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Banshidhar Vs. Smt. Dhirjadbari and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
Overruled ByDeo Nandan v. Ram Saran
SubjectProperty
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 2647 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1971All526
ActsTenancy Law; Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950 - Sections 134, 137 and 230
AppellantBanshidhar
RespondentSmt. Dhirjadbari and ors.
Advocates:N.D. Ojha, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....in satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the declaration mentioned insection 134, he shall grant a certificate to that effect' under sub-section (2) of section 137, upon the grant of the certificate under sub-section (1)' the sirdar shall, from the date on which the amount is deposited, become and be deemed to be a bhumidhar of the holding in respect of which the certificate has been granted and shall be liable to pay only one-half of the amount of the land revenue previously payable by him. rule 118 (4) provides that, where the assistant collector is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a declaration he shall grant a declaration to that effect'.rule 119 provides that the declaration shall be granted in z. ' 13. these provisions disclose a well defined scheme that a sirdar..........in satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the declaration mentioned insection 134, he shall grant a certificate to that effect' under sub-section (2) of section 137, 'upon the grant of the certificate under sub-section (1)' the sirdar shall, from the date on which the amount is deposited, become and be deemed to be a bhumidhar of the holding in respect of which the certificate has been granted and shall be liable to pay only one-half of the amount of the land revenue previously payable by him.section 230 of the act confers upon the state government rule making powers to carry into effect the provisions of this act. sub-section (2) thereof specifically authorises the state government to make rules to provide, for, inter alia, the form and procedure in which the application under.....
Judgment:
H. Swarup, J.

1. I have had the advantage of going through the proposed judgments of brothers Satish Chandra and A. K. Kirty, I entirely agree with them in the conclusion proposed and the reasons given for the same. I would, however like to add the following paragraph:

Section 134 (1) of the U. P. Zamin-dari Abolition and Land Reforms Act entitled a Sirdar, on fulfilling the conditions mentioned therein, to a declaration that he had acquired, in respect of the land, the rights mentioned in Section 137, i.e. the Bhumidhari rights. Section 137 (1) casts on the Assistant Collector the duty to make the declaration and certify it. The order of the Assistant Collector making the declaration tantamounts to the grant of certificate and the Sirdar must be deemed to acquire Bhumidhari rights upon the passing of the order. The 'sanad' provides only the documentary evidence of the fact that the declaration has been made and certified. The rights accrue on the making and certification of the declaration and do not remain in abeyance till the issuance of the certificate.

Kirty, J.

2. I fully agree with the conclusions arrived at by my brother Satish Chandra. I, however, desireto add some additional reasons as they occur to me.

3. Under Sections 134 and 139, Sirdars belonging to the categories mentioned therein have been given absolute and unfettered statutory right to acquire bhumidhari rights on payment of defined sums. Once the requisite sum has been deposited by a sirdar applying for acquisition of bhumidhar's rights, he acquires a vested and indefeasible right to become a bhumidhar. The granting of such right is not a matter of discretion nor an act of grace on the part of the State Government. The satisfaction of the Assistant Collector under Section 137 appears to be only for the purpose of ensuring that the person seeking to acquire the right has fulfilled the requisite conditions as to his being a Sirdar of the required category and as to his having deposited the requisite sum. Neither Section 134 nor 137 requires 'certificate' to be granted in any manner or in any form as may be prescribed by the rules made under the Act. Sub-section (1) of Sections 134 and 137 are tautological in so far as entitlement to declaration of acquisition of bhumidhari right is concerned. Section 134 (1) refers to entitlement to a 'declaration that he has acquired the rights mentioned in Sections 137 .....', Section 137 (1) refers back to Section 134 and requires the Assistant Collector to be satisfied that the applicant 'is entitled to the declaration mentioned in Section 134'. It is, therefore clear that the right to acquire bhumidhari flows from Section 134 itself and the 'grant of certificate' under Section 137 (1) is merely a certificate that the applicant concerned fulfils the requirements of Section 134 and thus has become entitled to be declared a bhumidhar. Once, and as soon as, this is done, Sub-section (2) of Section 137 automatically comes into play. The rules made under Section 230 cannot in any way alter, affect, delay or defer the acquisition of bhumidhari right by a Sirdar under Section 134.

