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Chhaganlal Harilal Bhojik and ors. Vs. State of Gujarat and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Constitution
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Civil Appln. Nos. 176, 233, 376, 413, 427, 489, 560 and 1028 of 1962
Judge
Reported inAIR1966Guj183; (1965)0GLR727
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 14, 19, 19(1), 31, 31(B), 32, 38 and 39 ; Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948 - Sections 32 and 43; Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 1960 - Sections 17; Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment) Act, 1956; Bombay Municipal Boroughs Act, 1925 - Sections 43(C); Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960 - Sections 7, 32(4), 32(5) and 32(6); Bombay District Municipal Act, 1901
AppellantChhaganlal Harilal Bhojik and ors.
RespondentState of Gujarat and ors.
Appellant Advocate S.H. Sheth,; K.T. Pathak,; N.R. Oza and;
Respondent Advocate J.M. Thakore, Adv. General,; K.L. Talsania, Addl. Govt. Pleader,;
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredSri Ram Ram Narain v. State of Bombay
Excerpt:
.....validity of section 17 - contended that section 17 was beyond legislative competence of state legislature and it infringes article 14 - violated fundamental rights guaranteed under articles 19 (1) (f) and 31 - effect of section 17 was to make provisions of sections 32 to 32 r and 43 applicable to agricultural lands situated within municipal boroughs - impugned act included in 9th schedule to constitution - held, no ground to infer that aforesaid section was beyond legislative competence of state legislature and violated fundamental rights. - - the amendment act of 1956 was reserved for the assent of the president and on such assent was received, it was brought into force throughout the slate from 1st august, 1956. the amendment act of 1956 was enacted with a view to..........act, 1948. (hereinafter referred to as the principal act) the principal act was passed by the state legislature as a measure of agrarian reform on 28th december 1948 with a view to amend the law relating to tenancies of agricultural lands arid to make certain other provisions in regard to those lands and the objectives sought to be achieved were inter alia the improvement of the economic and social conditions of peasants and ensuring the full and efficient use of land for agricultural purposes certain minor amendments were thereafter made in the principal act from time to time but they are not material for the purpose of the present petitions and we need not, therefore, pause to refer to them. the state legislature then enacted a further measure of agrarian reform in the shape of.....
Judgment:

Bhagwatl, J.

1. This group of eight petitions raises the issue as to the constitutional validity of Section 17 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 1960, which was passed by the Gujaral Legislature in order in further amend the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948. (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act) The principal Act was passed by the State Legislature as a measure of agrarian reform on 28th December 1948 with a view to amend the law relating to tenancies of agricultural lands arid to make certain other provisions in regard to those lands and the objectives sought to be achieved were inter alia the improvement of the economic and social conditions of peasants and ensuring the full and efficient use of land for agricultural purposes Certain minor amendments were thereafter made in the principal Act from time to time but they are not material for the purpose of the present petitions and we need not, therefore, pause to refer to them. The State Legislature then enacted a further measure of agrarian reform in the shape of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment) Act, 1956. (hereinafter referred to as the Amendment Act of 1056) amending various provisions of the principal Act and also adding some new provisions to that Act. The Amendment Act of 1956 was reserved for the assent of the President and on such assent was received, it was brought into force throughout the Slate from 1st August, 1956. The Amendment Act of 1956 was enacted with a view to achieve the objective of establishing a socialistic pattern of society in the State as contemplated in Articles 38 and 39 of the Constitution and was designed to bring about such distribution of the ownership and control of agricultural lands as would best sub serve the common good and eliminate concentration of wealth and means of production in a few hands This object was sought to be achieved by the Amendment Act of 1956 by amending certain provisions of the principal Act fixing ceiling areas of lands which coutd be held by a person and prescribing what was an economic holding. Sections 32 to 32R introduced in the principal Act by the Amendment Act of 1956 sought to equitably distribute the lands between the landholders and the tenants and except in those cases where the landholder wanted the land for cultivating the same per s'uiaHv for which due provision was made in Section 31 of the Act, these sections transferred by way of compulsory purchase all the other lands to tenants in possession of the same with effect from 1st April 1957. which was called the 'tillers' day' and due provision was also made in those sections for disposal of balance of lands after purchase by tenants. The result of the introduction of these sections was that the tiller or the cultivator became the owner of the soil and was thus brought into direct contact with the Stale eliminating the landholders who were in the position of intermediaries These sections were, however, not made applicable to all agricultural lands Section 43-C which was also introduced at the same lime in the principal Act by the Amendment Act of 1956 declared, omitting words not material, that-

'43C Nothing in Sections 32 to 32R (both in-clusive) and 43 shall apply to lands in theareas within the limits of:

xx xx xx xx (c) a municipal borough constituted under the Bombay Municipal Boroughs Act. 1925

