16 September 2020

Mamalatdar's decision in respect of existence or use of customary way does not operate as res judicata to a suit in civil court on the same issue

However, simultaneously, it is important to note that admittedly, may be during pendency of the proceeding before the lower authorities, the petitioners have initiated a substantive civil suit against the respondent Nos. 1 and 2 in the form of Regular Civil Suit No.57/2018 in respect of the self same dispute touching existence of the disputed way. It is important to note that in view of the scheme of the Act, the decision of Mamlatdar is not conclusive as can be seen from the provisions of Section 22 and particularly the Second Proviso which reads thus:
22. Subject to the provisions of section 23, sub-section (2), the party in favour of whom the Mamlatdar issues an order for removal of an impediment of the party to whom the Mamlatdar gives possession or restores a use, or in whose favour an injunction is granted, shall continue to have the surface water upon his land flow unimpeded on to adjacent land or continue in possession or use, as the case may be, until otherwise decreed or ordered, or until ousted, by a competent Civil Court :
Mamalatar's decision in respect of existence or use of customary way does not operate as res judicata to a suit in civil court on the same issue
Provided, firstly, that nothing in this section shall prevent the party against whom the Mamlatdar's decision is passed from recovering by a suit in a competent Civil Court mesne profits for the time he has been kept out of possession of any property or out of enjoyment of any use:
Provided, secondly, that in any subsequent suit or other proceeding in any Civil Court between the same parties, or other persons claiming under them, the Mamlatdar's decision respecting the possession of any property or the enjoyment of any use or respecting the title to or valuation of any crop dealt with under the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 21, shall not be held to be conclusive.[P
ara No.16]

   As can be seen from the provisions and particularly the second proviso, in a subsequent suit between the same parties the Mamlatdar's decision respecting inter alia enjoyment of any use which would include a right of use of customary way is not to be treated as conclusive and would not operate as res judicata under Section 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure. If this be so, it would be appropriate that instead of remanding the matter to the Tahsildar for decision afresh the parties can prosecute/contest the Civil Suit and the Civil Court would have an opportunity to independently decide the issue.[Para No.17]

Bombay High Court

Sardar Shankar Patil
Vs.
Dashrath Lala Patil

Decided on 14/09/2020





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