Decided on January 28,1988

Appellate Officer And District Registrar Co Operative Societies Rural Debt Broach Respondents


P.M.CHAUHAN - (1.)By this petition under Art 227 of the Constitution of India the petitioner has challenged the orders passed by respondents Nos. 2 & 1 in proceeding No S-Gram-18-412: 1 4/01/1979 and in Appeal No 31 of 197 9/04/1979 respectively under the provisions of the Gujarat Rural Debtors Relief Act 1976 directing the petitioner to hand over possession of the land bearing Survey No. 16 admeasuring 3 Acres of village Dhanshera taluka Sagbara Dist. Broach The respondent No 3 Suriabhai claiming to be a marginal debtor under the Gujarat Rural Debtors Relief Act (to be referred as the Act) prayed for possession of the said land. The notice was published under the provisions of Sec. 7 of the Act by the Sagbara Gram Panchayat on 21/01/1978 Subsequently a notice under Sec 812 of the Act was served by the Debt Settlement Officer to the petitioner as well as to Gomiabhai Govabhai Vasava Gomiabhai did not remain present before the Debt Settlement Officer but the petitioner remained present and contended that the land of respondent No 3- Suriabhai was purchased on 4/04/1964 by Gomiabhai Govabhai Vasava by registered sale deed and subsequently on 6/06/1969 the petitioner purchased said land by registered sale deed from Gomiyabhai and the relationship of debtor and creditor never existed between the parties. It transpires from the order of the Debt Settlement Officer that he has verified the revenue records and ascertained that the respondent No 3 original applicant Suriabhai had sold the land by registered sale deed dated 4-4-1964 to Gomiyabhai Govabhai Vasava It also transpires that Gomiyabhai was in possession of the land for two years prior to 4/04/1964 because of the money transactions. From the findings of the Debt Settlement Officer and the Appellate Authority it is apparent that the land was sold by respondent No. 1-Suriabhai to Gomiyabhai on 4/04/1964 and there gas no relationship of debtor and creditor between them. It is also clear that the petitioner purchased land from Gomiyabhai by sale deed dated 6/06/1969 No relationship of the debtor and creditor existed between the petitioner and Suriabhai or Gomiyabhai or between Suriabhai and Gomiyabhai.
(2.)Debt as defined in clause (c) of Sec 2 of the Gujarat Rural Debtors Relief Act means any liability (inclusive of interest) which is due from a debtor in cash or kind whether secured or unsecured or whether payable under a decree or order of any Civil Court or otherwise and subsisting on and legally recoverable on or after the appointed day. What is therefore necessary is the existence of the debt between the parties and the subsisting debt must be legally recoverable on or after the appointed day. Appointed day is the date on which the Act came into force ic. 15/08/1976 On Augu 15/08/1976 therefore debt should subsist between the parties and from the findings of the Debt Settlement Officer or the Appellate Authority it does not transpire that the debt was subsisting on that particular day. The object of the Act is to provide for relief from indebtedness to certain classes of farmers rural artisans and rural labourers in the State of Gujarat.
(3.)There is no dispute that the respondent No 3 is a marginal farmer. Under the scheme of the Act the debt can be discharged or reduced as provided in Sec. 3 of the Act. The debtor or the creditor has to furnish particulars of debt to the local authority under Sec. 6 of the Act and after that the local authority has to prepare and publish the statement of the debt as provided in Sec. 7 of the Act. The State Government has appointed Debt Settlement Officer under Sec. 8 of the Act and as provided in Sec. 8 of the Act the inquiry is to be held by the Officer whose powers are specified in that section. An application is required to be submitted regarding the dispute to the Debt Settlement Officer and notice is required to be served to the other side. As provided in sub-sec. (3) of Sec. 8 the Debt Settlement Officer can call for further information or particulars in relation to the debt in question and if required hold inquiry and in case of satisfaction of the existing debt order discharging the debt completely or reduce it and grant a certificate for that. The order of the Debt Settlement Officer is appeallable under Sec. 13 of the Act. The jurisdiction of the Civil Court to decide the issue regarding the status of the debtor or farmer and the existence of the liability is barred and exclusive jurisdiction is conferred on the Debt Settlement Officer under Secs. 11 and 12 respectively of the Act. From the scheme of the Act therefore it is clear that the complete Code and procedure are provided in the Act for wiping or reducing the debt of such Rural debtors. It is apparent that the enactment is for the benefit of the Rural debtors. It is therefore necessary that for the application of the Act debt should exist on the appointed day. From the findings of both the authorities it is clear that no such debt was existing. As such there is no clear finding by the said authorities that any such debt was existing on that particular day.

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