18 November 1970
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 2480 of 1966






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 18/11/1970


CITATION:  1971 AIR  161            1971 SCR  (2) 790  1970 SCC  (3) 864  CITATOR INFO :  F          1971 SC 989  (8)  RF         1972 SC2097  (7)  RF         1973 SC1461  (1182)  RF         1973 SC2734  (37)  E          1974 SC2098  (22,27,28)  RF         1986 SC1117  (10)  RF         1988 SC 782  (52,66)  F          1988 SC1353  (5)

ACT: Constitution  of India, 1950, Art. 31A-Madras  Inam  Estates (Abolition  and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act (26 of  1963); Madras  Leaseholds (Abolition and Conversion into  Ryotwari) Act  (27  of 1963) and Madras, Minor Inaras  (Abolition  and Conversion  into  Ryotwari) Act (30 of  1963)  --Legislative competiency-If violative of Arts. 14, 19, 26 and 31.

HEADNOTE: In  the  State of Madras there were :three  types  of  inams namely: (1)those  which  constituted  of  the  grant  of melwaram alone; (2) thosewhichconsisted   of   the grant  of both melwaram and kudivaram; and (3) minor  inams. By Madras Inams (Assessment) Act, 1956, full assessment  was levied  on all inam lands except melwaram inams  granted  on service  tenure,  without affecting in any  way  the  rights between  the  inamdars  and the  persons  in  possession  or enjoyment  of  the land.  To complete  the  agrarian  reform initiated  by the Madras Estates (Abolition  and  Conversion into  Ryotwari)  Act,  1948,  the  he  Madras  Inam  Estates (Abolition  and  Conversion  into Ryotwari)  Act,  1963  the Madras Leaseholds (Abolition and Conversion, into  Ryotwari) Act,  1963,  and  the  Madras  Minor  Inams  (Abolition  and Conversion  into Ryotwari) Act, 1963, were  enacted.   Under the first, acquisition of all rights of landholders in  inam estates and the introduction of ryotwari settlement in  such estates  was provided for.  Section 18 of the  Act  provides that  compensation  shall be determind for each  inam  as  a whole.   The second Act provides for the termination of  the



leases of certain leaseholds granted by the Government,  the acquisition of the rights of the lessees in such  leaseholds and  the introduction of ryotwari settlement; and the  third Act  provides for the acquisition of the rights of  inamdars in  minor  inams  and  the  introduction  of  the   ryotwari settlement.   The  Acts  contain  provisions  reducing   the liability of the tenants in the matter of payment of arrears of rent. On the question of the validity of the Acts, HELD  :  (1) The impugned Acts could not  be  challenged  as violative  of Arts 14, 19 and 3 1. They deal with  ’estates’ as defined in Art. 31A of the Constitution, and provide  for their  acquisition  by the State’ They seek to  abolish  all intermediate  holders and to establish  direct  relationship between  the Government and the occupants of  the  concerned lands.   They were undertaken as a part of  agrarian  reform and  hence,  the  provisions  relating  to  acquisition   or extinguishment  of  the rights of the  intermediate  holders fall within the protective wings of Art. 3 IA. [795 D-E] B.   Shankara  Rao Badami & Ors. v. State of Mysore &  Anr., [1969] 3 S.C.R. 1, followed. (2)  Assuming  that  as  a  result  of  the  levy  of   full assessment  under the 1956-Act, the lands cease to be  inams and the intermediaries ceased to be inamdars, the lands  are still ’estate’ within the meaning of Art. 31A, because, they fall under one of the sub-cls. 1, II or III of Art. 79 1 3 IA(2) (a).  If the impugned legislation can be traced to a valid  legislative  power  the  fact  that  the  Legislature wrongly  described some of the intermediaries sought  to  be removed does not make the law invalid. [795 E-H] (3)  In  the  Absence of any material to the  contrary,  the court must proceed on the basis that the President had given his   assent  to  the  bills  after  duly  considering   the implication of the provisions contained therein. [796 E-G], (4)  If  the  arrears of rent are treated as rent  then  the State Legislature has power to legislate with respect to the liability  of tenants to pay the arrears, under Entry 18  of List 11, VII Schedule.  If they are considered as debts  due from   agriculturists   then  the  State   Legislature   has competence  to  legislate under Entry 30 of the  same  list. [796 G-H; 797 A] (5)  In the case of the first of the impugned Acts, assuming that  for  some of the properties included in  the  inam  no compensation  was  provided, Art., 31A bars  the  plet  that there was contravention of Art. 31(2).[796 C-D] (6)In  regard  to the inams belonging to the  religious  and charitable  institutions, the impugned Acts do  not  provide for  payment of compensation in a lumpsum but  provision  is made  to  pay a portion of the compensation  every  year  as tasdik.   The method adopted is not violative of  Art  31(2) and is at any rate protected by Art, 31A. [7917] A-C] (7)  Article 26(c) and (d) of the Constitution provide  that religious  denominations  shall have the right  to  own  and acquire  properties  and administer them according  to  law. But  that  does not mean that the properties owned  by  them cannot be acquired by the State. [797 C-E] (8)It  is  open  to  the inamdars  to  agitate  before  the. Tribunal  constituted under the last Act that  a  particular property  is  not an inam at all and that the  Acts  do  not apply to them. [798 D-E]




