Ranjit Singh & Ors Vs. State of
Punjab & Ors  INSC 178 (20 August 1964)
20/08/1964 HIDAYATULLAH, M.
GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B. (CJ) WANCHOO, K.N.
GUPTA, K.C. DAS AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA
CITATION: 1965 AIR 632 1965 SCR (1) 82
R 1965 SC1017 (10) RF 1967 SC 856 (6,20) R
1967 SC1110 (13) RF 1967 SC1766 (4) R 1968 SC 394 (7) RF 1972 SC2027 (39) RF
1972 SC2097 (6,18,19) R 1972 SC2301 (61,63,65) RF 1973 SC2734 (32) F 1974
SC1522 (3) RF 1975 SC1193 (23) RF 1980 SC1762 (6) F 1983 SC 920 (5) F 1985
East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and
Prevention of Fragmentation) Act (50 of 1948) as amended by Punjab Act (27 of
1960) and the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act (1 of 1954)-Validity
Constitution of India, 1950, Arts.
19, 31 and 31-A.
As a result of proceedings for consolidation
of holdings in certain villages in Punjab, some lands had been taken away from
the proprietors, reserved and given over to the village panchayats or allotted
to non-proprietors, under powers derived from various enactments, namely, the
East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act (L of
1948) as amended by Punjab Act (27 of 1960), the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act (4
of 1953) and the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act (1 of 1954).
Under s. 7 of the last Act the proprietors were not entitled to any
compensation. They challenged by writ petitions the validity of the proceedings
and the enactments under which the proprietor's interest was acquired without
compensation as being in breach of Arts. 19(1)(f) and 31 of the Constitution.
The High Court dismissed them following its own full bench decision in Jagat
Singh v. Punjab State, (1962) P.L.R. 241. In appeals to the Supreme Court, it was
contended that : (i) The Full Bench decision was not correct in view of the
decision in K. K. Kochuni v. State of Madras  3 S.C.R. 887, and (ii) the
Amending Act (27 of 1960) and the Regulation Act (1 of 1954) were ultra vires,
HELD : (i) The Full Bench decision was right. [94C-D].
The view taken by this Court has always been
in favour of giving a large and liberal meaning to the terms
"estate", "rights in an estate" and "extinguishment
and modification" of such right-, in Art. 31-A of the Constitution of
India, and also, to give a wide meaning to the expression agrarian
reform". [93C-D; 94A-B].
The enactments referred to above and the
Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act (10 of 1953) are all part of a general
scheme of agrarian reforms and the modification of rights envisaged by them had
the protection of Art. 31-A. [95B-C].
Case law considered.
The Kochuni case  3 S.C.R. 887 did not
involve any agrarian reform. It considered a bare transfer of the rights of the
sthanee to the tarwad without alteration of the tenure and without any pretence
of agrarian reform.
That was a special case and could not be
applied to cases where the general scheme of legislation was definitely
agrarian reform. [94B-C].
(ii) The changes proposed by the consolidation
proceedings were included in the general scheme of planning of rural areas and
the productive utilisation of vacant and waste lands. If agrarian reforms are
to succeed, mere distribution of land to the landless is not enough. There must
be a proper planning of rural economy and conditions.
A scheme 83 which makes villages
self-sufficient cannot, but be regarded as part of the larger reforms which
consolidation of holdings, fixing of ceilings on lands, distribution of surplus
lands and utilising of vacant and waste lands contemplate. [94 E-G; 95A-B].
Quaere : What is the relevance and bearing of
Art. 31-A as amended by the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964 on
the case. [90D-E].
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal
No. 743 of 1963.
Appeals by special leave from the judgment
and orders dated December 13, 1961, and September 12, 1960 of the Punjab High
Court in C.W. No. 319 of 1961 and Civil Writ No. 454 of 1958 and Letters Patent
No. 388 of 1958 respectively.
Bishan Narain, S. K. Mehta and K. L. Mehta,
for the appellants (in C.As. Nos. 553 & 554/1962).
Bishan Narain and D. Goburdhun, for the
appellant (in C.A. No. 743/1963).
