1. There is no dispute that the petitioners were tenants in respect of land Survey No. 197 admeasuring 13 acres 3 gunthas situated at mouza Sungaon, district Buldana, and the respondent Nos. 1 to 5 are the owners thereof, 8 acres 17 gunthas of land was resumed by the respondents landlords out of the said survey number for their personal cultivation. However, since the respondents landlords did not cultivate the said land personally, the petitioners applied under Sec. 52 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Vidarbha Region) Act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). In pursuance of this application the land was restored in their possession on 25-4-1973.
2. The petitioners tenants gave a notice on 10-12-1973 under S. 50 read with Sec. 43(1) of the Act, making an offer for the purchase of the said land at the rate of 36 times of the rental value of the land. The respondents neither accepted the offer nor gave any reply to the said notice. They, however, filed an application on 5-8-1974 for possession of the said land under sec. 36(2) read with sec. 50 of the Act. The petitioners filed their written statement on 6-9-1974 and denied the claim of the respondents. According to the petitioners, the respondents were not entitled to resume the land in question since the petitioners had already made an offer for the purchase of the same on 12-10-1973 within one year from the commencement of their tenancy, i.e. from 25-4-1973. They further contended that their written statement be treated as an application for determination of the purchase price within the meaning of sec. 43(2) of the Act.
3. The Additional Tahsildar, vide order dated 19th Nov. 1974, negatived the contention of the petitioners and held that the respondents were entitled for restoration of possession of the suit land under sec. 36(2) read with sec. 50 of the Act. The petitioners preferred an appeal before the Sub Divisional Officer, Jalgaon, but the appeal also failed and hence they moved the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal by way of revision, but the revision was also dismissed and hence they approached the High Court by way of writ petition. The matter came up for hearing before the Single Judge of this Court Jamdar J., who after hearing the parties made a reference to the larger Bench, and hence this case has come before us.
4. The relevant provisions are Ss. 50 and 43(1)(a) and (2) of the Act, which call for interpretation. S. 50 of the Act is as follows :
'50. Where a tenancy is restored under Section 7, 10, 21, 52 or 128-A or is created by a landlord (not being a landlord within the meaning of Chapter III-A) in any area after the date specified in sub-section (1) of section 49-A, every tenant holding land under such tenancy and cultivating it personally shall be entitled to purchase within one year from the commencement or as the case may be, the restoration of the tenancy so much of such land as he may be entitled to purchase under Section 41 and the provisions of Sections 41 to 44 (both inclusive) shall mutatis mutandis apply to such purchase.'
5. There is no dispute on facts in this case. It is admitted that the petitioners would fall in the category of 'tenants' referred to in sec. 50 of the Act and would thus be entitled to purchase land if they fulfil other conditions laid down under secs. 50 and 43 of the Act. Mr. R. N. Deshpande, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioners, has urged that all that sec. 50 says is that a tenant shall be entitled to purchase within one year from the commencement of the tenancy. Mr. Deshpande lays stress on the words 'entitled to purchase'. According to him, this section does not say that the sale should be complete. All that it lays down is that the tenant becomes entitled to purchase within one year from the commencement of the tenancy, subject to certain conditions laid down in S. 43 of the Act., the relevant portion of which reads as under :
'43(1)(a). A tenant who desires to exercise the right conferred by section 41 shall make an offer to the landlord stating the price at which he is prepared to purchase the land such price not exceeding twelve times the rent payable by him and the depreciated value of any structures, wells and embankments constructed and permanent fixtures made and the value of any trees planted on the land by the landlord after the period of the last settlement or where no such settlement is made during the period of thirty years before the commencement of this Act and the amount of the arrears of rent, if any, lawfully due on the day on which the offer is made.
* * * * * * (2) If the landlord refuses or fails to accept the offer and to execute the sale deed within three months from the date of the offer, the tenant may apply to the Tribunal for the determination of the reasonable price of the land.'
6. S. 43(1)(a) casts on obligation on the tenant intending to purchase the land that he should make an offer to the landlord stating the price at which he is prepared to purchase the land. Sub-sec. (2) lays down that if the landlord refuses or fails to accept the offer and to execute the sale deed within three months from the date of the offer, the tenant may apply to the Tribunal for determination of the reasonable price of the land. According to Mr. Deshpande, the only condition which is envisaged under S. 50 of the Act would be that the tenant should make an offer to purchase the land as required by S. 43(1)(a) of the Act, and if he makes that offer within one year from the date of the commencement of his tenancy as required by sec. 50, then it would not make any difference if he makes an application to the Additional Tahsildar for determination of the purchase price even after the expiry of one year.
7. Mr. Deshpande relies on the decisions of the Single Bench : AIR1972Bom169 Govinda v. Udhao and 1980 Mah LJ 643 Nawajuddin v. Hanumandas Attal. There is no doubt that both these decisions completely support him. However, Jamdar J. has differed with these two decisions. According to Jamdar J., section 43 contemplates two steps for the tenant for exercising his right of purchase. First is to make an offer as contemplated by cl. (a) of sub-sec. (1) of the said section and the second is to file an application under sub-sec. (2) if the landlord does not execute the sale deed within three months from the date of the offer. According to Jamdar J. the period of limitation is stated in sec. 50 which governs sub-sec. (1) of section 43 as well as sub-sec. (2). In our view, all that sec. 50 says is that a tenant shall be entitled to purchase within one year from the date of the commencement of tenancy or as the case may be, the restoration of tenancy, it does not say that the sale shall be completed within one year or that the tenant must file an application under sub-sec. (2) of sec. 43 within the period prescribed by sec. 50 as extended by the period allowed to the landlord to execute the sale deed in response to the offer. To hold this would mean reading something which is not there at all. In view of the plain language of sub-sec. (2) of sec. 43, it is difficult to hold that the Legislature intended that the tenant should make an application for determination of the price within the stipulated period of one year as extended by three months' period allowed to the landlord by sub-sec. (2) of sec. 43 to execute the sale-deed. We do not see any scope for such interpretation in view of the plain wording of sub-sec. (2) of sec. 43. In our view, the decisions : AIR1972Bom169 (cited supra) lays down the correct law.
8. Thus, in our view, it would suffice if the tenant makes an offer as contemplated by cl. (a) of sub-sec. (1) of sec. 43 for effective exercise of the right of purchase conferred by sec. 50 of the Act.
We are also of the view that it would not be necessary for the effective exercise of the right of purchase that the tenant must not only make an offer within a period of one year from the date of the commencement or as the case may be, the restoration of tenancy, but also must file an application under sub-sec. (2) of sec. 43 within a period of one year, mentioned in sec. 50, as extended by three months' period allowed to the landlord to execute the sale deed. We answer the reference accordingly.
9. In this view of the matter, all the three decisions of the authorities below, viz., the Additional Tahsildar, Sub Divisional Officer and the Maharashtra Revenue Tribunal, are quashed and set aside, and the matter is remanded back to the Additional Tahsildar for considering the claim of the tenants for determination of the reasonable price of the land and for disposing of the case according to law. However, in the circumstances of this case, there shall be no order as to costs.
10. References answered accordingly.