G. Krishnareddy Vs.
Sajjappa (D) By LRS. and ANR.
appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 20.10.1998 passed by the
Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court in Writ Appeal No. 3269 of 1998 dismissing
the Writ Appeal filed by the appellant.
facts leading to the filing of the case are that the disputed land was allotted
through a grant by the State of Karnataka to one Smt. Munemma on 08.01.1957 with
a condition prohibiting any alienation of the land for a period of 15 years.
Gopalappa, late father of the appellant herein, purchased the said land from Smt.
Munemma under a registered sale deed dated 20.12.1968.
view of the coming into force of the Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
[Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands] Act, 1978 [for short "the Prohibition
of Transfer Act"] Smt. Munemma made an application under the said Prohibition
of Transfer Act for the resumption of the land in question on the ground that
it was purchased by Gopalappa, late father of the appellant, in violation of the
prohibition clause of the grant. By passing an order dated 07.06.1984 Assistant
Commissioner allowed the application filed by Smt. Munemma which was also confirmed
by the Deputy Commissioner in appeal.
Against the said order
of the Deputy Commissioner the predecessor-in-interest of the appellant filed a
Writ Petition before the Karnataka High Court, which remanded back the matter to
the appropriate authority for its disposal in accordance with law. Pursuant thereto
the Assistant Commissioner after conducting an enquiry vide its order dated
10.10.1995 held that the purchaser is in possession of the land for more than 12
years which decision was further confirmed in appeal by the Deputy Commissioner.
Against the aforesaid order a Writ Petition was filed by the heirs of the original
grantee which was registered as Writ Petition No. 26848/1997.
Single Judge who heard the aforesaid Writ Petition vide order dated 15.06.1998 held
that the authorities below erred in law in applying the principles of adverse
possession to the case in hand. The learned Single Judge held that since the purchaser
had taken the stand that by purchasing the said land under a valid sale deed he
had been enjoying the cultivation and possession in his own right as owner thereof,
therefore, he is precluded from setting up the inconsistent plea of adverse
possession either as against the State or the grantee. It was also held that
the aforesaid allotted land through a grant was purchased by the purchaser in
contravention of the prohibition clause of the grant in question. Consequently,
the said Writ Petition filed by the heirs of the original grantee succeeded and
the impugned orders were quashed and the Assistant Commissioner was directed to
take action according to law to restore possession of the said land to the
aggrieved by the aforesaid order a Writ Appeal was filed by the appellant
herein which was dismissed by order dated 20.10.1998 as against which the
present appeal has been filed, on which we heard learned counsel appearing for the
appellant, who during the course of his argument had taken us through the
records also. The respondent despite service did not enter appearance.
land involved in the present case is Sy No. 53 measuring 2 acres situated in Village-Hebbatta,
Taluk-Srinivaspur, District-Kolar. While granting land in favour of the predecessor-in-interest
of the respondent herein through a grant dated 8th January, 1957 it was clearly
stipulated in the grant that the said land cannot be transferred for 15 years. Subsequently,
however, on 20.12.1968 the said land was purchased by the late father of
appellant. Earlier to the same an agreement to sale was also entered into
between the parties on 25.12.1965.
after coming into force of the Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes [Prohibition
of Transfer of Certain Lands] Act, 1978, w.e.f., 01.01.1979, the original grantee
- Smt. Munemma made an application under Section 5 of the Prohibition of
Transfer Act before the Assistant Commissioner seeking resumption of the land on
the ground that it was purchased by the late father of the appellant in
violation of the prohibition clause of the grant. The application of Smt. Munemma
was allowed by the Assistant Commissioner which was also upheld by Deputy Commissioner
in appeal. Against the said decision of the Deputy Commissioner a Writ Petition
was filed by the appellant before the Karnataka High Court, which remanded back
the matter to be decided by the appropriate authority in accordance with law.
to the said order of the High Court an application was filed before the
Assistant Commissioner. At this stage it would be appropriate to extract the
provisions of Section 4 and 5 of the said Prohibition Act: -
OF TRANSFER OF GRANTED LANDS-
anything in any law, agreement, contract or instrument, any transfer of
granted land made either before or after the commencement of this Act, in
contravention of the terms of the grant of such land or the law providing for such
grant, or sub-Section (2) shall be null and void and no right title or
interest in such land shall be conveyed not be deemed ever to have conveyed by
person shall, after the commencement of this Act transfer or acquire by transfer
any granted land without the previous permission of the Government.
provision of sub-Sections (1) and (2) shall apply also to the sale of any land
in execution of a decree or order of a civil court or of an award or order of any
5. RESUMPTION AND
RESTITUTION OF GRANTED LANDS-
an application by any interested person or on information given in writing by any
person or suo motu, and after such enquiry as he deems necessary the Assistant Commissioner
is satisfied that the transfer of any granted land is null and void under
sub-section (1) of section 4, he may -
a. by order take possession
of such land after evicting all persons in possession thereof in such manner as
may be prescribed;
provided that no such
order shall be made except after giving the person affected a reasonable opportunity
of being heard;
b. restore such land to the
original grantee or his legal heir. Where it is not reasonably practicable to restore
the land in such grantee or legal heir such land shall be deemed to have vested
in the Government free from all encumbrances. The Government may grant such
land to a person belonging to any of the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes
in accordance with the rules relating to grant of lands.
