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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act =raised that the proceedings had abated = -A notice under Section 10(2) of the principal Act, was served upon the tenure-holder, one Kamla Devi, to file objections against a proposal to declare 51.29 acres as surplus land. Pursuant to the said notice, objections were filed by the late Kamla Devi as also by appellants 1 to 3, her legal heirs. According to the appellants, on a correct construction of the Act, there was no surplus land. Meanwhile, the Prescribed Authority under the Act passed an order dated 13.1.1975 by which order the entire land that was the subject matter of the notice, was declared surplus = prescribed authority to re-determine surplus land under Section 31(3) - mutatis mutandis to every order re-determining surplus land under sub-section 3 of this Section or Section 9 of the 1974 Amendment Act = This being the case, it was necessary for the prescribed authority to re-determine surplus land under Section 31(3) in accordance with the principal Act as amended by the 1976 Act, for which purpose, the provisions of section 13 of the principal Act shall apply mutatis mutandis to every order re-determining surplus land under sub-section 3 of this Section or Section 9 of the 1974 Amendment Act – (vide Section 31(4) of the 1976 Amendment Act). This never having been done on facts in the present case, ;Once abated and it could not therefore have been heard - without jurisdiction =it is clear that the appeal filed in 1975 has abated and could not therefore have been heard by the Additional Commissioner, Agra on merits. This being so, the judgment and order passed by the Commissioner dated 13.12.1975 is without jurisdiction. ; Notice under Section 9(2) of the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1972 = Both the appellate authority and the High Court were of the view that no fresh notice had been issued under Section 9(2) of the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1972. It has been pointed out to us, on facts, that in fact such a notice had been issued on 24.11.1975. Despite this, the appellate authority and the High Court, in their anxiety to decide against abatement, have wrongly held no such notice was proved to have been issued. Be that as it may, it is clear that abatement under Section 31 does not depend upon the issuance or non- issuance of any notice under Section 9(2) as amended. This being the case, the finding of fact of non-issuance of notice itself being a non-issue, it is unnecessary for us to pursue the same. It is only necessary to reiterate that no fresh exercise under the 1976 Amendment Act was undertaken by the prescribed authority as is required by section 31(3) of the 1976 Amendment Act. This being the case, the impugned judgment of the High Court has necessarily to be set aside. The appeal is, therefore, allowed with no order as to costs.

                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.7165 of 2016



      ARVIND KUMAR                                 …APPELLANT


                                   VERSUS

       STATE OF U.P. & ORS.                   …RESPONDENTS






                           J  U  D  G  M  E  N  T

      R.F. Nariman, J.

      1.    The present case involves the Court going through a dense jungle
      which consists of the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act,
      1960 [hereinafter referred  to  as  “the  principal  Act”]  and  three
      Amendment Acts made thereto. With the help of learned counsel for both
      the sides, we have waded through the various Sections and sub-sections
      of these Acts, only for the purpose of  having  to  decide  one  basic
      question: as to whether ceiling proceedings in respect of the land  in
      question have lapsed owing to Section 31 of the 1976 Amendment Act.

      2.    The brief facts necessary to decide  the  present  case  are  as
      follows.  A notice under Section  10(2)  of  the  principal  Act,  was
      served upon the tenure-holder, one  Kamla  Devi,  to  file  objections
      against a proposal to declare 51.29 acres as surplus  land.   Pursuant
      to the said notice, objections were filed by the late  Kamla  Devi  as
      also by appellants  1  to  3,  her  legal  heirs.   According  to  the
      appellants, on a correct construction of the Act, there was no surplus
      land.  Meanwhile, the Prescribed Authority under  the  Act  passed  an
      order dated 13.1.1975 by which order the  entire  land  that  was  the
      subject matter of the notice, was declared surplus.  An  appeal  filed
      against the Prescribed Authority’s order met with the  same  fate  and
      was dismissed on 13.12.1987.  It is important to note that an argument
      was raised  that  the  proceedings  had  abated,  which  argument  was
      answered by the Appellate Authority by saying that no fresh notice had
      been issued under Section 9(2) of the Amendment Act and  as  this  was
      so, the proceedings had not abated. A writ petition that was filed  in
      1987 was ultimately disposed of on 6.8.2007  where,  by  the  judgment
      under appeal, the writ petition was dismissed.   Several  points  were
      argued with which we are not at present concerned.   The  argument  on
      abatement  met  the  same  fate  as  the  judgment  by  the  appellate
      authority.

      3.    Before adverting to the submissions of learned counsel for  both
      parties, it is first important to put the horse  before  the  cart.  A
      brief survey of the principal Act as well as the three Amendment  Acts
      must now be undertaken.

