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State of Madras, Represented by the Collector of Ramanathapuram Vs. O.K.M. Zakina Bivi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1957)2MLJ260
AppellantState of Madras, Represented by the Collector of Ramanathapuram
RespondentO.K.M. Zakina Bivi and ors.
Cases ReferredState of Madras v. Srinivasa Ayyangar
Excerpt:
- .....meera ambalam and adamoose ambalam, who were joint lessees under the two leases. in regard to the lease dated 31st august, 1931, the annual rent fixed under it was rs. 9000 while under the later it was rs. 650. the lessor received, at the date of lease, the whole of the lease amount due for the entire period viz., twenty years, the leases being timed to last for 1341 to 1360. the lessees were in enjoyment of the property leased and while so, under act xxvi of 1948, a notification was issued on 13th august, 1949 taking over the ramnad zamindari. it is common ground that after the date of the notification, the government took possession of the lands and that the lessees remained no longer in enjoyment. the advance compensation for the zamindari, which was calculated in a sum of about rs......
Judgment:

Rajagopala Ayyangar, J.

1. This is an appeal by the State of Madras against the decision of the Estates Abolition Tribunal, Madurai, in O.P. No. 361 of 1950.

2. The transactions which give raise to these proceedings were two leases by the Rajah of Ramnad dated 31st August, 1931 and 27th January, 1932. Under these two leases, villages which are comprised in Schedules I and II were leased to two individuals, Meera Ambalam and Adamoose Ambalam, who were joint lessees under the two leases. In regard to the lease dated 31st August, 1931, the annual rent fixed under it was Rs. 9000 while under the later it was Rs. 650. The lessor received, at the date of lease, the whole of the lease amount due for the entire period viz., twenty years, the leases being timed to last for 1341 to 1360. The lessees were in enjoyment of the property leased and while so, under Act XXVI of 1948, a notification was issued on 13th August, 1949 taking over the Ramnad zamindari. It is common ground that after the date of the notification, the Government took possession of the lands and that the lessees remained no longer in enjoyment. The advance compensation for the zamindari, which was calculated in a sum of about Rs. 19,00,000 was deposited with the Estates Abolition Tribunal, Madurai, and thereupon the lessees, or their representatives, filed O.P. No. 361 of 1950 on 21st September, 1950 for payment to them of Rs. 19,300 out of the compensation amount. The basis of their claim was that by reason of the act of Government they had been deprived of the right to enjoy the property for a period of two years; and as the lease amounts which they had paid in advance in regard to those two years was Rs. 9,650 per year, they claimed Rs. 19,300 as the damage they had sustained by this deprivation of their possession and claimed this amount' from the compensation deposit. The Raja of Ramnad appeared before the Tribunal and filed a statement in which he denied the right of the lessees to obtain any portion of the compensation amount and contended that the leases which he had executed in favour of these lessees in 1931 and 1932 were valid and binding upon the Government under Section 20 of Act XXVI of 1948 and that if there was any improper termination of these leases, or any dispossession by the State Government, the petitioners had to resort to the Government for damages for the loss sustained. On his written statement being filed, the Government were impleaded as additional respondents. The Government filed a counter in which they stated that Section 20 of the Act was inapplicable to the case and that the petitioners, i.e., the lessees must have their claims satisfied, if at all out of the compensation amount deposited with the Tribunal.

3. The tribunal, by its decision now under appeal upheld the contention of the Rajah of Ramnad and holding that the lessees had no right to proceed against the compensation amount held that their rights were governed by Section 20 of the Act. In the result the petition was dismissed, as the claim in the petition was for payment out from the compensation amount. The lessees have not preferred any appeal; but it is the State that has come up before us and the challenge is as to the correctness of the decision as to the applicability of Section 20 of the Act to the claims of the lessees, the respondents before us.

4. The contention of the Special Government Pleader, who appeared on behalf of the Government was that though leases in general are governed by Section 20, the particular leases were not. Section 20 of the Act is in these terms:

20. (1) In cases not governed by Sections 18 and 19 where before the notified date, a landholder has created any right in any land (whether by way of lease or otherwise) including rights in any forest, mines, or minerals, quarries, fisheries or ferries, the transaction shall be deemed to be valid; and all rights and obligations arising thereunder, on or after the notified date, shall be enforceable by or against the Government:

Provided that the transaction was not void or illegal under any law in force at the time : Provided further that any such right created on or after the 1st day of July, 1945 shall not be enforceable against the Government, unless it was created for a period not exceeding one year:

Provided also that where such right was created for a period exceeding one year, unless it relates to the private land of the landholder within the meaning of Section 3, Clause (10), of the Estates Land Act, the Government may, if, in their opinion, it is in the public interest to do so, by notice given to the person concerned, terminate the right with effect from such date as may be specified in the notice, not being earlier than three months from the date thereof.

(2) The person, whose right has been terminated by the Government under the foregoing proviso, shall be entitled to compensation from the Government which shall be determined by the Board of Revene in such manner as may be prescribed, having regard to the value of the right and the unexpired portion of the period for which the right was created. The decision of the Board of Revenue shall be final and not be liable to be questioned in any Court of law.

5. In the present case, the leases were of dates long anterior to July, 1945 and therefore would not fall within the second proviso to Section 20(1). If the section applied, the right to determine the leases will be governed by the conditions set out in the third provisio to Section 20(1) and also by the provisions of Section 20(2). The contention urged however was that by reason of these leases the lessees became, so to speak, the owners of the property with the result that Section 20 which dealt with leases and rights in the estate did not apply to the leases now in dispute. This was based upon two clauses in the lease deeds, Clauses 3 and 8. The reference in Clause 3 on which reliance was placed was a direction that the lessees might enjoy ' all kinds of rights and incomes possessed by the lessor in any portion whatsoever in the whole of the said villages together with absolute rights possessed by the lessor from the current fasli 1341 to the end of fosli 1360, 20 faslis'. Paragraph 8 is to the effect that the lessees are entitled to exercise the rights that the lessor would exercise as per Act I of 1908 and as per the other amended Acts thereof against the ryots of the said villages. We are wholly unable to agree with the submission of the learned Counsel for the Government that these clauses are inconsistent with the transactions embodied in the documents being leases. A lease is a transfer of a right to enjoy the property of the lessor made for a certain time under which the lessee is put in possession of the property, and these clauses are consistent with such a transaction. The clauses do not render the lessee the owner of the land leased. Learned Counsel referred us to the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Madras v. Srinivasa Ayyangar : AIR1956Mad597 . and to a passage therein on page 68. But in our opinion this passage, far from supporting the argument advanced on behalf of the appellant, is really against that contention. It draws a marked distinction between rights in or over land, including the rights of a lessee, and absolute ownership such as is involved in the creation of an under-tenure.

6. If therefore the deeds of 1931 and 1932 were leases, they clearly fell within the scope of Section 20 of Act XXVI of 1948 and the decision of the majority of the Tribunal to that effect is correct.

7. The appeal fails and is dismissed with costs--two sets.


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