1. The se writ petitions are posted before this Bench on receipt of the opinion of a Full bench consisting of five Judges reported in N. Bujjanna V. Thansildar, Rapur, 1980 I Andh WR 235: AIR 1980 Andh pra 118.
2. The relevant facts are stated in the Judgment dated 7-7-1978 of the Full Bench, referring it to a Fuller Bench and they are also in the judgment of the Fuller Bench and it is unnecessary to repeat them in detail. However, a few facts may briefly be stated.
3. The Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area ) Inams ( Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (Act No. XXXVII of 1956) for short, the Act) was amended by the introduction of S. 2- A in the following terms:-
'Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act all Communal lands and porambokes, grazing lands, waste lands, forest lands, mines and ferries in the inam lands shall stand transferred to the Government and vest in them free of all encumbrances'
4. Notices were issued to several inamdars by the concerned officers of the Government that various categories of lands held by the inamdars which were enumerated in Section 2-A of the Act, vested in the Government and they were therefore asked to surrender possession of those lands. The petitioners who are some of the inamdars filed the write petitions questioning the validity of the notices directing them to surrender possession.
5. Apart from other contentions peculiar to each of the cases, the common contention raised in these writ petitions was that Section 2 - A which vests in the State, all the categories of lands referred to there in without providing for any compensation , is ultra vires the Constitution. It was also contended that S. 2-A of the Act applies only to communal lands, porambokes etc. in inam lands, but, there were no such inam lands in existence as on the date of coming into force of the inams Abolition Act and all the lands became converted into ryotwari tenure and vested in the inamdars except to the extent provided in S. 4 of the Act, by which in regard to inam lands in Inam villages,. the tenants were entitled to ryotwari pattas in respect of a portion of the land. Hence Sec. 2-A has no application at all to the lands held by the inamdars for which they were entitled to get a ryotwari patta under the provisions of the Act.
6. It was contended on behalf of the State that S. 2- A of the Act, was a step in the implementation of the agrarian reforms and hence it was protected by Art. 31-A of the Constitution. In regard to the second contention, it was argued on behalf of the State that until and unless a ryotwari patta was granted under the provisions of the Act all the lands continue to inam lands and hence S. 2-A would apply to all the lands held by the petitioners. For this proposition, reliance was placed on the decision of a Full Bench of this Court in Y. Veeramma v. R. Surdudamma, : AIR1972AP161 , where it was held that the Abolition Act does not affect the effacement of the Inam tenure from the date of the passing of the Act and the conversion from inam tenure to ryotwari tenure takes place only from the date of the grant of the ryotwari patta. When these writ petitions came up before a Bench consisting of Kodaiah, J. (as he then was ) and Raghuvir, J., they felt that this decision requires reconsideration by a Full Bench> Accordingly, the writ petitions were heard by Full Bench consisting of Kuppuswami, J. (as he then was), Lakshmaiah and P.A. Chowdary, JJ. The full Bench was of the view that the writ petitions should be posted before a larger Full Bench consisting of five judges in order to decide whether the decision in Y. Veeramma V. R. Surdudamma (supra) is correct or not in so far as it decided that the Act does not affect the Effacement of the Inam tenure from the date of passing of the Act, and conversion into ryotwari tenure takes place from the date of grant of ryotwari patta. But, as the petitioners have raised several other questions peculiar to each of the writ petitions, the it was suggested that after the larger Full Bench for dealing with the petitions of on merits in the light of the decision of the Full Bench.
7. Accordingly these writ petitions were heard by a Full Bench of five Judges. The Full Bench held that the decision of the Full Bench in Y. Vceeramma V. R. Surdudamma : AIR1972AP161 (supra) is correct and does not require reconsideration and the question referred to was answered accordingly. In other words, the effect of the conversion in to ryotwari tenure and until conversion into ryotwari tenure takes place, the Inam tenure continues. The abolition of the Inam tenures would take place simultaneously or contemporaneously with the conversion of inam lands into ryotwari tenure. After the above opinion of the Full Bench was given, these writ petitions have been posted for hearing before this division Bench.
8. The contention that S. 2- A of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution, as no compensation is provided in respect of the lands mentioned in the said section which vests in the Government, is reiterated before us. On behalf of the State reliance is placed upon Art. 31-A of the constitution.
