1. The only question that is involved in the present petition is whether the finding which has been given by the Sub-Divisional Officer in the proceedings under the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, is appealable. The Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal has by its order dated 26th April 1966 held that the appeal is not maintainable under Section 33 of the Act, The matter arises in this way.
2. The respondent No. 3 Rambilas was the tenure-holder of Survey No. 5, area 22 acres 19 gunthas of mouza Aurangpur, taluq Daryapur, district Amravati amongst other property. The said Rambilas executed a deed of gift in respect of this field on 31st march 1960 in favour of the petitioner Brijvallabh. This gift deed was said to be in pursuance of a kararnama said to have been executed by Rambilas in favour of Brijvallabh on 12th of December 1958.
3. Proceedings under the Ceiling Act were taken against Rambilas. There was a report by the revenue authorities that on 4-8-1959 the field Survey No. 5 was of the ownership of Rambilas and for the purposes the Ceiling Act must be taken to be his. In these proceedings the petitioner Brijvallabh raised objections contending that the field was donated by Rambilas to him and it was his property. The Sub-Divisional Officer rejected his contention and held that the gift deed appeared to defeat the objects of the ceiling legislation to whatever extent possible. He held that the survey No. 5 cannot be exempted and with a view to safeguard the interest of the objector and also of the Government the landlord will retain this survey number with him in the light of the provisions Section 16(1) of the Ceiling Act at the time of exercising his right of retaining lands with him under Section 16(2) of the Ceiling Act. This order or the result of the enquiry was challenged by the represent petitioner before the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal. The Revenue Tribunal held that this decision was not appealable under Section 33 of the Ceiling Act.
4. Right of appeal is provided by Section 33 of the Ceiling Act. Section k33 provides for an appeal against an order or award of the Collector to the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal in the following cases.
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(2) a declaration or any part thereof under Section 21.
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The declaration that is mentioned in Section 33 is the declaration which us given under Section 21 of the Act. Section 21 provides that as soon as may be after the Collector has considered the matters referred to in Section 18 and the questions, if any, under sub-section (3) of Section 20, he shall make a declaration stating therein his decision on the matters mentioned in this section. The matters which are required to be considered by the collector are given in Section 18 and one of the matters that is required to be considered by the Collector under Section 18 is whether any land transferred or partitioned between the period form the 4th day of August 1959 and the appointed day, should be considered in calculating the ceiling area as provided by sub-section (1) of Section 10. Section 10 provides for the consequences of certain transfers and acquisitions of land. Section 10(1) reads:
(a) any person after the 4th day of August 1959 but before the appointed day, transfers or partitions any land in anticipation of, or in order to avoid or defeat, the objects of this Act, or
(b) any land is transferred or partitioned in contravention of the provisions of Section 8, then, in calculating the ceiling area which that person is entitled to hold, the area so transferred or partitioned shall be taken into consideration, and land exceeding the ceiling are so calculated shall be deemed to be in excess of the ceiling area .
Section k10(1) further provides that all transfers and partitions made after the 4th day of August 1959 but before the appointed day, shall be deemed (unless the contrary is proved) to have been made in anticipation of, or in order to avoid or defeat the objects of this Act. The appointed day is 26th of January 1962.
5. Under the Ceiling Act power is given to the Collector to hold an enquiry. Section 14 requires the Collector to hold an enquiry in respect of every person holding land in excess of the ceiling are a and has to determine the surplus land held by such person. For holding an enquiry the Collector has to issue a public notice in the prescribed form and call upon all persons interested in the land to submit to the Collector their objections within a period of one month from the date of the publication of the notice. He has also to serve notices to the same effect on the holder and all other persons who are known or believed to be interested in the land, calling upon them to appear before him personally or through an agent and to state any objections or suggestions to the particulars given in the notice to show cause wherever necessary, why any land transferred or partitioned in contravention of the provisions of Section 8, or any land transferred or partitioned during the period specified in clauses (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 10, should not be taken into consideration calculating the ceiling area as provided by sub-section (1) of Section 10. After this is done and after hearing the holder and other persons interested and who are present, he has to consider the matters which are given in Section 18.
