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Mangalanayagi Ammal and Vedham Iyer Vs. the Authorised Officer, Land Reforms and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty;Constitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1980)2MLJ429
AppellantMangalanayagi Ammal and Vedham Iyer
RespondentThe Authorised Officer, Land Reforms and anr.
Cases ReferredD. G. Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra
Excerpt:
- .....that the president gave his assent to the bill subject to certain amendments being made by the state government by either subsequent amendment of the act or by way of ordinance, which ever was convenient, and that there was only a conditional assent and, therefore, it does not amount to valid consent at all, and the fact that act xxxix of 1972 has been placed in the 9th schedule of the constitution does not make an otherwise invalid piece of legislation valid.5. in the counter-affidavit filed in the writ petition it is stated that in the government of india's letter received with the president's assent it was stated thatabove-mentioned assent of the president is being given subject to the following amendments being made to the act by the state government through subsequent amendment.....
Judgment:
ORDER

A. Varadarajan, J.

1. C.R.I. No. 2637 of 1975 has been filed for revision the judgment and decree dated 10th July, 1975 passed in C.M.A. No. 116 of 1974 on the file of the Land Tribunal (Principal Subordinate Judge), Cuddalore. C.R.P. No. 1283 of 1976 has been filed for evising the judgment and decree dated 30th March, 1976 passed in L.T.C.M.A. No. 96 of 1974 on the file of the Land Tribunal (Principal Subordinate Judge), Tiruchirapalli W.P. No. 3433 of 1978 has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the issue of a writ of certiorari or any other appropriate writ or order calling for the records of the Authorised Officer (Land Reforms), Tiruchirapalli, the second respondent, in M.R.I.V (705/Tri) 70, and of the third respondent, the Land Tribunal (Principal Subordinate Judge), Tiruchirapalli, in L.T.C.M.A. No. 96 of 1974, and quashing the orders dated 14th November, 1973 and 30th March, 1976 passed by the second respondent and third respondent respectively.

2. The petitioner in C.R.P. No. 1283 of 1976 and the writ petitioner is the same individual, Vedham Iyer; while the petitioner in C.R.P. No. 2637 of 1975 is one Mangalanayagi Ammal. Vedham Iyer submitted a return under the Land Reforms Act admitting ownership of 23 ordinary acres equivalent to 20.636 standard acres of land by himself and stating that his wife owns 12-78 ordinary acres equivalent to 13-241 standard acres of lands. The family of Vedham Iyer consists of himself and his wife. Under Section 5 of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961, the petitioner Vedham Iyer and his wife can hold only 15 standard acres and 10 standard acres respectively. After excluding certain extents under Section 73(vii) of the same Act, the surplus of 4-762 standard acres was declared by the second respondent. Vedham Iyer's wife has, admittedly, only a life estate in the entire 13-241 acres. The contention urged by Vedham Iyer before the Authorised Officer was that his wife having only a life estate in the entire 13.241 standard acres it should not be taken into account in arriving at the ceiling area. Mangalanayagi, the petitioner in C.R.P. No. 2637 of 1975 has, admittedly, a life estate in 34.93 ordinary acres equivalent to 28-71 standard acres. Her contention before the Authorised Officer was that the entire extent could not be taken into account in arriving at the ceiling area. The contention of Vedham Iyer and Mangalanayagi that the extents in which Vedham Iyer's wife and Mangalanayagi had only life interests should not be taken into account in arriving at the ceiling area has been rejected by the second respondent and also by the Land Tribunals in the appeals preferred against the orders passed by the second respondent. The civil revision petitions have been filed for revising the judgments of the Land Tribunal, the third respondent as stated earlier.

3. Section 3(28) of the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Act, 1961, hereinafter referred to as the Act, defines a 'limited owner' as meaning--

any person entitled to a life estate in any land and includes persons deriving rights through him.

The Explanation to that clause of Section 3 of the Act says that

A person who has a right to enjoy the land during his lifetime shall be deemed to be a limited owner notwithstanding that he has no power to alienate the land.

This Explanation has been added by the Amendment Act XXXIX of 1972, which has been put in the 9th Schedule to the Constitution of India. Section 3(33) of the Act defines an 'owner' as meaning--

any person holding land in severalty or jointly or in common under a ryotwari settlement or in any way subject to the payment of revenue direct to the Government.

and it is stated to include full owner or limited owner.

4. In the writ petition it has been contended that the Amendment Act XXXIX of 1972 is not a valid piece of legislation, that the President gave his assent to the Bill subject to certain amendments being made by the State Government by either subsequent amendment of the Act or by way of Ordinance, which ever was convenient, and that there was only a conditional assent and, therefore, it does not amount to valid consent at all, and the fact that Act XXXIX of 1972 has been placed in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution does not make an otherwise invalid piece of legislation valid.

