Jagdish Sahai, A.C.J.
1. TheAgricultural and Industrial SyndicateLimited Saharanpur (hereinafter referred to us the petitioner) holds about 2,000 acres of land. Under the provisions of the Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act), the prescribed Authority after hearing the petitioner, carved out some land as 'surplus land' from its holding. Dissatisfied with the order of the prescribed Authority, the petitioner appealed to the District Judge, Saharanpur under the provisions of Section 13 of the Act, who relying upon Kali Prasad v. State of Uttar Pradesh. 1964 All LJ 896 dismissed it on January 31, 1964.
2. The petitioner then filed writ petition No. 1701 of 1964 in this Court which came up for hearing before a learned single Judge, who referred the case to a Division Bench. On a reference made by the Division Bench the matter has come before us.
3. While the case was still pending before the learned Single Judge, on 18-9-1967 the petitioner made an amendment application to the writ petition for the incorporation in it of the plea that thevillage in which the holding is situate having come under consolidation operations by virtue of the notification dated 13-3-1959, the proceedings under the Act had to be stayed under Section 5 of the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act hereinafter referred to as the Consolidation Act. This amendment was allowed.
4. Two questions were canvassed before the learned Single Judge. The first one related to the correctness or otherwise of the Full Bench decision of this Court in Raja Yuverai Datt Singh v. Prescribed Authority, 1968 All LJ 292 = (AIR 1968 All 305) (FB) by which the earlier decision in 1964 All LJ 896 was overruled. The other one was whether the proceedings under the Act would have to be abated under the provisions of Section 5 of the Consolidation Act.
5. On the first question it has been admitted at the Bar that the decision recorded by the Full Bench in 1968 All LJ 292 = (AIR 1968 All 305) (FB) (supra) is correct and does not require reconsideration. We are in agreement with that decision.
6. Coming to the second question, it may be pointed out that the Act and the Consolidation Act are two special statutes passed by the U. P. Legislature. The long title of the Act provides for the imposition of ceiling on land holdings in Uttar Pradesh and certain other matters connected therewith. The preamble of the Act reads:--
'Whereas it is necessary in the interest of the community to ensure increased agricultural production and to provide land for landless agricultural labourers and for other public purposes as best to subserve the common good;
And whereas a more equitable distribution of land is essential;
And, wherefore it is expedient to provide for the imposition of ceiling on land holdings in Uttar Pradesh for the aforementioned purposes;'
The short title of the Act is 'The Uttar Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act.' This Act was passed in 1960 and was enforced some time in January 1961.
7. The Consolidation Act was passed in 1953 and was enforced some time in 1954. The long title of the Consolidation Act is 'an Act to provide for the consolidation of agricultural holdings in Uttar Pradesh for the development of agriculture.' The preamble is 'whereas it is expedient to provide for the consolidation of agricultural holdings in Uttar Pradesh for the development of agriculture.' The short title is 'the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1953.'
8. It is well settled that the long title, the short title and the preambleprovide a key to the interpretation of a statute. The provisions of the two Acts also reveal that the objects of the two statutes under consideration are very different from each other. Whereas the purpose of the Act is to carve out 'surplus land' from the holding of a tenure-holder so that it could be distributed to the landless labourers or be utilised for public purpose; the sole function of the Consolidation Act is to consolidate the scattered holdings in existence in Uttar Pradesh. It is trite that the authorities functioning under both the Acts are Tribunals of limited jurisdiction. It is well settled that limited Tribunals must act within the strict limits of the power or authority conferred upon them. (See A. V. D.' Costa v. B. C. Patel, AIR 1955 SC 412).
9. The only submission of Mr. Kazmi. the learned counsel for the petitioner, is that by virtue of the provisions contained in Section 5 of the Consolidation Act all proceedings including proceedings under the Act have to be stayed to be ultimately abated. Section 5 of the Consolidation Act as it now stands, so far as relevant for our purposes, reads:
'(2) Upon the said publication of the notification under Sub-section (2) of Section 4 the following further consequences shall ensue in the area to which notification relates, namely--
(a) every proceeding for the correction of records and every suit and proceeding in respect of declaration of rights or interest in any land lying in the area, or for declaration or adjudication of any other right in regard to which proceedings can or ought to be taken under this Act, pending before any court or authority whether of the first instance or of appeal, reference or revision, shall, on an order being passed in that behalf by the court or authority before whom such suit of proceeding is pending, stand abated; (underlined by us)
Provided that no such order shall be passed without giving to the parties notice by post or in any other manner and after giving them an opportunity of being heard;
Provided further that on the issue of a notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 6 in respect of the said area or part thereof, every such order in relation to the land lying in such area or part as the case may be, shall stand vacated;
(b) Such abatement shall be without prejudice to the rights of the persons affected to agitate the right or interest in dispute in the said suits or proceedings before the appropriate consolidation authorities under and in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the rules made thereunder.'
Section 49 of the Consolidation Act reads:
'49. Bar to Civil Court jurisdiction--
Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the declaration and adjudication of rights of tenure-holders in respect of land lying in an area, for which a notification has been issued under Section 4, or adjudication of any other right arising out of consolidation proceedings and in regard to which a proceeding could or ought to have been taken under this Act, shall be done in accordance with the provisions of this Act and no Civil or Revenue Court shall entertain any suit or proceeding with respect to rights in such land or with respect to any other matters for which a proceeding could or ought to have been taken under this Act.'
(underlined by us)
It was held by the Full Bench in Badal v. Deputy Director of Consolidation, 1970 All LJ 510 (FB) that the provisions of Sections 5 and 49 of the Consolidation Act are complementary to each other and that when the two are read together, stayed is a proceeding in respect of which consolidation authorities can give relief or it becomes apparent that what can be are competent to adjudicate. That is the effect of the words underlined by us above.