R.Ganapathy Iyer and B.R.G.K. Achar, for the
respondents (in C.As. Nos. 553 and 554/1962) and respondents Nos. 1 to 3 (in
C.A. No. 743/1963).
S.K. Mehta and K. L. Mehta, for respondent
No. 4 (in C.A. No. 743/1963).
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Hidayatullah J. This judgment will dispose of Civil Appeal No. 743 of 1963 and
Civil Appeals No. 553 and 554 of 1962.
The appellants in Civil Appeal No. 743 of
1963 are owners of lands in village Virk Kalan, Tehsil and District Bhatinda.
The appellants in the other appeals are
owners of lands in villages Sewana and Mehnd of Tehsil Hansi in District Hissar.
Proceedings for the consolidation of holdings are going on in these villages
under the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation)
Act 1948 (Act 50 of 1948). This Act was amended on many occasions but we are
concerned with it as amended by the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and
Prevention of Fragmentation) (2nd Amendment & Validation) Act (27 of 1960).
In the present consolidation proceedings portions of lands from those commonly
owned by the appellants as proprietors, have been reserved for the village
Panchayat and given over to it for diverse purposes, and other portions have
been reserved either for non-proprietors or for the common purposes of the
villages. Without going into too much detail it is sufficient to indicate that
in village Virk Kalan 270 84 kanals and 13 marlas have been given to the
village Panchayat for management and realisation of income, although the
ownership is still shown in village papers as Shamlat Deh in the names of the
proprietors and 10 kanals and 3 marlas have been reserved for abadi to be
distributed among persons entitled thereto and 3 kanals and 7 marlas have been
reserved for manure pits. Similarly, in village Sewana 400 kanals and 4 marlas
have been set apart for the village Panchayat for extension of the abadi and to
enable grants of 8 marlas of land to be made to each family of nonproprietors
and 16 kanals have been reserved for a primary school and some more for a
phirni. Similiarly, in village Mehnd, land has been reserved for the village
Panchayat, a school, tanning ground, hospital, cremation ground and for
non-proprietors. The proprietors were not paid compensation for the lands and
it is the taking away and allotment of these lands which are the subject of
challenge in these appeals on grounds about to be stated. Before we do so we
will set down some of the legislative measures which have relevance and mention
some of the cases decided under them one of which led to the Second Amendment
The Consolidation Act (50 of 1948) was passed
to provide for the compulsory consolidation of agricultural holdings and for
preventing the fragmentation of agricultural holdings.
Section 18 of the Act provided that
notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, it
shall be lawful for any Consolidation Officer to direct inter alia:
"(a) that any land specifically assigned
for any common purpose shall cease to be so assigned and to assign any other
land in its place;
(b) (c) that if in any area under
consolidation no land is reserved for any common purpose including extension of
the village abadi, or if the land so reserved is inadequate, to assign other
land for such purpose to Section 46 of the Consolidation Act conferred powers
on the State Government to make rules for carrying out the purpose of the Act
and in particular to provide for :
(e) the manner in which the area is to be
reserved under section 18 and the manner in which it is to 85 be dealt with and
also the manner in which the village abadi is to be given to proprietors and
non-proprietors (including scheduled castes, Sikh backward classes, artisans
and labourers) on payment of compensation or otherwise;" On March 3, 1956
the Punjab Government, by a notification, added rule 16 to the Rules for
reservation of the abadi for the proprietors as well as the non-proprietors and
it read as follows:"The area to be reserved for the common purpose of
extension of abadi for proprietors and non-proprietors under section 18(c) of
the Act shall be reserved after scrutinizing the demand of proprietors desirous
of building houses and of non-proprietors including Harijan families working as
agrarian labourers who are in need of a site for house. The land reserved for
extension of abadi shall be divided into plots of suitable sizes. For the plots
allotted to proprietors area of equal value shall be deducted from their
holdings but in the case of non-proprietors including Harijan families these
shall be allotted without payment of compensation and they shall be deemed to
be full owners of the plots allotted to them." On April 9, 1957 the Punjab
Government added rule 16(ii) which provided for reservation of lands for the
Gram Panchayat. It read :
16(ii) : In in estate or estates where during
consolidation proceedings there is no shamlat deh land or such land is
considered inadequate, land shall be reserved for the village Panchayat, under
section 18 (c) of the Act, out of the common pool of the village at a scale
prescribed by Government from time to time. Proprietary rights in respect of
land, so reserved (except the area reserved for the extension of abadi of
proprietors and nonproprietors) shall vest in the proprietary body of the
estate -or estates concerned, and it shall be entered in the column of
ownership of record of rights as (jumla malikan wa digar haqdaran arazi hasat
rasad raqba). The management of such land shall be done by the Panchayat of the
estate or estates concerned on behalf of the village proprietary body and the
Panchayat shall have the right to utilize the income 86 derived from the land
so reserved for the common needs and benefits of the estate or estates
concerned." Rule 16(ii) was declared ultra vires on November 5, 1959 by
the Punjab High Court in Munsha Singh v. State of Punjab(1).
