Mahant Sankarshan Ramanuja Das
Goswami, Vs. The State of Orissa & ANR  INSC 249 (22 August 1961)
CITATION: 1967 AIR 59 1962 SCR (3) 250
Estates Abolition--Amending Act enjarging
meaning of estate--Constitutionality of--Minor Inams--If estates--Orissa
Estates Abolition Act, 1961, (Orissa 1 of 1951), as amended by Orissa Estates
Abolition (Amendment) Act, 1954, Orissa XVII of 1954) s. 2(g)--Constitution of
India Art. 31-A.
The appellants were holders of pre-settlement
The grants were not of whole villages but of
certain lands and they comprised both the melwaram and kudiwaram rights in the
lands. The definition of 'estate' in the Orissa Estates Abolition Act, 1951,
did not include a minor inam. But by the Orissa Estates Abolition (Amendment)
Act, 1954, the definition was enlarged to cover minor inams also. Both the Acts
had received the assent of the President. The appellants contended (i) that the
Amendment Act of 1954 was not a law for the compulsory acquisition of property
for a public purpose and was not saved by Art. 31 A of the Constitution and
(ii) that the minor inams were outside the scope of the Abolition Act and could
not be resumed.
Held, that the Amendment Act of 1954 was
valid and was within the Protection of Art. 31A. In assenting to this Act, the
President assented to new categories of properties being brought within the
operation of the abolition Act of 1951, and he, in fact, assented to the law
for the compulsory acquisition for public purpose of these new categories of
property. Though the minor inams were not of whole villages and included both
the warams, they were nevertheless inams" and the Constitution defined an
"estate" as including "any" inam and fell within the scope
of Abolition Act of 1951 as amended in 1954.
The ejusdem generis rule cannot be applied to
Inam in the definition of "estate" in Art. 31A(2)(a) because
particular categories like "jagir, in-am or muafi", are included in
the definition expressly even though the rule may apply to "other similar
grants" which expression may take its colour from the categories named.
The ejusdem generis rule is applicable where a wide or general term has to be
cut down with reference to the genus of the particular terms which precede the
general words, 251
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: civil Appeals
Nos. 474 to 501, 503 to 505, 508 to 512, 514 and 515 of 1959.
Appeals from the judgment and orders dated
November, 28, 1956, in O. J. C. No. 213 of 1955 and dated December 4, 1956, of
the Orissa High Court in O. J. C. Nos. 214 to 216, 218, 236 to 241, 244 to 248,
251, 261 to 264, 268, 269, 271, 279 to 282, 304 to 306, 318, 323, 324, 353,
357, 363 and 372 of 1955.
A. V. Viswanatha Sastri and M. S. K. Sastri,
for the appellants (in C. As. Nos. 474-487, 489-501 503-505 and 508-510 of
M. S. K. Sastri, for the appellant ( In C. A.
G. C. Mathur, for the appellants (In C. As.
Nos. ,111, 512, 514 and 515 of 1959.) C. K. Daphtary, Solicitor-General of
India B. R. L. Iyengar and P.M. Sen, for the respondents.
1961. August 22. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by HIDAYATULLAH, J.-These are 38 appeals against the judgment and
orders of the High Court of Orissa dated November 28, 1956, by which 42
petitions under Art. 226 of the Constitution filed by the present appellants
and some others were dismissed. The High Court certified the cases as fit for
appeal to this Court under Art. 132(1) of the Constitution.
The appellants are holders of pre-settlement
minor inams in the State of Orissa. Their grants art, different both in regard
to the time when they were made and the lands involved in them. They were made
for performance of services of deities and were classed as Devadayam grants in
the revenue papers. The grants in all these cases were not of whole villages
but of certain lands and hence their classification as minor inams, and they
comprised both the melwaram and kudiwaram rights 252 in the lands. It is not
necessary to refer to these cases separately, since a single argument was
addressed before us involving the consideration whether Notification
No.4971-XV--9154-E.A. dated July 15, 1955, issued by the Orissa State
Government, and the Orissa Estates Abolition Act, 1951 (Act 1 of 1952) as
amended by the Orissa Estate Abolition (Amendment) Act, 1954 (Act XXVII of
1954) were respectively beyond the competence of the State and the Orissa State
By the original Act, all estates of the
intermediaries were abolished, and on a notification by the Government,
such,estates vested in Government. By the amending, Act, the definition of'
"estate" was widened to cover even such;, minor inams, and then the
impugned notification was issued.
