Balakrishna Eradi, C.J.
1. The State of Kerala, jointly along with the Deputy Tahsildar (Revenue Recovery), Udumpanchola, and the village officer, Chathurangapara, has preferred this appeal against the judgment of a learned single judge of this court allowing O.P. No. 4099 of 1975 and quashing the revenue recovery proceedings initiated against the respondent herein as per Exs. P-1, P-3 and P-4, for realisation of arrears of agricultural income-tax payable by one Veeranna Thevar for the assessment years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71.
2. An extent of 6 acres 4 cents comprised in Sy. No. 62/2 and 4 of Chathurangapara Village is property registered in the name of the writ petitioner (respondent herein). The said property had been leased out by the writ petitioner in favour of two persons by name, Thanka Pandian and Nakaraja Nadar, as per a registered lease deed dated 18th June, 1966. The right of those lessees devolved on one Veeranna Thevar by virtue of a transaction of assignment. Veeranna Thevar had cultivated the property with cardamom and he was assessed to agricultural income-tax for the years 1968-69, 1969-70 and 1970-71. A total amount of Rs. 5,010.98 was payable by Veeranna Thevar to the State by way of arrears of agricultural income-tax in respect of the aforementioned three years. Veeranna Thevar, later on, surrendered the property to the writ petitioner on January 5, 1975. When the attempts made by the department to realise the arrears of tax from Veeranna Thevar proved futile, revenue recovery action was initiated against the petitioner as per the demand notice evidenced by Ex. P-1 dated August 8, 1975, under Section 34 of the Revenue Recovery Act. Exhibit P-1 states that the said demand was made on her in her capacity as the holder of the lands, comprised in patta No. 146, in respect of which the liability for agricultural income-tax had arisen. The petitioner filed an objection before the Tahsildar, Udumpanchola, submitting that she was not a defaulter in respect of the tax liability referred to in Ex. P-1 and hence the action initiated against her under the Revenue Recovery Act was illegal and wholly unjustified. Along with the said representation she produced a tax clearance certificate--Ex. P-2--issued to her by the Addl. Agrl. ITO, Devicolam, wherein it was certified that no arrears by way of agricultural income-tax and surcharge were outstanding against her as on the date of issuance thereof, namely, August 14, 1975. Apparently, the contention put forward by the petitioner did not find acceptance in the hands of the Tahsildar, as is clear from the fact that further proceedings followed against her in the shape of Exs. P-3 and P-4, dated August 8, 1975, and August 26, 1975. By Ex. P-3 the petitioner was informed by the village officer, Chathurangapara, that if she did not remit the sum of Rs. 5,010.98, representing the agricultural income-tax arrears, before 15th August, 1975, her land will be brought to sale by public auction without delay. By the communication, Ex. P-4, the petitioner was informed by the same authority that her cardamom land had been taken possession into government custody with effect from August 26, 1975, and that the petitioner was prohibited from collecting any crops from the said estate. Thereupon the petitioner came up to this court seeking to quash Exs. P-1, P-3 and P-4. The learned single judge allowed the writ petition and quashed the impugned revenue recovery proceedings evidenced by Exs. P-1, P-3 and P-4, without prejudice to such proceedings as the respondents may take in accordance with law. The legality and correctness of the judgment of the learned single judge are under challenge in this appeal.
3. The learned Govt. Pleader, appearing on behalf of the appellants, relied mainly on Section 23 of the Agrl. I.T. Act, 1950--for short ' the Act '--for sustaining the legality of the proceedings initiated against the writ petitioner under the Revenue Recovery Act. Section 23 reads :
'23. Assessment in case of transfer of right in land.--Where a person in receipt of agricultural income from any land in the State is found to have transferred his interest in such land to another person, the transferor and the transferee shall each be assessed in respect of his actual share, if any, of such agricultural income :
Provided that when the transferor cannot be found, the assessment of such agricultural income of the previous year in which the transfer took place up to the date of the transfer and for the years preceding that year shall be made on the transferee in like manner and to the same amount as it would have been made on the transferor, or when the tax in respect of the assessment made for any or all of such years assessed on the transferor cannot be recovered from him, it shall be payable by and recoverable from the transferee, and the transferee shall be entitled to recover from the transferor the amount of any tax so paid. '
4. Admittedly, the person who was in receipt of the agricultural income during the assessment years in respect of which the arrears are sought to be realised by the impugned proceedings was Veeranna Thevar. The question to be considered is whether the petitioner is a person to whom Veeranna Thevar has transferred his interest in the lands concerned so as to attract the applicability of Section 23. The property admittedly belonged to the petitioner and a lease thereof had been purported to be granted jointly in favour of Thanka Pandyan and Nakaraja Nadar in June, 1966--we say purported--because a doubt has been expressed by the learned single judge in his judgment about the validity of the said transaction in view of Section 74 of the Kerala Land Reforms Act--and Veeranna Thevar had come into possession of the property by virtue of a transfer executed in his favour by Thanka Pandyan and Nakaraja Nadar. We shall assume for the purpose of the present discussion that Veeranna Thevar had derived a valid leasehold right in the property and was in possession as a lessee. The question is whether by reason of the fact that Veeranna Thevar had surrendered the property to the writ petitioner on January 5, 1975, he can be said to have ' transferred ' his interest in the land to the petitioner so as to attract the applicability of Section 23 of the Act. A surrender by a tenant ordinarily involves only an effacement or extinguishment of his rights and there is no accrual of title so far as the landlord is concerned, the surrender having only the effect of merging the lesser estate of the tenant into the greater estate of the landlord. This position is now well established--See Makhan Lal Laha v. Nagendra Nath Adhicary, AIR 1933 Cal 467, Natvarlal Punjabhai v. Dadubhai Manubhai, AIR 1954 SC 61, Mubarak Hussain v. Custodian-General of Evacuee Property, AIR 1957 Punj 197 and Palanivelu v. Ouseph Mathai, AIR 1973 Mad 309. It cannot, therefore, be said that there was any transfer by Veeranna Thevar of his interest in the land in favour of the writ petitioner so as to attract the applicability of the provision contained in Section 23 of the Act. The petitioner cannot, therefore, be proceeded against under the said section for the recovery of the arrears of agricultural income-tax due by Veeranna Thevar. The judgment of the learned single judge is accordingly confirmed and this writ appeal is dismissed. The parties will bear their respective costs.