Laxminarayan Dipchand Maheshwari &
Ors Vs. Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal & Ors  INSC 34 (13 February
MATHEW, KUTTYIL KURIEN
CITATION: 1975 AIR 1036 1975 SCR (3) 537 1975
SCC (1) 487
Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands
(vidarbha Region) Act.
1958, ss.43(14A), 46(1) and 49A (1)-Scope of
46, if protected by , Art. 31A.
Section 40 (1) of the Bombay Tenancy and
Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region Act 1958, provides that notwithstanding
anything ontained in Chapter 111. (containing ss. 38 to 57) the ownership of
all lands held by tenants which they are enttled to purchase from their
landlords under any of the provisions of chapter, shall stand transferred to
and vest in such tenants on and from April 1961. From which date such tenants
shall be deemed to be the full owners of qua lands.
Section 43 (14A) provides that if a tenant
fails to exercise hi,, right of purchase under s. 41 etc. the land shall be
deemed to be surrendered to the landlords; and s. 49A(1) provides that
notwithstanding anything contained in ss.41 and 46 etc., on and from April 1.
1963 the ownership of all land held by a tenant (being land which is not
transferred to the tenant under s. 46 or which is not purchased by him under
ss. 41 and 56), shall vest in such tenant.
The Agricultural Lands Tribunal took action
under s. 46 read with a. 48 of (he Act for fixing the price of the land in
possession of the respondent who, Was personally cultivating the land as a
cultivating tenant under the appellant-landford. The appellant contested the
proceedings without success before the authorities under the Act as well as in
a writ petition in the High Court. In appeal to this Court, it was contended
(1) that s. 49a is not applicable to the present case as the opening
non-obstante clause of that section makes no reference to s. 43(14A) while it
specifically mentions ss. 41 and 46; (2) Since the tenant had not exercised his
right to purchase the land in question under s. 43(14A) the land shall be deemed
to have been surrendered to the appellant and no question of statutory transfer
of ownership of the land would arise; and (3) Section 46 is violative of Aets.
14 and 19(1)(f) of the Constitution and is not saved by Art. 31A.
Dismissing the appeal,
HELD : (1),Section 49A is not attracted in
the instant case since that section provides for ownership of land which is not
transferred to the tenant under s. 46 or which is not purchased by the tenant
under s. 41 or s. 50. The present case deals with compulsory transfer of
ownership under s.
46. [539H] (2) Under s. 46 the tenants became
full owners of the lands by operation of law and there is a statutory vesting
of the lands in them. This legal vesting by operation of s. 46 on and from
April 1, 1961, cannot be divested in the absence of any clear provision tinder
the Act. Section 43(14A) is a prospective provision and was introduced in the
Act by amendment on March 1, 1962 and has no application. [540A-D] (3) Section
46 has achieved the twin purpose of extinguishment of the right of the landlord
in the estate and conferment of the same right upon the tenant. Once that
happens, there is, in one breath, extinguishment of the right in favour of the
State and the conferment of the said right in favour of the tenant. Article 81A
is therefore clearly applicable and it cannot be contained that there is
violaion of Arts. 14 Ind 19. [541AC]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil APPeal
No. 2609 of 1969.
Appeal by Special Leave from the judgment and
order datcd the 1Oth April, 1969 of the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) in
spccial Civil Appln. No. 1039 of 1966.
W. S. Barlingay, Sheil Sethi and Ganpat Rai,
for the appellants.
538 E.C. Agarwala, for respondent no. 2.
M. C. Bhandare and S. P. Nayar, for
respondent No. 5.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
GOSWAMI, J. This petit ion by special leave is directed against the judgment of
the Bombay High Court rejecting the appellant-landlords' application under
articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution with regard to a revenue matter under
the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region) Act, 1958 (briefly
the Act). The second respondent (hereinafter the respondent) was the
cultivating tenant under the appellant-landlords. It was never in dispute in any
of the earlier proceedings that the respondent was personally cultivating the
land as a tenant.
On a report of the patwari submitted on April
6, 1963, the Agricultural Lands Tribunal, Malkapur, took action under section
46 read with section 48 of the Act for fixing the price of the land in
possession of the respondent. The appellants contested the proceeding without
success and an appeal preferred before the Special Deputy Collector for Tenancy
met with the same fate. The appellants then preferred a petition of revision
before the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal, Nagpur. That also failed. As noticed
earlier eventually the High Court also rejected the writ application. The short
question that had been persistently raised in all the earlier proceedings and has
been strenuously urged by Dr. Barlingay before us is whether in view of section
43(14A) of the Act the order of the Revenue Tribunal is legally sustainable.
In order to appreciate the above submission
it is necessary to look at the relevant provisions.
Section 41 (1) reads as follows 41 (1).
"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law, usage or contract
but subject to the provisions of sections 42 to 44 (both inclusive) a tenant
other than an occupancy tenant shall, in the case of land held by him as a
tenant, be entitled to purchase from the landlord the land held by him as a
tenant and cultivated by him personally".
It is not necessary to quote section 42 which
provides for the extent of land which a tenant may purchase under section 41.
Section 43 (1) (a) and (14A) upon which much
stress has been laid may be set out :
43 (1) (a). "A tenant who desires to
exercise the right conferred by section 41 shall make an offer to the landlord
stating the price at which he is prepared to purchase the land, such price not
exceeding twelve times the rent payable by him and the depreciated value of any
structures, wells and embankments constructed and permanent fixtures made and
the value of any trees planted on the land by the landlord after the. period of
the last Settlement or, where no such Settlement is made during the period of
thirty years before the commencement of this Act and the amount of the arrears
of rent, if any, lawfully due on the day on which the offer is made".
