SARDAR GOVINDRAO Vs. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: MADHYA PRADESH)
STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH
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(1.) This appeal by certificate is directed against the judgment and order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court dated March 10, 1970, by which the High Court declined to interfere with an order of the State Government of Madhya Pradesh dated Sept. 9, 1966 disallowing the appellants' claim to the grant of money or pension under cl. (ii) of sub-see. (3) of S. 5 of the Central Provinces and Berar Revocation of Land Revenue Exemptions Act, 1948 (for short 'the Act') on the ground that they are not entitled to the grant of such money or pension not being 'the descendants of a former Ruling Chief in terms thereof.
(2.) After the Central Provinces and Berar Revocation of Land Revenue Exemptions Act, 1948 was brought into force, the appellants who held estates in the districts of Hoshangabad and Nimar on favourable terms as Jagirdars, Muafidars and Ubaridars enjoyed exemption from payment of land revenue amounting to an aggregate of Rs. 27,895.05 p. per annum, made applications to the Deputy Commissioners of Hoshangabad and Nimar claiming that the members of the Bhuskute family of Timarni to which they belonged were the descendants of a former Ruling Chief and therefore were entitled to a substantial grant of money or pension for their suitable maintenance in terms of clause (ii) of sub-sec. (3) of S. 5 of the Act. It was alleged that although their ancestors had acquired the rights of a Ruling Chief by virtue of the sanads granted by the Peshwas and recognized by the Scindias and were all along treated as such even by the British, they were wrongly recorded as Jagirdars of Timarni in the record of rights which was no evidence of their real status. The applications were forwarded by the respective Deputy Commissioners to the State Government of Madhya Pradesh. The State Government, by its order dated May 13, 1955, rejected their prayer holding that they were not entitled to the grant of such amount or pension not being the descendants of a former Ruling Chief within the meaning of cl. (ii) of sub-s. (3) of S. 5 of the Act. A Full Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court by its judgment dated April 20, 1959, (reported in AIR 1959 Madh Pra 339) declined to interfere on the ground that the proceedings under sub-s. (3) of S. 5 of the Act could not be said to be judicial or quasi-judicial in nature as the use of the word "may" in sub-see. (3) of S. 5 of the Act made the grant of money or pension in the discretion of the State Government. Disagreeing with the High Court, this Court in Govindrao v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1965) 1 SCR 678 : (AIR 1965 SC 1222) held that the word "may" used in sub-sec. (3) of S. 5 must, in the context, be construed to have a compulsive force and therefore on the existence of the condition precedent, the grant of money or pension became obligatory on the Government notwithstanding that in sub-sec. (2) the Government had power to pass such orders as it thought fit. It observed that in passing orders on the applications made by the appellants the State Government had to act in a quasi-judicial manner. The appellants therefore had to be given an opportunity to state their case and were also entitled to know why their claim had been rejected.
(3.) In compliance with the directions issued by this Court in Govindrao's case, supra, the State Government afforded the appellants an opportunity of hearing on Aug. 6, 1966 to substantiate their claim for grant of money or pension under cl. (ii) of sub-sec. (3) of Sec. 5 of the Act on the ground that they were the descendants of a former Ruling Chief in terms of the section. The State Government in the impugned order specifically mentions that "the appellants mainly based their claim only on the sanad issued during the regime of Chhatrapati Shahu in 1777 A.D.", that is, granted by the Peshwa Madhavrao by which their ancestor Ramchandra Bullal was granted the jagir of Timarni, on a construction of the document, the State Govt. held that the sanad did not confer on the grantee the powers of a Ruling Chief. It observed that the later grants by the Peshwas referred to the ancestors of the appellants as sur-mandloi and sur-kanungo and not as a Ruling Chief and the grants were in the nature of inams being emoluments appurtenant to their office. It further held that even after the suzerainty had passed from the Peshwas to the Scindias, the grant of village Piplia and Bhaili to their ancestors by Daulatrao Scindia by the two sanads of 1802 and 1804 referred to them as sur-mandloi and sur-kanungo and not as a Ruling Chief, and they were conferred no rights except that of a mere inamdar. During the period of management of the tract by the British on behalf of the Scindias from the years 1844 to 1860, the jagir was continued as a muafi in perpetuity at the desire of the Scindias. As regards the period after the transfer of suzerainty the British never recognized the ancestors of the appellants to be a Ruling Chief. In coming to that conclusion, it relied upon the decision of the Governor-General in Council conveyed by the letter of the Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of Central Provinces dated March 3, 1865. The State Government taking into consideration all these circumstances held that the ancestors of the appellants were no more than the watandars of small territory under the Peshwas and later under the Scindias and with the transfer of sovereignty to the British they lost their administrative powers and retained only their muafi. The State Government accordingly held that the appellants were not the descendants of a former Ruling Chief and therefore were not entitled to the grant of any amount or pension under cl. (ii) of sub-s. (3) of S. 5 of the Act.;
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