1. Mr. Kurdukar, the learned counsel for the petitioner, in the above Special Civil Application, directed against the concurrent Orders of the Revenue Tribunal and the District Deputy Collector, Bhir, under the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961, has submitted three neat points of law in support of the petitioner's case.
2. The first contention raised by him was that the two Authorities erred in law in excluding the dependant sister of the father of the holder from the family of the holder. Unfortunately this contention is not tenable having regard to the definition of the word 'member of the family' contained in Section 2 (20) of the Maharashtra Agricultural Land (Ceilings on Holdings) Act, 1961, prior to its recent amendment by Act XXI of 1975 and the two Ordinances. The two Authorities below were, therefore, right in excluding her.
3. The second point of law raised by Mr. Kurdukar was that the two Authorities erred in including in the holdings of the petitioner 42 acres of pot-kharab land. The two Authorities have held, having regard to the definition of the word 'land' contained in Section 2 (16) of the Act, as meaning not only land used for the purposes of agriculture, but also land capable of being used for agriculture that the pot-kharab lands, but fallow lands, which were assessed to agricultural assessment. The contention of Mr. Kurdukar cannot be accepted having regard to the definition of the word 'land' in Section 2 (16), rightly relied upon the interpreted by the two Authorities below.
4. The third contention of Mr. Kurdukar is however one of substance. It relates to the choice under Section 16 of selecting the lands for retention by the holder. Mr. Kurdukar fairly stated that the composite notice under Section 16 and 17 was served on the land-holder on March 3, 1964; and he was asset to may a choice within 2 days on March 5, 1964. Mr. Kurdukar submitted that the time of only two days granted to the petitioner to make a choice out of 229.22 acres of land, about 126 acres of land, which he wanted to retain was neither fair nor reasonable and he, therefore, argued that the two Authorities ought to have given him a fair opportunity particularly when the Deputy Collector passed the Order after remand only on October 27, 1970, and the Revenue Tribunal modified his order on August 5, 1971.
5. Mr. Sabnis, the Assistant Government Pleader, on the other hand, supported the orders of the two Authorities on the ground that as the final orders were not passed till 1970, it was open to the petitioner to move the Deputy Collector under Section 16. and it was further open to the petitioner to raise their point before the Revenue Tribunal, which he did not do.
6. Mr. Sabnis therefore, submitted that the petitioner should not be allowed the facility of exercising the choice of selection under Section 16 in exercise of the powers of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. There is some force in the contention of Mr. Sabnis. But, when the Officers and the Tribunal concerned with the Ceiling Act do not act fairly towards the parties and do not care to give a reasonable time for making the choice, as they ought to do, as in the present case, I think the only remedy for such parties it to approach this Court under Article 227 get the proper remedy.
7. The Ceiling Act was a Revolutionary Act introducing ideas and changes in agricultural laws, to which people are not used, even after decades of enforcement. It is also doubtful whether their legal advisers are in a position to give them proper advice as in some of these proceedings, they are not represented by legal advisers. The Legislature expects the Officer concerned with the implementation of these laws to act promptly, thoroughly and in the spirit of the welfare legislation. Unfortunately in most cases, these Officers commit serious misters including the most serious mistake of ignoring the law itself.
8. In the present case, the land-holder was found by the Deputy Collector to be the holder of 229.22 acres. He had to select out of these which 126 acres he would retain. I thin that for any prudent and reasonable holder, it would be difficult to choose within 2 days the lands to be so selected. The holder has to consider various economic and non-economic considerations, which accompany land ownership and holding. A holder must be a very extraordinary person if he could make the choice within 48 hours in such matters. It is not as easy as love at first sight to love the lands, which one would like to retain and intimate to the Deputy Collector. At least a fortnight's time ought to have been given by the Officer particularly when the matter was not decided for nearly four years thereafter.
9. In the result, the petition is allowed to the extent of the refusal of the choice under Section 16; and the rest of the orders passed by the two Authorities and as modified by the Revenue Tribunal are confirmed. The case is restored to the file (File No. 68(ICH/5)) of the Deputy Collector, L. Rs., Bhir, who shall give a choice of selection under Section 16 (1) in terms of paragraph 13 of the petition in this court as far as possible.
10. Accordingly Rule is made absolute. No order as to costs.
11. Order accordingly.