RANGILDAS VARAJDAS KHANDWALA Vs. COLLECTOR OF SURAT
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: BOMBAY)
RANGILDAS VARAJDAS KHANDWALA
COLLECTOR OF SURAT
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Wanchoo, J. -
(1.)This appeal by special leave raises questions relating to the constitutionality and interpretation of certain provisions of the Bombay Personal Inam Abolition Act. No. XLII of 1953; (hereinafter called the Act). The brief facts necessary for present purposes are these. The appellant was the holder of a personal inam which he had purchased from the original inamdar to whom a Sanad had been issued under Bombay Act No. VII of 1863. The land which forms part of the inam was originally in village Athwa but is now in the suburbs of the city of Surat. The appellant was paying Rs. 7/- as Salami and Rs. 6-3-0 as quit-rent the full assessment of the land being Rs. 56-8-0. In November 1952 the City Survey Officer of Surat wanted to levy non-agricultural assessment on this land under S. 134 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code, 1879, (hereinafter called the Code) as the land was being used for non-agricultural purpose and a large bungalow had been erected on it. The appellant objected to this and eventually in September 1954 he was informed by the Collector that he would not be assessed under S. 134 of the Code but was liable to non-agricultural assessment with effect from August 1, 1955, in view of proviso (b) to S. 4 of the Act. The appellant objected to this also. The Collector decided on July 28, 1955, that the land was liable to full assessment from August 1, 1955, as non-agricultural under S. 52 of the Code. The appellant then went up in appeal to the Bombay Revenue Tribunal which was dismissed. He filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the order of the Revenue Tribunal and also challenging the constitutionality of the Act. The High Court rejected the application. It relied on an earlier decision of that Court so far as the challenge to the constitutionality of the Act was concerned. It also held that the order of the Collector by which non-agricultural assessment was to be levied on the applicant from August 1, 1955, was correct. The appellant then applied for a certificate to appeal to this Court which was rejected. He then filed a special leave petition in this Court and was granted special leave; and that is how the matter has come up before us.
(2.)So far as the constitutionality of the Act is concerned we have considered it in Gangadharrao Narayanrao vs. State of Bombay, C. A. S. Nos. 155 to 160 of 1956 in which judgment is being delivered to-day, and have upheld the Act. The only fresh point that has been urged in this connection is that in view of Art. 294(b) of the Constitution and in view of the fact that the holder was given a Sanad when his inam was recognized, it was not open to the State of Bombay to enact a law which would in any way vary the terms of the Sanad. This argument based on the immutability of Sanad was rejected by the Federal Court in Jagannath Baksh Singh vs. United Provinces, 1946 FCR 111 and has also been rejected by this Court in Maharaj Umeg Singh vs. State of Bombay, (1955) 2 SCR 164. We also reject it for reasons given in the two cases cited. The challenge therefore to the constitutionality of the Act fails in the present appeal also.
(3.)This brings us to the contention of the appellant that in any case the Collector's order to the effect that the land should be assessed under S. 52 of the Code as non-agricultural is not correct. We are of opinion that there is no force in this contention either. Under S. 4 of the Act, all personal inams have been extinguished and save as expressly provided by or under the Act, all rights legally subsisting on the said date in respect of such personal inams are also extinguished. Therefore the appellant cannot claim protection from being assessed fully after the Act came into force. Section 5 makes it clear that all inam lands shall be liable to the payment of land-revenue in accordance with the provisions of the Code and would thus be liable to full assessment as provided by the Code. The appellant however relied on S. 7 of the Act and contended that S. 7 created an exception to Ss. 4 and 5 with respect to lands of inamdars used for building or for other non-agricultural purposes and therefore the appellant's inam land which was used entirely for non-agricultural purposes (namely, building) could not be assessed under S. 5 of the Act. As we read S. 7, we find no warrant for holding that it is an exception to Ss. 4 and 5. As already pointed out, S. 4 abolishes personal inams and the rights of inamdars with respect to such inams and S. 5 makes all inam villages or inam lands subject to the payment of full assessment of land-revenue in accordance with the Code. Section 7 deals with vesting of certain parts of inam lands in the State, (namely, public roads, lanes and paths, all unbuilt village site lands, all waste lands and all uncultivated lands and so on):but an exception has been made so far as vesting is concerned with respect to lands used for building or other non-agricultural purposes by the inamdar. The appellant relies on this exception and it is urged on his behalf that this exception takes out the land so excepted from the provisions of Ss. 4 and 5. This reading of S. 7 is in our opinion incorrect. That section vests certain parts of inam lands in the Government and but for the exception even those inam lands which were used for building and non-agricultural purpose would have vested in the Government. The exception made in S. 7 only saves such inam lands from vesting in Government and no more. The result of the exception is that such inam lands do not vest in Government and remain what they were before and are thus subject to the provisions of Ss. 4 and 5 of the Act. The appellant therefore cannot claim because of the exception contained in S. 7 that the lands excepted from vesting are not subject to Ss. 4 and 5 of the Act. The argument therefore based on S. 7 must fail.
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