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Bona Fide transfers are exempted from rigors of Section 6 of the Ceiling Act of 1973: Supreme Court

The legislature has carved out two separate categories of lands, one which is includable and other which is outside the purview of ceiling laws. Once such a classification has been made, with there being no challenge to its vires, it is the solemn duty of every authority to give full effect to the same, in both letter and spirit. This judgment was delivered by the three judge bench comprising hon’ble Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Surya Kant at Supreme Court in the matter of Daulat Singh (D) THR. LRS. v. The State of Rajasthan & Ors. [C.A. No. 5650 of 2010].

The appellant in the present appeal alleged that Daulat Singh (who died during the pendency of the case and now represented by his legal representatives) owned 254.2 Bighas of land. He gifted 127.1 Bighas of land to Narpat Singh (son of Daulat Singh) on 19.12.1963. The appellant was left with 17.25 standard acres of land after gifting 127.1 to his son which was below the prescribed limit under the Ceiling Act.  

A proceeding was initiated under the Ceiling law, the same was dropped by the Court of Deputy Sub-Divisional Officer, Pali, Rajasthan. The Revenue Ceiling Department re-opened the case of the appellant. The court of Additional District Collector, Pali declared that the mutation of the land done in favor of the son of the appellant was invalid as there was no acceptance of the gift. It was declared therein that the appellant was holding 11 standards acres of extra land over ad above the ceiling limit. The collector, therefore, directed the appellant to handover vacant possession of the aforesaid 11 standard acres of extra land to the Tahsildar, Pali. Aggrieved, the appellant preferred a Writ petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, 1950 before the High Court. The learned single judge of the High Court allowed the writ petition preferred by the appellant. The court held that the case was beyond the purview of Section 6 of the Rajasthan Imposition of Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1973 because the land was transferred by way of gift. It was further held that the aforesaid transfer of land, by the appellant in favor of his son by virtue of a registered gift deed, being bona fide, was valid in the eyes f law. The learned Single Judge, therefore held that there is no surplus land which is available with the appellant which can be resumed.

Thereafter, the respondents preferred an appeal against the above order before the Division Bench, which allowed the appeal holding that the gift deed was invalid as the son of the appellant was unaware about the same. The Division Bench held that the learned Single Judge passed the judgment in ignorance of the provisions of Section 30C and 30D of the Tenancy Act of 1955. Therefore, the Division Bench of the High Court set aside the order passed by the Single Judge Bench for being untenable and upheld the order passed by the Board of Revenue.

Aggrieved, the appellant has preferred the present appeal by way of Special Leave Petition. The hon’ble Supreme Court held that, the decision rendered by the Division Bench of the High Court is liable to be set aside. The transfer of the land being valid under Section 30DD of the Tenancy Act of 1955, the ceiling area of the appellant falls within the ceiling limit as provided under Section 30C. There is no gainsaying that Section 6 of the ceiling act of 1973 also does not advance the case of the state. Firstly, the repeal of Chapter III-B of the Tenancy Act of 1955 through Section 40 of the Ceiling Act of 1973 is not retrospective. Hence, the provisions of the Ceiling Act of 1973 are not attracted in the present case as the case was re-opened and decided under the provisions of the Tenancy Act of 1955. Secondly, Section 6 of the Ceiling Act of 1973 declares that every transfer of land including by way of gift, made on or after 26-09-1970 and before 01-01-1973, shall be deemed to have been made to defeat the provisions of the Ceiling Act of 1973. In the instant case, the gift deed was executed on 19-12-1963, that is much before 26-09-1970. Therefore also, Section 6 of the Ceiling Act of 1973 does not affect the transfer of land by the appellant-donor in favor of the donee-son. Thirdly, there is no finding that the gift deed in the present case was actuated upon any extraneous consideration. Hence, it constituted a bona fide transfer which are exempted from the rigors of Section 6 of the Ceiling Act of 1973. The appeal stands allowed in the aforesaid terms. Pending applications, if any, stand disposed of.

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