4. Once a Sirdar qualified to acquire Bhumidhari rights under Section 134 voluntarily elects to acquire such rights, makes the necessary application and deposits the requisite sum it is not open to him to retract. Such right to withdraw the application and to seek refund of the deposit can be conceded only on the hypothesis that until accepted it remains an offer only. If any such right is conceded, it will necessarily have to be held that the granting of bhumidhari right to a Sirdar is itself a discretionary act on the part of the State Government. To hold so would be to allow infiltration of riders which the legislature has not provided for in the material Sections, viz. Sections 134 to 139. Except as provided in Section 137-A for cancellation of certificates and refund of deposits under the circumstances mentioned therein, there is no provision for refund of deposit. Further, whatever may the legal position otherwise be, it is not possible to hold that an applicant or his heir is still possessed of any right to withdraw the application and to ask for refund of the deposit even after the Assistant Collector acting tinder Section 137 (1) has granted a certificate that he is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a declaration that he has acquired bhumidhari rights.

Satish Chandra, J.

5. Udai Shanker held Khata No. 27/1 in village Bankata, District Basti, as a sirdar. On June 24, 1964 he made an application for being declared bhumidhar of the holding. He deposited ten times of the rent. Thereupon the same day. after scrutinizing the application, the Tahsildar ordered:

'Declared bhumidhar. Issue Sanad.'

6. Though the actual sanad was not issued, this order was given effect to by mutating the name of Udai Shanker in the revenue papers as bhumidhar in place of sirdar, and making him liable to pay half the rent only.

7. Udai Shanker made a similar application for being declared a bhumidhar in respect of another holding in another village. The Assistant Collector on August 16, 1965 passed a similar order declaring Udai Shankar to be Bhumidhar and directed the issue of the sanad, but we are not concerned with that holding in the present litigation.

8. Udai Shanker executed several sale deeds of plots of land appurtaining to the two holdings. The vendees obtained possession and applied for mutation. In due course, their names were also mutated in place of Udai Shankar. Udai Shankar died issueless on October 25, 1967. Before that, however, on January 28, 1967 he had executed a will in favour of the petitioners. The will was duly registered. It was provided in the will that the petitioner would maintain the testator's widow if she chose to live with him. In case she chose to live separately, the petitioner would pay her Rs. 60/- per month for her lifetime as maintenance allowance. The bhumidhari sanad in respect of the two holdings were not actually issued and delivered to Udai Shankar till his death on October 25, 1967; that is, for more than three years in one case and more than two years in the other.

9. After the death of Udai Shankar, his widow Smt. Dhirajadhari, respondent No. 1, moved an application before the Assistant Collector. She prayed that the bhumidhari certificates may not be prepared in respect of the two holdings. The ten-times of the rent deposited by her husband may be re-funded to her.

10. On 15th July 1968 the Assistant Collector rejected this application. He directed that the certificates be prepared in the name of Udai Shankar and issued to the successor of Udai Shankar. Feeling aggrieved Smt. Dhirajadhari filed a revision. The Commissioner made a reference to the Board of Revenue recommending that the order of the Tahsildar be set aside. The Board of Revenue was of the view that, since the bhumidhari sanads had not been issued till the death of Udai Shankar, he did not become a bhumidhar. He remained a sirdar. As such he was not competent to execute sale-deeds or a will of the sirdari holding. Smt. Dhirajadhari was entitled to change her mind and to demand refund of the ten times of the rent deposited by her husband. The application of Smt. Dhiraiadhari was allowed. The present writ petition is directed against this order of the Board of Revenue. Before the learned Single Judge of this Court, who heard the writ petition, the respondent widow placed reliance upon a Division Bench decision in Habibullah v. The Board of Revenue, (Writ. Petn. No. 261 of 1970 decided on 15-1-70 (All) in which it was held that a person becomes a bhumidhar not merely upon the grant of declaration, but when the certificate is issued. The learned Single Judge felt unable to agree with this view. He referred to matter to a larger Bench. The petition was heard by a Division Bench which endorsed the opinion of the learned Single Judge and referred the case to a Full Bench. That is hew the writ petition has come up before this Full Bench for decision.

11. The question is when does a sirdar, who has made an application under Section 134, U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act and made the necessary deposit acquire the status of a bhumidhar.

12. Section 134 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act provides that, if a sirdar pays to the Government ten times the rent, he shall, upon an application made to an Assistant Collector, be entitled to declaration that he has acquired the rights under Section 137 with effect from the date the amount has been deposited. Section 137 (1) prides that 'if the Assistant Collector in satisfied that the applicant is entitled to the declaration mentioned inSection 134, he shall grant a certificate to that effect' Under Sub-section (2) of Section 137, 'upon the grant of the certificate under Sub-section (1)' the sirdar shall, from the date on which the amount is deposited, become and be deemed to be a bhumidhar of the holding in respect of which the certificate has been granted and shall be liable to pay only one-half of the amount of the land revenue previously payable by him.

