(1) These petitions pertain to problems relating to S. 22 or S. 9(2)(b) of the Madras Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling of Land) Act 1961 Sec 22 covers transitions which took place between 6-4-1960 and 2-10-1962. It appears that the State Government issued administrative instructions to authorised officer and others concerned as to how matters arising under that section should be classified for purposes of disposal. It is argued that notices issued by the authorised officers under S. 22 keeping in view of bring influenced by the said instructions of the Government should be quashed. It is obvious that the jurisdiction under Sec. 22 is quasi-judicial and the officers entrusted with the jurisdiction should be left free to decide matters arising under S. 22.
No administrative instructions in the matter can property be issued either classifying transactions which will fall within the purview of S. 22 or giving any other indication as to how matters should be disposed of under S. 22. The instructions issued by the Government, therefore, are highly objectionable. That being the case we are of the view that notices which have been issued to the petitioners under S. 22 were apparently influenced by the administrative instructions of the Government. No doubt it is argued for the State that the officers were not compelled to follow the instructions. But we wonder which administrative officer will dare keep aside or disregard any instructions given by such high authority as the Government. The presumption in such a case should necessarily be that the concerned officers acting under S. 22 have been and must have been influenced by such instructions. The consequence is that the notice issued to the petitioners under S. 22 will be vitiated on account of those instructions.
We Consider, therefore, that those notices to the petitioners should be disregarded and if necessary, the officers concerned should, whenever they think so, issue fresh notices to such of the petitioners as they think proper. In doing so, they should remember that they are vested with a quasi-judicial authority which they are bound to exercise without regard to any external or outside influence of instructions and that they should bring to bear on the merits their honest and independent mind in deciding controversial issued to the petitioners under S. 22. The concerned officers, if they issued fresh notice to any of the petitioners, will give proper and effective opportunity to them to file all their objections and fully represent their relative cases. These petitions are, therefore, allowed, but with no costs.
(2) In regard to the other petitions which raise the question under S. 9(2)(b) of the Act, we are of the view that the concerned authorities must give fresh and proper opportunity to those petitioners aggrieved and dispose of the question under S. 9(2)(b) afresh.
(3) In W. P. 1474 of 1479, 1754, 3792, 4492, 4488 of 1965 it is said that the notices under Sec. 9 assume or take it for granted that certain transactions which fell within the purview of S. 22 are invalid and proceeded on that basis without there being an enquiry or an order under S. 22. That of course is illegal. The officers are not entitled to so assume. They can treat the transactions which fall within the purview of S. 22 as invalid only after observing the procedure laid down by that section and making an order thereunder. These petitions are also allowed.
(4) In W. P. 4870 and 4871 of 1965 and 14 of 1966, the last of the petitions complains that the transaction there in question, which was before the Act came into force was taken to be invalid without giving any opportunity to the petitioner to make his representations in that regard, Likewise in the other two petitions no notice was given though the transactions in dispute were partly after the notified date. These petitions also are allowed. The petitioners will be given due notices and their objections heard before any order is made against them.
(5) In W. P. 1398 of 1965, the petitioner contends that it is a public trust, not covered by the Act and that in spite of that fact being brought to the notice of the authorities, they have shoed inclination to proceed under its provisions. In view of the contention that the institution is a public trust, in which case, as it is said it will fall outside the purview of the Act, it is for the petitioner to institute a suit if so advised, for a declaration as to the character of the institution and consequential reliefs. This petition is, therefore, dismissed. C.M.P. 7226 of 1966 in that petition is ordered.
(6) In W. P. 4841 of 1965 the complaint is that no proper notice was given to the petitioner in disposing of the matter arising under Sec.
9. There appears to be substance in this contention. This petition is allowed and the matter will be disposed of afresh after giving the petitioner due opportunity.
(7) In W. P. 4842 and 4843 and 4843of 1965. there is no substance. They are dismissed.
(8) W. P. 2014 and 2134 of 1965--These petitions again involve proceedings under S. 9(2) and it is said that brought to the notice of the concerned authorities, no fresh notice was served. It is represented on behalf of his widow that she will be prepared to file a fresh return if another opportunity is given. We think that these petitions also should be allowed.
(9) W. P. 1237, 2712, 2908, 3867, 4230, 704 and 705 of 1966: These petitions touch transactions which were effected at a time when Madras Act 58 of 1961 was not in force on account of the fact that the Supreme Court had stuck it down as invalid. In our judgment in W. P. 1543 of 1964 and 1416 and 1473 of 1965 we have said that in view of the subsequent retrospective effect that had been given to the Act by Art 31-B of the Constitution, the authorities should take a reasonable view of the provisions of the Act and exercise restraint in rigidly enforcing them in such cases, keeping in view all the circumstances including the fact that at the time when the transactions were effected the Act was not in force. It is true that when once the law is declared to be retrospective it may touch the transactions. But it does not follow from it that when the enforcement of the relative provisions will involve a penalty and a forfeiture, the provisions will be enforced strictly.
Wherever by reason of Art. 31-B of the Constitution and the retrospective validation of the Act. the transactions which took place at the time when the Act was considered to be invalid are affected, a liberal view will have to be brought to bear in respect of those transactions and the matter dealt with as such. In other words, the provisions of the Act should not be enforced in relation to such transactions with a view to invoke penalty or forfeiture, the reason being that at the time the transactions were entered into they were entered into bona fide and on the view rightly held that Madras Act LVIII of 1961 was not in force. These petitions are therefore allowed and the matters comprised in them will be disposed of afresh.
(10) W. P. 3721 of 1965 is allowed only in so far as it relates to transactions which took place after the Supreme Court declared the Act to be invalid and before the Seventeenth Amendment came into force.
(11) W. P. 4649 of 1965--It is said that C.R.P. 902 of 1966 is pending disposal in this court and that it covers the subject matter of the writ petition. This petition is therefore dismissed. The disposal of this petition will not in any way prejudice the petitioner in prosecuting the civil revision petition or other remedies.
(12) There will be no order as to costs in any of these petitions.
(13) Petitions partly allowed.