G B Kashirsagar
Vs. L A Narode  INSC 1211 (25 September 1996)
O R D
view of the High Court in rendering the appellant helpless in retaining his
tenancy over a small piece of land admeasuring 1 acre and 38 guntas is put to
challenge in this appeal.
transpires that the appellant was in cultivating possession of 4 acres and 38 guntas
of land under the respondent-landlord. On an application moved by the landlord
under Section 31 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act. 1948 [the
Act], the Tenancy Awal, Karkun.
passed an order on 3.5.1954 on the basis of a compromise effected between the
parties whereunder 3 acres of land was surrendered to the landlord and the
balance land was left to be retained by the tenant. It is beyond dispute that
had the application been decided on merit, the worst that could have happened
to the tenant was that he would have been made to vacate half the tenanted
land. As is obvious, the tenant was worse off by the compromise and was left to
retain less than half of the land to the extent of 1 are, 38 quntas only. Be
that as it may, the situation continued as such, when a second attempt was made
by the landlord to evict the tenant under the same provision of ection 31 of
the Act. This time, there again was a compromise. The land was conceded to be
different provisions of the Act apply to sugarcane lands, details of which we
are not presently concerned with: except to say that the tenants of the
sugarcane lands were then not evictable. Later came a notification which
permitted eviction of tenants of sugarcane lands as well, provided such an endeavour
did not come to clash with the provisions of Section 31C and 31d of the act.
Section 31C provides that the tenancy of any land left with the tenant after
the termination of the tenancy under Section 31 shall not at any time arterwards
be liable to termination again on the ground that the landlord bona fide
required that land for personal cultivation. Section 31D provides that if, in
consequence of the termination of the tenancy under Section 31 any part of the
land leased is left with the tenant, the rent shall be apportioned in the
prescribed manner in proportion to the area of the land left with the tenant.
The notification prompted the landlord to move again, seeking the land left
with the tenant for bona fide personal cultivation. He naturally was confronted
by the tenant with the bar under Section 31C of the Act. Two courts in the revenue
hierarchy employed the bar and decided in favour of the tenant-appellant but
the Land Tribunal in revision at the instance of the landlord, upset those
orders and the High Court in a writ petition, has come to confirm the same.
ground on which the Land Tribunal and the High Court have demolished the defence
available in Section 31C is that the earlier order under Section 31, dated
3.5.1954 was, strictly speaking, not an order under Section 31 but merely a
consent order or a compromise order: not an order of the kind envisaged under
Section 31C so as to erect abar.
to examine that view that the parties' counsel have been heard and the relevant
provisions gone into.
noticeable that Section 31 provides for the procedure for termination of tenancy
for personal cultivation and for non-agricultural use, for which the landlord
has been vested with a right. If his claim is bona fide and is based on the
rights conferred in the provision then read with Section 31C, the said
provision patently appears to be a one-time measure. The matter in hang can be
viewed in this manner that proceedings under Section 31 were resorted to by the
landlord and a decision was made thereon.
on contest with consent of the Parties to which the Authority hearing the
matter put. its seal of approval. No one can say that the said order was not an
order in purported exercise of the powers and functions of the Authority under
Section 31. Having had a larger share of the cake, it did not lie in the month
of the landlord to be complaining that those proceedings were no proceedings at
all, in terms of Section 31. Merely because the Authority did not record an
order after contest, can be no ground to denude the power exercised by the
Authority in that behalf.
this is so then Section 31C is an Obvious bar to a second attempt to end the
tenancy. Merely because the landlord bona fide requires that land for personal
cultivation on the suggested premise that his family members have increased is
of no consequence. Thus, in our view, the High Court, with due respect, was in
error in rendering the appellant defenceless, denying him the benefit of
Section 31C of the Act. We hold accordingly.
the foregoing reasons, this appeal is allowed, the judgment and order of the
High Court is set aside as also that of the Land Tribunal; restoring the orders
of the Authorities under the Act passed at the two stages: initial as well as
secondary. No costs.