Y. Bhaskar Rao, J.
1. This writ petition is filed to quash the order of the District Judge-cumAppellate Tribunal under the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Tenancy Act, 1956 and the Rules at Srikakulam in I.A. No. 36 of 1989 in A.T.A. No. 4 of 1989.
2. The facts of the case are that the petitioner is the land-lord and the first respondent is the tenant. The petitioner filed A.T.C. No. 14 of 1983 for eviction of the first respondent from the petition schedule lands before the Special Officer. The Special Officer allowed the petition directing eviction of the first respondent giving two months time and on 12-4-1989 the possession was delivered to the petitioner. The first respondent filed appeal along with a petition to condone the delay of three days in filing the appeal before the second respondent. The petitioner raised objection as to the maintainability of the petition under Section 5 of the Limitation Act. The second respondent-District Judge holding that the appellate authority under the Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Tenancy Act, 1956, hereinafter referred to as 'the Act', is a Court, entertained the appeal after condoning the delay. The District Judge held on merits that there was sufficient ground to condone the delay and allowed the petition. Against the said order, the present writ petition is filed.
3. The writ petition was heard by a learned Single Judge. The learned Single Judge referred the matter to a Division Bench in view of the conflicting decisions. That is how the matter came up before us.
4. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that the Act is a selfcontained Act and period of limitation for filing appeal against any order of the Special Officer is prescribed under the Act, that an appeal lies to the District Judge as persona designata but not as a Court, that the District Judge acts as appellate tribunal under the Act and not as a civil Court, that the provisions of the Limitation Act are not applicable to the proceedings under the Act and that therefore the appellate Tribunal erred in condoning the delay while exercising powers under Section 5 of the Limitation Act.
5. The learned Counsel for the first respondent contended that though Section 16(2) says that appeal lies to the District Judge, the entire procedure followed by the District Judge is that of the civil Court, that the mention of 'District Judge' does not mean that it is not a Court, that Section 5 of the Limitation Act is applicable to the proceedings before a Court, that the Court below rightly condoned the delay and there are no merits in the writ petition and it is liable to be dismissed.
6. In view of the rival contentions, the important question that arises for consideration is:
"Whether the District Judge on whom appellate powers are conferred under Section 16(2) of the Act, has power to condone the delay in ling an appeal invoking the provisions of Section 5 read with Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act."
7. The Act is framed to provide for the payment of fair rent by cultivating tenants and for regulating the relations of landlords and cultivating tenants of agricultural lands and for matters connected therewith in the Andhra Area of the State of Andhra Pradesh. Section 16 of the Act provides for adjudication of disputes and appeal. Sub-section (2) of Section 16 says that against any order passed by the Special Officer under the Act an appeal shall lie to the District Judge having jurisdiction, within thirty days of the passing of the order and the decision of the District Judge on such appeal shall be final. Thus, it is clearly stated that the appeal lies to he District Judge and not to the District Court. When 'District Judge' is specifically used in the provision, whether it has to be construed as appellate tribunal or a Court is the question. Section 5 of the Limitation Act provides that any appeal or application, except the application under Order 21 of C.P.C., can be admitted after prescribed period, if the appellant satisfies the Court that he had sufficient cause for not preferring the appeal or making the application within such period. Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act says that where any special or local law prescribes a period of limitation to suit, appeal or application different from what is prescribed by the Schedule, then Section 3 shall apply and for the purpose of determining any period of limitation, the provisions of Sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) shall apply in so far as and to the extent to which they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law. Now, let us turn to the case law on the subject.
8. In K. Venkaiah v. K. Venkateswara Rao, a Division Bench of this Court had taken the view that the Limitation Act applies only to proceedings before a Civil or Criminal Court and since the Collector before whom an appeal is filed under Section 90 of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1950 is not a Civil or Criminal Court, the provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963 have no application to the proceedings before him unless there is express provision in the special enactment whereunder the Collector is exercising appellate jurisdiction, making any particular section of the Limitation Act specifically applicable to such proceedings. Affirming the above said view of the Division Bench of this Court, the Supreme Court in Sankuru v. Tanaji, held that Section 93 of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act did not have the effect of rendering the provision of Section 5 of the Limitation Act applicable to the proceedings before the Collector.
9. In Guru Butchaiah v. K. Ahalya Bai, 1975 (2) APLJ 66, a Division Bench of this Court while considering the question whether Section 5 of the Limitation Act applies to the matters that arise under the A.P. (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act by virtue of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act, held that the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act applies to the appeals and revision petitions filed under the A.P. (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act. Under Section 91 a revision lies to the High Court and Section 93 says that every appeal and application for revision under that Act shall be filed within 60 days from the date of impugned order. The High Court being a Court, the Limitation Act applies and in those circumstances, the Division Bench was correct in holding that Section 5 of the Limitation Act is applicable to appeals and revision petitions under the said Act. There is no dispute with regard to the said proposition.
