1. In this petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution, which in substance is one under Art. 227 thereof, the petitioners challenge an order passed by Gujarat Revenue Tribunal in TEN. B. A. No. 549 of 1976, dt. 23-3-1977 at Annexure 'C' to the petition, where under the Tribunal took the view that the proceedings under S. 32-G(1) of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as 'the said Act') were void and equally the appellate order of the Deputy Collector was also void.
2. In order to appreciate the grievance of the petitioners in this petition, it is necessary to note a few relevant facts. The petitioners filed an application on 8-11-1981 before the. ALT and Mamlatdar, Anand for getting fixed the purchase price Of land bearing S. No., 1082/1, admeasuring 0 acre 38 guntas situated in the sim of Arland town of Kheda district. The petitioners contended that they were cultivating the said land since long They, had become deemed purchasers of the said land on 13-12-196io which was the deemed purchase date so far as the lands situated on the outskirts of Anand town were concerned. The contention of the landlords was to the effect that the petitioners were not the tenants of the land in dispute but on the contrary, respondents Nos. 3 tind4were the tenants there of-The Mamlatdar and ALT after recording evidence of the respective parties passed an order on 29-5-1974 taking the view that the petitioners we're the tenants of the disputed land and were required to be treated as deemed purchasers thereof and accordingly, Purchase price was fixed in favour of the petitioners. The said order is at Annexure 'A' to the petition.
3. Respondents Nos. 1 and 2 carried the matter in appeal before the Deputy Collector,. Anand, being Appeal No. 163 Of 1974 which was dismissed by the Deputy Collector. It is, thereafter, that respondents Nos 1 and 2 filed a revision application under S. 96 of the said Act before the GRT.
4. It is now the to touch the moot question in controversy between the parties in the present proceeding & Before the Mamlatdar and ALT, rt was contended on behalf of the respondents that under & Sec (1) (b) of the said Ask the entire area in which the land in dispute was situated was reserved by the state Government for, non-agricultural or industrail development., Consequently, the petitioner~ could not have been declared deem act. purchasers of the said land. as Ss. 1 to 87 of the said Act got excluded -in their application to the disputed, land by virtue of the aforesaid exemption notification. The Mamlatdar and ALT took the view that the exemption, notification was issued. on 26-7-1963 much later to the date on whieh the petitioners had become deemed purchasers that is on 13-12-1960, which was the deemed purchase date as noted above. consequently, the 'id exemption notification, according to the Mamlatdar, had no effect on the rights of the petitioners to be declared deemed purchasers..the said land. The Deputy Collector, Anand confirmed. the aforesaid view of the Mamlatdar. So far as the GRT was concerned, it came to a factual find ing emerging from the record of the case: that, no , such notification under S. 88(1)(4) of the said Act was ever issued for that area within which the land in question was situated. According to the GRT, the only notification which was on . record of the case was that notificati6n issued under S. 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, seeking to acquire the disputed land under the provisions of the latter Act for establishment of industrial township by the G. 1. D. C. The Tribunal held that the legal consequence of. such declaration under S. 6 of the Land Acquisition Act followed by the act of taking of ' possession of the said land was to the effect that' the land vest ed in the State. Government free from all encumbrances as provided by S. 17 of the Land Acquisition , Act. Consequently, the petitioners could not have been declared deemed purchasers under the said Act. It is only on this short ground that the GRT declared the orders of the lower authorities as null and void. The petitioners, as noted 'earlier, have felt aggrieved by the aforesaid decision of the GRT and have approached this court by way of the present proceeding
5. Mr. Patel, learned' advocate for the petitioners vehemently contended that the GRT had committed a patent error of law in taking the view that the decisions rendered by the Mamlatdar and ALT as well as the Deputy collector were nul1,and void on- account of, the .subsequent notification issued under Section 6 of the. Land. Acquisition Act which Was published in the, Government official gazette In Part 1 on 21-6-1969 and pursuant to which, possession of the land was taken by the State, Government for establishment of industrial township at, Anand be the G.I.D.C. Mr. Patel submitted that in the present, case, deemed purchase date was 13-12-1960. The short question before the tenancy authorities was as to whether the' petitioners who were in lawful possession of the land on the aforesaid date could be declared to be deemed purchasers thereof as on- that day. Any subsequent acquisition of the said land by- the State Government for any public purpose cannot take away the jurisdiction of the tenancy authorities to decide the aforesaid question. That once the petitioners are declared deemed purchasers of the disputed land on 13-12-1960 'if subsequently this land got veste4 in the State Government under, the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, the only effect would be that the petitioners as deemed purchasers would not be entitled to put forward their claim for compensation before that acquisition officer and can carry the contention about adequate compensation to its logical end by following the hierarchy of proceedings as contemplated by the Land Acquisition Act. But that had nothing to do with the jurisdiction of the ALT in connection with the contention of the petitioners that they had become deemed purchasers on 13-12-1960. Accordingly, the proceedings could not have been held to be totally void as wrongly assumed by the GRT.
