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Secy. of State Vs. K. Sarangapani Ayyangar and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1936Mad320
AppellantSecy. of State
RespondentK. Sarangapani Ayyangar and anr.
Excerpt:
.....this contention was accepted by that court-that the government could not subsequently impose ground rent on the land so alienated, even though in the subsequent alienation by the municipal council to the original plaintiff it was clearly stated that the purchaser was liable to pay ground rent which may be fixed by the collector in respect of the site purchased by him. it is well settled that the ruling power in india is entitled as a matter of right to levy such assessment on land, as it thinks proper, and if any one wants to claim any exemption from liability to pay such assessment, whether it is called land revenue or ground rent or by any other name, he must establish that exemption by sufficient evidence. it is due to the failure to appreciate the distinction between alienation..........of the exemption claimed. the learned subordinate judge's view that the government has no right to levy ground rent on land unless that right is expressly reserved before the grant is made, or at the time the grant is made, cannot possibly be accepted. the crown's right to levy assessment is not subject to any limitation of this kind. it may be that if a person has been holding land without paying assessment of any kind for over 60 years, the crown's right to levy assessment may be lost, but that is not the question here, because the imposition of ground rent was made within a year or two after the grant and no question of limitation or prescriptive right to hold the land free of assessment arises. the claim of the plaintiffs to hold the particular portion of the site, which was.....
Judgment:

Pandrang Row, J.

1. This is an appeal from the decree of the Subordinate Judge, Kumbakonam, dated 26th March 1931, reversing in appeal the decree of the District Munsif, Tanjore, dated 28th September 1929, in O.S. No. 271 of 1928, a suit for the recovery of a certain sum of money alleged to have been illegally levied by the Government as ground rent from the plaintiff. The original plaintiff died and plaintiffs 2 and 3 are his legal representatives. The only defendant is the Secretary of State for India. The only point that arose for decision in the suit was whether the imposition of ground rent by the Government in respect of 12 cents which formed part of T. S. No. 2153 is illegal. The District Munsif found that the imposition of ground rent was quite legal and dismissed the suit with costs. The Subordinate Judge in appeal was of opinion that the Government was not entitled to levy the ground rent in question and accordingly allowed the appeal and passed a decree in favour of the plaintiffs.

2. The question is one of law and the view of the learned Subordinate Judge appears to me to be contrary to law, for it proceeds on the wrong assumption that the Government cannot impose ground rent unless the imposition is made when the grant of land is made by the Government to another or before it is made. In this particular case the whole of the survey number, including the 12 cents involved in the present suit, was granted by the Government to the Municipal Council of Kumbakonam in connection with their scheme for town extension in Kumbakonam, for which other lands had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act by the Municipality through the Government. The alienation of the land by the Government to the Municipal Council is evidenced by Ex. 1, the proceedings of the Collector of Tanjore, to the effect that the Collector sanctions in favour of the Kumbakonam Municipal Council the alienation of 1-29 cents of land in T. S. No. 2153 and 40 cents in another number subject to the condition that the lands are used for the purpose for which they were intended, namely for the extension of Kumbakonam town. This alienation of land was made after the Council had agreed to abide by the conditions prescribed in the Board's Standing Order 24, para. 12. Simply because there is in this order of the Collector no mention made of the fact that ground rent may be levied on the land so alienated, it was contended by the plaintiffs (appellants) in the lower appellate Court-and this contention was accepted by that Court-that the Government could not subsequently impose ground rent on the land so alienated, even though in the subsequent alienation by the Municipal Council to the original plaintiff it was clearly stated that the purchaser was liable to pay ground rent which may be fixed by the Collector in respect of the site purchased by him. It is well settled that the Ruling Power in India is entitled as a matter of right to levy such assessment on land, as it thinks proper, and if any one wants to claim any exemption from liability to pay such assessment, whether it is called land revenue or ground rent or by any other name, he must establish that exemption by sufficient evidence.

3. In this particular case there is no evidence at all in support of the exemption claimed. The learned Subordinate Judge's view that the Government has no right to levy ground rent on land unless that right is expressly reserved before the grant is made, or at the time the grant is made, cannot possibly be accepted. The Crown's right to levy assessment is not subject to any limitation of this kind. It may be that if a person has been holding land without paying assessment of any kind for over 60 years, the Crown's right to levy assessment may be lost, but that is not the question here, because the imposition of ground rent was made within a year or two after the grant and no question of limitation or prescriptive right to hold the land free of assessment arises. The claim of the plaintiffs to hold the particular portion of the site, which was purchased by them, free of -ground rent simply because it originally formed part of poramboke, is, in my opinion wholly untenable. No doubt so long as it was poramboke it bore no assessment, but after it was assigned to the Municipal Council, and after its use as building site, there was nothing to prevent the Government from imposing such ground rent as it thought fit. The other portion of the site acquired by the plaintiffs was patta land, paying a comparatively low assessment, and after its use as building site ground rent has been levied. In any case the view of the Subordinate Judge, that the Government has no right to levy ground rent because it did not specifically reserve power to levy ground rent when assigning the land to the Municipal Council, is wrong; it is due to the failure to appreciate the distinction between alienation of land and alienation of land revenue which are two distinct things dealt with separately in the Board's Standing Orders. There was only an alienation of land in this case, and there was no alienation of land revenue, and there could not have been an alienation of land revenue contemplated in a case of this kind where the land which was granted to the Municipal Council was to be sold to intending builders of houses thereon. The decree of the lower appellate Court being contrary to law is set aside and the decree of the trial Court is restored with costs of the appellant in this Court and in the lower appellate Court. Leave to appeal is refused.


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