After Munsha Singh's case the second amending
Act (27 of 1960) was passed. It gave legal cover to rule 16(ii) by including in
section 2 of the Consolidation Act (50 of 1948) the following "2(bb)
"Common purpose" means any purpose in relation to any common need,
convenience or benefit of the village and includes the following purposes (i)
extension of the village abadi;
(ii) provide income for the Panchayat of the
village concerned for the benefit of the village community-.
(iii) village roads and paths; village
village wells, ponds or tanks; village
watercourses or water channels; village bus stands and waiting places; manure
pits; hada rori; public latrines; cremation and burial grounds; Panchayat Ghar;
Janj Ghar; grazing grounds; tanning places; mela grounds; public places, of
religious or charitable nature; and (iv) schools and playgrounds, dispensaries,
hospitals and institutions of like nature, water-works or tub---wells, whether
such schools, play grounds) dispensaries, hospitals, institutions, water-works
or tubewells may be managed and controlled by the State Government or
not." It also added a new section (s. 23-A) in the Consolidation Act as
follows :"23A. As soon as-, a scheme comes into force, the management and
control of all lands assigned or reserved for common purposes of the village,
under section 18,(a) in the case of common purposes specified in sub-clause
(iv) of clause (bb) of section 2 in respect of which the management and control
are to be exercised by the State Government, shall vest in the State
Government; and (1) I.L.R.  1 Punjab 589.
87 (b) in the case of any other common
purpose, shall vest in the panchayat of that village;
and the State Government or the Panchayat, as
the case may be, shall be entitled to appropriate the income accruing therefrom
for the benefit of the village community, and the rights and interests of the
owners of such lands shall stand modified and extinguished accordingly:
Provided that in the case of land assigned or
reserved for the extension of village abadi or manure pits for the proprietors
and nonproprietors of the village, such land shall vest in the proprietors and
non-proprietors to whom it is given under the scheme of consolidation." It
also amended the preamble suitably. All the amendments were with retrospective
Before fact follow up the result of this
amendment we may say something about three other Acts of the Punjab legislature
to which some reference will be necessity in the sequel. The Punjab Gram
Panchayat Act, 1953 (4 of 1953) was passed to provide for better administration
in the rural areas of Punjab by Panchayats. Section 19 of the Panchayat Act
laid multifarious administrative duties on the Panchayat like sanitation,
drainage, supply of water, looking after burial and cremation grounds, public
health, providing schools, hospitals etc. and also emphasized(f) pounds for
(n) the development of agriculture and
village industries, and the destruction of weeds and pests;
(o) starting and maintaining a grain fund for
the cultivators and lending them seed for sowing purposes on such conditions as
the Gram Panchayat may approve.
(q) allotment of places for preparation and
conservation of manure;
(t) framing and carrying out schemes for the
improved methods of cultivation and management of land to, increase
production." 88 The last was added in 1954. In the same year the
legislature enacted the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act (1 of
1954) with the object of regulating the rights in shamlat deh and abadi deh.
