Shri Mahadeo Paikaji Kolhe Yavatmal Vs.
The State of Bombay  INSC 136 (4 April 1961)
GUPTA, K.C. DAS AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA
CITATION: 1961 AIR 1517 1962 SCR (1) 733
CITATOR INFO :
R 1962 SC 694 (28,67) R 1967 SC1110 (11) R
1970 SC 439 (14)
Agricultural Land-Amendment of law relating
to tenanciesConstitutional validity of enactment Bombay Tenancy and
Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region and Kutch Area) Act, 1958 (Bom. 99 of
The petitioners challenged the constitutional
validity of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region and
Kutch Area) Act, 1958, which extended the provisions of the Bombay Tenancy and
Agricultural Lands (Amendment) Act, 1956, to Vidarbha and Kutch. That Act was
declared valid by this Court in Sri Ram Narain Medhi v. The State of Bombay,
 Supp. 1 S.C.R. 489, and one of the reason-, for doing so was that the
lands covered by that Act fell within the definition of the word 'estate'
contained in the Bombay Land Revenue Code, 1879. The lands in question in the
present petitions were situated in Amraoti and Yeotmal and the existing law
relating to land tenures in force in that area was the Madha Pradesh Land
Revenue Code, 1954. This Code did not employ the word ,estate' and it was
contended by the petitioners that the impugned Act was not within the
protection of Art. 31A of the Constitution.
Held, that the contention must fail.
Although the Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue
Code, 1954, did not employ the word 'estate', the relevant definition contained
in ss. 2(17) and 2(18) of impugned Act and ss. 2(7), 2(20) of the Code read
with ss. 145 and I46 thereof leaves no manner of doubt that the lands in the
possession of the petitioners were tenures and in substance ,in estate.
Since the petitioners held the lards tinder
the State and paid land revenue for them, the lands fell within the class of
local equivalents of the word 'estate.' as contemplated by Art. 31A(2)(a) of
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petitions Nos. 93
and 125 of 1959.
Petitions under Art. 32 of the Constitution
of India for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
V. M. Limaye, E. Udayarathnam and S. S.
Shukla, for the petitioners.
734 H.N. Sanyal, Additional Solicitor-General
of India, R. Ganapathy Iyer and D. Gupta, for the respondent.
W. S. Barlingay and A. G. Ratnaparkhi, for
1961. April 4. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by GAJENDRAGADKAR, J.-These two writ petitions have been filed under
Art. 32 of the Constitution and they seek to challenge the validity of the
Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act 99 of 1958 (hereafter called the
Act). The impugned Act in substance is intended to extend to Vidarbha region
and Cutch area which had then become a part -of the Greater BiLingual State of
Bombay the provisions of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment)
.Act, 1956 (Act XIII of 1956). The preamble to the impugned Act shows that it
was intended to amend the law relating to tenancies of agricultural lands and
sites used for allied purposes in the two areas of the State of Bombay and to
make certain other provisions in regard to those lands. In extending the
provisions of the earlier Bombay Act XIII of 1956 to the two areas the
legislature has conformed to the pattern set up by the said earlier Act. The
policy underlying the Act and the object intended to be achieved by it are the
same and the method adopted in achieving that object is also the same.
The validity of the earlier Bombay Act (XIII
of 1956) was challenged before this Court in Sri Ram Ram Narain Medhi v. The
State of Bombay (1) but the challenge failed and the Act was held to be
constitutional. One of the points which arose for decision in that case was
whether the impugned Act was protected by Art. 31A(2)(a) of the Constitution,
and the answer to that question depended upon the determination of another
issue which was whether the lands to which the said Act applied were an
"estate" as required by Art. 31A(2)(a).
In dealing with that question this Court held
that the word "estate" as defined by s. 2(5) of the Bombay Land
Revenue Code, 1879, clearly applied to the lands (1)  Supp. 1 S.C.R. 489.
