Reconsideration of Land Sale Validity Under the Gujarat Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947


Case Title: Kanaiyalal Mafatlal Patel  v. The State of Gujarat and others.

Case No: SLP (C) No. 6536/ 2022

Dated on: 6 December 2023



The dispute involves the sale of ancestral agricultural land in Gujarat between the appellant Kanaiyalal Mafatlal Patel and the respondents who are the heirs of the original owner Shankarbhai Dungardas Ancestral agricultural land measuring 4755 square meters, bearing Block No. 521 (New Block Survey No. 805), located in Village Ambapur, Taluka and District Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The land was inherited by Shankarbhai Dungardas, who passed away in 1952, leaving behind three sons: Becharbhai, Prabhudasbhai, and Lalbhai. Becharbhai, Prabhudasbhai and Lalbhai. Becharbhai died on 24.04.1993, leaving behind his widow, Surajben (Respondent No. 14) and their children. Prabhudasbhai died on 21.01.2007, leaving behind his widow, Dahiben (Respondent No. 8), along with two sons and a daughter. Lalbhai died on 04.08.1996, leaving behind his widow, Gangaben (Respondent No. 19), two sons and a daughter. The land was allegedly partitioned, with 2377.50 square meters allocated to Prabhudasbhai and Respondent Nos. 6 to 9, and the remaining 2377.50 square meters to the other branches (Respondent Nos. 10 to 19). Respondent Nos. 10 to 19 executed an Agreement of Sale on 29.09.2006 in favour of the appellant for their share of 2377.50 square meters for ₹17,51,000/-. Prabhudasbhai signed as a confirming party. A Registered Sale Deed was executed on 12.07.2007, showing a sale consideration of ₹1,07,000/-. Mutation entries were made in the revenue records reflecting the appellant’s ownership. In March 2010, Respondent Nos. 6 to 9 filed a case before the Prant Officer, Gandhinagar, alleging the sale was in violation of the Gujarat Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947. The Prant Officer, on 17.05.2012, declared the sale illegal, ordered cancellation of the sale deed, fined the appellant, and directed eviction proceedings. Thereafter a revision filed by him was dismissed on 10.07.2015. the appellant filed another revision claiming that he only learned of the 2012 order in 2018 and filed another revision, which was dismissed on 06.09.2018. The appellant approached the Gujarat High Court, which dismissed his petition on 24.12.2021. Again, an appeal to the division bench of the Gujrat High court was dismissed on 12.01.2022 due to the delay and the lack of partition and demarcation of the land. After the appellant was s unsuccessful before the Gujarat High Court in his challenge to the orders passed by the authorities holding that the sale transaction in his favour was in breach of the provisions of the Gujarat Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947 (for brevity, ‘the Act of 1947’), and directing his summary eviction from the land in question. He filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.


  • whether the land sold to the appellant would constitute a ‘fragment’ in terms of Section 31(1)(b) read with Section 2(4) of the Act of 1947.
  • whether the said land is irrigated land or dry land.


 Gujarat Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947 (the Act of 1947):

Section 2(4): Defines a ‘fragment’ as a plot of land of less extent than the appropriate standard area determined under the Act.

Section 31(1)(b):This section prohibits the sub-division of any holding allotted under the Act, including sub-division by a decree or order of a civil court or any other competent authority, without the permission in writing of the Collector.

Section 31(2): Section 31(2) Provides exceptions to the prohibition in sub-section (1), such as transfer of an entire holding or sub-division for shares of persons entitled upon the owner’s death, provided it does not create a fragment.

Section 35:  Section 35 provides for revisions by the government against orders passed under the Act.

Principle of Res Judicata:

Res- Judicata refers to a legal principle which bars re-litigation of the same issue between the same parties once it has been finally decided by a competent court.


The appellant argued that the sale transaction executed on 12.07.2007, in which he purchased 2377.50 square meters of land from Respondent Nos. 10 to 19, was valid. He claimed that Prabhudasbhai, a confirming party to the sale agreement, acknowledged the transaction and certified that he had a half-share in the land. The appellant contended that the land he purchased did not constitute a ‘fragment’ under the Gujarat Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947, as the land measured Ac 0.23 Guntas, which was above the fragment threshold for irrigated land.  The appellant asserted that he was never given a proper hearing on the merits by the authorities. He claimed that the initial order dated 17.05.2012 was passed without an opportunity for him to present his case. He also raised concerns about the address used in the proceedings, claiming he never resided at the address noted in the orders and alleging impersonation in the filing of the first revision. The appellant contended that the respondents  were aware of the division of the land supporting his claim of partition and the objections of the respondents related to the sale transaction were also not valid as Prabhudasbhai, was alive during the transaction, was a confirming party and had not raised any objections at that time.


The respondents argued that the sale transaction in favour of the appellant was in breach of the Gujarat Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1947. They asserted that the land sold was a fragment under the Act as the land in question was dry land, referencing Village Form No. 12 for the years 2006-2007 and 2007-2008, which stated that there was no source of irrigation for the larger extent of 4755 square meters and that the transaction was conducted without the necessary permission from the Collector. They argued that the land remained joint property and that no specific portion could have been legally sold to the appellant as without partition, no individual heir could unilaterally sell a specific portion of the land. The respondents claimed that the sale agreement, in which Prabhudasbhai was a confirming party, was never disclosed to them earlier, and hence, they were within their rights to question the transaction. They pointed to the consistent use of the appellant’s address across documents and proceedings, questioning his claim of not residing at the address used in the orders. Consequently, the respondents contended that the orders of the lower authorities were proper and should sustain.


The court noted that the appellant was never given a proper hearing on merits by the authorities before decisions were made against him. The initial order dated 17.05.2012 by the Prant Officer did not afford the appellant an opportunity for a hearing and due to this lack of opportunity the principle of res judicata can not be applied. Though there was a dispute regarding the appellant’s residing address the court found it essential to ensure that the appellant received a full hearing on merits. The court founds the High Court’s findings regarding the lack of partition and demarcation of the land to be questionable as well as the issues of the case also required further scrutiny. Henceforth the court decided to allow the appeal and set aside the orders passed by the Gujarat High Court and the authorities. It remanded the matter for fresh consideration on facts and law by the Prant Officer, Gandhinagar. The Prant Officer was instructed to give due notice to both parties, allow them to adduce evidence, and make a reasoned decision in accordance with the law proceedings be completed expeditiously, preferably within six months from the receipt of the court’s order, pending miscellaneous applications were disposed of, and each party was to bear their own costs.

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Judgement Reviewed by – PRATYASA MISHRA

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