MIHIRBALA Vs. STATE OF WEST BENGAL
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
STATE OF WEST BENGAL
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M.M.Dutt, J. -
(1.)In this rule the petitioner, who is admittedly the owner of the disputed land, has challenged the legality of the proceedings before the respondent No. 2, the Bhagchas Officer, Mathurapur, instituted by the respondent No. 3, Nirapada Haldar, a bargadar, under Section 19-B of the West Bengal Land Reforms Act, 1955.
(2.)In that proceeding it has been alleged by the respondent No. 3 that his cultivation of the disputed land has been forcibly terminated by the petitioner. He has prayed for reliefs under Section 19-B of the Act. Section 19-B is as follows:--
"(1) If a person owning any land terminates or causes to be terminated the cultivation of the land by a bargadar in contravention of the provisions of this Act, then any officer specially empowered by the State Government in this behalf, shall, on the application by such bargadar by order direct - (a) in a case where such land has not been cultivated, or has been cultivated by the owner or by any person on his behalf other than a bargadar, that the land be immediately restored to the applicant and further that forty per cent, of any produce of the land shall be forfeited to the State Government and the remaining sixty per cent, of such crops shall be retained by the applicant." The remaining provisions of Section 19-B are not necessary for our purpose and, as such, they are omitted. It is contended on behalf of the petitioner that Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 19-B insofar as it provides for forfeiture of the forty per cent, of the produce of the land, is ultra vires Item 18 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution. In other words, a challenge has been made on behalf of the petitioner to the competency of the State Legislature to enact such a provision providing for the forfeiture of the produce. Item 18 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution is as follows:--
"18. Land, that is to say, rights in or over land, land tenures including the relation of landlord and tenant, and the collection of rents, transfer and alienation of agricultural land; land improvement and agricultural loans; colonization." Item 18 does not provide for the forfeiture of any produce. But, at the same time, it must be said that it is very wide in its scope. The State Legislature has been conferred with power to make laws for agricultural lands, agricultural tenures, any right in or over such lands etc. The object of providing for the forfeiture of the produce in Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 19-B seems to be that the Legislature intends to prevent illegal and forcible termination of the cultivation of a bargadar in violation of the provisions of the Act. It may be that it is some sort of a penal provision. But the question is whether when the Legislature is competent to enact on a subject, it can also provide for penalties in case of violation of the law which it is competent to enact. In my opinion, when the Legislature is conferred with the power to enact on a particular subject, such power will necessarily include the power to provide for penal provisions for the violation of the provisions of that enactment. The only grievance of the petitioner is with regard to the provision for forfeiture and not to any other provision of Section 19-B or the other sections of the Act. In my opinion, therefore, it cannot be said that because Item 18 does not provide for any penal provision, the State Legislature has no power to enact such a provision. The provision for forfeiture, as contained in Clause (a) of Sub-section (1) of Section 19-B, in my view, is quite within the legislative competency of the State Legislature under Item 18 of List II. No other point has been urged in this Rule. The provision for forfeiture in Clause (a) is held to be quite legal and constitutional.
(3.)This Rule is, accordingly, discharged, but there will be no order as to costs.
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