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K. Sakkanna Pillai and ors. Vs. K. Pasupathi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1976)1MLJ166
AppellantK. Sakkanna Pillai and ors.
RespondentK. Pasupathi and ors.
Cases ReferredSubbiah Padayachi v. State of Madras
Excerpt:
- .....of the land in the possession of the cultivating tenants which is in excess of the cultivating tenants ceiling area as fixed under section 60 of the act. it is common ground that under a joint lease dated 28th may, 1969 exhibit r-1, the three tenants jointly obtained a lease of an extent of 11.51 acres of land belonging to the landlord. it is also common ground that one amongst the petitioners besides being a joint lessee as above, was also the owner of 2.05 acres of land and was also cultivating the same by himself. when the application for resumption, if such an expression could be used, was filed by the landlord under section 62 of the act, the main contention of the tenants was that they had a distinct and decipherable interest in the demised land and there was no jointness in.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. These two revision petitions are connected. In C.R.P. No. 952 of 1974, the three petitioners are the cultivating tenants. In C.R.P. No. 1157 of 1973 the petitioner is the landlord. The landlord filed an application under Section 62 of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961 (Act LVIII of 1961) requesting the Authorised Officer to take possession of the land in the possession of the cultivating tenants which is in excess of the cultivating tenants ceiling area as fixed under Section 60 of the Act. It is common ground that under a joint lease dated 28th May, 1969 Exhibit R-1, the three tenants jointly obtained a lease of an extent of 11.51 acres of land belonging to the landlord. It is also common ground that one amongst the petitioners besides being a joint lessee as above, was also the owner of 2.05 acres of land and was also cultivating the same by himself. When the application for resumption, if such an expression could be used, was filed by the landlord under Section 62 of the Act, the main contention of the tenants was that they had a distinct and decipherable interest in the demised land and there was no jointness in the lease, as they were enjoying the leased land independently and separately. On the other hand, the landlord's case was that on the bare recitals of Exhibit R. 1 and on a fair interpretation thereof, it is seen that what was demised was jointly demised conjointly to the three petitioners as such, and, therefore the tenants should be considered as a person within the meaning of Section 3(34) of the Act and as an association of individuals and thus considered, the cultivating tenants ceiling area has to be fixed with reference to Section 60 of the Act. Unmindful of the internal arrangements as between the tenants in the matter of the separate and distinct enjoyment of the demised land, both the Authorised Officer (Land Reforms) Thanjavur and the Land Tribunal, Subordinate Judge, Thanjavur, agreed with the contention of the landlord that the tenants in question have to be treated as an association of individuals and dealt with as such. On a further consideration of the merits, the Authorised Officer was of the view that the independent holding of one of the tenants namely 2.05 acres, also has to be added on to the extent of the holding of the association of persons and thereafter the ceiling limit of the aforesaid, 'person' has to be ascertained. On this view, the Authorised Officer held that 2.05 acres owned by one of the tenants has to be added on to the demised land of an extent of 11.51 acres and out of the total extent of 13.56 acres after taking the prescribed statutory limit of 5 standard acres as defined in Section 60 of the Act, held that he was entitled to take possession of 8.56 acres as if it was an excess with the association of persons, as cultivating tenants. On appeal the learned Subordinate Judge was of the view, as already stated, that the tenants have to be statutorily treated as an association of individuals but on the other question, whether the independent holding of one of the tenants should also be added on to the extent of the demised land, held that the extent of 2.05 acres owned by one of the tenants has to be taken out of consideration for the purpose of fixing the land in excess of the cultivating tenants' i.e., (the association of individuals) ceiling area and modified the order accordingly. As against the order of the Authorised Officer as also the appellate authority in the matter of the treatment of the three tenants as an association of individuals, the tenants have come up to this Court in C.R.P. No. 952 of 1974. As against that part of the order of the learned Subordinate Judge, who excluded the independent holding of one of the tenants from consideration for the purpose of fixing the excess the landlord has come up to this Court in G.R.P. No. 1157 of 1973.

2. I heard arguments. The short point for consideration, is, whether the treatment of the three individuals, who took up 11.51 acres of land on lease under Exhibit R-1 as an association of individuals is correct or not. The argument is that the mere fact that the three persons have joined together and entered into a lease with the landlord for purposes of cultivating the land so demised would not make them as association of individuals. The proposition broadly stated maybe right. But this aspect has to be not only considered with reference to the bare jural relationship created between the parties as evidenced in a regular deed therefor, but should be understood in a realistic sense with reference to the common object which motivated them to enter into such a transaction. An association of individuals has not been defined as such in any of the known laws which has adopted that parenthesis. It has always been interpreted with reference to the facts of each case with particular reference to the object with which the association was undertaken by the individuals. If there is a commencality in the enterprise and if the union or association was brought up with one object in view so as to promote a particular avocation or cause and if there is acceptable material to hold that the association was brought up with the sole purpose of exploiting a particular cause or purpose or an object, then it has been accepted more or less as a convention that such association of individuals would be legally and terminologically called an association of persons. This expression is commonly used in tax laws and in one of the decisions considered by the Supreme Court in Income-tax Commissioner v. Smt. Indira : [1960]39ITR546(SC) the learned Judges said:

There is no formula of universal application as to what facts, how many of them and of what nature are necessary to come to a conclusion that there is an association of persons within the meaning of Section 3; it must depend on the particular facts and circumstances of each case as to whether the conclusion can be drawn or not.