      4.    The 1960 Act is an Act to provide for the imposition of  ceiling
      on land holdings in the State of Uttar Pradesh.   Under the  principal
      Act, the ceiling area of a tenure-holder was said to be  40  acres  of
      “fair  quality  land”,  and  where  the  tenure-holder  has  a  family
      consisting of more than 5 members, to the ceiling area of such tenure-
      holder is to  be  added  8  acres  of  fair  quality  land  for  every
      additional member of the family, subject to a  maximum  of  24  acres.
      “Fair quality land” was defined in the principal Act as meaning  land,
      the hereditary rate of which is above Rs.6/- per acre under  the  Act.
      A general notice was to be given to  tenure-holders  holding  land  in
      excess of the ceiling area so that they could submit  a  statement  in
      respect thereof. A quasi-judicial determination is then to be made  of
      surplus land, where objections are filed and the prescribed authority,
      after affording the parties a reasonable opportunity of  being  heard,
      and of producing evidence, is then to decide  their  objections  after
      recording reasons, and then determine the extent of surplus land.   An
      appeal is provided to the District Judge whose decision is  then  made
      final and conclusive.  The prescribed authority is then to  notify  in
      the Official Gazette the surplus land so determined.  On the  date  of
      such notification, such surplus land shall vest in the State free from
      all encumbrances, and on/from that date, all right, title and interest
      of all persons in such land shall stand extinguished.   The  principal
      Act then contains machinery for distribution  of  surplus  land  inter
      alia to     cooperative societies of landless agricultural  labourers.
      Compensation is given by the principal Act for vesting of surplus land
      of land-holders.  With this prefaratory note, it is important  now  to
      set out the relevant Sections of the aforesaid Act.

           “Section 3. Definitions. In this Act, unless there  is  anything
           repugnant in the subject of context –

           (b) “Fair Quality Land” means land the hereditary  rate  whereof
           is above rupees six per acre;







           Section 4. Ceiling area.

        1) Subject  to  the  provisions  of  this  Act,  the  ceiling  area
           applicable  to a tenure-holder shall be calculated after  taking
           into account all the land in any holding in the  state  held  by
           him, in his own right, whether in his own name or ostensibly  in
           the name of any person.




        2) (a)  The ceiling area of a tenure-holder shall be forty acres of
           Fair Quality Land.

                     (b) Where the tenure-holder has,  or  consists  of,  a
           family having more than five members, the ceiling area  of  such
           tenure-holder shall be the area mentioned in clause (a) together
           with eight acres of  Fair  Quality  Land  for  every  additional
           member of the family subject to a maximum  of  twenty-four  such
           acres:

                 Provided that, if at any time, the family comes to consist
           of not more than five members, all  land  held  by  the  tenure-
           holder in excess of the ceiling area  under  clause  (a),  shall
           become liable to be treated as surplus land.

                 Explanation – In calculating the ceiling area  under  this
           sub-section in respect of land other than Fair Quality Land, one
           and one-half acre of such land, the hereditary rate  whereof  is
           above rupees four per acre, but does not exceed rupees  six  per
           acre, and two acres of such land the hereditary rate whereof  is
           rupees four or less per acre, will be deemed to be equal to  one
           acre of Fair Quality Land.

           Section 5. Imposition of ceiling on existing land holdings.-

        1) As and from the date of enforcement  of  this  Act,  no  tenure-
           holder shall, except as  otherwise  provided  by  this  Act,  be
           entitled  to  hold  an  area  in  excess  of  the  ceiling  area
           applicable to him, anything contained in any other law,  custom,
           or usage for the time being  in  force,  or  agreement,  to  the
           contrary notwithstanding.




        2) In determining the ceiling area applicable to a tenure-holder at
           the commencement of this Act, any transfer or partition of  land
           made after the twentieth day of August, 1959, which, but for the
           transfer or partition, would have  been  declared  surplus  land
           under the provisions of this Act, shall be ignored and not taken
           into account.



        3)  The provisions of sub-section (2) shall have no application  to
           –

           (a) a transfer in favour of the State Government ;

           (b) a partition under the U.P. Consolidation  of  Holdings  Act,
           1953, or

           (c) a partition of the holding of a Joint Hindu Family made by a
           suit or proceeding pending on twentieth day of August, 1959.

           Section 9.  General notice to  tenure-holders  holding  land  in
           excess of ceiling area for submission of  statement  in  respect
           thereof.– As soon as may be, after the date  of  enforcement  of
           this Act, the Prescribed Authority  shall,  by  general  notice,
           published in the Official Gazette, call upon every tenure-holder
           holding land in excess of the ceiling area applicable to him  on
           the date of enforcement of this Act, to submit to him within  30
           days of the date of publication of the notice,  a  statement  in
           respect of all  his  holdings  in  such  form  and  giving  such
           particulars as may be  prescribed.   The  statement  shall  also
           indicate the plot or plots for which  he  claims  exemption  and
           also those which he would like to retain as part of the  ceiling
           area applicable to him under the provisions of this Act.

           Section 12. Determination of the surplus land by the  Prescribed
           Authority where an objection is filed. – (1) Where an  objection
           has been filed under sub-section (2) of section 10 or under sub-
           section (2) of Section 11, or because  of  any  appellate  order
           under  Section  13,  the  Prescribed  Authority   shall,   after
           affording the parties reasonable opportunity of being heard  and
           of producing evidence, decide the objections after recording his
           reasons, and determine the surplus land.




           (2)   Subject to any appellate order under Section 13, the order
           of the Prescribed Authority under sub-section (1) shall be final
           and conclusive and be not questioned in any court of law.




           Section 13. Appeals – (1) Any party aggrieved by an order  under
           sub-section (2) of Section 11 or Section 12, may, within  thirty
           days of the date of the order, prefer an appeal to the  District
           Judge within whose jurisdiction the land or any part thereof  is
           situate.