5. In the counter-affidavit filed in the writ petition it is stated that in the Government of India's letter received with the President's assent it was stated that

Above-mentioned assent of the President is being given subject to the following amendments being made to the Act by the State Government through subsequent amendment procedure or the issue of Ordinances, whichever is convenient.

and it has been contended that the contention that the President's assent was conditional is untenable, and that the President cannot give his assent subject to any condition and such a procedure is not contemplated by Article 201 of the Constitution of India. It is also contended that in respect of some of the suggestions made in the letter with which the Bill with the President's assent duly endorsed thereon, was returned as required by Article 201 of the Constitution, the State Legislature has enacted many enactments subsequent to Act XXXIX of 1972, such as the Tamil Nadu Act X and XXX of 1974 and XXI of 1975.

6. In C.R.P. No. 1283 of 1976, it has been contended further that the third respondent Tribunal has failed to consider that 1.20 ordinary acres equivalent to one standard acre of land had already been sold away by Vedham Iyer in 1968 itself under the originals of Exhibits A-1 and A-2, which have been put in as additional evidence in the appeal before the third respondent, and that the third respondent has failed to exclude that extent in computing the ceiling area.

7. The learned Additional Government Pleader submitted that this plea was not taken by Vedham Iyer before the Authorised Officer and that therefore it has not been considered by the second respondent. This fact could not be disputed having regard to the admitted fact that the sale deeds, Exhibits A-1 and A-2, were put only before the third respondent by way of additional evidence in the appeal and had not been made available before the second respondent. In these Circumstances the learned Additional Government Pleader requested that the matter may be sent back to the second respondent for considering the question as to whether this extent has not been taken into consideration in fixing the ceiling area. '

8. If the Amendment Act XXX of 1972 is valid, the Authorised Officer and the Land Tribunal would have been in order in taking into consideration the extents in which Vedham Iyer's wife and Mangalanayagi had only a life estate, in including those extents for arriving at the ceiling area in the respective cases. Otherwise the Authorised Officer and the third respondent would have erred in law in not excluding those extents while fixing the -ceiling area.

9. The learned Counsel for the petitioners submitted that if Act XXXIX of 1972 is not a valid piece of legislation on the ground that the assent given by the President thereto is invalid in law, the Act cannot be held to be valid and enforceable merely because it has been included in the 9th Schedule to the Constitution. This submission is well-founded-A Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court has held in Inamdars of Sulahnagar Colony and Ors. v. The Government of Andhra Pradesh : AIR1961AP523 , that if the procedure indicated in Article 31(3) of the Constitution is not adopted, no part of the Bill becomes law because it becomes effective only after it receives the assent of the President. The learned Judges have observed:

There can be little doubt that Clause (3),of Article 31 has reference to the legislative course and it is not a limitation on the power of the State to acquire or requisition the property within the purview of Article 31(2). If the procedure indicated in Article 31(3) is not adopted, no part of the Bill becomes law because it becomes effective only after it receives the assent of the President. Evidently, the Constitution has introduced this provision to avoid hasty legislations being passed by State Legislatures in regard to matters covered by that Article. The President has to satisfy himself as to the effect it will have on the property of the people. It is not disputed that part of the Bill cannot be reserved for consideration of the President. The Bill as such has to be reserved. If this is not done, it becomes inoperative.

10. In Purushothaman Nambudiri v. The Stale of Kerala : AIR1962SC694 , it has been observed:

In this connection it is necessary to consider Articles 200 and 201 which deal with Bills reserved for the assent of the Governor or the President. Article 200 provides, inter alia, that when a Bill has been passed by the Legislative Assembly of a State it shall be presented to the Governor, and , the Governor shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom or that he reserves the Bill for the consideration of the President. The proviso to this Article requires that the Governor may, as soon as possible after the presentation to him of the Bill for assent, return the Bill if it is not a Money Bill together with a message requesting that the House or Houses will reconsider the Bill or any specified provisions thereof and, in particular, will reconsider the desirability of introducing any such amendments as he may recommend in his message and, when a Bill is so returned the House or Houses shall reconsider the Bill accordingly, and if the Bill is passed again by the House or Houses with or without amendment and presented to the Governor for assent, the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom. The second proviso deals with cases where the Governor shall not assent to but shall reserve for the consideration of the President, any Bill which in the opinion of the Governor would, if it became law, so derogate from the powers of the High Court as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill. Article 201 then deals with the procedure which has to be adopted when a Bill is to be assented to by the President. Under the said Article the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom. The proviso lays down, inter alia, that the President may direct the Governor to return the Bill to the House together with such message as is mentioned in the first proviso to Article 200, and when a Bill is so returned the House shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message, and if it is again passed by the House with or without amendment it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration.