9. It may now be taken as fairly well settled by a series of decisions of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts that in order to have the protection of Art. 31-A of the Constitution, the legislation in question must be one relating to agrarian reforms. It may be noted, however, that the learned Government Pleader argued for the extreme position that it is not necessary that a law should be one relating to agrarian reforms in order to attract the provisions of Art. 31-A of the Constitution. We are not inclined to agree wit this contention. We will be dealing in detail with this part of the argument in a later part of the judgment We therefore proceed on the footing that in order to seek the protection of Art. 31-A of the Constitution, the State has to satisfy us that the impugned provision is one relating to agrarian reforms.
10. The main Act was the subject of consideration by a Division Bench of this Court in Suranarayana V. State of Andh. Pra., : AIR1963AP105 , which upheld the validity of the Act. 31-A (2) the Act is not open to challenge even on the ground that no provision is made for payment of compensation.
11. The learned counsel for the Inamdars do not challenge the validity of the main Act or the correctness of the above decision, but submit that S. 2-A of the Act which was introduced much later, is not covered by the said decision and as it cannot be said to relate to agrarian reforms, it does not enjoy the protection of Art 31-A of the Act which was introduced much later , is not covered by the said decision and as it cannot be said to relate to agrarian reforms, it does not enjoy the protection of Art. 31-A of the Constitution. In S. N Medhi V. State of Maharastra, : AIR1971SC1992 , it was held that the protection of Art, 31-A is available not only to Acts which come within its terms but also to Acts which come within its terms but also to Acts amending such Acts to include new items of property or which change some detail of the scheme of the Act provided firstly that the change is not such as would take it out of Art. 31-A or by itself is not such as would not be protected by it and secondly that the assent of the President has been given to the amending statute. It a becomes therefore necessary to consider and determine whether S . 2- A introduced by the Amending Act itself is such as would be protected by art. 31-A that is, whether the Amending Act also relates to agrarian reforms.
12. It is argued on behalf of the Inamdars that Sec. 2-A has nothing to do with agrarian reforms, as envisaged by the parent Act. Act XXXVII of 1956 was introduced because certain inams escaped the provisions of the Estates Abolition Act, as they did not come within the definition of an 'estate' under that Act read with the Estates Land Act. It was felt that such inams also should be converted into ryotwari tenure. The main Act did not deal with land other than cultivable lands in the possession of the tenants, Inamdars, jagirdars, as the case may be. Under the amendment, however all communal lands, porambokes, grazing lands, waste lands, forest lands, mines and quarries, tanks beds and irrigation works, streams and river, fisheries and ferries in the inam lands shall stand transferred to the Government. By itself S. 2-A does not appear to have any relation to agrarian reforms. It is not for the purpose of converting those lands into ryotwari tenure that Section 2-A is enacted but to vest all these lands in the Government. Section 2-A in other words stands in isolation and does not fit in with the scheme of the parent Act. In this connection, reference is also made to the statement of objects and reasons of Act, 20 of 1975 introducing S.2-A which is in the following terms:
'The Andhra Pradesh (Andhra Area) Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1956, mainly provides for the abolition of all minor inams including charitable and religious service inams. In the case of inam lands in any inam village which are not held by an institution and are in occupation of tenants get ryotwari pattas for two-thirds of the lands and the Inamdars of one-third of the lands., If there are no tenants in occupation, the Inamdar gets a ryotwari patta for the entire extent. In case of inam lands in a ryotwari or zamindari village, the Inamdars get the patta in respect thereof. In other words, in the case of inam village, the Act recognises the existence of occupancy rights a favour of the tenants, whereas it does not recognise the existence of such rights in the case of inam lands in the case of inam lands in the ryotwari and zamindari villages. There are, however certain inam lands in the ryotwari and zamindari villages where tenants have been recognised to possess rights of permanent occupancy through custom having the force of law or by virtue of a Court's decree, etc.
The Government have, therefore, decided to amend the Act,
(1) to provide that where the Revenue Court after enquiry makes a declaration to the effect that tenants in inam lands in a ryotwari or zamindari village have possessed rights of permanent occupancy the provisions of the Act shall apply to such inam lands as if they were inam lands in inam villages, and that where pattas have already been granted to inamdars in such cases, such grant shall not affect the rights of permanent occupancy possessed by tenants;
(2) to provide for the vesting in the Government of communal lands in inams;
(3) to treat as Inamdars the persons, who in good faith and for valuable consideration have purchased unenfranschised inam lands from Inamdars other than institutions or the successors-in-title of such persons, for the purpose of this Act; and
(4) to confer on the Board of Revenue revisionary powers under the Act.