CIVIL  APPELLATE  JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals Nos.  2480  to 2509  2543 to 2546, 2547 to 2553, 2559, 2575, 2576 and  2602 of  1966,  214 to 217, 672 to 674, 1053, 1054,  1055,  1062, 1063,. 1457 and 1458 of 1967, and 162, 672’ 673 and 1000  of 1968. Appeals  from the judgments and orders dated June  24,  1966 and July 20, 1966 of the Madras High Court in Writ Petitions Nos. 1542 of 1965 etc. etc. V.   Vedantachari, K. C. Rajappa, S. Bala krishnanand N.  M. Ghatate, for the appellants (in C.As. Nos. 2480-2482,  2484- 2509, 2575 and 2576, of 1966). V.   Vendantachari  and S. Balakrishnan, for the  appellants (in C.As. Nos. 2543, 2544 and 2546 of 1966). S.   Balakrishnan and N. M. Ghatate, for the appellant (in C.A. No. 2545 of 1966). S.   V. Gupte and K. Jaram, for the appellants (in C.A. Nos. 2547 to 2553 and 2559 of 1966). 792 K.   Parasaran,  K. R. Chaudhuri and K. Rajendra  Chaudhuri, for  the appellants (in C.As. Nos. 2602 of 1966, 214 to  217 and 1055 of 1967). M.   S.  K. Sastri S. Gopalan and M. S. Narasimhan, for  the appellants (in C.As. Nos. 672 to 674 of 1967). M.   S.  Narasimhan, for the appellants (in C.As. Nos.  1053 and 1054 of 1967). A.   V. V. Nair, for the appellants (in C.As. Nos. 1062  and 1063 of 1967). V.   Vedantachart, A. T. M. Sampath and E. C. Agarwala,  for the appellants (in C.As. Nos. 14517 and 1458 of 1967). P.   C.  Bhartari,  for the appellant (in C.A. No.  162  of 1968). K.   Jayaram,  for  R. Thiagarajan for  the  appellants  (in C.As. Nos. 672, 673 and 1000 of 1968 and 2483 of 1966). S.   Mahan  Kumaramangalam  and  A.,  V.  Rangarm,  for  the respondent-State of Madras in, all the appeals). R.   Kunchitapadam,   Vineet  Kumar  and  K.  Jayaram,   for respondent No. 2 (in C.A. No. 2484 of 1966). M.   K.  Ramamurthy,  J. Ramamurthy and  Vineet  Kumar,  for respondent No. 2 (in C.As. Nos. 2488 to 2490 of 1966). The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Hegde, J. In this batch of appeals, the validity of the Mad- ras  Inam Estates (Abolition and Conversion  Into  Ryotwari) Act,  1963 (Madras Act 26 of 1963); the  Madras  Lease-Holds (Abolition and.  Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963 (Madras Act  27 of 19-63) and the Madras Minor Inams (Abolition  and Conversion Into Ryotwari) Act, 1963 (Madras Act 30 of  1963) is challenged on the ground that the material provisions  in those Acts are violative of Arts. 14, 19(1)(f) and 31 of the Constitution.   The  provisions in these Acts  reducing  the tenants"  liability  to pay the arrears of  rent  are also challenged  on  the  ground  that  the  legislature  had  no competence  to enact ’those provisions.  A few  other  minor contentions  are  also  raised in  these  appeals  to  which reference  will be made in the course of the judgment.   All these  contentions had been unsuccessfully urged before  the High Court.  Dealing with the allegation of infringement  of Arts.  14, 19 and 31, the High Court in addition to  holding that  there has been no infringement of those  Articles  has further  held  that the challenge to the validity  of  these Acts on the basis of those 793 Arts. is precluded in view of Art. 31 (A).  Dealing with the contention relating to the reduction of rent the High  Court came  to  the conclusion that the legislature had  power  to enact  the  impugned provisions.  The High  Court  also  has



