& ANR Vs. Ram Saran & Ors  INSC 121 (9 March 2000)
KIRPAL, N. SANTOSH HEGDE.,
question involved in this case pertains to the interpretation of Sections 134
and 137 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act as the said
provisions existed in 1964-1965.
stated the facts are that one Bechan was a sirdar of agricultural land which
consisted of six plots. On 25th August, 1964,
he filed an application under Section 134 of the said Act before the revenue authorities
and paid an amount equal to 10 times the land revenue and prayed that he should
be declared a bhumidar. It is an admitted case of the parties that it is only
on such declaration taking effect that he could sell the said land.
the said application had been filed and the land revenue deposited, Bechan
executed a sale deed on 25th
August, 1964 selling
the said land to the plaintiffs, who are the appellants herein, Before any
order could be passed granting the bhumidari certificate, Bechan died on 15th September, 1964. The problem for the plaintiffs
arose when on 5th
January, 1965, the sanad
was issued under section 137 in the name of Bechan with effect from 25th August, 1964, the date when the said land
revenue had been paid along with the application for grant of bhumidari
appellants/plaintiffs then filed a suit in the trial court challenging the
validity of the sale deed dated 5th January, 1965 in favour of the respondents/defendants.
trial court dismissed the suit having come to the conclusion that the
appellants herein had not derived any valid title to the property in question
because on the date when the sale deed was executed on 25th August, 1964 Bechan
had not been declared as a bhumidar under Section 137. In appeal, the lower
appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court and decreed the suit.
In arriving at this conclusion, the lower appellate court was of the opinion
that the certificate which was granted under Section 137 would relate back to
the date of the application and, therefore, the appellants herein had acquired
the title on 25th August, 1964 and, conseuently, the sale deed of that very
land on 5th January, 1965 executed by the widow of Bechan was not valid.
High Court, in a second appeal being filed, reversed the decision of the lower
appellate court and held that on 25th August, 1964 Bechan had not acquired any right, title or interest which
he could transfer because the order on his application for grant of the bhumidari
certificate had been passed only on 9th February, 1965. In coming to this conclusion, the
High Court relied upon a Full Bench decision Dhirajadhari and Others, 1971 All.L.J.
937 and also a Single Others. 1981 All.L.J. 402. Hence, this appeal by special
have already indicated, the decision in this appeal depends upon the
interpretation of Sections 134 and 137 of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition and Land
Sections read as follows :
"S. 134. Acquisition of bhumidhari rights by a sirdar. (1) If a sirdar
belonging to the class mentioned in clause (a) of Sec. 131 pays or offers to
pay to the credit of the State Government an amount equal to ten times the land
revenue payable or deemed to be payable on the date of application for the land
for which he is the sirdar, he shall, upon an application duly made in that
behalf to an Assistant Collector, be entitled, with effect from the date on
which the amount has been depoosited, to a declaration that he has acquired the
rights mentioned in Sec. 137 in respect of such land.
that the rights to pay or offer to pay the amount aforementioned shall cease on
the expiry of three months from the date to be notified by the State
I - In this sub-section 'land' includes shares in land.
II - For the purpose of this section the land revenue payable shall - (a) in
respect of land referred to in the proviso to clause (a) of sub-section (1) of
Sec. 246 be an amount arrived at after all the increases have been given effect
to; and (b) in respect of land to which the proviso to Sec.
be an amount determined at hereditary rates under that section.
amount referred to in sub-section (1) may be paid in case or, if the State
Government so prescribes, in form of bounds or otherwise."
L.......I.....T.......T.......T.......T.......T.......T.......T.J S. 137. Grant
of certificate. - (1) If the application has been duly made and the Assistant
Collector is satisifed that the applicant is entitled to the declaration
mentioned in section 134, he shall grant a certificate to that effect.
Upon the grant of the certificate, under sub-section (1), the sirdar shall,
from the date on which the amount referred to in sub-section (1) of Section 134
has been deposited
........L.......T.......T.......T.......T.......T.......T...J (a) become and be
deemed to be a bhumidhar of the holding or the share in respect of which the
certificate has been granted; and (b) be liable for payment of such reduced
amount on account of land revenue for the holding or his share therein, as the
case may be, one-half of the amount of land revenue payable or deemed to be
payable by him therefor on the date of application.
