Skip to content


S.R. Ramasami Gounder Vs. the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1977)1MLJ241
AppellantS.R. Ramasami Gounder
RespondentThe Authorised Officer, Land Reforms
Excerpt:
.....every landholder would have the choice to give such useless land and probably inaccessible land or land which cannot easily or conveniently be enjoyed under clause (4) and the authorised officer would in equity be bound to accept the same and leave the rest. the easiness and convenience referred to in the third proviso in sub-clause (4) has reference only to the state whose object is to pass on such lands taken over by it to others who do not own land, so that they could easily enjoy the same. the only reason given by the tribunal as well as the authorised officer in rejecting the offer of the landholder is that as regards s. on the other hand, i am of the view that if the landholder is so generous as to hand over such a well-equipped land for the purpose of implementing the..........holdings for the purpose of producing the same in the usual enquiry for fixing the ultimate ceiling limit which the members of the family unit can have. pursuant to the said notice, necessary draft statements were prepared by the competent authority and the petitioner sri s.r. ramasami gounder filed his objections thereto and the authorised officer by his order dated 18th march, 1973 fixed the ceiling limit. the tribunal agreed with him. hence this revision.2. it is necessary to state a few facts prior to the issuance of the notice under section 53 (3) (a) (ii) of the act. the family consisting of ramasami gounder. visalakshmi ammal and their minor son rangaswami gounder owns considerable properties. they were the subject-matter of a deed of partition dated 20th december, 1969......
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. This revision petition is under Section 83 of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms Act, 1961 read with Section 115, Civil Procedure Code. The competent authority under the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms Act, 1961 by issuing a notice under Section 50 (3) (a) (ii) dated 11th May, 1971 called upon the petitioner as the head of the family consisting of himself and his wife Visalakshi Ammal to submit necessary returns in connection with their agricultural holdings for the purpose of producing the same in the usual enquiry for fixing the ultimate ceiling limit which the members of the family unit can have. Pursuant to the said notice, necessary draft statements were prepared by the competent authority and the petitioner Sri S.R. Ramasami Gounder filed his objections thereto and the Authorised Officer by his order dated 18th March, 1973 fixed the ceiling limit. The Tribunal agreed with him. Hence this revision.

2. It is necessary to state a few facts prior to the issuance of the notice under Section 53 (3) (a) (ii) of the Act. The family consisting of Ramasami Gounder. Visalakshmi Ammal and their minor son Rangaswami Gounder owns considerable properties. They were the subject-matter of a deed of partition dated 20th December, 1969. Under the said partition, the only son Rangaswami Gounder, was allowed about 47 acres. The wife Visalakshi Ammal got about 10 acres and the father retained 20 acres towards his share. Soon after the deed of partition, the minor died and his holding devolved on his mother under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. The enquiry started soon after the death of Rangaswami Gounder regarding the quondom holding of the deceased minor. In such proceedings, Visalakshi Ammal represented the minor's estate. There it was discovered that Visalakshi Ammal was entitled to a particular area as heir of her son and that she had besides the said property acquired by her as mother of her son, properties of her own which were her streedhana properties. In those circumstances, the Authorised Officer declared the surplus in the hands of Visalakshi Ammal then at a particular figure. It happens that after the enquiry into the holding of the deceased minor was itself completed, the competent authority took up again proceedings to ascertain and delimit the ceiling limit of the family of Ramasami Gounder. By then, the family consisted of Ramasami Gounder and Visalakshi Ammal. On the service of notice under Section 50 (3) (a) (ii) dated 11th May, 1971 as already stated, Sri Ramasami Gounder submitted his objections to the draft proceedings and also appeared before the Authorised Officer contesting, firstly that the definition of 'streedhara' in the Act would not include the land which does not stand in her name though owned by her and secondly that the Authorised Officer ought not to unreasonably reject that portion, of the holding of an assessee which she offered soon after the fixation of the ceiling limit by the Authorised Officer though without prejudice to her further rights. Factually also it is contended that the Authorised Officer as well as the Tribunal which rejected such an offer made by the holder of the land is not in consonance with the principles adumbrated in Section 10 of the Act. A third argument is addressed before me by Mr. Sundaram Iyer, which was not taken earlier before either the Authorised Officer or the Land Tribunal. This is that the statutory functionaries are estopped from proceeding once over under the same statute against Visalakshi Ammal, they having once determined her ceiling in accordance with law.