11. It is not disputed that the Bill which ultimately emerged as Act XXXIX of 1972 had to be reserved by the Governor for consideration of the President. Article 201 of the Constitution reads thus:

When a Bill is reserved by a Governor for the consideration of the President, the President shall declare either that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom:Provided that, where the Bill is not a Money Bill, the President may direct the Governor to return the Bill to the House, or, as the case may be, the Houses of the Legislature of the State together with such a message as is mentioned in the first proviso to Article 200 and, when a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the House or Houses with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration.

Though, as held by their Lordships in D. G. Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra : [1977]2SCR790 , if a valid enact-ment is put in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution it cannot be attacked on the ground that it offends Part III of the Constitution relating to fundamental rights, a Division Bench of this Court has observed in the judgment dated 7th July, 1978, in W.P. No. 2075 of 1971 and batch, thus:

It is true that in view of the provisions contained in Article 79 of the Constitution, the President is a part of the Parliament of the Union and similarly in view of the provisions contained in Article 168(1) of the Constitution, the Governor is a part of the State Legislature. But when the President gives assent to a Bill passed by the sole House or two Houses of a State Legislature, he is not performing his function as a part of that Legislature. At the same time, it cannot be disputed that giving of assent to a Bill is an act of legislative nature. But it is far different from stating that in view of its legislative nature, the assent is outside the scrutiny of the Court ....It is one thing to say that the grant of or a refusal to grant assent is a legislative process. It is another thing to say that the same is proceedings in the Legislature of a State or the Parliament. Therefore, in our opinion, neither Article 122(1) nor Article 212(1) of the Constitution prohibits the Court from going into the validity of the assent of the President.

Therefore, it is open to the petitioners to contend that the assent given by the President is not valid in law and that Act XXIX of 1972 is consequently not a valid piece of legislation. In these circumstances, I agree with the learned Counsel for the petitioners that if the assent given by the President is not in accordance with Article 201 of the Constitution, Act XXXIX of 1972 cannot be held to be a valid piece of legislation and from the mere fact that it has been included in Schedule 9 of the Constitution, it cannot be contended that the Act could not be stated to be valid.

12. The Government of Tamil Nadu by their letter dated 7th October, 1972, addressed by the Secretary to Government, Law Department, to the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, stated that the Governor has reserved the Tamil Nadu Land Reforms (Fixation of Ceiling on Land) Fourth Amendment Bill, 1972, which was passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislature for the consideration of the President, that three authentic copies of the Bill bearing appropriate endorsements made by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the Chairman of the Legislative Council and the Governor are enclosed with that letter, and that it is requested that the Government of India may obtain the assent of the President to the Bill and return two authentic copies of the Bill to the Law Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu with the assent of the President signified thereon at a very early date. The Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, wrote a letter dated 22nd December, 1972 to the Secretary, Law Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, with reference to his letter dated 7th October, 1972, saying that two authentic copies of the Bill with the President's assent signified thereon under Article 201 of the Constitution are returned therewith and that the abovementioned assent of the President is being given subject to the following amendments being made to the Act by the State Government through subsequent amendment procedure or the issue of Ordinances, whichever is convenient. The amendments suggested in the letter are:

(1) For the purpose of computation of the amount payable for the taking over of the surplus land, the net annual income will be equated with rent not exceeding 25% of the gross produce.

(2) The exemption from the ceiling given in Section 73 of trusts, lands used exclusively for growing fuel trees, orchards, topes, arecanut gardens and lands awarded as gallantry awards will be withdrawn. As indicated in the national guidelines, only existing trusts of public nature can be given exemption from the ceiling at the discretion of the State Government. Orchards are to be treated as dry land for the purpose of the ceiling.

(3) Cinchona should be omitted from the list of plantations enjoying exemptions from the ceiling.

13. The learned Counsel for the petitioners submitted that under Article 254(2) of the Constitution if a law made by the State Legislature with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List contained any provision repugnant to the provisions of an earlier law made by the Parliament or an existing law with respect to that matter, then the law so made by the Legislature shall, if it has been reserved for the consideration of the President and has received his assent, prevail in the State. That is what Article 251 of the Constitution lays down. The learned Counsel submitted that when the Bill is reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President under Article 201 of the Constitution, the President shall declare-that he either assents to the Bill or he withholds assent therefrom, and that the grant of assent is subject to the conditions mentioned above will not in law amount to a valid assent and, therefore, Act XXXIX of 1972 is invalid in law.

