1. These are two connected applications for issue of a writ under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, and the applicants pray that the Rajasthan Produce Rents Regulating Act (No. 15) of 1951 (hereinafter called the main Act) as amended by the Rajasthan Produce Rents Regulating (Amendment) Act, (No. 14) of 1952 (hereinafter called the Amendment Act) be declared unconstitutional, and therefore void and unenforceable. These applications along with similar other applications came up for hearing on the 31st March, 1953, and subsequent days and were heard together. This judgment will, therefore, govern all other cases which were listed along with these two cases for hearing on the same dates, as the points involved in all these cases are exactly the same.
2. The applicant in case No. 351 is Raj Sahiban Shersingh, jagirdar of Nibaj in the district of Sirohi, while Sawai Singh, a Bhomia in villages Kakrana and Udaipur in district Jhunjhunu, is the applicant in case No. 544. Their case is that they had always been receiving from their tenants one-third to one-fourth of the gross produce of land depending upon whether the land was un-irrigated or irrigated. By section 4 of the main Act, the share of the land-holder was reduced to one-fourth of the gross produce notwithstanding any custom, usage or practice to the contrary or anything contained in any law, enactment, rule, order or instrument, and this applied whether the land was irrigated or unirrigated. By the Amendment Act, the, share of the landholder was further reduced to one-sixth of the gross produce excluding Bhusa, dry stalks of a crop or grass or any other natural produce. Further, by the Amendment Act the law was made applicable to all agricultural lands in Rajasthan instead of lands situated in unsettled areas, which was the provision of the main Act.
3. The attack on the constitutionality of the two Acts is three-fold. In the first place, it is urged that the bill relating to the main Act was not prepared by the Raj Pramukh, that he never declared in respect of the bill relating to the main Act that he assented to the said bill, and; that the formalities of Article 200 of the Constitution, as amended by Article 212A were never complied with in connection with the main Act. The main Act being thus invalid, the Amendment Act, being merely an Amending Act, became invalid also.
4. Secondly, it is urged that the two Acts violated the principle of equal protection of the laws enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution and discriminated in favour of tenants as against landlords. There is further discrimination inasmuch as landholders in settled areas, where cash rents have been fixed, are in effect getting much more than one-sixth of the gross produce in addition to irrigation charges for irrigated lands.
5. Lastly, it is urged that the two Acts violate Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution, and interfere with the fundamental right of the applicants to hold property, as the applicant's income has beenarbitrarily reduced from one-third or one-fourth of the gross produce to one-sixth, and no account is taken, in fixing the one-sixth share of the nature of the soil, availability of water for irrigation, and other factors which are usually taken into account when rents are fixed at a settlement. Further as the Amendment Act excludes Bhusa, dry stalks, grass, and other natural product from being taken into consideration, it may result in completely wiping out the income of the applicants if tenants used the lands exclusively for purposes of pasture or production of fodder.
The provision is made further unjust by the fact that some of the lands, even in unsettled areas, were paying cash rent at a customary rate called Bighori, and that rent continues to be payable without variation.
6. In the end, it is urged that the legislature had considered one-fourth share as reasonable in 1951, arid no circumstances had intervened when the Amendment Act was passed in 1952 to warrant the reduction of this share to one-sixth, and as such the Amendment Act, in any case, was unreasonable and not protected by Article 19(5).
7. The application has been opposed on behalf of the State, and it is urged that the main Act was validly passed, and that the two Acts do not contravene the provisions of Arts. 14 and 19(1)(f) of the Constitution, and are perfectly valid.
8. We shall first consider the argument whether the main Act was validly passed, and the formalities required by the Constitution, for the making of the Act were all complied with. The State of Rajasthan had no legislature at the time when the main Act was passed, and therefore certain provisions of the Constitution were not applicable to this State. This was provided by the addition of Article 212 A(1) by the Constitution (Removal of Difficulties) Order, No. II, and the following provisions thereof are relevant for our purposes :
'(1) The provisions of articles 174 to 189 (both inclusive), 193 to 199 (both inclusive), the first proviso to article 200, the proviso to article 201, Clauses (1) and (2) and Sub-clause (b) of Clause (3) of article 202 and Articles 203 to 212 (both inclusive) shall not apply to any State which has no House of the Legislature but Clauses (2) and (3) shall apply in relation to such States in place of the said provisions.
(2) The Rajpramukh or other authority exercising legislative powers in any such State as aforesaid under Article 385 shall prepare such Bills as may be deemed necessary, and the Rajpramukh shall declare as respects any Bill so prepared either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves it for the consideration of the President.'
Article 385 provides as follows:
'Until the House or Houses of the Legislature of a State specified in Part B of the First Schedule has or have been duly constituted and summoned to meet for the first session under the provisions of this Constitution, the body or authority functioning immediately before the commencement of this Constitution as the Legislature of the corresponding Indian State shall exercise the powers and perform, the duties conferred by the provisions of this Constitution on the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State so specified.'
9. The legislative authority in this State was vested in the Rajpramukh who was given power to make and promulgate Ordinances for the peaceand good Government of the State or any part thereof, and any Ordinance so made was to have the like force of law as an Act passed by the legislature of the United State under Article X(3) of the Covenant. Therefore, under Article 385 of the Constitution, the Rajpramukh was the authority who could pass laws in this State after the coming into force of the Constitution. Further, as there was no legislature in this State, the provisions of Article 212A, which have been set out above, applied to the making of a law here.
10. The argument on behalf of the applicants is that, under Article 212A(2), the Rajpramukh has first to prepare a bill and thereafter declare that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves it for the consideration of the President. In this case, it is said that the Bill relating to the main Act was never prepared by the Rajpramukh, and there is nothing to show that hi declared his assent to the bill so prepared. The main Act was published in the Rajasthan Gazette Extraordinary No. 47, dated 4th June 1951, and the notification says
'that the following Act made on the 2nd day of June 1951 by His Highness the Rajpramukh in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by article 385 of the Constitution of India is hereby published for general information.'
There is a further note that the Act was made by His Highness the Rajpramukh on the 2nd day of June, 1951. This, it is urged on behalf of the applicants, does not comply with the formalities required under Article 212A(2), as there was no preparation of the bill by the Rajpramukh and no declaration of his assent to it.
11. We are of opinion that this argument has no force. Under Article 385, the authority preparing the bill and the authority assenting to the bill are the same. It seems to us, therefore, that when it was notified on the 4th of June that the main Act had been made by His Highness the Rajpramukh on the 2nd of June, 1951, we may very well infer that the bill was prepared under his direction, and that he assented to the bill so prepared on the 2nd of June, 1951. This inference is supported by an affidavit of Shri Lakshmilal Joshi, secretary to the Government of Rajasthan in the Revenue Department, to the effect 'that the Rajasthan Produce Rents Regulation Bill 1951, which culminated into the main Act after receiving the assent of the Rajpramukh, was prepared in the Secretariat in accordance with the Rules of business made by the Rajpramukh under Article 166 of the Constitution.
12. No bill is drafted by His Highness the Rajpramukh personally. The drafting is done in the department concerned which sponsors the bill, and the draft is approved by the Council of Ministers. Accordingly a draft bill was prepared in the Revenue Department of the Secretariat on 3-5-51, and was approved by the then Revenue Minister on 9-5-51, and thereafter it was further approved by the Council of Ministers on 12-5-51. It was then vetted by the Law Department and finally submitted to His Highness the Rajpramukh for his assent which he gave on the 2nd of June, 1951. This assent was declared by publication in the extraordinary gazette of the 4th of June by the use of the words that the Act was made by His Highness the Rajpramukh on the 2nd of June, 1951. Under these circumstances, we are satisfied that the formalities required by Article 212A(2) were properly complied with in this case.
