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Ambalal Purshottamdas Kachhia Vs. Chimanbhai Shivabhai @ Bhagwandas - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtGujarat High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in(1978)19GLR243
AppellantAmbalal Purshottamdas Kachhia
RespondentChimanbhai Shivabhai @ Bhagwandas
Cases ReferredIn Emperor v. Haji Shaik Mahamed Shustrai I.L.R.
Excerpt:
.....section, a bar is created against the eviction of a tenant, if he is in occupation of a dwelling house built at his own expense or the expense of his predecessor-in-title on a site in any village belonging to the landlord, unless certain conditions are satisfied. the tribunal observed that from the evidence it was clear that the petitioner could be giving at best a fraction of his time in preparing moulds for cement pipes and that it could not, therefore, be held that he was predominantly and mainly an artisan who was employed in mechanical operations useful for the purpose of agriculture and that he was, therefore, not an artisan within the meaning of section 18. i am unable to see my way to take a different view of the matter. the petitioner could have led evidence to show..........on both the points, as earlier stated, the tribunal found against him. be it noted that the word 'artisan' is not defined in the act. the tribunal, following its earlier decision, held that to come within the purview of the term 'artisan,' a person must be 'a mechanic or handicrafts man who has by his avocation done some work connected with or useful for agriculture' and 'such work must be his main occupation requiring use of his personal manual art or skill and is useful for agriculture'. the question is whether this test applied by the tribunal is justified by the statutory language.4. now, it requires to be noted, in the first place, that it is not each and every artisan occupying a dwelling house in any village who is entitled to the protection of section 18. the act deals.....
Judgment:

P.D. Desai, J.

1. S. No. 404 of village Vaso, Taluka Nadiad, District Kaira belongs to the opponent. It admeasures 1 acre-20 gunthas. A portion of the said land admeasuring about 1264 sd. yards, in respect of which permission for non-agricultural use was obtained, was let to the petitioner. The said portion of the land will be referred to as 'the suit land' or 'disputed land' in the course of this judgment. The tenancy of the petitioner in respect of the suit land was terminated by a notice and a civil suit was filed against the petitioner by the opponent for eviction. In the said suit, the petitioner contended that he was an artisan in occupation of a dwelling house built by him at his own expense on the suit land and that he could not be evicted from such dwelling house and the land immediately appurtenant thereto, except in accordance with the provisions of Section 16 read with Section 18 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') and that, therefore, the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit. The petitioner contended that an issue should be raised covering the aforesaid plea and that such issue should be referred to the Tenancy Court for its decision. In the course of the said proceeding the Civil Court referred the following issue to the Tenancy Court under Section 85A of the Act:

Whether the defendant proves that he is an artisan and that the land in suit is site of his dwelling house?

The aforesaid issue was reformed by the Tenancy Court which split it up into two parts as under:

1. Whether it is true that the defendant Ambalal Parshottam Kachhiya is an agricultural artisan?

2. Whether it is proved that the disputed land is the site of his dwelling house?

Extensive evidence was led before the Tenancy Court. The Tenancy Court found against the petitioner on both the aforesaid issues. In appeal, the Appellate Court confirmed the findings of the Tenancy Court on both the said issues. In revision, the Gujarat Revenue Tribunal also concurred in the findings of the lower authorities and it dismissed the revision application. Hence the present writ petition.

2. Section 18 of the Act reads as under: 'The provisions of Sections 16, 17, 17A and 17B shall apply-

(a) to the dwelling houses and sites thereof occupied by agricultural labourers and artisans in any village; and

(b) to the lands held on lease in any village by persons carrying on an allied pursuit for the purpose of such pursuit.

Section 16 of the Act, which is also relevant, reads as under:

(1) If in any village a tenant is in occupation of a dwelling house built at the expense of such tenant or his predecessor-in-title on a site belonging to his landlord, such tenant shall not be evicted from such dwelling house (with the materials and the site thereof and the land immediately appurtenant thereto and necessary for its enjoyment) unless-

(a) the landlord proves that the dwelling house was not built at the expense of such tenant or his predecessor-in-title; and

(b) such tenant makes any three defaults in the payment of rent, if any, which he has been paying for the use and occupation of such site.