Section 230 of the Act confers upon the State Government rule making powers to carry into effect the provisions of this Act. Sub-section (2) thereof specifically authorises the State Government to make rules to provide, for, inter alia, the form and procedure in which the application under Section 134 shall be made, the procedure for the grant of certificate under Section 137, and the form of such certificate, in exercise of this power, the State Government has framed a set of rules contained in Chapter VIII of the Rules. Rule 118 (5) provides that before the grant of declaration the Assistant Collector shall satisfy that the entries in column .Nos. 1 to 7 of Z.A. form 50 have been made: Rule 118 (4) provides that, 'where the Assistant Collector is satisfied that the applicant is entitled to a declaration he shall grant a declaration to that effect'. Rule 119 provides that the declaration shall be granted in Z.A. form 52. The forms of declaration shall be kept in bound volumes in the custody of the officer, 'authorised to issue them', and, before a declaration is 'issued', entries in the counter-foils shall be completed and initialled by the Assistant Collector. Under Rule 120 as soon as the declaration has been granted, the Assistant Collector is to direct that an entry to that effect be made in the record of rights. Columns 9 and 10 of forms 50 and 51 are the same. The heading of column 9 is the number and date of the declaration and the heading of column 10 is the 'signature of the Assistant Collector.'

13. These provisions disclose a well defined scheme that a sirdar on making an application and the deposit, becomes entitled to a declaration that he has acquired the rights mentioned in Section 137. The Assistant Collector then adjudicates upon the matter. He acts judicially. If the Assistant Collector is satisfied, he passes an order 'granting' a certificate 'to that effect'. 'To that effect' in the context refers to the 'declaration mentioned in Section 134'. That declaration is that the applicant has acquired the rights mentioned in Section 137, that is, of a Bhumidhar. So, the certificate granted is that the Assistant Collector is satisfied that the applicant 'has' acquired the rights of a Bhumidhar.

14. Thus the Assistant Collector by his order makes a judicial grant of the certificate of Bhumidhari. The recording ofthe satisfaction has the inevitable and inseparable consequence of accrual of bhumi-dhari rights (though with effect from a still prior date, namely the date of deposit). The Legislative intent seems to be that there should be no time gap between the two events, of the making or the order and the accrual of rights. This is apparent from the use of the present tense verb 'has' in the phrase 'he has acquired'. Else, the word 'will' and the phrase 'He will acquire' would have been appropriate, if the rights were intended to accrue on the later event of ministerial grant of the certificate, by actually issuing it.

15. This construction has the merit of making the accrual of rights a predictable certainty. The acquisition of status takes place when the order is passed. A sirdar pays ten times the rent to obtain the advantages of Bhumidhari, the foremost of which is the right of transfer. This construction makes the intention of a Sirdar to become able to transfer, a reality, as soon as the judicial determination is made by the Assistant Collector. The other interpretation that the status changes with the delivery, namely the ministerial grant of the certificate, would make the Sirdar live on at the mercy of the staff of the Assistant Collector who prepare and deliver the certificate. Under the rules the certificate has to be granted on the printed Form 52. Suppose the form is not available. The office will await it and prepare the certificate on its receipt. This may take months or years. The poor sirdar suffers for no fault of his own. In the present case the certificate was not prepared and delivered to Udai Shankar for 2 1/2 years after the order on 24-6-1984 till his death on 25-10-1967. An interpretation which causes absurdities and anomalies is not to be preferred.

16. The judicial determination of the Assistant Collector is appealable, (vide Section 331 (3) of the Act and item 6 of 2nd Schedule of Rules). If the order was not effective in changing the status of Sirdar into a bhumidhar, there was really no point in making this order appealable. If the acquisition of bhumidhari rights were dependent upon the subsequent act of actual issuance of physical delivery of the document of certificate to the applicant, then one would have expected that an appeal would have been provided against that event.

17. The Act and the rules show that the Assistant Collector has to pass a judicial order granting the certificate. Thereafter, the officer, authorised to keep the custody of the forms in which the certificate has to be granted, 'issues' the certificate. Grant and issuance of the certificate are distinct events: The former is done by the Assistant Collector and the latter, by some other officer. Under Sections 134 and 137 of the Act, the grant by the Assistant Collector confers Bhumidhari rights. This also tends to discount the suggestion that it is the issuance of the actual physical delivery of this certificate that confers Bhumidhari rights.

18. Learned counsel for the respondents urged that Rule 119 provides that the declaration shall be granted in form Z.A. 52. This rule refers to the declaration, not the certificate. Further, the word 'granted' here refers to the ministerial work of preparing and issuing the document.

