P. Chandra Reddy, C.J.
1. The question to be answered by the Full Bench is whether the State Government has power to revise the rents fixed under a notification issued under Section 3 of the Madras Estates Land (Reduction of Rent) Act, XXX of 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) to the detriment of the landholder.
2. For an appraisal of the points calling for determination, it is necessary to state a few material facts. Junjeru village is an inam estate in the Ban-dar taluk of Krishna District. The provisions of the Act were made applicable to this village by a notification issued in G. O. Ms. No. 505, Revenue, dated 14th March, 1949. This inam estate was taken over under the Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 on the 1st Octo- her 1951. The said notification was issued and duly published after following the procedure indicated in Sections 2 and 3 of the Act which will be read ' presently.
Ever since, the notification was being implemented and the rents so settled were being collected up to 1954. While so, representations were made by some of the ryots in the village that the rents fixed by the Government under the Act required further reduction for reasons which it is unnecessary to mention here. Thereupon the State Government directed the Special Officer to go into the matter afresh.
On further enquiry by the concerned officers, which resulted in the Board of Revenue recommending revision of rates, the Government decided to reduce the rents as requested by the ryots. Accordingly, notices were issued to the land-holder to show cause why a revision of rates as recommended by the Board of Revenue should not be effected. It is at that juncture that the petitioner approached this Court with a request to issue a writ of prohibition or any other appropriate writ, directing the Government of Andhra Pradesh not to proceed with the enquiry in pursuance of the notice dated the 29th February 1956.
3. Sri N. K. Acharya, appearing in support of the petition, contended that after the rents payable in respect of each class of ryoti land in the village were fixed, there was no power left in the Government to further reduce the rents, as the Act did not contemplate a second enquiry for revising the rates of rents already determined. When once the power conferred on the Government by Section 3 was exercised, it was exhausted and thereafter it was not competent for the Government to re-open the matter.
On the other hand, the stand taken by the Government is that such power exists, that without it the very object of the Act could be defeated and that it was open to the Government to reassess ' the rents if it appeared that the earlier determination was vitiated by a mistake or incorrect information obtained by the Special Officer. Indisputably, neither Section 2 nor Section 3 confers any power on the Government to modify or cancel any notification or to revise the rent once fixed. But we are invited to have recourse to Sections 13 and 15 of the Madras General Clauses Act. The question for consideration is which of the two contentions should prevail.
4. It is convenient here to extract the relevant provisions of the Act. Section 2, in so far GS it is relevant for the purpose of this enquiry, reads as follows :
'2 (1). The State Government may appoint a Special Officer For any estate or estates for the purpose, of recommending fair and equitable rates of rent for the ryoti lands in such estate or estates.
(2) The Special Officer shall first determine in respect of each village (hereinafter in this section referred to as principal village) in an estate (a) the average rate of cash rent per acre prevailing at the com mencement of this Act, for each class of ryoti land in the principal village, such as wet, dry, and garden.
xx xx xx(b) the average rate of assessment per acre prevailing at such commencement in respect of each of the said classes of land in the nearest ryotwari area in which conditions are generally similar to those obtaining in the principal village.
(3) The Special Officer shall then compare the average rates of cash rent as determined under Clause (a) of Sub-section (2) with the average rates of assessment as determined under Clause (b) of that Sub-section, and after making due allowance for any difference in the conditions prevailing inthe two cases, and also in cases falling under theproviso to Clause (a) of Sub-section 2, for any difference in the conditions prevailing in the village referred to in that proviso and in the principal village,determine (i) the extent, if any, to which the ratesof rent payable for each class of ryoti land in theprincipal village should in his opinion, be reduced,and (ii) the rates of rent payable for each suchclass of land after such reduction,
xx xx xx(4) Where the conditions in a group of two or more villages in an estate are generally similar, the Special Officer may perform the functions under Sub-sections 2 and 3 in respect of such group of villages as a whole, instead of separately in respect of each village in the group.'
We will now look at the material portions of Section 3 :
'3 (1) After completing his work in any estate, the Special Officer shall submit his recommendations to the State Government through the Board of Revenue specifying (i) the extent, if any, to which the rents for each class of ryoti land in each village or group of villages in the estate should in his opinion, be reduced and (ii) the rate of rent payable for each such class after such reduction.
Provided that, with the approval of the Board of Revenue, recommendations may be made under this sub-section separately, in respect of portions of an estate.
(2) After considering the recommendations ofthe Special Officer and the remarks of the Boardof Revenue thereon, the State Government shall, byorder published in the Fort St. George Gazette, fixthe rates of rent payable in respect of each classof ryoti land in each village in the estate,
xx xx xx(3) An order under Sub-section 2 shall take effect from the commencement of the fasli year 1357.