(2) The provisions of Sub-section (1) shall not apply to a dwelling house which is situated on any land used for the purposes of agriculture from which he has been evicted under Section 31.

Under the last-mentioned section, a bar is created against the eviction of a tenant, if he is in occupation of a dwelling house built at his own expense or the expense of his predecessor-in-title on a site in any village belonging to the landlord, unless certain conditions are satisfied. The protection extends also to the land immediately appurtenant to such dwelling house and necessary for its enjoyment. Under Section 18, the protection extended to a tenant has been made applicable also to: (1) the dwelling houses and sites thereof occupied by agricultural labourers and artisans in any village; and (2) the lands held on lease in any village by persons carrying on an allied pursuit for the purpose of such pursuit. We are concerned in the present case with the first category mentioned in Section 18, for, admittedly the petitioner is not covered in the second category.

3. Two questions arise for consideration in the context of the above statutory position and the facts and circumstances of the case. First, whether the petitioner is an artisan within the meaning of Section 18 and, secondly, whether he is in occupation of any dwelling house constructed by him at his own expense on a site belonging to the opponent. On both the points, as earlier stated, the Tribunal found against him. Be it noted that the word 'artisan' is not defined in the Act. The Tribunal, following its earlier decision, held that to come within the purview of the term 'artisan,' a person must be 'a mechanic or handicrafts man who has by his avocation done some work connected with or useful for agriculture' and 'such work must be his main occupation requiring use of his personal manual art or skill and is useful for agriculture'. The question is whether this test applied by the Tribunal is justified by the statutory language.

4. Now, it requires to be noted, in the first place, that it is not each and every artisan occupying a dwelling house in any village who is entitled to the protection of Section 18. The Act deals with the relationship of landlord and tenant of agricultural land and its object, inter alia, is to improve the economic and social conditions of tenants. With that end in view, it has enacted provisions to regulate and impose restrictions on the transfer of agricultural lands, dwelling houses, sites and lands appurtenant thereto belonging to or occupied by agriculturists, agricultural labourers and artisans and to make provisions for certain other purposes. The aforesaid scope and purpose of the Act, as evidenced by the preamble, furnishes a guideline in determining the true meaning of the word 'artisan'. Besides, the word 'artisan' is used in conjunction with the words 'agricultural labourers' in Section 18 itself. These features indicate that an artisan who claims the protection of the said section must be engaged in some work, connected with or useful for agriculture.

5. The next point for consideration is as to what the word 'artisan' means. According to the dictionary meanings, it inter alia means 'a machanic or handicraftsman' (See Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition at page 103); a craftsman; a skilled mechanic; an artificer (See Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Second Edition, at page 107); one skilled in some kind of mechanical craft; one trained for manual dexterity in some mechanic art or trade; a handicraftsman; a mechanic; one who is empowered in an industrial or mechanic art or trade; a skilled mechanic (See Corpus Juris Secundum, Vol. 6 at page 779).

6. The term has also come up for judicial interpretation. In Namdeo v. Rarnkrishna the word 'artisan' was taken as meaning 'one trained to mechanical dexterity in some mechanical art or trade.' A carpenter was held in the said decision to be an artisan within the meaning of Article 7 of the Limitation Act, 1908. In Noor Ali v. Kanpur Omnibus Service Ltd. : AIR1955All707 , in the context of the same provision, the word 'artisan' was taken as including a mechanic and it was, therefore, held that a bus driver who not only drove a bus but in the event of break-down also repaired the same was included in the category of an artisan. It was in terms observed that in the modern age when the industries have considerably advanced any person who participates in industrial activities or is a mechanic can be classed as artisan and that the said word was not confined to an artist who carries on activities in fine arts only. In T.R. Punnavanam Pillai v. Muthuswami Achari : AIR1962Mad444 , it was held that the word 'artisan', in the context of Section 60(1) of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, must have a restricted meaning, that is to say, a handicraftsman or artificer who is employed in any of the industrial arts. It was held that a goldsmith was an artisan because he was a handicraftsman who was engaged in one of the industrial arts of trade and who was making a living by selling articles which he made. In Emperor v. Haji Shaik Mahamed Shustrai I.L.R. 32 Bombay 10, the question was whether a person engaged to drive an engine on board a steamer was an artisan within the meaning of Section 107 of the Indian Emigration Act, 1883. A Division Bench of the High Court observed that in the absence of a definition the term was required to be interpreted in the conventional sense in which it is used and, accordingly, it would cover person who is engaged in a mechanical employment. That was the popular meaning and there was no reason to suppose that the Legislature meant to use it in any other sense. Having regard to that meaning, the Division Bench found that the driver of an engine on board a steamer was an artisan.