It is, therefore, clear that the given hypothesis in a given case has to be adjudged and the opinion expressed by Tribunals or Courts which have occasion to consider such a data, as to whether a grouping of individuals was for a common object with a common purpose and to undertake an avocation for a common gain. Viewed in the light of this generic explanation which is available for the expression 'association of individuals', it cannot be said that in the instant case the jointness of the lease obtained by the tenants from the landlord is for a purpose other than for exploitation of the land for cultivation and for their common benefit and gaing I am unable to agree with the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the tenants were in distinct and separate possession of parcels of the demised land. Apart from the fact that this contention on merits was discountenanced by the Courts below, the commencality of the purpose for which the three tenants associated themselves by itself provides the key to understand the common object which prompted them to so associate themselves. Viewing from any angle the three tenants should for all purposes be considered as an association of individuals within the meaning of Section 3(34) of the Ceiling Act. According to this definition a person includes any trust, company, family, firm, society or association of individuals, whether incorporated or not or any private trust or public trust. We are concerned only with an association of individuals. While defining the cultivating tenant's ceiling area, Section 60 says that cultivating tenant's ceiling area means 5 standard acres held by any person partly as cultivating tenant and partly as owner or wholly as cultivating tenant. If we, there fore, substitute the definition of a 'person' in Section 3(34) in Section 60, it is clear that the cultivating tenant's ceiling area means 5 standard acres held by an association of persons partly as cultivating tenant and partly as owner or wholly as cultivating tenant. In this view, therefore, the finding of the Court below that the tenants in question ought to be dealt with as an association of persons and their ceiling limit should be fixed in that context under Section 60 of the Act and any excess found over the ceiling limit should be taken possession of by the Authorised Officer is correct. The opinion expressed by me finds favour with the judgment of this Court rendered by Kailasam, J., in Bashyam v. State of Madras : (1970)1MLJ510 . The learned Counsel for the petitioner, however, invited my attention to the definition of 'family' in Section 3(14) and would urge that the tenants in question by stretching the objective with which they united themselves be dealt with as a family and as Chapter VIII dealing with cultivating tenant's ceiling area does not refer to family as such, the tenants in question so dealt with and considered ought not to be found as cultivating tenants in possession of any land in excess of the cultivating tenant's ceiling area. Reference is made to a judgment of Ramanujam, J., in Subbiah Padayachi v. State of Madras : AIR1971Mad417 , There, the question was entirely different. The learned Judge was considering the impact of Section 5(2) in juxtaposition to the ceiling area fixed in Section 60. In those circumstances, the learned Judge said that legislative intention as brought out in Chapter VIII of the Ceiling Act is clear and that for purposes of Chapter VIII the notion of family cannot be brought in. He further observed:

Hence, the separate holdings of the members of the family, such as the minor sons of the cultivating tenant, cannot be grouped and aggregated for fixing the cultivating tenant's ceiling area under Section 60.

What was being considered by Ramanujam, J., was entirely a different matter. That was not a case, where the question which arose for consideration was whether persons taking a demised land under a joint lease could be captioned as an association of individuals or otherwise. I am unable to subscribe to the view of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the tenants in the instant case should not be dealt with as association of individuals but as a family. I am doubtful whether the ratio in Subbiah Padayachi v. State of Madras : AIR1971Mad417 , can ever assist the petitioners-tenants at all.

3. For the above reasons, I hold that the tenants should be dealt with as association of individuals and C.R.P. No. 952 of 1974, is, therefore, dismissed; but there will be no order as to costs.

C.R.P. No. 1157 of 1973.

4. The next subsidiary question which arises is whether the appellate Tribunal was right in having modified the order o the Authorised Officer in having omitted an extent of 2.04 acres which admittedly belongs to one of the tenants from consideration for the purpose of ascertaining the excess over the ceiling limit. As I said, though the expression 'association of individuals' has not been jacketted. within a definition under any statute, yet the meaning of the expression has, more or less by convention and by explanation, become clear and is well - understood. An association of individuals is a person within the meaning of Section 3(34) of the Act. It is an entity by itself which for the purpose of tax laws and for purposes of Acts like the one under consideration has a special treatment and a separate signification. The persons who constitute the association of individuals are different from the association of individuals itself. Looking at the text of Section 60 which says that cultivating tenant's ceiling area means 5 standard acres held by any person partly as cultivating tenant and partly as owner or wholly as cultivating tenant, it has given also the clue that the person in Section 60 of the Act, if it relates to an association individuals, has to be dealt with as a separate entity and for purposes of fixing the excess under Section 62, the association of persons should own lands, should cultivate lands, and should be wholly or partly a cultivating tenant or owner of land. If any member of the association of individuals has land of his own which does not belong to the association of individuals, then such an extent owned by that person without reference to the association of individuals cannot enter into the computation for purposes of finding out the excess of the cultivating tenant's ceiling area. When once it is conceded that the person with whom the Tribunal or Court is concerned is an association of individuals then the person or persons, who formed that entity of association of individuals do not come into the picture for any purpose and much less for the purpose of the ascertainment of the excess of the cultivating tenants ceiling area, the cultivating tenant in that case being an association of individuals.

5. If, therefore, the realistic concept of an association of individuals is borne in mind, then the addition of 2.05 acres to 11.51 acres as if the former also is a holding of the association of individuals, is certainly a mistaken calculation. This has been rightly corrected by the Appellate Tribunal. I see no reason to interfere.

6. C.R.P. No. 1157 of 1973 is also dismissed, but there will be no order as to costs.


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