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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

it would, thus, be clear that, on constitution of the District or Regional Council, paragraph 19 ceases to operate and power of the Governor becomes coterminous and ceases to exist. Simultaneously, the power of the District or Regional Council becomes operational to make laws on subjects covered in paragraph 3 of the Sixth Schedule. Proprio vigore, paragraph 12- A comes into force. By operation of paragraph 12-A(b), the President has been empowered to direct by a notification that any Act of Parliament should not be made applicable or made applicable with such modifications and exceptions, as may be specified in the said notification. In other words, until such notification is published by the President, all Acts of Parliament which are not occupied by the provisions contained in paragraph 3 shall proprio vigore become operative in the area of the Autonomous Regions or Districts in the State of Meghalaya.” (underlining is ours) 14. We also do not find any substance in the arguments advanced on behalf of the appellant that the Notification dated 14.3.1966 would continue to be applicable to the Union Territory and the successor State of Mizoram by virtue of Section 24 of the General Clauses Act. We do not see how the said provisions of the General Clauses Act can have any application to the present case. 15. Consequently, we dismiss the present appeal and affirm the view taken by the High Court.

                                 REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                       CIVIL APPEAL  NO. 3536 OF 2008


J. Thansiama                                       ...   Appellant (s)

                                   Versus
State of Mizoram & Ors.                                ...    Respondent(s)


                               J U D G M E N T

RANJAN GOGOI, J.

1.    The Gauhati High Court  by  the  impugned  judgment  and  order  dated
01.08.2005 has held the Limitation Act, 1963 to be applicable to  the  State
of Mizoram.  Consequential to the said conclusion of  the  High  Court,  the
suit filed by the appellant for declaration of title etc. was  dismissed  as
being time barred.  This was  in  reversal  of  the  decree  passed  by  the
learned Trial Court on merits after holding that the  Limitation  Act,  1963
would not be applicable to bar the suit of the appellant-plaintiff.

2.    The High Court in a very  exhaustive  and  illuminating  judgment  has
traced the history of the creation of the  present  day  State  of  Mizoram.
Equally, the laborious arguments advanced by the  learned  counsel  for  the
parties have thrown further light into the  evolution  of  the  present  day
State.  However, we do not consider it necessary to  burden  this  order  by
referring to the said details  except  to  record  what  would  be  strictly
required for the purposes of the  present  adjudication,  namely,  that  the
present day State of Mizoram was earlier known as Lushai Hills District  and
formed part of the original undivided State of  Assam.   The  said  district
was included in the list of tribal areas of the State of Assam under  Part-A
of the table appended to Para 20 of the Sixth Schedule to the  Constitution.
 Thereafter, Lushai Hills District was  renamed  as  Mizo  District  by  the
Lushai Hills District (Change of Name) Act, 1954.   A  consequential  change
in Para 20 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution was also made.

3.    Para 20 of the Sixth Schedule as it was at the point of time  relevant
to the case [on 14.3.1966 or prior to  the  changes  brought  in  by  North-
Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971] read as follows :
“Tribal Areas    20.  (1) The areas specified in Parts A and B of the  table
below shall be the tribal areas within the State of Assam.

(2)    The  United  Khasi-Jaintia  Hills   District   shall   comprise   the
territories which before the commencement of this  Constitution  were  known
as the Khasi States and the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District, excluding  any
areas for the time being comprised within the  cantonment  and  municipality
of Shillong but,  including  so  much  of  the  area  comprised  within  the
municipality of Shillong as formed part of the Khasi State of Mylliem :

      Provided that for  the  purposes  of  clauses  (e)  and  (f)  of  sub-
paragraph (1), paragraph 3, paragraph 4,  paragraph  5,  paragraph  6,  sub-
paragraph (2), clauses (a), (b)  and  (d)  of  sub-paragraph  (3)  and  sub-
paragraph (4) of paragraph  8,  and  clause  (d)  of  sub-paragraph  (2)  of
paragraph 10 of this Schedule, no part of  the  area  comprised  within  the
municipality of Shillong shall be deemed to be within the district.

(2a)  The Mizo District shall comprise the areas which at  the  commencement
of this Constitution was known as the Lushai Hills District...