7. From the foregoing meanings given to the word 'artisan' in different dictionaries and judicial decisions, it would appear that the word 'artisan' is used sometimes in a restricted sense and sometimes in a wider sense. In the context of Section 18 of the Act, which is a beneficent measure, it would be appropriate to take a wider meaning and, accordingly, any mechanic or handicraftsman who is engaged in an employment connected with or useful for agriculture must be treated as an artisan.

8. The next question is as to what approach should be adopted when an artisan is found to be employed in some work connected with or useful for agriculture and also some other work which may have no connection with agriculture. In other words, when an artisan is performing dual functions in the course of mechanical employment, one which is connected with agriculture and the other which is not, what test should be adopted to determine whether he is an artisan within the meaning of Section 18. To my mind, in such a case, the test to be adopted must be as to what is the predominant work done by such artisan. The question must be resolved on an integrated view of all his activities and if it is proved that he is primarily and predominantly concerned with activities which are connected with or useful for agricultural purposes, he must be held to be an artisan within the meaning of Section 18.

9. Now, bearing in mind the aforesaid meaning of the word 'artisan' employed in Section 18, let us examine the decision of the Tribunal in the present case. The Tribunal found that the suit land was taken on lease as an open land for storing sand grit, etc. Later on, a superstructure was put upon the land and the petitioner started manufacturing cement pipes therein. However, the process of manufacture was not confined to cement pipes alone. The petitioner manufactured quite a number of other articles which have no connection whatsoever with agricultural operations. The petitioner, in the course of his deposition, himself admitted that he manufactured several articles other than cement pipes which were used for supplying water to the fields and that the pipes manufactured by him were supplied not only to agriculturists but also to the Village Panchayat. The petitioner further admitted that he was trading in sand and grit and that he was also selling through shop in the bazar cement pipes, cement stones, cement idols, cement benches, water tanks and gutter covers, etc. The Tribunal observed that from the evidence it was clear that the petitioner could be giving at best a fraction of his time in preparing moulds for cement pipes and that it could not, therefore, be held that he was predominantly and mainly an artisan who was employed in mechanical operations useful for the purpose of agriculture and that he was, therefore, not an artisan within the meaning of Section 18. I am unable to see my way to take a different view of the matter. With the evidence on the record of the case as it stands, the Tribunal was justified in taking the view that it did. The petitioner could have led evidence to show that he was predominantly engaged in the manufacture of cement pipes used by the agriculturists for supply of water to their fields, but he failed to do so and the evidence on record seems to suggests that he manufactures hardly about 3600 feet of cement pipe annually which are supplied by him both to agriculturists as well as to the Panchayat and other personsin the village. His business operations in the other fields and his trading activities covering other items seem to be extensive, having regard to the evidence on record. Under the circumstances, in my opinion, the Tribunal was right in the view that it took and no exception could be taken to its finding on the first point.

10. On the second point, the Tribunal decided against the petitioner but, in my opinion, wrongly. The Tribunal was of the view that the superstructure constructed by the petitioner on the suit land was not a dwelling house, primarily because there were no facilities for cooking and the petitioner used to get his food prepared at his another house, although he was residing in the said superstructure. I do not think that the word 'dwelling house' must be construed so narrowly as to mean a house which necessarily has a kitchen and in which the occupant necessarily cooks his food. If such a view were to be taken, the houses of many a bachelor or widower who may not be cooking his own food could not be classified as a 'dwelling house'. The word 'dwelling', according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, means a place of residence; habitation, house. It is not as if that which contains both lodging and boarding facility will alone qualify as a dwelling house. In my opinion, therefore, the finding of the Tribunal on the second question has not been arrived at by applying the proper test. However, even if the said finding is held to be erroneous in law, the result of the matter would not be any the less different, in view of the fact that on the first issue, the decision of the Tribunal is found to be in accordance with law.

In the result, the writ petition fails and is dismissed. Rule is ischarged with no order as to costs.


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