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Monday, October 7, 2013

Sec. 45 Karnataka Land Reforms Act - cultivate tenant = HARSHA V. RAI Vs. STATE OF KARNATAKA & ANR THROUGH LRS published in judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40860

Sec. 45 Karnataka Land Reforms Act - Cultivate tenant -  by1st of March, 1974 one must be a cultivating tenant - with out framing proper question , no case is to be determined - Hence the Apex court remanded the case on two counts
1.whether the property said to have been given on lease to  the
tenant on the appointed day, came within the definition of  land  under  the
Act. 
  2. whether the same was an agricultural land and was being cultivated  on
or before the appointed day by the  tenant  personally.  =

  According to the appellant, his mother  was  the  owner  of  the  land
measuring in all 14 cents in Survey No. 353/1 and 353/2 at  Village  Attavar
within Taluka Mangalore in the District of Dakshina Kannada.   
She  gave  on
lease the aforesaid land  to  Bhagirathi,  respondent  no.  2  herein  by  a
registered deed dated 26th of October, 1953 on an yearly rent of Rs. 42  and
the deed styled as vacant land “chalageni” was executed.  
According  to  the
appellant, the land at the time of lease  contained  five  standing  coconut
trees and respondent no. 2, hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  tenant,  was
entitled to make improvement therein to an extent of only Rs.  5,000/-.   
It
is the case of  the  appellant  that  in  terms  of  the  lease  the  tenant
constructed a residential house on the demised property and continued to  be
in occupation of       the same. =


  Section 44 of the  Act,  inter  alia,
provides that all land held by or in possession of the tenants  with  effect
from 1st of March, 1974(hereinafter to  be  referred  to  as  the  appointed
day), shall stand transferred to and vest in the State Government.   Section
45 of the Act, inter alia, provides that the land which a  tenant  has  been
cultivating personally before the date of vesting shall be  entitled  to  be
registered as an occupant.   A  tenant  entitled  to  be  registered  as  an
occupant was required to file a petition before  a  tribunal  under  Section
48A of the Act.


      Respondent no. 2, filed an application in the prescribed  form,  inter
alia, alleging that the tenancy in question is in  respect  of  agricultural
land and she was cultivating the same prior  to  1st  of  March,  1974  and,
therefore, she is entitled to be registered  as  an  occupant  in  terms  of
Section 45 of the Act.   -

 The dissenting Member expressed his view in the following words:
                 “………..It is learnt from the enquiry that the  petitioner’s
           husband is a truck (lorry) owner, the main source of  income  of
           the petitioner is from the income  derived  from  the  rent  and
           selling the fire-wood from the fire-wood depot.  The  petitioner
           is not an agriculturist, at  any  time.   Apart  from  this  the
           petitioner has no cultivable lands also,  because  there  are  5
           coconut trees in  the  courtyard  that  cannot  be  treated  the
           petition land as agricultural lands”

To satisfy the requirement of  Section  45  of  the
Act  to be registered as an occupant, the claimant has to satisfy that he  is
the tenant in respect of land which he  is  cultivating  personally  on  the
appointed day.  
  whether the property said to have been given on lease to  the
tenant on the appointed day, came within the definition of  land  under  the
Act.  
   whether the same was an agricultural land and was being cultivated  on
or before the appointed day by the  tenant  personally.   
The  tribunal  has
made spot inspection much later than the appointed  day  on  15th  December,
1987 which, in our opinion, has no relevance at all with the rights  of  the
parties.  
Here, the rights of the parties have to  be  crystallized  on  the
basis of what existed on the appointed day. 
Neither  the  Tribunal  nor  the
High Court has gone into this question in the right perspective.  
We are  of
the opinion that the impugned orders of the learned Single  Judge  and  that
of the Division Bench as also of the Tribunal deserve to be  set  aside  and
the  matter  remitted  back  to  the  tribunal  for  its  consideration   in
accordance with law.  
We make it clear that the  observation  made  in  this
order is for the purpose of its disposal and shall have no  bearing  on  the
merit of the case.

      In the result, we allow this appeal, set aside the  impugned  judgment
and remit the matter back to the tribunal for reconsideration in  accordance
with law bearing in mind the  observations  aforesaid.   In  the  facts  and
circumstances of the case there shall be no order as to costs.

                                                REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.9031 OF 2013
               (@SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (C) NO. 3928 OF 2006)

HARSHA V. RAI                                … APPELLANT

                                   VERSUS

STATE OF KARNATAKA & ANR.                   …RESPONDENTS



                               J U D G M E N T


CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, J.


      By the orders impugned the claim of respondent no. 2  Bhagirathi  Bai,
since deceased, to be registered as an occupant  under  Section  45  of  the
Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 in respect of the land measuring  14  cents
in Survey Nos. 353/1 and 353/2 in the Village Attavar  in  Taluka  Mangalore
in the District of Dakshina Kannada has been upheld.


      Leave granted.