The provisions of the Common Lands Regulation Act resulted in the vesting of
all rights of management in the shamlat deh in the village Panchayat and in the
land in the abadi deh under a house owned by a non-proprietor, in the
non-proprietor (s. 3).
Section 4 provided:
"All lands vested in a panchayat by
virtue of the provisions of this Act shall be utilised or disposed of by the
panchayat for the benefit of the inhabitants of the village concerned, in the
manner prescribed." Section 6 provided "Any income accruing from the
use and occupation of the lands vested in a panchayat shall be credited to the
panchayat fund and shall be utilised in the manner prescribed." Finally,
section 7 provided :
"No person shall be entitled to any
compensation for any loss suffered or alleged to have been suffered as a result
of the coming into force of this Act." The Common Lands Regulation Act was
challenged in Hukam Singh v. State of Punjab(1) but was upheld. The High Court,
however, observed that Art. 31(2) would have rendered the Act void but for the
enactment of Art. 31-A.
The last Act to which a brief reference may
be made is the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, (10 of 1953) and its
amendment by Act 57 of 1953 and Act II of 1955. By that Act security of land
tenures, fixing of areas for "self cultivation" was provided and
there was conferment of rights on tenants to purchase lands under their
cultivation from the landholders. The validity of these Acts was challenged but
they were upheld in Atma Ram v. State of Punjab(2) to which we shall refer
The appellants in this appeal had filed a
Civil Writ Petition (No. 319 of 1961) contending that the distribution of
shamlat lands was illegal and such lands, if they had to be redistributed,
could only be distributed among the proprietors but could not be given to
Grover J., who heard the petition ,dismissed
it on the authority of Jagat Singh v. Punjab State(3). Against his order
special leave was granted by this Court and (1) I.L.R.  Punjab 1334. (2)
 S.C.R. 1 Supp.
(3) 1962 64 P.L.R. 241.
89 Civil Appeal No. 743 of 1963 is the
result. The other two appeals arise from other writ petitions. Writ Petition
761 of 1957 (Civil Appeal No. 553 of 1962)
was dismissed by Grover J. against whose decision a Letters Patent Appeal was
filed. Writ Petition No. 454 of 1958 (Civil Appeal No. 554 of 1962) was heard
by the Bench which heard the said Letters Patent Appeal and both were dismissed
on August 18, 1960.
The High Court did not certify the judgments
as fit for appeal but the appellants obtained special leave and Civil Appeals
Nos. 553 and 554 of 1962 were filed.
These appeals were heard together and they
challenge the correctness of the decision in Jagat Singh's case(1) and thus
question the validity of the Amending Act 27 of 1960 because they contend it is
in breach of Arts. 19(1)(f) and 31 of the Constitution. Rules 16(i) and (ii)
are also challenged. They further challenge the Common Lands (Regulation) Act
which is a part of the entire scheme. The High Court in Jagat Singh's case(2)
has held that Act 27 of 1960 gives retrospective validity to rules 16(i) and
(ii) and the position which existed when Munsha Singh's case(3) was decided
does not obtain now. The High Court has also decided that Act 27 of 1960 is
saved by Art. 31-A and the case of this Court in K. K. Kochuni v. State of
Madras(3) which interpreted Art. 31-A, as amended by the Constitution (Fourth
Amendment) Act, 1955, is not applicable. In the appeals before us the same points
are raised and the Common Lands (Regulation) Act is also challenged.
These appeals were heard and closed for
judgment on April 27, 1964 but as the Court went into vacation at the end of
the first week of May, judgment had to be postponed till after the vacation.
The Court reassembled on July 20, 1964 but on June 20, 1964 the Constitution
(Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964, received the assent of the President.
That amendment inter alia substituted
retrospectively from January 26, 1950, a new sub-clause (a) in clause (2) of
31-A and added a proviso to cl. (1). These
cases were decided in the High Court under Art. 3 1 -A as it was formerly. The
appeals were set down to be mentioned on July 20/23, 1964 before a different
Bench, and counsel were asked if, in view of the amendment, they wished to say
Surprisingly enough none of the parties
-wished to argue the appeals and though we cannot now refer to sub-cl. (a) of
cl. (2) of Art 31-A as it was formerly, because that sub(1) (1962)64 P.L.R. 241.
