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Mohinder Singh Vs. State of Punjab and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Constitution
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. Nos 4351 to 4354 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1983P& H253
ActsPunjab Land Reforms Act, 1972; Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953; Constitution of India - Articles 14, 19, 31-A and 31-B
AppellantMohinder Singh
RespondentState of Punjab and anr.
Cases ReferredIn Chaturbhai M. Patel v. Union of India
Excerpt:
.....and men for exceptional valour and bravery shown in field service and such grants are obviously given by way of an incentive to the army personnel to give their best in the field area, even at the risk and hazard of their life and such grants also give encouragement to the fighting soldiers who show outstanding courage and, thus, the scheme of giving gallantry awards is conducive to the defence of the county. the success of the land reforms depends on the extent of the surplus pool. thus the key to the success of the scheme is the maximising of the surplus land reservoir and sealing off the legal leakages through private alienations, collusive orders and decrees and the like, and so care was taken to interdict alienations and ignore decrees and orders which diminished the surplus..........by me vide my order dated 24th feb, 1982, to a larger bench, the constitutionality of the punjab land reforms act, 1972(punjab act no. 10 of 1973), hereinafter referred to as the 'reforms act' has been challenged on the ground that the reforms act has not exempted the land from its operation which was allotted to the ancestors of the petitioners as gallantry award in recognition of the service rendered in war and that grant of such gallantry award and all matters connected therewith, including the purpose for which these awards are given are directly connected with the defence of the country which is a subject on which only the parliament of india can legislate and not the state legislature. thus, the question which arises for determination is, whether the punjab legislative assembly.....
Judgment:

A.S. Bains, J.

1. In these four writ petitions i.e., C. W. P. Nos. 4351 to 4354 of 1973, which were referred by me vide my order dated 24th Feb, 1982, to a larger Bench, the constitutionality of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972(Punjab Act No. 10 of 1973), hereinafter referred to as the 'Reforms Act' has been challenged on the ground that the Reforms Act has not exempted the land from its operation which was allotted to the ancestors of the petitioners as gallantry award in recognition of the service rendered in war and that grant of such gallantry award and all matters connected therewith, including the purpose for which these awards are given are directly connected with the defence of the country which is a subject on which only the Parliament of India can legislate and not the State Legislature. Thus, the question which arises for determination is, whether the Punjab Legislative Assembly was competent to enact the Reforms Act relating to the gallantry award lands or was it within the legislative competence of the Parliament of India. It is true that under Ss. 19-D and 19-DD of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953, which is repealed, the gallantry award land was exempted, gallantry award land was exempting, but under the reforms Act the same is not exempted.

2. Mr. G. S. Chawla, learned counsel for the State, raised a preliminary objection that the Reforms Act is agrarian law and its provisions are protected from invalidation under Arts. 31A and 31B of the Constitution of India as it is included in the Ninth Schedule thereof and its provisions are intra vires of the Constitution as held by the Supreme Court authorities reported as Dattatraya Govind Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1977 SC 915, and Lal v. State of Haryana, AIR 1980 SC 2097. Admittedly, the Reforms ACT s included in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution and it is protected from invalidation under Arts. 31A and 31B of the Constitution, but the argument of Mr. H. S. Wasu, learned counsel for the petitioner, is that he does not challenge the validity of the Reforms Act on the ground of its infringement of any of the Art. 14 or Art. 19 of the Constitution but on the ground of competency of the Punjab State Legislative Assembly, Since the validity of the Reforms Act is not challenged on the ground of infringement of Arts. 14 and 19 of the Constitution, I am of the view that its validity can be challenged on the ground of legislative competency of the State legislature. Thus, the preliminary objection of Mr. Chawla being meritless is overruled.

3. The argument of Mr. Wasu learned counsel for the petitioner, so far a the legislative competency of the State Legislature on the subject is concerned. Is based on Items Nos 1 and 2 of List I (Union List) of Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, which read as follows :--

(1) Defence of India and every part thereof including preparation for defence and all such acts as may be conducive in times of war to its prosecution and after kits termination to effective demobilisation.

(2) Naval, Military and Air Forces any other armed forces of the Union.

His argument is that the Government has been giving gallantry awards to the army officers and men for exceptional valour and bravery shown in field service and such grants are obviously given by way of an incentive to the army personnel to give their best in the field area, even at the risk and hazard of their life and such grants also give encouragement to the fighting soldiers who show outstanding courage and, thus, the scheme of giving gallantry awards is conducive to the defence of the county. He further argued that grant of such awards and all matters connected therewith including the purpose for which these awards are given, relates to and are connected directly with the defence of the country and thus, the subject is covered by Items (1) and (2) of List I of Seventh Schedule to the Constitution within the legislative competence of the Parliament of India, the Punjab State Assembly was not competent to pass the Reforms Act so far as the gallantry award lands are concerned. He concedes that he cannot cite any of the authorities of the Supreme Court or High Court or by any of the High Courts. The argument of Mr. Wasu though attractive is misconceived. The object of the Reforms Act is the agrarian reform and to impart security of tenure, to make the tiller the owner and to trim large holdings setting sober ceilings, to create even distribution of land. The sine qua non was the building up of a reservoir of land craved out of the larger land holdings and make available for utilisation by the State for resettling ejected tenants and he other tillers of the soil. It was aimed at for a peaceful transformation of agrarian relations between the landlords and the tillers of the soil. The success of the land reforms depends on the extent of the surplus pool. That is why the legislature has jealously protected the surplus pool which played a pivotal role in the whole programme. In State of Punjab (now Haryana) v. Amar Singh, 1974 Pun LJ 74: (AIR 1974 SC 994), It was observed by their Lordships of the Supreme Court as under (paras 6, 8):--