It is clear from the statement of objects and reasons that so far as the vesting in the Government of the lands described under S.2-A is concerned, it has no connection at all with the parent Act. As a matter of fact, para (2) of the Statement of objects and Reasons refers only to provide for the vesting of communal lands in inams. No reference at all is made to the other class of lands like forest lands, grazing lands, mines etc. Which are included in S. 2-A. It is therefore argued that S. 2-A by itself has no connection with any agrarian reforms nor has it anything to do with the scheme of agrarian reforms under the parent Act and hence the decision in Suryanarayana v. State of Andh. Pra. : AIR1963AP105 (supra) applying the provisions of Art 31-A to the parent Act is of no assistance to the State and S.2-A must be held to be outside the purview of Art. 31-A. In as much as admittedly no compensation is provided, it must be struck down.
13. On the other hand, it is contended on behalf of the State that the main object of introducing the Estates Abolition Act and the Inams Abolition Act of 1956 was to abolish all intermediary tenures and to assimilate all lands in the State to the ryotwari tenure. No doubt, in the main Act, no reference was made to the vesting of any categories of land in the Government. The scheme of the original Act was to convert inam lands into ryotwari lands and to grant pattas either in whole or in part to the Zamindar, Inamdar or to the tenant, as the case may be. It was also provided that in the case where Inamdar is entitled to patta for only one-third of the land, the one-third share of the inam land must be deemed to be the compensation payable to the Inamdars in lieu of the extinguishment of his right in the two -thirds of the land. It was however felt that in order to implement the agrarian reforms contemplated under the main Act, it was also necessary to vest all communal lands, porambokes, forest lands, grazing lands, etc., in the inams also in the State. It is not necessary to have a separate scheme of agrarian reforms to justify S. 2-A. As abolition of inams itself is a part of agrarian reforms, the process of such abolition would include vesting of all lands referred to in S. 2-A in the State. This would also partake the character of agrarian reform.
14. We now proceed to deal with the decisions cited on both sides in support of their respective contentions. The learned Government Pleader relied strongly on the decision in State of U. P. v. Anand Brahma, : 1SCR362 . The Uttar Pradesh Legislature passed the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950. By a notification dated 30-6-1953 the State of U. P. extended the provisions of the Act to apply to the areas to the south of Kaimur Range. In July, 1953, it issued another notification directing the vesting of all estates situated to the south of Kaimur including the Paragana Agori comprising of 123 villages, owned by the petitioner. It was contended by the petitioner that Pargana Agori was not an estate within the meaning of Sec. 3 (B) of the Reforms Act. On Jan. 1, 1964, the U. P. Act 1 of 1964 amended the definition of 'Estate' by which Pargana Agori also became an estate within the Reforms Act. It was contended that the impugned Act cannot be saved under Art. 31-A because it was not passed for agrarian reforms and secondly, included an area within the definition of 'estate' in the Reforms Act which is not an estate within the meaning of Article 31-A(2). The Supreme Court observed that Pargana Agori was a Jagir or inam within the meaning of Art. 31-A(2) and the notifications must therefore be upheld. Dealing with the argument that the acquisition of estate was not for the purpose of agrarian reforms because hundreds of square miles of forest area was sought to be acquired the Supreme Court observed (Para 29):
'As we held that the area in dispute is a grant in the nature of Jagir or inam, its acquisition like the acquisition of all Jagir inams or similar grants, was a necessary step in the implementation of the agrarian reforms and was clearly contemplated in Art. 31-A.'
The learned Government Pleader argued that the present case was practically on all fours with the above decision of the Supreme Court. The inams were sought to be abolished under the Act of 1956 and as these lands namely, the forest lands, grazing lands, communal and poramboke lands also form part of the grant in inam, even according to the Inamdars the amendment by introducing S. 2-A vesting all these lands in the Government is a necessary step in the implementation of the agrarian reforms contemplated by the main Act.
15. The learned counsel for the Inamdars, however, sought to distinguish the above decision by pointing out that the parent Act did not deal with the vesting of the inam lands in the State as was the case before the Supreme Court. The parent Act, in the present case only provided for conversion of the inam lands into ryotwari tenure and conferring a patta. It cannot, therefore, be said that vesting of forest lands, etc. Was a part of the implementation of the scheme under the parent Act.