13. It was urged further that the declaration of assent should be made public in some form orother, and, as this was not done, it cannot be said that the bill, out of which the main Act has arisen, received the assent of His Highness the Rajpramukh. In this connection, reliance was placed on -- 'John Sharp & Sons Ltd. V. Ship Katherine Mackall', 34 Com W L R 420 (A). In that case, section 60 of the Constitution of Australia came hi for consideration. It provided that a proposed law reserved lor the King's pleasure shall not have any force unless and until within two years from the date on which it was presented to the Governor-General for the Sovereign's assent the Governor-General makes known, by speech or message to each of the Houses of the Parliament, or by proclamation, that it has received the Sovereign's assent. In that case there was publication in the Commonwealth Government Gazette for general information that the law in dispute had received the King's assent. That was', however, held to be insufficient by Isaacs J. (the other Judges expressing no opinion thereon).
The facts of that case however have no application to the facts of the case before us. There section 60 provided a specific mode in which the assent had to be signified. Article 212A (2) does not provide for any specific mode for declaring the assent, and we are of opinion that when the Gazette Extraordinary of the 4th of June, 1951, declared that the Act was made by His Highness the Rajpramukh on the 2nd of June, 1951, it obviously amounted to a declaration that the bill had received the assent of His Highness on that date. We, therefore, overrule this objection.
14. We now come to the argument based on Article 14 of the Constitution- That Article says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. The argument in this connection is two-fold. It is urged, in the first place, that this legislation favoured one class namely the tenants as against another class namely the landlords, and as such is discriminatory. Stated in this form, the argument appears attractive; but deeper scrutiny will show that if such an argument were to be accepted, it would cut at the root of all measures introduced for the welfare of a class of citizens of this country and be against the very spirit underlying our Constitution.
Tenancy laws aiming at the welfare of the tenantry, which forms a large part of the population, have always been a feature of ameliorating legislation in our country. These laws have been aimed at reducing the burden on the tenantry in order to raise the economic position of the large majority of the citizens of this country and have generally resulted in the reduction of the amount which the landlords have been receiving from the tenants in the past. They give a little more to the tenant who, by his labour, produces crops, and a little less is left to the landlord who happens to be the owner of the land. It does not follow that such a legislation is per se discriminatory in favour of the tenants and against the landlords. If it were to be held that such legislation is per se discriminatory and is hit by Article 14, many beneficent measures for the good of the society as a whole would be killed.
15. It would be a different matter if a different share was fixed for different landlords. Then it could have been said that there was discrimination between landlord and landlord and Article 14 applied. But where, as in this case, there is no discrimination of that kind, it cannot, in our opinion, be said that merely because a little more isleft to the tenants, and little less is left to the landlords, the legislation is against Article 14. A number of cases of the United States Supreme Court, namely -- 'Barbier v. Connolly', (1885) 113 U S 27 (B); -- Tembina Consolidated Silver Mining and Milling Co. v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania', (1883) 125 U S 131 (C); -- 'Chicago Milwankee and St. Paul Ry. Co. v. State of Minnesota', (1890) 134 U S 418 (D); -- 'Reagan v. Farmers Loan & Trust Co. (No. 1)', (1894) 154 U S 352 (E); -- 'Smyth v. Ames', (1898) 169 U S 466 (F) and -- 'Truax v. Corrigon', (1920) 257 U S 312 (G), were cited in this connection. It is, in our opinion, unnecessary to deal with these cases one by one as they mainly deal with, the interpretation of the 'due process' clause in the United States Constitution, though here and there reference has been made to the equal protection clause. We have no 'due process clause' in our Constitution, and those considerations, which governed the interpretation of the 'due process' clause, need not be imported by us when dealing with Article 14.
16. The last case that was cited was -- 'Thomas Connolly v. Union Sewer Pipe Co.', (1901) 184 TJ S 540 (H). That was, however, clearly a case hit by the equal protection clause, for the Act impugned in that case provided that it would not apply to agricultural products or live stock while in the hands of the producer or raiser. Thus while the Act applied to such products in other hands, it did not apply to those products in the hands of the producer and raiser, and it was held that this was against the equal protection clause. The facts of that case, therefore, have no bearing on the facts of the case before us, where a certain provision, is made as to the share of the landlord in the gross produce of holdings. There is no discrimination between tenant and tenant or between landlord and landlord in the two Acts impugned before us. Merely by calling the two Acts class legislation, they cannot be said to impugn Article 14,
17. The second argument in this connection is this. It is said that, under the Amendment Act, the share of the landlord has been reduced to one-sixth in those areas where cash rents have not been fixed. There are other areas in Rajasthan where cash rents have been fixed, and this fixation has been made by commuting one-third or one-fourth of the gross produce into cash at the time of the settlement. Therefore, it is urged that there has been discrimination in effect in favour of those areas where cash rents had already been fixed, thus causing loss to landlords in unsettled areas.
In this connection reference was made, for example, to Section 82(2) of the Marwar Land Revenue Act (No. XL of 1949) which provides that the rent rates proposed shall not exceed one-third of the value of the produce of unirrigated lands, and one-fourth of the value of the produce of irrigated lands. There is a similar provision in Section 82 of the Jaipur State's Grants Tenures Act (No. 1 of 1947), and Section 42 of the Jaipur Land Revenue Act (No. XXXVI of 1947). It is, therefore, urged that in settled areas cash rents have been fixed at the rate of one-third of the produce for unirrigated lands, and one-fourth of the produce in irrigated lands, while in unsettled areas the landlords are being allowed only one-sixth of the produce whether the land is irrigated or unirrigated.
13. In this connection two things may be pointed out. In the first place, the proportion fixed in Section 82(2) of the Marwar Land Revenue Act for example is the maximum, and it does not follow that the settlement officer, while making the settlement, has in each case allowed the maximum.. He may very well have allowed something less than the maximum, in fixing the rent rates. In the second place, it must be remembered that in recent years there has been a, great rise in prices. Some settlements have been held recently as would appear from, the affidavits filed by parties. But it is very difficult to say that the cash rents, which have been fixed, are so high as discriminate in favour of the landlords of settled area lor example, there is a provision in Section 82(1) (b) of the Marwar Land Revenue Act authorising the Government to exclude such of the preceding ten years as the Government considered abnormal in the matter of the prices of agricultural produce. It cannot, therefore in our opinion, be clearly said that one-sixth of the gross produce of grain which will be received by the landlords under ins amendment Act would in cash at present prices work out to much less than the cash rents fixed in settled areas.
In any case, there is very insufficient material beiore us to enable us to say that there has been infringement of Article 14 of the Constitution by the amendment Act, inasmuch as landlords in settled areas are getting much more as cash rent than would be the value of the one-sixth share now allowed under the amendment Act. The contention on behalf of the State is that in actual fact the maximum allowed under the law was not the basis in any of the recent settlements, and it cannot, therefore, be said that there was any discrimination in this manner. Be that as it may, it is enough to repeat that the data before us is utterly insufficient to come to the conclusion that there is discrimination of this sort between landlords in settled areas and landlords in other areas on account of these two Acts. We are, therefore, clearly of opinion that the two impugned Acts are not hit by Article 14 of the Constitution.
19. We now come to the argument based on Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution. That article guarantees the fundamental right of citizens to acquire, hold, and dispose of property. It is subject to Article 19(5) which says that nothing in Article 19(1)(f) shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes or prevent the State from making any law imposing reasonable restrictions on the exercise of, any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clause either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any scheduled tribe. It is not seriously disputed that it is open to the State to pass a law fixing principles on which rents should be fixed. What is urged is that the proportion arrived at in the present case, particularly in the amendment Act was purely arbitrary, and that no enquiry was made, and the restriction which was put on the power of landlords to collect rent for their land was, not in the interest of the general public.
In support of the arbitrariness of this fixation, it is pointed out that no difference was made between irrigated and unirrigated lands and no provision was made for payment of water rate separate from rent. The reply to this argument is that the Acts are of a temporary nature and had to be passed as there were disputes between landlords and tenants, which created unrest in the tenantry. It was necessary, therefore, to pass this legislation in order to restore agrarian peace. It has been decided by Government to have settlement operations in those areas also which are at present unsettled. This is, however, bound, to take time, and, therefore, these interim Acts were passed to bring peace to the countryside. It is urged that it was not necessary under the circumstances to make an elaborate enquiry, for the fact that prices of agricultural produce had risen abnormally was staring the Government in the face, and what the landlords get today by receiving one-sixth share of rent is much more in money value than what they got say 10 years ago by receiving even one-third of the produce. Finally it is urged that one-sixth of the gross produce is not an unreasonable share, and it cannot be said that the landlord's share has been made illusory or he has been left only with the husk of ownership.
20. We may consider the two Acts separately. So far as the main Act is considered, it is not in dispute that it was passed at a time when landlords used to take different shares in different parts of the State, and disputes used to arise. The Government, therefore, decided to fix the maximum pr6portion which a landlord could take as one-forth of the actual produce. This proportion was more or less the same as was prevalent in most parts of Rajasthan so far as irrigated lands were concerned. In the case of unirrigated lands, one-third of the gross produce used to be taken in most areas and there was a reduction of rent with respect to such lands. But this reduction to our mind, whereby the share of the gross-produce paid by a tenant in unirrigated land was brought to the same level as in the case of irrigated land, cannot be called an unreasonable restriction when a large number of tenants in Rajasthan of all irrigated lands were paying only one-fourth of the gross produce. The attack of the applicants also is not so much on the main Act as on the Amendment Act. So far, therefore, as the main Act is concerned, there is no difficulty in holding that it did not impose any unreasonable restriction on the right to hold property.
Let us now turn to the amendment Act of 1952, by which the proportion to be realized by the landlord was reduced from one-fourth to one-sixth. Before we consider whether this restriction was reasonable or not, we would like to refer to certain authorities which lay down principles on which reasonableness has to be judged.
21. It is well settled that it is for the courts to decide whether the restrictions are reasonable See (i) --- 'Jeshinghbhai Ishwarlal v. Emperor', AIR 1950 Bom 363 (FB) (I), Cii) -- 'Brajnandan Sharma v. State of Bihar', AIR 1950 Pat 322 (FB) (J). The principles, on which, the court would decide the reasonableness of an enactment were laid down by the Supreme Court in general terms in -- 'State of Madras v. V. G. Row', AIR 1952 S. C. 198 (K), in these words at page 200:
'The court should consider not only factors such as the duration and the extent of the restrictions, but also the circumstances under which and the manner in which their imposition has been authorised. It is important in this context to bear in mind that the test of reasonableness, wherever prescribed, should be applied to each individual statute impugned, and no abstract standard or general pattern of reasonableness can be laid down as applicable to all cases. The nature of the right alleged to have been infringed, the underlying purpose of the restrictions imposed, the extent and urgency of the evil sought to be remedied thereby the disproportion of the imposition, the prevailing conditions at the time, should all enter into the judicial verdict.'
22. Further, we must also remember the principle that the presumption is always in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment, and the burden is upon him, who attacks it, to show that there has been a clear transgression of the constitutional principles. Reference in this connection may be made to -- 'Subodh Gopal v. Beharilal', AIR 1951 Cal 85 (L). In that case Article 19(1)(f) and Article 19(5) came up for consideration, and it was held that the onus lay on the opposite party to show that the restrictions imposed were unreasonable because the law restricted a fundamental right which the petitioner had. The learned Judges relied on the observations of Fazl Ali ,7. in -- 'Charanjit Lal v. The Union of India', AIR 1951 SC 41 (M), and held that the onus lay upon the petitioner. These observations of Fazl Ali J. appear at page 45 in these words:
'It is the accepted doctrine of the American Courts, which I consider to be well founded on principle, that the presumption, is always in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment, and the burden is upon him who attacks it to show that there has been a clear transgression of the constitutional principles.'
The reason for this view is clear. The legislature must be supposed to know what the Constitution is. It must also be supposed to know that when it is imposing some restriction on a fundamental right it has to see that the restriction is reasonable. It, is correct that the law is open to judicial review, and the view of the legislature is not final. At the same time, the courts must begin with the presumption of constitutionality.
23. Our attention was drawn to the observations of Meredith C. J. in -- 'AIR 1950 Pat 322 (FB) (J)' at page 325:
'The burden is on the Government to establish that the provision is valid, that is to say, that it is reasonable, for, under the Constitution, the only restrictions that can be placed upon this particular fundamental right must be of reasonable character. There has been a prima facie infringement of that right, and prima facie no law can infringe that right. Therefore, the burden is, in my opinion, on the State to bring that law within the exception contained in Article 19, Clause (5) which alone can save it.'
In a sense it may be said that the law imposing restrictions on the right given in Article 19(1) has to be brought within the four corners of Article 19(5) if it is to be valid, and, if the learned Chief Justice means only this when he says that the burden is on the State to show that the law comes within the four-corners of Article 19(5), the observations may be accepted as correct. But these observations cannot take away from the general principle which was laid down by Fazl Ali J. in -- 'AIR 1951 SC 41 (M)' about the presumption as to the constitutionality of an enactment.
24. Further the reasonableness or otherwise of a law has to be judged on broad principles keeping in view the interests of the general public. In this case, we must not forget that the main Act was passed at a time when there was no legislature in Rajasthan, while the amendment Act was passed by the legislature after it came into existence, and it may well have been thought by the duly elected representatives of the people that the proportion fixed in 1951 was too high and left too little for the cultivators who form the vast majority of the population of this State.
25. Keeping these principles in view, let us now consider whether the reduction of the share to one-sixth is a reasonable restriction. This dependsupon whether this share is a reasonable proportion which the tenant should pay for the use of the land. If that share is reasonable in itself, the fact that elaborate enquiries were not made would not matter very much. It further seems to us that the absence of any classification between irrigated and unirrigated lands is not of much value where the payment of rent is in kind, for one-sixth of the produce on irrigated lands would be much more than the same proportion on the same area of unirrigated land, and therefore the landlord would be compensated even where he provides a well for irrigation.
It is true that discrimination is made between irrigated and unirrigated lands when settlement is made, but that is necessary when rent is fixed in cash. It is equally true that in former day the holder of irrigated land used to pay only one-fourth, of the produce, while the holder of unirrigated land used to pay one-third, and the present law, inasmuch as it obliterates this distinction, is a little in favour of those holding unirrigated lands. But, on the whole, it seems to us that, where payment is to be made in kind, the distinction between irrigated and unirrigated lands is not very material.
26. We come back;, therefore, again to the question whether fixation of one-sixth of the gross produce excluding Bhusa etc. is a fair and reasonable restriction in the interests of the general public. The tenantry in this State forms the vast majority of the population, and legislation ameliorating its condition must, in our opinion, be held to be in the interest of the general public. The only question, therefore, is whether the restriction on the receipt of rent by landlords to one-sixth of the produce in areas where cash rents have not been fixed is reasonable.
