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MADDUMA BANDA v. APPURUWA *
D. C., Ratnapura, 374.
Ordinance No. 11 of 1878—Default of payment of grain tax—Effect of certificateof tale of land—Necessity for proving arrears of tax and sale of land inaccordance with the Ordinance—Defective certificate—Bond fidea of thesale—Evidence.
The effect of a certificate of sale signed by the Government Agentunder section -22 of the Ordinance No. 11 of 1878, is not to dispense withproof that the grain duty was in arrear and that a sale took place inaccordance with the Ordinance.
It should be proved that the defendant is liable to pay grain duty,'grain commutation, or crop duty in respect of the land; that he madedefault in payment of the tax due for the year stated; that theproperty was sold to the plaintiff under the Ordinance; and that the salewas bond fide.
HE plaintiff sued the defendant for a declaration of title inregard to a field called Potuwila, which he alleged he had
* This case was followed by Layard, C.J., and Wendt, J., in D. C., Guile, 5,652,decided on the 9th June, 1903.—Ed.
Septembeer 2%and 26.
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September 24and 26.
purchased on the 6th January, 1888, when put up for sale by theGovernment Agent of Batnapura in consequence of the defendantbeing in default of payment of the annual commutation of thegrain tax due for the year 1887.
The District Judge, Mr. K. McLeod, dismissed the plaintiff’saction in these terms:—
“ Plaintiff is the arachchi of the village. He reported defaultof payment of tax, seized the land himself, and purchased it at thesale. Considering the previous litigation by plaintiff’s father withdefendant in respect of this very land, I think the present actionis an ingenious trick of the plaintiff to obtain title to the land.There is no proof that defendants ever paid commutation tax forPotuwila. ”
The plaintiff appealed. The case came on for argument beforeBonser, C.J., and Withers, J., on the 24th September, 1895.
Domhont, for appellant.
Bawa with de Saram, for respondent.
Gut. adv. vult.
26th September, 1895. Bonser, C.J.—
This is an action rei vindicatio to recover a piece of paddy land,which is said by the plaintiff to be called Potuwila, and of whichhe alleges he is the owner. He further alleges that on 6th Janu-ary, 1888, this property was sold by the Government Agent .underOrdinance No. 11 of 1878, in consequence of the default of thedefendants to pay the grain tax for 1887, and that he became thepurchaser at that sale, and that in October, 1890, a certificate wasissued to him under Ordinance No. 11 of 1878 in respect of the land.He further alleges that he was in possession of the land, not,however, specifying the date when he entered into possession, andthat in September, 1893, the defendants wrongfully took the crop.
The defendants put in an answer, which is somewhat obscure,but which I gather to mean that they have been in possession allalong of this piece of land,' which they say was never calledPotuwila, but waB part of a large field called. Nillewatta; that theywere never in arrears with their grain tax, and knew nothing aboutthis alleged sale.
At the trial it appeared that the father of the plaintiff, who isthe arachchi of the village, commenced an action in 1881 againstthese defendants, seeking to recover this very land, but that thataction was dropped; that the consideration for the sale in 1888 was28 cents, although the land was alleged by plaintiff’s father, in hisplaint in the former action, to be worth Rs. 240, and is now valuedby plaintiff at Rs. 120. This inadequacy of consideration, coupled
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with the fact that the plaintiff was at the time of the sale the 1895.arachchi of the village, throws some doubt on the bond fides of the September 24transaction. The plaintiff admitted that the defendants were in aand2b.possession, but said that he had put them in possession on the Boksbb, C. J.terms of their paying him a share of the produce, and that they,had refused to give him his share. From this 1 draw theinference that the plaintiff has never been in possession, and thathe is suing merely on the title conferred on him by the certificateof sale of 1890.
The plaintiff relies on section 22 of Ordinance No. 11 of 1878, whichprovides that “ if immovable property be sold for non-payment ofannual commutation, crop commutation, or grain duty, a certificatesubstantially in form A in the schedule, signed by the GovernmentAgent or Assistant Government Agent, shall vest the property soldin the purchaser free from all incumbrances.” What then is theeffect of suoh a certificate? Does the mere production of it dispensewith proof that the duty was in arrear, and that a sale took placein accordance with the Ordinance? In my opinion that is not itseffect. The vesting is expressed by the Ordinance to be subject tothe condition that the property be sold for non-payment of duty,and I am inclined to think that its only effect is to dispense withthe necessity of a notarial conveyance, and to provide that thepurchaser shall get a title free from incumbrance. If it had beenintended to provide that the certificate should be evidence, eitherjrrimd facie or conclusive-, of the facts therein stated, it would'havebeen easy to have so enacted. But it is not necessary to decidethis point in the present case. The certificate, when, produced, ,isdefective, for it does not state for what the amount of 28 cents- wasdue, whether for grain duty or annual commutation, or cropcommutation, and being thus defective cannot have the effectclaimed for it. The case should go back for a determination ofthe following issues:—(1) Were the defendants liable to pay grainduty, annual commutation, or crop duty in respect of this land?
(2) Did they make default in payment of the tax for the year1887?(3) Was the property sold to the plaintiff under Ordinance
No. 11 of 1878?(4) if so, was such sale a bond fide sale?
If any of these issues are found in the negative, judgment willbe for the defendants. The costs of the appeal will abide the resultof the action.
I have had the advantage of hearing my Lord’s judgment in thiscase.
I agree that the case should be remitted to the lower Court forthe trial of the issues settled by the Chief Justice.
MADDUMA BANDA v. APPURUWA