Decided on April 27,2020

Y. Moideen Kunhi (D) By Lrs. Respondents


ANIRUDDHA BOSE, J. - (1.)The State of Karnataka is in appeal before us primarily assailing a common judgment of the High Court of Karnataka delivered on 7th November, 1990 confirming a decision of the Tribunal under the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 treating a large part of an estate held by the respondents as plantation land. The effect of such treatment would be that such land under plantation would be exempted from the restrictions on holding imposed under that statute. Such exceptions have been laid down under the provisions of Section 104 of the said Act. The dispute involved in this appeal originated from a declaration filed by three individuals, being Y. Moideen Kunhi (in some documents referred to as Noideen Kunhi), Y. Mohammed Kunhi and Y. Abdulla Kunhi under Section 66(4) of the said Act on 5th December, 1975. As would be evident from the copy of a sale deed made annexure "P-I" to the Special Leave Petition, the subject land was purchased by Y. Mohideen Kunhi and Company, a registered partnership firm by the said deed registered on 24th January, 1957 for a consideration of Rs. 2,75,000/-. From this deed, it appears that the property was known as "NERIYA CARDAMOMS ESTATE". The particulars of such land and its user status would appear from the schedule to the said deed. The relevant extract thereof we are reproducing below:- JUDGEMENT_35_LAWS(SC)4_2020_1.html
(2.)The declaration under Section 66 of the Act was made by the aforesaid three individuals before the Tahsildar (Land Reforms), Belthangady Taluk. The declaration referred to properties situated in different Taluks, including the estate in Neria village, Belthangady Taluk in South Kanara district. In the "Remarks" column of the declaration, there was disclosure to the effect that though the subject-lands were classified as "dry", the same were being used for plantation purpose. The Land Tribunal at Belthangady considered a spot inspection report dated 25.8.1982 carried out by the Special Tahsildar, which found that out of the whole estate, Cardamom plantation was covering 2500 acres, rubber plantation covered 220 acres and 100 acres was covered by coco. The declarants had claimed exemption of 635.60acres of land, as Rocks and hill slope, Road, streams and river, buildings and area not covered by plantations. This inspection was followed by another spot inspection by the Land Tribunal at Belthangady carried out on 10th September 1982 before the Tribunal gave its decision. A copy of this report has been made annexure "P-5" to the special leave petition. This report records that 2500 acres of land was covered by cardamom cultivation and 100 acres of land was covered by rubber cultivation, so far as plantation lands were concerned. A revised order bearing No. LRY 167/74-75 was issued on 16th September 1982 to the following effect:-
"The declaration filed by the declarents, the sketch of the surveyor, the spot inspection report of Land Tribunal Secretary and available other relevant records have been perused. The Chairman and the members of the Tribunal after conducting spot inspection opined that the declarents after exempting are holding 530.16 acres of D class agricultural land and as per their eligibility 162 acres of D class land is to be in their possession and remaining 368.16 acres of D class land or its equivalent land are ordered as surplus land under section 67(1) of Karnataka Land Reforms Act, and to surrender the Same to Govt. under Section 67(2). The special Tahsildar to take further action in the matter. The decision of the Tribunal is unanimous." (quoted verbatim)

(3.)Learned counsel for the appellant has brought to our notice another order of the Land Tribunal, Madikeri (annexure "P3") in which declarations were filed under Section 66 (in form no. 11) by the wives of the said three individuals along with certain other persons. There is reference in this order, dated 24th August 1982, to the pending declaration before the Tribunal at Belthangady.

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