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Conclusive Proof; No evidence allowed to be given for disproving

The Supreme Court of India in Cheeranthoodika Ahmmedkutty Vs. Parambur Mariakutty Umma, AIR 2000 SC 1853 : 2000 (1) SCR 725 : (2000) 2 SCC 417 : 2000 (1) SCALE 462 : JT 2000 (1) SC 650 held that no evidence allowed to be given for the purpose of disproving conclusive proof except on the allegation of fraud or collusion.

Conclusive Proof

A bench comprising of K.T. Thomas & D.P. Mohapatra JJ. observed that when Section 72-K of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 enjoined that any evidence would be treated as conclusive proof of certain factual position or legal hypothesis the law would forbid other evidence to be adduced for the purpose of contradicting or varying the aforesaid conclusiveness.

While allowing the appeals, the Apex Court ruled that of course, the interdict that the court shall not allow evidence to be adduced for the purpose of disproving conclusiveness, will not prevent a party who alleges fraud or collusion from establishing that the document is vitiated by such factors. Except regarding the said limited sphere the conclusiveness of the document would remain beyond the reach of controvertibity.

Chettiam Veetil Ammad and Another v. Taluk Land Board & Others, AIR (1979) SC 1573, relied on.

Party possessing land in excess of the ceiling limit. Directed by Taluk Land Board to surrender excess land. A certain part of land tenanted to someone. Certificate of Purchase issued by the Land Tribunal in that respect. Tenant gifted the said part of land to a mosque.

Office-bearers of the mosque sought de-linking of the gifted part of land from the said excess land. Taluk Land Board refused to delink the said part of land. In revision, High Court refused to interfere.

On appeal, the Apex Court held that High Court erred in upholding the order of Taluk Board. Certificate of Purchase was conclusive proof regarding assignment to tenant of right, title and interest of landowner. No evidence against conclusiveness of the certificate to be adduced except on the plea of fraud or collusion. No such plea raised in the instant case. Taluk Land Board and the High Court erroneously put burden of proof on the appellant to substantiate the validity and correctness of the certificates.

Halsbury’s Laws of England Para 28, Vol. 17, IVth Edn., referred to.

In the present case no party has averred that the Certificates of Purchase were collusively obtained. In fact, even the authorised officer who was to make a report under Section 105-A of the Act mentioned in the report that the said areas were covered by certificates of purchase referred to above. It is pertinent to point out that the authorised officer did not even suggest that the certificate were procured collusively. Even the Taluk Land Board did not hold that the Certificates of Purchase were the products of any fraud or collusion. It was unnecessary for the High Court to have remarked that the certificates were procured collusively as nobody had alleged them to be so.

In the absence of any material to doubt the correctness of the Certificates of Purchase, the Single Judge should have given due weight to those documents as law enjoins. At any rate the party who relied on the certificates had no burden to prove that the certificates were issued after due deliberations or that there was no fraud in issuing the same. The Taluk Land Board and the High Court had put the burden on the appellants to substantiate the validity and correctness of the certificates. The said approach was fallacious and hence unsupportable.

Facts of the Case

The deceased husband of Respondent No. 1 (brought on record subsequently after the death of her husband) was found to be holding 877.500 acres of land by the Taluk Board. The said land was determined to be beyond the ceiling limit, under the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963, by 788.72 acres.

When husband was directed to surrender the said excess land, the appellants (office bearers of a mosque) claimed that 6.82.500 acres of land had been leased out by husaband, much before the said Act. A Certificate of Purchase, under Section 72-K of the Act, was also issued by the Land Tribunal in this regard. Thereafter, it was claimed, that the said land was gifted to the mosque.

The appellants, therefore, contended that the said area should be de-linked from husband’s account. The Taluk Board, ignoring the Certificate of Purchase, determined the excess land including the land claimed by the appellants. In revision, under Section 105 of the Act, High Court refused to interfere with the aforesaid finding of the Taluk Board on the ground that no material was produced to show existence of a tenancy prior to 1964.

The appellant contended that the High Court has failed to take into account the legal implications of Section 72-K of the Act which rendered a Certificate of Purchase as conclusive proof of the assignment to the tenant of the right, title and interest of the landowner and the inter-mediaries, if any, over the holding or portion thereon to which the assign-ment relates.

The Apex Court exercised its Civil Appellate Jurisdiction in Civil Appeal Nos. 3067 and 8475 of 1997.

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