TENN13K.OON, C. J.—Mtegoda v. Jayaaingha
Present: Tennekoon, C. J., Walgampaya, J. andIsmail, J.
MADDUMA BANDAR AGE DONA SIRILINA KARUNARATNEMEEGODA, Petitionerand
D. JAYASINGHE, Chairman, Paddy Lands Board of Reviewand 7 others, Respondents
S. C. Application No. 604 of 1974
Paddy Lands Act, No 1 of 1958, as amended, section 4 (IA)—Complaintof eviction upheld—Appeal to Board of Review—Appellants notlandlords of applicant—Finding by Board of Review that originalapplicant not tenant cultivator—Whether right of appeal availableto a person other than the landlord or a tenant cultivator whocomplains of being evicted—Application to quash order made byBoard of Review as being void for want of jurisdiction—Writ ofCertiorari.
Interpretation of Statutes—Intention of Legislature—Duty of Court.
The petitioner had made a complaint under section 4 (1A) (a)of the Paddy Lands Act alleging that she had been evicted froma paddy land by the 7th and 8th respondents to this application.She had also made one Mrs. Ariyatilake respondent to that appli-cation as her landlady. The Assistant Commissioner of AgrarianServices (the 6th respondent) after inquiry held that the petitionerwas the tenant cultivator under Mrs. Ariyatilake and had beenevicted by the 7th and 8th respondents.
The 7th and 8th respondents appealed to the Board of Reviewunder section 4 (1A) (c) of the Paddy Lands Act 'and after hearingadditional evidence which had not been before the original inquir-ing officer, the Board of Review held that the petitioner was notthe tenant cultivator of the field. Accordingly, the order of theAssistant Commissioner of Agrarian Services was set aside. TheBoard took the view that the 7th respondent was the tenant culti-vator but did not make such a finding as the person whom the7th respondent alleged was his landlord was not a party in theappeal to the Board of Review. It also transpired before the Boardof Review that the 7th and 8th respondents claiming to be thetenant cultivators had themselves made a complaint to the AssistantCommissioner of Agrarian Services that they had been evicted fromthis same paddy field and had made one Karunaratne, whom theyalleged to be their landlord, respondent to this application. Thisapplication had been dismissed by the Assistant Commissioner ofAgrarian Services.
After the Board of Review had set aside the order of the Assis-tant Commissioner of Agrarian Services, the petitioner made thepresent application for a mandate in the nature of Writ of Certiorarito quash the said decision of the Board of Review.
It was submitted on behalf of the petitioner that the decision ofthe Board of Review was void as being made without jurisdiction,in as much as section 4 (1A)(c) gave a right of appeal to the
.TENNEKOON, C.J.—Meegoda v. Jayaainghe
Board of Review only to the landlord or to the tenant cultivatorwho complains of having been evicted.
Held : That the order of the Board of Review holding that thepetitioner was not the tenant cultivator of the field was madewithout jurisdiction and the petitioner was entitled to relief by wayof Certiorari quashing its decision.
Per Tennekoon, C. J. : “ In this state of things the intention of theLegislature being somewhat unclear, one is not able to say withassuredness that the legislature clearly intended to give a right ofappeal to every person aggrieved by an order of the Commissioner,in addition to the landlord and the person evicted. Accordingly,I would read section 4 (1A) (c) as it stands, without any inter-polations to give effect to the supposed intention of Parliament. ”
Application for a Writ of Certiorari.
N. S. A. Goonetillleke, for the petitioner.
D. C. Amerasinghe, for the 7th and 8th respondents.
Cur. adv. vult.
November 21, 1975. Tennekoon, C.J.
This is an application for a mandate in the nature of a Writof Certiorari quashing the decision of the Board of Reviewconsisting of the 1st to 5th respondents, constituted under thePaddy Lands Act. The petitioner alleges that she was thetenant cultivator of an extent of 1 acres of paddy land, out ofthe paddy land known as Bihanimulla, which is of the extentof 3 acres and 13.05 perches. The petitioner further alleges thatone Mrs. D. U. J. Ariyatilake is her landlady. It is commonground that the petitioner made a complaint, under section 4(1A) (a) of the Paddy Lands Act, to the Assistant Commission-er of Agrarian Services, the 6th respondent, alleging that shehad been evicted from the paddy land by the 7th and 8threspondents. Hhe petitioner also made Mrs. Ariyatilake, theland-lady, a respondent to that application. The 6th respondent,after inquiry, gave a decision in which he held that thepetitioner was the tenant cultivator of the extent of 1 Acre and2 Roods of the paddy land known as Bihanimulla under Mrs.Ariyatilake and that the 7th and 8th respondents had evictedthe petitioner without the knowledge of Mrs. Ariyatilake, theland-lady.