43(14A). "If a tenant fails to exercise
his right of purchase under section 41 in respect of any land or the purchase
of any land becomes ineffective, the land shall be deemed to have been
surrendered to the landlord, and thereupon the provisions of sub-sections (1)
and (2) of section 21 and Chapter VI shall apply to such land as if the land
was surrendered by the tenant under section 20".
The next material section is 46(1) which
reads as under 46(1). "Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter or any law
for the time being in force or any custom, usage, decree, ,contract or grant to
the contrary, with effect on and from the first day of April 1961, the
ownership of all lands held by tenants which they are entitled to purchase from
their landlords under any of the provisions of this Chapter shall stand
transferred to and vest in, such tenants and from such date such tenants shall
be deemed to be the full owners of such lands Section 49A (1) may also be read;
49A(1). "Notwithstanding anything
contained in section 41 or 46, or any custom, usage, decree, contract or grant
to the contrary but subject to the provisions of this section, on and from the
1st day of April 1963 the ownership of all land held by a tenant (being land
which is not transferred to the tenant under section 46 or which is not
purchased by him under section 41 or 50) shall Stand transferred to and vest
in, such tenant who shall, from the date aforesaid, be deemed to be the full
owner of such land, if such land is cultivated by him personally, and.
It is submitted by Dr. Barlingay that since
the tenant had not exercised his right to purchase the land in question, under
sub-section (14A) of section 43 the land shall be deemed to have been
surrendered to the landlords and no question of statutory transfer of ownership
of the land would arise. He also submits that section 49A is not applicable in
the instant case as the opening non-obstante clause of that section makes no
reference to section 43(14A) while specifically mentions section 41 and section
We may at once say that section 49A is not
attracted in the instant case since the section provides for ownership of land
which is not transferred to the tenant under section 46 or which is not
purchased by the tenant under section 41 or section 50. It is admitted by the
learned counsel that the land in question was not purchased by the tenant under
section 41 or under section 50. The only contention is that this land cannot be
the subject matter for compulsory transfer of ownership under section 46.
540 Sub-section 14(A) of section 43 was
inserted by Maharashtra Act 2 of 1962 with effect from March 1, 1962. On the
other hand section 46(1) brings about a legal consequence with regard to
transfer of ownership of land to tenants on and from April 1,,1961.
Section46(1) provides clearly and
unambiguously that notwithstanding anything contained in Chapter III
(containing sections 38 to 57) the ownership of all lands held by tenants,
which they are entitled to purchase from their landlords under any of the
provisions of this Chapter, shall stand transferred to and vest in such tenants
on and from April 1, 1961, from which date such tenants shall be deemed to be
the full owners of such lands. The tenants, therefore, become full owners of
the tenanted lands by operation of law and there is a statutory vesting of the
lands in them. This legal vesting by operation of section 46 on and from April
1, 1961, cannot be divested in absence of any clear provision under 'the Act to
that effect only by reference to a prospective provision like subsection (14A)
of section 43 which came by an amendment much later on March 1, 1962. it is,
therefore, not even necessary to consider the legal effect of the amalgam of
the three sections, namely, sub-section (14A) of section 43, section 46 and section
49A in this appeal. We are satisfied the revenue authorities were justified in
taking action under section 46 read with section 48 and the order cannot be
challenged a", unsustainable in law.
The learned counsel next contends that
section 46 of the Act is violative of article 19(1) (f) of the Constitution and
is not saved by article 31A which is not applicable. Counsel submits that under
section 46 there is no acquisition by the State of any estate or of any rights
therein or the extinguishment or modification of any such rights in order to
come within the saving provision of article 31A(1) (a).
According to counsel the land is transferred
from the landlord and vests in the tenant by virtue of section 46.
There is, therefore, no acquisition by the
State of any estate or of any rights therein nor is there any extinguishment or
modification of such rights in favour of the State. Section. 46 and such other
provisions in the Act are in furtherance of agrarian reforms which are one of
the principal objects of the Act., The fact that section 46 in terms transfers
the land from landlord to tenant and vests the ownership in the latter does not
mean that there is no extinguishment of the estate or its rights in favour of
the State for the sole reason that there is no express mention of such
acquisition by the State in terms. The scheme underlying the provisions may be
briefly stated. The State being the paramount Owner of the lands had earlier
granted the land to the tenure holders who are the landlords under the Act. In
order to transfer the land to tenants from the landlords the first step the 541
State will have to take is to extinguish the rights of the tenure holders
tinder the paramount owner. It is only then that transfer of the same land to
the tenants under the landlords will be possible. Section 46, in our opinion,
has achieved the twin purpose of extinguishment of the right of the landlord in
the estate and conferment of the same right upon the tenant. Once that happens
there is in one breath extinguishment of the right in favour of the State and
the conferment of the said light in favour of the tenant. There is therefore,
no substance in the contention that article 31A is not applicable in this case
to enable the appellants to challenge the provision under article 19(1) (f ) of
the Constitution. The objection of the learned counsel is therefore, with,out
substance. Since article 31A is clearly applicable, we need not ,deal with the
objection of counsel on the score of violation of article 14 of the Constitution.
In the result the appeal fails and is
dismissed with costs.
V.P.S. Appeal dismissed..