In this connection it was pointed out that normally the rate was one-third or one-fourth in most areas of Rajasthan, and that must be considered to be the reasonable rate. We are, however, of opinion that the mere fact that for years together the rate was one-third or one-fourth in many parts of Rajasthan does not necessarily mean that the rate of one-sixth is unreasonable. It may be that in old days the tenantry was weak and therefore subject to rack-renting and the rates of one-third and one-fourth were really too high. In order, therefore, to come to the conclusion whether one-sixth share is reasonable, we shall have to see what the share of the landlord is in other States of India.
27. In the statement of objects and reasons accompanying the Amendment Act, to which we can refer for the purpose of determining the reasonableness of the restriction, it is said that an examination of the conditions prevailing in Rajasthan has shown that the proportion fixed by the main Act in some cases exceeds the actual proportion which was being previously charged as rent. This is also clear from Section 4(2) of the main Act. This, in our opinion, is an important indication that even in Rajasthan there were some parts where the share of the produce realized as rent was less than one-fourth.
This would show that there is no such sanctity attached to one-fourth share as to make that share alone reasonable and any share less than one-fourth unreasonable. The statement of objects and reasons goes on to say that the traditional share of the State in the crops raised by tenants in India as laid down by Manu was one-sixth, and that had been adopted as the basis of settlement in several parts of India. It was further added that in the neighbouring State ofAjmer such share had been fixed at one-fifth in the case of tenants with heritable but non-transferable rights, and one-sixth in the case of occupancy tenants with heritable as well as transferable rights, and it was felt that it was but reasonable that a tenant in Rajasthan should not be liable to pay more rent than his counter-part in the adjoining State of Ajmer.
28. In his book on Land Revenue And Tenure in British India (p. 34), Baden-Powell mentions that the Law of Manu prescribed the levy of a produce share, and this was fixed at one-sixth of the gross produce for the State, though Manu added that this might be raised to one-fourth in time of war and other emergency. As there were no intermediaries in Manu's time, what the State got as revenue really amounted to rent. In the Raiyatwari system prevalent in Madras the State takes 50 per cent, of the net produce. Baden-Powell in his book already mentioned calculated what proportion it would bear to the gross produce. At page 204 he worked this out and found that where the gross produce was valued at Rs. 13/3/6 the net produce was only Rs. 4/- after deducting costs of production, and the State's share was fixed at Rs. 2/- which was less than one-sixth of the' gross produce.
In Raiyatwari areas also, there are no intermediaries between the State and the cultivators and the State revenue is more or less like rent. It appears, therefore, that in Madras Presidency the tenants pay one-sixth of the gross produce to the State as rent or revenue. But perhaps the share was greater in those areas where there were Zamindaris. Lately, however, the State of Madras reduced the share in the Zamindari areas to the same level as in Raiyatwari areas, and the matter was then taken to the High Court in -- 'Rajah of Bobbili v. State of Madras', AIR 1952 Mad 203 (N). It was held by the Madras High Court
'that an enjoyment of the property in the case of land-holders does not mean an absolute right to charge from the tenants whatever they like or to eject old tenants whenever they like and to keep new tenants on whatever terms they like. It only means enjoyment of the land in accordance with the laws that may regulate the relationship between land-holders and tenants. Collection of such rents as would be lawful would be full enjoyment of the property, and similarly, occupation by tenants according to law, even against the will of the landholder, or taking of new tenants on terms and conditions permissible by law but not in excess thereof would also be full enjoyment of the property.'
Finally, it was held that the reduction of the prevailing rent to Raiyatwari level could not be said to be unreasonable. So it seems that now in the whole of Madras State rents are at Raiyatwari level, i.e., one-half of the net produce after deducting cost of cultivation. Cost of cultivation generally comes to two-third of the gross produce as illustrated by Baden-Powel in his book referred to above, and therefore so far as the Madras State is concerned, we may safely assume that the tenants pay one-sixth of the gross produce as rent.
29. Dr. Sayana, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, University of Bombay, in his book on Sharing and Fixed Tenancy Systems, observes as follows at page 30:
'Besides the above evidence regarding existence of produce-sharing as an ancient method of cultivation of lands it is also reflected in the sys-tem of land revenue both under the Hindu and the Moghul administration. The king's share of agricultural produce called Ball varied from, 1/12, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6, upto 1/4, in the Hindu period, though 1/6 was common and 1/4 rare. Under the Moslem rule, the share was raised, varying from 1/3 to 1/2 of the produce, and under Aurangzib 1/2 became the standard.'
30. Dr. Radha Kumud Mookerjee in his note on the Indian Land-System, as a Member of the Bengal Land Revenue Commission of 1940, has mentioned at page 170 of the Report of the Land Revenue Commission Bengal, Volume II,
'The share in the Hindu system varied between 1/6 and 1/4 of the produce, 1/4 being exceptional. In Moslem India, the usual rate was raised and varied from 1/3 to 1/2. In Aurangzib's time, 1/2 became the standard.'
31. It seems therefore that the usual rate, which was considered reasonable in this country before foreign invaders came, was one-sixth as laid down by Manu, and in exceptional circumstances one-fourth. It is true that for the last few hundred years one-third to one-half has been the rate as fixed by the foreign invaders. But with the coming of the British there has been a tendency towards reducing this percentage which was prevalent in Moghul times.
32. In the Journal 'Agricultural Situation inIndia', March, 1951, issue, at page 897 there isan article by Shri Dharam Bir Singh, headed'Agricultural Legislation in Recent Years Reconstructing the Land System'. At page 900-901he gives the maximum rents payable to landlordsin various States:
1/4th of the produce or value
2. Hyderabad )
thereof on irrigated lands and 1/3rd on other land.
(i) Hereditary or non -occupancy tenant.
1/5th of the gross produce of his holding.
(ii) Occupancy tenant
1/6th of the gross produce of his holding
(iii) Ex-proprietary tenant.
1/8th of the gross produce of his holding.
4. Orissa (For occupancy tenants only)
(i) Districts of Puri, Cuttack &Bala-sore.;
1/3rd of gross produce or value thereof.
(ii) Ganjam and Kora-put Districts.
1/6th of gross produce orvalue thereof.
5. Saurashtra (i) Millet, Jowar, Adad, Mung
1/4th of the produce.
(ii) Other crops
1/5th of the produce.
6. West Bengal (Crop- sharers)
After deducting for the seed, theproduce will be divided into three parts and the bargadar and the landlordwill each get one share. The remaining third portion will he shared in proportionto the respective shares of each to costs of cultivation.
7. Assam (Crop-sharers).
Similarly the amount of seed will bededucted first and the share of the fond-lord will be 1/3rd or 1/4th according as the landlord supplies or does not supply the ploughcattle.'
33. It will be clear, tnerefore, tnac tnere is a movement back to what was prevalent in theHindu period before foreign invasion of India took place. It is also clear that though in some States the proportion is still one-third or one-fourth, which was also the case in many parts of Rajasthan, there is a general tendency to reduce this proportion. It cannot, therefore, be said that one-fourth is such a sacrosanct share that its reduction to one-sixth must be held to be unreasonable.
34. In U. P. the practice is for rents to be settled during settlement. Section 110 of the U. P. Tenancy Act provides for the procedure for determining the rent of hereditary and occupancy tenants, Section 110(2)(d) provides that the value of the produce would be taken into account to see that the rent payable by hereditary tenants does not exceed one-fifth of the gross produce. Section 110(3) provides that in Cadh the rent payable by occupancy tenants would be two annas in the rupee, less than the corresponding rate for hereditary tenants. Thus the rate for occupancy tenants in Oudh could not exceed 7/40th of the produce, which is almost equal to one-sixth. The rate for occupancy tenants in Agra Province has to be determined taking into account the rates fixed for hereditary tenants and the rents actually paid by occupancy tenants, and there are generally less than the rents paid by hereditary tenants. Further rents paid by ex-proprietary tenants used to be even less than those paid by occupancy tenants. Thus the rents in U. P. are one-fifth or one-sixth or even a smaller share of the gross produce depending on the nature of tenure.
