P.K. Abraham Tharakan Vs. State of
Kerala & Ors  INSC 255 (25 April 2000)
S. N. Variava, J.
This Appeal is against the Judgment dated 5th March, 1997 passed by the High Court of Kerala.
Briefly stated the facts are as follows: The
present Appellants are the legal heirs of one Mr. Ouseph Joseph (since
deceased). The said Ouseph Joseph had a family consisting of himself, his wife
and four major sons. The said Ouseph Joseph had made a declaration under the
Kerala Land Reforms Act claiming exemption from the ceiling limits on the
ground that his lands fell in a rubber plantation and were, therefore, exempted
from the ceiling limits. The total exemption claimed on the basis of it being
rubber plantation was an area of approximately 95.24 acres. He had also claimed
exemption for approximately 3.05 acres as land ancillary to the cultivation of
the rubber plantation. This was the land on which there were structures like
rubber nursery, quarters of Superintendents, smoke house, Office building,
rolling shed etc.
The total area held by the said Ouseph Joseph
and his family was an area of 122.35 acres. As there were six members in the
family, the share of each member was 20.39 acres. It must be mentioned that in
the total area of 122.35 acres there was an area of dry land of approximately
24.30 acres. Each of the sons claimed, before the Taluk Land Board, that their
area of 20.39 acres each was totally exempted from ceiling as it was an old
In respect of the claims of the four sons, by
separate Orders, the Taluk Land Board upheld the claims of the sons and
exempted an area of 20.39 acres for each son on the basis that it was a rubber
plantation. We are informed that Revision Applications filed by the Government
against the Orders passed by the Taluk Land Board, so exempting the lands of
the sons, were all dismissed.
Thereafter, the father, on behalf of himself
and the mother, made a claim for exemption of 40.78 acres on the ground that
this was also a part of the rubber plantation.
This time the Taluk Land Board took note of
the fact that the total area of the land of the family was only 122.35 acres.
It took note of the fact that in this area 24.30 acres was dry land and that
only approximately 95 acres was rubber plantation with ancillary land of
approximately of 3 acres. The Taluk Land Board took note of the fact that the
four sons had already claimed exemption in respect of their shares of 20.39
acres each. The Taluk Land Board held that as the sons had already claimed
exemption, and there had been no objection by the parents, it followed that the
dry land of 24.30 acres could only be in the land which came to the share of
the parents. The Taluk Land Board, therefore, deducted an area of 24.30 acres.
However, the Taluk Land Board has, for unphantomable reasons, taken the rubber
plantation to 107.25 acres and deducted 24.30 acres from that. The Taluk Land
Board granted exemption for the balance area. As against this Order, a Revision
Petition No. 2386 of 1990 was filed before the High Court. The High Court
rejected the Revision by the impugned Order dated 5th March, 1997.
While rejecting the Revision Petition the
High Court has noted all the above mentioned facts. The High Court has noted
that the Taluk Land Board had by mistake counted the rubber plantation to be
107.25 acres, wherein, in fact, it was only 95 acres. The High Court noted that
the Taluk Land Board had granted exemption in excess of the claim made by the
declarant and in excess of what the family was entitled to. The High Court,
however, chose not to interfere as no Revision had been filed by the Government
against the Order of the Taluk Land Board. The High Court rejected, in our view
rightly, the contention that as the claims of the sons to the extent of 20.39
acres each had been accepted the claim of the parents was also to be accepted.
The High Court rightly rejected the contention that all the six sharers were
entitled to get an area of 20.39 acres each exempted.
Before us it has been contended that there
were six sharers in the land belonging to the family. It is submitted that
share of each came to 20.39 acres. It is submitted that the total therefore
comes to 122.35 acres.
It is submitted that the earlier Orders of
the Taluk Land Board (which were confirmed in Revision) exempting shares of all
the sons were binding. It is submitted that the Taluk Land Board could not have
taken a contrary decision in the case of the parents. It is submitted that earlier
it had been held that the whole land was a rubber plantation. It is submitted
that now the Taluk Land Board could not take a contrary decision. We see no
substance in this submission.
It is clear from the records, including the
declaration made by the parents, that the rubber plantation was only of 95
acres. Another approximately 3 acres was ancillary land.
This was the area for which exemption could
have been granted. Out of the total area of 122.35 acres an area of
approximately 24.30 acres was dry land. This area of 24.30 acres was,
therefore, not a rubber plantation and was also not ancillary land. This area
could not be exempted under Sections 81, 82 and 86 of the Kerala Land Reforms
Act. As the parents had not objected to each of the sons getting an area of
20.39 acres exempted, a total area of approximately 81.66 acres had already
been exempted. Therefore, all that could have been exempted was approximately
another 16.34 acres. The Taluk Land Board has mistakenly granted exemption for
an area of approximately 24 acres. Thus, the Taluk Land Board had granted
exemption of more than what the parties were entitled to. However, the
Government did not file any Revision. Therefore, the High Court did not
interfere. We also see no reason to interfere. But it is clear that the
Appellants are bound to surrender an area of 16.95 acres, which they have been
directed to do by the High Court.
In our view, the impugned Judgment is
absolutely correct and requires no interference. Under the circumstances, the
Appeal stands dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.