           (2)    The  District  Judge  shall  dispose  of  the  appeal  as
           expeditiously as possible and  his  decision  thereon  shall  be
           final and conclusive and be not questioned in any court of law.




           (3)   Where an appeal  is  preferred  under  this  section,  the
           District Judge  may  stay  enforcement  of  the  order  appealed
           against  for  such  time  and  on  such  conditions  as  may  be
           considered just and proper.




           Section 14. Acquisition of surplus land. –  (1)  The  Prescribed
           Authority shall –

           (i)   in case, where the order passed under sub-section (1) of
           Section 11 has become final; or

           (ii)  in case, where no appeal has been preferred under  Section
           13, after the  expiry  of  the  period  of  limitation  provided
           therefor; or

           (iii) in case, where an appeal has been preferred under  Section
           13, after its decision;

           notify in the Official Gazette the surplus land determined under
           Sections 11, 12 or 13, as the case may be.




           (2)   As from the beginning of  the  date  of  the  notification
           under  sub-section  (1),  all  such  surplus  land  shall  stand
           transferred to and vest, except as hereinafter provided, in  the
           State, free from all encumbrances  and  all  rights,  title  and
           interests of all persons in such land shall,  with  effect  from
           such date, stand extinguished.




           (3)   On the publication of the notification  under  sub-section
           (1), any person claiming interest as a tenure-holder or a lessee
           in possession from the tenure-holder, in  the  surplus  land  in
           respect of which  the  notification  has  been  published,  may,
           within  thirty  days  thereof,  file  an  objection  before  the
           Prescribed Authority indicating the extent of  his  interest  in
           such land.




           (4)   The Prescribed Authority shall, for reasons to be recorded
           in writing, dispose of the objections  after  affording  to  the
           objector, the tenure-holder concerned and the State  Government,
           reasonable opportunity of being heard and of producing evidence.






           (5)   Any person aggrieved by an  order  under  sub-section  (4)
           may, within thirty days of the date  of  the  order,  prefer  an
           appeal to the District Judge in whose jurisdiction the  land  or
           any part thereof is situate.  The order of  the  District  Judge
           shall be final and conclusive and be not questioned in any Court
           of law.




           (6)   In disposing of an  objection  of  an  appeal  under  this
           section, the Prescribed Authority or the District Judge, as  the
           case may be, shall accept any decision of a court  of  competent
           jurisdiction in respect of the rights of the parties.




           (7)   No person, other than a tenure-holder or a lessee  of  the
           tenure-holder whose right, title or interest in the surplus land
           has been recognized under the provisions hereinbefore contained,
           shall for purposes of this Act, be considered to have any right,
           title or interest in the surplus land.

           (8)   The Collector may, at any time, after the  publication  of
           the notification under sub-section (1) and subject to any  order
           passed under sub-sections (4) and (5)  take  possession  of  the
           surplus land and may for that purpose use such force as  may  be
           necessary.




           Section 27. Settlement of surplus land.

        1)  The State Government shall settle out of the surplus land in  a
           village in which no land is available for community purposes  or
           in which the land as available is less than 15  acres  with  the
           Gaon Samaj of the village so however that the total land in  the
           village available for community purposes after  such  settlement
           does not exceed 15 acres. The land  so  settled  with  the  Gaon
           Samaj shall be used for planting trees, growing  fodder  or  for
           such other community purposes, as may be prescribed.

           (2)   Subject  to the provisions of sub-section (1),  where  any
           surplus land had immediately preceding the date  of  vesting  in
           the State under this Act,  been  held  by  a  member  of  a  co-
           operative society, such land may, if the society so desires,  be
           settled by the State Government with the society.

            (3)   Any surplus Land remaining unsettled under the  provisions
           of the preceding  sub-sections  may  be  settled  by  the  State
           Government:

      (a) If the remaining land is less than 15 acres in the  village,  with
           a co-operative society of such tenure-holders, at  least  three-
           fourths of whom are holders of less  than   3?   acres  of  land
           each; and

      (b) If the remaining land is more than 15 acres in the  village,  with
           a co-operative society of  landless  agricultural  labourers  so
           however that the total land allotted to such society, under this
           clause, if equally divided between all the members would give to
           each one not more than 3? acres of land.

           (4)   Any surplus land remaining after settlement  under  clause
           (b) of sub- section (3) may be settled by the  State  Government
           with any co-operative society no member whereof prior   to  such
           settlement holds more than 3? acres of land in his own right.”

      5.    By an Amendment Act of 1972, being U.P. Act 18  of  1973,  which
      came into force on  8.6.1973,  a  wholesale  substitution  of  various
      Sections of the principal Act was carried out.  This is for the simple
      reason that the erstwhile scheme of determining surplus “fair  quality
      land” was  now  substituted  by  a  scheme  which  determined  surplus
      irrigated land.  Even the ceiling limit of such land  was  changed  to
      7.3 hectares of irrigated land,  plus  a  maximum  of  6  hectares  of
      additional land depending upon the size of the family. A  new  Section
      13A was inserted  conferring  a  power  of  review  to  the  appellate
      authority under the Act. The transitory provision contained in Section
      19  of  the  1972  Amendment  Act  then  provided  for  abatement   of
      proceedings that were pending at  the  time  of  commencement  of  the
      Amendment Act, with a saving of proceedings that  had  already  become
      final under the principal Act.

