BAPUBHAI LUNVIR Vs. R B MEHTA PRESIDENT GUJARAT REVENUE TRIBUNAL
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
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N.M.MIABHOY, N.K.VAKIL -
(1.) Petitioner Bapubhai Lunvir first filed Special Civil Application No. 472 of 1962 against ten respondents. The first respondent is the Gujarat Revenue Tribunal (hereafter called the Revenue Tribunal). The second respondent is the State of Gujarat. Respondents Nos. 3 to 10 were at the material time the tenants of petitioner. Subsequently petitioner filed Special Civil Applications Nos. 618 to 624 of 1962 one against each of respondents Nos. 4 to 10 and joining the first two respondents also in each of those petitions as respondents Nos. 1 and 2. As a result of the filing of the eight writ petitions petitioner has not paid the process fee for service on respondents Nos. 4 to 10 in the first writ petition. Therefore the names of respondents Nos. 4 to 10 will have to be struck off in Special Civil Application No. 472 of 1962. The result is that we have now a group of eight petitions in which petitioner Bapubhai Lunvir is the common petitioner and respondents Nos. 1 and 2 in the first writ petition will also figure as common respondents in the rest of the petitions. Each of respondents Nos. 4 to 10 figures as respondent No. 3 in each of the aforesaid other petitions respectively. All these petitions arise from a common order passed by the Revenue Tribunal on 23rd April 1962 The facts of each of the petitions are similar and the questions of law which arise for determination in all the petitions are the same. Therefore with the consent of learned advocates on both sides we have heard a common argument and this common judgment will dispose of all the eight petitions.
(2.) Petitioner was the owner before 1st April 1957 of lands situated in the village Dungri Taluk Mithapur District Amreli. Respondent No. 3 in each of the petitions was a tenant of petitioner in respect of some of those lands. Petitioner will be described as the landlord and all respondants Nos. 3 in all the petitions will be described as tenants in the rest of this judgment. After 1st April 1957 (hereafter called the tillers day) the Agricultural Lands Tribunal (hereafter called the Lands Tribunal) issued notices to the landlord and tenants under sec. 32G of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act 1948 hereafter called the Tenancy Act). The tenants appeared before the Lands Tribunal and expressed willingness to purchase the lands deemed to have been purchased by them under sec. 32 of the Tenancy Act. However there was a dispute between the landlord and the tenants regarding the tenants actual status. The tenants contended that they were permanent tenants whereas the landlord contended that they were only protected tenants. Before the Lands Tribunal a question also arose about the quantum of the lands which the tenants were to be deemed to have purchased. The Lands Tribunal entered into a determination of both those questions. It came to the conclusion that the tenants were only protected tenants. It also came to the conclusion that the tenants were holding lands on the tillers day more than the ceiling area prescribed by the Tenancy Act and therefore each of them was in possession of surplus land which he was not entitled to purchase and which land was to be disposed of as directed in sec. 321t of the Tenancy Act. After determining the aforesaid two questions the Lands Tribunal addressed itself to the question of determination of the purchase price of the land and fixed the same. A common order was passed by the Lands Tribunal on 5th June 1960 incorporating all the aforesaid decisions. The landlord acquiesced in the order of the Lands Tribunal but the tenants felt aggrieved and they preferred separate appeals under sec. 74 of the Tenancy Act to the Collector. The Collector recorded his findings on 31st December 1960. He came to the conclusion that the tenants had not been given a proper opportunity to prove their case that they were permanent tenants and therefore the cases of tenants required to be remanded for determination of that question. The tenants also challenged the order of the Lands Tribunal declaring certain areas to be surplus land in their hands. The Lands Tribunal had not merely held that the tenants were deemed to have been the owners of certain specified areas but it also specified the areas which were surplus in their hands The Collector however held that no appeal lay to him from the aforesaid decision of the Lands Tribunal in regard to the order which it had made in regard to the surplus land. The Collector treated that part of the order of the Lands Tribunal as an order made by that Tribunal under sec. 32P of the Tenancy Act. On the aforesaid findings the Collector remanded the cases of the tenants to the Lands Tribunal for decision according to law. The landlord again acquiesced in this order of the Collector but the tenants however preferred separate revision applications to the Revenue Tribunal and as already stated that Tribunal disposed of the tenants revision applications by a common judgment dated 23rd of April 1962. After the Collectors decision and whilst the revision applications were pending before the Revenue Tribunal the Legislature had enacted the Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act 1960 (hereafter called the Ceiling Act). That Act came into operation on 1st September 1961 whilst the matters were still pending before the Revenue Tribunal. Before the Revenue Tribunal the tenants raised a point based upon the provisions contained in the Ceiling Act. It is common ground that the ceiling area as prescribed by the Tenancy Act differs from the ceiling area prescribed by the Ceiling Act. The tenants probably felt that under the provisions of the Ceiling Act they were entitled to hold a higher ceiling area than what they were entitled to under the Tenancy Act. Therefore the tenants contended that the question as to the quantum of land which they were deemed to have purchased under the Tenancy Act should be determined with reference to the ceiling area prescribed by the Ceiling Act and not with reference to the Tenancy Act. The tenants also challenged that part of the appellate order of the Collector by which he had held that no appeal lay from that part of the order of the Lands Tribunal by which had held that the tenants were in possession of surplus land. The landlord resisted both the aforesaid contentions raised before the Revenue Tribunal. By the judgment aforesaid the Revenue Tribunal came to the conclusion that an appeal lay to the Collector from the aforesaid part of the order of the Lands Tribunal by which it had held that the tenants were holding excess area and reversed the finding of the Collector on that subject. The Revenue Tribunal upheld the contention of the tenants that the Ceiling Act had a restrospective operation in regard to the question of the deemed ownership and held that the question as to the quantum of land which the tenants should be deemed to have purchased must be determined with reference to the ceiling area prescribed by the Ceiling Act. Therefore the Revenue Tribunal whilst upholding the remand for the purpose of determining the question of the status of the tenants in regard to which remand there was no dispute directed the Lands Tribunal to reshuffle the ceiling area available to the tenants with reference to the provisions contained in the Ceiling Act. The landlord has filed the present writ petitions for challenging both the aforesaid decisions recorded by the Revenue Tribunal. The landlord has prayed that a writ of or in the nature of certiorari or any other appropriate writ or direction be issued against the Revenue Tribunal and an order be passed quashing or setting aside the impugned orders of the Revenue Tribunal the Collector and the Lands Tribunal.
(3.) Mr. K. S. Nanavati appearing for the landlord has formulated the following two submissions for the decision of this Court:
(1) that the order of the Lands Tribunal declaring excess land under the Tenancy Act and directing it to be disposed of under sec. 32 is not appealable to the Collector
(2) the second submission is in two parts. The first part is that the area of the lands deemed to have been purchased by the tenants has to be decided with reference to the ceiling area prescribed by the Tenancy Act and not by that prescribed by the Ceiling Act. The second part of the second submission is that the Ceiling Act is not retrospective.;
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