S.H. Sheth, J.
1. The petitioner is the creditor. He has filed this petition in which he is challenging the award made by the Debt Settlement Officer under the Gujarat Rural Debtors' Relief Act, 1976 and confirmed by the Appellate Officer.
2. Respondent No. I made an application to the Debt Settlement Officer for extinguishments of his debts or for scaling them down under, the Gujarat Rural Debtors' Relief Act, 1976. The debt which he owed to the petitioner amounted to Rs. 2,690/-. He claimed to be a 'small farmer' within the meaning of that expression given in Section 2(p) of the said Act. The Debt Settlement Officer recorded the conclusion that on the 'appointed day' respondent No. I was a 'small farmer' and that his debt was extinguished under S.-3 of the Act.
3. The petitioner appealed against that award to the Appellate Officer. The Appellate Officer confirmed the finding that respondent No. I was a 'small farmer' on the 'appointed day' and scaled down the debt to Rs. 1,400/- which was ordered to be paid to the petitioner in ten equal annual instalments without interest. He also ordered the petitioner to return forthwith to respondent No. I the security which he had given to the petitioner in order to secure the repayment of debt.
4. It is that order which is challenged by the petitioner in this petition.
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8. In order to decide the status of respondent No. I in the context of his individual debt, the joint holding of three brothers cannot be taken into account. If an individual is the debtor, it is his land or share in joint land which must be taken into account. That is the principle of equity and fair play. He cannot be denied the relief under the Act by taking into account the joint holding of three brothers. The Debt Settlement Officer was, therefore, justified in determining the status of respondent No. I with reference to 1/3rd share in the lands jointly owned by three brothers.
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14. Order accordingly.