6. The learned Advocate for respondents in his turn tried to support the decision of the GRT on the basis of the reasoning adopted by it.
7. Having heard the learned Advocates of the respective parties, I have come to the conclusion that the decision rendered by the GRT is patently erroneous in law and cannot be sustained. A few relevant dates have got to be kept in view while deciding the controversy between the parties. The petitioners claim to be lawful tenants of the land, The ALT as well as the Deputy Collector and the GRT have not, at any stage, taken the view that. the petitioners were not the lawful tenants of the land at the relevant time. The deemed purchase date in the' present case is 13-12-1960 as laid down by S. 43-C of the said Act.' There is no dispute on this point between the parties. Theret9re, the short question1which remained for consideration before The Mamlatdar was as to whether the petitioners could be declared the deemed purchasers of the land and whether price could be fixed in their favour in '.he light of the fact situation that exist on the deemed purchase date that is 13-12-1960. The Mamlatdar, under S. 32 read with S. 32-G had ample jurisdiction to entertain and decide this question. Any subsequent acquisition of this land Under the Land Acquisition Act would obviously have no effect what so ever the decision of the competent tenancy authorities to effect that petitioners are declared to be deemed purchasers of the disputed land with effect from 13-12-1960 If subsequently, the said land is taken by the State Government for a sub purpose under the Land Acquisition Act and the land gets vested in the State Government free from all encumbrances, even then the petitioners would obviously be entitled to put forward their claim for compensation before the land acquisition officer and before higher authorities under the said But that was entirely a different question. It had nothing to do with the powers of the tenancy authorities in deciding the question of deemed purchase of the disputed land by the petitioners on a day much prior to the issuance of the? I and acquisition notification. The GRT placed reliance on Section 17 of than Larid Acquisition Act , and took the view that under that provision, vesting of the valid in the State Government would be from all encumbrances. Thus, the petitioners' tenancy rights also would get destroyed. It is impossible to agree with the aforesaid conclusion to which the Tribunal has reached. It is obvious that if the petitioners had become deemed purchasers on 13-2-1960, subsequently when the disputed land came to be acquired by the State Government, there would be no subsisting tenanev rights therein us the said rights, much prior, had been enlarged into statutory ownership rights by combined operation!, of' Ss. 32. 32-B and 43-C of the said NO. Thus, S. 17 of Land Acquisition Act was out of picture at any stage after 1960. It is true that by the me the Mamlatdar decided the controversy between the parties, that is on, 29-5-1974, the arid in question had already got acquired and had vested in the State Government, but the moot point which requires to be kept in view is that all that the ALT and Mamlatdar did on 29-5-1974.was to adjudicate the inter se rights of the parties qua the disputed land as on 13-12-1960. Consequently, whatever may be the date on which the Mamlatdar decided, what is to be noted is as to in connection with which period and which date ' that the said adjudication was made. It is obvious that adjudication by the Mamlatdar would relate back to the deemed purchase date that is 13-12-1960 and the Mamlatdar had nothing to do With the subsequent happenings qua the disputed land and the respective rights of the parties therein. The Tribunal missed this salient feature of the matter and consequently arrived at a wrong conclusion of law that S. 17 of the Land Acquisition Act had intervened prior to the decision of the Mamlatdar and ALT and had destroyed the subsisting tenancy rights of the petitioners in the disputed land. This finding is patently erroneous in law and cannot be sustained even for a moment once this conclusion is reached, the result is obvious. The ALT was having jurisdiction to adjudicate the dispute between the parties pertaining to the disputed land as on deemed purchase date i.e. 13-12-1960 and the said adjudication in favour of the petitioners was well sustained in law as they were the lawful tenants of the land on 13-1-1960. Consequently, they were rightly declared to be deemed purchasers thereof and purchase price was rightly fixed in their favour. It is interesting to note, that even though the landlords contended that respondents Nos. 3 and 4 were the lawful tenants of the disputed land and even though that contention was rejected by the ALT,, respondents Nos. 3 and 4 never challenged the said adverse finding against them by joing into appeal. Thus, respondents Nos. 3 and 4 were out of arena after the decision of the Mamlatdar. Thereafter, the contest remained between the landlords on one hand and the petitioners or the other. In view of the over wheeling evidence on record, the Mamlatdar and Deputy Collector were justified in taking the view that the petitioners were lawful tenants of the land on the deemed purchase date and were entitled to be declared deemed purchasers and purchase price was required to be fixed in their favour. The GRT wrongly assumed that subsequent land acquisition proceedings had deprived the tenancy authorities of their power to adjudicate upon this question. Consequently the conclusion arrived at by the GRT that the orders of the lower authorities were void, has got to be quashed and set aside.
8.In the result, this petition is allowed. Rule issued in the petition is made absolute. The order of the GRT at Annexure 'C' is quashed and set aside and instead, the orders passed by the Mamlatdar and ALT, Anand at annexure 'A' and the order of the Deputy Collector at annexure 'B' are restored. In the facts and circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.
9. Petition allowed.