(2) I.L.R. (1960)1 Punjab 589.
(3)  3 S.C.R. 887.
90 clause must be deemed to have never
existed, we are in the unhappy position of not being able to express any
opinion on Art. 31 -A as it must be deemed to have been all the time.
In view of the attitude of learned counsel
the Bench before which the statements were made recorded the following order:"These
appeals were set down for hearing today to enable the learned counsel appearing
for both the parties, to argue whether the provisions of Art. 31-A, as they
have been amended by the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964, had
any relevance and bearing on the case which had been fully argued before
another Bench before this Court closed for the summer vacation. The counsel
appearing for both the parties made it clear that the amended provisions had no
bearing and they wanted us to decide the said appeals without reference to the
said amendment. The appeals will, therefore, be set down for judgment in due
course." The appeals thus remain to be decided on the old arguments though
it is clear to us that the amendment of Art. 31-A, far-reaching as it is, must
have affected one or other of the parties. It seems that the implications of
the amendment of the Constitution will have to be worked out in some other
The short point which we think arises is
this: whether the transfer of shamlat deh owned by the proprietors to the
village Panchayat for the purposes of management in the manner described above
and the conferment of proprietary rights on non proprietors in respect of lands
in abadi deh is illegal and the several provisions of law allowing this to be
done are ultra vires Art. 31 inasmuch as no compensation is payable or whether
the law and the action taken are protected by Art. 31-A? The argument of Mr.
Bishan Narain in these appeals was that they were covered by the Kochuni
case(1). In that case this Court observed that the Madras Marumakkathyam
(Removal of Doubts) Act, 1955 was invalid by reason of Art. 19(1)(f) inasmuch
as it deprived a sthanee of his properties and vested them in the tarwad
contrary to Art. 19(1) (f). It was also held (as has been correctly summarized
in the headnote) that it was not saved by Art. 31-A (as it then stood) because
even if the sthnam properties held in janmam rights could be regarded as
"estates", Art. 31-A did not protect them since, properly construed,
the article envisaged agrarian reform only and provided for the (1)  3
91 acquisition, extinguishment, or
modification of proprietary and various other kinds of subordinate rights in a
tenure called the estate solely for that purpose. It was pointed out that
although the statement of objects and reasons could not properly be looked into
for purposes of interpretation, it could be referred to for the limited purpose
of ascertaining the conditions prevailing at the time of the Fourth Amendment.
It was pointed out that Art. 31 -A cl.
(b) must be read with cl. (1) (a) and as the
impugned Act did not contemplate any agrarian reform or seem to regulate the
rights inter se between landlords and tenants or modify or extinguish any of
the rights appertaining to janmam right, leaving all the characteristics
intact, it did not come within the purview of Art. 3 1 -A of the Constitution.
In Jagat Singh's case(1) the Full Bench of
five Judges agreed that the impugned provisions did come within the conception
of agrarian reforms but conflicting views were expressed regarding the ambit of
Art. 31-A as expounded in the Kochuni case(2). A part of the statement of
objects and reasons which accompanied the Fourth Amendment has been set out in
the Kochuni case (2 ) but from the lines of operations which were in
contemplation in the proposed amendment only one appears to have been quoted
Perhaps No. (ii) is also important to
consider in this connection and it reads:
(ii) The proper planning of urban and rural
areas require the beneficial utilisation of vacant and waste lands and the
clearance of slum areas." Consolidation of holdings is really nothing more
than a proper planning of rural areas and this planning must of necessity take
note of vacant and waste lands. While we do not seek to interpret the impugned
rules and Acts, nor even Art. 31-A of the Constitution with the aid of this
statement of Objects and Reasons, for such a canon is not approved of in our
practice, we have only completed the picture which to our minds emerges from
these objects and statements, if they are at all considered relevant for any
In Kochuni case(3) reference was made to Atma
Ram v. State of Punjab(4) and the following passage was quoted to show that
agrarian reform was the core of Art. 31-A:"Keeping in view the fact that
Art. 31-A was enacted by two successive amendments--one in 1951 (First
Amendment), and the second in 1955 (Fourth (1)  64-P.L.R 241. (2) (1960]
3 S.C.R. 887.
(3)  S.C.R. 1 Supp. 748.