6.    The relevant provisions of the U.P.  Imposition  of  Ceiling  on  Land
Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1972 are set out hereunder:-

           “Section 3. Substitution of new sections for sections 3,  4,  5,
           6, 7 and 8 of U.P. Act I of 1961. For sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and
           8 of the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act,  1960,
           hereinafter referred to as  the  principal  Act,  the  following
           sections shall be substituted, namely:-

           “…

           4. Determination of area for purposes of ceiling and exemptions.
           For purposes of determining the ceiling area under section 5  or
           any exemption under section 6—

              i) Subject to the provisions of clause (ii), one and  one-half
                 hectares of unirrigated land or two and a half hectares  of
                 grove-land or two and a half hectares of  usar  land  shall
                 count as one hectare of irrigated land;

             ii) two and a half hectares of any  unirrigated  land,  in  the
                 following areas, namely-

                 a) Bundelkhand;

                 b) trans-Jamuna portions of Allahabad, Etawah, Mathura  and
                    Agra districts;

                 c) cis-Jamuna  portions  of  Allahabad,  Fatehpur,  Kanpur,
                    Etawah, Mathura and Agra districts up to  16  kilometers
                    from the deep stream of the Jamuna;

                 d) the portion of Mirzapur district south of Kaimur Range;

                 e) Tappa Upraudh and Tappa Chaurasi (Balai Pahar) of Tahsil
                    Sadar in Mirzapur district;

                 f) the portion of Tahsil Robertsganj, in Mirzapur  district
                    which lies north of Kaimur Range;

                 g) Pargana Sakteshgarh and the villages mentioned in  lists
                    ‘A’  and  ‘B’  of  Schedule  VI  to  the  Uttar  Pradesh
                    Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950, in hilly
                    patties of Parganas Ahraura and Bhagat of Tahsil  Chunar
                    in Mirzapur district; and

                 h) the area comprised in the former Taluka  of  Naugarh  or
                    Tahsil Chakia in Varanasi district;

                 i) hilly and Bhabar area of Kumaun  and  Garhwal  Divisions
                    and Jaunsar Bawar Pargana of Dehra Dun district;

                 shall count as one hectare of irrigated land.




           5. Imposition of ceiling.

            1) On and from the commencement of the Uttar Pradesh  Imposition
               of Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1972, no tenure-
               holder shall be entitled to hold in the aggregate, throughout
               Uttar Pradesh,  any  Land  in  excess  of  the  ceiling  area
               applicable to him.

           xx

           (3) Subject to the provisions of sub-sections (4), (5) and  (6),
           the ceiling area for purposes of sub-section (1) shall be –

        a) In the case of a tenure-holder having a family of not more  than
           five members, 7.30 hectares of irrigated  land  (including  land
           held by other  members  of  his  family),  plus  two  additional
           hectares  of  irrigated  land  or  such  additional  land  which
           together with the land held by him aggregates to  two  hectares,
           for each of his adult sons, who are either not themselves tenure-
           holders or who hold less than two hectares  or  irrigated  land,
           subject to a maximum of six hectares of such additional land;

        b) In the case of a tenure-holder having family of more  than  five
           members, 7.30 hectares of irrigated land (including land held by
           other members of his  family),  besides,  each  of  the  members
           exceeding five and for each  of  his  adult  sons  who  are  not
           themselves tenure-holders or who hold less than two hectares  of
           irrigated land, two additional hectares  of  irrigated  land  or
           such additional land which together with the land held  by  such
           adult son aggregates to two hectares, subject to a  maximum,  of
           six hectares of such additional land.




           Explanation – The expression ‘adult son’ in clause (a)  and  (b)
           includes an adult son who is dead and had left surviving  behind
           him minor sons or minor daughters (other than married daughters)
           who are not themselves tenure-holders or who hold land less than
           two hectares of irrigated land;




        c) In the case of a tenure-holder being a degree college  imparting
           education in agriculture, 20 hectares of irrigated land;

        d) In the case of a tenure-holder  being  an  intermediate  college
           imparting education in agriculture,  12  hectares  of  irrigated
           land;

        e) In the  case  of  any  other  tenure-holder,  7.30  hectares  of
           irrigated land.




           Explanation – any transfer or partition of land which is  liable
           to be ignored under sub-sections (6) and (7)  shall  be  ignored
           also-

           (p)  for purposes of determining  whether  an  adult  son  of  a
           tenure-holder is himself a tenure-holder within the  meaning  of
           clause (a);

              (q) for purposes of service of notice under section 9.”

           Section 4. Amendment of Section 9.

           Section 9, of the principal Act, shall be  re-numbered  as  sub-
           section (1)  thereof,  and  after  sub-section  (1)  as  so  re-
           numbered, the following sub-section shall be inserted, namely –

           “(2) As soon as may  be  after  the  enforcement  of  the  Uttar
           Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment)  Act,
           1972, the prescribed authority shall, by  like  general  notice,
           call upon every tenure-holder holding  land  in  excess  of  the
           ceiling area applicable to him on the enforcement  of  the  said
           Act, to submit to him within 30  days  of  publication  of  such
           notice, a statement referred to in sub-section (1).