16. The learned counsel for the Inamdars, on the other hand, drew our attention to a number of decisions of the Supreme Court which, according to them, support their contention and many of which distinguished the earlier decision of the Supreme Court in State of U. P. v. Anand Brahma : 1SCR362 (supra).
17. In M. R. & Produce Co. V. State of Kerala, : 1SCR399 , dealing with the Kerala Land Reforms Act, the Supreme Court observed in para 17 that the lands which are held or let for the purpose of agriculture would come under Art. 31-A(2)(iii) but waste lands, forest lands, land for pastures or sites of buildings and other structures occupied by cultivators of land etc. Would only be out out of the purview of Art. 31-A(2) if they are held on independent tenures and are not parts of land held or let for purposes of agriculture or for purposes ancillary thereto. The Supreme Court observed that that was the result of the decision in State of U. P. v. Anand Brahma (supra) where it was held that in case of grant of the nature of a Jagir or inam its acquisition for the purpose of agrarian reform would be protected under Article 31-A in spite of the fact that hundreds of square miles of forest land were comprised therein.
18. In Balmadies Plantation Ltd. V. State of Tamil Nadu, : 1SCR258 , the Supreme Court had to deal with the provision of acquisition of forests of Janmam land. While it held that the object and general scheme of the Act was for implementing the agrarian reforms and protected by Article 31-A, so far as the forests in Janmam estate are concerned their acquisition was not in furtherance of the object of agrarian reforms and was not protected by Article 31-A; in para 18, the Supreme Court observed:
'There is nothing in the Act to indicate as to what would be the purpose for which the said forest would be used after the transfer of Janmam land containing forests to the Government.....In the absence of anything in the Act to show the purpose for which the forests are to be used by the Government, it cannot be said that the acquisition of the forests in Janmam land would be for a purpose related to agrarian reform. The mere fact that the ownership of forests would stand transferred to the State would not show that the object of the transfer is to bring about agrarian reform. Augmenting the resources of the State by itself and in the absence of anything more regarding the purpose of utilisation of these resources, cannot be held to be a measure of agrarian reform. There is no material on the record to indicate that the transfer of forests from the Janmi to the Government is linked in any way with a scheme of agrarian reform or betterment of the village economy.'
19. Referring to State Of U. P. v. Anand Brahma : 1SCR362 the Supreme Court observed that the Court in that case was dealing with the acquisition of an estate which was a grant in the nature of jagiri or inam or similar grant and it was found that the acquisition was a necessary step in the implementation of agrarian reform, whereas in the case before them, they were not concerned with the Jagir or inam or other land and hence much assistance would not be derived from the decision in State of U. P. v. Anand Brahma.
20. The learned counsel for the inamdars submit that in the present case also except that the ownership of the forests, etc. Stands transferred to the Government, the purpose for which the forests are to be used is not indicated in the Act and there is no material to show that the transfer of the forests etc. Is linked in any way with a scheme of agrarian reform.
21. Another case in the same volume viz., K. D. H. P. Co. V. State of Kerala, : 1SCR356 is also relied on by the learned counsel for the petitioners. In that case, it was observed in para 64:
'If the State was to use lands for purposes which have no direct connection with the promotion of agriculture or welfare of agricultural population the State could be restrained from using the lands for those purposes. Any fanciful connection with these purposes would not be enough.'
Referring to State of U. P. v. Anand Brahma : 1SCR362 (supra) the Supreme Court held that the decision must be understood in the light of the provisions of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act 1950 which was enacted by the impugned U. P. Act 1 of 1964. The grant in the nature of Jagir in that case stood in the same position as all the big jagirs and zamindars in U. P. and it had never been urged that the Act of 1950 was not a measure of agrarian reform. It may be noted however, that the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court in K. D. H. P. Co. v. State of Kerala was to uphold the applicability of Article 31-A to Kannan Devan Hills (Resumption of Lands) Act which provides for reservation of lands for promotion of agriculture and for welfare of agricultural population and assignment of remaining lands to agriculturists and agricultural labourers which purposes were held to be covered by the expression, 'agrarian reforms.'
