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State of Kerala Vs. Kaipravan Meethale Veettil Narayanan Nair and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.R.P. No. 2770 of 1980-H and O.P. No. 3704 of 1980-G
Judge
Reported inAIR1981Ker252
ActsKerala Land Reforms Act, 1964 - Sections 84(1A) and 96; Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1979; ;Kerala Land Reforms Rules, 1970 - Rules 27 to 33
AppellantState of Kerala
RespondentKaipravan Meethale Veettil Narayanan Nair and anr.
Appellant AdvocateGovt. Pleader
Respondent Advocate T.P. Kalu Nambiar,; P.G. Rajagopalan and; P. Devakikutty
Excerpt:
- - all attempts made by the declarant and after his death by his eldest son on behalf of all his heirs to get back possession of the property having proved unsuccessful, the eldest son filed o. that may be something like an agreement to assign the land specified in the offer......on 5-7-1976. kerala act 27 of 1979 validating certain gifts came into force on 7-7-1979. the taluk land board had passed the orders aforesaid ignoring certain gift deeds executed by narayanan nair, as they were challenged under section 84 of the kerala act 1 of 1964 as amended by act 35 of 1969 (for short the 'act'). after the kerala act 27 of 1979 came into force, the declarant filed a petition under section 85 (10) of the act for restoring possession of the lands on the basis of the validation of the impugned gift deeds. the taluk land board went into the question, accepted the gifts validated by the amending act 27 of 1979 and determined the excess land belonging to the declarant as 3,81.250 acres. accordingly, the tahsildar, taliparamba was directed to restore possession of 29.85.750.....
Judgment:
ORDER

U.L. Bhat, J.

1. In TLB 1807/73, the Taluk Land Board, Taliparamba determined the extent of land belonging to now deceased Narayanan Nair and directed him to surrender excess land of 33,67 acres. This order was passed on 24-4-1976 and later on modified on 5-7-1976. Kerala Act 27 of 1979 validating certain gifts came into force on 7-7-1979. The Taluk Land Board had passed the orders aforesaid ignoring certain gift deeds executed by Narayanan Nair, as they were challenged under Section 84 of the Kerala Act 1 of 1964 as amended by Act 35 of 1969 (for short the 'Act'). After the Kerala Act 27 of 1979 came into force, the declarant filed a petition under Section 85 (10) of the Act for restoring possession of the lands on the basis of the validation of the impugned gift deeds. The Taluk Land Board went into the question, accepted the gifts validated by the Amending Act 27 of 1979 and determined the excess land belonging to the declarant as 3,81.250 acres. Accordingly, the Tahsildar, Taliparamba was directed to restore possession of 29.85.750 acres to the declarant. All attempts made by the declarant and after his death by his eldest son on behalf of all his heirs to get back possession of the property having proved unsuccessful, the eldest son filed O.P. No. 3704 of 1980 for the issuance of a writ of mandamus by this Court to compel the revenue officials concerned to restore possession of 29,85.750 acres. Meanwhile, the State has filed C.R.P. No. 2770 of 1980 challenging the order passed by the Taluk Land Board under Section 85 (10) of the Act and contending that the original order of the Taluk Land Board directing surrender of 33.67 acres is not liable to be altered on account of the gift deeds. The two matters being connected with each other, have been heard and are being disposed of together.

2. It is conceded on all hands that the gift deeds on which the Land Board acted in passing the order under Section 85 (10) of the Act fall within the purview of the main provision in Section 84 (1A) of the Act. The only contention urged by the learned Government Pleader is that the land in question though covered by the gift deeds, which will attract the provisions contained in Section 84 (1A), will fall within the purview of proviso (b) to Section 84 (1A) and as such the exemption contemplated under Section 84 (1A) is not available to these lands. The learned counsel for the revision petitioner repudiated this contention and argued that the proviso is not attracted in the instant case. The Land Board had gone into this question and come to the conclusion that the proviso is not attracted. There is no dispute that if the proviso (b) to Section 84 (1A) is not attracted the order passed by the Land Board directing restoration of possession is correct.

3. Proviso (b) to Section 84 (1A) of the Act states that Section 84 (1A) will not apply in respect of any land 'which has been assigned on registry' under Section 96 before the commencement of the Amending Act 27 of 1979, viz., 7-7-1979. The dispute in this case is whether the lands covered by the gift deeds are lands 'which have been assigned on registry' before 7-7-1979.

4. Section 96 of the Act states that the Land Board shall assign on registry subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed, the lands vested in the Government under Section 86 or Section 87. The section also indicates the conditions which the applicants for assignment of excess land have to fulfil. Chapter IV of the Kerala Land Reforms (Ceiling) Rules lays down the manner in which assignment directed by Section 96 of the Act is to be made. We are concerned with only Rule 27 to 33 for the purpose of the cases on hand.