an enquiry referred to in sub-section(1) the Assistant Commissioner may if he is
satisfied that transfer of any granted land is not null and void pass an order
to the orders of the Deputy Commissioner under Section 5A, any order passed
under sub-section (1) and (1A) shall be final and shall not be questioned in
any court of law and no injunction shall be granted by any court in respect of any
proceeding taken or about to be taken by the Assistant Commissioner in
pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act.
the purposes of this section where any granted land is in the possession of a person
other than the original grantee or his legal heir it shall be presumed until the
contrary is proved that such person has acquired the land by a transfer which is
null and void under the provisions of sub-section (1) of section
Commissioner after hearing the parties, however, rejected the application
holding that the late father of the appellant is protected from dispossession by
way of application of the plea of adverse possession which decision was also confirmed
in appeal by the Deputy Commissioner. But in a Writ Petition filed by the respondent
the learned Single Judge of the High Court set aside the said findings of the authorities
below and directed for the restoration of possession of the land in favour of the
respondent. Learned Single Judge further held that no transfer could have been made
by the predecessor-in-interest of respondent, i.e., Smt. Munemma and,
therefore, alienation made in favour of the late father of the appellant was
contrary to the prohibition clause of the said grant as also to the provisions
is clear from the aforesaid position that in order to overcome the aforesaid
difficulties the appellant took up the plea of adverse possession by way of defence.
The predecessor-in-interest of the appellant claimed title over the said land
by virtue of purchase and at no stage he had put up any hostile claim to the property.
The plea was of ownership by right of purchase and therefore a lawful right to enjoy
the property. The learned Single Judge while allowing the writ petition filed
by the respondent has made reference to the aforesaid position and held that
the plea of adverse possession was not available to the predecessor-in-interest
of the appellant in law and in view of such legal position the authorities
below erred in accepting the plea of adverse possession in respect of the granted
land. There appears to be justification in the findings of the High Court.
otherwise, we may refer to the decision of this Court in K.T. Buchegowda v.
Deputy Commissioner and Others reported in (1994) 3 SCC 536 where at paragraph
8 of the said judgment this Court has held thus: -
"8. On a plain reading,
granted land will mean, any land granted by the Government to a person, who is a
member of the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes which includes land allotted
to such persons. Grant may be of different types; it may be by absolute transfer
of the interest of the State Government to the person concerned; it may be only
by transfer of the possession of the land, by way of allotment, without
conveying the title over such land of the State Government.
If by grant, the transferee
has acquired absolute title to the land in question from the State Government,
then subject to protection provided by the different provisions of the Act, he
will be subject to the same period of limitation as is prescribed for other citizens
by the provisions of the Limitation Act, in respect of extinguishment of title over
land by adverse possession. On the other hand, if the land has been allotted by
way of grant and the title remains with the State Government, then to extinguish
the title that has remained of the State Government by adverse possession, by a
transferee on the basis of an alienation made in his favour by an allottee, the
period of limitation shall be 30 years. Incidentally,
it may be mentioned that
some of the States in order to protect the members of the Scheduled Tribes from
being dispossessed from the lands which belong to them and of which they are absolute
owners, for purpose of extinguishment of their title by adverse possession, have
prescribed special period of limitation, saying that it shall be 30 years. In Bihar,
vide Regulation No. 1 of 1969, in Article 65 of the Limitation Act, it has been
prescribed that it would be 30 years in respect of immovable property belonging
to a member of the Scheduled Tribes as specified in Part III to the Schedule to
the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950."
so as to ascertain whether in the present case the period of limitation would be
12 years or 30 years, we have perused the grant given to the
predecessor-in-interest of the Respondent, a copy of which was placed on record
by the appellant. A bare perusal of the aforesaid grant would indicate that
nowhere in the said grant it has been clearly and specifically stated that it
has been an absolute transfer of the right in title and possession by the State
Government to the concerned person.
A bare perusal of the
document would also indicate that it was only a transfer of the possession of the
land by way of allotment and in none of the clauses of the grant it is stated
that it is a conveyance of the title over such land by the State Government.
Clause 1 of the grant gives authority to the grantee to clear the land and to bring
it to cultivable stage. It further provides that the grantee can enjoy the
property for 15 years. Not only the grant was only for a limited period but it was
also for cultivation. Therefore, it was a grant for possession by way of
cultivation for a limited period and it cannot be said that by the aforesaid
grant the transferee had acquired absolute title to the land in question from the
State Government. Therefore, the period of limitation which would have been applicable
in the present case would be 30 years, in the light of the ratio laid down by
the said decision.
any case the appellant has failed to make out any case for interference. We
find no merit in this appeal, which stands dismissed, leaving the parties to bear
their own costs.
[Dr. Mukundakam Sharma ]
[ Anil R. Dave ]