PT BANSGOPAL TEWARI Vs. STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH
LAWS(ALL)-1955-2-10
HIGH COURT OF ALLAHABAD
Decided on February 25,1955

PT BANSGOPAL TEWARI Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH Respondents

JUDGEMENT

- (1.) THIS petition under Article 226 of the Constitution was originally filed by 19 persons who were all ex-intermediaries of the erstwhile Banaras State which merged with the State of Uttar pradesh in November 1949. Subsequently the petition was amended and the names of 18 of the petitioners were removed leaving only one petitioner Markande Upadhya so that the petition has been heard on merits as a petition presented by him alone. It appears that before the merger of the erstwhile Banaras State in the State of Uttar' Pradesh, the rights of zamindars and cultivators in the State of Banaras used to be governed by the Banaras state Tenancy Act (Act 3 of 1949) which came into force on 1-10-1949. When the Banaras State was merged in the State of Uttar Pradesh, this Banaras State Tenancy Act (3 of 1949) continued to remain in force under clause 6 of the Banaras State (Administration) Order, 1949, not having been repealed by the Banaras Application of Laws Orders, 1949, and replaced by any Act which was already in force in the rest of the State of Uttar Pradesh. The petitioner at the time of merger held 87 bighas and 5 biswas of sir, his zamindari rights being those of a "muafidar. He also had 2 bighas and 13 biswas of khudkasht. It is contended by the petitioner that the local rate assessed on him was below the amount which would be assessed on a land revenue of Rs. 250/ -. The U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act was extended to the area which was comprised in the erstwhile Banaras State on 30-6-1953, under Notification No. 1830/i-A-1060-53, with certain modifications. Amongst the provisions of the U. P. Zamindari abolition and Land Reforms Act which were modified was Section 10. In Section 10 as it applied to the State of Uttar Pradesh, every tenant of land recorded as* sir of an intermediary who on the date immediately preceding the date of vesting was assessed in Uttar Pradesh to a land revenue of more than Rs. 250/- annually or where no land revenue was assessed, was assessed to a larger amount of local rate than would be payable on a land revenue of Rs. 250/-annually or in the case of an under-proprietor, sub-proprietor or permanent tenure-holder, the rent payable by whom was more than Rs. 250/-annually was to be deemed to be a hereditary tenant thereof at the rate of rent payable by him on the said date and such land was not for the purposes of Section 18 to be deemed to be sir. Under this provision, if the holder of the sir on the date immediately preceding the date of vesting was assessed to land revenue of Rs. 250/- or less, or, if no land revenue was assessed, he was assessed to an amount of local rate equal to or larger than the amount which would be payable on a land revenue of Rs. 250 annually, or in the case of an under-proprietor, sub-proprietor or permanent tenure holder the rent payable by him was Rs. 250 or less, the tenant of the sir of such sirholder did not acquire the rights of hereditary tenant. The sirholder himself became the bhumidhar of that land under Section 18 and the tenant of such sir land became an adhivasi under Section 20. When applying the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act to the areas which were comprised in the erstwhile Banaras State, the State Government amended Section 10 so as to do away with this limitation on the acquisition of rights of a hereditary tenant by the tenant of the sir land. The result was that in those areas, irrespective of the land revenue payable by or local rate assessed on the intermediary or the rent payable by the under-proprietor, sub-proprietor or permanent tenure-holder, the tenant of his sir land became a hereditary tenant, the result being that the sirholder lost his rights as such and did not acquire bhumidhari rights under Section 18. This modification in Section 10 affected the rights of the petitioner who was a sirholder in the areas previously comprised in the Banaras State. If Section 10 had been applied without any modification, the petitioner would have acquired the rights of a bhumidhar in his sir, which, as mentioned above, comprised 87 bighas 5 biswas; but as a result of the modification he was unable to acquire those rights. It has been contended by the petitioner that this modification of Section 10 when applying it to those areas which were comprised in the erstwhile Banaras State was beyond the scope of the powers of the Government of Uttar Pradesh under Section 2, U. P. Zamindari Abolition and land Reforms Act and further that this modification was void as offending against Article 14 of the Constitution.