           (3) Where the tenure-holder’s  wife  holds  any  land  which  is
           liable to be aggrieved with the land held by  the  tenure-holder
           for purposes of determining of the ceiling  areas,  the  tenure-
           holder shall, along with  his  statement  referred  to  in  sub-
           section (1) also file the consent of his wife to the  choice  in
           respect of the plot or plots which they would like to retain  as
           part of the ceiling areas  applicable  to  them  and  where  his
           wife’s consent is not  so  obtained,  the  prescribed  authority
           shall cause the notice under sub-section (2) of section 10 to be
           served on her separately.”




           Section 7. Insertion of new Section 13-A.

           After Section 13 of the principal  Act,  the  following  section
           shall be inserted, namely:-




           13-A. Re-determination of surplus land in certain cases.




        1) The prescribed authority may, at any time, within  a  period  of
           two years from the date of the  notification  under  sub-section
           (1) of section 14, rectify any mistake apparent on the  face  of
           the record:

           Provided that no such rectification  which  has  the  effect  of
           increasing the surplus land shall be made, unless the prescribed
           authority has  given  a  notice  to  the  tenure-holder  of  its
           intention to do so and has given him a reasonable opportunity of
           being heard.

        2) The provisions of sections 10, 11, 12, 12-A, 13, 14 and 15 shall
           mutatis mutandis apply in relation to any proceeding under  sub-
           section (1), and for purposes of application of section 10,  the
           notice under the proviso to sub-section (1), shall be deemed  to
           be a notice under section 9.”

           Section 19. Transitory provisions.

        1) All proceedings for the  determination  of  surplus  land  under
           section 9, section 10, section 11, section  12,  section  13  or
           section 30 of the principal Act, pending  before  any  court  or
           authority at the time of the commencement  of  this  Act,  shall
           abate and the prescribed authority shall start  the  proceedings
           for determination of the ceiling area under that Act  afresh  by
           issue of a notice under sub-section (2) of section 9 of that Act
           as inserted by this Act:




           Provided that the ceiling area in such cases shall be determined
           in the following manner:-

        a) Firstly, the ceiling area shall be determined in accordance with
           the principal Act, as it stood before its amendment by this Act;

        b)  Thereafter,  the  ceiling  area  shall  be   re-determined   in
           accordance with the provisions of the principal Act  as  amended
           by this Act.




        2) Notwithstanding, anything in  sub-section  (1),  any  proceeding
           under section 14 or under Chapter  III  or  Chapter  IV  of  the
           principal Act, in respect of any tenure-holder  in  relation  to
           whom the surplus land has been  determined  finally  before  the
           commencement of this Act, may  be  continued  and  concluded  in
           accordance with the provisions of  the  principal  Act,  without
           prejudice to the applicability of the provisions of  sub-section
           (2) of section 9 and section 13-A of that Act,  as  inserted  by
           this Act, in respect of such land.”





7.    On  17.1.1975,  the  U.P.  Imposition  of  Ceiling  on  Land  Holdings
(Amendment) Act, 1974, being  U.P.  Act  No.2  of  1975,  came  into  force.
Interestingly, certain changes were  made  to  the  new  legislative  scheme
contained in the 1972 Amendment. This Act, except for Sections 1 and 9,  was
brought into force with effect from 8.6.1973,  which,  as  we  have  already
seen, was the date of coming into force of the  1972  Amendment  Act.   This
1974 Amendment Act only added to the new substituted scheme the  concept  of
“single crop land”.  The  relevant  provisions  of  this  Act  are  set  out
hereinbelow:-

           “Section 1. Short title and commencement.

           1) This Act may  be  called  the  Uttar  Pradesh  Imposition  of
              Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1974.

           2) This Section and section 9 shall come into force at once, and
              the remaining sections shall be  deemed  to  have  come  into
              force on June 8, 1973.

           Section 4. Amendment of Section 4.

           In section 4 of the principal Act, in clause (ii)

        a) For the words “two and half hectares of any  unirrigated  land”,
           the words “one and one-half hectares of single crop land or  two
           and a half hectares of any other un-irrigated  land”,  shall  be
           substituted;




        b) At the end the following Explanation shall be inserted, namely :-



           “Explanation – For the purposes of clause (ii),  the  expression
           ‘single crop  land’  means  any  un-irrigated  land  capable  of
           producing only one crop in an agricultural year, in  consequence
           of assured irrigation from any State Irrigation Work or  private
           irrigation work.”




           Section 9. Transitory Provision.




           Where an order determining the surplus land  in  relation  to  a
           tenure-holder has been made under the principal Act, before  the
           commencement of this Act, the prescribed authority may,  at  any
           time within a period of two years from the commencement of  this
           Act, re-determine  the  surplus  land  in  accordance  with  the
           principal Act as amended by this Act.”



8.    An Ordinance, which further  amended  the  principal  Act,  came  into
force on the 10th day of October, 1975.  After the  said  Ordinance  lapsed,
the third Amendment Act of 1976 was brought into force, being  U.P.  Act  20
of  1976,  but  with  effect  from  the  date  of  the  Ordinance,   namely,
10.10.1975.  In this Amendment, various other changes were made  with  which
we are not directly concerned, except that the fate of  this  appeal  hinges
on the correct  construction  of  the  transitory  provision  of  this  Act,
namely, Section 31.  The relevant Sections of this  Amendment  Act  are  set
out hereunder:-

           “Section 1. Short title and commencement.

