(1.)By this petition under Article 227 of the Constitution' of India, the petitioner has challenged the orders of the Collector passed under Section 8 of the Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act, 1960 (Act No. 27 of 1961) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') and of the Gujarat Revenue Tribunal under Section 38 of the Act, rejecting the application filed by the petitioner to condone the delay in submitting the application under Section 8 of the Act for the period commencing from October 1, 1976 to July 18, 1977, i.e. for the period of 9 months and 13 days, as according to the petitioner he could not submit the application within the prescribed period of limitation of six months as he was detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 from August 26, 1974 to March 23, 1977 and, after that, he was not well as he was suffering from dysentery from March 30, 1977 and ultimately submitted the application on July 18, 1977.
(2.)The petitioner was holding the agricultural land as specified in the application submitted to the Collector, at Pardi Udwada, District Valsad. The Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act, 1960 (Act No. 27, 1961) came into force on July 15, 1961 and the provisions of Section 8 of the Act were subsequently amended by the Amendment Act of 1972 (Act No. 2 of 1974), which came into force on April 1, 1976. According to the petitioner, by agreement of sale dated 11-3-69, 24-3-1969 and 15-5-1970 he transferred agricultural lands to different persons and received part of the consideration and handed over the possession to them. Subsequently, the sale deeds were executed in their favour on December 14, 1973 and December 20, 1973. The petitioner has given details for that, but they are not required to be specifically mentioned as not relevant. The petitioner also stated that, after the sale deeds were executed, he was detained under The Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act, 1974 from August 20, 1974 to March 23, 1977 and, as such, there is no dispute to that fact.
(3.)The Gujarat Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act provides for the acquisition and disposal of surplus of the land more than the ceiling area and, therefore, has provided certain restrictions for the transfer and acquisition of land, and also for acquiring of such land for the purpose of distribution under the Act. Section 8 makes the deeming provision enabling the competent authoriry to consider the contentions about the genuineness of the transfer. It provides that in case the land is transferred after January 15, 1979 but before the commencement of the Act or after 24th day of January 1971 but before the specified date, then notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, such transfer or partition shall, unless it is proved to the contrary, be deemed to have been made in anticipation in order to defeat the object of the Act. Sub-Section (2) with which we are more concerned provides for the application to the Collector for declaration that the transfer or partition was not made in anticipation in order to defeat the object of the Act. Collector is required to consider the application and considering the evidence which may be produced, should decide as to whether the transfer or the partition was not made in anticipation in order to defeat the object of the Act. As provided in Rule 5 of the Gujarat Agricultural Land Ceiling Act, the prescribed period of limitation is six months and, as discussed above, the application is required -to be submitted within the period of six months from the date of the commencement of the Amendment Act No. 2. The petitioner had, therefore, to submit the application on or before October 1, 1976, but he submitted the application on July 18, 1977 and also prayed for condoning the delay. The authorities below considered the facts and grounds for condoning the delay and were not -satisfied about the sufficiency of the cause for not submitting the application within the prescribed period of limitation and rejected the application submitted by the petitioner under sub-section (2) of Section 8 of the Act.