The State of Madras & ANR Vs. V.
Srinivasa Ayyangar  INSC 55 (21 October 1955)
AIYYAR, T.L. VENKATARAMA BHAGWATI, NATWARLAL
SINHA, BHUVNESHWAR P.
CITATION: 1956 AIR 94 1955 SCR (2) 907
Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into
Ryotwari) Act, (Madras Act XXVI of 1948), s. 1(3)(4),s. 3(b)--Madras Estates
Land Act I of 1908, s. 3(2)-Notification under s. 1(4) of Madras Act XXVI of
1948-Comprising a part of village-Darmila or post-settlement inam in respect of
portion of village-Whether the part vests in the State under s. 3(b) of the
Madras Act XXVI of 1948-Estate within the meaning of s, 1(3) of Madras Act XXVI
of 1948 read with s. 3(2) of Madras Act I of 1908-Whether includes part of the
estate-Compensation to Darmila Inamdar-Darmila minor inam- Whether protected by
s. 20 of the Act XXVI of 1948.
At the time of passing of the Madras Estates
(Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (Madras Act XXVI of 1948), a
15/16th portion of village Karuppur situated within the Zamindari of
Ramanathapuram was hold by the inamdars under a pre-settlement grant confirmed
by the British Government, the estate being permanently settled in 1802. The
remaining one-sixteenth portion was held by the holders of darmila or
post-settlement inams made by the proprietor of the estate.
In exercise of the powers conferred by s.
1(4) of the Madras Act XXVI of 1948 the State of Madras issued a notification
dated 22nd August 1949 bringing the Act into force as regards the
Ramanathapuram estate from 7th September 1949, the latter Zamindari including
one-sixteenth part of Haruppur village. The respondent-the holder of the one-
sixteenth inam-contended that under s. 1(3) of the Madras Act XXVI of 1948 the
State of Madras bad power to notify only what would be estates as defined in s.
3(2) of the Madras Estates Land Act I of 1908 and that one-sixteenth part of
the village of Karuppur included in the notification was not an estate as
defined in that section and the notification was therefore ultra vires.
Held (repelling the contention) that when the
darmila inam does not relate to the entire village but only to a fraction of
it, it must be held to retain its character as part of the estate in the hands
of the inamdar and when the estate is notified under s. 1(4) of the Madras Act
XXVI of 1948 the inam will vest in the State under s. 3(b) of the Madras Act
XXVI of 1948 and therefore one-sixteenth portion of the village of Karuppur
forming a darmila inam will vest in the State.
Under the provisions of the Madras Act XXVI
of 1948 the darmila minor inamdar is entitled to claim compensation for the
transfer of his portion of the estate to the Government.
115 908 Darmila minor inam is not protected
by s. 20 of the Act.
Brahmayya v. Achiraju ( I.L.R. 45 Mad.
716) and Nara- yanaraju v. Suryanarayudu ( 66 I.A. 278), referred to.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 219 of 1954.
On appeal from the Judgment and Order dated
the 4th day of April 1952 of the Madras High Court in Civil Miscellaneous
Petition No. 8302 of 1950.
V. K. T. Chari, Advocate-General of Madras
(R. Ganapathy Iyer and P. G. Gokhale, with him) for the appellant.
R. Kesava lyengar, (M. S. K. Iyengar, with
him) for the respondent.
1955. October 21. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by VENKATARAMA AYYAR J.-This appeal raises a question of
considerable importance as to the rights of holders of darmila or
post-settlement inams of portions of a village under the Madras Estates
(Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 (Madras Act XXVI of 1948),
hereinafter referred to as the Act. The subject-matter of this appeal is an
one-sixteenth share in the village of Karuppur situated within the ambit of the
Zamindari of Ramanatha- puram. The holders of this ancient Zamindari were,
during the 18th Century, the virtual rulers of that part of South India, and
were known as Sethupathis or the Lords of Rameswaram and the adjacent isles and
seas.In 1757 Muthu Vijaya Ragunatha, the then Rajah of Ramanathapuram, made a
grant of the whole of the village of Karuppur to a number of persons for
various charitable purposes. In 1802, the estate was permanently settled, and
an istimrari sanad was issued in favour of the Rajah. Before that date, the
donees under the grant of 1757 representing an one-sixteenth share had
abandoned the village, and in consequence, the inam had eo extanti been
resumed. At the permanent settlement, this one-sixteenth part was included in
the assets of the 909 Zamindari, and taken into account in fixing the peishkush
thereon. Subsequent to the permanent settlement, on some date which does not
appear on the record, Rani Mangaleswari, the then holder of the Zamindari, made
a fresh grant of the one-sixteenth part which had been resumed, to the inamdars
who held the remaining 15/16th portion of the village under the grant of 1757.
