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Report No. 70

Chapter 104

Agricultural Leases

Section 117

104.1. Section 117.-

Section 117 reads:

"117. None of the provisions of this Chapter apply to leases for agricultural purposes, except in so far as the State Government may, by notification published in the Official Gazette, declare all or any of such provisions to be so applicable in the case of all or any of such leases, together with, or subject to, those of the local law, if any, for the time being in force. Such notification shall not take effect until the expiry of six months from the date of its publication."

104.2. Reasons.-

The reasons for this special provision were thus explained in their Report of 1879 by the Law Commissioners1:

"Local legislation as to the relations of zamindar and raiyat being so copious and elaborate, we think that the provisions of this Chapter should not apply to leases for agricultural purposes, except in so far as the local Government may declare all or any of such provisions to be so applicable, together with, or subject to, those of any local law for the time being in force."

1. See Report of the Second Law Commission, 1879.

104.3. Test.-

In determining the question whether the leases for "agricultural" purposes, the test is not the actual use of the land, but the original purpose of the lease.1 Every lease relating to agricultural land is not necessarily for an agricultural purpose. Regard must be had to the purpose for which it is let out.2

1. Bhikari v. Kashinath, ILR 1964 Cut 289 (294) (Misra, J.).

2. Batakrushna v. Kunja Behari, AIR 1954 Ori 132 (134).

104.4. Meaning of 'agriculture' according to the Dictionaries.-

Several definitions of agriculture are met with in the dictionaries and in the case law. According to Bouvier's Law Dictionary, "agriculture is the cultivation of soil for good products or for any other useful or valuable growths of the field or garden."

This is a fairly wide definition. Wharton's Law Lexicon adopts the definition of agriculture in B Edw. VII, C. 36 as including "horticulture, forestry and the use of land for any purpose of husbandry etc." In 10 Edward VII, C.B.S. 41, it was defined so as to include the use of land as meadow or pasture land, orchard, or easier or wood land, or for market gardens, nursery grounds or allotments, etc. In 57 and 58 Vict., C. 30, section 22, the term "agricultural property" was defined so as to include agricultural land, pasture and woodland, etc.1

Agriculture, according to the Oxford English Dictionary,2 is the science and art of cultivating the soil, including the allied pursuits of gathering in the crops and rearing live-stock: tillage; husbandry; framing (in the widest sense). According to Webster's Dictionary, agriculture means "the act or science of cultivating the ground including harvesting of crops and rearing and management of livestock; tillage; husbandry; farming; in a broader sense, the science and art of the production of plants and animals useful to man including to a variable extent the preparation of these products for man's use. In this broad use it includes farming, horticulture and forestry together with such subjects as butter and cheese-making, sugar-making, etc."3

1. Material taken from judgment of Ramesam, J. in Avvadi Pathan v. Ramaswami Chetti, AIR 1922 Mad 351 (353).

2. Murray Oxford English Dictionary, cited in 1902 ILR 25 Mad 627 (629).

3. Webster.

104.5. Case law.-

In Murugesa Chetti v. Chinnathambiza, ILR 24 Mad 421 (525), in the course of the judgment, it was observed by Bhashyain Iyengar, J., that the term "agriculture" was used in its more general sense (in section 117) as comprehending the raising of vegetables, fruits and other garden products, as good for man and beast. His observations were intended to bring the betel garden under the term "agriculture", and not to exclude something which was not food for man or beast.

In Jagdish Chandra Sanyal v. Lal Mohan Poddar,, (1910) 13 CLJ 319, the definition of Webster was approved and two American cases were also mentioned as having followed that definition, though it is not clear for what purpose.

In a Madras case1 Spencer J. observed:

"Agriculture connotes the raising of useful or valuable products which derive nutriments from the soil with the aid of human skill and labour, and thus it will include horticulture, arboriculture and silviculture in all cases where the growth of trees is effected by the expenditure of human care and attention in such operations as those of ploughing, sowing, planting, manuring, watering, protecting etc."

1. Avvadi Pathan v. Ramaswami Chetti, AIR 1922 Mad 351 (352).

104.6. The Judicial decisions to which we have made a reference above1 adopt a wide meaning of the word agriculture. According to its wide meaning, the term will include horticulture, forestry, and even the use of land for pasture.2 The Madras case of 1922 also supports the wider view.

According to its limited meaning, it is confined to the raising of grain or other fields crops. In the Act, there is nothing to indicate that it is intended to limit the denotation of the term in any way,3 in general the decisions have interpreted the term as including horticulture.4-5

But there is not much case law to show whether it includes forestry or dairy farming.

1. Paras. 104.4, and 104.5, supra.

2. Imam Ali v. Ram Priyawati Devi, AIR 1937 Nag 289 (290).

3. Burugesa Chetti v. Chinnathambi Goundan, 1901 ILR 24 Mad 421 (426) (per Shephard, J.).

4. AIR 1937 Nag 289 (290).

5. Auvadi Pathan v. Ramaswami, AIR 1922 Mad 351.

104.7. No change.-

Since the concept of "agricultural purposes" is a crucial one in the scheme of the Chapter on leases, we would have liked to insert a definition, if possible. A precise definition would have been a "gem of high price"-to quote Lord Denning's description of an ideal definition in another context. But, with the exception of Bouvier,1 the available materials do not suggest a basis for a precise definition. We, therefore, leave the matter as it is.

1. Para. 104.4, supra

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