10. In the present case the right to decide whether there is 'surplus land' and to carve it out from the holding of a tenure-holder has been conferred upon the authorities functioning under the provisions of the Act and not on the authorities created by the Consolidation Act. The two acts operate in two different fields and the Tribunals created under both the Acts must strictly act within the limits of their jurisdiction.
11. Mr. Kazmi has placed reliance upon Ram Das v. State of Uttar Pradesh. 1968 RD (All) 344 where a Division Bench of this Court applied the bar of Section 5(b) (ii) of the Consolidation Act to proceedings before ceiling authorities. It was observed as follows in that case:
'Once in an objection under Section 10 the appellant took the stand that what was recorded in his name in the record of rights did not actually constitute his holding, it necessarily raised a dispute which required to be stayed under Section 5(b) (i) of the U. P. Consolidation of Holdings Act reproduced above. On that point there has been no serious controversy before us by the other side either.'
With great respect to the learned Judges who decided Ram Das's case we are unable to subscribe to their viewsThere can be cases where there might be some overlapping or conflict in the administration of two special Acts. In such cases in order to decide which special Act will govern the controversy in question one has to find out the 'pith and substance' of the controversy and the principal question involved in the case. It is trite that the two special Acts must be read together harmoniously. If a person makes an objection under Section 10 of the Consolidation Act to the effect that he is the tenure-holder of a land by ignoring the provisions of the Act and by including the 'surplus land' in his holding, the consolidation authorities would have no jurisdiction to decide the matter relating to 'surplus land' and will have to proceed on the footing that the land declared 'surplus' does not belong to the tenure-holder. The consolidation authorities can only consolidate what belongs to the tenure-holder and cannot consolidate the land which has been declared 'surplus' and for that reason belongs to the government. The consolidation authorities have no jurisdiction either to question the correctness of the declaration relating to the surplus land or to decide a matter under the Act in the name of deciding a dispute under the Consolidation Act. The provisions of the Consolidation Act cannot be read so as to render the Act repealed or inoperative. When a person, by ignoring an order passed by the prescribed authority and confirmed by the District Judge under the provisions of the Act, claims the 'surplus land' to be his, the principal question for decision is as to whether the land has been validly declared 'surplus' and the adjudication of that question is beyond the jurisdiction of the consolidation authorities. It might appear to be a case of apparent conflict or overlapping between the two statutes, but inasmuch as the pith and substance of such a controversy is whether the land has been validly declared as 'surplus' consolidation authorities would have no jurisdiction to decide it.
12. It may be added that as was held by the Full Bench of this Court in 1970 All LJ 510 (FB) (supra) the jurisdiction of the courts or authorities is barred only in respect of matters which can validly be decided or adjudicated upon by consolidation authorities either fully or substantially. The question of 'surplus land' can neither substantially nor fully be decided by consolidation authorities. The provisions of Section 5 of the Consolidation Act cannot therefore be attracted to the present case.
13. If Mr. Kazmi's arguments were accepted or effect were to be given to 1968 RD (All) 344 (supra), the result would be that the Act would become adead letter and the petitioner would save 2,000 acres of land without any part of his holding being declared 'surplus'. It is well known that ceiling and consolidation operations are going on throughout the State. If ceiling proceedings are abated under Section 5 of the Consolidation Act there would be no ceiling operations in the whole State, which would result in making the Act dead or ineffective or repealed. This would not be reading of the two Acts harmoniously. The two Acts must co-exist. We, there fore overrule 1968 RD 344 (All) (supra).
14. It may be added that the objection that proceedings under the Act had to be stayed under Section 5 of the Consolidation Act was taken neither before the prescribed authority nor the District Judge and has been taken for the first time in the writ petition in this Court. As the words underlined by us in Section 5 would show, what can be abated are proceedings relating to correction of records and every suit and proceedings in respect of declaration of rights or interest in any land.....or for declaration or adjudication of any other right in regard to which proceedings can be taken under this Act pending before any court or authority whether of the first instance or of appeal reference or revision ......' In theinstant case, the High Court is neither the court of first instance nor of appeal nor of revision. The proceedings for declaring surplus land are neither proceedings for correction of records nor are they in the nature of suit or proceedings is respect of declaration of right or interest in any land, nor do they contemplate an action with regard to which proceedings can or ought to be taken under the Consolidation Act. In our opinion, therefore. Section 5 does not apply to the facts before us.
15. We would also like to point out that inasmuch as objection was not taken before the prescribed authority or the District Judge, their orders cannot be considered to be without jurisdiction and the proceedings before them, which are now over, cannot be abated. Even on the assumption that Section 5 of the Consolidation Act applies to the facts of the present case, the orders of the ceiling authorities would not be without jurisdiction. We find support for this view from Bahadur v. Bachai 1962 All LJ 817 = (AIR 1963 All 186) and Lakhpat Singh v. Dal Singh, 1964 All LJ 1049.
16. Learned counsel for the parties have jointly stated that no other question is involved in this writ petition. The learned District Judge has in his judgment committed an error in so far as he has not followed the Full Benchdecision of this Court in 1968 All LJ 292 = (AIR 1968 All 305) (FB) (supra). We, therefore, allow this writ petition, quash the order of District Judge dated 31st January, 1964 and direct him to rehear the appeal and decide it afresh, keeping in mind the decision recorded by this Court in 1968 All LJ 292 = (AIR 1968 All 305) (FB) (supra). It will be open to the petitioner to choose the plots or parts of plots which it would like to retain with itself, so long as the area thereof does not exceed the area which it is entitled to retain under the Act. In the circumstances of the case we direct the parties to bear their own costs.
17. We further direct that the proceedings before the consolidation authorities shall remain staved until the ceiling matter has been decided by the District Judge.