On 31-12-1863 the Inam Commissioner confirmed the grant of 1757, and issued an
inam certificate in respect of the 15/16th portion of the village. The
position, therefore, when the Act was passed was that while a 15/16th portion
was held by the inamdars under a pre- settlement grant confirmed by the British
Government, the remaining one-sixteenth portion was held under post- settlement
grant made by the proprietor of the estate.
The Act came into force on 19-4-1949. Under
section 1(4) of the Act, certain sections thereof were to come into force at
once and the other sections on such date as the Government might by
notification appoint in respect of any zamindari, under-tenure, or inam estate.
In exercise of the powers conferred by this section, the appellant issued a
notification on 22-8-1949 bringing the Act into force as regards the
Ramanathapuram estate from 7-9-1949. Among the villages mentioned as comprised
in the Zamindari was "Karuppur (part)" described as an under-tenure.
It is common ground that the part referred to in this notification is the
one-sixteenth part, which forms the subject-matter of this appeal.
The respondent who represents the holders of
this inam filed the application out of which the present appeal arises, under
article 226 of the Constitution for a writ of certiorari quashing the
notification dated 22-8-1949 as ultra vires. The ground of attack was that
under section 1 (3) of the Act, the State had power to notify only what would
be estates as defined in section 3(2) of the Madras Estates Land Act 1908
(Madras Act I of 1908), and that the part of the village of Karuppur included
in the notification was not an estate as defined in that section. Section 3(2)
of Act I of 1908, so far as is material, is as follows;
910 "Estate" means- (a) any
permanently settled estate or temporarily settled zamindari;
(b) any portion of such permanently settled
estate or temporarily settled zamindari which is separately registered in the
office of the Collector;
(c) any unsettled palaiyam or jagir;
(d) any inam village of which the grant has
been made, confirmed or recognised by the British Government, notwithstanding
that subsequent to the grant, the village has been partitioned among the
grantees or the successors in title of the grantee or grantees.
* * * * (e) any portion consisting of one or
more villages of any of the estates specified above in clauses. (a), (b) and
(c) which is held on a permanent under-tenure".
The contention of the respondent was that as
the grant in question related only to a fraction of a village, it could not be
notified as an under-tenure, as under section 3 (2) (e) an under-tenure would
be an estate only if it related to a whole village or villages. The appellant
conceded that the inam in question was not an under-tenure as defined in
section 3 (2) (e), as it comprised only part of a village, but contended that
even though it was not in itself an estate, it was, nevertheless, part of the
Zamindari of Ramanathapuram, being a post-settlement grant of portion of a
village comprised therein, and that when that estate was notified, the entirety
of it including the inam in question must vest in the Government under section
(b) of the Act.
The respondent demurred to this contention.
In addition, he raised the further contention that even if post-settlement
minor inams were within the operation of the Act, they would be protected by
section 20 of the Act, which runs as follows:
"20(1) In cases not governed by sections
IS and 19, where, before the notified date, a landholder has created any right
in any land (whether by way of lease or otherwise) including rights in any
forest, 911 mines or minerals, quarries, fisheries or ferries, the transaction
shall be deemed to be valid; and all rights and obligations arising there under,
on or after the notified date, shall be enforceable by or against the
Provided that the transaction was not void or
illegal under any law in force at the time:
Provided further that any such right created
on or after the 1st day of July 1945 shall not be enforceable against the
Government, unless it was created for a period not exceeding one year:
Provided also that where such right was
created for a period exceeding one year, unless it relates to the private land
of the landholder within the meaning of section 3, clause (10), of the Estates
Land Act, the Government may, if, in their opinion, it is in the public
interest to do so, by notice given to the person concerned, terminate the right
with effect from such date as may be specified in the notice, not being earlier
than three months from the date thereof".
The argument of the respondent was that a
post-settlement minor inam would be a right in land created by a landholder
falling within section 20, that the notification of the estate under section
1(3) would not ipso facto divest the inamdar of his title to the lands, and
that he would be entitled to hold them subject to any action that might
properly be taken by the State under section 20.
