Skip to content


M.P. Shanmugham Vs. the Land Commissioner, Board of Revenue and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1972)2MLJ159
AppellantM.P. Shanmugham
RespondentThe Land Commissioner, Board of Revenue and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....surplus land prescribing priority he was entitled to be considered as a person having served in armed forces. respondents 3 and 4 were among the other rival applicants. the district revenue officer, thanjavur, rejected the claim of the petitioner holding that he was not eligible to get an assignment under the rules. out of the extent of 8.40 acres, of which the petitioner claimed assignment, the district revenue officer assigned an extent of 3.40 acres in favour of the third respondent, and the remaining extent of 5 acres in favour of the fourth respondent. the third respondent, at the time of assignment, was serving in the indian army, while the fourth respondent was an ex-military personnel serving as an assistant station master in the railways after discharge from military. against.....
Judgment:
ORDER

K.S. Palaniswamy, J.

1. An extent of 150.64 ordinary acres of land in Serukalathur village, Manliargudi taluk, Thanjavur District, Was acquired by the State Government under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) from the holding of one Samiappa Mudaliar and another. The petitioner obtained a lease from the Authorised Officer, Nagapattinam, over an extent of 8.40 acres out of that extent in the year 1966 and was cultivating the same. In response to the notice published inviting applications for assignment of the surplus lands, the petitioner applied for assignment of the said extent of 8.40 acres, stating that he was entitled to priority. He put forward the claim of priority on the basis that he had served as a member of the Indian National Army formed by Nethaji Subhas Chandra Bose and that he was discharged from that army in November, 1945. He contended that under the rules for assignment of the surplus land prescribing priority he was entitled to be considered as a person having served in Armed Forces. Respondents 3 and 4 were among the other rival applicants. The District Revenue Officer, Thanjavur, rejected the claim of the petitioner holding that he was not eligible to get an assignment under the rules. Out of the extent of 8.40 acres, of which the petitioner claimed assignment, the District Revenue Officer assigned an extent of 3.40 acres in favour of the third respondent, and the remaining extent of 5 acres in favour of the fourth respondent. The third respondent, at the time of assignment, was serving in the Indian Army, while the fourth respondent was an ex-military personnel serving as an Assistant Station master in the Railways after discharge from military. Against the order rejecting his application, the petitioner preferred an appeal to the Land Commissioner, but without success. This writ petition is filed praying for the issue of a writ of certiorari to quash the order of the District Revenue Officer as confirmed by the Land Commissioner.

2. The only point for consideration is whether the petitioner is entitled to priority along with respondents 3 and 4 in getting the land assigned. Section 3(29) of the Act defines ''member of the Armed Forces' as meaning a person in the service of the Air Force, Army or Navy of the Union of India and includes a seaman. By Virtue of the powers conferred by Section 94 of the Act, the State Government has made rules called the Madras Land Reforms (Disposal of Surplus Land) Rules, 1965. Rule 5 of those rules declares the eligibility for assignment of surplus land and indicates the order of priority. The person who gets top priority is he who is completely dispossessed of his holding by virtue of the provisions of the Act. Next in rank comes the person whose extent of holding is reduced below three standard acres held by him partly as cultivating tenant and partly as owner or wholly as cultivating tenant by virtue of the provisions of the Act. Then comes No. 3 who is described as a person 'who is or who has been a member of the Armed Forces'. The Act contemplates certain concessions to the members of the Armed Forces. For instance, in the matter of furnishing of return under Section 8, which fixes a period of 90 days from the notified date, an enlarged period of one year is given to the members of the Armed Forces for furnishing such return. Though the definition given in Section 3(29) would indicate that a person to be a member of the Armed Force should be a person in service meaning thereby that he should be in present service, Rule 5 takes in not only a person who is a member of the Armed Forces but also a person who has been a member of the Armed Forces. Section 94, by virtue of which the rules have been framed, requires the Government to frame rules after taking into consideration the objects specified in the preamble. The rules have come into force after the Legislature accorded its approval. The object in giving special treatment to the members of the Armed Forces is presumably to confer certain benefits upon them who may be doing service to the country or who have done service to the country by risking their lives either in winning the freedom of the country or in defending the frontiers of the country from attack by enemies. It would be doing justice to such persons by conferring certin benefits. One of the objects of the Act is to distribute the surplus land so that such distribution may subserve the common good and promote justice, social and economic. The Board of Revenue, in the instant case, has taken a narrow view of the definition on account of the use of the expression 'of the Union of India'. The Union of India came into being in January, 1950. It could not have been the intention of the Legislature that the benefit should be restricted only to those who happened to serve in the Armed Forces, Army or Navy, only after that date. As the intention of the Legislature was to confer certain benefits upon those who served the country in the matter of winning the freedom or in defending or protecting the freedom, it would not be right to restrict the application of such benefit only to those who happened to serve the country after any particular date. In making the rules, the Government have enlarged the scope of the benefit even to those who had once served the country. The question is whether such benefit should be restricted only to those who happened to serve in officially recognised units or in any unit like the Indian National Army, which was formed by Nethaji Subhas Chandra Bose in his efforts to win the freedom of the country in his own way: The Government themselves have recognised that those who had served in the Indian National Army could be classified as Ex-servicemen for the purpose of assigning lands under the Board Standing Order - vide paragraph 9 of B.S.O. 15, which inter alia defines 'Ex-servicemen' as including those who served in the Indian National Army. It is perhaps with this idea that the Government, while framing the rules, provided that even those who were once members of the Armed Forces could be given priority along with those who may be for the present serving in the Armed Forces. The object of the Legislature has to be given effect to by giving a rational meaning to the expression. The definition should not be given a narrow construction. The definition should be understood as given unless the context otherwise requires. If the context requires an enlarged meaning and such enlarged meaning has to be given effect to for the purpose of effectuating the intention of the Legislature, it would be only proper to give an extended meaning to the expression. In this view, I hold that a member of the Indian National Army can be considered to be a member of the Armed Forces for the purpose of claiming priority under Rule 5(1).

3. The fact that the petitioner served in the Indian National Army is not disputed. The petitioner also does not dispute that the respondents 3 and 4 are entitled to the same benefit as himself. The result, therefore, is that the claims of the petitioner and respondents 3 and 4 should be treated alike, and the assignment should he ordered on that basis. This not having been done, the impugned order is liable to be quashed and it is hereby quashed.

4. In the result, the writ petition is allowed quashing the order of the District Revenue Officer as confirmed by the Board of Revenue. The matter is remitted to the District Revenue Officer, Thanjavur, for the disposal of the applications of the petitioner and respondents 3 and 4 in the light of the foregoing observations. No order as to costs.


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