35. These instances are merely illustrative, and show that payment at one-sixth of the gross produce is not necessarily so low as to make the return to the landlord illusory. Considering that this proportion of one-sixth practically prevails in many parts of the country where Raiyatwari system is in vogue, and this means a good part of south India, where foreign domination was not so pervasive, and considering that even in north India there are many parts where the rent is in many cases one-sixth or even less, it cannot, in our opinion, be said that the fixing of this proportion was an unreasonable restriction within the meaning of Article 19(5).
36. It was further urged that in calculating the gross produce, Bhusa, dry stalks, grass and ether natural produce were excluded thus further reducing the share of the landlords. So far as grass and natural produce are concerned, the Marwar Tenancy Act (No. 39) of 1949 also provided that these shall 30 in their entirety to the tenants (vide sections 34 and 35), and the landlord was only entitled to a share in the Bhusa and dry stalks. Thus the impugned Acts further excluded Bhusa and dry stalks, and their exclusion should not, in our opinion, make the share, which has been prescribed for the landlords, necessarily unfair.
It was further urged in this connection that because these natural products were excluded the share of the landlord could be reduced to nothing by the tenant if he grew only grass and natural produce on the land. Theoretically the argument looks formidable; but in actual practice we do not believe that any tenant would use ail the land that be has for growing grass and natural produce, for if he does so he will starve. In actual fact therefore land would be used for cultivation of crops and the' landlord will always get his one-sixth share. We are, therefore, not prepared to hold that the restriction is unreasonable in viewof the exclusion of Bhusa, dry stalks, grass and natural produce.
37. Reference was also made to the report of the Rajasthan-Madhya Eharat Jagir Enquiry Committee of 1949. The conclusions of the Committee are summarised in Chapter XV at page 63. There are recommendations for interim arrangements in Rajasthan pending the completion of settlement. These recommendations include a suggestion that the maximum rent payable by a tenant should not exceed, in the ease of irrigated land, one-fourth, and, in the case of any other land, one-third of the crop of such land. This recommendation is obviously based on the share that was prevalent and it does not necessarily follow from this that any smaller share would be an unreasonable restriction on the right of the landlord to hold property.
38. As for the Bighori rent, that is a small part of the rent paid by tenants who pay kind rents, and its fixation at the present level for & temporary period till settlement is finally made will not affect the conclusion, that fixation of kind: rent at one-sixth of the gross produce is not an unreasonable restriction.
39. One way of judging whether the restriction is reasonable and whether one-sixth share as now provided would only leave an illusory profit to the landlord would have been to find out the market price of the landlord's property and to see whether the income that came to him on the basis of this share would give him a proper return as interest. It is not possible, however, to apply that method in Rajasthan for it is well known that most of the jagirs, maufis, Bhoms etc. are state grants and are not alienable. They have not been acquired by the present holders by purchase and there is no market price for them. Under these circumstances, it is not possible to say that one-sixth of the gross produce would leave an illusory return to the land-holders for there is no basis on which this can be said.
40. Another argument, which can be raised but which was not raised, is that though the share of the land-holder was reduced from one-fourth to one-sixth, the revenue fixed by the State was not reduced in the same proportion. That is undoubtedly so, hut that in itself would not, in our opinion, mean that the provision was not reasonable, and that the profit left to the land-holder was illusory. This argument might have had some force if it had been shown in each case what the land revenue was and how only a paltry amount would be left to a landlord after this reduction. We may reasonably infer from the fact that this has not been shown, that the revenue payable by the landlord in Rajasthan is not heavy, and even after this reduction the profit left to the landlord would be reasonable and not illusory. We cannot hold that the Amendment Act imposes unreasonable restrictions simply because there may be some problematic case where the land revenue is heavy and the return to the landlord after payment of that land revenue on the basis of the reduced rent would be illusory. In this connection we may refer to -- 'AIR 1952 Mad 203 (N)', where it was observed, when dealing with a similar argument, that
'each case must depend upon its special facts, and the decision of the question would ultimately depend upon the circumstances of each estate. Rents, which may be reasonable and just with respect to one estate, may be unreasonable and unjust with respect to another. It is necessary, therefore, before any landlord can. be given relief, that he must allege and prove facts which conclusively show that; as a result of the reduced rates of rents fixed under the Act, he has been totally or substantially deprived of the net income available to him.'
No such thing has been alleged or proved before us in any of these csses, and we cannot, therefore, declare the Act unconstitutional on such problematic grounds.
41. There is yet another argument which was not raised, but which may be noted. That argument is based on the fact that Jagirdari Resumption Law has been passed by the State of Rajasthan and certain compensation will be paid to landlords at so many times their net income. As the income would be reduced on account of the Amendment Act, the compensation, would also be naturally reduced. This, in our opinion, is no consideration for judging the reasonableness of the restriction imposed by the Amendment Act.
If the restriction is in itself reasonable, the fact that it will have certain repercussions on another lav; cannot, in our opinion, be a ground for holding the Amendment Act unconstitutional. It is no one's case that the Amendment Act is a mala fine piece of legislation passed for the purpose of reducing the income of the landlords so that their compensation may be reduced under the Jagirdari Resumption Law. We find that the amendment is measure of agrarian reform meant for the well being of the tenantry in Rajasthan, which forms 2, very large proportion of the population, & is not unfair to the landlord in the sense that it leaves him only an illusory amount as income from his land.
42. Lastly, it was urged that the legislature had thought in 1931 when it passed the main Act that one-fourth share of the produce would be a fair share for the landlord and that it has not been shown that anything transpired between the passing of the main Act & the amendment Act to induces the legislature to reduce the sharp to one-sixth, and therefore this reduction to one-sixth was an unreasonable restriction. The answer to this argument is simple. The mere fact that at one time the legislature thought that one-fourth share should be allowed to the landlords could not preclude it later from reducing the share provided the reduced share was not unfair, and did not place an unreasonable restriction on the right to hold property. The whole question therefore boils down to the consideration of the fact that whether the fixation of one-sixth share is an unreasonable restriction on the right to hold property. If not, the fact that the legislature at some earlier time fixed a different share would not. necessarily make the reduced share unreasonable.
We may also point out that when the main Act was paired, there was no legislature in Rajasthan and the Rajpramukh was performing the functions of the legislature also. When the Amendment Act WEIR PASSED a regular legislature, as provided under the Constitution based on adult franchise, had come into existence. These representatives of the people thought that the proportion cf one-fourth, which was fixed in 1961 by the main Act, was still too rush, and decided to reduce it to one-sixth. From all that w/e have said above, it cannot be said that the legislature in reducing the proportion to one-sixth was imposing an unreasonable restriction on the right to hold property. Under these circumstances, the fact that the legislature earlier fixed a higher share is of no importance except on the questionof costs, inasmuch as the reduction within one year of the share fixed was, in our opinion, mainly responsible for the filing of these writ applications.
43. On a careful consideration of the entire circumstances, we hold that the share fixed by the main Act or by the amendment Act, is a reasonable restriction on the right to hold property and these applications must, therefore, be dismissed. In view of the fact, however, that the legislature changed its mind within one year and it was this, in our opinion, which mainly led to these applications, we would order parties to bear their own costs.
44. We, would therefore, dismiss these applications, but order parties to bear their own costs, This order will govern all the connected cases, as-alresdy indicated.
45. I agree with my Lord the Chief Justice in the order proposed, but will give my own reasons-in respect of some 01 the matters canvassed before us.
46. I agree with my Lord the Chief Justice for the reasons mentioned by him, that there has been sufficient compliance with the provisions of Article 212-A of the Constitution of India, in, flaming and promulgating the Rajasthan Produce Rents Regulating Act, 1951 (No. 15 of 1951).
47. I agree that this Act No. 15 of 1951 does not offend against Article 14 or Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution for reasons which follow. The Act purports to apply to all land-holders having lands in unsettled area of Rajasthan in respect whereof the produce rent is payable. Landholders who come within this classification have been equally dealt with. Article 14 do',s not purport to guarantee equal treatment to all persons but equal treatmerit to all persons similarly situated. It permits f discrimination, if it is based on a reasonable classification. In -- 'AIR 1951 SG 41 (M)', Fazl Ali J. in explaining the guarantees provided by Art, 14 of the Constitution accepted the exposition of law made by Prof, willis in relation to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States :
'The guaranty of the equal protection of the laws means the protection of equal laws. It forbids class legislation, but does not forbid classification which rests upon reasonable grounds of distinction. It does not prohibit legislation which is limited either in the objects to which it is directed or by the territory within which it is to operate. It merely requires, that all persons subjected to such legislation shall be treated alike under like circumstances and conditions both in the privileges conferred and in the liabilities imposed.'
48. In the present case, the classification made was as between landholders whose lends were situated in settled areas and landholders whose lands were situated in unsettled areas. Again, the classification was in respect of lanes for which cash rent was payable and lands for which produce rent was payable. This classification was not arbitrary and without any basis. The reasons which led the Government to recommend this Legislation are found in the note and draft by. Mr. L.L. Joshi, Revenue Secretary, dated the 3rd May 1951. The relevant extract is as under :
'Disputes respecting the shares recoverable by landholders as produce rent for lands situated in unsettled areas of Rajasthan were very common and resulted in holding up of harvested crops pending decision which resulted in deterioration and waste of foodgrains. The rents in-kind usually payable range from one-fourth to one-third and in rare cases up to one-half of actual produce. Considering the cost of produce and living the high proportions of rents in kind are evidently exorbitant. At present the Government has no legal power to reduce the customary rents in kind to a level which may be considered fit. Jt is proposed that one-fourth of actual produce may be paid as the maximum share of the landlord.'
49. The facts mentioned above have not been seriously disputed and it is evident that the shares leviable by different landholders in unsettled areas depended upon custom and varied from one-fourth to one-half of the produce of the land, and it Was desirable to fix a reasonable rent recoverable in kind. In order to avoid constant disputes, breaches of the peace and wastage of food grains this legislation was effected. There was thus a reasonable basis for the classification of landholders and classification of land, and the legislation does not offend against Article 14 of the Constitution.
50. It was argued that this legislation purported to reduce the share of the produce recoverable By landholders prior to its enforcement and was, therefore, invalid, 'inasmuch as it offended against Article 19(i)(f) of the Constitution. The relevant portion of Article 19 is :
'All citizens shall have the right ............ (f)to acquire, hold and dispose of property......... (5) Nothing in Sub-clauses ...... (f) of thesaid clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the state from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said Sub-clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe.'
51. It may be pointed out that there were Tenancy and Land Revenue laws in some of the covenanting States. In Jaipur, for instance, there was the State-Grants Land Tenures Act, 1947 Section 82 whereof provided that while conducting settlement operations in State-grants, the rent rates proposed shall 'as nearly as possible' represent one-third of the value of the produce of unirrigated lands and one-fourth of the value of produce in irrigated lands. The same rates were, applicable in khalsa areas under s. 42 of the Jaipur State Land Revenue Act, 1947 (XXXVI of 1947). These provisions involved a reduction in the rents formerly leviable in Jaipur, for, we, have it from the Settlement Report of the Jaipur State by Mr. W. F. G. Browne published in 1942 that in 3882 the share of the produce taken by State was one-half of the produce and in 1938 it was reduced to two-fifth of the produce.
52. In Jodhpur, s. 82(1) of the Marwar Land Revenue Act, 1949, (in force from 6th April 1949) directed the Settlement Officers to take certain matters into consideration in arriving at fair and equitable rates, and in Sub-section (2) it was laid down that 'the rent-s proposed shall not exceed 1/3rd of the value of the produce of unirrigated lands and 1/4th of the value of the produce of irrigated lands'. These were the directions for settlement both in Khalsa and non-khalsa areas.
53. In Bharatpur State, the law in force was the Bharatpur Revenue Code (Act No. II of 1905) and it is mentioned in section 80 that generally the share of the State was equal to 2/3rd of the produce after deducting costs of cultivation and in some places even three-fourths. It is mentioned further that the principles of assessment had toeen described in the Assessment Report and inthe Final Report on Bharatpur Settlement. These books have, however, not been available.
54. We have not been able to find any publication to show the rates of rent charged by the State from its tenants in other Covenanting States, and therefore, take it that the above provisions roughly indicate the rents chargeable by the State in Rajasthan.
55. The Produce Rents Regulating Act (Act No. 15 of 1951) in effect provided that the produce rents to be charged by landholders in untitled areas will roughly be the same as chargeable by the State from the tenants direct. The contention, of learned counsel for the petitioner is that in certain cases the produce rents chargeable by landlords under custom or contract were in excess of one-fourth laid down in the Act, and thereby their right to enjoy the property had been restricted, and the restriction is not reasonable. While there is no doubt that the right to recover the rents which they may have been enjoying formerly under an express or implied contract had been restricted but in a State having directive principles mentioned in Articles 38 & 39 of the Constitution, the right of land-holders can neither be absolute nor inviolable and legislative restrictions which may provide for the ascertainment of fair and proper rent notwithstanding any contract or usage, and for regulating the relations between landlord and tenant for the purpose of beneficial enjoyment by landlords as well as tenants would be reasonable restrictions.
As held by the Madras High Court in -- 'AIR 1952 Mad 203 (N)', an enjoyment of the property in the case of landholders does not mean an absolute right to charge from the tenants whatever they like or to eject old tenants whenever they like and to keep new tenants on whatever terms they like. It only means enjoyment of the land in accordance with the laws that may regulate the relationship between landholders and tenants. Collection of such rents as would be lawful would be full enjoyment of the property, and similarly, occupation by tenants according to law, even against the will of the landholders or taking of new tenants on terms and conditions permissible by law but not in excess thereof would also be full enjoyment of the property. Act 15 of 1951 which laid down that landlords shall not charge as produce rent more than one-fourth of the produce, a rough proportion followed by the State in many parts where the tenant paid rent directly to State must be held to be a reasonable restriction on the right of the landlords in the enjoyment of their property and justified by the economic and political situation as also for removing agrarian disputes and discontent. I would, therefore reject the contention that the enactment (Act 15 of 1951) offends against the provisions of Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
55. I also agree that the validity of Rajasthan Produce Rents Regulating (Amendment) Act No. 14 of 1952 must also be upheld. The Bill which finally culminated in Act 14 of 1952 was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on the 10th April 1952 and published in the Rajasthan Gazette of the 12th April, 1952. The reasons which 'ed the Government to introduce this piece of legislation are mentioned in the statement of objects and reasons as follows :
'The Rajasthan Produce Rent and Regulating Act which was promulgated last year as a temporary measure for one year only and which fixes one-fourth of the gross produce of a holding to be the maximum share recoverable as rent, will be expiring in June next. Since the tenancy legislation for the whole of Rajasthanis still under consideration of the Government, it is necessary to extend the period of the said Act for another year.'
'In the meantime an examination of the conditions prevailing in Rajasthan has shown that the proportion fixed by the said Act exceeds in some cases the actual proportion now being charged as rent. The traditional share- of the State in the crops raised by tenants in India, as laid down by Manu, is one-sixth, which has been adopted as the basis of settlement in several parts of India. In the neighbouring State of Ajmer, such share has been fixed at one-fifth in the case of tenants with heritable but non-transferable rights and at one-sixth in the case of occupancy tenants with heritable as well as transferable rights. It is but reasonable that a tenant in Rajasthan should not be liable to pay more rent than his colleagues in the adjoining State.
The bill seeks to fix the duration of the aforesaid Act for two years and to introduce the same proportion for rents as is fixed in the State of Ajmer and in the same circumstances.'
57. This Bill was made into Law by Act 14 of 1952 passed by the Legislative Assembly on 18th April 1952 and the major changes in the earlier Act were that
(a) instead of the duration of the original Act being for one year it was made for two years,
(b) it was made applicable to all agricultural lands, where produce rents were chargeable, and
(c) the rate of the rent was reduced from one-fourth to one-sixth.
58. An explanation was added that 'gross produce' did not include the straw chaff (Bhusa) or the dry stalks of a crop or grass or any other natural produce. The Act, however, permitted the landlord to charge bighori as cash rent at a customary rate in respect of such crops as cotton, fodder, zira, dhania, tobacco, linseed and the like,
59. Now the first thing which strikes one is that all the reasons which are mentioned for the introduction of this Bill were those which were in existence when the Act of 1951 was promulgated and nothing new was suggested to have happened. The fact that in some cases produce rents lower than one-fourth were prevailing in Rajasthan was obviously known when enacting Act No. 15 of 1951, because Section 4 of that Act laid down that the maximum one-fourth share of gross produce fixed as rent by the Act would not operate so as to effect an increase in the proportion of the produce recoverable from a tenant who shall have, at the commencement of this Act, been paying produce rent at a scale lower than such maximum. The share laid down by Manu to be charged by the State was similarly not a new discovery. The reference that in other parts of India this traditional share fixed by Manu was the basis of fixation of rents did not rest on any substantial foundation and it was frankly conceded at the time of argument that this was on information supplied orally by some Settlement Officer of the Government,
60. The reference to the fixation of rents in Ajmer is obviously to Ajmer Tenancy and Land Records Act of 1950, which also existed at the time when Act 15 of 1951 was promulgated.
61. If a close examination of the grounds is made, a curious state of things is disclosed. Dr. Sayana, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics, University of Bombay, has mentioned in his book, 'Sharing and Fixed Tenancy Systems' at page 28 that
'The original and existence of the produce-shar-ing system can be traced to very old practices of farming and systems of land revenue in ancient, mediaeval and in early British periods..'
62. After referring to certain ancient bosks of Buddhists, the learned Author says :
'The Hindu Law books of the period also refer to non-cultivating landlords getting tlieir lands cultivated against a share of the produce. According to Manu, farming was carried on by hired labour 'on such terms as giving half the share of produce to the cultivator who had to supply seeds'. In connection with cultivation of Government Agricultural farms, the 'Artha Shastra' of Kautilya states : The Director of Agriculture was in charge of the cultivation of crown lands or Government farms.... He is to employ for cultivation the following classes of labourers viz., serfs, hired labourers and convicts condemned to labour. He is also responsible for supplying these labourers with all things needed for their work of cultivation, such as implements (ploughs), rope, sickle and bullocks. 'He may also employ cultivators on the basis of a half-share of the produce provided they bring their own seeds and bullocks.' But those who can offer only their labour will have their share or produce reduced to one-fourth or one-fifth.'
Thus the cultivator who did not own land received only one half of the produce and the remaining half was to be taken by the landholder. The author's observations at page 30 that 'the king's share of agricultural produce called 'Bah1' varied from 1/12, 1/10, 1/8, 1/6 upto 1/4, in the Hindu period, though 1/6 was common and 1/4 rare, and under the Moslem rule, the share was raised, varying from 1/3 to 1/2 of the produce, and under Aurangzib 1/2 became the standard' refer to the share chargeable by State from tenants direct, and have no bearing on the question as to what was recoverable by land-holders from tenants,
63. Coming to more modern days the author after showing that the crop-sharing system of cultivation existed on a vast scale in Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Bombay, Madras and C. P., records at page 24 that the main varieties of sharing are 1/3, 2/5, and 1/2, the assessment being payable by the landlord or shared by both in the same proportion of the sharing of the produce. The author has given details of their varieties in different provinces at pages 41 to 52.
64. There was no foundation for the statementthat in other provinces of India rents had beenfixed on the basis of one-sixth of the produce, asstated earlier. The effect of recent legislation inprovinces is noticed by Shri Dharambir Singh inthe Journal 'Agricultural Situation in India', March1951, at page 900 and a comparative statementof maximum rents payable to landlords is given,which is as follows :
1/4th of the produce or value
2. Hyderabad )
thereof on irrigated lands and 1/3rd on other land.
(i) Hereditary or non-occupancy tenant,
(ii) Occupancy tenant
1/5th of the gross produce of his holding.
1/6th of the gross produce of his holding. 1/8th of the gross produce of his holding.
4. Orissa (For occupancy tenants only)
(i) Districts ofPuri. Cuttack & Balasore.
(ii) Ganjam and Kora-put Districts,
1/3rd of gross produce or value thereof..
1/6th of gross produce or value thereof.
(i) Millet, Jowar,
1/4th of the produce.
(ii) Other crops.
1/5th of the produce.
6. West Bengal. (Crop-sharers).
After deducting for the seed, theproduce will be divided into three parts and the bargadar and the landlordwill each get one share. The remaining third portion will be shared in proportionto the respective shares of each to costs of cultivation.
Similarly the amount of seed will bededucted first and the share of the land-lord will be one third or one-fourthaccording as the landlord supplies or does not supply the ploughcattle.'
65. It may be pointed out in the case of the Ajmer law that the one-sixth share is chargeable from, an occupancy tenant. The status of the tenants, however, in the areas of Rajasthan where produce rents are payable as compared with tenants in Ajmer is not known. The reasons given for the introduction of the legislation, do not therefore stand scrutiny and it is therefore to be seen if it can otherwise be supported.
66. It has been urged on behalf of the State that there is a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment and reliance has been placed on -- 'Charanjitlal v. Union of India', (M) followed in -- 'AIR 1951 Gal 85 (L)'. The observations in Charanjitlal's case were with respect to a contention raised that the particular discriminative enactment was made without any basis for classification and therefore offended against Article 14 of the Constitution and it was observed that there was always a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment, reliance being placed on the following observations in-- 'Charles Middletcn v. Texas Power & Light Co.' (1918) 249 US 152 (O):
'It must be presumed that a legislature understands and correctly appreciates the needs of its own people, that its laws are directed to problems made manifest by experience and that its discriminations are based upon adequate grounds.'
67. The contention in that case was that a certain enactment viz., Texas Workmen's Compensation Act was in conflict with the equal protection provision of the 14th Amendment inasmuch as employees of the excepted classes only were entitled to certain privileges which were not available to employee of non-excepted classes and that this was so without any reasonable basis for classification.