3. I shall consider the last point first. It is no doubt true that there were certain proceedings which were taken against Visalakshi Ammal under the provisions of the Act. But it is found on a perusal of the same and as pointed out by the learned Additional Government Pleader that those proceedings were in relation to the estate of late Rangasami Gounder who died as owner of the land possessed of it. Incidentally, while fixing the limit of a female the authorities went also into the question whether she had other streedhana lands. It is in that line the enquiry proceeded and the ultimate decision, as to the fixation of the ceiling limit arrived at. But the proceedings challenged before us were independent proceedings, which the competent authorities could competently undertake under the Act against a unit which is a family consisting of the husband and wife. This is not all. When the Land Acquisition Officer completed the enquiry in fixing the ceiling limit of Visalakshi Ammal after taking into consideration her streedhana lands, she was prepared to offer several items of land in satisfaction of the decision made by the Authorised Officer. In fact out of several items offered by her towards the lands to be surrendered as and towards the fixed ceiling limit, some items were rejected by the Authorised Officer. It is now stated that such offer was made by Visalakshi Ammal without prejudice to her rights. As already stated, there is nothing on record to substantiate this part of the contentions. Even otherwise, the holder having offered the land in compliance with or in order to satisfy the decision of the Authorised Officer without questioning his jurisdiction to fix the ceiling limit, I am unable to strictly follow as to in what way the said offer could be understood as having been made without prejudice. An appeal has been filed later as against this order. Therefore, the head of the unit was taking all necessary steps to contest the regularity and legality of the said order. It is, therefore, not possible for me to appreciate the contention that the offer was made without prejudice. But even if it is to be understood as an offer made by the holder without prejudice, then it would be an estoppel as against an estoppel and she is relegated back to the old position and she cannot, therefore, successfully contend that the State through its functionaries cannot call upon the family unit to give their returns for the purpose of fixation of the ceiling limit under the provisions of the Act.

4. The next contention of Mr. Sundaram Iyer is that 'stridhana land' has been defined in Section 3 (42) as meaning any land held on the date of the commencement of the Act by any female member of a family in her own name. It is said that though the land which she had obtained from her son as heir under the Hindu Succession Act, is her own property, yet in the absence of mutation proceedings or a change in the public register wherein her name has to be substituted as the owner thereof, it cannot be said to be her property for the purpose of the ceiling Act. There is a fallacy in this argument. The earlier portion of the definition includes any land hold by a female members as streedhana land 'To hold land' has been defined in Section 3 (19) as to mean with its grammatical variations and cognate expressions, to own land as owner or to possess or enjoy land as possessory mortgages or as tenant etc. Therefore, if a person owns land, as owner, then he would be a person deemed to hold such land for the purpose of the Land Act. The mere fact that there has not been a change in the public register so as to substitute her name in the place of her deceased son would not take away such holding of Visalakshi Ammal from the mischief of the Act. I am unable to accept this contention of Mr. Sundaram Iyer.

5. Lastly, the argument is that the offer made by the holder has been unreasonably rejected by the Authorised Officer and the Land Tribunal also Committed an error in mechanically accepting it. No doubt, under Section 10 (4), if any person has specified the particulars of the land which he desires to retain within his ceiling area, the authorised officer shall, as far as practicable, but subject to the provisions of the Act, declare the same land as comprised within his ceiling area. The third proviso to this sub-clause Says:

Provided also that subject to the above provisions, the land which the authorised officer proposes to declare as surplus land under Clause (xii) of Sub-section (1) shall, as far as practicable, be such as is capable of easy and convenient enjoyment.

Mr. Sundaram Iyer's contention is that the words 'easy and convenient enjoyment in the third proviso to Sub-clause (4) has reference only to the retainer and not to the State which under the provisions on the statute is entitled to take them over from the holder. This does not appeal to me. The very purpose of agrarian reform is to slice off the extent of lands from the landholders for the avowed and benevolent purpose of passing them on to the landless poor, so that they could easily and conveniently enjoy it. In my view, the phrase 'capable of easy and convenient enjoyment' in the third proviso to Sub-clause (4) has a special connotation. Otherwise, every landholder would have the choice to give such useless land and probably inaccessible land or land which cannot easily or conveniently be enjoyed under Clause (4) and the Authorised Officer would in equity be bound to accept the same and leave the rest. This does not appear to be the intendment of either the sub-clause or the object of the enactment either. The easiness and convenience referred to in the third proviso in Sub-clause (4) has reference only to the State whose object is to pass on such lands taken over by it to others who do not own land, so that they could easily enjoy the same. The very purpose and object of the enactment would be lost if the holder's choice has to prevail.

6. In this case, however, the Authorised Officer has rightly given reasons for not accepting certain items of land which the holder offered. Whatever may be said of the other lands which were so offered by the holder, the reasoning of the Authorised Officer which was accepted by the Land Tribunal regarding Survey No. 78 cannot stand. The only reason given by the Tribunal as well as the Authorised Officer in rejecting the offer of the landholder is that as regards S. No. 78 of Devanurpudur Village, there are two irrigation, wells fitted with an electric motor with two five horse power pump sets and therefore this land cannot be taken towards the surplus. The reasoning appears to be running contra to the very rudiment and scheme of the legislation. Unless it could be said that the irrigation wells are useless or the electric motor and the pumpsets have become unserviceable and the landlord wants to pass on such materials to the State, so that he could get rid of them easily it cannot be said that the presence of the irrigation wells, the electric motor and pump sets could by themselves provide a justifiable reason for rejecting the genuine offer of a landholder. On the other hand, I am of the view that if the landholder is so generous as to hand over such a well-equipped land for the purpose of implementing the object of the Act, it should have been accepted as the first land to be taken over by the State. The Authorised Officer as well as the Land Tribunal failed to appreciate the real intendment and object of agrarian reform. To this extent, the order of the tribunal is set aside and the Authorised Officer is directed to accept S. No. 78 as above as land which could properly be offered by a landholder and as land which could be easily and conveniently enjoyed by the State for its purposes. With this modification, the C.R.P. is allowed and the rest of the order will stand. There will be no order as to costs.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //