Decided on August 01,1974

APPUKUTTAN Respondents


- (1.) The revision petitioner who is the landlord of the holding concerned filed an application for resumption of the holding under S.16 of the Kerala Land Reforms Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act). This petition was filed as I. A. 1312 of 1964 in O. S. 60 of 1948 which was instituted by the petitioner against the deceased father of the respondents. Pending the proceedings the respondents' father had died and the respondents were impleaded as his legal representatives as defendants 6 and 7. The allegations in the application for resumption was that the petitioner wanted the resumption of the land held by the father of the respondents for bona fide cultivation of his family consisting of 6 members of which the petitioner is the manager. The petitioner's family has no other properties in its possession. The petitioner had further alleged that the deceased father of the respondents was in possession of the land exceeding the ceiling limit and as such the land in excess of the ceiling limit can be resumed by the petitioner subject to the condition that the lands in his possession do not exceed the ceiling limit. The respondents' joint family is said to be in possession of 33.29 acres of double crop land, 12.34 acres of single crop land and 4.29 acres of paramba.
(2.) The main contention that the tenant had raised to this application for resumption was that he was not in possession and enjoyment of properties more than the ceiling limit. The properties referred to by the petitioner belong to the undivided Hindu joint family of which the father of the present respondents was the Kartha or the Manager. It was further stated in his objections that the joint family consists of the father and his four adult married sons and on that basis it was contended that the ceiling limit of the joint family in question has to be fixed after ascertaining the total extent of the land which can be held by all the five 'families' constituting the joint Hindu family in question. The bona fide requirement alleged by the petitioner was also disputed. The learned Munsiff after consideration of the oral and documentary evidence in the case held in favour of the petitioner and ordered issue of commission to inspect the plot and ascertain the actual extent available for resumption. However on appeal the learned District Judge reversed the finding of the Munsiff and held that the joint family of the respondents was not in possession of the land in excess of the ceiling limit. The landlord has therefore come up in revision from the order of the District Judge. A learned Judge of this Court thought that the question involved in the matter is a fairly serious one for decision by a Division Bench. Therefore it has come up before the Division Bench.
(3.) What Shri T. M. Krishnan Nambiar, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner strongly contended was that even if it is said that the ceiling limit of the joint family can be fixed for the purpose of Chap.3 of the Kerala Land Reforms Act by treating the joint family as a group of separate units and taking the total extent of the properties of these units, that method cannot be adopted for the purpose of S.15, 16 and 16A of the Act. He contended that for that purpose the joint family must be treated as a family consisting of the . sole surviving member or two or more members but not exceeding 5 or more than five members as the case may be and the ceiling limit must be fixed as provided in clause (a), (b) or (c) to Sub-s.(1) of S.82 of the Act. Here in view of the fact that the tenant in the case is, as found by the lower appellate court, an undivided joint family, the construction pleaded by him alone is possible according to him, because it may not be justifiable to treat the joint family as divided for the purpose of fixing the ceiling limit and undivided for the purpose of determining the nature of the tenancy.;

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