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Rukmani Ammal Vs. the Union Territory of Pondicherry, Represented by the Secretary to Govt., Law Department and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Civil
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1984)2MLJ198
AppellantRukmani Ammal;jayakumar (Minor) Represented by Mother and Guardian V. Gowri Ammal and anr.
RespondentThe Union Territory of Pondicherry, Represented by the Secretary to Govt., Law Department and ors.;t
Cases ReferredB.E.K. Nattar v. Authorised Officer
Excerpt:
- .....the language used in section 4(4) of the act stands in pari materia with section 23 of the tamil nadu land reforms (fixation of ceiling on land) act, 1981(act 58 of 1981), hereinafter, referred to as the tamil nadu act, prior to the substitution of that section by tamil nadu act 32 of 1974, which amendment was necessitated on account of a decision of a bench of this court in b . e . k . nattar v. authorised officer (l.r.) : air1973mad389 , the bench having held that section 23 of the tamil nadu act does not by express terms invalidate such transfers and the title of the transferee will stand unaffected and cannot be interfered with by the authorised officer while fixing the ceiling area of the transferor, and the learned counsel urges that by application of the same ratio, the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

S. Nainar Sundaram, J.

1. W.P. Nos. 798 & 833 of 1980.: The petitioner is the same in both the writ petitions. A few facts are necessary to appreciate the grievance of the petitioner in these two writ petitions. The petitioner is an alienee from one R. Rukmani, wife of A. Ramalingam. The alienor of the petitioner got the lands in question under a settlement from her husband on 16.3.1970. The alienation in favour of the petitioner is dated 3.12.1973. Proceedings were initiated against A. Ramalingam under the Pondicherry Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1973(Act 9 of 1974), hereinafter referred to as the Act. The appointed day under the Act is 24.1.1971; The date of commencement of the Act was 14.10.-1974. The alienation in favour of the petitioner having had taken place after the appointed day, but before the commencement of the Act, the mischief of Section 4(4) of the Act apparently came into play and the alienation in favour of the petitioner was treated as non est and the lands were taken into account as the holding of A. Ramlingam, as if they had not been alienated at all. The concerned Authorised Officer held that the lands alienated shall continue to be the holding of A. Ramalingam. This order of the Authorised Officer was confirmed by the Appellate Tribunal. In W.P. No. 798 of 1980, the petitioner has prayed for the issue of a writ of declaration, declaring that Section 4(4) of the Act is ultra vires Articles 14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution of India in so far as it concerned the petitioner. In W.P. No. 833 of 1980, the petitioner has prayed for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the Appellate Tribunal under the Act referred to above.

2. Mr. V. Manivannan, learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner, would put forth two submissions. One is, the language used in Section 4(4) of the Act stands in pari materia with Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1981(Act 58 of 1981), hereinafter, referred to as the Tamil Nadu Act, prior to the substitution of that section by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974, which amendment was necessitated on account of a decision of a Bench of this Court in B . E . K . Nattar v. Authorised Officer (L.R.) : AIR1973Mad389 , the Bench having held that Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act does not by express terms invalidate such transfers and the title of the transferee will stand unaffected and cannot be interfered with by the Authorised Officer while fixing the ceiling area of the transferor, and the learned Counsel urges that by application of the same ratio, the alienation in favour of the petitioner and the resultant title will stand uneffected. In answer Mr. S. Govindaswamy, learned Government Pleader for Pondicherry, submits that the language used in Section 4(4) of the Act is not at all in pari materia with the language used in Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act before it substitution by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974, and, on the other hand, the language of Section 4(4) of the Act is in pari materia with the language used in Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act, after its substitution by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974. Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act, prior to its amendment by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974, stood as follows:

Authorised Officer not to take into consideration certain transfers or sub-divisions before publication of final statement: Subject to the provisions of Section 20, for the purpose of fixing, for the first time, after the date of commencement of this Act the ceiling area of any person holding land on the date of the commencement of this Act, in excess of 15 standard acres, the Authorised Officer shall not take into consideration-

(a) any transfer, whether by sale (including sale in execution of a decree or order of a civil court or of an award or order of any other lawful authority) or by gift (other than gift made in contemplation of death), exchange, surrender, settlement or otherwise; or

(b) any sub-division (including sub-division by a decree or order of a civil court or any other lawful authority) whether by partition or otherwise, effected on or after the notified date and before the date of publication of the final statement under Section 12 or 14.

As it could be seen from the extract made above, that provision merely stated 'the authorised Officer shall not take into consideration'. This section was construed by the Bench of this Court in B . E . K . N attar v. Authorised Officer : AIR1973Mad389 , and the effect of the construction is found in the following passages in the judgment:

The direction in the section is to the authorised officer which is that, for the purpose of fixing, for the first time, the ceiling area of any person holding land on the date of the commencement of the Act in excess of 30 standard acres, he shall ignore any transfer whether by sale or by gift etc., effected on or after the notified date and before the date of the publication of the final statement under Section 12 or 14. In sharp contrast to Section 22, the authorised officer, while acting under Section 23, has not been given any power to declare such sale deed to be void. The section also does not say that the transfer by itself will be bad for any reason. The transfer is not rendered void either expressly or by any statement in the section. The section does not deal with the transferee's rights..