(2.) LEARNED Junior Standing Counsel attempted to justify the modification of Section 10 on the basis of three circumstances which, according to him, required that this modification be made. These three circumstances are that the intermediaries in the areas comprised in the erstwhile state of Banaras were assessed to land revenue on a principle which was different from that applicable to assessment of land revenue on intermediaries in the rest of Uttar Pradesh. The second was that the rights of a sirholder could be acquired in those areas in a manner different from the manner in which such rights could be acquired in Uttar Pradesh. The third was that in those areas the khudkast rights were different in nature from the khudkasht rights in Uttar pradesh, inasmuch as in those areas there could be tenants of khudkasht without the rights of the khudkasht-holder getting extinguished whereas in Uttar Pradesh the rights of a khudkrasht-holder ceased as soon as a tenant was admitted in khudkasht land.
(3.) THERE is no doubt that the differences pointed out in these three circumstances did exist but not in all cases. There were 'muafidars' in Uttar Pradesh as well as in the erstwhile Banaras State. The other intermediaries in Uttar Pradesh were of various classes but in most cases land revenue was assessed at settlements by fixing the amount at about 40 per cent, of the assets of the property owned by the intermediary subject to variations in special cases so that the range was from 35 per cent, to 40 per cent. The Settlement Reports of Banaras and Punnets Manual, which summarises the laws that were applicable in the Banaras State, show that in that State the majority of intermediaries who were known aw Manzuridars were assessed to land revenue at the rate of 80 per cent, of the assets. It thus appears that in Uttar Pradesh the majority of intermediaries were liable to pay between 35 to 45 per cent, of their assets as land revenue, whereas in the Banaras State they were liable to pay 80 per cent, of their assets as land revenue. This distinction did exist, but learned counsel has failed to indicate how the particular modification in Section 10 became necessary as a result of tin's difference. In Uttar Pradesh sirholders paying Rs. 250 or less as land revenue were to retain their sir rights which were tp be converted into the rights of bhumidhars. An intermediary in the State of Banaras would be almost in the same position as an intermediary in Uttar Pradesh paying Rs. 250 or less as land revenue if the land revenue payable by the former was Rs. 500 or less. Consequently when applying Section 10, if the Government of Uttar Pradesh had changed the figure of Rs. 250 in Section 10 to Rs. 500 the modification would have been a modification required by the different circumstances prevailing in the two areas. Instead of increasing the figure, what the Government of Uttar Pradesh did was to do away altogether with the protection granted to the rights of sirholder. who were paying Rs. 250 or less as land revenue. The remarks apply 'mutatis mutandis' to the cases of 'muafidars' also who instead of being assessed to land revenue were assessed to local rates. Learned Junior Standing Counsel contended that there was nothing to show that the people in the areas which were comprised previously in the erstwhile State of Banaras were assessed to local rate at all. The fact whether an intermediary was or was not assessed to local rate has to be judged with reference to the date on which the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act was applied to" those areas, which means 30-6-1953. Before that date, the U. P. District Boards Act had become applicable to those areas as also the U. P. Local Rates Act. Section 109a had been introduced in the District Boards Act making provision for assessment of local rates in the areas which were comprised in the merged State of Banaras, and this provision of law had also amended the U. P. Local Rates Act, 1914, so as to make it applicable in those areas. Local rates were, therefore, assessed in any case in June 1953 and consequently, in applying Section 10 to 'muafidars' in those areas the clause relating to assessment of local rate could have been acted upon and, in case the rate of local rates assessed was markedly different from the rate at which the local rates were assessed in other areas of Uttar Pradesh, modification could have been made to make proportionate adjustments in the figure. Once again the course adopted by the State Government in doing away with the protection granted to persons assessed to local rates to the extent of the amount assessable on land revenue of Rs. 250 or less must be held to be a modification which was not required by the different circumstances. It is, therefore, clear that this modification was in no way related to the difference in the manner of assessment of land revenue and local rates in the two areas.;


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