(1.) THE only question which arises in this special civil application under Article 227 of the Constitution of India is whether the petitioners had exercised their rights of statutory purchase under section 32-0 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948, within one year from the commencement of the tenancy within the meaning of that section.
(2.) THE facts are as follows:-
The subject-matter of dispute between the parties i.e. the petitioners-tenants and their landlord-respondent No. 1 is Gat No.102, measuring 14 acres and 13 gunthas assessed at Rs.40 - 12 , situated at Village palsod in Taluka Jalgaon. On October 28, 1967, the petitioners made an application before the Agricultural Lands Tribunal and Tahsildar Jalgaon, stating that they had cultivated the land in 1966-67 as tenants and had given necessary notice to purchase the suit-land on June 30, 1967 and should be, therefore, declared the purchasers of the land under section 32-0 and the price should be fixed under section 32-G and 32-H. All the time during the pendency of the said case before the Agricultural Lands Tribunal. the landlord-respondent No. 1 merely took adjournments 20 times and ultimately on November 7, 1969 the Tahsildar decided the case ex parte against the landlord.
The Tahsildar relied upon the deposition of petitioner No. 1, in the course of which he stated that the petitioners" tenancy was recognized for the first time by mutation entry No. 802 dated April 20, 1967 and hence intimation was sent to the landlord by the petitioners on June 27, 1967 and the same was received by the landlord on June 30, 1967 within one year from the commencement of tenancy vide section 32-0 of the Act. The Tahsildar considered the oral and documentary evidence relating to the land and fixed the price and installments by which the tenant had to pay the price to the landlord. In the course of the proceedings, the decision in Appeal No.119 of 1968 dated February 28, 1969 given by the sub-Divisional Officer, Jalgaon Division, declaring the petitioners as tenants of the land in dispute. Having regard to all these facts, the Tahsildar held by his order dated November 30, 1969, that the tenants had exercised their right within the period prescribed by section 32-0 of the Act and on payment of the price, a certificate should be issued to them under section 32-M of the Bombay Tenancy and agricultural Lands Act, Subject to the provisions or sections 43 of the same Act.
(3.) FEELING aggrieved by the said decision of the Tahsildar and Agricultural Lands Tribunal, respondent No.1 filed an appeal to the deputy Collector, Jalgaon, contending that the tenancy of the petitioners was held, in the earlier reference proceedings, to be commencing from the 1956-60 and not from the year 1967-68 and that notice of intimation of purchase was not given by the petitioners within one year from the commencement of the tenancy within the meaning of section 32-0 of the Act; and hence the purchase in favour of the tenant had become ineffective by reason of failure to give notice to the landlord within one year from 1959-60 . The Deputy Collector upheld these contentions, sets aside the order of the Tahsildar and directed the agricultural Lands Tribunal to proceed under Section 32-P of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act. 4-A. The decision of the Deputy Collector dated March 23, 1971, was challenged by the petitioners in revision before the Revenue Tribunal. The Revenue Tribunal confirmed the order of the Deputy Collector observing as under: - " The opponent filed Civil Suit No. 321 of 1967 to restrain the applicants from interfering with his possession of the suit land and the defence set up by the applicants was that they were tenants of this land since 1959-60. No doubt, as the suit was filed in 1967, the relevant question therein was regarding the possession of the land in that year namely, 1967-68. Now, the opponent sought an injunction on the footing that the applicants had no right to the land in question and were trespassers. The applicant claimed to be tenants of the land. Naturally, the issue that was referred to Revenue Court under Section 85-A was confined to the question of possession of the year 1967-68. The Judgment recorded by the appellate court, however, shows that the evidence led by the applicants was calculated to show that they were tenants in the land from the year 1959-60. It appears from the observations at certain places in the judgment, that the applicants were cultivating the land since 1959-60, and they were on the land as tenants in the material year 1967-68. The opponent unsuccessfully tried too challenge this view by bringing the matter to this tribunal, then taking it to the High Court and also to the Supreme Court. Thus, on the strength of that decision, a finding has been reached that the applicants were in possession the land from the year 1959-60. Now, the view taken by the Tahsildar and A.L. T. Jalgaon that the tenancy of the applicants should be deemed too have commenced when their names were entered as tenants on 20-4-1967 by mutation entry No. 802." In other words the revenue Tribunal took the view that because, in the earlier proceedings, it was found that the petitioners were cultivating the land as tenants from the year, it was found that the petitioners were cultivating the land as tenants from the year 1959-60, although the landlord was disputing the tenancy even in 1967, it was the duty of the tenants to give notice of one year from 1959-60 under section 32-0 of the Act.;