92 Amendment)-with retrospective effect, in
order to save legislation effecting agrarian reforms, we have every reason to
hold that those expressions have been used in their widest amplitude,
consistent with the purpose behind those amendments." The expressions from
Art. 31-A which were given such wide connotation were "any estate or of
any rights therein" and "the extinguishment or modification of any
such rights" occurring in Art. 31A(1). The Act there considered was the
Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act (10 of 1953) as amended by Act 11 of 1955.
It limited the area of land for "self cultivation", gave the tenantsí
rights to purchase lands with them and in this way " modified" the
rights of landlords.
It also released excess land for
redistribution. This was regarded to be agrarian reform and thus within the
protection of Art. 3 1 -A. The observations of this Court in Thakur Raghubir
Singh's case(1) were explained and were confined to the facts of that case.
Article 31-A was apparently not then viewed from the angle later adopted in the
Kochuni case(3), namely, that Art. 31-A was concerned with "tenures"
as such. There is reason to think that the Kochuni case was regarded on other
occasions too, as one decided on its own facts. In Gangadhar Narayanrao
Majumdar v. State of Bombay(3) in considering the words "estate" and
"rights in an estate", the right of an inamdar under Bombay Acts Nos.
11, VII of 1863 to appropriate to himself the difference between the full
assessment and the quit rent was treated as a right in an estate and its
extinguishment, or modification, was considered to protected by Art. 31-A.
Similarly, in Ram Narain Medhi v. State of
Bombay(4) the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment) Act 1956 (which
amended Bombay Act LXVII of 1948) was in question.
It sought to distribute equitably the lands
between the landlords and tenants by way of compulsory purchase of all surplus
lands by tenants in possession thereof from April 1, 1957 (known as the
Tillers' Day). The fundamental idea was the prevention of concentration of
lands in the hands of a few landholders. It was pointed out that this was
protected by Art. 31-A. No doubt the redistribution of lands so that a few may
not monopolise the land is the cardinal principle on which agrarian economy in
a socialistic pattern of society rests. But certain observations in the case
show that abolishing intermediaries or modifications of the tenures (1) [1953)
S.C.R. 1049. (2) (19601 3 S.C.R. 887.
(3)  1 S.C.R. 943. (4)  Supp.
93 was not the only objective open under Art.
31-A. It was observed:
With a view to achieve the objective of
establishing a socialistic pattern of society in the State within the meaning
of Articles 38 and 39 of the Constitution,, a further measure of agrarian
reform was enacted by the State Legislature, being the impugned Act, here
before referred to, which was designed to bring about such distribution of
ownership and control of agricultural lands as best to subserve the common good
thus eliminating concentration of wealth and means of production to the common
detriment." (Italics supplied) It is clear that in this passage a wider
meaning to the expression, agrarian reforms" than that given in the
Kochuni case(1) is discernible. We shall refer to one more case to illustrate
our point. in Sonapur Tea Co. Ltd. v. Must.
Mazirunnessa(2) the validity of the Assam
Fixation of Ceiling of Land Holdings Act, 1957 was considered and the question
was whether the rights which were taken away or abridged by the Assam Act were
"rights" in relation to an estate within the meaning of Art. 3 1 -A
(2) (b) of the Constitution. The Kochuni case(3) was decided on May 4, 1960 and
the decision in the Assam case was given on April 4, 1961 but there is no
mention of the dicta in the former case. -It was held that the rights which
were extinguished undoubtedly constituted "rights in relation to an estate"
and Mr. N. C. chatterjee who argued the case, conceded that this was so (see p.
730). The same conclusion regarding the meaning of the word
"modification" was reached in Burrakur Coal Co. Ltd. v. Union of
India(4) without adverting to Kochuni case(5). See also State of Bihar v.
Rameshwar Pratap Narain Singh(6) and state of Bihar v. Umesh Jha(5).
