Section 109 - Burden of proof - Plaintiffs filed suit for permanent injunction, mandatory injunction and for possession against defendants alleging defendant to be a manager who was looking after the property - Defendant asserted himself to be the tenant in possession of the suit property - Whether burden to prove landlord-tenant relationship was on the defendant. Held, yes. Defendant having admitted ownership of the plaintiffs over the suit land, burden of proof was rightly placed on him. This is mandated by Section 109 which says that burden of proving such a relationship is on the person who affirms it. (Paras 10, 16, 25)
Revenue records - Presumption of correctness - Governing principles. Held, revenue record ought to be generally accepted at their face value and courts should not embark upon an appellate inquiry into their correctness. But presumption of correctness can apply only to genuine, not forged or fraudulent entries. If an entry is made fraudulently, surreptitiously or it is made without following the prescribed procedure, presumption of truth attached to the revenue record would stand rebutted. Cases referred. (Paras 19-24)
Himachal Land Revenue Act, 1954
Sections 32, 34, 45 - Evidence Act, Sections 35, 109 - Presumption of truth of revenue records - Whether can be rebutted by oral evidence - Issue regarding existence of landlord-tenant relationship - According to plaintiff defendant was appointed as a Manager to look after the property - Plaintiffs produced revenue record i.e. Jamabandi and Khasra Girdawari wherein property was shown to be in their ownership and possession - On the other hand, defendant, while admitting ownership of plaintiffs, asserted himself to be a tenant in possession of the property and led oral evidence of DWs to prove tenancy - Whether trial court rightly held that the presumption of truth to the revenue record, stood rebutted by oral testimonies of witness of the defendant. Held, no. Credibility of oral evidence vis-a-vis documentary evidence is at a much weaker level. Jamabandi, under Section 32 and Khasra Girdawari, under Section 34, are both record-of-rights and have statutory presumption of truth in terms of Section 45 of 1954 Act and Section 35 of Evidence Act. Such presumption can be rebutted only by evidence of impeccable integrity and reliability. In present case, none of the records contained any entry of relationship of landlord and tenant as required in terms of Section 32(2)(a). In absence of entry in the revenue record, tenancy could not be treated to be in existence only on basis of oral evidence of DWs, which could always be adduced contrary to the records.