Imam, J. -
(1.)This is an appeal from the judgment of the Nagpur High Court dismissing the appellant's petition under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India. The High Court certified under Art. 132(1) of the Constitution that the case involved a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution. Hence the present appeal.
(2.)The appellant was the Ruler of the State of Bastar. After the passing of the Indian Independence Act, 1947 the appellant executed an Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India to August 14, 1947. Thereafter, he entered into an agreement with the Dominion of India popularly known as "The Stand Still Agreement". On December 15, 1947 he entered into an agreement with the Government of India whereby he ceded the State of Bastar to the Government of India to be integrated with the Central Provinces and Berar (now the State of Madhya Pradesh) in such manner as the Government of India thought fit. Consequently the Government in India came to have exclusive and plenary authority, jurisdiction and powers over the Baster State with effect from January 1, 1948.
(3.)The Legislature of the State of Madhya Pradesh passed the Madhya Pradesh Abolition of Proprietary Rights (Estates, Mahals, Alienated Lands) Act, 1950 (Madhya Pradesh Act I of 1951), hereinafter referred to as the Act, which received the assent of the President of India on January on January 22, 1951, The preamble of the Act stated that it was one to provide for the acquisition of the rights of proprietors in estate, mahals, alienated villages and alienated lands in Madhya Pradesh and to make provisions for other matters connected therewith. Under S. 3 of the Act, vesting of proprietary rights in the State Government takes place on certain conditions, mentioned in that section, being complied with. The definition of 'proprietor' is stated in S. 2 cl. (m) and it is
"in relation to -
(i) the Central Provinces, includes an inferior proprietor, a protected thekadar or other thekadar, or protected headman;
(ii) the merged territories, means a maufidar including an ex-Ruler of an Indian State merged with Madhya Pradesh, a Zamindar, Ilaquedar, Khorposhdar or Jagirdar within the meaning of wajib-ul-arz, or any sanad, deed or other instrument, and a gaontia or a thekadar of a village in respect of which by or under the provisions contained in the wajib-ul-arz applicable to such village the maufidar, the gaontia, or the thekadar, as the case may be, has a right to recover rent or revenue from persons holding land in such village.",
The definition of 'mahal' is stated in S. 2(j) and it is
"mahal" in relation to merged territories, means any area other than land in possession of a raiyat which has been separately assessed to land revenue, whether such land revenue by payable or has been released, compounded for or redeemed in whole or in part ; "
Before the High Court the appellant contended that he was still a Sovereign Ruler and absolute owner of the villages specified in Schedules 'A' and 'B' of his petition under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution. He urged that his rights had been recognised and guaranteed under the agreements entered into by him with the Government of India. The provisions of the Act, therefore, did not apply to him. It was further contended that the provisions of the Act did not apply to a Ruler or to the private property of a Ruler which was not assessed to land revenue. He relied on Art. 6 of the Instrument of Accession and the first paragraph of Art. 3 of the Merger Agreement. The High Court held that if the petitioner's rights under Art. 6 of the Instrument of Accession and Art. 3 of the Merger Agreement had been infringed it was clear from the provisions of Art. 363 of the Constitution that interference by the courts was barred in disputes arising out of these two instruments. The High Court was also of the opinion that Art. 362 of the Constitution was of no assistance to the appellant.