Kailasam, C. J.
1. In these Writ Petitions, the Petitioners have prayed for the issue of a Writ of Declaration or any other appropriate Writ declaring the Pondicherry Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1973 (Act 9 of 1974) as null and void, in so tar as it affects the petitioners.
2. In these Writ Petitions, the validity of Act 9 of 1074 generally, and particularly Section 4 (4) was challenged on two grounds; firstly, that the enactment was in violation of fundamental rights, and secondly, that the Pondicherry Legislature has no power to make retrospective laws. In fixing the ceiling on land holdings, Section 4 (4) provides as follows :
'In calculating the extent of land held by any person, any land which was transferred by sale, gift or otherwise or partitioned by that person after the appointed day but before the commencement of this Act, shall be taken into account as if such land had not been transferred or partitioned, as the case may be.'
The result of this sub-section is that in determining the ceiling area, the land possessed by the landholder as on 24-1-1971, the appointed day, will have to be taken into account although the Act came into force on 14-10-1974. The giving of effect to the provisions under Section 4 (4) on a date prior to the date on which the Act came into force was challenged as retrospective legislation beyond the scope of the Pondicherry Legislature. As the Act has been included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution by the 40th: Amendment, 1976, the challenge to the Act on the ground of violation of fundamental rights is not available. Equally, the challenge as to the competence of the Pondicherry Legislature is also not maintainable in view of the judgment of a Bench of this Court in W. A. 240 of 1972 dated 22-4-1975 where it was held thatthe Pondicherry Legislature has plenary powers, which would include the power to make retrospective legislations Hence, these Writ Petitions will have to be dismissed.
3. Pending the Writ Petitions on 24-10-1975 certain orders of stay of proceedings were passed, but later on 10-3-1976, they were modified enabling the Authorised Officer to serutinise the issue of draft statements. It is common ground that pending the Writ Petitions, returns were not filed and the Officers could not finalise the returns. The petitioners were also under the impression that they were bound to give the returns about the lands they owned on the date on which the Act came into force and not about the lands they owned on the appointed day i.e., on 24-1-1971. In order to enable the proceedings under the Act to proceed smoothly, thirty days' time from today is granted to enable the petitioners to file their returns or revised returns under Section 7 (1), in respect of the lands held in excess of the ceiling area. On receipt of the returns, the Authorities will proceed according to law.
4. With the above observations, the Writ Petitions are dismissed. No costs.