           1) This Act may  be  called  the  Uttar  Pradesh  Imposition  of
              Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1976.




           2) It shall be deemed to have come into  force  on  October  10,
              1975.




           Section 8. Amendment of section 9.

           In section 9 of the principal Act,-


           a) In sub-section (2), the following proviso  thereto  shall  be
              inserted namely:-

              “Provided that at  any  time  after  October  10,  1975,  the
              Prescribed Authority may by notice,  call  upon  any  tenure-
              holder holding land in excess of the ceiling area  applicable
              to him on the said date, to submit to him within thirty  days
              from the date of service of such notice a statement  referred
              to  in  sub-section  (1)  or   any   information   pertaining
              thereto.”;




           b) after sub-section (2)  the  following  sub-section  shall  be
              inserted namely:-

              “(2-A) Every tenure-holder holding  land  in  excess  of  the
              ceiling area on January 24, 1971, or at any  time  thereafter
              who has not submitted  the  statement  referred  to  in  sub-
              section (2) and in respect of whom no proceeding  under  this
              Act is pending on October 10, 1975 shall, within thirty  days
              from the said date furnish  to  the  Prescribed  Authority  a
              statement containing particulars of all Land—

              a) held by him and the members of his family  on  January  24,
                 1971;

              b) acquired or disposed of by him or by members of his  family
                 between January 24, 1971 and October 10, 1975.”




           Section 11. Amendment of section 14.
           In section 14 of the principal Act-

           a) for sub-section  (2),  the  following  sub-section  shall  be
              substituted, namely:-

               “(2) As from the beginning of the date  of  the  notification
               under sub-section (1), all  such  surplus  land  shall  stand
               transferred to and vest in the State Government free from all
               encumbrances and all  rights,  title  and  interests  of  all
               persons in such land shall, with effect from such date, stand
               extinguished:




               Provided that the encumbrances, if any, shall be attached  to
               the amount payable under section 17 in substitution  for  the
               surplus land.”;

            b) sub-section (3), (4), (5), (6) and (7) shall be omitted;

            c) for sub-section  (8),  the  following  sub-section  shall  be
               substituted, namely:-

               “(8) The Collector may at any time after the  publication  of
               the notification under sub-section (1) take possession of the
               surplus land and also of any ungathered  crop  or  fruits  of
               tree not being crops or fruits to which  sub-section  (1)  of
               section 15 applies, after evicting the tenure-holder  or  any
               other person found in occupation of such land, and  may,  for
               that purpose, use or cause to be used such force  as  may  be
               necessary:

                    Provided  that  a  tenure-holder  may,  at   any   time
               voluntarily deliver possession  to  the  Collector  over  the
               whole or any part of the land held by him which has  been  or
               is likely to be declared surplus under and in accordance with
               the provisions of this Act, and thereupon the  provisions  of
               sub-section (2) shall apply to such land as they apply to any
               surplus land specified in a  notification  under  sub-section
               (1).”




           Section 31. Transitory Provisions.

           1) All proceedings under sub-section (3) to (7) of section 14 of
              the  principal  Act,  as  it  stood  immediately  before  the
              commencement of the Uttar Pradesh Imposition  of  Ceiling  on
              Land Holdings (Amendment) Ordinance, 1976, pending before any
              Court or  authority  immediately  before  the  date  of  such
              commencement shall be deemed to have abated on such date.

           2) Where an order determining the surplus land in relation to  a
              tenure-holder has been made under the  principal  Act  before
              January 17, 1975 and the Prescribed Authority is required  to
              re-determine the surplus land under section 9  of  the  Uttar
              Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on  Land  Holdings  (Amendment)
              Act, 1974, then notwithstanding anything  contained  in  sub-
              section (2) of section 19 of the Uttar Pradesh Imposition  of
              Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1972, every  appeal
              under section 13 of the principal Act or other proceedings in
              relation to such appeal, preferred against  the  said  order,
              and pending immediately before  the  tenth  day  of  October,
              1975, shall be deemed to have abated on the said date.

           3) Where an order determining surplus  land  in  relation  to  a
              tenure-holder has been  made under the principal  Act  before
              the tenth day of October, 1975, the Prescribed Authority  (as
              defined in the principal Act)  may,  at  any  time  within  a
              period of two years from  the  said  date,  re-determine  the
              surplus land in accordance with the principal Act as  amended
              by this Act, whether or not any appeal was filed against such
              order and notwithstanding  any  appeal  (whether  pending  or
              decided) against  the  original  order  of  determination  of
              surplus land.

           4) The provisions of section  13  of  the  principal  Act  shall
              mutatis mutandis apply to every order re-determining  surplus
              land under sub-section (3) of this section or  section  9  of
              the Uttar Pradesh Imposition  of  Ceiling  on  Land  Holdings
              (Amendment) Act, 1974:

              Provided that the period of thirty days shall, in the case of
              an appeal against the order referred to in section 9  of  the
              Uttar  Pradesh  Imposition  of  Ceiling  or   Land   Holdings
              (Amendment) Act, 1974, be computed  from  the  date  of  such
              order or October 10, 1975, whichever is later.