19. Learned counsel for the respondents then urged that, in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in J. K. Jute Mills Co. Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1961 SC 1534, it was admissible to look into the Hindi version of the Act in order to clarify the meaning of the English version. Learned counsel stated that in the Hindi version the word (Praman Patra, De Dega) has been used for the phrase 'grant a certificate', and for the phrase 'upon the grant' used in Section 137 (2), the Hindi version uses the phrase (Diye Jane Par). On the basis of this Hindi version it was urged that the language clearly suggests that the rights would accrue upon the actual issuance of the certificate and not upon the making of an order by the Assistant Collector. We are not impressed by this submission. Assuming that it is permissible to look at the Hindi version when the meaning of the English version is quite clear, the phrase 'De Dega' or 'Diye Jane Par' would not really mean the issuance of the certificate. If that had been the intention the Hindi version would have used the words 'Jari Karega' or 'Jari Kiye Jane Par', the word 'issue' is well known in Legislative parlance. Its Hindi synonym is (Jari Kar Dega), 'De Dega' or 'Diye Jane Par' would not refer to the act of issuance, but to an earlier event namely, the making of the order. It cannot hence be held that 'grant' of the certificate means the delivery of the certificate.

20. In our opinion, the change of status of a Sirdar into a Bhumidhar occurs when the Assistant Collector makes the judicial grant; the event of the ministerial grant or issuance is immaterial.

21. Learned counsel for the respondents invited our attention to two Single Judge decisions of this Court in Ram Dec v. Deputy Director of Consolidation, U. P. Lucknow, (1968 R.D. 99 (All.)) and in Meghu alias Mandu v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (1968 R.D. 332 (All.)). From the statement of facts given in the case of Ram Deo it does not appear that the Assistant Collector had passed the order granting the certificate on any date prior to the date the Sanad was issued. The two events were presumed to have happened simulta-neously. In the case of Meghu, the applicant had died before the certificate could be granted. It was held that he did not acquire the bhumidhari rights. This case is not helpful. In both, the distinctive features of the event of the order and of the delivery of the certificate were neither argued nor considered.

22. In Smt Matabi v. Smt. Sheo-pati, (1970 AH WR (HC) 817), brother Dwivedi held that the expression, 'upon the grant of a certificate' in Sub-section (2) of Section 137 means upon the making or the order of the grant of a certificate. We are with respect in, agreement with this view. If the applicant is alive on the date of the order granting a certificate to him, he will become a bhumidhar from the date of the deposit, irrespective of the actual issuance of the certificate.

23. In Habibullah's case, Writ Petn. No. 261 of 1970, D/- 15-1-1970 (AH.) the Bench observed that even though an order has been made and the necessary declaration given, the certificate shall be granted only if requested by the applicant. We have seen the provisions of the Act and scrutinised the various rules. We find no provision anywhere that after the Assist-ant Collector has made the order granting the certificate, the applicant has to make a fresh request for the grant of the certificate. The view of the Bench if the applicant changes his mind and does not want the certificate, it shall not be granted, eves though the order has been passed, in our opinion, does not represent a correct view of law. The applicant has to make the deposit and then, after making an application, to satisfy the Assistant Collector that he is entitled to the declaration. There after, be is not required to do anything further. The rest has to be done by the office of the Assistant Collector. After the order has been made, the applicant cannot change his mind and say that he does not want the declaration. The Bench also noticed that the legislature deliberately made a distinction between Section 7 of the U. P. Agricultural Tenants (Acquisition of Privileges) Act, 1949 and Sections 134 and 137 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1951. It was of the view that under the previous Act, it was upon the grant of the declaration that the person became entitled to the privileges of a Bhumidhar, but under the Zamindari Abolition Act, it is the grant of the certificate that brings about the conferment of Bhumidhari rights. In my opinion, there is no difference in this distinction. Under the Zamindari Abolition Act, the grant of the certificate is to the effect that the applicant is entitled to the declaration. The effect of the order of the Assistant Collector is the same, under both the provisions of law. In my opinion, the decision in Habibullah's case, Writ Petn. No. 261 of 1970, D/- 15-1-1970 (AIL) does not lay down the law correctly.

24. Udai Shanker became a Bhumidhar on 24th June, 1964, when the Assistant Collector made the order. After his death, his widow was not entitled to make an application for the refund of the deposit made by him, or, to say that the certificate be not granted. The ministerial act of issuing the certificate has to be completed, once an order has been made. The Assistant Collector was justified in directing that the certificate be prepared in the relevant form in the name of the deceased Bhumidhar and be delivered to his successor. The ministerial act of preparing and delivering the certificate is not a judicial order; and so the principle that a judicial order cannot be made against a dead person will not apply. The certificate only records the fact that on the date of the order the applicant became a Bhumidhar. The death of the applicant after that date is immaterial to the preparation or issuance of the certificate.

25. In the result, the petition succeeds and is allowed. The order of the Board of Revenue is set aside and that of fee Assistant Collector restored. The petitioner will be entitled to his costs throughout from the contesting respondent No. 1.


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