22. In State of Kerala v. G. R. Silk Mfg, (Wvg) Co., : 1SCR671 the Supreme Court had to deal with Kerala private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971 which purported to acquire forest land without payment of compensation. The Supermen Court found, on an examination of the provisions of the Act that the Act was for implementing a scheme of agrarian reform in assigning the lands on registry or by way of lease to poorer sections of the rural agricultural population. The Supreme Court observed that a fear was expressed when such a course if genuinely implemented it may lead to deforestation on a large scale leading to soil erosion and silting of rivers and streams and will actually turn out to be detrimental to the interests of the agricultural community in the long run. The Supreme Court, however, observed that it is for the legislature to balance the comparative advantages of a scheme against the possible disadvantages of resulting deforestation. It is presumed that the legislature knows needs of the people and will balance the present advantages against the possible future disadvantages. It was also observed that the conditions under which an assignment of forest land was to take place were prescribed by rules and the rules would have to be consistent for the purposes of this Act.
23. It is argued by the petitioners in this case that under the present Act, there is no scheme to assign the forest lands to agriculturists nor are there any rules providing for such an assignment. It is therefore submitted that if the object of the vesting of the forest and other lands in the Government is to enable it to enhance its revenue by cutting and selling the timber and by leasing the grazing lands, mines, etc. These purposes cannot be said to be purposes relating to agrarian reform. Krishna Iyer, J. Who delivered a separate judgement observed that agrarian reform is more humanist than mere land reform and, scientifically viewed, covers not merely abolition of intermediary tenures, zamindaris and the like but restructuring of village life itself. The concept of agrarian reform is a complex and dynamic one. In para 30, the learned Judge has given various illustrations of agrarian reforms. He however pointed out that in ascertaining whether the impugned enactment outlines a blue print for agrarian reform the Court will look to the substance of the statutory proposal and not its mere outward form. The Court should not be too gullible to accept a scheme of agrarian reform when it is nothing but a verbal subterfuge, but at the same time the Court should not be too astute to reject such a scheme because it is not satisfied with the wisdom of the scheme or its technical soundness. He also added that if the State Government merely goes on making money by cutting and selling the timber grown on forests without implementing the definite proposals of agrarian reform contemplated by the Act within reasonable time, it would be a subversion of the statute and in such a case it would be competent to the aggrieved parties to take legal action compelling the State to make good the statutory promise and to act in terms of the Act and if the forests are diverted for uses outside the scope of the Act, the Court could restrain the State from such illegitimate adventures.
24. As we have dealt with in detail cases dealing with acquisition of forest lands etc., which are directly in point, we do not consider it necessary to refer to other decisions cited by Sri P Kodandaramaiah, in support of the contention that unless the legislation is related to agrarian reform, it will not be protected by Article 31-A for instance Dy. Commr., Kamrup v. Durganath, : 1SCR561 where land was acquired for constructing a dam, Godavari Sugar Mills v. S. B. Kamble, : 3SCR885 where land was acquired for housing scheme etc. The petitioners also relied upon the decision of a Division bench of this Court in Jaganadha Rao v. State of A. P., (1972) 1 Andh Lt 270 in which the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area ) Inams Abolition Act, 1967 was held to be void. The Act vested all pasture lands, forest lands etc. In the Government but did not provide for any compensation. It is argued that Section 2-A is practically in the same terms as the Act whose validity was questioned in the above decision in so far as it related to acquisition of forest, grazing land etc. Without compensation and hence, in view of the above decision, Section 2-A must also be held to be void. A careful reading of the judgement, however, would disclose the essential difference between the two cases. As pointed out by the learned Judge in that case, the Andhra Pradesh (Telengana Area ) Abolition of Inams Act (VIII of 1955) was passed in 1955 and it came into force on 20th July, 1955. Under that Act all the inams were abolished but due to certain reasons, the enquiry which had to be made by the Collector in regard to grant of patta for their land not could they get compensation, as the relevant provisions were never brought in to force. As the property had vested in the Government they could not deal with it in any manner as they had no title or interest in the property. This position continued till the impugned legislation, viz. Act IX of 1967 was enacted. In the particular circumstances, the learned Judge held that there was no need to abolish the inams as they were already abolished long before the impugned Act was passed. The only purpose behind the impugned Act was to deprive the inamdars of the compensation. It was therefore held that the effect of the impugned Act is really not an agrarian reform but to destroy the rights of inamdars and others who were assured compensation under the repealed Act. Thus, although the Act pretended to enact a law relating to agrarian reform, it was a device to deprive the inamdars and other persons of their acquired rights under the repealed Act. The Act was therefore a colourable legislation, and hence not protected by Art, 31-A. We do not think that the petitioners' contention that the same considerations which applied in Jagannatha Rao v. State of A. P.(supra) prevail in this case also.
