or not.
An Agricultural Tribunal to whom an application has beenmade under section 2(3) by a person claiming to be a tenant-cultivator has to decide the preliminary question whether, atthe time of the alleged eviction, the applicant was a tenant-cultivator within the meaning of the provisions of the LandsLaw, before proceeding to decide the question whether thatperson has been evicted. If, on the evidence placed before it,the Tribunal comes to the conclusion that the applicant hasceased to be a cultivator within the meaning of section 54 of
SHAB.VANANDA, J.—Sawnriya v. Pema
the Lands Law by reason of the fact that he has eeased to culti-vate the fields let to him, it has no further jurisdiction to enterinto the inquiry relating to eviction ; it has become functus toinquire into the question of the propriety of the eviction. If,<on the other hand, it decides on the evidence that the applicanthad been a cultivator of the field at the time of the eviction,then it has further jurisdiction go into the other questionsinvolved in the aplication and is competent to make order forTestoration of the ande-cultivator. The jurisdiction of the Tribunalio make order for the eviction of the landlord or for the resto-ration of the tenant-cultivator is dependant on an affirmativeanswer to the question whether the person evicted was in fact,at the time of the alleged eviction, a tenant-cultivator performingthe agricultural operations required of him.
In this case, the Tribunal came to the finding that the applicanthad ceased to cultivate the field and had thereby lost his statusof tenant-cultivator. On reaching this preliminary finding, theTribunal had no alternative but to dismiss the application. Theapplicant had no locus standi to maintain the application beforethe Tribunal. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction to order restorationextended only to cases of eviction of a tenant-cultivator and if,on its preliminary finding, it comes to the conclusion that theapplicant had ceased to be a tenant-cultivator by reason of thefact that he had ceased to cultivate or perform the Agricultural•operations necessary to bear the character of cultivator, its juris-diction in the matter comes to an end and it cannot proceed fur-ther with the inquiry. The Tribunal should have rejected the com-plaint of the applicant on the ground that he had ceased to be,at the material time of the eviction, a tenant-cultivator andhence had no locus standi to institute proceedings under section3(3) of the Lands Law. True, he was at one time a tenant-cultivator, but he had shed that character prior to his beingevicted and hence it was not competent for him to initiateproceedings under section 3 (3) of the Lands Law under thatprovision. Only a tenant-cultivator could notify the Tribunal ofhis eviction. On such notification, the Tribunal holds an inquiryfor the purpose of deciding the question whether or not thetenant-cultivator had been evicted. If, at such an inquiry, theTribunal finds that the person evicted was not a tenant-cultivatorit has to dismiss the complaint, as the basis of its further juris-diction to make orders under section 3(8) of the Lands Law isdislodged. The proper forum for such a complaint is the ordinarycivil court and not the Agricultural Tribunal constituted underthe Lands Law.
SHARVANANDA, J.—Sawairiya v. Pema
In the instant case, the Tribunal having held that the applicantwas not cultivating the field and had thereby ceased to be atenant-cultivator at the relevant time of the eviction by therespondent, should have dismissed the complaint of the applicantinstead of directing the Cultivation .Committee of Eheliyagodato make further inquiry and to take necessary steps against theapplicant. It wrongly failed to do so.
I allow the appeal and set aside the order of the Tribunalreferring the complaint to the Cultivation Committee and dismissthe applicant’s application to the Tribunal. There will be nocosts of the inquiry or of this appeal.
Malcolm Perera, J.—I agree.
M. N. SAWSIRIYA, Respondent-Appellant and Y. D. PEMA, Applicant-Respondent