(1.)The appellants in these two appeals had filed two separate petitions under Art. 226 of the Constitution in the Bombay High Court in which they had challenged the vires of S. 6(2) of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948 (LXVII of 1948) (hereafter called the Act) and the validity of the notification issued by the Government of October 17, 1952, under the provisions of the said S. 6(2). It appears that on June 23, 1949, in exercise of the powers conferred by S. 6(2) of the Act the Government had issued a notification fixing
"in the case of an irrigated land 1/5 and in the case of any other land 1/4 of the crops of such land or its value as determined in the prescribed manner as the maximum rent payable by the tenants of the lands situate in the areas specified in the schedule appended thereto".
Amongst the areas thus specified was the area in which the appellants' lands are situated. Subsequently, on October 17, 1952, by virtue of the same powers and in supersession of all other earlier notifications issued in that behalf the Government purported to prescribe a rate as the lower rate of maximum rent at which the rent shall be payable by the tenants in respect of the lands situate in the areas specified in Schedule I appended to it. It is unnecessary to set out the rates thus prescribed; it would be enough to state that the rate of maximum rent prescribed by this notification is very much lower than the rate which had been fixed by the earlier one. By their petitions filed in the Bombay High Court the appellants contended that S. 6(2) was ultra vires, and that even if S. 6(2) was valid the impugned notification was invalid. Accordingly they prayed for a writ of mandamus or a writ in the nature of mandamus or any other appropriate direction or order against the Government, the Mamlatdar of the area concerned and their respective tenants prohibiting them or any one of them from giving effect to the said notification. They also claimed a direction or order to the opponents directing them to cancel or withdraw the impugned notification. These two petitions were heard by the High Court along with other companion matters in which the same points were raised, and in the result the High Court dismissed the petitions. It held that S. 6(2) was intra vires and the impugned notification was legal and valid. The appellants then applied for and obtained a certificate from the High Court, and it is with the said certificate that they have come to this Court by their two appeals.
(2.)At the outset it may be relevant to state that, subsequent to t he decision under appeal, in 1956 the Act has been substantially amended and now S. 3 of the new Act provides for the rent and its maximum and minimum. Shortly stated this section incorporates the provisions of the impugned notification and adds to it the further provision that in no case shall the rent be less than twice the assessment. In consequence the point raised in the present appeals has ceased to be of any importance; at best it may affect just a few cases between landlords and tenants that may be pending in respect of the rent payable by the latter to the former for a period prior to 1956. At the time when the certificate was granted the questions raised by the appellants were undoubtedly of general importance.
(3.)We would first read S. 6 of the Act. Section 6(1) provides that notwithstanding any agreement, usage, decree or order of a court or any law the maximum rent payable by a tenant for the lease of any land shall not in the case of an irrigated land exceed one-fourth and in the case of any other land exceed one-third of the crop of such land or its value as determined in the prescribed manner. Section 6(2) provides that the Provincial Government may by notification in the official gazette fix a lower rate of the maximum rent payable by the tenants of lands situate in any particular area or may fix such rate on any other suitable basis as it thinks fit. For the appellants Mr. Limaye has contended that S. 6(2) suffers from the vice of excessive delegation. His argument is that the power delegated to the Provincial Government is unfettered and uncanalised and no guidance has been afforded to it for exercising the said power. He has also relied on the fact that while giving such wide powers to the delegate in fixing the lower rate of the maximum rent the Legislature has not prescribed any minimum as it should have done. The High Court has held that the delegation involved in S. 6(2) is within permissible limits and as such the challenge to the vires of the said provision cannot succeed.