25. After a careful consideration of all the decisions cited by the counsel on either side, we are of the view that the contention of the State that Article 31-A is applicable as the amending Act relates to agrarian reform has to prevail. As pointed out earlier, the parent Act had to be enacted as it was found that certain inams and other intermediary tenures had escaped the provisions of the Estates Abolition Act. It was decided that these inams also should be abolished and the Act of 1956 was enacted. But at that time no provision was made with regard to forest land, grazing land., etc It was considered necessary that in order to effectively implement the agrarian reform envisaged by the parent Act by the abolition of the intermediary tenure and converting all the lands into ryotwari tenure all the forest lands, etc. Should also be vested in the Government. These lands also formed part of the grant, and, but for the amendment the lands would continue to be under inam tenure without being abolished or converted into ryotwari tenure. We are of the view that the decision in State of U. P. v. Anand Brahama : 1SCR362 (supra) is applicable to this case also. If these provisions had been enacted in the main Act itself, there cannot be any doubt that the entire Act including this provision would have been protected by Article 31-A of the Constitution as the Act was for implementing agrarian reform that is, to abolish the inam tenure. The mere fact that Section 2-A was introduced by way of amendment later would not in our view, make any difference. This circumstance that these lands form part of the inam and their vesting in the Government is an essential step in the implementation of the agrarian reform, namely, abolition of inam tenure is the circumstance decisions relied upon by the petitioners and brings it in line with the decision in State of U. P. v. Andnd Brahama (supra) relied on by the government. We therefore agree with the contention of the government that Article 31-A applies and hence the validity of Section 2-A beyond challenge by the petitioners. At the same time, we would like to observe that the vesting of the forests and other grazing lands must continue to be a part of agrarian reform and as has been repeatedly pointed by the supreme court in various decisions should not be used as a device to augment the revenue of the government by merely cutting the timber in the forests and selling it or deriving profit by leasing out for grazing, fisheries, etc. Irrespective of the fact whether they would help in agrarian reform. In this connection it has to be pointed out that no rules have been framed even though the amendment came into force in 1975. It is hoped that rules will be framed suitably so as to justify the stand taken by the government that vesting of these lands is also part of the agrarian reforms and measures will be taken to see that these lands are administered by the Government in order to effectuate the schemes of agrarian reform without being merely used as its sources of revenue by the Government.
26. In the view we have taken, it is strictly unnecessary for us to consider the extreme contention put forward by the learned Government Pleader that it is not necessary that a legislation is enacted relating to agrarian reform in order to come within the protection of article 31-A and it is sufficient if the conditions laid down in Article 31-A are satisfies. But since elaborate arguments have been addressed extending over a number of days, We consider it desirable to briefly refer to the decisions cited by the learned government pleader as well as those cited by the counsel of the petitioners on this aspect and express our views on this matter.
27. The learned government pleader pointed out that the language in Article 31-A does not warrant the imposition of a condition for its applicability that the impugned legislation should relate to agrarian reform as no reference at all is made to agrarian reform in that article. He refers to the earlier decision of the Supreme Court in Bhair bendra v. State of Assam, : 1965CriLJ608 , in which it was held that the Assam State Acquisition of Zamindaris Act was a law provisioned for acquisition of an estate within the meaning of Article 31-A and its constitutionality cannot be questioned on the ground of a contravention of any of the provisions of part III of the Constitution. He submitted that there is absolutely no reference to agrarian reforms in this decision. He submitted that it is true that in Atma Ram v. State of Punjab, : AIR1959SC519 dealing with Article 31-A the supreme court abserved that Article 31-A was enacted to save legislation effecting agrarian reforms. This was also the view taken in Kochuni's case : 3SCR887 in which it was observed that the object of Article 31-A was to bring about a change in agricultural economy and its scope cannot be extended by interpretation to overrule the object implicit in the article. The learned government pleader however drew our attention to the decision in Gangadhar Rao v. State of Bombay, : 1SCR943 and State of Bihar v. Rameswar Pratab, : 2SCR382 in which there was no reference to agrarian reforms and no reference was made to Kochuni's case. He also relied strongly on subsequent decisions of the Supreme court in state of Bihar v. Umesh Hja, : 2SCR687 , Sonapur Tea Co. V. Dy Commr., : 1SCR724 ; Jagvantsinghiv. State of Punjab, : 1SCR82 in which Hidayatullah, J. Observed as follows (para 11);
'There is reason to think that the Kochuni case was regarded on other occasions too, as one decided on its own facts.'