(3)   Any reference in the table below  to  any  district  (other  than  the
United  Khasi-Jaintia   Hills   District   and   the   Mizo   District)   or
administrative area shall be construed as a reference to  that  district  or
area at the commencement of this Constitution :

      Provided that the tribal areas specified in Part B of the table  below
shall not include any such areas in the plains as  may,  with  the  previous
approval of the President, be notified by the  Governor  of  Assam  in  that
behalf.



                                    TABLE

                                  PART   A

1.    The United Khasi-Jaintia Hills District.
2.    The Garo Hills District.
3.    The Mizo  District.
4.    ******
5.    The North Cachar Hills
6.    The Mikir Hills.

                                   PART  B

******       ******  *****   *****           *****”

4.    The Governor of Assam issued  Notification  bearing  No.  TAD/GA/12/64
dated 14.3.1966 whereby  the  operation  of  the  Limitation  Act  1963  was
excluded from the tribal areas of Assam as specified in the  Sixth  Schedule
of the Constitution, the details of which have  been  extracted  above.  The
Notification dated 14.3.1966 is in the following terms :
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (b) of the sub-paragraph  (1)
and sub-paragraph  (2)  of  paragraph  12  of  the  Sixth  Schedule  to  the
Constitution of India, the Governor of Assam is pleased to direct  that  the
Limitation Act, 1963, (No. 36 of 1963) shall not apply to the  Tribal  Areas
of Assam specified in Part A of the table appended to paragraph  20  of  the
Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, with effect  from  the  1st  of
January, 1964.”

5.    It will be necessary to take note of the fact that as on the  date  of
the said Notification Mizo District was included  in  the  tribal  areas  of
Assam.

6.    The next relevant fact that will have to  be  taken  note  of  is  the
enactment  of   the   North-Eastern   Areas   (Reorganisation)   Act,   1971
[hereinafter referred to as ‘the Reorganisation  Act’]  which  provided  for
the establishment of the States  of  Manipur,  Tripura,  Meghalaya  and  the
Union Territories of Mizoram  and  Arunachal  Pradesh  by  reorganising  the
original  State  of  Assam.   Section  6  contained  in  Part  II   of   the
Reorganisation Act provided for the formation  of  the  Union  Territory  of
Mizoram from the effective date i.e. 21.1.1972, comprising  the  territories
of the Mizo District of the original State of Assam.
      Section 71  of  the  Reorganisation  Act  stipulated  that  the  Sixth
Schedule to the Constitution shall stand amended as provided in  the  Eighth
Schedule  to  the  Reorganisation  Act.   In  the  Eighth  Schedule  to  the
Reorganisation Act, Para 20  dealing  with  tribal  areas  was  amended  and
divided into three parts.  Of relevance would be Part  III  which  specified
the tribal areas of the Union Territory of Mizoram as “the  Mizo  District”.
Para 12B to the Sixth Schedule was also introduced and  the  said  provision
dealt with application of the Acts of  Parliament  and  other  Acts  to  the
autonomous  districts  of  Mizoram.   Under  Para  12B  the  President   was
authorized to direct that any Act of Parliament shall  not  apply  or  apply
with  modification  to  an  autonomous  district  or  region  in  the  Union
Territory of Mizoram. Para 12B was further  amended  by  the  Government  of
Union Territories (Amendment) Act, 1971 as it became so necessary  upon  the
Constitution of the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of  Mizoram.
However, it is not necessary for us to specifically notice  the  details  in
this regard so far as the present case is concerned.
 Section 77 of the Reorganisation  Act  provided  that  notwithstanding  the
establishment of the newly constituted States and Union Territories any  law
which was applicable to a territory prior to the constitution of  the  State
or Union Territory will continue to apply in the newly established State  or
a Union Territory.
      Section 79 of the Reorganisation Act provided that to  facilitate  the
application of any law in relation to any State or  Union  Territory  formed
under the provisions of Part II of the Reorganisation  Act  the  appropriate
Government may, before the expiration of two years from the appointed  date,
make such adaptations or modifications of the law as  may  be  necessary  or
expedient.  Once such adaptation or modification is made the law shall  have
effect subject to such adaptations  and  modifications  until  the  same  is
altered  or  repealed  by  the  competent  legislature  or   the   competent
authority.

