Jambu Rao Satappa v. Neminath Appayya [1968 SC]

Judgment Summarized by Delhi Law Academy – Jaipur

[A case where jurisdiction of civil court is not ousted]

A brief resume of facts

In a suit for specific performance the defendant contended that if the contract is enforced it would violate S. 35 of the Tenancy Act in that the plaintiff’s holding after the appointed day would exceed the ceiling and the acquisition in excess of the ceiling is invalid.

A contention appears to have been raised that the question whether an acquisition in excess of the ceiling would be invalid would be within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Mamlatdar under S. 70 (mb) and that the Civil Court cannot decide or deal with this question and a reference ought to have been made to the Mamlatdar.


The Civil Court had jurisdiction to entertain and decree a suit for specific performance of agreement to sell land. If upon the sale being completed it would violate some provision of the Tenancy Act an enquiry has to be made under S. 84-C and S. 84-C provides that if an acquisition of any land is or becomes invalid under any of the provisions of the Tenancy Act, the Mamlatdar may suo motu inquire into the question and decide whether the transfer of acquisition is or is not valid.

This inquiry has to be made after the acquisition of title pursuant to a decree for specific performance.

Even though Civil Court has no jurisdiction to determine whether the acquisition would become invalid but there is nothing in S. 70 or any other provision of the Act which excludes the Civil Court’s jurisdiction to decree specific performance of a contract to transfer land which would be anterior to the acquisition.

The transfer may not be invalid at all because the purchaser may have already disposed of his prior holding. When the scheme of the Act is examined it becomes clear that the legislature has not declared the transfer or acquisition invalid, for S.84-C provides that the land in excess of the ceiling shall be at the disposal of the Government when an order is made by the Mamlatdar. The invalidity of the acquisition is, therefore, only to the extent to which the holding exceeds the ceiling prescribed by law and involves the consequence that the land shall vest in the Government.

It would thus transpire that after the acquisition is completed, the question may arise whether ceiling has been exceeded and in that event the Mamlatdar in a suo motu inquiry can declare the transfer invalid to the extent the holding exceeds the ceiling.