           5) The provisions of section 13-A of  the  principal  Act  shall
              mutatis mutandis apply to every re-determination  of  surplus
              land under the section  or  under  section  9  of  the  Uttar
              Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on  Land  Holdings  (Amendment)
              Act, 1974.

           6) Where any Assessment Roll has become final under  sub-section
              (4) of section 21 before the sixteenth day of February, 1976,
              this  same  shall  not  be  reopened,   notwithstanding   any
              amendment made in Chapter III of the principal Act read  with
              the Schedule thereof by this Act.”




9.    Given this thicket of statutory law made by the legislature  of  U.P.,
we have heard learned counsel on  either  side.  Shri  C.U.  Singh,  learned
senior advocate appearing on behalf of  the  appellants,  has  made  several
submissions  before  us,  but  ultimately  submitted  that  on   a   correct
construction of Section 31, the entire  proceedings  had  abated,  and  that
therefore the appellate authority which passed  an  order  dated  13.12.1987
had no jurisdiction to do so. He argued that a conjoint reading of  Sections
31(2) and 31(3) would show that as all the  requisite  conditions  of  these
sub-sections had been fulfilled, the appeal preferred under  section  13  of
the principal Act which was pending before the 10th  day  of  October,  1975
shall be deemed to have abated on the said date.  As no re-determination  of
surplus land was made in accordance with the principal  Act  as  amended  by
the 1976 Amendment Act, according to learned  counsel,  the  period  of  two
years having gone long ago and no re-determination  having  been  made,  the
surplus land that  is  said  to  have  been  determined  by  the  prescribed
authority no longer has any legal sanctity.  He made a faint  argument  that
under Section 19 of the 1972 amendment, proceedings had lapsed in any  case,
but we were not inclined to accept  that  argument  inasmuch  as  a  general
notice under Section 9 of the Amendment Act had been given  to  the  tenure-
holder which notice was not replied  to  by  the  said  tenure-holder.  This
being the case, Section 19 of the 1972 Act obviously cannot apply.



10.   Learned senior counsel also cited before  us  two  judgments  of  this
Court being State of Uttar  Pradesh  v.  Mithilesh  Kumari  &  Others,  1987
(supp.) SCC 21, and Mansoor Ali Khan & Others v. State  of  U.P.  &  Others,
(1992)  1  SCC  737.   However,  since  these  judgments  have   no   direct
application to the facts  of  the  present  case,  we  do  not  consider  it
necessary to deal with them.



11.   Shri Garg, on the other hand,  vehemently  argued  on  behalf  of  the
State of U.P. that the conditions under Section 31(2) not having  been  met,
the said Section is inapplicable, and that being  the  case,  the  appellate
authority correctly went ahead and heard the matter on merits and  dismissed
the appeal.  His  principal  argument  is  that  there  are  two  conditions
precedent to the applicability of Section 31(2) of the 1976  Amendment  Act.
First, there should be an order determining the surplus land which  is  made
under the  principal  Act  before  17.1.1975;  and  second,  the  prescribed
authority must be required to re-determine surplus land under Section  9  of
the 1974 Amendment Act. In his submission the second  pre-requisite  is  not
met on the facts of the present case. This, he argued, is because Section  9
of the 1974 Amendment Act gave a discretion to the prescribed authority  who
“may re-determine surplus land” in accordance with  the  amendment  made  by
the 1972 Amendment. According to  learned  counsel,  the  occasion  for  re-
determination of surplus land on the present facts  did  not  arise,  as  on
facts there is little or no un-irrigated land that  needs  to  be  converted
into irrigated land as per the formula contained in Section 4  of  the  1972
Act, and that therefore the determination made in accordance with  the  1972
Amendment Act, which was in fact made by the  order  dated  13.1.1975  would
lead to the conclusion that that order would stand and does not need  to  be
revisited.



