1. This Petition is directed against the order of the Land Tribunal, Saundatti, dated 29-9-1981 (Annexure-E). By that order, determining the Petitioner as a surplus holder, she is asked to surrender 50 acres and 25 guntas to the Government.
2. Challenging the impugned order, it was inter alia contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that no proper enquiry has been held by the Tribunal in the matter; that her client had no opportunity to place her case therein and that, in the circumstance, quashing the impugned order, the matter be remitted to the Tribunal for a fresh disposal according to law, It is her case that her client was not a surplus holder and therefore, was not liable to surrender any land at all as called upon.
3. Besides hearing the learned Government pleader for the respondent State, having secured the papers from the Tribunal, I have also perused the same.
4. There is considerable force in the submission made by the, learned Counsel for the Petitioner that her client had not been provided with adequate opportunity to put forward her case in the Tribunal.
5. The petitioner-declarant had filed an application in Form No. 11 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 (the Act) furnishing therein certain particulars regarding the lands held by her. As provided under Section 65 of the Act, such a declaration is required to be made within the time prescribed to the Tahsildar within whose jurisdiction the holding of the person or the greater part thereof is situated.
6. On receipt of such a declaration, the Tahsildar shall have to hold an enquiry as prescribed under Section 67(1)(a) of the Act read with Rule 24 Sub-rule (1) of the Rules. Section 67(1)(a)(iii) provides that he should place the declaration and the connected records after making the aforesaid enquiry before the Tribunal.
7. Section 67(1)(b) provides that ;
''Thereupon and after such enquiry as may be prescribed, the Tribunal shall determine the extent of the holding and the area by which such extent exceeds the ceiling area.'
Section 67(1)(d) provides that :
'The order or the Tribunal-shall be final and shall be communicate to the person concerned and also the Tahsildar.'
8.As is clear from the aforesaid provisions, the declarant is not required to be heard at the stage of thepreliminary enquiry by the Tahsildar and this is for the reason that, ultimately, in the mattes of declaration made by thedeclarant, it is the Tribunal which has to pass final orders. To facilitate the Tribunal in dealing with the declaration and to place the necessary material therein a preliminary enquiry by the Tahsildar is contemplated.
9. Though 67(1 )(b) provides that the Tribunal will hold an enquiry as may be prescribed, the Rules framed under the Act contain no provision regarding this matter.
10. However, in a matter like this, the enquiry that the Tribunal makes shall have to be inconsonance with the principles of natural justice and the declarant will have to have an adequate opportunity for his say in the matter.
11. The Learned Government Pleader submits that the guidelines contained in Rule of the Rules may as far as possible also be adopted by the Tribunal in the matter of holding an enquiry on the declaration furnished in Form No. 1 by a person, I am inclined to agree with him.
12. Unless the Tribunal makes the declarant aware of the facts collected at the preliminary enquiry by the Tahsildar it will not be possible for him to satisfactorily explain or clarify certain matters that may require clarification.
13. Therefore, after the Tahsildar places the declaration and the connected records before it along with his report, if any, the enquiryof the Tahsildar prepared may be, the Tribunal will get the summary of the enquiry of the Tahsildar prepared, may be, in the form of small concise statement, and will make that available to the declarant calling upon him to file his reply or rejoinder to the same. There-after it should call upon the declarant to place before it necessary material) may be in the form of evidence-oral of documentary, in support of his case. The Tahsildar who will have held the preliminary enquiry or his successor in office may be asked to participate in the proceeding and represent the State Government and its interest. As already observed, the Tribunal will have to re-hear this matter and to enable it to do so, this Petition is allowed. Rule issued is madeabsolute. The impugned order of the Tribunal is hereby quashed and the matter involved therein is remitted to the Tribunal for fresh enquiry and disposal in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above