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LAKSHMAN SAHU V. STATE OF ORISSA

 LAKSHMAN SAHU V. STATE OF ORISSA

 

Issue raised

To appreciate the contention raised, it would be profitable to extract Section 59 of the Act in extenso:--

"59. Revision :--

(1) The prescribed authority may, on application by any party aggrieved by any order passed in an appeal under any provision of this Act filed within the prescribed period, revise such order.

(2) The Board of Revenue may, at any time on being moved in that behalf by the Collector of a district or by the Land Reforms Commissioner, revise any order passed by any authority under this Act.

(3) For the purposes of revising any order, the prescribed authority and the Board of Revenue shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed and shall have power to call for and examine the records of the proceedings wherein such order was passed and to pass such order as they deem fit:

Provided that no order under this Section shall be passed without giving the parties concerned a reasonable opportunity of being heard."

Under the scheme of the Act, an appeal is provided under Section 58 against the order passed by the Revenue Officer under different sections as contained in Section 58(1) of the Act. Obviously, an order passed by the Revenue Officer under Section 36-A is also appealable under Section 58(1). The aggrieved party could maintain a revision against the appellate order to the prescribed authority within the prescribed period and the prescribed authority could revise the order, as provided in Section 59(1) of the Act. The prescribed authority is as provided in Rule 42-B of the Orissa Land Reforms (General) Rules, 1965 (hereinafter referred to as the "Rules) and the prescribed period for maintaining a revision under Section 59(1) is as provided in Rule 44 of the Rules. Sub-section (2) of Section 59 of the Act, however, is the power of the Board which could be exercised only on being moved by the Collector of the district or by the Land Reforms Commissioner and that power could be exercised by the Board at any time. The expression "at any time" would obviously mean, within such reasonable time depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case concerned. A bare reading of Sub-section (2) of Section 59 clearly indicates that a Board of Revenue could revise any order passed by any authority under the Act and the only restriction is that it could exercise that power only when it is moved in that behalf by a Collector of the district or by the Land Reforms Commissioner. The language of Sub-section (2) of Section 59 of the Act does not put any restriction or fetter on the power of the Board which is the highest revenue authority of the State. Such a power has been conferred obviously to protect the interest of the State and to correct illegalities or irregularities committed by the subordinate revenue authorities in discharge of their functions under the Act. This provision as it now stands was inserted into the statute in the year 1976 and prior to the same, the Board could exercise a suo motu power or on an application of either party or any interested person to call for and examine the. records of any master under the Act to find out the irregularity, illegality or impropriety of any decision or order passed and could modify, annul and reverse the same. The distinction between Sub-section (2) of Section 59, as it stood prior to amendment in 1976, and the present provision is that under the earlier provisions both the Collector as well as the Board could exercise the power and power could be exercised either suo motu or on an application by either party or any interested person, whereas under the amended provision, as it now exists, it is only the Board which could exercise the power but only on being moved by the Collector of a district or by the Land Reforms Commissioner. Thus, for entertaining a revision under Sub-section (2) of Section 59 of the Act, though the Legislature has curtailed the power which the Board was exercising under the old provision, inasmuch as it can only entertain under the existing provision on being moved by the Collector of the district or the Land Reforms Commissioner and not otherwise, but in exercising that power no limitation has been put by the Legislature. In other words, an unlimited power to correct any illegality or irregularity has been conferred upon the highest revenue authority of the State if the said authority is satisfied that it is necessary in the interest of revenue administration. Sub-section (3) of Section 59 of the Act further amplifies the aforesaid power of the Board under Sub-section (2) by providing that the Board shall have power to call for and examine the records of the proceedings wherein such order was passed and to pass such order as it deems fit. Sub-section (3) of Section 59 clearly indicates the amplitude of the power conferred upon the Board of Revenue under Sub-section (2) of Section 59. The expression "to pass such order as they deem fit" in Sub-section (3) 

clearly indicates that the Board can pass such order as it thinks fit and proper in the circumstances of the case, and this power would certainly include the power to observe that it would be open for the Collector to further look into the matter whereafter on being satisfied the Collector could make a further reference. The proviso to said Sub-section (3), however only casts an obligation that before passing any order the parties concerned will have a reasonable opportunity of being heard. Sub-section (3) further stipulates that the Board shall follow such procedure as may be prescribed and the expression "prescribed" has been defined in Section 2(23) to mean, prescribed by rules made by the Government under the Act. Rule 45(2) of the Rules prescribes that hearing and disposal of cases of revision before the Board of Revenue shall be in accordance with the Board of Revenue, Orissa Regulations, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the "Regulations"). Clause-9 of the Regulations stipulates that an applicant before the Board cannot be permitted to be heard on any ground other than those set forth in the memorandum, but the Board is not required to confine itself to the grounds set forth in the memorandum. In other words, the Board could interfere with the orders of the lower authority on the ground not taken by the aggrieved party. The aforesaid provision in the Regulations indicates that the power of the Board in disposing of the matter before it is unlimited and there is no restriction on the same. A combined reading of the aforesaid provisions makes it crystal clear that the Board of Revenue has been conferred with an unrestricted power under Sub-section (2) of Section 59 of the Act and the only limitation is for entertaining a matter which must be only on being moved by the Collector of a district or by the Land Reforms Commissioner.

