Successor shall be entitled to hold the service land of the holder: Chhattisgarh High Court

Provision of Section 183 of the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, 1959  does not grant the proprietary right to a Kotwar in any manner and there is a specific provision under Section 183 (3) of the Code, 1959, it is the successor who shall be entitled to hold the service land subsequent to the death of the previous Kotwar. A Single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Rajendra Chandra Singh Samant adjudicating the matter of Smt. Meena Bai v. Smt. Meena Bai (W.P.(227) No. 688 of 2015) dealt with the issue of whether to allow the present writ or not.

In the present case, a petition has been filed under Art. 227  of the  Indian Constitution seeking relief for quashing the order passed by the Board of Revenue Chhattisgarh on 07.07.2015 and restoration of the order passed by Sub-Divisional Officer, Revenue Mahasamund.

According to the facts, Punitram father of Smt. Meena Bai (Petitioner) and Smt. Kalyani Bai were village Kotwar of Mudhena who has expired in the year 2001. The Petitioner and husband of the respondent applied for the post of village Kotwar. Husband of respondent Shankar Devdas got appointed in 2001 and Shankar Devdas died in the year 2004 subsequent to which, his wife respondent No.1 – Smt. Kalyani Bai was appointed as temporary village Kotwar vide order dated 5.2.2004. Subsequent to this, the application of the petitioner was considered and decided in her favor on 20.11.2006 whereby, she was appointed as village Kotwar by the Tehsildar Mahasamund.

The serviced land was given to Shankar Devdas has been given to respondent No.1 by the same order dated 20.11.2006. The order dated 20.11.2006 was challenged by respondent No.1 before the Sub-Divisional Officer, Revenue Mahasamund, which was dismissed by the order dated 12.3.2007. The application moved by the petitioner for grant of service land in her favor before Tehsildar had been dismissed by the order dated 13.7.2009 and the same was challenged by the Petitioner before the Sub-Divisional Officer Revenue Mahasamund 09.10.2009 and such appeal was allowed and directed the allotment of service land in favor of the petitioner. Further, the respondents preferred an appeal before the Add. Commissioner Raipur Division on 05.07.2012 allowed the appeal and set aside the order passed by the Sub-Divisional Officer, Revenue Mahasamund upholding the order of Tehsildar dated 13.7.2009. The petitioner has then preferred a revision before the Chhattisgarh Board of Revenue and the same has been dismissed by the impugned order dated 7.7.2015

The Petitioner contended that the impugned order is illegal, arbitrary, and contrary to the law. The petitioner who has been appointed as Kotwar of village Mudhena has an entitlement to get the service land attached with the post of Kotwar. The serviced land was given to Punitram and Shankar Devdas when they were working as Kotwar, therefore, the entitlement for holding the service land is being a Kotwar. Respondent No.1 – Smt. Kalyani Bai was not appointed as village Kotwar, therefore, she has no authority to hold possession of service land. Also, it was submitted that the land held by ex-Kotwars will not pass on to them in Bhumiswami right, therefore, the petitioner has clear entitlement for the land in question. Hence, the impugned order is not sustainable and the order of the learned Sub-Divisional Officer was the correct order, which is liable to be restored.

The Respondents opposed the submissions of the decision passed by the court on 31.10.2001, the State Government has issued a circular dated 21.4.2003, directing grant of proprietary rights under the Abolition of Proprietary Rights (Estates, Mahals, Alienated Lands) Act, 1950 to Ex-Kotwars whose predecessors were granted land by the malguzars prior to the year 1950, hence, on this basis, the private respondents have entitlement for grant of the Proprietary Rights over the service land, therefore, learned Board of Revenue has not committed any error in passing the impugned order. The petition is without any substance, which may be dismissed.

The court held that it is undisputed that the petitioner is holding the post of village Kotwar at present and that she has not been granted the right and possession over the service land, which was provided to the earlier Kotwars. The Court relied on few judgments and held that if the right of Bhumiswami is found to be accrued in favor of the petitioners/ Kotwars in terms of provisions of Abolition of Proprietary Rights (Estates, Mahals, Alienated Lands) Act, 1950, the Bhumiswami Right is to be conferred on the petitioners and with respect to the service lands and It was held that it is no longer good law. The court submitted that “The facts in the present case are not complete to make out whether it is a case of acquisition of Bhumiswami Rights under the provisions of Abolition of Proprietary Rights (Estates, Mahals, Alienated Lands) Act, 1950. The only facts mentioned are that Punitram, the father of the petitioner and 6 respondent No.1 was village Kotwar who was in possession of service land subsequent to which, the subsequent Kotwar was his son-in-law, namely, Shankar Devdas who was granted the possession over the same service land after Punitram. It is to be noted that Punitram and Shankar Devdas both held the post of Kotwar. Respondent No.1 was although appointed as temporary Kotwar, but subsequent to the appointment of the petitioner of village Kotwar her appointment has come to an end. It is also pertinent to note that none of the parties are having Bhumiswami Rights over the service land.”

The petitioner has entitlement for a grant of service land, which has been erroneously granted to respondent No.1. Hence, on the basis of the discussions, the petition is allowed. The impugned order passed by the Chhattisgarh Revenue Board dated 7.7.2015 and the order of the Additional Commissioner dated 5.7.2012 both are erroneous and unsustainable; hence, they are set aside. The order was passed by the Sub-Divisional Officer; Revenue dated 9.10.2009.

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