(4) After such an order has taken effect in respect of any estate or portion of an estate, the rents due in respect of ryoti lands in such estate or portion with effect from the commencement of the fasli year 1357 as well as the rents which have fallen or may fall due in respect of such lands for any fasli subsequent to fasli 1357 until the commencement of the fasli year in which the estate may be finally taken over by the State Government and any interest payable on such rents under Sub-section 6 shall be recovered by the State Government as if such rents and interest were arrears of land revenue due to them; and the amount so recovered in respect of each fasli, after deducting therefrom the cost of such recovery as determined in accordance with such rules as may be made by the State Government in that behalf, and also the peshkash, cesses and other moneys due from the land-holder to the State Government and constituting a charge on the estate shall be paid to the land-holder.'
It is seen that these sections provide a machinery for the ascertainment of the rents prevailing at the commencement of the Act in respect of each class-. of ryoti land in the principal village and also in the nearest ryotiwari area etc., and for fixing the rate payable in respect of each class of ryoti land after suitably reducing them. It is also plain that before an order under Sub-section 3 is made, an elaborate process is to be gone through. Further the State Government is constituted an agent of the landholder for the purpose of collecting the rents as reduced.
5. We have now to decide whether the rates as fixed under the Act have acquired finality or whether they could he revised from time to time. As we have already remarked, the statutory provisions extracted above do not clothe the Government with such an authority. It is for that reason that we are asked to invoke Sections 13 and 15 of the Madras General Clauses Act. Section 13 says :
'Where an Act confers a power or imposes a duty then the power may be exercised and the duty shall be performed from time to time as occasion requires.'
Section 15 runs as follows :
'Where an Act confers a power to make any rules or bye-laws, or to issue Notification or orders, the power shall be construed as including a power cxercisable in the like manner and subject to the like consent and conditions, if any, to rescind, revoke, amend or vary the rules, bye-laws, Notification or orders.'
We do not think that resort to Section 13 is of any avail in this case for the reason that this is not a case of exercising power or performing a duty from time to time as occasion requires. Further we will presently show that this could not be extended to the Act. The reasons adduced in support of exclusion of Section 15 apply with full force to this Section also. Therefore, we need not pause to decide whether Section 13 could be usefully resorted to. If it is permissible to incorporate Section 15 into the relevant sections of the Act, that will surely come to the rescue of the Government. But the question is whether Sections 2 and 3 of the Act could he construed with reference to this section.
6. It should he borne in mind that Section 15 only enunciates a rule of construction and it must have relation to the context and the subject of an enactment. This Section could be invoked only it there is nothing repugnant in the context of the statute to which it is sought to be applied.
7. The learned Government Pleader urges that these provisions of the General Clauses Act have to be necessarily imported into the Act and, to substantiate this proposition, he drew our attention to a ruling of the Madras High Court and to that of our High Court.
8. In Parthasarathy Mudaliar v. The State of Madras, (1958) 8 STC 632 (Mad), it was decided by a Bench of the Madras High Court that Section 6 of the Madras General Sales Tax Act, which empowered the State Government to grant exemptions in regard to certain specified class of vegetables etc., could he read in conjunction with Section 15 of the Madras General Clauses Act and, therefore, the power granting exemption was not exhausted when a notification was issued and that the notification could be amended by a further notification excluding from its scope certain classes of articles.
9. Likewise, a Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Venkateswara Rao v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1958-1 Andh WR 480, ruled that the power vested in the Government by Section 43 of the Madras District Municipalities Act to distribute wards was not exhausted when once a distribution was effected and that the Government could redistribute the wards before the date of the ordinary elections to the Council, having regard to Section 13 of the Madras General Clauses Act.
These cases do not give us any assistance in deciding whether recourse could be had to Sections 13 and 15 of the Madras General Clauses Act in construing the provisions of a particular Act. In those cases, Sections 13 and 15 were resorted to, as there was nothing in the enactments to exclude the applicability of those sections. The applicability of those Sections depends upon the subject matter and the context of the main enactment.
In order to judge whether the application of Section 15 is repugnant to the subject, Courts will have to examine the scheme and object of the Act. It is incontrovertible that these sections could be read into any enactment if the context requires it. But it is not an invariable rule that it should be imported into each and every statute, irrespective of whether the context or the subject warrants it or not.