735 covered by the Act and so Art. 31A(2)(a)
Having regard to this decision the only point
which Mr. Limaye attempted to raise before us in support of the two writ
petitions is that the lands belonging to the two petitioners are not an
"estate" within the meaning of Art.
31A(2)(a), and so the impugned Act is outside
the protection of Art. 31A. If this contention is not upheld then it is obvious
that( the writ petitions must fail; if the said contention is upheld then of
course the other contentions raised by the two writ petitions against the
validity of certain specific provisions of the Act may fall to be considered.
The two petitioners are Namdeorao Baliramji
and Mahadeo Paikaji Kolhe respectively. The first one resides at Amraoti and
the second at Yeotmal. The first owns about 80 acres dry lands situated in
Amraoti out of which 43 acres are under his personal cultivation and the rest
in the possession of the tenants. The second petitioner owns about 1168 acres
dry lands situated in Yeotmal out of which 400 acres are under his personal
cultivation and the rest with the tenants. The lands in both the cases are
charged to the payment of land revenue. The case for both the petitioners is
that the lands thus held by them are not an "estate" within the
meaning of Art. 31A(2)(a).
Article 31A(2)(a) provides, inter alia, that
the expression "estate" shall in relation to any local area have the
same meaning as that expression or its local equivalent has in the existing law
relating to land tenures in force in that area. The existing local law, it is
common ground, is the Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code, 1954 (II of 1955), and
so it is necessary to find whether the lands belonging to the petitioners can
be said to be an 'estate' within the meaning of the said Code. Before we do so,
however, it may be pertinent to refer to the relevant definitions in the
impugned Act. Section 2(17) of the Act defines land as meaning, inter alia,
land which is used or capable of being used for agricultural purposes and
includes the sites of farm buildings appurtenant to such land. Section 2(18)
defines a land-holder as meaning a 736 tenure-holder whom the State Government
has declared on account of tile extent and value of the, land or his interests
therein to be a land-holder for the purposes of this Act. Now,s.27 of the
Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code in question defines a holding as meaning,
inter alia, a parcel of land separately assessed to land revenue, and s. 2(20)
defines a tenure-holder as meaning a person holding from the State Government
as a Bhumiswami or a Bhumidari.
Chapter XII of the Code deals with
tenure-holders. Section 145 provides that there, shall be two classes of
tenure,holders of lands held from the State, namely, Bhumiswami and Bhumidhari.
Section 146 deals with Bhumiswami. It provides that "every person who at
the coming into force of this Code belongs to any of the classes specified in
clauses (a) to (f) of the said section shall be called a Bhumiswami and shall
have all the rights and is subject to all the liabilities conferred or imposed
upon a Bhumiswami by or under this Code". Amongst these classes is the
class covered by el. (e) which relates to persons in respect of lands held by
them as occupants in Berar. Thus reading the relevant definitions along with
the provisions of s. 146 of the Code it would follow that the land in the
possession of the Bhumiswami who is a tenure-holder is in substance all estate.
It is true that the word "estate" as such has not been employed in
the Code, but it must be borne in mind that Art. 31A(2)(a) refers not only to
estate but also to its local equivalent. It was realised that in many areas the
existing law relating to land tenures may not expressly define all estate as
such though the said areas had their local equivalents described and defined.
That is why the relevant provision of the Constitution has deliberately used
both the word "estate" as well as its local equivalent". The
petitioners hold lands under the State and they pay land revenue for the, lands
thus held by them. Therefore, there is no difficulty in holding that under the
existing law relating to land tenures the lands held by them fill within the
class of the local equivalents of the word "estate" as contemplated
by 737 Art. 31A(2)(a). If that is so the contention raised by Mr. Limaye that
the impugned Act is not protected by Art. 31A cannot succeed. As we have
already indicated it is not disputed that if Art. 31A applies there can be no
further challenge to the validity of the impugned statute.
The writ petitions accordingly fail and are
dismissed with costs one SEt of hearing costs.