The Bombay Revenue Jurisdiction Act, 1876

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An Act being legislation of the British era in India, it was enacted with the name and title as ‘the Bombay Revenue Jurisdiction Act, 1876’ (Act no. 10 of 1876). IT was enacted with the aim and object to provide for the limitation of the Jurisdiction of the Civil Courts for the then Bombay Presidency and later to the State of Bombay by the year 1959. Prior to this enactment it was observed that there were certain parts of the Bombay Presidency where the Civil Court’s Jurisdiction in relation to the matters of Land- revenue was more extensive than other parts. As such it was observed that the said Jurisdiction of the Civil Courts in relation to those parts of the Presidency should be limited. The Act was as such enacted and has received its assent on 28th day of March, 1876. For its commencement, it is made clear that except, section 4 of the Act, other provisions should be brought into effect forthwith by passing thereof, and the Provisions of section 4 were brought into operation on 19th September, 1881 in the Presidency of Bombay. And for its extension it was originally, provided that the same to be extended to the ‘State of Bombay’, however, by the year 1960 the said extension was replaced with the extension to the ‘State of Maharashtra’. Against the provisions of this Act the suits regarding the assessment or collection of land’s revenue which is located in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) were protected. Section 4 of the Act provides that the any Civil Court should not exercise Jurisdiction in relation to any matters where it appears that the claims are made against the Government in relation to any property appertaining to the Officer of any hereditary Officer within the meaning of provisions of any laws of that time or of any other Village- Officer of servant there; similarly that in the claims which are made to perform the duties of any such officer or servant, or in respect of any injury which would have caused due to exclusion of such Officer or servant from their Offices; or even in cases where any order under any other law relating to specified subject, which were passed by the State Government or its authorized officer, sought to set aside or avoid, should not be having its Jurisdiction by the Civil Courts. Similarly, the same Court should not also have jurisdiction in relation to the objections maintained against the amount or incidence or even against the mode of any assessment of land revenue or principles thereof, authorised by the State Government and further in relation to the proceedings for realization of land revenue or claims against the sell for arrears of such revenue, the said Courts should not have jurisdiction. Besides all these cases there are also mentioned certain more cases where, the Civil Court is exempted to have jurisdiction. However, section 5 of the Act provides for the suits where Civil Court should have jurisdictions, which includes the suits against the Government for contesting the claimed or paid under protest amount of land revenue on the ground of its being excess of the authorized amount provided by the State Government, suits between the parties being private arising for establishing private rights, suits between parties being superior- holders or occupants and inferior-holder or tenants in relation to the dues claimed. However, the Civil Courts can not entertain the suits against the Government for possession of any land being a whole survey-number or a recognized share of a survey number.

Further section 6 makes provisions to protect the Revenue officer against whom no suits can be maintained for any acts done in bona fide or in good faith or even if the said acts are done or intended to done in pursuance with the provisions of this Act. However, if any law provides for any departmental punishment or prosecution of the Revenue officer for any breach of duty or other offences, then such law should not preclude the civil remedies against such officer. Further the provisions of section 8 to 10 which were dealing with the Suits against such revenue officers, appeals against their proceedings and decisions and also providing for powers of the Local Government to call for Records, were repealed by the 1880.

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Moreover, section 11 is important so far as it is providing a limitation that there should not be entertained any suits against the Government in relation to any act or omission on the part of Revenue officer except the Plaintiff therein proves that he has presented all such appeals under the law within limitation period, before bringing the present suits. This provisions should be made applicable with an exceptional cases which could have been provided under the provisions of the the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966. Further, the questions in relations to trial, investigations of any suits, etc., where the State Government is desirous to have decision of High Court, the same can be referred by it to the High Court. Similarly, any matters of questions where Civil Judges are in doubts as to their jurisdictions under this Act, the same to be referred to the High Court for its decision. The High Courts referred herein-above should be consisting of not less than three-Judges bench. As such the Act makes provisions as to Civil Courts jurisdiction in relation to the matters of revenue.

The present Act was suggested for repeal by the P C Jain Commission report (Appendix A-5), however the Government had not repealed the same.

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Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan