1. In this Appeal under the Letters Patent against the decision of Subba Rao J. dismissing the appellant's application for a writ of certiorari, the only ground taken is the invalidity of Madras Estates Land (Reduction of Rent) Second Amendment Act, 1951. That Act inserted a sub-section in Section 3 of the original Act and substituted a clause for a clause already existing in Section 4 of the principal Act and by Section 4 made provision for adjustment of rent paid by a ryot before the commencement of the amending Act. The excess was to be adjusted towards the rent payable by the ryot to the landholder for subsequent faslis. The ryot was in certain circumstances entitled to claim a refund of the amount remaining unadjusted from the landholder to whom it was paid.
2. Mr. R. Kesaya Aiyangar contended that the Act is unconstitutional for two reasons:
(1) because it was retrospective and to that extent was inconsistent with the provisions of Article 372(1) of the Constitution and (2) because it was confiscatory in so far as it directed the adjustment of rent already paid before the commencement of the Constitution.
3. Section 1(2) of the Amended Act runs thus :
'Sections 2 and 3 shall be deemed to have come into force on 7th January 1948.'
That is the date on which the principal Act came into force. The argument of learned counsel is that Madras Act 30 of 1947 continued to be in force only by virtue of Article 372(1) of the Constitution and any amendment, alteration or repeal of any provisions of that Act after 26th January 1950 can only be prospective from the date on which the amendment, alteration or repeal is made, or in any event only from 26th January 1950, but it cannot affect the Act as it stood on the date of the commencement of the Constitution in respect of a period prior to the Constitution. Article 372(1) runs thus:
'Notwithstanding the repeal by this Constitution of the enactments referred to in Article 395 but subject to the other provisions of this Constitution, all the law in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of this Constitution shall continue in force therein until altered or repealed or amended by a competent Legislature or other competent authority.'
We are unable to agree with learned counsel that there is anything in this Article to support his contention. That Article clearly recognises the contingency of an enactment which is declared to continue in force, being altered, repealed or amended by a competent Legislature. Undeniably in this case the amendment in question has been made by a competent Legislature. It was not suggested that the Madras Legislature is not competent to pass any legislation which would have a retrospective effect. When an alteration, repeal or amendment is itself contemplated under Article 372(1) and an alteration, repeal or amendment can be retrospective, it follows that Article 372(1) would not render any alteration, repeal or amendment which is declared to be retrospective, invalid. We therefore reject this contention on behalf of the appellant.
4. It was next contended that the provision in the Amending Act for adjustment of rents already paid is confiscatory in nature and therefore unconstitutional. Reliance was placed on the observations in the recent decision of the Supreme Court in -- 'The State of Bihar v. Kameswar Singh', : 1SCR889 , made in connection with the provision of the Bihar Act under which 50 per cent. of the arrears of rent collected by the Government was appropriated by the Government without payment of any compensation to the landholder. We fail to see how these observations can be of any help to the appellants here. There is no acquisition by the Government of any portion of the rent. The impugned provision is only a provision adjusting the account between landholder and tenant. Such a provision would be a provision pertaining to the relationship of landlord and tenant but would in no sense be a provision for acquisition of any interest in land by the Government. There is therefore no question of confiscation. It is true that the result of the enactment may be to prejudicially affect the rights of the appellants, but that itself would not make the provision illegal or unconstitutional.
5. The appeal is therefore dismissed.