1. These two writ petitions have been filed under Art. 32 of theConstitution and they seek to challenge the validity of the Bombay Tenancy andAgricultural Lands Act 99 of 1958 (hereafter called the Act). The impugned Actin substance is intended to extend to Vidarbha region and Cutch area which hadthen become a part of the Greater Bi-Lingual State of Bombay the provisions ofthe Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment) Act, 1956 (Act XIII of1956). The preamble to the impugned Act shows that it was intended to amend thelaw relating to tenancies of agricultural lands and sites used for alliedpurposes in the two areas of the State of Bombay and to make certain otherprovisions in regard to those lands. In extending the provisions of the earlierBombay Act XIII of 1956 to the two areas the legislature has conformed to thepattern set up by the said earlier Act. The policy underlying the Act and theobject intended to be achieved by it are the same and the method adopted inachieving that object is also the same. The validity of the earlier Bombay Act(XIII of 1956) was challenged before this Court in Sri Ram Ram Narain Medhi v.The State of Bombay  Supp. 1 S.C.R. 489 but the challenge failed andthe Act was held to be constitutional. One of the points which arose fordecision in that case was whether the impugned Act was protected by Art.31A(2)(a) of the Constitution, and the answer to that question depended uponthe determination of another issue which was whether the lands to which thesaid Act applied were an 'estate' as required by Art. 31A(2)(a). Indealing with that question this Court held that the word 'estate' asdefined by s. 2(5) of the Bombay Land Revenue Code, 1879, clearly applied tothe lands covered by the Act and so Art. 31A(2)(a) was applicable. Havingregard to this decision the only point which Mr. Limaye attempted to raisebefore us in support of the two writ petitions is that the lands belonging tothe two petitioners are not an 'estate' within the meaning of Art.31A(2)(a), and so the impugned Act is outside the protection of Art. 31A. Ifthis contention is not upheld then it is obvious that the writ petitions mustfail; if the said contention is upheld then of course the other contentionsraised by the two writ petitions against the validity of certain specificprovisions of the Act may fall to be considered.
2. The two petitioners are Namdeorao Baliramji and Mahadeo Paikaji Kolherespectively. The first one resides at Amraoti and the second at Yeotmal. Thefirst owns about 80 acres dry lands situated in Amraoti out of which 43 acresare under his personal cultivation and the rest in the possession of thetenants. The second petitioner owns about 1168 acres dry lands situated inYeotmal out of which 400 acres are under his personal cultivation and the restwith the tenants. The lands in both the cases are charged to the payment ofland revenue. The case for both the petitioners is that the lands thus held bythem are not an 'estate' within the meaning of Art. 31A(2)(a).
3. Article 31A(2)(a) provides, inter alia, that the expression'estate' shall in relation to any local area have the same meaning asthat expression or its local equivalent has in the existing law relating toland tenures in force in that area. The existing local law, it is commonground, is the Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code, 1954 (II of 1955), and so itis necessary to find whether the lands belonging to the petitioners can be saidto be an 'estate' within the meaning of the said Code. Before we do so,however, it may be pertinent to refer to the relevant definitions in theimpugned Act. Section 2(17) of the Act defines land as meaning, inter alia,land which is used or capable of being used for agricultural purposes andincludes the sites of farm buildings appurtenant to such land. Section 2(18)defines a land-holder as meaning a tenure-holder whom the State Government hasdeclared on account of the extent and value of the land or his intereststherein to be a land-holder for the purposes of this Act. Now, s. 2(7) of theMadhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code in question defines a holding as meaning,inter alia, a parcel of land separately assessed to land revenue, and s. 2(20)defines a tenure-holder as meaning a person holding from the State Governmentas a Bhumiswami or a Bhumidari. Chapter XII of the Code deals withtenure-holders. Section 145 provides that there shall be two classes oftenure-holders of lands held from the State, namely, Bhumiswami and Bhumidari.Section 146 deals with Bhumiswami. It provides that 'every person who atthe coming into force of this Code belongs to any of the classes specified inclauses (a) to (f) of the said section shall be called a Bhumiswami and shallhave all the rights and is subject to all the liabilities conferred or imposedupon a Bhumiswami by or under this Code'. Amongst these classes is theclass covered by clause (e) which relates to persons in respect of lands heldby them as occupants in Berar. Thus, reading the relevant definitions alongwith the provisions of s. 146 of the Code it would follow that the land in thepossession of the Bhumiswami who is a tenure-holder is in substance an estate.It is true that the word 'estate' as such has not been employed inthe Code, but it must be borne in mind that Art. 31A(2)(a) refers not only toestate but also to its local equivalent. It was realised that in many areas theexisting law relating to land tenures may not expressly define an estate assuch though the said areas had their local equivalents described and defined.That is why the relevant provision of the Constitution has deliberately usedboth the word 'estate' as well as its 'local equivalent'.The petitioners hold lands under the State and they pay land revenue for thelands thus held by them. Therefore, there is no difficulty in holding thatunder the existing law relating to land tenures the lands held by them fallwithin the class of other local equivalents of the word 'estate' ascontemplated by Art. 31A(2)(a). If that is so the contention raised by Mr.Limaye that the impugned Act is not protected by Art. 31A cannot succeed. As wehave already indicated it is not disputed that if Art. 31A applies there can beno further challenge to the validity of the impugned statute.
4. The writ petitions accordingly fail and are dismissed with costs, one setof hearing costs.
5. Petitions dismissed.