68. While approving the finding of the lower court that there were grounds for classification the above observations were made in disposing of the above contention and it was further observed that
'the equal protection clause does not require that State laws shall cover the entire field of proper legislation in a single enactment. If one entertained the view that the act might as well have been extended to other classes of employment, this would not amount to a constitutional objection.'
69. With great respect T venture to submit that different considerations would apply to a legislature which may affect the rights enumerated in Article 19 of the Constitution. In Subodh Gopal's case the observations made in Charanjitlal's case were no doubt applied to a case arising under Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution but the distinction seems to have been overlooked and in any case the court held that the initial burden had been discharged by the petitioner in the case.
70. In this connection the reasoning which appeals to me is to be found in -- 'AIR 1950 Bom, 363 (FB) (I)'; and -- 'AIR, 1950 Pat 322 (FB) (J)'.
71. In -- 'AIR 1950 Bom 383 (FB) (I)', Chagla C. J. in the majority judgment observed as follows at page 3SS :
'It is important to note that the legislature has been given the power to impose restrictions on the exercise of the rights conferred under Article 19(1)(d) & (e); but it is equally important to note that those restrictions have to be reasonable restrictions. It is not for the legislature to determine whether the restrictions are reasonable or not. It is for the Court of law to consider the reasonableness of the restrictions imposed upon the rights. 'Reasonable' is art objective expression and its objectivity is to be determined judicially by the Court of law. There is no limit placed upon the power of the Court to consider the nature of the restrictions. The Court must look upon the restrictions from, every point of view. It being the duty of the Court to safeguard fundamental rights, the greater is the obligation upon the Court to scrutinize the restrictions placed by the Legislature as carefully as possible.'
72. In -- 'AIR 1950 Pat 322 (J)', Meredith C. J. in the majority judgment observed at page 324:
'The Constitution says the restrictions must be reasonable. Obviously, it is for the Courts to decide whether restrictive provisions are reasonable or not.'
While dealing with Act No. III of 1950, which interfered with the petitioner's fundamental rights, Meredith C. J. further observed at page 325 :
'The burden is on the Government to establish that the provision is valid, that is to say, that it is reasonable, for, under the Constitution, the only restrictions that can be placed upon this particular fundamental right must be of reasonable character. There has been a prima facie infringement of that right, and prima facie no law can infringe that right. Therefore, the burden is, in my opinion, on the State to bring that law within the exception contained in Article 19 Clause (5) which alone can save it.'
73. In --'Dr. N. B. Khare v. State of Delhi' AIR 1952. SC 211 (P) while dealing with clause (5) in relation to Article 19(1)(d), Kania C. J. held that while the Constitution permitted a law laying down reasonable restrictions on the exercise of rights mentioned in Sub-clause (d) of Article 19(1), the reasonableness has to be of the law also, and that in deciding whether the restrictions are reasonable the Court has to decide not only on the extent and nature of the restrictions on the exercise of the right but also whether the conditions under which the right is restricted are reasonable. The Majority judgments in --'AIR 1950 Pat 322 (PB) (J)', and -- 'AIR 1950 Bom 363. (FB) (I)', as to the interpretation of Clause (5) of Article 19 were approved.
74. In -- 'AIR 1952 SC 196 (K)' Sastri C. J. observed:
'This Court had occasion in --'AIR 1950 SC 211 (P)', to define the scope of the judicial review under Clause (5) of Article 19 where the phrase 'imposing reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right' also occurs, and four out of the five Judges participating in the decision expressed the view (the other Judge leaving the question open) that both the substantive and the procedural aspects of the impugned restrictive law should be examined from the point of view of reasonableness; that is to say, the Court should consider not only factors such as the duration and the extent of the restrictions, but also the circumstances under which and the manner in which their imposition has been authorised. It is important in this context to bear in mind that the test of reasonableness, wherever prescribed, should be applied to each individual statute impugned, and no abstract standard, or general pattern of reasonableness can be laid down as applicable to all cases. The nature of the right alleged to have been infringed, the underlying purpose of the restrictions imposed, the extent and urgency of the evil sought to be remedied thereby, the disproportion of the imposition, the prevailing conditions at the time, should all enter into the judicial verdict.'
75. In my opinion, even if there were the initial onus of proving that the restrictions were not reasonable on the petitioners that onus must be considered to have been discharged in the circumstances of this case, which have been discussed above.
76. The yard-stick of reasonableness in my opinion is the rate of rents chargeable by the State for lands for which produce rents are chargeable.
77. Certain doubts having arisen as to the scope and applicability of the Produce Bent Regulating Acts, queries were made from parties, and an affidavit of Shri Vidya Sagar, Officer in Charge in this case has been filed on behalf of the State that the Rajasthan Produce Rent Regulating Act of 1951, as amended in 1952, applied to Khalsa lands also, and in such Khalsa lands where the rent is not realised in cash the State is realising only 1/6th of the gross produce as rent.
78. AS regards the first part of the affidavit, it is entirely a matter of interpretation of the Act. I have no doubt in my mind that it only applied to landholders under the State and not to the State itself. This is clear not only from the statement of objects and reasons which have been mentioned in an earlier part of the judgment, tout also from the preamble as also the definition, of 'landholder' given in Act XV of 1951.
79. As to the State charging 1/6th of the gross produce as rent it is good so far as it goes but a further point arose whether under the law 'he State was compelled to charge only this much and no more as rent.
80. The previous laws in different States did not provide this and a comprehensive Tenancy Legislation is still on the anvil. But a recent enactment of the Rajasthan Legislature 'The Rajasthan Lands Summary Settlement Act, 1953' (Act No. 19 of 1953) published in the Rajasthan Raj Patra of 10th October, 1953, which applies to all lands and holdings in unsettled areas in Rajasthan in effect supersedes all previous laws in this respect, and provides under section 3, Sub-section (2) that the rent rates proposed shall represent a share not exceeding one-sixth of the value of the produce. Thus the basis of settlement now laid down by the State for all unsettled areas is that rent shall not exceed one-sixth of the value of the gross produce.
81. The Rajasthan Produce Rent Regulating (Amendment) Act (No. 14 of 1952), which purports to reduce the rents chargeable by landholders from one-fourth to one-sixth cannot, therefore, be said to impose restrictions which are not reasonable.
82. It may be urged that the reasonability of the legislation should have been determined as on the date when it was passed. There is some force in this argument, but produce rents become due only on harvests and the affidavit of Shri Vidyasagar disclosed that the State (probably under certain departmental orders) also began to charge rent on the basis of one-sixth of the produce, and some time must have been taken in drafting and enacting the Summary Settlement Act, 1953, which is now applicable to all unsettled areas in Rajasthan. The fact that the State also modified and reduced its rents of its own accord soon after enacting Act No. 14 of 1952, and made its decision irrevocable by taking steps to enact Act No. 19 of 1953 is sufficient in my opinion for a finding that the restriction when it was imposed was reasonable.
83. The argument that the cash rents fixed by previous settlements were so done by taking the basis of rent at one-fourth of the share of the produce and, therefore, Act No. 14 of 1952 was a discriminatory piece of Legislation can shortly be disposed of by reference to the above cited case of -- '(1918) 249 US 152 (O)', in which it has been held that
'the equal protection clause does not require what State laws shall cover the entire field of proper legislation in a single enactment.'
84. It has already been held while discussing the validity of Act 15 of 1951 that there was a reasonable basis of classification and Act 15 of 1952 only purported to amend it in certain respects without altering the scope of its applicability.
85. I concur in the order proposed by my Lord the Chief Justice.
86. BY THE COURT : We, therefore, dismiss these applications but order parties to bear their own costs. This Order will govern all the connected cases as already indicated.