In the latter a provision of the Bihar Land
Reforms Act 1950, as amended by the Bihar Land' reforms (Amendment) Act, 1959
which empowered the Collector to annual anticipatory transfers of land designed
to defeat the object of the Act was held to be protected by Art. 31-A, though
the section by itself did not provide for the "extinguishment or
Modification" of any rights in an estate. It was justified as an integral
part of a statute which did so and thus received the protest of Art. 3 1 -A
along with the parent Act.
(1)  3 S.C.R. 887. (2) 1 S.C.R.
(3)  1 S.C.R. 44,61. (5)  2
(4)  2 S.C.R. 382.
94 From a review of these authorities it
follows that when the Punjab High Court decided these cases on the authority of
Jaga Singh's case(1) the view taken in this Court was in favour of giving a
large and liberal meaning to the terms 'estate', 'rights in at estate' and
'extinguishment and modification' of such rights in Art. 31-A. No doubt
Kochuni's case(2) considered a bare transfer of the rights of the sthanee to
the tarwad without alteration of the tenure and without any pretence of
agrarian reform, as not one contemplated by Art. 31 -A however liberally
But that was a special case and we cannot
apply it to cases where the general scheme of legislation is definitely
agrarian reform and under its provisions something ancillary thereto in the
interests of rural economy, has to be undertaken to give full effect to the
reforms. In our judgment the High Court was right in no applying the strict
rule in Kochuni's case(3) to the facts here.
The High Court was also right in its view
that the proposed changes in the shamlat deh and abadi deh were included in the
general scheme of planning of rural areas and the productive utilisation of
vacant and waste lands. The scheme of rural development today envisages not
only equitable distribution of land so that there is no undue imbalance in
society resulting in landless class on the one hand and a concentration of land
in the hands of a few on the other, but envisages also the raising of economic
standards and bettering rural health and social conditions.
Provisions for the assignment of lands to
village Panchayat for the use of the general community, or for hospitals
schools, manure pits, tanning grounds etc. enure for the benefit rural
population must be considered to be an essential part of the redistribution of
holdings and open lands to which no objection is apparently taken. If agrarian
reforms are to succeed, mere distribution of land to the landless is not
enough. There must be a proper planning of rural economy and conditions and a
body like the village Panchayat is best designed to promote rural welfare than
individual owners of small portions of lands Further, the village Panchayat is
an authority for purposes of Part III as was conceded before us and it has the
protection of Art 3 1 -A because of this character even if the taking over of
sham lat deh amounts to acquisition. In our opinion, the High Court was right
in deciding as it did on this part of the case.
With respect to abadi deh the same reasoning
must apply 'The settling of a body of agricultural artisans (such as the village
carpenter, the village blacksmith, the village tanner (1) (1962) 64 P.L.R. 241.
(2)  3 S.C.R. 887.
95 farrier, wheelwright, barber, washerman
etc.) is a part of rural planning and can be comprehended in a scheme of
agrarian reforms. It is a trite saying that India lives in villages and a
scheme to make villages self-sufficient cannot but be regarded as part of the
larger reforms which consolidation of holdings, fixing of ceilings on lands,
distribution of surplus lands and utilising of vacant and waste lands
contemplate. The four Acts, namely, the Consolidation Act, the Village
Panchayat Act, the Common Lands Regulation Act and the Security of Tenure Act
are a part of a general scheme of reforms and any modification of rights such
as the present had the protection of Art. 31-A. The High Court was thus right
in its conclusion on this part of the case also.
In our opinion these appeals must fail. We,
however, make it clear that by reason of the circumstances which have
supervened we have done no more than examine the correctness of the decisions
under appeal (particularly the Full Bench decision in Jagat Singh's case(1)
which was followed in them) in the light of facts and law present to the mind
of the Full Bench. For obvious reasons we have not strayed beyond that limit
but if we have expressed any opinion which seems to bear on the Seventeenth
Amendment, it should not be regarded as deliberate or binding. The appeals fail
and will be dismissed but there will be no order about costs.
(1) (1962) 64 P.L.R. 241.