The appellant contend that the original Act
and the amending Act were, jointly or severally beyond the competence ,of the
State Legislature and that the notification above mentioned was void without
The Bill resulting in the original Act was introduced
on January 17, 1950, and the Act was passed by the Legislative Assembly
September 28, 1951 It was reserved for the consideration of the president, Who
gave his assent on January 23, 1952. In; the Act, before its amendment in 1954,
"estate" was defined as follows "2(g) 'Estate' means any and
held by an intermediary and included under; one entry in any of the general
registers of revenue-paying lands and revenue-free lands prepared and
maintained under the law for the time being in force by the collector of
district , and includes revenue free-lands not entered in any register and all
classes of tenures or under tenures or an inam estate or part of an
estate" By the amending act of 1954 this definition was substituted by
another which, read:
253 "2(g) 'Estate' includes apart of an
estate and means any land held by or vested in an intermediary and included
under one entry in any revenue roll or any of the general registers of
revenue-paying lands and revenue free lands, prepared and maintained under the
law relating to land revenue for the time being in force or under any rule,
order, custom or usage having the force of law, and includes revenue-free lands
not entered in any register or revenue-roll and all classes of tenures or under
tenures and any jagir, inam, or muafi or other similar grant." In the
original Act as well as in the Act as amended, there was a general provision in
s.2(q) which may be read here :
"(q) All words and expressions used in
this Act but not defined in it, shall have, with reference to any part of the
State of Orissa, the same meaning as defined in the tenancy laws and rules for
the time being in force and in the absence of written laws and rules, as
recognised in the custom for the time being obtaining in that part of the State
of Orissa." In the original Act, a provision was inserted by s.3 of the
amending Act to the following effect "3. For the purpose of removal of all
doubts it is declared thatsuch lands and such rights in relation thereto and
such persons who hold such lands and such rights as were heretofore covered by
the definitions of the words 'estate' and 'Intermediary' in the Orissa Estates
Abolition Act, 1951, shall not cease "to be so covered merely on the
ground that by virtue of the provisions of this Act the said definitions have
been amended and widened in scope." The meaning of the last provision is
clear. It takes away nothing from the ambit of the old definition, 254 but only
adds thereto, as indeed the new definition of "estate" introduced by
the amending Act shows only too plainly in its terms.
To complete the survey of the provisions
which we way have to refer to in this judgment, we first set down the
definition of "estate" as given in the Madras Estates Land Act, 1908,
which was applied to Orissa. Section 3(2)(d) of that Act defined
"Any inam village, of which the grant
has been made, confirmed or recognised by the Government, notwithstanding that
subsequent to the grant the village has been partitioned amongst the grantees
or the successors in title of the grantee or grantees." The argument in
this case is based upon this definition, because in defining an estate', whole
villages which were inam were contemplated and not minor inams of lands only.
We shall refer to this later.
The amending Act was also reserved for the
consideration of the President and was assented to by him. When the
Constitution was brought into force, the Bill of the Original Act had already
been introduced in the Assembly.
On June 18, 1951, before the Act was passed
by the Legislative Assembly, the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 bad
been enacted, and Art. 31A inserted with retrospective operation in the
Constitution. Article 31A provided:
"31A.(1) Notwithstanding anything
contained in article 13, no law providing for-(a) The acquisition by the State
of any estate or of any rights therein or the extinguishment or modification of
any such rights...
shall be deemed to be void on the ground that
it is inconsistent with, or takes away or sbridges any of the rights 255
conferred by article 14, article 19 or article 31 ;
Provided that where such law is a law made by
the Legislature of a State, the provisions of this article shall not apply
thereto unless such law, having been reserved for the "consideration of
the President, has received his assent.
(2) In this article (a) 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, and shall also include any jagir, inam, or
muafi or other similar grant........
Article 31, before it was amended, by the
constitution (Fourth Amendment) Act, 1955, provided inter alia that no property
shall be acquired for a public purpose unless the law provided for
compensation, and either fixed the compensation or specified the principles on
which the compensation was to be determined and given. (Cl.2). By cl. (3), it
was provided that no law such as was referred, to in cl.
(2) was to have effect unless such law having
been reserved for the consideration of the President had received his assent.
Clause (4) then provided :
"(4) If any Bill pending at the
commencement of this constitution in the Legislature of a State has, after it
has been passed by such Legislature, been reserved for the consideration of the
President and has received his assent, then, notwithstanding anything in this
Constitution, the law so assented to shall not be called in question in any
court on the ground that it contravenes the provisions of clause (2)." The
combined effect of these provisions of the Constitution was that there could be
no compulsory acquisition of property for public purposes, unless the law
provided for payment of compensation;
256 but the law could not be called in
question on this ground if it had been reserved for the consideration of the
President and had been assented to by him. The assent, of the President was a
condition precedent to the effectiveness of the law. By the amendment of the Constitution
and the addition of Art. 31A., no such law was to be deemed to be void on the
ground that it was inconsistent with or took away or abridged any of the rights
conferred by Art.14, Art.19 or Art.31 , provided that it had been reserved for
the consideration of the President and had received his assent. By the
definition clause, Art. 31A(2)(a), the expression "'estate" was to
have the same meaning in any local area, which it or its equivalent had in the
existing law relating to land tenures in force in that area but was to include
among others any. "inam'.
