May 4, 2024 In Uncategorized



A two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Prasanna Bhalachandra Varale passed an Order dated 01.05.2024 in Civil Appeal No. 1627 Of 2016 in Ram Balak Singh Vs. State of Bihar and Anr. and held that a civil court is not barred from entertaining any lawsuit unless the same is aimed at altering or annulling any decision or order issued by the Consolidation Court, particularly concerning matters under the Bihar Consolidation of Holdings and Prevention of Fragmentation Act, 1956.


i) The Suit was in respect of a Land measuring 0.32 decimal, located within R.S.P. No.821 in Kishanpur Village, Sitamarhi District, Bihar (Land). This Land was originally part of C.S.P. No.332 in Khata No.196, which was owned by Mr. Rambati Kuwer, the former Landlord.

ii) The former Landlord, Mr. Rambati Kuwer, transferred the aforementioned portion of the disputed Land to Mr. Makhan Singh, son of Late Ram Govind Singh, through a Lease Deed of 1341 Fasli. Mr. Makhan Singh maintained possession of the Land throughout his lifetime. Makhan Singh, who did not have any biological children, claimed to have adopted the Plaintiff-Appellant Ram Balak Singh. Consequently, the Plaintiff-Appellant currently holds possession of the disputed Land, which has been in their family’s ownership since Rambati Kuwer initially settled it in favor of Late Makhan Singh.

iii) The village underwent consolidation in compliance with the Bihar Consolidation of Holdings and Prevention of Fragmentation Act, 1956 (Consolidation Act).

iv) Due to an erroneous recording of the Land under the State’s name, the Plaintiff-Appellant, in accordance with Section 10(B) of the Consolidation Act (Publication of registers of Lands and statement of principles and objections thereon), applied for the correction of revenue and consolidation records. The Consolidation Officer, Bathnaha, then, through an Order dated 12.11.1979, directed the correction of the Record of Rights. The Plaintiff-Appellant’s name was instructed to be officially recorded for the 0.32 decimal area of Land within R.S.P. No.821. This directive was duly executed, and the Plaintiff-Appellant’s name was duly entered into the Record of Rights. Importantly, this Order was final and conclusive, as it was not contested by any party, including the State of Bihar, in any higher forum.

v) Subsequently, the State Authorities began asserting ownership over the entire 4 acres and 58 decimal land of C.S.P. No.332, including the disputed Land, claiming it as jalkar (pond land). This led to interference in the possession of the Plaintiff-Appellant.

vi) Left with no alternative, upon receiving a Notice dated 09.09.2004 in accordance with Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure,1908 (CPC) (Notice), the Plaintiff-Appellant filed Suit No.103/2004 before the Trial Court. The purpose of the Suit was to assert his title over the disputed Land as outlined in Schedule-A of the Plaint and to affirm his possession of the same.

vii) The aforementioned Suit was filed based on the assertion that the disputed Land originally belonged to Rambati Kuwer, the former Landlord, who subsequently settled it in favor of Makhan Singh in 1341 fasli. The Plaintiff-Appellant, being the adopted son of Makhan Singh, purportedly inherited the Land.

viii) During the consolidation proceedings, upon petitions or objections filed under Section 10(B) of the Consolidation Act, the Consolidation Officer, through a Judgment and Order dated 12.11.1979, ruled in favor of the Plaintiff-Appellant. The Order directed the Plaintiff-Appellant’s name to be officially recorded in the Record of Rights, a decision that became final. Therefore, the State has no rightful claim, title, or jurisdiction over the disputed Land, which was in the possession of the Plaintiff-Appellant.

ix) The officers representing the State received the Summons for the Suit, but they failed to submit a Written Statement to challenge the allegations outlined in the Plaint, despite being provided with multiple opportunities to do so. Finally, on 04.02.2006, the State’s right to file a Written Statement was terminated, and the Suit was scheduled for hearing in accordance with Order VIII Rule 10 of CPC (Procedure when party fails to present written statement called for by Court).

x) Since the allegations in the Plaint remained uncontested, no substantive issues were raised between the Parties for adjudication. However, the Ld. Trial Court, after formulating the point of determination of whether the Plaintiff-Appellant could substantiate his case concerning the disputed Land with credible and reliable evidence, proceeded to adjudicate the Suit on its merits. Although the Suit was initially decreed in favor of the Plaintiff-Appellant, this decision was subsequently overturned by the First Appellate Court, vide Order dated 14.07.2008 and the said ruling was upheld by the High Court Bihar, vide Order 20.10.2011.

xi) Aggrieved by the Order of the High Court dated 20.10.2011, the Plaintiff-Appellant filed Civil Appeal No. 1627 Of 2016 before the Supreme Court.


