Decided on October 05,1954

Nathubhai Gandabhai Desai Appellant


M.C.CHAGLA, C.J. - (1.)BY these various petitions the petitioners challenge orders made by Government under Section 65 of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948, assuming management of their respective lands. The substantial facts in most of these petitions are identical and perhaps it would be sufficient if we deal with the facts of one petition, and if there are any differentiating facts in the other petitions draw attention to those facts. We will deal with petition No. 1184 of 1954.
(2.)NOW , in that case a notice was given by the Mamlatdar to the petitioner on August 18, 1953, and by that notice the petitioner was ordered to arrange to cultivate either personally or by tenant the lands belonging to him and a fortnight's time was given. The petitioner owns 100 acres and 24 gunthas in the village Sonwada, Taluka Pardi, District Surat. As the petitioner did not comply with this notice, an order was passed on June 10, 1954, and this order contains a recital that inasmuch as the lands of the petitioner in village Sonwada had been kept fallow for more than two consecutive years, and whereas notice was duly served upon him on August 18, 1953, and whereas he had failed to get the aforesaid lands cultivated personally or through tenants during the current cultivation season, the Prant officer in exercise of the powers delegated to him by Government Notification dated October 31, 1949, in pursuance of Section 65 of the Tenancy Act, declared that the management of the land described below was assumed by Government, and the Mamlatdar was appointed the manager of the land, and the area of the land which is the subject matter of this declaration is about 10 acres. It is this order which is being challenged by the petitioner.
The order has been made under Section 65 of the Tenancy Act, and we must turn to the provisions of that section in order to decide whether the order has been validly made by Government. Sub -section (1) of that section provides: If it appears to the State Government that for any two consecutive years any land has remained uncultivated through default of either the landlord or tenant or any other cause whatsoever, the State Government may, after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, declare that the management of such land shall be assumed. The declaration so made shall be conclusive. Now, in order that the State Government may validly make a declaration under this section, two conditions have to be satisfied. The first condition is that it should appear to the State Government that any land has remained uncultivated for any two consecutive years, and the second condition is that an inquiry must be held, but the inquiry must be such as the State Government thinks fit. With regard to the first condition it will become immediately apparent that it is left to the subjective, satisfaction of the State Government as to whether the land in question has remained uncultivated for a period of two consecutive years. Mr. Banaji has put forward a rather curious argument that although it is clear that it is left to the subjective determination of Government, still it must be objectively ascertained as a fact that the land ad remained uncultivated for a period of two consecutive years. Now, when the Legislature eaves the establishment of a fact to the subjective determination of any authority, the Legislature clearly intends that the decision of that authority with regard to the establishment of that fact is final. There must be a mental satisfaction of the authority in uestion that a particular fact is established. That fact is not a justiciable fact ; it is not a fact which has got to be objectively established in a Court of law. If the authority comes to Court and states that it has applied its mind to the particular question and it is satisfied that the fact has been established, the condition is clearly complied with. It is true that the subjective satisfaction must be a genuine subjective satisfaction. It must not be a colourable satisfaction, it must not be a satisfaction influenced by any external considerations, it must not be a satisfaction which is arbitrary or capricious; but if the satisfaction is a bona fide satisfaction, then the Court has no jurisdiction to question the decision and to investigate as to the correctness of the decision arrived at by the authority. As we shall presently point out, although attempts have been made to challenge the bona fides of the State Government in various petitions, apart from a bald assertion no particulars whatever are given to make out a proper legal case of mala fides on the part of Government. Therefore, it would be perhaps possible to dispose of all these petitions on the narrow ground that it has appeared to the State Government that the lands in question have remained uncultivated for a period of two consecutive years, and as that condition has been satisfied, no further is investigation permissible under the provisions of, that sub -section. But as well considered and able arguments have been advanced before us as to whether in fact the lands in question have remained uncultivated for a period of two consecutive years, we think it roper to refer to these arguments and to decide whether in coming to the conclusion the Government have acted properly or not.

(3.)NOW , the first question that we have to consider is : What did the Legislature actually intend when it used the expression 'any land has remained uncultivated,' and for that purpose we must turn to Section 2 which is the definition section. In that section 'to cultivate' has been defined as 'to carry on any agricultural operation, 'and' agriculture' has been defined as including Horticulture, the raising of crops grass or garden produce, dairy farming, poultry farming, stock breeding and grazing, but does not include cutting of wood only. Briefly, the contention of the State of Bombay is that the lands which have been the subject matter of the declaration are grass lands in which grass grows, but grass grows spontaneously, grass is a natural crop and no human agency or human Industry or effort is required for the purpose of growing grass. On the other hand, the contention of the petitioners is that the grass that they grow requires the sowing of seeds, it requires the process of weeding, and at least in one case it has been suggested that there is actually a well out of which water has to be supplied in order to enable the grass to grow. Now, these are divergent versions of what actually is being done on the lands of the petitioners. As we have pointed out, it is for the Government to be satisfied as to what is actually being done on these lands. It is for the Government to decide whether the land is uncultivated as provided by the statute. Realising this difficulty the petitioners have argued these petitions on the basis that the version given by the Government as to what is being done on these lands is the correct version, and even so it is urged by the petitioners that the result of the growing of this grass on the lands is agriculture and the petitioners are cultivating their lands within the meaning of that definition in Section 2.

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