He also pointed out that though the decision in Sonapur tea company Ltd. V. Dy. Commissioner, : 1SCR724 was decided a year after kochuni case, there is no mention of the dicta in the former case. But it has to be noted that ultimately Hidayatullah, J. Observed that kichuni case cannot apply to cases where the general scheme of legislation is definitely agrarian reform and under its provisions something ancillary thereto in the interests of rural economy, has to be undertaken to give full effect to the reforms. He went on to add (para 13)
'The scheme of rural development today envisages not only equitable distribution of land so that there is no undue imbalance in society resulting in a landless class on the one hand and a concentration of land in the hands of a few on the other, but envisages also the raising of economic standards and bettering the rural health and social conditions. If agrarian reforms are to succeed, mere distribution of land to the landless is not enough. There must be a proper planing of rural economy and conditions....'
It is clear, therefore, that this decision cannot be relied on as an authority for the proposition that the law need not relate to agrarian reform in order to come within Article 31-A . All that is said that the expression 'agrarian reform' has to be understood in a very wide sense.
28. The learned counsel for the petitioners also relied strongly on the following observations of Beg, J. In State of Haryana v. Chanan Mal, : 3SCR688 (Para 34)
Article 31-A of the constitution is not confined to legislation for agrarian reform. Agrarian reform is only one of the possible or alternative objects of such acquisition'.
29. It is no doubt true that there are here and there observations of the supreme court in some cases which have the effect of throwing some doubt on the proposition that one of the prerequisites of the applicability of Article 31-A is that the legislation in question must relate to agrarian reform. But by and large the Supreme Court has stuck to the principles enunciated in the earlier cases that the legislation in question should be one relating to agrarian reform. In Vajravelu case : 1SCR614 it ws clearly laid down that Article 31-A of the Constitution s enacted only to implement agrarian reform which expression has to be given a comprehensive meaning so as to include the provisions made for the development of rural economy. The impugned enactment was sustained only on the ground that it was a necessary step in the implementation of the agrarian reform.
30. In Balmaldies Plantations v. State of Tamil Nadu : 1SCR258 (Supra) it was held that the object and general scheme of the Act showed that the acquisition of the estate was for implementing the agrarian reforms and that the Act was therefore protected by Article 31-A of the Constitution. Again in K. D. H. P. Co. V. State of Kerala (Air 1872 SC. 230) it was observed that the Act envisages reservation of land for promotion of agriculture and for welfare of agricultural population and assignment of remaining lands to agriculturists and agricultural labourers, and these purposes are covered by the expression 'agrarian reform' and the legislation in protected from challenge by Article 31-A It is unnecessary to multiply cases which are innumerable in which the Supreme Court always proceeded on the footing that the legislation, in order to come with Article 31-A should be shown to relate to agrarian reform. It is no doubt true that the expression 'agrarian reform,, has been held to be understood in a very wide sense, as pointed out by Hiddayatullah J. In Ranjit Singh v. State of Punjab : 1SCR82 (supra) and by Krishna Iyer J. In State of Kerala v. G. R. Silk Mfg. (Wvg) Co. : 1SCR671 (supra). We therefore think that it is too late in the day to contend that it is not necessary for the state of establish that the legislation relates to agrarian reform in order to come within the protection of Article 31-A. Anyhow, as we have already observed, it is not necessary to decide this question in view of our conclusion that the amending Act introducing Section 2-A is an Act relating to agrarian reform and is protected by Article 31-A.
31. It was also contended on behalf of the inamdars that the impugned orders either declaring the lands as forests, poramboke or waste lands or directing them to deliver possession of such lands were passed without notice to them and without giving them an opportunity to satisfy the authorities that they do not belong to any of the categories of lands mentioned in section 2-A of the Act they are entitled to a patta. It is therefore argued that even assuming that Section 2-A is not ultra vires, the impugned orders or notices have to be struck down.