5. Rule 27 requires the Land Board to invite applications before a specified date for assignment on registry of portions of land from interested persons. The matter also has to be notified as indicated in the rule. Rule 28 prescribes the form of the application for assignment. Rule 29 prescribes the conditions and restrictions regarding the assignment, Rule 30 states that after the expiry of the date prescribed for receipt of applications, the Land Board has to verify those applications, and prepare a list of persons eligible under Section 96 for assignment showing certain particulars contemplated under the rule. The rule also lays down what considerations should be borne in mind in preparing the list. Rule 31 states that after the list is prepared the Land Board will communicate to each person in the order of priority given in such list an offer to assign the land on registry subject to the conditions stipulated in the Act and the Rules and on receipt of the offer, the offers has to pay or deposit the purchase price in lump sum or the first instalment thereof within the time allowed in the offer form which of course can be extended by the Land Board in appropriate cases and on such payment or deposit the lands specified in the offer 'shall be assigned to him on registry' and a deed of assignment in Form No. 19 shall be executed. The Rule also provides in what manner and during what intervals the subsequent instalments are to be paid or deposited. The rule also lays down that after the execution of the assignment deed the assignees should be put in possession of the land and that the Collector will cause the boundaries to be demarcated and the Tahsildar will take steps to make the necessary changes in the revenue records. Rule 33 lays down that a register of lends reserved and as-signed shall be maintained in each Taluk Office in Form No. 21 in respect of lands within that Taluk.

6. The learned Government Pleader has placed before me for my perusal the concerned file. The file shows that immediately after the excess lands were surrendered by the declarant, applications were called for and a list of eligible persons was prepared and the same was duly notified and 26 among them deposited the first instalment of the purchase price in 1976 or in 1977. The file also shows that after the receipt of the deposit, no further steps were taken though draft assignment deeds have been filled up and kept ready for the signature of the District Collector, who has not yet affixed his signature in his capacity as assignor. On the basis of the fact that the offerees or the proposed assignees have already deposited the first instalment of the purchase price in 1976 or 1977, the learned Government Pleader contended that the process of assignment is complete and that what remains is only the performing of an administrative act, viz., the execution of the assignment deeds. The learned counsel for the revision petitioner on the other hand contended that the execution of the assignment deed contemplated in Rule 31 (2) of the Ceiling Rules is not an empty formality, but is a vital part of the process of assignment and that land can be said to have been assigned only when such an assignment deed is executed.

7. We are now concerned with the decision on the question as to when land can be said to have been 'assigned on registry'. It is not disputed that only when land has been assigned on registry prior to 7-7-1979 that the proviso (b) to Section 84 (1A) of the Act is attracted. I have already referred in detail to the rules in regard to excess lands taken over by the State. The process of assignment of land consists of various stages. The Land Board has to prepare a list of eligible persons in the light of the provisions of the Act and the Rules. Those persons will have to be duly informed about it and the matter will also have to be notified evidently for the information of the other persons who may be interested. It is open to the offeree either to reject or to accept the offer. If he desires to accept the offer, he has to pay or deposit the full purchase price indicated in the offer or to pay or deposit the first instalment within the time originally allowed or subsequently extended by the Land Board. Evidently such payment or deposit will amount to acceptance of the offer. If we look at the matter from the point of view of the principles of Law of Contracts, since there has been an offer and acceptance, one could say that there is a completed agreement. That may be something like an agreement to assign the land specified in the offer. But a mere agreement or contract to assign land as a result of the deposit or payment of the purchase price cannot be said to amount o an assignment of land on registry. In order that one can say that a particular land has been assigned on registry, there must be some act amounting to assignment by competent authority. In the normal course, assignment is made by the assignment deed duly executed; even if the execution of the assignment deed is to be treated a mere administrative act not having any bearing on the completion of the act of assignment, nevertheless, there must be something on record to show that the concerned authority 'has assigned' the land. It cannot be said that the offer made by the Land Board amounts to an act of assignment; nor can it be said that the payment or deposit of the purchase price in full or the first instalment thereof within the time prescribed amounts to an act of assignment. It is only some proceeding, order or act of the appropriate authority which can amount to an act of 'assignment'.

8. All that has taken place in these cases is that the Land Board invited applications and prepared a list of eligible applicants and those persons have deposited the first instalment of the purchase price. These acts by themselves will not amount to act of assignment of the land. The forms of assignment deeds, though kept filled up have not been signed by the District Collector as required by the Rules. It follows that assignment deeds have not been duly executed. The file also does not show any other act, order or proceeding which can be interpreted as amounting to 'assignment of land'. Therefore, the conclusion of the Land Board that in this case lands have not been assigned on registry, does not call for interference by this Court. C.R.P. No. 2770 of 1980-H is dismissed, but without costs.

9. In O.P. No. 3704 of 1980-G, the State has not filed a counter-affidavit. There is no defence to the original petition, except the defence based on the unsustainability of the order of the Land Board. Since that defence fails, the State has no other defence in the original petition. The learned Government Pleader stated that he has no contention that if the Civil Revision Petition No. 2770 of 1980-H is to be dismissed, the petitioner in the original petition is not entitled to get possession. This statement is recorded. The original petition is dismissed as unnecessary. Since the C.R.P. has been dismissed, subsequent steps under the provisions of the Act will naturally follow. I make no order as to costs.


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