Decided on May 10,1963



D.N.Sinha, J. - (1.)The petitioners are inhabitants of village Naksha within the Police Station Mogra, District Hooghly, and C. S. plots Nos. 325, 326, 364 and 379 of the said Mouza Naksha were khas lands of the zemindars, namely, the Biswas family of Hooghly. The lands were however recorded in the last district settlement khatian as ^^lk/kkj.ksj xkspj ** (Original Bengali -- Ed.) At the time when the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act, 1953 came into force, these lands vested In the State Government. The Junior Land Reforms Officer, Sadar Circle, Estates Acquisition Department, Chinsurah, invited applications from the residents of the locality for settlement of the said lands. Various persons made applications for settlement and upon enquiry it was found that the petitioners were in possession of the said plots. On or about the 12th September, 1959 which corresponds with the Bengali year 1365, the land was settled with the petitioners at a rental of Rs. 10/- per acre. Thereafter, the petitioners paid rent to Government and it is said that they were cultivating the same and have incurred heavy expenditure. It appears that thereafter, certain residents of village Naksha Instituted criminal proceedings on the ground that these lands were subject to a public right of user and that the petitioners were wrongly in possession thereof. The criminal proceedings terminated in favour of the petitioners in the first instance, but the proceedings are stir! continuing. Meanwhile the petitioners received a notice from the Junior Land Reforms Officer Sadar Circle, Chinsurah, sometime in March 1961, a copy whereof is annexure ''A" to the petition. This notice calls upon the petitioners to quit and vacate the lands mentioned above by the last date of Chaitra 1367 B. S. failing which legal action would, be taken against them. It is against this notice that this application has been directed.
(2.)Mr. Banerjee appearing on behalf- of the respondents says that the settlement with this petitioners is a 'license' which is subject to a condition that the demise is "without prejudice to the right and title", and therefore the notice was rightly given. He points that the notice is merely a notice that legal action would be taken and serves no other purpose. In my opinion, the matter is not so simple as that. If the estate vested in Government, the first question to be considered would be as to whether the 'Gochar' right, or the right of the public? user is an 'incumbrance' or not, and as to whether Government got it free from such an incumbrance. The next question would be whether after vesting, Government was in a position to make a demise of the lands to the petitioners. If the lands did vest In Government and if Government had the right to lease out the lands to the petitioners, then by acceptance of rent, the petitioners have become tenants. I have looked into the rent receipts, but I do not find that the demise can be called a 'license', and see no reason why the petitioners have not got a tenancy of some description. It is not easy to decipher the meaning of the expression 'without prejudice to the right and title'. At best, It can mean that the demise has been made without prejudice to any defect of title in the landlord. I do not see what else it can mean. Apparently, Government was apprehensive that objections may be preferred by intermediaries to acquisition under the Estates Acquisition Act and therefore added these words in the rent receipts granted to tenants, with whom lands were settled after the vesting. In any event, I cannot see any justification for the Junior Lands Reforms Officer to take upon himself the task of either terminating a license granted by Government or giving notice: to quit to a tenant. If it was simply an intimation on behalf of the Government that legal proceedings would be taken, that is one thing; but the) notice is on the face of it a notice to quit and vacate the lands by the last day of Chaitra 1367 B. S. 1 have asked Mr. Banerjee to show me any provision in the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act or the Rules made thereunder which confers upon the Junior Land Reforms Officer power of issuing such notices. He has confessed that there is no such provision. Therefore, the notice cannot be said to be a mere information that legal action would be taken if the petitioners continued to be in possession. If it is merely that, than the petitioners could have no objection. But they have come to Court because the frame of the notice is otherwise.
(3.)In my opinion, public officers cannot be allowed to issue notices which they are not authorised in law to issue on behalf of Government. Citizens who have received such notices are entitled to come to this Court, to have the legal position made clear.

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