The Apex Court vide Order dated 01.05.2024, made the following observations:

1) The Supreme Court observed that the Plaintiff-Appellant or their predecessor-in-interest has been in continuous possession of the disputed Land since the time it was settled in favor of Makhan Singh by the ex-Landlord. The Apex Court noted that during the consolidation proceedings, the plaintiff-appellant’s rights over the Land were recognized, and by an Order dated 12.11.1979, his name was directed to be officially recorded in the Record of Rights, thereby crystallizing their right and title over the Land.

2) The Apex Court emphasized that as a result, the State of Bihar cannot make any claim to the Land or disturb the Plaintiff-Appellant’s possession without adhering to proper legal procedures and providing compensation. Additionally, the Bench criticized the lower Appellate Courts for reversing the Decree of the Ld. Trial Court, stating that the judgment and Order of the Consolidation Officer is final and conclusive. The Supreme Court stressed that these Orders cannot be overturned or disregarded to reach conclusions contrary to them, especially when the Plaintiff-Appellant has presented sufficient evidence to establish his right and possession over the disputed Land.

3) The Apex Court observed that in accordance with the Consolidation Act, the Consolidation Authorities possess full competence to address matters concerning land title within the consolidation area, with certain exceptions. Thus, these Authorities hold powers equivalent to those of a Civil Court to adjudicate upon title-related issues, while their decisions are subject to judicial review by the High Court under Articles 32, 226, and 227 of the Constitution of India. Essentially, the Consolidation Authorities are deemed to function as courts, endowed with powers akin to Civil Courts, enabling them to determine the rights and title of the parties concerning land under consolidation. Simultaneously, this framework serves to exclude the jurisdiction of the Civil Court in such matters.

4) Further, the Court observed that following the conclusion of the consolidation proceedings, when the State interfered with the Plaintiff-Appellant’s possession, he was compelled to initiate a lawsuit to assert his rights over the Land, regardless of the finality of the Consolidation Officer’s Order. The cause of action for this lawsuit stemmed from fresh circumstances that arose subsequent to the closure of the consolidation proceedings. Throughout this lawsuit, the State of U.P. did not contest the matter, nor did it file a written statement or present any evidence on its behalf. The Ld. Trial Court, considering both documentary and oral evidence presented by the Plaintiff-Appellant, decreed in favor of the Plaintiff, recognizing him as the rightful owner in possession of the disputed Land.

5) That the rights of the Parties concerning the disputed Land were firmly established upon the issuance of the Order dated 12.11.1979 by the Consolidation Officer, which attained finality and conclusiveness. Importantly, the State of Bihar never contested this Order. There was no assertion from their end that this Order was obtained through the concealment of facts or fraudulent means regarding the Consolidation Authorities.

6) At no stage did the State of Bihar assert any right, title, or interest in the disputed Land before the Consolidation Authorities or the Civil Court. Instead, it compelled the Plaintiff-Appellant to initiate a Civil Suit despite the acknowledgment of his rights by the Consolidation Authorities.

7) Further, as per Section 37 of the Consolidation Act (Bar of jurisdiction of Civil Courts), the prohibition on Civil Court’s jurisdiction is clear. The Civil Court is barred from entertaining any lawsuit aimed at altering or annulling any decision or Order issued by the Consolidation Court under the Act, particularly concerning matters for which proceedings could have or should have been initiated under the Consolidation Act itself.

8) The Plaintiff-Appellant did not initiate any lawsuit aimed at altering or nullifying any decision or Order issued by the Consolidation Court under the Consolidation Act. Rather, the Plaintiff-Appellant simply filed a lawsuit seeking recognition of the rights bestowed upon him by the Consolidation Court. The lawsuit did not challenge any specific order issued by the Consolidation Court under the Act. Therefore, the jurisdictional restriction imposed by Section 37 does not apply to the current lawsuit, which was filed with the sole intention of seeking declaration of the Plaintiff-Appellant’s rights over the disputed Land, based on the Order issued by the Consolidation Court.


In the given facts and circumstances, although it was not necessary for the Plaintiff-Appellant to file a Civil Suit for the declaration of rights over the disputed Land, as his rights were already determined by the Consolidation Court vide Order dated 12.11.1979, such a Suit was not prohibited by Section 37 of the Consolidation Act. This was because the lawsuit did not intend to contest any Order issued by the Consolidation Court under the Consolidation Act. Therefore, the Appeal of the Plaintiff-Appellant was allowed and thereby, the Order dated 20.10.2011 of the High Court and the Order dated 14.07.2008 of the First Appellate Court were set aside and the Order of the Trial Court dated 04.07.2006 was restored.


Kartik Khandekar


The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services

Leave a Reply