10. In I. Narasimha Rao v. M. Surya Rao, 1978 (1) ALT 39 (NRC) = 1978 (1) APLJ 26 (SN) a learned single Judge of this Court held that the Land Reforms Appellate Tribunals acting under the Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 are Courts within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act and therefore they have the power to condone delay in preferring appeals, if sufficient cause is shown.
11. The Supreme Court in Kerala S.E. Board v. T.P. Kunhaliumma , while considering the question whether petition
under Section 16(3) of the Telegraph Act claiming enhanced compensation falls within the scope of Article 137 of the Limitation Act, held:
"In many statutes reference is made to the District Judge under this particular title while the intention is to refer to the Court of the District Judge. The Telegraph Act in Section 16 contains intrinsic evidence that the District Judge is mentioned there as the Court of the District Judge.......The District Judge under the Telegraph Act acts as a civil Court in dealing with applications under Section 16 of the Telegraph Act."
12. From the above decision, it is dear that though petition under Section 16(3) of the Telegraph Act was to be filed before the District Judge, number of provisions of the statute make reference to the District Judge as Presiding Judge of the District Court.
13. A learned single Judge of this Court in Union of India v. T. Madhusudan Swamy, 1981(1) ALT 44 (SN) held that the Claims Commissioner under the Railways Act is not a Civil Court and therefore Limitation Act has no application to him.
14. Upholding the above said view, the Supreme Court in Birla Cement Works v. G.M. Western Railways, 1995 AIR SCW 1140 held that the provisions of the Limitation Act have no application to the Railway Tribunal as it is not a Civil Court.
15. In New Uaji Labour Society v. Haji Abdul Rahman Sahab, a Division bench of this Court was considering the
question whether the District Judge, while acting as Special Court under the A.P. Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 1982, acts as persona designata or as a presiding officer of the District Court. In that case, the District Judge made over the land grabbing O.P., filed by the respondent to the Additional District Judge and the Additional District Judge holding the petitioners as land grabbers ordered eviction from the disputed land. The Division Bench held that the District Judge while acting as Special Court under The A.P. Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 1982, does not act as persona designata, but merely acts as a Presiding Officer of the District Court.
16. In C. Ramachandra Reddy v. S. Aswarthanarayan, a learned single Judge of this Court held that the Special Officer, though is a judicial officer, is not a Civil Court and as the Limitation Act is not applicable to the proceedings under the Tenancy Act, the Special Officer has no power to invoke the provisions of the Limitation Act to extend the time beyond the prescribed period of limitation for filing an application to set aside ex parte or default order.
17. In M. Ammannaraju v. B. Seetaratnam, while
considering Section 16(2) of the Act, a Division Bench of this Court held that the District Munsifs or the District Judges discharging functions under the Act are not civil Courts, but only tribunals and that revision against the orders of such tribunals do not lie to the High Court under Seel 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure as the tribunals are not subordinates to the High Court.
18. In a recent decision in Nalgonda Co-operative Marketing Society Ltd. v. Labour Court (F.B.), a Full Bench of this
Court held that the Industrial Tribunals and Labour Courts dealing with the applications or references arising under the Industrial Disputes Act are not Courts. It was further held that the provisions of Section 5 of the Limitation Act are applicable to the proceedings in a Court and they are not applicable to the proceedings in a tribunal.
19. On a conspectus of the aforesaid decisions, the principle that emerges is that when an appeal is provided to a particular tribunal headed by a District Judge, one has to look at the provisions of the Act to find out the intention of the Legislature creating the tribunal, whether such tribunal is a Court or persona. designata. Under Section 16(2) of the Act, an appeal is provided to the District Judge against an order of the Special Officer under the Act. In no other Section of the Act, there is any mention of the Court (District Judge) dealing with the filing of appeals or payment of Court fees, etc. Rule 8 of the Rules framed under the Act, which deals with the procedure of filing appeals, says that the appellate authority is the District Judge, but not the District Court. Therefore, by reading Rule 8 and Section 16(2) together, it is manifest that an appeal lies to the District Judge, but not to a Court. Moreover, the Division Bench in Ammannaraju 's case (10 supra) held that the District Munsifs or District Judges functioning under the Act are not Civil Courts and the Full Bench in Nalgonda Co-op. Marketing Society's case (11 supra) held that the provision of Section 5 of the Limitation Act is applicable to proceedings in Courts but not in Tribunals. Therefore, we have to hold that the appellate authority mentioned in Section 16(2) of the Act, namely, the District Judge, is only a persona designata, but not a Court and accordingly the provision of Section 5 of the Limitation Act will not apply to the proceedings before him.
20. In the result, the writ petition is allowed and the order of the District Judge-cwm-Appellate Tribunal, Srikakulam in I. A. No. 36 of 1989 in A.T. A. No. 4 of 1989 is quashed. There will be no order as to costs.