6. In this case, the present petitioner who claimed to be interested in Survey No. 5 made objections in the proceedings before the Collector and contended that the field was given to him by way of a gift by virtue of the registered gift deed dated 31st march 1960, which was executed in his favour in pursuance of the kararnama of 12th December 1958,. Besides the matters required to be considered under Section 18, there are certain other questions in Sections 19 and 20. Section 16 of the Ceiling Act gives a right of selecting the land which the holder can retain with him within the ceiling area. It provides:
'16.(1) Where a person holds land in excess of the ceiling area, and the whole or part of such land is subject to an encumbrance, then subject to an encumbrance, then subject to the provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 10 and Section 15 he shall retain such encumbered land (where he is the owner or tenant thereof ) up to the extent of the ceiling area'.
Sub-section (2) of Section 16 provides that subject to the provisions of sub-section (1), a person shall be entitled to select the lands he wishes to retain with himself, upto the ceiling area.
7. The Scheme of the Ceiling Act, therefore, appears that after the matters mentioned in Section 18 and the questions given in Section 18 and the questions given in Section 20 have been decided, the total land with the holder on the relevant date is determined and after that is done, aright is given to the holder to select as much land from the land as he is entitled to retain with himself upto the ceiling area an in selecting that land, the land which is held to have been transferred or partitioned in anticipation of or in order to avoid or defeat the objects of the Act will also be included in that area. It is after the selection has been made that the Collector is in a position to delimit the land as surplus land and he has then to make a declaration stating therein his decision on the points given in Section 21 of the Ceiling Act. He gives the decision on the following matters;
(a) the total area of land which the person is entitled to hold as the ceiling area;
(b) the total area of land which is in excess of the ceiling area
(c)the name of the person to whom possession of land is to be restored under Section 19, and area and particulars of such land;
(d) the area, description and full particulars of the land which is delimited as surplus land.
(e) the area and particulars of land, out of surplus land, in respect of which the right, title and interest of the person holding it is to be forfeited to the State government.
8. It will thus appear that before the Collector makes a declaration as contemplated by section 21, he has to decide certain other matters for arriving at the figures which are required for a declaration under S. 21 necessarily, the declaration must be preceded by an antecedent enquiry in which all the objections and contentions raised by various persons have to be decided and findings thereon have to be given. After these finding are given on matters mentioned in Section 18, 19 and 20, the Collector then is in a position to find out the matters specified in Section 21 and that is the final declaration which is made appeal under Section 33, the person aggrieved may challenge all the matters given under Section 21 if he is aggrieved by all of them or only some of these matters by which he feels aggrieved. The result of the enquiry made under Section 18 is merely a finding and not the final decision. The decision is the declaration made under Section 21. No appeal has been provided against the findings in an enquiry under Section 18 of the Ceiling. Section 21 itself provides that after the Collector has first considered the matter s referred to in Section 18 and the questions, if any, under sub-section (3) of Section 20 and as soon thereafter as maybe, has to make a declaration on the matters referred to therein. The enquiry, therefore, which is made under Section 18 ultimately results in the declaration which is given under Section 21 and forms part of the declaration under Section 21. If and when a declaration is made by the Collector an appeal is filed against such a declaration, it would be open to the person aggrieved not only to challenge the decisions given in the declaration, but also the findings which precede such declaration as in Section 18 of the Act., I am , therefore, of the opinion that no appeal lies against the mere findings given in Section 18 and the appeal can only lie after the declaration has been given under S.21 In this case, what is challenged is not the declaration as contemplated by Section 21, but the findings given under Section 18. The Revenue Tribunal therefore, was correct in holding that the appeal was not maintainable.
9. The petition, therefore fails and is dismissed. But in the circumstances, there will be no order as to costs.
10. Petition dismissed.