12. The argument of learned counsel for the State, therefore,  leads  us  to
analyze the four Acts in question  a  little  closely.   One  thing  becomes
clear at the outset: that the original statutory scheme of 1960 which  spoke
of surplus “fair  quality  land”  was  substituted  in  its  entirety  by  a
completely new and different scheme by the Amendment Act of 1972  read  with
the Amendment Act of 1974.  Both of these Acts, as has been  noticed  above,
with certain minor exceptions, came into force on  the  same  date,  namely,
8.6.1973.  The new statutory scheme would necessarily involve “fair  quality
land” being substituted by “irrigated land”, the ceiling  area  in  the  two
cases also being entirely different.  This being the case, it  is  important
to now construe Section 9 of the 1974 Amendment Act in  this  backdrop.   Be
it noted that Section 9 itself comes into  force  only  on  19.1.1975.   For
Section 9 to apply, an order has to be  made  determining  surplus  land  in
relation to a tenure-holder before the commencement of  the  Amendment  Act.
By Section 1(2), “this Section” and Section 9 both come into force  at  once
i.e. on 17.1.1975.  The expression “this Section”  refers  to  Section  1(1)
which in turn refers to the Act as the U.P. Imposition of  Ceiling  on  Land
Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1974.  This being the case, it is clear  that  the
Act has commenced only on 17.1.1975, even though a number of Sections  shall
be deemed to have come into force  retrospectively  i.e.  on  8.6.1973.  The
order passed by the prescribed  authority  being  on  13.1.1975,  the  first
condition of Section 9 is met, namely,  that  this  order  has  been  passed
before 17.1.1975.  It is the second part of the Section on which  a  lot  of
the  debate  featured.  According  to  learned  counsel  for  the  State   a
discretion is vested in the prescribed authority by use  of  the  expression
“may”.  We may hasten to add that the  very  expression  “may  at  any  time
within a period of two years…” also occurs in  Section  31(3)  of  the  U.P.
Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment)  Act,  1976.   This  sub-
section makes it clear that the expression “may” goes along with  the  words
“at any time within a period of two  years…”  as  it  is  clear  that  on  a
correct reading of the sub-Section, the prescribed authority has,  in  every
case, to re-determine surplus land if an order determining surplus land  has
been made before the 10th day of October, 1975.  The idea is that  a  period
of two years is given to re-determine surplus land in  accordance  with  the
principal Act as amended by the U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land  Holdings
(Amendment) Act, 1974.  This being the case, it is clear that no  discretion
is  vested  in  the  prescribed  authority  to  re-determine  surplus  land.
Surplus land has, in  all  cases,  to  be  re-determined,  as  a  completely
different and new scheme applicable to all lands has replaced  the  existing
scheme. The only exception is where, prior to 8.6.1973, a  determination  of
surplus land has been made finally, that is, an appeal has been disposed  of
under Section 13.



13.   The matter may be looked at from a slightly different  angle.  Section
19 of the 1972 Amendment Act, which is a transitory provision, provides  for
abatement of proceedings that are pending on the commencement  of  the  said
Act. We have already indicated that the pending proceedings of 1967  had  to
start afresh on the  issue  of  a  general  notice  under  Section  9(2)  as
inserted by the Amendment Act of 1972, which was in fact  done.   Thus,  the
13.1.1975 order is a consequence of  section  19(1)  of  the  Act.   Section
19(2) on facts has no application for the simple reason  that  surplus  land
had not in this case been determined  finally  before  commencement  of  the
1972 Act – that is, an appeal had not been decided under Section 13  of  the
principal Act prior to this date.



14.   This brings us then to the transitory provision contained in the  U.P.
Imposition of  Ceiling  on  Land  Holdings  (Amendment)  Act,  1976.   Under
Section 31(2), clearly, the  order  determining  the  surplus  land  in  the
present case had been made four days before 17.1.1975  and  thus  the  first
condition or pre-requisite for the application of the Section  is  met.  The
second pre-requisite is also met for the simple reason  that  Section  9  of
the 1974 Act, which forms part of the same legislative scheme  as  the  1972
Amendment Act, would apply for the reason that an order determining  surplus
land  had  been  made  prior  to  commencement  of  the  said  Act,  namely,
17.1.1975, (which happens to be the same as the first pre-requisite for  the
application of Section 31(2) of the Amendment Act of 1976).  This being  the
case, the language of  Section  31(2)  makes  it  clear  that  every  appeal
preferred against such orders and pending immediately before  the  10th  day
of October, 1975, shall be deemed to have  abated  on  the  said  date.   On
facts, we are informed that an appeal had been filed prior to this date.



15.   This being the case, it was necessary for the prescribed authority  to
re-determine surplus  land  under  Section  31(3)  in  accordance  with  the
principal Act as amended by the 1976 Act, for which purpose, the  provisions
of section 13 of the principal Act shall apply  mutatis  mutandis  to  every
order re-determining surplus land under sub-section 3  of  this  Section  or
Section 9 of the 1974 Amendment Act  –  (vide  Section  31(4)  of  the  1976
Amendment Act).  This never having been done on facts in the  present  case,
it is clear that  the  appeal  filed  in  1975  has  abated  and  could  not
therefore have been heard by the Additional Commissioner,  Agra  on  merits.
This being so, the judgment and  order  passed  by  the  Commissioner  dated
13.12.1975 is without jurisdiction.

16.   It only remains to consider the reasoning of the  appellate  authority
and the High Court.  Both the appellate authority and the  High  Court  were
of the view that no fresh notice had been issued under Section 9(2)  of  the
U.P. Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Act, 1972.   It  has
been pointed out to us, on facts, that  in  fact  such  a  notice  had  been
issued on 24.11.1975.  Despite this, the appellate authority  and  the  High
Court, in their anxiety to decide against abatement, have  wrongly  held  no
such notice was proved to have been issued. Be that as it may, it  is  clear
that abatement under Section 31 does not depend upon the  issuance  or  non-
issuance of any notice under Section 9(2) as amended.  This being the  case,
the finding of fact of non-issuance of notice itself being a  non-issue,  it
is unnecessary for us to pursue the same. It is only necessary to  reiterate
that no fresh exercise under the 1976 Amendment Act was  undertaken  by  the
prescribed authority as is required by section 31(3) of the  1976  Amendment
Act. This being the case, the  impugned  judgment  of  the  High  Court  has
necessarily to be set aside.  The appeal  is,  therefore,  allowed  with  no
order as to costs.


                                        ……………………J.

                                        (Dipak Misra)





                                        ……………………J.

New Delhi;                              (R.F. Nariman)

August 8, 2016



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