The learned Judges of the Madras High Court
agreed with the appellant that post-settlement minor inams fell within the
operation of the Act; but they accepted the contention of the respondent that
they were governed by section 20 of the Act. As it was common ground that the
State had not proceeded under that section, they held that the notification was
ultra vires, and accordingly quashed the same in so far as it related to the
inam forming part of Ka- ruppur village. The appellant applied to the High
Court for leave to appeal to this Court against this decision, and though the
value of the subject-matter was far below the appealable limit, the learned
Judges granted a certificate under article 133(1)(c) on the 912 ground that the
question involved was one of great public importance. That is how the appeal
comes before us.
Two questions arise for decision in this
appeal: (1) Are post-settlement minor inams within the operation of Madras Act
XXVI of 1948? (2) If they are, are they governed by section 20 of the Act? On
the first question, the appellant does not contend that the inam in question is
in itself an estate as defined in section 3(2) of the Madras Estates Land Act
and liable as such to be notified under the Act. His contention is that when
the Zamindari of Ramanathapuram was notified-and there is no dispute that it
was validly notified, as it was a permanently settled estate falling within
section 3(2) (a) of the Madras Estates Land Act-minor post-settlement inams of
lands within the Zamindari would vest in the State as part of the Zamindari
under section 3(b) of the Act.
Section 3(b) is, omitting what is not
material, as follows:
"With effect on and from the notified
date and save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act...................
the entire estate. shall stand transferred to
the Government and vest in them, free of all encumbrances".
The point for decision is whether
post-settlement minor inams are parts of the estate out of which they were
granted. If they are, then they will vest in the Government under section 3(b).
If they are not, they will remain unaffected by the notification of the parent
The status of holders of these inams had been
the subject of considerable divergence of judicial opinion in the Madras High
Court. To appreciate this, reference must be made to the following definition
of 'landholder' in section 3(5) of the Madras Estates Land Act:
"Landholder" means a person owning
an estate or part thereof and includes every person entitled to collect the
rents of the whole or any portion of the estate by virtue of any transfer from
the owner or his predecessor-in-title or of any order of a competent 913 Court
or of any provision of law".
Leaving out the inclusive portion of the definition
as not relevant to the present question, it will be seen that owners of parts
of an estate would also be landholders. The question then arose for decision
whether darmila minor inamdars were landholders as defined in section 3 (5) of
the Estates Land Act. If they were., the tenants would acquire occupancy rights
under section 6, and proceedings against them could be taken only in the
revenue courts and not in the civil courts, and in general, the rights and
obligations of the inamdar and the tenants would be governed by the provisions
of the Madras Estates Land Act. One view was that as the inamdars had to pay
quit rent or jodi to the grantors, their status could not be that of owners and
therefore they could not be said to own parts of an estate.
The contrary view was that the inamdars were
in substance owners of the lands granted to them, and that the liability to
make a fixed annual payment did not detract from their character as owners, and
they would be landholders owning parts of an estate. In view of this conflict
of opinion, the question was referred to the decision of a Full Bench in
Brahmayya v. Achiraju(1), which held by a majority that minor darmila inamdars
were landholders as defined in section 3(5) of the Estates Land Act. This decision
was based both on the ground that the inamdars were in the position of owners
of parts of an estate and that they were also persons entitled to collect rent,
within the inclusive portion of the definition.
In Narayanaraju v. Suryanarayudu(2), the
question whether the grantee of a portion of a village subsequent to the
settlement was a landholder as defined in section 3(5) came up for decision
before the Privy Council. After reviewing the authorities and the conflicting
views expressed therein, the Board agreed with the opinion expressed by the
majority of the learned Judges in Brahmayya v. Achiraju (1), and held that the
grantee of a post-settlement minor inam would be a landholder on both the
grounds mentioned in their (1)  I.L.R. 45 Mad. 716.
(2)  66 I.A. 278.
914 judgments. They discarded "the
doctrine that so long as the zamindar reserves any interest, however
insignificant, the permanent grantee from him cannot be the owner", and
observed that the words "part of the estate" occurring in the
definition must be given their prima facie meaning. The Board felt greater
difficulty in accepting the view that the inamdar was a landholder entitled to
collect rent within the inclusive portion of the definition. But they expressed
themselves satisfied on either ground that "the Full Bench decision of
1922 represents a careful and reasonable solution of a stubborn ambiguity in
the Act, and that it ought not now to be overruled having regard to the time
which has elapsed and to the character of the interests affected thereby".
