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Elayadath Madhavan Vs. the Asstt. Custodian and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.R.P. No. 1555 of 1984-D
Judge
Reported inAIR1985Ker226
ActsKerala Land Reforms Act, 1964 - Sections 3(1) and 72; Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Order 22, Rule 3; Kerala Escheats and Forfeitures Act, 1964 - Sections 3
AppellantElayadath Madhavan
RespondentThe Asstt. Custodian and anr.
Advocates: G. Mohan, Adv.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Excerpt:
- - this contention has been accepted by the tribunal as well as the appellate authority and the application for purchase has been dismissed......(i) to 'lands belonging to or vested in the government of kerala'. for the purpose of this clause, land belonging to or vested in government of kerala shall have the same meaning as government lands under section 2(1) of the kerala land assignment act, 1960. this part of the explanation has relevance and significance only in understanding what exactly is meant by 'land belonging to or vested in the government of kerala'. it has no relevance or significance vis-a-vis land belonging to or vested in the government of india. the later part of explanation i states that leases subsisting at the commencement of the act of lands escheated to the government shall not be deemed to be belonging to or vested in the government of kerala if the lessees or their predecessors-in-interest were in.....
Judgment:
ORDER

U.L. Bhat, J.

1. First respondent is the Assistant Custodian, Office of the Custodian of Evacuee Property and the second respondent is the Government of Kerala. Petitioner herein filed O. A. 908 of 1976 against the respondents in the Land Tribunal, Tellicherry under Section 72B of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 (for short 'the Act') contending that he is the tenant of the property mentioned therein under the first respondent and seeking assignment of the right, title and interest of the landlord which has vested in the Government under Section 72 of the Act. The application was opposed by the respondents on the ground that the lease under which thepetitioner claims falls within the exemption in Section 3(1) of the Act and therefore no provision in Chap. II (including Section 72) of the Act would apply to the lease or to the petitioner. This contention has been accepted by the Tribunal as well as the Appellate Authority and the application for purchase has been dismissed. These orders are now challenged.

2. Revision petitioner was formerly holding the land involved in this case under two ladies by name Raviyath and Pathutty who were declared as evacuees and the property was declared as evacuee property under the provisions of Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950. The property consequently vested in the Custodian under the provisions of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act. The Tribunal and the Appellate Authority have proceeded on the basis that the right, title and interest of the original landlords have come to vest in the Government of India. This is not challenged by the revision petitioner. In fact, learned counsel for the revision petitioner also proceeded on the basis that the present landlord is the Government of India. There is no dispute that the lease in favour of the petitioner came into existence as early as in 1932.

3. Chapter II of the Act contains provisions regarding tenancies. Revision petitioner, as a tenant, claims that he is entitled to purchase landlord's interest under Section 72B of the Act. Section 72 and the connected provisions are provisions in Chapter II of the Act. Section 3 is the provision dealing with exemptions. Clause (i) of Sub-section (1) of Section 3 states that nothing in this chapter shall apply to lease of lands or of buildings or of both belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala or the Government of any other State in India or the Governmentof India or a local authority or the CochinPort Trust or a corporation owned or controlled by the Government of Kerala or the Government of any other State in India or the Government of India. The proviso has no bearing on the facts of the case. This provision makes it clear that Chapter II will not apply to a lease of land or building belonging to or vested in the Government of India. Revision petitioner accepts that the land involved in the case of which he is a tenant belongs to Government of India. There can therefore be no doubt that Clause (i) of Sub-section (1) of Section 3 would apply to the lease in favour of thepetitioner. To such a lease, Section 72 and the allied provisions of Chap. II would not apply.

4. The revision petitioner placed reliance on Explanation I to the above provision. The explanation reads as follows :

'Explanation I.-- 'Lands belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala' shall, for the purposes of this clause, have the same meaning as 'Government lands' under Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Kerala Government Land Assignment Act, 1960 but leases subsisting at the commencement of this Act of lands escheated to the Government shall not be deemed to be leases of lands belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala if the lessee or their predecessors-in-interest were in possession of the lands at the time of escheat as tenants under leases whether current or time-expired'.

5. The explanation consists of two parts. First part explains what is meant by the reference in Clause (i) to 'lands belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala'. For the purpose of this clause, land belonging to or vested in Government of Kerala shall have the same meaning as Government lands under Section 2(1) of the Kerala Land Assignment Act, 1960. This part of the explanation has relevance and significance only in understanding what exactly is meant by 'land belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala'. It has no relevance or significance vis-a-vis land belonging to or vested in the Government of India. The later part of Explanation I states that leases subsisting at the commencement of the Act of lands escheated to the Government shall not be deemed to be belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala if the lessees or their predecessors-in-interest were in possession of the land at the time of escheat as tenants under the leases. This part of Explanation I specifically refers to lands belonging to or vested in the Government of Kerala which are exempt under Cl. (i) of Sub-section (1) of Section 3. Going by the clause and the explanation, what is escheated to the Government of Kerala will also be covered by the exemption and the earlier part of the explanation. From out of those lands an exception is carved out in regard to lands escheated to the Government of Kerala in regard to which leases are subsisting at the commencement of the Act and at the time of the escheat. Necessarily, this exception could relate only to lands belonging to Government of Kerala and cannot apply to lands belonging to Government of India. That is what is specifically indicated in the later part of Explanation I.

6. Learned counsel for the revision petitioner would contend that escheat means reversion to the sovereign and the sovereign in India is only Government of India and cannot be Government of Kerala and since the expression 'escheat' is used in the later part of Explanation I, that part must be taken to apply to lands vested in the Government of India.

7. Escheat means property that falls to the fuedal lord or to the State for want of heir or on account of forfeiture. The argument that property could escheat only to Government of India and not to Government of any State is plainly unacceptable. Escheat to Government of Kerala is dealt with in the Kerala Escheats and Forfeitures Act, 1964 which was brought into force with effect from 1-6-1965. Section 3 of the Escheats and Forfeitures Act states that where a person dies intestate and without leaving legal heirs, all his property shall be escheat and shall belong to the Government. This Act contains provisions regarding enquiry and appeals. Section 9 states that in the case of escheats which are movable property, the Collector shall take steps for the sale of the property by public auction in the manner prescribed, the sale proceeds being credited to the Government. Esheats which are immovable property shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Kerala Government Land Assignment Act, 1960 and of the rules made thereunder. There can therefore be no doubt that property could escheat to the State Government also. Reference to lands escheated to the Government in the later part of Explanation I to Section 3(1)(i) could relate only to lands escheat to the Government of Kerala and cannot take in lands escheat to the Government of India. I therefore hold that the later part of Explanation I does not apply to the lease in favour of the petitioner. It applies only in regard to land belonging to Government of Kerala. Lease in favour of the petitioner is covered by exemption under Section 3(1)(i) of the Act and the provisions regarding tenancies will not be available for the benefit of the petitioner. The impugned orders are correct and do not warrant interference.

Revision petition is dismissed.


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