14. On the other hand, it is contended by the learned Additional Government Pleader that the argument that the assent is a conditional one is without basis, as the assent given to the Bill which became Act XXXIX of 1972 is an unconditional one and the conditions imposed in the letter of the Government of India, with which the Bill with the assent of the President was returned, was in the nature of recommendations which can even be ignored by the State Government, and that as the Bill has not been returned as provided for in Article 201 of the Constitution and the assent has been given, Act XXXIX of 1972 is valid in law. He also submitted that since the Bill was not returned the period of six months provided in the proviso to Article 201 of the Constitution does not apply and that the State Government has satisfied some of the requirements suggested in the letter with which the Bill with the assent of the President duly endorsed was received by the State Government by enacting Tamil Nadu Acts X and XXX of 1974 and XXI of 1975. Article 201 of the Constitution lays down that when a Bill is reserved by the Governor for the consideration of the President, the President has only two options left and they are that he shall either declare that he assents to the Bill or that he withholds assent therefrom, and when he withholds the assent there-from, where the Bill is not a Money Bill, the President may direct the Governor to return the Bill to the House, or, as the case may be, the Houses of the Legislature of the State together with such a message as is mentioned in the first proviso to Article 200 and, when a Bill is so returned, the House or Houses shall reconsider it accordingly within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message and, if it is again passed by the House or Houses with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration. In the present case the Bill, which ultimately became Act XXXIX of 1972, was not returned without the assent of the President with any message of the President to the Governor of the State. But it is seen from the letter of the Government of India, with which the Bill with two authentic copies of the Bill with the President's assent signified thereon under Article 201 of the Constitution was sent to the Government of Tamil Nadu, that the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that the assent has been given by the President subject to the aforesaid amendments being made to the Act by the State Government through subsequent amendment procedure or by the issue of Ordinances whichever was convenient. Therefore, it is clear that the President did not find anything wrong with the Bill which was reserved for his assent, but had only suggested certain amendments being made through subsequent amendment procedure or issue of Ordinances, whichever was convenient. Therefore, it is not possible to agree with the learned Counsel for the petitioners that either there is no assent of the President at all or that the assent is not valid in law. It has not been contended that there is no assent at all. But what has been contended is that the assent is a conditional one and is, therefore, invalid in law. I am of the opinion that the assent of the President has been given to the Bill by the assent being signified on the two authentic copies of the Bill as required under Article 201 and by the Bill not having been returned with any message to the Governor for reconsideration by the two Houses of the State Legislature. In these circumstances, I agree with the learned Additional Government Pleader that there is valid consent and the fact that certain amendments to the main Act have been suggested by the President while giving the assent will not make the assent invalid in law.

15. Moreover, it does not appear from the record that the suggestion to make the aforesaid three amendments to the Principal Act through subsequent amendment procedure or by the issue of Ordinances was made by the President by way of any message as required by the proviso to Article 200 of the Constitution and sent to the Governor as per the proviso to Article 201 of the Constitution. It is only the Government of India in the Ministry of Home Affairs that has stated in its letter dated 22nd December, 1972, with which the two authentic copies of the Bill with the President's assent signified thereon as required by Article 201 of the Constitution were sent, that the assent of the President was being given subject to the suggested amendments being made to the Act by the State Government through subsequent amendment procedure or by the issue of Ordinances whichever is convenient. Therefore, it could not be stated that the proviso to Article 201 of the Constitution as such is attracted in this case.

16. In these circumstances, I hold that Act XXXIX of 1972 is a valid piece of legislation and that as that Act has been put in the 9th Schedule to the Constitution, it is not open to the petitioners to contend that respondents 2 and 3 were not entitled to take into account the extents in which Vedham Iyer's wife and Mangalanayagi had only a life estate by including them in fixing the ceiling area under the provisions of the Act.

17. C.R.P. No. 2637 of 1975 and W.P. No. 3433 of 1978 fail and are dismissed with costs, one set. Advocate's fee Rs. 350 in the writ petition.

18. C.R.P. No. 1283 of 1976 :--The orders of respondents 2 and 3 are set aside and M.R.I. 7V (705/TRI) 70 is remanded to the second respondent for fresh disposal in accordance with law, after considering the question whether the extents sold away under the originals of Exhibits A-1 and A-2 of 1968 have or have not been excluded or are liable to be excluded in computing the ceiling area. The parties will bear their respective costs in C.R.P. No. 1283 of 1976.


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