Decided on August 12,1963



Chandra Reddy, C.J. - (1.) This Civil Revision Petition requires us to construe some of the sections of the Andhra Pradesh Tenancy Act, hereinafter referred to as " the Act" and chiefly section 10 of the Act. The facts giving rise to the revision petition are shortly as follows. The petitioner leased out his lands of an extent of 9 acres and 64 cents to the respondent in Fasli 1367 for 47 bags of paddy. Even after the expiry of the lease, the respondent appears to have continued in possession of the lands. While in possession of the lands, he presented a petition before the Tahsildar, Kaikalur, under sections 6 and 10 of the Act for the determination of fair rent alleging that the lands under lease to him were not capable of fetching more than 2 bags of paddy per year. The Tahsildar rejected the application by his order, dated 30th September, 1959, holding that the contract of lease was violative of section 10 of the Act and as such void, and consequently the present respondent was not a tenant who could have resorted to section 6 of the Act. Dissatisfied with this order, the tenant filed an appeal before the Revenue Divisional Officer, Gudivada, The appellate authority reversed the Tahsildar's order in the view that the provisions of section 10 of the Act were not mandatory, but were directory, and that the tenancy agreement need not necessarily be in writing and a registered one. For these reasons, he accepted the appeal and remanded the case to the Tahsildar for disposal according to law.
(2.) It is this order that was brought under revision by the aggrieved landlord. It was first heard by our learned brother, Mr. Justice Ekbote. After the conclusion of the arguments, a decision of a single Judge of this Court in Subbaraju v. Dandiganapudy Dharmacheruvu (1961) 2 An. W.R. 144 which was favourable to the tenant, was cited before him. As the learned Judge was not inclined to share the view taken in that case, he directed the case to be posted before a Division Bench. That is how it is before us to-day. Before we attempt to interpret the relevant provisions of the Act, it is convenient to bear in mind the scheme of the Act. The long title of the Act says : "An Act to provide for the payment of fair rent by cultivating tenants and for fixing the minimum period of agricultural leases in the State of Andhra."
(3.) The Preamble says : "Whereas it is expedient to provide for the payment of fair rent by cultivating tenants and for fixing the minimum period of agricultural leases in the State of Andhra :" Section 1 of the Act gives the short title of the Act and the extent of its operation etc. Section a is definition section. Section 3 fixes the maximum rent payable by the cultivating tenant. Section 4 lays down that every landlord and his cultivating tenant shall come to an agreement in regard to the form of tenancy and in particular as to whether the rent shall be paid in the form of a share in the produce, or in the form of a fixed rent in kind, or in the form of fixed rent in cash and such agreement shall not be liable to be altered during the currency of the lease, except by mutual agreement of the parties. Section 5 provides for the landlord and tenant agreeing amongst themselves as to the quantum of rent payable for the holding, subject to the maximum rent specified in section 3, and this is subject to the provisions of section 6 of the Act. Section 6 enables the tenant and the landlord alike to apply to the Tahsil- dar for fixation of fair rent for the holding notwithstanding any agreement between the parties in that regard. Section 7 provides for the deposit of rent during the pendency of the proceeding for fixation of fair rent. Section 8 contemplates remission of rent due by him by the Tahsildar on an application made by the tenant in certain cc ntingencies. Section 9 provides for payment of interest. Section 10, which we are called upon here to interpret, runs as follows :- "The minimum period of every lease entered into between a landlord and his cultivating tenant on or after the commencement of this Act shall be six years. Every such lease shall be in writing and shall specify the holding, its extent and the rent payable therefor, with such other particulars, as may be prescribed. The stamp and registration charges for every such lease shall be borne by the landlord and the cultivating tenant in equal shares. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), all tenancies subsisting on the date of promulgation of the Andhra Cultivating Tenants' Protection Ordinance, 1956 (Andhra Ordinance I of 1956), and protected by that Ordinance, and all subsequent tenancy agreements entered into upto the commencement of this Act, shall continue for a period of six years from the 1st June, 1956 or until the expiry of lease in the normal course, whichever is later, on the same terms and conditions as before, but subject to the determination of fair rent in case of dispute." Section 11 postulates that the cultivating tenant is not in any way affected by the change of ownership of the land while section 12 gives the right to the widow and the lineal heirs of the cultivating tenant to continue the tenancy for the unexpired portion of the lease on the same terms and conditions on which the deceased cultivating tenant was holding. Section 13 lays down the mode in which the tenancy could be terminated. Sections 14 and 15 deal with surrender and delivery of possession of the demised lands to the landlord, while section 16 makes provision for adjudication of disputes. Section 17, which has also a material bearing, recites: "The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any pre-existing law, custom, usage, agreement, or decree or order of a Court." Section 18 is the saving provision and excepts certain kinds of land from the purview of the Act. Section 19 clothes the Government with power to make rules, and section 20 empowers the Government to make orders to remove the difficulties in the working of the Act.;

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