As we read Section 23, we are unable to hold that the sale in favour of the appellant is by any means invalid. It follows, therefore, that his title or possession cannot be interfered with....

3. There is no dispute that it is only with a view to get over the construction put up by the Bench of this Court in the above decision and in order to make the intention clear and to prevent persons transferring surplus lands or making sub-divisions after the notified date and before the publication of the notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 18 and thereby defeating the purpose of the ceiling law, the amendment was thought about and was introduced. This is quite evident from the statement of objects and reasons for Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974. Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act, after its substitution by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974, reads as follows:

Transfers or sub-divisions made or effected before the publication of notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 18... (1) Subject to the provisions of Section 20, for the purpose of fixing, for the first time after the date of the commencement of the Act, the ceiling area of any person holding land on the date of the commencement of this Act in excess of 30 standard acres-

(a) any transfer, whether by sale (including sale in execution of a decree or order of a civil court or of an award or order of any other lawful authority) or by gift (other than gift made in contemplation of death), exchange, surrender, settlement or otherwise, or

(b) any sub-division (including sub-division by a decree or order of a civil court or any other lawful authority) whether by partition or otherwise; effected on or after the notified date and before the publication of a notification under-sub-section (1) of Section 18 shall be, and shall be deemed always to have been, void and accordingly the authorised officer shall calculate the ceiling area of such person as if no such transfer or sub-division had taken place.

Explanation: This sub-section shall, on and from the 15th day of February, 1970 have effect as if for the figures and words '30 standard acres', the figures and words '15 standard acres' had been substituted.

(2) It shall be the duty of the authorised officer to include the land so transferred or sub-divided, within the ceiling area of the transferor or the person who held the land immediately before such sub-division, as the case may be, as if no such transfer or sub-division had taken place.

4. The impact of this provision on transfers effected on or after the notified date and before the publication of a notification under Sub-section (1) of Section 18 is emphatic and such transfers shall be, and shall be deemed always to have been, void and accordingly the authorised officer shall calculate the ceiling area of such person as if no such transfer had taken place. Section 4(4) of the Act reads as follows:

In calculating the extent of land held by any person, any land which was transferred by sale, gift of 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 language used in Section 4(4) of the Act is different from the language used in section, 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act, before its substitution by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974. This is quite patent and apparent. A comperative reading, on the other hand, of Section 4(4) of the Act with Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act, after its substitution by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974, leaves no room for doubt in the mind of this Court that though the language used is not, word by word similar, vet, the import and implications are partently one and the same. In Section 23 of the Tamil Nadu Act, after its substitution by Tamil Nadu Act 32 of 1974, it is declared and enjoined that the authorised officer shall calculate the ceiling area of such person as if no such transfer or sub-division had taken place. Similarly, in Section 4(4) of the Act, the language used is-the land, subject-matter of transfer in question shall be taken into account as if such land has not been transferred. The effect of both the provisions is that the concerned alienation is non est in the eye of law and the lands alienated will continue to be the holding of the landowner for the purpose of the statutes. This is the patent and unambiguous result of the provisions. If this is the import and implication of the provision, . viz., Section 4(4) of the Act, then the efficacy and the force of the decision of the Bench of this Court in B.E.K. Nattar v. Authorised Officer (L.R.) : AIR1973Mad389 , is no longer available for the petitioner to have the alienation in her favour protected and left unaffected in spite of the proceedings under the Act against the land owner.

5. The second submission made by Mr. V. Manivannan, learned Counsel for the petitioner, is that the alienation in favour of the petitioner took place long prior to the commencement of the Act and the Act, by itself, does not provide for payment of compensation to such alienees, and hence the provision of the Act will come within the mischief of Articles 19(1)(f) and 31 of the Constitution of India. This submission was on the basis that the deletion of the right of property from the array of fundamental rights will not deprive the petitioner of the arguments available to her prior to the coming into force of the 44th Amendment of the Constitution of India, with effect from the 20th June, 1979, since the Act was passed prior to that date. This argument could be built and countenanced if otherwise tenable only if any right in property lawfully vested in and existed with the Petitioner. By operation of the provision of Section 4(4) of the Act, the petitioner derived no right in the property since the very alienation is non est in the eye of law, and in the said circumstances, I am not able to appreciate and sustain the submissions made by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. Of course, Mr. S. Govindaswamy, learned Government Pleader for Pondicherry, made his own submissions counteracting those made by the learned Counsel for the petitioner in this behalf. But I do not find necessity to go into this question since I have found on an assessment of the first submission made by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the alienation itself has to be treated as null and void and non est in the eye of law and there was no deprivation of right in property in favour of and conferment of right in property on the petitioner. Otherwise, the Constitutional vires of the Act itself was not put in issue and argued by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. For all these reasons, I am obliged to discountenance the case of the petitioner and, as a result, these two writ petitions will stand dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.

C.R.P. Nos. 106 & 107 of 1980:

Mr. V. Manivannan, learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners in these two revisions submits that the points are the same as those urged in the above two writ petitions. The very same reasonings govern these revisions also. Hence, these two revisions are also dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.


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