Provided further that in the cases referred to in Explanation II of section 134
the sirdar shall, during the period a reduced amount is payable in accordance
with section 246 or 247, be liable for payment of one-half of the amount
payable from time to time.
For the purposes of clause (b) the land revenue payable by a sirdar on the date
aforesaid shall, where it exceeds an amount double that computed at the
hereditary rates applicable, be deemed to be equal to such amount.
Where the amount referred to in sub-section (1) of section 134 is deposited on
a date other than the first day of the agricultural year, the land revenue
payable by the bhumidhar under clause (b) of sub-section (2) for the remainder
of the agricultural year in which the amount is deposited shall be determined
in such manner as may be prescribed." Section 134, from its plain
language, indicates and shows that on the application being made and 10 times
the land revenue being paid, the sirdar becomes entitled 'with effect from the
date on which the amount had been deposited' to a declaration that he has
acquired the rights mentioned in Section 137 of the Act. The Section clearly
specifies the date with effect from which the rights would stand acquired: The
date is the one on which the amount contemplated by Section 134 is deposited.
This clearly obviates the uncertainty of the point of time when the title is
transferred by fixing the dateas being the one when the amount is deposited. It
would be immaterial as to when the declaration under Section 137 is made
because that declaration must necessarily take effect from the date when the
amount is deposited.
little doubt there may be in this construction of section 134 is eliminated by
the perusal of sub-section (2) of Section 137. It is to be noticed that, as
observed by the lower appellate court, that before amendment in 1962,
sub-section (2) of Section 137 of the Act provided that it is only upon the
grant of certificate under sub-section (1) of Section 137 that the sirdar shall
from the date thereof become or be deemed to be a bhumidarof the holding or the
share in respect of which the certificate has been granted. The amendment of
sub-section (2) of section 137 by the Amendment Act 21 of 1962 with effect from
13th December, 1962 brought Section 137(2) in line with
Section 134. The two provisions read together clearly provide that as and when
the certificate under Section 137 is granted, it must relate back and be
effective from the date on which the amount referred to in sub-section (1) of
Section 134 has been deposited.
no doubt true that in the Full bench decision and Others (supra) and in the
decision in Raghunandan Singh 183, a different view has been expressed by the Allahabad
High Court. In the Full Bench decision, the view taken is that it is from the
date when the order is passed under Section 137 that the sirdar becomes a bhumidar.
In the latter two cases, it has been held that if after filing of the
application and making payment of the land revenue the applicant dies, then
certificate in his name cannot be granted. In our opinion, the said decisions
run counter to the plain language and meaning of Sections 134 and 137 as they
stood at the relevant point of time. When a certificate is issued under Section
137, it in fact recognises the position as on the date when the application was
made and the payment contemplated under Section 134(1) was deposited. The
certificate, in other words, will have a retrospective effect and would relate
back to the date of the application. There was nothing to prevent the revenue
authorities from allowing the application filed under Section 134(1) on the day
when it was presented. THe underlying intention of the legislature, therefore,
clearly is that as and when the said application is accepted and order is
passed under Section 137, it must relate back to the date when the application
was filed. Such a situation is not unknown to law. Mr. Prem Prasad Juneja,
Learned counsel for the appellants, as an analogy, has drawn our attention to
order 22 Rule 6, C.P.C. which provides that if any of the parties to a suit
dies after the hearing has been completed and before the judgment is
pronounced, the suit would not abate. The doctrine of relation back has been
incorporated in Sections 134 and 137 of the U.P.
Abolition and Land Reforms Act.
are, therefore, of the opinion that the lower appellate court had rightly
interpreted Sections 134 and 137 and the High Court was in error in overruling
the said decision. For the aforesaid reasons, the appeal is allowed, the
judgment of the High Court is set aside and the decision of the lower appellate
court is restored, the effect of which would be that the suit filed by the
appellants would stand decreed.