(d) a municipal district, constituted under the Bombay Municipal Boroughs Act, 1901. xx xx xx xx'

The effect of this exclusion made by Section 43C was that tenants of lands situate in areas constituting municipal districts and municipal boroughs which for the sake of convenience may be briefly referred to as 'urban lands' did not become the owners of the lands cultivated by them on the tillers' day namely, 1st April 1957. The validity of the Amendment Act of 1956 was challenged by certain landholders in the Supreme Court by way of petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution on several grounds which included amongst others grounds alleging lack of legislative competence on the part of the State Legislature to enact the Amendment Act of 1956 and violation of Articles 14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court by a judgment reported in Sri Ram Ram Narain v. State of Bombay, AIR 1959 SC 459, upheld the validity of the Amendment Act of 1956 holding that the legislation was covered by Entry 18 in List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and was, therefore within the legislative competence of the State Legislature and so far as the attack based on the violation of Articles 14. 19 and 31 was concerned, it could not he sustained having regard to the fact that the legislation was cover-ed by Article 31A and was accordingly protected from attack against its constitutionality on the score of its having violated the fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution.

2. The State of Bombay was thereafter bifurcated into the Stales of Maharashtra and Gujarat and by virtue of the Bombay Reorganization Act, 1960, the principal Act as amended by the Amendment Act of 1956 continued in I'orce within the territories constituting the State of Gujarat. The Gujaral Legislature then passed the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 1960, (herein-after referred to as the impugned Act) further amending the provisions of the principal Act, By Section 17 of the impugned Act Clauses (c) and (d) were deleted from Section 43-C with the result that the provisions of Sections 32 to 32R and 43 became applicable to areas within the municipal districts and municipal boroughs and Section 7 of the impugned Act introduced Sub-sections (4). (5) and (6) in Section 32 with a view to making the tenants of agricultural lands situate in those areas deemed purchasers of the lands cultivated by them Sub-section (4) of Section 32, subject to a proviso which is not material for the purpose of the present discussion provided as follows-

'(4) On the date of the commencement of the Bombay Tenancy and agricultural Lands (Gujarat Amendment) Article 1960, everv tenant in the areas within the limits of municipal boroughs within the meaning of the Bombay Municipal Boroughs Act, 1925 or within the limits of municipal districts constituted under the Bombay District Municipal Act. 1901, shall, subject to the other provisions of this Act, be deemed to have purchased from a landlord tree From all encumbrances subsisting thereon on the said date the land held by him as tenant, as if the said dale were the tillers' day. xx xx xx xx.'

The effect of the enactment of the impugnedAct thus was that even the urban lands werebrought within the scope of the legislative provision effecting transfer by way of compulsorypurchase of lands in the possession of tenantsand making them owners of the lands

3. Several landholders thereupon preferred the present petitions challenging the validity of Section 17 of the impugned Act deleting Clauses (c)and (d) from Section 43C. Petition No. 176 of 1982 is by a petitioner holding land in the municipal district of Prantij: Petitions Nos. 288 of 1962, 413 of 1962 and 462 of 1962 are by petitioners having lands in the municipal district of Kalol: Petition No. 376 of 1962 is by a petitioner holding lands in the municipal district of Mehsabna: Petition No. 489 of 1962 is by a petitioner holding lands in the municipal district of Mehmeda-bad: Petition No. 1028 of 1962 is by a petitioner holding lands in the municipal district of Kapadvanj and Petition No. 560. of 1962 is by a petitioner holding lands in the municipal borough of Godhra All these petitions follow a common pattern and the main grounds of attack are (1) that Section 17 of the impugned Act is beyond the legislative competence of the State Legislature; (2) that it infringes Article 14; and (3) that it is violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(f) and 31.

4. So far as the first ground of attack is concerned there is no substance in it. It is covered by the decision of the Supreme Court in AIR 1959 SC 459 (supra) to which we have just referred. The effect of Section 17 of the impugned Act is to make the provisions of Ss. 32 to 32R and 43 applicable to agricultural lands situate within municipal boroughs and municipal districts and if Ss 32 to 32R and 43 arc within the legislative competence of the State Legislature as held by the Supreme Court in the case above cited, it is difficult to see bow Section 17 of the impugned Act can be regarded as beyond the legislative competence of the State Legislature The other two grounds of attack are equally unsustainable since the impugned Act has been included in the 9th Schedule to the Constitution and no provision of the impugned Act can, therefore, by reason of Article 31B be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by any provisions of Part III which include the fundamental rights specified in Articles 14, 19 and 31

5. We must, therefore, uphold the constitutional validity of Section 17 of the impugned Actand in the result the petitions fail and the rulesarc discharged. There will be no order as tocosts of the petitions.


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