32. In the Andhara Pradesh (Andhra Area) Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act , 1956, Section 3 provides for determination of the question whether a land is an inam land or whether such land is a ryotwari, Zamindari or inam village and whether it is held by any institution. Under Section 7, the Tahsildar shall after serving a notice on all the persons or institutions interested I the grant of ryotwari pattas in respect of the inam lands concerned and after giving them a reasonable opportunity of being heard and examining all the relevant records, determine the persons or institutions entitled to ryotwari pattas in accordance with the provisions of Section 4 and grant them ryotwari patta. An appeal is provided against the said order to the revenue court. This provision, on the face of it, deals only with an enquiry regarding the persons who are to be held entitled to a ryotwari patta in respect of the lands for which such a patta can be granted. After amendment by the introduction of Section 2-A of the Act transferring all communal, poramboke, waste and forest lands to the Government no separate provision was made for making an enquiry into whether a particular land belongs to the category of the lands mentioned in the section or not. It is possible that the Government may claim that certain lands are poramboke lands or forest lands etc., but the inamdar may question such a claim and contend that it does not along to any of those categories, but is a cultivable land. It pointed out by the jamindars that there is no provision for an enquiry into the nature of the land, if there is any such dispute. It is however well settle that even where there is no express provision in a statue providing for a notice to the aggrieved party or an opportunity being given to him the statute has to be so interpreted so as to be I consonance with the principles of natural justice. We are of the view that the enquiry under S. 7 must I the circumstances be so construed as to include an enquiry into the nature of the lands. The learned Government pleader having regard to the state of authorities and in view of the fact that large items of property of the inamdars are being acquired without compensation under Section 2-A of the Act and the principles of natural justice require that they should be given notice and an opportunity to satisfy the authorities that the lands do no come under the category of the lands mentioned in Section 2-A rightly admitted before us, that Section 7 should be so construed as to include a determination of the question whether the lands from which the inamdars are sought to be dispossessed fall under the category of section 2-A or whether they are lands, for which they are entitled to patta. In all those cases, therefore, where the Tahsildar has come to the conclusion that the lands are poramboke, forest lands or grazing ands, without giving a notice and an opportunity to the inamdars to satisfy him to the contrary or has issued a notice of eviction without without such enquiry, w direct that the inamdars if so advised, may prefer an appeal under Section 7(2) of the Act, and the appellate authority will giv them an opportunity and oral, to satisfy the authority that the lands do not fall under the category of lands mentioned in Section 2-A but are cultivable lands to which he inamdars are entitled to patta either in whole or in pat. It is true that in the normal course, as no notice was given by the Tahsildar, we would have quashed the notices and directed him to issue a notice to show cause why the lands should not be taken possession of by the Government as having vsted in them under Section 2-A. But having regard to the long time that has elapsed since the date of the issue of notices which were in 1976 or 1977, we consider, in the interests of all parties, that it is sufficient instead of quashing the notices to allow the inamdars to prefer an appeal and direct the appellate authority to conduct the enquiry after giving an opportunity to the inamdars to lead evidence. As the inamdars have failed substantially in the writ petitions, the writ petitions are dismissed subject to the above directions. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/- in each.
33. In view of the fact that we are now directing by this judgment that the inamdars should prefer an appeal against the orders, we direct that the appeal should be entertained if made within sixty days from today.
34. In W. P. Nos. 2788 and 1269 of 1976 however we find from the records that an appeal was preferred against that order of the Tahsildar which was treated as an appeal under Section 7(2) of the Act, evidence was let in and the appellate authority after considering the evidence, dismissed the appeal and further revision petition also was dismissed. Hence, both these writ petitions are dismissed, but without the directions given in the other writ petitions. There will be no order as to costs. Advocate's fee Rs.100 in each.
35. In W. P. No. 1225 of 1978 it has been brought to our notice that patta was granted to the inamdar. It is also admitted in the counter-affidavit. Subsequently, even the land acquisition proceedings were taken on the footing that the land belongs to the inamdar. Hence it is clear that is has already becomes ryotwari land vested in the inamdar. The impuged notice treating it as one fallen under Section 2-A is therefore clearly invalid. The W. P. Is allowed but in the circumstances, without costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100/-
36. Order accordingly.