1. Under the Madras Commercial Crops Market Act 1933 (Act XX of 1933) which subsequently, as applied to the State of Andhra Pradesh, came to be known as the Andhra Pradesh Commercial Crops Markets Act 1933, a Market Committee called the Guntur Market Committee was established for the entire Guntur District. In 1966 was enacted the Andhra Pradesh (Agricultural Produce and Livestock) Markets Act, 1966 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) which is an Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to cultural produce, livestock and products of livestock and the establishment of markets in connection therewith. Section 4(1) of the Act authorises the Government to constitute a market committee for every notified area. Section 36 of the Act provides for the repeal inter alia of the Andhra Pradesh Commercial Crops Markets Act, 1933 Under proviso (b) of that section 'any market committee constituted under any of the Acts so repeated and existing immediately before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been constituted under any of the Acts so repealed and existing immediately before the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to have been constituted under this Act until a market committee is constituted in its place and no such constitution all the assets and liabilities of the market committee so deemed to have been constituted shall devolve on the market committee so constituted under this Act.'
2. Under the powers conferred under S. 4 (1) of the Act, the Government of Andhra Pradesh issued G. O. Ms. 665 dated 29-11-1968 constituting four market committees for the district of Guntur in the place of the Guntur Market Committee which existed under old Act. These were the Agricultural Market Committee, Guntur, for Guntur and seven other places, Agricultural Committee. Tenali, for Tenali and seven other places, Agricultural Market Committee, Ongole, for Ongole and nine other places and Agricultural Market Committee, Narasaraopet, for Narasarapet and eight other places. Later, G. O. Ms. 1865 dated 11-10-1969, the Government declared that the assets, rights and liabilities of the dissolved committee shall be distributed among the new committees equitably on the basis of approximate income derived and the amenities provided in the respective area. It directed that the Examiner of Local Fund Accounts, Andhra Pradesh, be entrusted with the work relating to the division of assets and liabilities among the various market committees in the State. The Agricultural Market Committee, Tenali, which is the petitioner herein and the Collector and Ex-officio Chairman of the Krishna Marketing Committee proposed a modification to the above G. O so as to distribute the assets and liabilities equally among the committees instead of on income basis. The Government, however, did not see fit to accept their suggestion. They issued a Memo No. 3820/Agri IV/69-3 dated 6-2-70 wherein they laid down certain principles to be followed in the division of assets and liabilities of the Guntur Market Committee. It is sufficient to refer to the first two principles which are the subject-matter of controversy in this Writ petition.
1. The immovable properties of the Committee lying in their jurisdiction should devolve on the respective committees.
2. All the fluid assets over the liabilities shall be divided among the successor Committees according to the percentage of average income for the three years from 1966 to 1968.
3. The petitioner, namely, the Agricultural Market Committee, Tenali, represented by its Chairman has filed this Writ Petition praying for the issue of certiorari or any other appropriate writ to quash the G. O. Ms. 1865 dated 11-10-1969 and Memo No. 3820. Agri/IV dated 6-2-1970 referred to above.
4. The contention of the petitioner is that under Section 36 (b) of the Act. the assets and liabilities of the committee constituted under the old Act should devolve equally on all the four committees which have been constituted under the new Act to take the place of the committee under the old Act. The G. O. and the Memo which read together direct the division of the immovable properties between the committees according to the location of the properties in the area of their jurisdiction and the other fluid assets on the basis of the average income for the years 1966 to 1968 are violative of Section 36 of the Act. In our view this contention seems to be justified. Under Section 36 of the Act, it is clearly laid down that the assets and liabilities of the old committee shall devolve upon the successor committee. In view of Section 3 (35) of the Andhra Pradesh General Clauses Act which provides that words in the singular in any enactment shall include the plural, the assets and liabilities will under this section devolve on all the four successor committees. The question for consideration is as to the manner in which the devolution is to take place as between the four committees. It is not disputed that in the case of joint donees, whether the gift is inter vivos or bequest the property in the absence of specification of the shares to which each is entitled. Even in the case of a transfer for consideration, in the absence of the other evidence, the joint transferees are presumed to be equally interested in the property (vide Sec. 45 Ahmed, AIR 1929 All 817). The same principle equally applies to a joint devolution on more than one person. In our view, in the absence of any restriction in such devolution or any indication as to the manner of devolution given by the legislature all the assets and liabilities should devolve equally on the four committees.
5. It was however, argued on behalf of the Government that Section 36 only provides that the assets and liabilities should devolve upon the succeeding committee or committees, but does not say in what proportion it should devolve an it is left to the Government to apportion the said assets and liabilities between the successor committees in the manner they consider proper. We cannot agree with this submission. As stated above, on a plain reading of Section 36 of the Act, it appears to us that the successor committees are entitled by devolution to equal shares in the assets and liabilities of the committee constituted under the repealed enactment. If that is the proper construction of the section, it is not open to the Government to prescribe by an executive act another mode of devolution as it were, by adopting principles which admittedly do not result in equal division of the assets and liabilities between the four successor committees as provided by the legislature. In this case the Government has decided that all the immovable properties should be distributed between the committees according to the location of the immovable properties in their respective jurisdiction. The cost of the properties have to be divided on the basis of the income for there specific years of the respective committees. It is admitted that such a distribution would not result in the four committees getting a equal share of the assets and liabilities. It is not open to the Government by an executive act to vary the extent of assets and liabilities to which each of the committees is entitled under the provisions of the Act.
6. Reliance was placed upon Section 4 of the Act as amended by Act 1/1971. Section 4 (1-A) of the Act provides any notification made under sub-section (1) for the constitution of a new market committee in constitution of a new market committee in respect of any new modified area declared under clause (c) of sub-section(4) of Section 3 may contain such supplemental, incidental and consequential provisions, including provisions as to the composition of the new market committee or new and existing market committees and the apportionment of the assets and liabilities between the market committees affected thereby.
7. On the strength of this provision it is argued that it is open to the Government to apportion the assets and liabilities between the four successor market committees in the manner they consider proper. It is however, to be noticed that Section 4(1-A) which was introduced by amending Act 1/71 came into force only on the 5th October, 1970 (vide Section 1 (2) of Act 1/71). Thus, this section would apply only to a notification made subsequent to that date. The notification constituting these four committees in question was made in April, 1969 long before the coming into force of this provision and hence this provision has no application. In this connection it may be noted that whenever certain amendments to the Act were sought to be made retrospective, it was expressly stated that the amending provision shall be and shall be deemed always to have been inserted (Section 8 introducing Section 36 (aa) of the Act). Further, it is made clear by this provision that the apportionment, if any, should be contained in the notification constituting the new market committees. In this case the notification of April, 1969, does not contain any such provision for apportionment and the provision of apportionment was sought to be made only by a G. O. Ms 1865 dated 11-10-1969 and the Memo 3820-Agri.IV/69-3, dated 6-2-70. We therefore, reject the contention that the Government is entitled by and under the above said G. O. and memo to lay down principles of apportionment which have the effect of doing away with the devolution of assets and liabilities in equal shares which would be the result of applying the provisions of Section 36 of the Act.
8. In the result, the writ petition is allowed, but, in the circumstances without costs.
9. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-.
10. Petition allowed.