10. Authorities are not wanting for this view of ours. In Dulichand v. Commr. of Income-tax, (S) : 29ITR535(SC) , the Supreme Court held that the definition of a partner contained in Section 3 (42) of the General Clauses Act could not be read into the Partnership Act as it would be repugnant to Partnership law. See Sheodayal Khemka v. Joharmull Manmull, ILR 50 Cal 549: (AIR 1924 Cal 74), Ashalata Roy v. Society for the Protection of Children in India, ILR 58 Cal 15: (AIR 1930 Cal 397), and also a judgment of this Court in T.R.C. 24 of 1958.
11. If the legislature manifests a contrary intention, recourse will not be had to those sections. No doubt, it is difficult to say that there is anything repugnant in Section 3 of the Act itself, which will exclude the application of the rule of construction underlying that Section. Is there anything, however, repugnant in the subject of the Act which can lead to the view that the operation of that Section was to he excluded? That such an inten-tion is implicit in the Act could be gathered from the scope and the scheme of the Act.
12. We may notice here the statement of objects and reasons for the Bill, which eventually became Act XXX of 1947 :
'It is the policy of the Government to replace the zamindari by the ryotwari system at the earliest possible date. It will however take some time to pass the requisite legislation on the subject and to bring it into force in all the estates in the province.
'The agrarian situation in estates especially in the Circars is worsening day by day and there is a growing agitation for the reduction of the high rents which prevail now. The Government consider that some immediate relief should be given to ryots and the object of this hill is to provide for the reduction of rents in estates roughly to the level of the assessment prevailing in the neighbouring ryotwari areas. After the assessment has been finally fixed, the rights inter se of the land-holders and the ryots in respect of the intervening period commencing with the current fasli will be suitably adjusted.'
13. It is apparent that the Act was conceived only as a temporary measure and was to be of short duration, that is, till the assessment was finally fixed. This was enacted only pending the passing of requisite legislation to replace the zamindari system by the ryotwari system and to give immediate relief to the concerned ryots. After the ryotwari settlement is effected in the estates, the land revenue payable to Government will be calculated on the basis indicated in Section 23 of the Estates Abolition Act.
That would also provide the basis for the computation of the compensation payable to the landholder. Thereafter, the land-holder goes out of the picture. In these circumstances, it is reasonable to suppose that the legislature had not contemplated the constant revision of rates of rent. When once the rents were reduced in accordance with the provisions of the Act, a finality is reached for the purpose of that Act and the officers concerned could not go on revising the rates.
If effect were to be given to the argument advanced on behalf of the Government, the revenue payable to Government calculated on the basis of these rents and even the compensation computed in the light thereof are also not final and could be disturbed, which could not have been the intend-ment of this legislative measure.
14. Another consideration pertinent to this enquiry is that there is no provision in the statute enabling the land-holder to enhance the rents once settled under the Act on the ground of mistake or for any other cause. That being so, could it be said that a right should be conceded to ryots who could move the Government to cut down the rents further, In our judgment, it could not have been within the contemplation of the legislature to be-slow such a right on royts while denying it to the land-holder.
15. There is an additional reason and a weighty one too for excluding the operation of the material provisions of the Madras General Clauses Act in this regard. The purpose of issuing a fresh notification after a further enquiry is to nullify the previous determination and also to reduce the rents further, which will result in the land-holder being required to make over the amount paid to him in excess of the rents as further reduced. Such an effect cannot be attributed to Section 15 because it cannot be interpreted as having retrospective ope-ration.
This is the principle enunciated by the Supreme Court in Strawboard . v. Gulta Mill Workers' Union, : (1953)ILLJ186SC , which was followed in M. S. U. Mills v. Industrial Tribunal Jaipur, . There is no distinct provision in Section 15 of the Madras General Clauses Act to the effect that the power of modification or amendment conferred on the Government should have retrospective operation. Since Section 15 cannot operate retrospectively, it could not be read into Sections 2 and 3 of the Act.
16. The learned Government Pleader has relied on Section 4 of Madras Act XXXIX of 1951 amending Act XXX of 1947, which contained a provision for adjustment of rent paid by a ryot in excess of the rent payable under the provisions of the principal Act in support of his proposition. We do not think that the amending Act renders any assistanee to the Government in this behalf.
The insertion of that Section shows that the legislature was conscious of the fact that the Act excluded the operation of Section 15 of the Madras General Clauses Act and therefore they had to make a specific provision for adjusting the excess rent towards the rent fixed under the principal Act. It is unnecessary to labour this point any further. In our opinion, when once the rents were determined under the Act and a notification was issued and duly published, the power of the Government is exhausted.
17. In the result, a writ will issue as prayed for. No costs.