(1.)The M. P. Land Revenue Code, 1959 (Act no. 20 of 1959) was enacted by the legislative assembly of Madhya Pradesh to consolidate and amend the law relating to land revenue, the powers of revenue officers, rights and liabilities of holders of land from the state government, agriculture tenures and other matters relating to land and the liabilities incidental thereto in madhya Pradesh. There were different laws relating to land revenue, land tenure and other matters touching thereto prevalent in the different regions of the state and the legislature considered it desirable that there should be one uniform law enacted for whole of the state. There are tribal land holders in many regions of the state of madhya Pradesh. The Code took care to enact some special provisions taking special care of protecting the interest of such tribals.
(2.)In the year 1980, the state legislature enacted the Madhya Pradesh Land revenue Code (Amendment) Act 1980 (Act no. 59 of 1980) whereby certain amendments were incorporated and a few new provisions were inserted into the body of the Code. One such amendment is the insertion of section 170-B which read as under: -
"170-B.reversion of land of member of aboriginal tribe which was transferred by fraud. (1) Every person who on the date of commencement of the Madhya Pradesh land Revenue Code (Amendment) Act, 1980 (hereinafter referred to as the Amendment act of 1980) is in possession of agricultural land which belonging to a member of a tribe which has been declared to be an aboriginal tribe under sub-section (6) of section 165 between the period commencing on the 2nd october, 1959 and ending on the date of the commencement of Amendment Act of 1980 shall, within one year of such commencement, notify to the sub-divisional officer in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed, all the information as to how he has come in possession of such land: (2) If any person fails to notify the information as required by sub-section (1) within the period specified therein it shall be presumed that such person has been in possession of the agricultural land without any lawful authority and the agricultural land shall, on the expiration of the period aforesaid revert to the person to whom it originally belonged and if that person be dead, to his legal heirs; (3) On receipt of the information under subsection (1) , the sub-divisional Officer shall make such enquiry as may be deemed necessary about all such transactions of transfer and if he finds that the member of aboriginal tribe has been defrauded of his legitimate right he shall declare the transaction null and void and pass an order revesting the agricultural land in the transferor and, if be he dead, in his legal heirs. "subsequently, there have been a few changes incorporated in the text of section 170-B abovesaid. For example, the period of one year specified in sub-section (1) of section 170-B later on came to be enlarged to one and a half years and then to two years as it now stands. Similarly, subsection (3) has been recast by virtue of notification no. 1-70-VII-N-2-83 dated 5th january 1984 issued under sub-paragraph 1 of paragraph 5 of the fifth schedule to the constitution of India which amendment we are ignoring for the purpose of this judgment as the language of the essential part of the sub-Section (3) remains as before and what has been amended is the consequential direction required to be made where certain buildings or structures have come up on the land forming subject matter of enquiry under sub-Section (3). However, sub-section (2-A) was inserted between sub-section (2) and (3) by Act no. 1 of 1998 passed by the state legislature which reads as under:-
"(2-A) If a gram sabha in the scheduled area referred to in clause (1) of Article 244 of the constitution finds that any person, other than a member of an aboriginal tribe, is in possession of any land of a bhumiswami belonging to an aboriginal tribe, without any lawful authority, it shall restore the possession of such land to that person to whom it originally belonged and if that person is dead to his legal heirs: provided that if the gram sabha fails to restore the possession of such land, it shall refer the matter to the sub-divisional officer, who shall restore the possession of such land within three months from the date of receipt of the reference. "
(3.)The land forming subject matter of these proceedings was owned by Bhikala and thanwaria who are members of a tribe which has been declared to be an aboriginal tribe under sub-section (6) of section 165 of the Code as contemplated by section - 170-B (. 1). The appellant too claims to be a similar aboriginal tribal. It appears that the land was sold by the aboriginal tribal bhumiswamis through registered sale deeds and it came to be purchased by the appellant. All these transactions have taken place between 2nd October 1959 and the date of the commencement of the amendment Act of 1980, meaning thereby, during the period attracting applicability of section 170-8 (1). The appellant did not furnish the information in the form and in the manner prescribed within the period of two years. In the year 1982-83, the sub- divisional officer, Thandla Petlawad, distt. Jhabua, within whose jurisdiction the land is situated, initiated proceedings under section 170-B of the Code by calling upon the appellant to show cause in response to the notice issued by the SDO. Soon on service of the notice the appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court of Madhya pradesh submitting that the appellant and the vendor bhumiswamis, both being aboriginal tribals notified under section 165 (6) of the Code, the applicability of section 170-B was not attracted and therefore the notice issued by the SDO was illegal, uncalled for and without any authority in law. The challenge has been rejected by the High Court.