Decided on November 04,1960

P.M.SHAH Respondents


S.T.DESAI - (1.)This petition raises a question of considerable importance and consequence to tenants who occupy dwelling house belonging to girasdars and the question relates to construction of certain provisions in the Saurashtra Land Reforms Act 1951 The petitioners are girasdars of the village Bhadvana in Lakhtar Taluka in Zalawad District. Opponents 3 to 6 are agriculturists who are in occupation as tenants of certain dwelling houses of the ownership of the girasdars. On 10/02/1957 the dwelling houses were let out by the girasdars to opponents 3 to 6 under a lease for a period of five years. On expiry of that lease the girasdars filed a suit in the Civil Court at Lakhtar praying for eviction of the tenants. In their written statement the tenants raised the contention that they were tenants of the dwelling houses within the moaning and operation of the Saurashtra Land Reforms Act and the Civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain that suit. The trial Court decided the issue of jurisdiction against the tenants. It went into merits of the case and dismissed the suit of the girasdars In appeal to the District Court Surendranagar the decision of the trial Court was reversed and a decree for eviction was passed in favour of the girasdars. The matter was carried in second appeal to the High Court of Bombay at Rajkot and the High Court decided that the matter should have been referred to the Mamlatdar for determination of the question whether the tenants were tenants within the meaning and ambit of the Land Reforms Act. That issue obviously could only be decided by the Mamlatdar under the Land Reforms Act. The tenants then applied to the Mamlatdar for a declaration that they were tenants within the meaning and ambit of the Act contending that they were cultivators and artisans within the purview of the Act. The Mamlatdar decided that they were not tenants within the meaning of the Act and declined to grant the declaration sought by them. An appeal to the Deputy Collector against the decision was dismissed and they carried the matter in revision to the Revenue Tribunal. The Revenue Tribunal after construing certain provisions of the Land Reforms Act held that the Mamlatdar and the Deputy Collector were both in error. It reached the conclusion that they were tenants within the meaning and ambit of the Land Reforms Act.
(2.)It is against that decision of the Tribunal that the girasdars have come to this Court on this petition. It has been urged before us by Mr. K. G. Vakharia learned advocate for the petitioners-girasdars that the Tribunal was in error in holding that a tenant of a dwelling house in the context of the Land Reforms Act need not be a tenant of the girasdars whose land he is cultivating as an agriculturist. According to Mr. Vakharia the Tribunal should have held that a tenant of a dwelling house of a girasdar can under the Act only be a person who cultivates the land of a girasdar and a tenant of any dwelling house belonging to the same girasdar. At the very outset of his arguments Mr. Vakharia sought to rely on the preamble to the Act. Now it is true that the preamble of an Act may sometimes help to understand the ambit and scope of an enactment. But it is hardly necessary to observe that it is no part of the enactment. It may at times serve as a key to open the mind of the law-maker but it cannot in any manner extend or restrict the effect and operation of any provisions in the enactment itself. For that the Court can only have regard to the provisions themselves in the enactment. Even so we have looked at the preamble for the purpose of seeing what it precisely intends to say. The preamble is as under :
WHEREAS for the improvement of land revenue administration add for ultimately putting an end to the Girasdari system it is necessary to regulate the relationship between the Girasdars and their tenants to enable the latter to become occupants of the land held by them and to provide for the payment of compensation to the Girasdars for the extinguishment of their rights It is hereby enacted....... Emphasis is laid by Mr. Vakharia on the words to regulate the relationship between the Girasdars and their tenants and it is urged that when we have to examine any provision of the Act relating to a tenant and the girasdar the provision must be read and understood fin the relation of a girasdar and his tenant of an agricultural land and not in any other sense. Now as we have already observed the preamble cannot be permitted to restrict the operation of any section in the Act and as we shall point out later on there is no reason why sec. 14 with which we are really concerned in this case of course along with certain other definition in the enactment deals with not a girasdar and his tenant of agricultural land but a girasdar and a tenant of any dwelling house belonging to him Therefore it is clear that the preamble in the present case cannot render any assistance to us in interpreting sec. 14 of the Act. That section must be read and understood in accordance with the language there used and in accordance with well-established canons of interpretation.

(3.)The Tribunal followed an earlier decision of its own and has quoted extensively from that decision. In its judgment it has referred to the provisions of section 2(12) and section 2(1) which contain definitions of land and agricultural land respectively. Says Mr. Vakharia the Tribunal has overlooked certain material definitions and has thereby failed to approach the matter in a correct manner. He has strongly relied on the definition of tenant in section 2(30) which is as under :
tenant means an agriculturist who holds land on lease from a Girasdar or a person claiming through him and includes a person who is deemed to be a tenant under the provisions of this Act.


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