1. These civil revision petitions are placed before us because Kailasam, J., was unable to agree with the view in Natesa Pillai v. Mahalingam Padayachi (1961) 2 M.L.J. 246, as to the scope of Sub-section (5) of Section 4-A of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection Act, 1955. The petitioner in each of the petitions is a tenant and seeks to revise the order of the concerned Authorised Officer for resumption of land from the relative cultivating tenant. The question turns on whether a purchaser from a landlord subsequent to the date mentioned in Sub-section (4) of Section 4-A will not be hit by the inhibition imposed by Sub-section (5). This precise matter was considered by one of us in Kothanda Pillai v. Devaraja Reddy : AIR1966Mad434 . It was there held that Sub-section (5) fixed not merely a ceiling in respect of the extent with reference to which right to resume for personal cultivation was given, but also drew a line on time so that any change subsequent thereto in the circumstances of the landlord was made ineffective to disturb the protection afforded to the cultivating tenant. In expressing that view, support was derived from two earlier cases, Natesan Pillai v. Mahalinga Padayachi (1961) 2 M.L.J. 246 and Rajadurai v. Kunjuramu Vanniar (1961) 2 M.L.J. 426.
2. Kailasam, J., in stating that he found himself unable to agree with the view in Natesan Pillai v. Mahalinga Padayachi (1961) 2 M.L.J. 246, observed:
With respect, I find myself unable to agree with this view, for the disqualification contemplated in Section 4-A (5) attaches to a person who was not entitled to resume possession under Section 4-A (4) and not to a landlord, which is made clear by the sub-section itself that no person who is not entitled to resume possession should be deemed to do so by reason of any subsequent change in his circumstances. The words ' no person ' and 'subsequent change in his circumstances,' would indicate that the sub-section refers to persons who were disqualified under Section 4-A (4) and not to landlords, who became purchasers subsequent to the coming into force of the Amendment Act, as such purchasers will be landlords under the definition, and there is no disqualification for them from applying for resumption as purchasers subsequent to the date when the Amendment Act came into force.
We regret our inability to share this view. Sub-section (5) is the only one among the sub-sections of Section 4-A which uses the word 'person' and this has been done by the Legislature deliberately. The object is clear. A landlord who suffers from the disability under Sub-section (4) should be unable to defeat the inhibition by transferring a part of his land reducing his holding at or below the ceiling level, and then enabling the purchaser to claim resumption. The word ' person in Sub-section (5), therefore, seems to cover not only a landlord who was not entitled to resume possession under the section on the date the the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection (Amendment) Act, 1956, came into force but also a person who, not owning land on that date, but by purchase comes to own land thereafter, will suffer from the same disability. He was not person entitled to resume on the relevant date and by subsequent change of circumstances, in this case as a purchaser, he could not clothe himself with the right to resume. Where a landlord did not suffer from the disability under Sub-section (4), but transferred a part of his holding to another, the transferee not being a person entitled to resume on the relevant date could not be in a better position because of his purchase. This seems to be literally the effect of Sub-section (5). No doubt this may work hardship, but it is not for us to depart from the actual language employed. The Act was looking at the matter from the point of view of the cultivating tenant and the protection to be afforded to him. The protection sought to be afforded was as on the date the Amendment Act of 1956 came into force. That being so, these petitions are allowed. No costs.