      According to the appellant, his mother  was  the  owner  of  the  land
measuring in all 14 cents in Survey No. 353/1 and 353/2 at  Village  Attavar
within Taluka Mangalore in the District of Dakshina Kannada.   
She  gave  on
lease the aforesaid land  to  Bhagirathi,  respondent  no.  2  herein  by  a
registered deed dated 26th of October, 1953 on an yearly rent of Rs. 42  and
the deed styled as vacant land “chalageni” was executed.  
According  to  the
appellant, the land at the time of lease  contained  five  standing  coconut
trees and respondent no. 2, hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  tenant,  was
entitled to make improvement therein to an extent of only Rs.  5,000/-.   
It
is the case of  the  appellant  that  in  terms  of  the  lease  the  tenant
constructed a residential house on the demised property and continued to  be
in occupation of       the same.




      By Section 34 of the Karnataka  Land  Reforms  (Amendment)  Act,  1973
(Karnataka Act 1 of 1974) Section 44 and Section 45  were  substituted  with
effect from 1st of March, 1974 in the  Karnataka  Land  Reforms  Act,  1961,
hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’.
Section 44 of the  Act,  inter  alia,
provides that all land held by or in possession of the tenants  with  effect
from 1st of March, 1974(hereinafter to  be  referred  to  as  the  appointed
day), shall stand transferred to and vest in the State Government.   Section
45 of the Act, inter alia, provides that the land which a  tenant  has  been
cultivating personally before the date of vesting shall be  entitled  to  be
registered as an occupant.   A  tenant  entitled  to  be  registered  as  an
occupant was required to file a petition before  a  tribunal  under  Section
48A of the Act.


      Respondent no. 2, filed an application in the prescribed  form,  inter
alia, alleging that the tenancy in question is in  respect  of  agricultural
land and she was cultivating the same prior  to  1st  of  March,  1974  and,
therefore, she is entitled to be registered  as  an  occupant  in  terms  of
Section 45 of the Act.
The appellant, hereinafter referred to as ‘the  land
owner’, resisted her claim and the tribunal  rejected  the  tenant’s  claim,
but the same was set aside by the High Court in  a  petition  filed  by  the
tenant  and  the  matter   was   remitted   back   to   the   tribunal   for
reconsideration.  While doing so, the High Court observed that the  tribunal
shall consider the “chalageni”.  After the  remand  the  tribunal  conducted
spot inspection on 15th of December, 1987 and found existence of a  dwelling
house, a    firewood-depot  and  a  few  coconut  trees.   The  tribunal  by
majority held that the land was not an agricultural  land  on  the  date  of
inspection but concluded that it was used as agricultural land  35-40  years
ago and accordingly upheld the claim of the tenant.  The dissenting  Member,
however, observed that the  land  in  question  cannot  be  said  to  be  an
agricultural land. The learned Member  found  that  part  of  the  land  was
leased out by tenant’s husband for firewood depot and he is a  truck  owner.
The dissenting Member expressed his view in the following words:
                 “………..It is learnt from the enquiry that the  petitioner’s
           husband is a truck (lorry) owner, the main source of  income  of
           the petitioner is from the income  derived  from  the  rent  and
           selling the fire-wood from the fire-wood depot.  The  petitioner
           is not an agriculturist, at  any  time.   Apart  from  this  the
           petitioner has no cultivable lands also,  because  there  are  5
           coconut trees in  the  courtyard  that  cannot  be  treated  the
           petition land as agricultural lands”

      Mr. Basava Prabhu S.Patil, learned Senior counsel  appears  on  behalf
of the  appellant  and  submits  that  the  land  in  question  was  not  an
agricultural land on the appointed  day.  Further  the  tenant  was  not  an
agriculturist and not cultivating the land personally on the said date  and,
therefore, cannot be registered as an occupant in terms  of  Section  45  of
the Act.  Mr. S.N. Bhat appearing  for  the  tenant  as  also  Ms.  Vishruti
Vijay, learned counsel representing  the  State  submit  that  the  land  in
question was an agricultural land which was being cultivated  personally  by
the tenant and, therefore, she was rightly registered as an occupant by  the
tribunal and the said order has rightly been affirmed  by  the  High  Court.
In view of the submission advanced it is advisable to refer  to  the  scheme
of the Act.  As the claim is raised under Section 45 of the Act, we deem  it
expedient to reproduce the same which reads as follows:
           “45. Tenants to be registered as occupants of  land  on  certain
           conditions.—(1) Subject to  the  provisions  of  the  succeeding
           sections of this Chapter,  every  person  who  was  a  permanent
           tenant, protected tenant or other tenant or where a  tenant  has
           lawfully sub-let, such sub-tenant shall, with effect on and from
           the date of vesting be entitled to be registered as an  occupant
           in respect of the lands of which  he  was  a  permanent  tenant,
           protected tenant or other tenant or sub-tenant before  the  date
           of vesting and which he has been cultivating personally.