The 7th and 8th respondents appealed to the Board ofReview purporting to exercise a right of appeal given undersecion 4 (1A) (c) of the Paddy Lands Act. The Board ofReview consisting of the 1—5 respondents, in hearing thisappeal admitted a large amount of fresh evidence which hadnot been before the 6th respondent. The position of the 7th andflth respondents was that they were themselves the tenant
TENNEKOOJJ, C.J.—Meegoda v. Jayasingh$
cultivators of this paddy land under one Karunaratne who wasnot a party either in the proceedings before the 6th respondentor before the Board of Review. It transpired that the 7th and8th respondents, claiming to be tenant cultivators, had them-selves complained to the Assistant Commissioner on 10.3.70,that they had been evicted from this paddy field. They hadmade Karunaratne, a person whom they alleged was their land-lord, a respondent to their application. This application hadbeen dismissed by the Assistant Commissioner on the 6th ofMay, 1970. There was apparently no appeal from that order.
Upon the appeal taken by the 7th and 8th respondents theBoard of Review at the conclusion of their order said : —
“ However, this Board is unable to accept the evidencebefore it by Mrs. Meegoda (the petitioner) or her witness-es. What is clear to this Board is that the evidence placedbefore ns by Ompi Singho, the 7th respondent and hiswitnesses is the truth. His position is corroborated by thedocuments produced before-me.
However, as pointed out by counsel for the petitioner,Mrs. Meegoda, the Board has no power to make a findingthat Ompi Singho is the tenant cultivator. The reason forthis as pointed out by counsel for Mrs. Meegoda is that theperson who is alleged to be the land-lord of Ompi Singhois not a party to this appeal. If Karunaratne was a partyOmpi Singho’s complaint could have been treated as acomplaint of eviction. But since Karunaratne, a personalleged by Ompi Singho to be his land-lord, is not a party,respondent, we are unable to give a decision in favour ofOmpi Singho. Notwithstanding that, it is wittiin the powersof the Board to give a decision on the question whether theAssistant Commissioner’s decision that Mrs. Meegoda is thetenant cultivator is correct or not.
The Board is of the view that Mrs. Meegoda it not thetenant cultivator of this field. For that reason the Boardsets aside the Assistant Commissioner’s finding that Mrs.Meegoda is the tenant cultivator and holds that Mrs. Mee-goda is not the tenant cultivator of this field. Ompi Singhois at liberty to make a complaint of eviction to the appro-priate authority and to regain his rights. ”
Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the decision of theBoard of Review is void as being made without jurisdiction. Insupport of this proposition he points to section 4 (1A) (c) whichgives a right of appeal from a decision of the Commissioner (orAssistant Commissioner) only to the landlord or to the personevicted, i.e. to the tenant cultivator who made a complaint ofeviction. The latter part of that section reads:
_ TENNEKOON, C.J.—Meegoda v. Jayasinghe
“ If such landlord or the person evicted is aggrieved bysuch decision, he may, within thirty days of the communi-cation of such decision to him, make a written appeal fromsuch decision to the Board of Review. Every such appealshall state the grounds of appeal. Where no appeal ismade from the Commissioner’s decision within the timeallowed therefor, such decision shall be final and conclu-sive and shall not be called in question in any legal proceed-ings in any Court. ”
It is clear from this section that the right of appeal is givenonly to the landlord or to the tenant cultivator who complainsthat he had been evicted. The 7'th and 8th respondents whowere alleged to be the persons who evicted the petitioner aregiven no right to appeal under section 4 (1A) (c).
Counsel for the respondent urged that this is an obviousomission on the part of the draftsman and it could not havebeen the intention of the legislature to deprive a person in theposition of the 7th and 8Wn respondents of a right of appeal. Hesuggested that the words of the section may be altered oradded to, in order to carry out what he said was the intentionof the legislature. Assuming that such a power exists in theCourts, this clearly is not an instance of a case where such apower can be exercised. It is not at all clear what the intentionof the Legislature was. On a reading of section 4 (1A) (a), (b)and (c) one gets the impression that the complaint under sec-tion 4 (1A) (a) can only be a complaint of eviction by or at theinstance of or for the benefit of the landlord ; for among otherthings, under (c) only the landlord and the persons evicted aregiven an opportunity of being heard and a right of appeal ; butthe provisions of section 4 (1A) (d) (ii) seem to imply that theinquiry under 4 (1A) (a) may also extend to cases in which thelandlord himself has nothing to do with the eviction. There isapparently some confused drafting here. In this state of thingsthe intention of the legislature being somewhat unclear, one isnot able to say with assuredness that the legislature clearlyintended to give a right of appeal to every person aggrieved byan order of the Commissioner, in addition to the landlord andthe person evicted. Accordingly, I would read section 4 (1A)
as it stands, without any interpolations to give effect to thesupposed intention of Parliament.
In the result, I would hold that the Board of Review wasacting without jurisdiction in making its order, the concludingportion of which has been reproduced above. The petitionerwill be entitled to a mandate in the nature of a Writ of
PATH 1KANA, J.—Ztarook v. Sachitanandam
Certiorari, quashing the said decision of the Boai'd of Review.The petitioner will be entitled to a sum of Rs., 150 as costs,payable by the 7th respondent.
Walgampaya^ J.—I agree. '
Ismail, J-—I agree.
MADDUMA BANDARAGE DONA SIRILINA KARUNARATNE MEEGODA, Petitioner and D. JAYASIN