7.    It will also require to be noticed that  with  effect  from  29.4.1972
Part III of Para 20 of the Sixth Schedule was further amended and “the  Mizo
District” ceased to be a part of the tribal areas of the Union Territory  of
Mizoram and the Chakma, Lakher and Pawi districts came  to  be  included  in
Part III as the tribal areas of the Union Territory of Mizoram.  There  were
some further changes in the aforesaid tribal areas with which we  would  not
be strictly concerned in the present case.

8.    To make the narration of facts complete, the provisions of  the  State
of Mizoram Act, 1986 may be referred to for  the  purposes  of  bringing  on
record the fact of creation of the State of Mizoram  by  the  aforesaid  Act
with effect from 20.02.1987.  There were certain  parallel  changes  in  the
provisions of the Sixth Schedule including Para  12B  and  Para  20  thereof
upon creation of the State of Mizoram.  However, as the said  facts,  again,
are not strictly relevant to the present case,  a  detailed  notice  thereof
would not be necessary.
9.     What,  however,  would  require  a  pointed  notice   is   that   the
Notification dated 14.03.1966 issued by the Governor of Assam excluding  the
operation of the Limitation Act from the tribal areas of the State of  Assam
ceased to be applicable to the Mizo District once the areas therein no  long
formed a part of the tribal areas of Assam and, instead, became  a  part  of
the tribal areas  of  the  Union  Territory  of  Mizoram  with  effect  from
21.1.1972.   The  further   developments   (historical,   geographical   and
constitutional), namely, the exclusion/omission of the  Mizo  district  even
from the tribal areas of the Union Territory of Mizoram; the dissolution  of
the Mizo District Council and the  addition  of  Pawai,  Lakher  and  Chakma
Districts to part III of Para 20 of the Sixth Schedule as the  tribal  areas
of the Union Territory of Mizoram, of which all  developments  had  occurred
subsequent to the creation of the Union Territory of Mizoram, would  further
fortify the above position.  The aforesaid facts would demonstrate that  the
Notification dated 14.03.1966 ex facie would not apply to the  areas  within
the erstwhile Mizo District of the  State  of  Assam  once  the  said  areas
ceased to be so and came to comprise the Union  Territory  of  Mizoram  with
effect from 21.1.1972 by virtue of Section 6 of the Reorganisation Act.
10.   Indeed it is correct that the Gauhati  High  Court  in  The  State  of
Meghalaya  vs.  U.  William  Mynsong[1]  has  held  that  in  view  of   the
notification dated 14.3.1966, the Limitation Act 1963 will not apply to  the
State of Meghalaya. The reasoning of the High Court in  the  said  case  has
been pressed into service for our acceptance in the  present  case  also  on
account of the parity of the facts of the two cases.   Having  gone  through
the said judgment we are unable to accept the reasoning  contained  therein.
However, we say no more as the correctness of view expressed  in  the  State
of Meghalaya vs. U. William Mynsong (supra) is not  under  challenge  before
us; neither is the question involved therein,  namely,  the  application  of
the Limitation Act, 1963 to the State of Meghalaya the issue arising in  the
present case.
11.      In Regional Provident  Fund  Commissioner  vs.  Shillong  City  Bus
Syndicate & Ors.[2]  the question of applicability of Acts of Parliament  to
Khasi Hills autonomous District in the light of the provisions of the  Sixth
Schedule had received an elaborate consideration of this Court. In the  said
case, the provisions of the Employees’  Provident  Funds  and  Miscellaneous
Provisions  Act,  1952  were  held  to  be  inapplicable   to   the   tribal
areas/District Council areas of Khasi Hills by  the  High  Court.  The  High
Court seems to have proceeded on the basis that after  constitution  of  the
tribal  areas  of  State   of   Meghalaya   by   the   North-Eastern   Areas
(Reorganisation) Act, 1971, no notification was published  by  the  Governor
under Para 19 of the Sixth Schedule making the aforesaid Act  applicable  to
the Khasi Hills District.  The  said  Act,  therefore,  did  not  come  into
operation  and,  consequently,  after  the  constitution  of  the   District
Council, the Act did not become operative and effective on its own.
12.   Dealing with the aforesaid view of the High Court, it was pointed  out
that the provisions of Para 19 of the Sixth Schedule  are  transitional  and
with the constitution of the District Council, Para 19  ceased  to  operate.
Therefore, the application of laws were to be governed by the provisions  of
Para 12A (as applicable to the State of Meghalaya)  of  the  Sixth  Schedule
which required the exclusion or application with modifications  of  any  Act
of Parliament to be made by notification issued by the President. To  arrive
at the above conclusion in the matter, references  have  been  made  to  the
Constituent Assembly Debates and  to  a  celebrated  work  on  the  subject,
reference to which are to be found in Para 12 and 14  of  the  report  which
may be usefully extracted below:-