The contention of the appellants is really
twofold. The first argument is that the benefit of Art. 31A might have been
available to the original Act,. as it was a law for the compulsory acquisition of
property for public purposes but? not to the amending Act, which was not such,
a law but only amended a previous law by, enlarging the definition of
estate". The second argument is that the word "estate" as.
defined in s.2(g) before its amendment did. not
apply to pre-,settlement minor inams of lands as it applied only to an
"inam estate", and an "inam estate" bad the meaning which
the definition of "estate" had in the, Madras Estates Land Act.,
viz., only whole "inam villages". This, it is urged, follows from the
provisions of s.2(q) of the Estates Abolition Act quoted earlier.
The first argument is clearly untenable. It
assumes that the benefit of Art.31A is only available to those laws which by
themselves provide for compulsory acquisition of property for public purposes
and not to laws amending such laws, the assent of the President
notwithstanding. This means that the whole of the law, original and amending,
must be passed again, and be reserved for the 257 consideration of the
President, and must be freshly assented to by him. This is against the
legislative practice in this country. It is to be presumed that the President
gave his assent to the amending Act in its relation to the Act it sought to
amend, and this is more so, when by the amending law the provisions of the
earlier law relating to compulsory acquisition of property for public purposes
were sought to be extended to new kinds of properties. In assenting to such
law, the President assented to new categories of properties being brought within
the operation of the existing law, and he, in effect assented to a law for the
compulsory acquisition for public purposes of these new categories of property.
The assent of the President to the amending Act thus brought in the protection
of Art. 31A as a necessary consequence. The amending Act must be considered in
relation to the old law which it sought to extend and the President asserted to
such an extension or, in other words, to a law for the compulsory acquisition
of property for public purposes.
The argument that this was not an acquisition
of an inam estate comprising a. *hole village and thus outside the Abolition
Act. itself has no substance. No doubt, these minor inams, were not of whole
villages but of lands and the grant included both the warms and there were thus
no intermediaries. But they were inams nevertheless, and the Constitution
defined and `estate' an including any inam', and the amending Act merely
followed that definition. The extended definition in the Constitution and a
similar extended definition in the Act thus exclude resort to 'the general
definition clause in s.2(q), of the Abolition let and the definition of
"estate" in the Madras, Estates Land Act. The definition of
estate" introduced by the amending Act is sufficiently wide to cover such
minor inams, and s. 2(q) only applies, if a word or expression used in the
Abolition Act is not defined therein.
258 If the minor inams are already within the
definition of the word "estate", there is no need to go to s.2(q) or
to any local law defining the word. There can be no doubt that if the new
definition of "estate" applies to minor inams then they are affected
by the Abolition Act. This, indeed, was conceded.
Learned counsel for the appellants also
urged, through somewhat faintly, that the ejusdem generis rule should be
applied to the definition of ",estate" in Art. 31A(2)(a) as also to
the corresponding new definition in the Abolition Act. This argument proceeds
upon an assumption for which there is no foundation. The ejusdem generis rule
is applicable where as wide or general term has to be cut down with reference
to the genus of the particular terms which precede the general words. This rule
has hardly any application where certain specific categories are 'included' in
the definition. The ejusdem generis rule may be applicable to the general.
words "other similar grant", which would take their colour from the
particular categories, "jagir, inam, or muafi", which precede them,
but the word "inam" is not subject to the same rule. Once it is held
that inams of any kind were included, it makes little difference if the inams
were of lands and not of whole villages. So also the fact that the holders of
such inams cannot be described as intermediaries, or that they comprised both
the melwaram and the kudiwaram rights. Such a distinction would have
significance, if the law abolished only intermediaries and not inams which it
did. Section 3 of the Abolition Act says "3(1) The State Government may,
from time to time by notification, declare that the estate specified in the
notification has passed to and become vested in the State free from all
encumbrances." If the definition of the word "estate" was wide
enough to include a minor inam and a notification was issued, the consequences
of s.3 of the Abolition 259 Act must follow. Such a law is not capable of being
called in question on the ground that it abridges any fundamental right
conferred by Arts. 14, 19 and 31, if it has been assented to by the President.
the notification was thus valid, if the law was valid.
In the result, the appeals fail, and are
dismissed with costs, one set only.