Thus, it was settled law in Madras at the time when Act XXVI of 1948 was passed
that minor darmila inamdars were owners of parts of an estate. Construing
section 3(b) in the light of the law as then accepted, when a notified estate
vests in its entirety in the State under that provision, a minor darmila inam
which forms part of it must also vest in it.
Sri R. Kesava lyengar, learned counsel for
the respondent, argued that decisions on section 3(5) of 'the Madras Estates
Land Act on the meaning of the word 'landholder' as defined therein, could not
be usefully referred to for construing the true scope of section 3(b) of Act
XXVI of 1948, as the definition in the Madras Estates Land Act was only for
pur- poses of settling the rights of landlords and tenants, and would be
irrelevant for determining the rights of the inamdar as against the State. But
the ground of ,the decision in Brahmayya v. Achiraju(1) and Narayanaraju v.
Suryanarayudu(2) is that the grantee of the
inam is in the position of an owner of the part of the estate granted to him,
and that would be relevant when the controversy is as to his true status,
whether the dispute is between the landlord and the tenant or between the
inamdar and the State. If the inamdar is owner in relation to his tenants, it
would be illogical to hold that he is not that, in relation to (1) 
I.L.R. 45 Mad. 716. (2)  66 I.A. 278.
915 the State. The question is, in our
opinion, concluded by section 2(8) -of Act XXVI of 1948 which defines a
landholder as including a darmila inamdar, and that is a statutory recognition
of the doctrine laid down in Brahmayya v. Achiraju(1) and Narayanaraju v.
Suryanarayudu(2) that darmila inamdars are owners ,of parts of an estate. The
result then is that when the darmila inam does not relate to the entire village
but only to a fraction of it, it must be held to retain its character as part
of the estate in the hands of the inamdar, and when the estate is notified
under section 1 (4) of the Act, the inam will vest in the State under -section
It is next argued for the,, respondent that
the Act ,makes no provision for award - of compensation to minor darmila
inamdars and that as a statute is not to be construed as taking away the
proper" of any -person unless there is a provision for payment of
compensation therefor,, these.
inams should be -held to be outside the
operation of the Act Reference was made in this connection to section 45 of the
Act under which the compensation payable in respect of an impartible estate and
Ramanathapuram is one is to be apportioned after payment of debts among the
members of the family. It is said that under this section the respondent would
have no right to share in it. This contention is clearly erroneous. The material
provisions relating to the award of compensation ,are sections 25, 27, 37 and
Under section 25, the compensation is to be
determined for the estate as a whole and not separately for each of the
interests therein. Section 27 lays down bow the basic income in the case of
zamindaris is to be fixed. Under section 27(i), it has to include one-third of
the gross annual ryotwari demand in respect of all lands in the estate and
under section 27(iv) "one-third of the average -net annual miscellaneous
revenue derived from all -other sources in the estate specified in section 3
(b) ". Thus, the income from the lands comprised in the minor inam which
is a part of the estate is included in the total income of the zamindari. Under
section (1)  I.L.R. 45 Mad. 716.
(2) (1939] 66 I.A. 278.
116 916 37, the compensation payable in
respect of an estate is calculated in terms of the basic income on the scale
prescribed therein. Section 44 enacts that the Tribunal is to "apportion
this compensation among the principal landholder' and any other persons whose
rights or interests in the estate stand transferred to the Government under
section 3(b)". There cannot be any doubt on these provisions that the
darmila minor inamdar is a person who is entitled to claim compensation for the
transfer of his portion of the estate to the Government. Then comes section 45
on which the respondent bases his contention. That applies only to the
distribution of the compensation determined under section 44 as payable to the
principal landholder, when he is the holder of an impartible estate.
It leaves untouched the rights of minor
darmila inamdars to claim compensation under section 44. The contention of the
respondent that the Act provides no compensation to them, and that they should
therefore be held to fall outside the Act must accordingly be rejected.
(2)That brings us on to the second question
whether a post- settlement minor inam is a right in land created by a
landholder within the intendment of section 20 of the Act.
At the very outset, it seems somewhat
inconsistent to hold that a darmila minor inam is part of an estate, and also
that it is governed by section 20. If it is part of an estate, it must
automatically vest in the Government under section 3(b). But if it falls within
section 20, the title to it will continue to stand in the inamdar with a right
in the Government to take action under the third proviso, subject to the
conditions laid down therein. It was argued for the respondent that section 3
operates on its own terms only "save as otherwise expressly provided
herein", and that section 20 was such a provision. It is somewhat
difficult to follow this argument, because if section 20 applied to darmila
minor inams, then they could never fall within the operation of section 3(b).