6. It is a cardinal rule of construction of statute that the construction must be put from the bare words of the Act itself, if the language used is clear and unambiguous. In the construction of a statute the words must be interpreted in their ordinary grammatical sense unless there be something in the context or in the object of the statute in which they occur or in the circumstances with reference to which they are used to show that they are used in a special sense different from their ordinary grammatical meaning. Lord Wensleydale in Grev v. Pearson, (1857) 6 HLC 61, had, therefore, observed that the ordinary sense of the words must be adhered to unless that would lead to some absurdity or repugnance or inconsistency with the rest of the instrument. While construing the provisions of a statute, a Court has to give effect to the natural meanings of the words used therein if the words are clear enough. If the plain grammatical meaning of Sub-section (2) of Section 59 is that the Board of Revenue has an unrestricted and unlimited power thereunder, it would not be proper for a Court to restrict that power on the ground that it may cause undue hardship to a citizen.

7. It would be appropriate to notice two other contentions raised by Mr. Murty, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, namely, the Board having been given power to revise any order passed by any authority under the Act under Sub-section (2). and Collector's order of reference not being an order passed under the Act, the question of issuing a direction to the Collector does not arise and secondly, the power under Sub-section (2) could be exercised only within a reasonable time, as has been held by the Supreme Court in the case of Mansaram v. S.P. Pathak, AIR 1983 SC 1239. So far as Mr. Murty's contention regarding Board's power to revise an order passed under the Act is concerned, there is no dispute with the aforesaid proposition of law. A Board could only revise an order passed under the Act whether original or appellate, but a Board could exercise its power under Sub-section (2) only on being moved by the Collector or the Land Reforms Commissioner. Where a Board does not accept the reference on being moved either by the Collector of a district or by the Land - Reforms Commissioner but observes that it would be open for the Collector to further enquire into the matter and if satisfied to make a further reference in the matter, the Board does not revise any order of the authority under the Act. The Board merely refuses to accept the reference or refuses to invoke its jurisdiction for revising an order under the Act. In this view of the matter, the further observation made by the Board does not amount to revision of an order passed by any authority under the Act and consequently, Mr. Murty's contention is without any substance. The writ application being based solely on the ground that the Board had no jurisdiction to make the observation and in view my conclusion earlier, the writ application is devoid of merits and is accordingly dismissed.

 

Judgement

1. We have, with the above assistance of Shri M. Qamaruddin, learned counsel for the appellant gone through the judgment of the High Court. The High Court on a careful consideration of the evidence adduced in the case has come to a definite conclusion that the appellant was guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under Section 304-I of Indian Penal Code, 1860


2. The learned counsel for the appellant has contended that the finding of the High Court that the head injury No. 1 was the cause of the death of deceased cannot be sustained inasmuch as the death has been caused due to cumulative effect of six other injuries on the person of the deceased. It was also contended in this connection by the learned counsel that the evidence of Dr. Jagadananda Negi, PW 9 who performed the post-mortem on the body of the deceased to the effect that injury No. 1 was fatal should not be accepted. We are afraid that we cannot accept this contention put forth by the learned counsel. It is evident from the evidence of PW 9 Dr. Jagadananda Negi who performed the post-mortem on the body of the deceased that the injury No. 1 was fatal; there was effusion of clotted blood between the skull and the brain. In his opinion death was due to coma as a result of injury to the brain due to injury No. 1 and death was within half an hour of the receipt of the injury. Dr. Negi further testified that the contusion over the back was due to lathi blows and the injuries are ante-mortem. It is, therefore, clear that injury No. 1 by itself was sufficient to cause the death of the deceased. The decision of this Court in Deo Narain v. State of U. P. is distinguishable on facts. There in the course of a melee a blow with lathi was aimed at a vulnerable part of the body of the accused who in order to defend himself caused a blow with considerable force with a spear on the chest of the deceased though he himself received a superficial lathi blow on his head. It was held in that case by this Court that it could not be held that the right to private defence was considered to have been exceeded on the sole ground that he used his spear on the chest with more force than was necessary to prevent the deceased from committing unlawful aggression. In the instant case there is nothing to show that the appellant caused the lathi blow on the head of the deceased in order to defend himself against an apprehended assault on a vital part of his body. It is needless to point out in this connection that the right of private defence is available only to one who is suddenly confronted with immediate necessity of averting an impending danger not of his creation. The necessity must be present, real or apparent. In the circumstances it was rightly held by the High Court that there was no justification for such a vital blow inflicted on the head of Sridhar which caused his death. The High Court rightly held that the appellant exceeded his right of private defence and he was rightly convicted under Section 304-I of the Indian Penal Code 

3. We agree with the conclusions and reasonings arrived at by the High Court. The appeal is accordingly dismissed. Bail bonds shall stand cancelled and he shall be taken into custody forthwith to serve out the remaining part of the sentence.


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