1. By means of this petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India the petitioner has challenged the validity of the proceedings for the recovery as arrears of land revenue of a sum of Rs. 28,603-81 allegedly due and payable on account of the advances made for the supply of meat on hoof to the Government. The argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the recovery proceedings are void, illegal and without jurisdiction. The argument is founded upon Section 91 of Jammu and Kashmir Land Revenue Act, 1996. Section 91 so far as relevant, provides :
'In addition to any sums recoverable as arrears of land revenue under this Act or any other enactment for the time being in force, the following sums may be so recovered, namely : (r) all sums payable to the Government which the Government may, from time to time by notification in the Government Gazette declare to be recoverable as arrears of land revenue.'
2. It is admitted that in pursuance of Clause (r) the Government has issued a notification declaring sums payable to the Supplies Department to be recoverable as arrears of land revenue. He, however, contended that the word 'payable' connotes what is admitted or what has been found due by a competent Court of law. He urged that in the present case the petitioner has neither admitted his liability for the impugned amount nor even such an amount has been found by a competent Court to be due from him and, consequently, the proceedings for recovery of the amount as arrears of land revenue are void, illegal, and without jurisdiction. In support of his argument he relied upon a judgment of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Raman Iron Foundry, AIR 1974 SC 1265.
3. The word 'Payable' has nowhere been defined in the Land Revenue Act. A key to its meaning is provided by the provisions of Section 90 of the Act. Section 90 provides as under :--
'An officer whose duty it is under any law or rule having the force of law to realise a sum of money and the same is lawfully recoverable as an arrear of land revenue may request an Assistant Collector of the First Class under whose jurisdiction the person from whom it is recoverable resides or holds any property to realise the same as arrear of land revenue. With such request such officer shall forward to the Assistant Collector a certificate showing the correct amount due up to the date of such certificate :Provided that no arrears which aremore than eight years old shall be realisedsummarily under this section.'
4. On the terms of this section the amount sought to be recovered must be an ascertained amount and must be cer- tified to be due by a competent auth- ority. When we use the expression 'com- petent authority' we mean to say an officer whose duty it is under law or rule '. for the time being in force to realise the sum of money. In the present case, the impugned amount is an ascertained amount due on account of the advances made by the Government to the petitioner. The Deputy Commissioner, Food and Supplies, whose duty it was to realise the amount, has certified the amount to be due from the petitioner. In the circumstances we are not inclined to agree with the learned counsel for the petitioner that the amount could not be treated as payable in terms of Clause (r) of Section 91 of the J. and K. Land Revenue Act.
5. In the case of Raman Iron Foundry (AIR 1974 SC 1265) the amount sought to be recovered represented the damages. The Supreme Court held that the damages could not be said to be payable so long as they had not been found due and assessed by the competent court of law. In the present case damages are admittedly not being recovered by the Government. The judgment of the Supreme Court is, therefore, clearly distinguishable, and does not advance the case of the petitioner.
6. Needless to add, the recovery proceedings were started as far back as the year 1976. For all these years the petitioner has never cared to challenge the recovery proceedings. The petition is extremely belated. The petitioner cannot legitimately invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India at this late stage.
7. For all these reasons we are not inclined to admit this petition, which is dismissed accordingly.