And how is this result to be reconciled with the conclusion that they are parts
of 917 the estate, and that the inamdar is a landholder for purposes of the
Act? But it is argued for the respondent that the words "rights in land
created by landlord" are of the widest import and would take in darmila
minor inams. The point for decision is whether this contention is correct. We
start with this that a darinila minor inamdar is a landholder as defined in
section 2,(8) of the Act, and he is that, by reason of his being the owner of a
part of the estate. Can such a person be held to be one who has obtained a
right in the land from the landholder within section 20? The Act makes a clear
distinction between estates held by landholders and rights and interests held
by other persons in or over estates.
Section 3(b) enacts that when there is a
notification under section 1(4), the entire estate shall stand transferred to
the Government and vest in it. We have held that the part of the estate
belonging to a darmila inamdar would vest in the Government. Section 3(c)
provides that on notification all rights in or over the estate shall cease and
Section 3(b) and section 3(c) deal with two
distinct matters which may respectively be described in broad terms as ownership
of the estate and rights in or over estate not amounting to ownership, and
these two categories are mutually exclusive. Now, turning to section 20, it
protects rights in land by way of lease or otherwise created by the landholder
before the notified date. In this context, and having regard to the distinction
between estates under section 3(b) and rights over estates under section 3(c),
the rights mentioned in section 20 can only refer to the rights dealt with in
section 3(c), and not to ownership which is within section 3(b). When,
therefore, the transaction for which protection is claimed under section 20 is
one which vests ownership of the estate or a portion thereof in the transferee,
it will fall outside the section. In other words, section 20 has no application
to transactions by which a person becomes a landholder by reason of ownership
of even a part of the estate being transferred to him, and that being the
character of a, darmila minor inam it is not protected by section 20.
There are also indications in the language of
section 20 pointing to the same conclusion. Section 20(2) provides that the
persons whose rights are terminated under the proviso to section 20(1) shall be
entitled to compensation having regard to the value of the right which is
terminated and the unexpired portion of the period for which the right is
created. These words are more appropriate to connote rights which are to be
exercised for specified periods, such as lease or contract for the exploitation
of mines or forests for a term than "ownership of the estate".
There is one other consideration, which lends
support to this conclusion. The object of the Act was to establish direct
relationship between the State and the tillers of the soil, and to abolish all
intermediate tenures. In Madras, the rights and obligations of intermediate
tenure holders were regulated by the Madras Estates Land Act, and under that
Act the intermediaries consisted not merely of the holders of the estates as
defined in section 3(2) of that Act but also holders of post-settlement minor
inams as settled by decisions of the highest authority. If the purpose of the
Act is to be fully achieved, it would be necessary to abolish not merely
estates as defined in section 3(2) of the Madras Estates Land Act but also
darmila minor inams. But if the contention of the respondent is to be accepted,
it is only the estates mentioned in section 3(2) that will, on notification,
vest in the Government and not the minor inams. These will continue to be held
by the inamdars under section 20 until they are terminated in accordance with
the proviso therein, and survive as islets in the landscape even after the
parent estates have dis- appeared from the scene. The legislation must to this
extent be held to have failed to achieve its purpose. And this is not all. If
the contention of the respondent is correct, then the minor inamdars will not
merely be unaffected by the Act but will actually be better off for it. Under
section 3(a) of the Act, the Madras Estates Land Act stands repealed on and
from the notified date, and as it is by virtue of this 919 Act that the tenants
became entitled to occupancy rights, the inamdars would, on notification, be
free to eject tenants, and settle their own terms with them. We cannot accede
to a contention which results not merely in the frustration of the object of
the Act but further produces consequences, the reverse of what were intended.
On the other hand, the contention of the appellant that minor inams fall
outside section 20 and would vest straightaway in the State under section 3(b)
will have the effect of extinguishing the rights of the inamdars, and enabling
the State to issue ryotwari pattas to the tenants in occupation.
We prefer to accept this contention, as it
fully effectuates the intention of the legislature. In the result, we must hold
that the one-sixteenth portion of the village of Karuppur forming a darmila
inam will vest in the Government under section 3(b) of the Act, and that the
only right of the inamdars is to share in the compensation under the terms of
the Act. The petition of the respondent in so far as it relates to this inam
must be dismissed.
This appeal is accordingly allowed, and in
accordance with the terms of the certificate granting leave, the appellant will
pay the costs of the respondent in this Court. The parties will bear their own
costs in the court below.