'The triple objects of the agrarian reform projected by the Act appear to be (a) to impart security of tenure, (b) to make the tiller the owner, and (c) to trim large land holdings setting sober ceilings. To convert these political slogans into legal realities, to combat the evil of mass evictions, to create peasant proprietor ships and too ensure even distribution of land ownerships a statutory scheme was fashioned, the corner-stone of which was the building up of a reservoir of land carved out of the large landholdings and made available for utilisation by the State for resettling ejected tenants.

It is obvious that this blue-print for a peaceful transformation of agrarian relations assumes the availability of a large surplus area on which the State can settle tenants from the reserved areas and small landholder's holdings. Thus the key to the success of the scheme is the maximising of the surplus land reservoir and sealing off the legal leakages through private alienations, collusive orders and decrees and the like, and so care was taken to interdict alienations and ignore decrees and orders which diminished the surplus pool.

The success of the scheme, therefore, depends on the extent of the surplus pool. That is why the Legislature has jealously protected the surplus pool which plays a pivotal role in the whole programme.'

The Reforms Act prescribes ceiling on big land holdings. Small landowner has been left untouched by S. 5 of the Reforms Act. Power to legislate on matters concerning land and agriculture vests with the State Legislature. Item 18 of List II (State List) of Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India provides as follows :--

'18. Land, that is to say rights in or over land, land tenures including the relation of landlord and tenant. and the collection of rents; transfer and alienation of agricultural land; land improvement and agricultural loans; colonisation.'

Thus, in my view, the Reforms Act is within the legislative competency of the Punjab Legislative Assembly as the subject 'land' is covered under Item 18 of List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. Hence the State Legislature is fully competent to legislate on this subject. The land granted for gallantry awards is not covered under the Union List's Items 1 and 2 Land has no relation with the aforesaid two items and thus the Parliament is not competent to legislate with regard to the land given as gallantry award. The exemption under Ss. 19-D and 19-DD of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act was also given by the Punjab legislative Assembly and not by the Parliament and the present Reforms Act is based on the national guidelines drawn up by the Government of India on the basis of the conclusions of the Chief Ministers' Conference and except the exemptions to the religious and charitable institutions of public nature, all other exemption were withdrawn.

4. In interpreting the statutes like the Reforms Act the intention of the Legislature in passing such Act is to be kept in view. It is settled law that while interpreting the scope of items in the legislative lists in Schedule VII to the Constitution of India the widest possible amplitude must be given to the words used and each general word must be held t extend general word must be held to extend k to ancillary or subsidiary matters which can fairly be said to be comprehended in it. in Dattatraya Govind Mahajan's Case (AIR 1977 SC 915)(supra), their Lordships of the Supreme Court observed as under (Para 9):--

'It is true that the orthodox function of an explanation is to explain the meaning and effect of the main provision to which it is an explanation and to clear up any doubt and ambiguity in it. But ultimately it is the intention of the legislature which is paramount and mere use of a label cannot control or reflect such intention.'

In Chaturbhai M. Patel v. Union of India, AIR 1960 SC 424, it was observed by the Supreme Court as follows (at. p. 428):--

'In the interpretation of the scope of items in the legislative lists in Sch. VII the widest possible amplitude must be given to the words used and each general word must be held to extend to ancillary or subsidiary matters which can fairly be said to be comprehended in it.'

5. Thus, it is plaint that the State Legislature is competent to legislate regarding the land, i.e., rights in or over land, land tenures including the relation of landlord and tenant, and the collection of rents; transfer and alienation of agricultural land, land improvement and agricultural loans, colonisation etc. Thus item is widest enough to include any land for the purpose of declaring surplus area or to give exemption to any category of land. Item No. 18 pertaining to land does not exclude the gallantry award lands from the purview of the competency of the State Legislature.

6. For the reasons recorded I am of the view that the Punjab Land Reforms Act is valid of legislation passed by the Punjab State Legislature, which was competent to do so Items (1) and (2) of List I (Union List) of Seventh Schedule to the Constitution had nothing to do with land of any type.

7. Although other points were also taken in these writ petitions but Mr. Wasu says that those are covered by the earlier decisions and, in all fairness, he did not urge those points.

8. in the result these petitions are dismissed but without any order as to costs.

9. Petitions dismissed.


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