12. Dr Ambedkar, during the debates in the Constituent  Assembly  stated  in
unequivocal terms that:
“…the other binding force is this that the laws made by Parliament  and  the
laws made by the Legislature of Assam  will  automatically  apply  to  these
Regional Councils and to the District Councils. Unless the  Governor  thinks
that they ought not to apply,  in  other  words,  the  burden  is  upon  the
Governor to show why the law which is made by the Legislature  of  Assam  or
by  Parliament,  should  not  apply.  Generally,  the  laws  made   by   the
Legislature and the laws made by  Parliament  will  also  be  applicable  to
these areas”.

14. B.L. Hansaria, J. in his Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of  India  —
a Study (1983 Edn.) published by M/s Ashok  Publishing  House,  Gauhati  has
stated at p. 45 thus:
“Insofar as the Acts or (sic) Parliament are concerned,  the  provisions  in
respect of tribal areas broadly speaking is that the Governor,  in  case  of
tribal areas in Assam, and the President in respect of the two other  tribal
areas, may notify that the Act shall not apply to an autonomous district  or
region, or shall apply subject to such exceptions or  modifications  as  may
be specified. A question arises whether an Act  of  Parliament  would  apply
proprio vigore if there be no notification prohibiting its application.”

13.   The eventual conclusion of this Court are  to  be  found  in  Para  16
which is quoted below with the  clarification  that  Para  12A  referred  to
therein pertains to the autonomous Districts or  Regional  Councils  in  the
State of Meghalaya whereas in the instant case the  relevant  provisions  of
the Sixth Schedule would be Paragraph 12B as  initially  applicable  to  the
Union Territory of Mizoram and thereafter to the State of Mizoram.

“16. It would, thus, be clear that,  on  constitution  of  the  District  or
Regional Council, paragraph 19 ceases to operate and power of  the  Governor
becomes coterminous and ceases to exist. Simultaneously, the  power  of  the
District or Regional Council becomes operational to make  laws  on  subjects
covered in paragraph 3 of the Sixth Schedule. Proprio vigore, paragraph  12-
A comes into force. By operation of paragraph  12-A(b),  the  President  has
been empowered to direct by  a  notification  that  any  Act  of  Parliament
should not be made applicable or made  applicable  with  such  modifications
and exceptions, as may be specified  in  the  said  notification.  In  other
words, until such notification is published by the President,  all  Acts  of
Parliament which are not occupied by the provisions contained  in  paragraph
3 shall proprio vigore become  operative  in  the  area  of  the  Autonomous
Regions or Districts in the State  of  Meghalaya.”          (underlining  is
ours)


14.    We also do not find  any  substance  in  the  arguments  advanced  on
behalf  of  the  appellant  that  the  Notification  dated  14.3.1966  would
continue to be applicable to the Union Territory and the successor State  of
Mizoram by virtue of Section 24 of the General Clauses Act.  We do  not  see
how the said provisions of the General Clauses Act can have any  application
to the present case.
15.   Consequently, we dismiss the present appeal and affirm the view  taken
by the High Court.


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


                                             ….……..…….....................J.
                                                   (N.V. RAMANA)
NEW DELHI
SEPTEMBER 08, 2015.
-----------------------
[1]    (1987 (2) GLR 221)
[2]    1996 (8) SCC 741

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