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Friday, September 20, 2013

LAND REFORMS ACT- The appellants claim to be the owners of lands in Sy. Nos. 33, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 and 53 situated in village Halligeri, Dharward Taluk, Karnataka, having purchased the same in the year 1956. According to the appellants, the lands were in their personal cultivation since then. 3. The 2nd respondent, Gangappa (since deceased) filed an application before the Special Tahasildar, Land Reforms, Dharwad, contending therein that he had sent an application on 23rd June, 1975 in Form No.7 for registering him as an occupant of the lands belonging to the appellants.- whether in fact the 2nd respondent had filed an application in Form No.7, and if it was found that he had made such an application, then to consider it on merits in accordance with law. = the Tribunal admitted Form No.7 produced by the 2nd respondent and on an enquiry gave definite finding that the applicant-2nd respondent was not in occupation or cultivation of the suit land as a tenant as on 1st March, 1974 or prior thereto. In view of such finding of the Tribunal it was not open for the learned Single Judge to remand the matter again to the Tribunal to enquire whether Form No.7 is on record or Form No.7 was produced by the 2nd respondent which in fact rendered the order dated 2nd June, 1997 passed by the Tribunal ineffective for no reason. The Division Bench of the High Court also failed to notice the above-said fact and thereby erred in affirming the order passed by the learned Single Judge. 14. For the reasons aforesaid, we set aside the impugned order dated 2nd June, 2006 passed by the Division Bench in W.A.No.3836/2005(LR) and order dated 3rd June, 2005 passed by the learned Single Judge in W.P. No.15722/1997, order dated 2nd June, 1997 passed by the Land Tribunal, Dharwad is restored. The appeal is allowed. There shall be no order as to costs.

        published in http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40793
                                                          REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8289  OF 2013
                   (arising out of SLP(C)No.14496 of 2006)

CHANNABASAPPA(DEAD) BY LR & ANR.        … APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS

STATE OF KARNATAKA & ORS.                    … RESPONDENTS

                               J U D G M E N T

SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA, J.

     Leave granted.

1.    This appeal has been preferred by the appellants against the  judgment
and order dated 2nd June, 2006 passed by the  Division  Bench  of  the  High
Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in W.A. No.3836/2005(LR).  By  the  impugned
judgment  the  Division  Bench  dismissed  the  appeal  preferred   by   the
appellants herein and affirmed  the  order  passed  by  the  learned  Single
Judge, whereby the learned  Single  Judge  directed  the  Land  Tribunal  to
verify the aspect of filing of Form No.7 by the tenant.

2.    The factual matrix of the case is as follows:
      The appellants claim to be the owners of lands in  Sy.  Nos.  33,  37,
38, 39, 40, 41  and  53  situated  in  village  Halligeri,  Dharward  Taluk,
Karnataka, having purchased the same in the  year  1956.  
According  to  the
appellants, the lands were in their personal cultivation since then.
3.    The 2nd respondent, Gangappa (since  deceased)  filed  an  application
before the Special Tahasildar, Land  Reforms,  Dharwad,  contending  therein
that he had sent an  application  on  23rd  June,  1975  in  Form  No.7  for
registering him as an occupant of the lands  belonging  to  the  appellants.
The Special Tahasildar, Land Reforms, on 31st  October,  1987  replied  that
there was no record of having received such  an  application  from  the  2nd
respondent in respect of the lands in question and no entry was made in  the
Register of Form No.7 maintained by the Land Tribunal.
4.    The 2nd respondent filed Writ Petition No.4165/1988 in the High  Court
of Karnataka at Bangalore with the prayer for a direction  to  the  Tribunal
to conduct enquiry under Section 48-A of the  Karnataka  Land  Reforms  Act,
1974 (hereinafter referred to as the “Land Reforms Act”) and  to  grant  him
occupancy rights. In support of his claim for having sent  the  application,
the 2nd respondent had produced  a  xerox  copy  of  a  postal  receipt  and
acknowledgment. The High Court by its order dated 5th August, 1991  remanded
the matter to the  Land  Tribunal  to  consider  whether  in  fact  the  2nd
respondent had filed an application in Form No.7, and if it was  found  that
he had  made  such  an  application,  then  to  consider  it  on  merits  in
accordance with law. The said  order  was  challenged  before  the  Division
Bench of the High Court as well as by way of Special Leave  Petition  before
this Court unsuccessfully.
5.    After a detailed enquiry, by the order dated 2nd June, 1997, the  Land
Tribunal found, on evidence produced before it, that the 2nd respondent  had
not proved that he had in fact sent an application to the Land  Tribunal  in
Form No.7.
      Before the Land Tribunal, the 2nd respondent produced  xerox  copy  of
the Form No.7 on 27th November, 1993, claiming to be the one sent by him  by
post.
      Although, the Land Tribunal came to the  conclusion that there was  no
proof of filing of Form No.7 by the 2nd respondent, unanimously  it  decided
to admit the copy produced by the 2nd respondent on 27th November, 1993  for
enquiry under Section 48-A of the Land Reforms Act and, upon evidence,  held
that the lands were in  self-cultivation  of  the  appellants  and  the  2nd
respondent was not a tenant of the lands in question as on 1st  March,  1974
or immediately prior  thereto  and  as  such  rejected  his  application  on
merits.
6.    The 2nd respondent being aggrieved filed a writ  petition  being  W.P.
No.15722/1987  challenging  the  correctness  of  the  order  of  the   Land
Tribunal. Though the learned Single Judge noticed  that  the  Land  Tribunal
had admitted the xerox copy of the Form No.7 produced by the 2nd  respondent
on 27th November, 1993 and had conducted an enquiry  thereon  under  Section
48-A of the Land Reforms Act, learned Single Judge, by  the  judgment  dated
3rd June, 2005 remitted the matter to the Tribunal to find out  whether  the
application existed in the records and whether in fact  the  2nd  respondent
had filed an application in Form No.7.
7.    The appellants thereafter filed a review petition before  the  learned
Single Judge bringing to the notice of the learned  Single  Judge  that  the
copy of the application found in  records  was  the  one  which  the  second
respondent had filed  on  27th  November,  1993  and  that  the  remand  was
unnecessary as the  application  was  admitted  and  enquiry  was  conducted
thereon. However, learned Single Judge did not appreciate  the  grounds  for
the review and dismissed the review petition on 1st July, 2005.
8.    The appellants being not happy preferred the writ appeal  in  question
before the Division Bench which dismissed the same by the impugned  judgment
on 2nd June, 2006.
9.    Notices were issued to respondents. The legal representatives  of  the
2nd respondent who are party respondents appeared.
10.   Learned counsel for the appellants submitted that  the  Land  Tribunal
having accepted the filing of the Form No.7 by the 2nd respondent, there  is
no question of remitting the matter  again  to  the  Tribunal  to  find  out
whether the Form No.7 is available on records and whether the Form No.7  was
filed by the 2nd respondent.
11.   Learned counsel for the respondents submitted that the 2nd  respondent
had produced the copy of the Form No.7 and made it available on  records  to
the Land Tribunal and the case was  rightly  remanded  to  make  a  detailed
enquiry  under  Section  48-A  of  the  Land  Reforms  Act.  However,   such
submission cannot be accepted in view of the  finding  already  recorded  by
the Land Tribunal.
12.   On perusal of order dated 2nd June, 1997 passed by the Land  Tribunal,
we find that the Land Tribunal  admitted  Form  No.7  produced  by  the  2nd
respondent in view of the High Court’s  direction  dated  5th  August,  1991
passed in W.P.No.4165/1988 and on  enquiry made under Section 48-A, held  as
follows:


      “……In spite of this, in view of the directions dated 5-8-91  in  W.P.
      No.4165, the Form No.7 produced by  the  applicant  is  admitted  and
      enquiry upon the same is taken up by unanimous opinion  of  the  Land
      Tribunal.


      Applicant has not produced any document  to  prove  that  he  was  in
      possession  and  cultivation  of  the  suit  lands  on  1-3-1974   or
      immediately prior thereto. Except his own  statement,  the  applicant
      has not produced any evidence to establish that he held the lands  on
      crop share basis. In this respect, he has not produced any acceptable
      evidence. But on the other hand, the opponents have  produced  pahani
      records for the years prior to 1974 as well as for subsequent  years,
      in which nowhere the name  of  the  applicant  is  appearing  in  the
      cultivator’s column. It is apparent that all the lands were  in  self
      cultivation.


      Apart from this, the opponents have produced  tax  paid  receipts  in
      respect  of  the  suit  lands.  The  opponents  have  also  given   a
      declaration regarding their holding under Section 86 of the Karnataka
      Land Reforms Act, claiming it to be under self cultivation  and  vide
      order NO.KLR:D:SR:752 dated 25-3-82, this Land Tribunal has  accepted
      the declaration holding that he is not in possession of excess lands.
      In the said order there is no mention  about  the  said  lands  being
      subject to tenancy.  For all these reasons, the  following  order  is
      passed by unanimous opinion of this Land Tribunal.










                                    ORDER


      It is decided unanimously that the applicant was  not  in  occupation
      and cultivation of  the  suit  lands  as  a  tenant  on  1-3-1974  or
      immediately prior thereto.
      This order is pronounced and read out in open Court on 2-6-97.


                                                                        Sd/-
                                                      Land Tribunal, Dharwad
      Members:
   1. Sd/-
   2. Sd/-
   3. Sd/-.”




13.   Thus, it is clear that
the Tribunal admitted  Form  No.7  produced  by
the 2nd respondent  and  on  an  enquiry  gave  definite  finding  that  the
applicant-2nd respondent was not in occupation or cultivation  of  the  suit
land as a tenant as on 1st March, 1974 or prior thereto.  
In  view  of  such
finding of the Tribunal it was not open for  the  learned  Single  Judge  to
remand the matter again to the Tribunal to enquire whether Form No.7  is  on
record or Form No.7 was  produced  by  the  2nd  respondent  which  in  fact
rendered the order dated 2nd June, 1997 passed by the  Tribunal  ineffective
for no reason. 
The Division Bench of the High Court also  failed  to  notice
the above-said fact and thereby erred in affirming the order passed  by  the
learned Single Judge.
14.   For the reasons aforesaid, we set aside the impugned order  dated  2nd
June, 2006 passed by the Division Bench in  W.A.No.3836/2005(LR)  and  order
dated  3rd  June,  2005  passed  by  the  learned  Single  Judge   in   W.P.
No.15722/1997, order dated 2nd June,  1997  passed  by  the  Land  Tribunal,
Dharwad is restored. The appeal is allowed. There shall be no  order  as  to
costs.




                                                      ………………………………………………….J.
                             (SUDHANSU JYOTI MUKHOPADHAYA)




                                                       ……………………………………………….J.
                                      (RANJAN GOGOI)




NEW DELHI,
SEPTEMBER 17, 2013.





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