           (2) If a tenant or other person referred to in sub-section (1),—




                 i) holds land partly as owner and partly as tenant but  the
                    area of the land held by him as owner  is  equal  to  or
                    exceeds a ceiling area he shall not be  entitled  to  be
                    registered as an occupant of the land held by him  as  a
                    tenant before the date of vesting;


                ii) does not hold and cultivate personally any  land  as  an
                    owner, but holds land as  tenant,  which  he  cultivates
                    personally in excess of a  ceiling  area,  he  shall  be
                    entitled to be registered as an occupant to  the  extent
                    of a ceiling area;

               iii) holds and cultivates personally as an owner of any  land
                    the area of which is less than a ceiling area, he  shall
                    be entitled to be  registered  as  an  occupant  to  the
                    extent of such area as will be sufficient to make up his
                    holding to the extent of a ceiling area.


           (3) The land held by a person before the date of vesting and  in
           respect of which he is not  entitled  to  be  registered  as  an
           occupant under this section shall be disposed of in  the  manner
           provided in section 77 after evicting such person.”


      The aforesaid section, inter alia, provides that a tenant holding  the
land and cultivating it personally on and from the date of vesting shall  be
entitled to be registered as an  occupant.   The  expression  ‘to  cultivate
personally’, ‘land’ and ‘tenant’ have  been  defined  under  Section  2(11),
2(18) and 2(34) of the Act.  The person  claiming  to  be  registered  as  a
tenant  has  to  satisfy  that  he  is  not  only  a  tenant  but  also   an
agriculturist who cultivates personally the land  held  on  lease.   Section
2(34) defines ‘tenant’ as follows:

           “2.Definitions.- (A) In this Act, unless the  context  otherwise
           requires,-


                   xxx      xxx              xxx

            (34) “Tenant” means an agriculturist who cultivates  personally
           the land he holds on lease from a landlord and includes—


                 (i) a person who is deemed to be a tenant under section 4;


                 (ii) a person who was protected from eviction from any land
                 by  the  Karnataka  Tenants  (Temporary   Protection   from
                 Eviction) Act, 1961;


                 (ii-a) a person who cultivates personally any land on lease
                 under a lease created contrary to the provisions of section
                 5 and before the date of commencement of the Amendment Act;


                 (iii) a person who is a permanent tenant; and


                 (iv) a person who is a protected tenant.


           Explanation.—A person who takes up a contract to cut  grass,  or
           together the fruits or other produce of any land, shall  not  on
           that account only be deemed to be a tenant;”

      It is an  inclusive  definition  and  in  the  present  case,  we  are
concerned with the main provision. To come within the definition  of  tenant
a person  has  to  be  an  agriculturist  and  such  a  person  is  required
personally to  cultivate  the  land  he  holds  on  lease.   The  expression
‘cultivate personally’ has been defined under  Section  2(11)  of  the  Act,
which reads as follows:

           “2.Definitions.- (A)  xxx       xxx   xxx


           (11) “To cultivate personally” means to cultivate land on  one’s
                  own account,—


                      i) by one’s own labour; or


                     ii) by the labour of any member of one’s family or;

                    iii) by hired labour or by servants on wages payable in
                         cash or kind, but not in  crop  share,  under  the
                         personal supervision of oneself or  by  member  of
                         one’s family;


                 Explanation I.— In the case of an educational, religious or
           charitable institution or society or trust, of a  public  nature
           capable of holding property, formed for  educational,  religious
           or charitable purpose, the land shall be deemed to be cultivated
           personally if such land is cultivated  by  hired  labour  or  by
           servants under the personal supervision of an employee or  agent
           of such institution or society or trust;


           Explanation II.— In the case of a joint family, the  land  shall
           be deemed to be cultivated personally, if it  is  cultivated  by
           any member of such family.;”


      As stated earlier, to satisfy the requirement of  Section  45  of  the
Act 
to be registered as an occupant, the claimant has to satisfy that he  is
the tenant in respect of land which he  is  cultivating  personally  on  the
appointed day.  
Neither the tribunal nor the High Court has  gone  into  the
question as to whether the property said to have been given on lease to  the
tenant on the appointed day, came within the definition of  land  under  the
Act.  
Further, the tribunal and the High Court have not addressed the  issue
as to whether the same was an agricultural land and was being cultivated  on
or before the appointed day by the  tenant  personally.   
The  tribunal  has
made spot inspection much later than the appointed  day  on  15th  December,
1987 which, in our opinion, has no relevance at all with the rights  of  the
parties.  
Here, the rights of the parties have to  be  crystallized  on  the
basis of what existed on the appointed day. 
Neither  the  Tribunal  nor  the
High Court has gone into this question in the right perspective.  
We are  of
the opinion that the impugned orders of the learned Single  Judge  and  that
of the Division Bench as also of the Tribunal deserve to be  set  aside  and
the  matter  remitted  back  to  the  tribunal  for  its  consideration   in
accordance with law.  
We make it clear that the  observation  made  in  this
order is for the purpose of its disposal and shall have no  bearing  on  the
merit of the case.

      In the result, we allow this appeal, set aside the  impugned  judgment
and remit the matter back to the tribunal for reconsideration in  accordance
with law bearing in mind the  observations  aforesaid.   In  the  facts  and
circumstances of the case there shall be no order as to costs.


                                                  ……………………..………………………………..J.


                          (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)






                                    …….….……….………………………………..J.
                                        (KURIAN JOSEPH)


NEW DELHI,
OCTOBER 7, 2013


                           -----------------------
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