given  reasons for rejecting the other contentions  advanced before  it.   Aggrieved by the decision of  the  High  Court these appeals have been brought by special leave. The  impugned  statues  deal with  agrarian  reforms.   They purport to deal with Inam lands.  It is profitless to go  to the  origin of Inams or about their early history.   Suffice it  to  say  that the Urdu word "Inam" means  a  gift.   The Inams,  rants were made by the Rulers for various  purposes. Some  of  them  were granted to  institutions  and  some  to individuals.   Broadly  speaking there were three  types  of Inams The first type consisted of the grant of the  melwaram right alone.  The second category consisted of the grant  of both  the  melwaram  as well as  the  kudivaram  right.   In addition  to these two Inams, there were what are known  "as Minor Inams.  Sometime prior to 1862, the Government took up the   question  of  enfranchising  the  Inams.   The   Inams Commissioner  went  into  the  rights  of  various   persons claiming to be Inamdars.  Thereafter the Madras Enfranchised Inams  Act’.  1862 (Madras Act 47 of 1862)- was  passed  for declaring and confirming the title of the Inamdars.  Section 2  of that Act provided that the title deeds issued  by  the Inams  Commissioner or an authenticated extracted from  the register  of the Commissioner or Collector shall  be  deemed sufficient  proof of the enfranchisement of land  previously hold on Inam tenure. By Madras Inams (Assessment) Act,  1956 (Madras  Act  40 of 1 95 6), full assessment was  levied  on ’all Inam lands except Warm inams granted on service tenure, without  affecting  in  any way the rights  as  between  the Inamdar  and  other,  persons,  if  any,  in  possession  or enjoyment of the Inam land. Where  the Inam comprised the entire villa e, the  same  was treated  as an "estate" in the Madras  Proprietary  Estates’ Village  Service  Act, 1894 (Madras Act 2 of 1894)  and  the Madras Hereditary Village Offices Act, 1895 (Madras Act 3 of 1895) as well as in Madras Estate Land Act, 1908 (Madras Act 1  of  1908).  Mdras Estates Land Act, 1908  recognised  the ryots’ permanent tenure.  That Act secured a permanent right of  occupancy to every ryot who at the commencement, was  in possession of "ryoti" I-and or who was subsequently admitted to the possession of such land.  Then came the Madras Estate Land  (Third  Amendment Act, 1936 (Madras Act 18  of  1936). That  Act  amplified the definition of the "estate"  in  the Madras  Estate  Land Act, 1908, so as to  bring  within  its scope A, Inam villages, of 794 which  the  grant was made, confirmed or recognised  by  the Government.   It also provided that when a  question  arises whether any land was the land-holder’s private land or  not, the land should be presumed not to be Inamdar’s private land until  the  contrary  was  proved.   In  1937,  the   Madras Government appointed the, Prakasam Committee to enquire into and  report the conditions which prevailed in the  Zamindari and  other proprietary areas in the State.   That  committee submitted its report together with a draft bill on the lines of  its  recommendations, but no action was  taken  on  that report as the Congress Ministry which appointed it resigned. Then we come to the Madras Estates (Abolition and Conversion Into Ryotwari) Act, 1948 (Madras Act 26 of 1948).  This  Act applies  to  all  estates i.e.  Zamindari  and  under-tenure estates  and all-Inam villages in which the grant  consisted of melwaram alone.  That Act as its preamble says is an Act to  provide for the repeal of the permanent settlement,  the acquisition  of  the rights of  landholders  in  permanently settled and certain other estates in the Province of  Madras and  the  introduction of the ryotwari  settlement  in  such



estates.  To complete the agrarian reform initiated by  this Act,  the impugned Acts appears to have been  enacted.   The Preamble to Madras Act 26 of 1963 says that it is an Act  to provide for the acquisition of all rights of landholders  in Inam estates in the State of Madras and the introduction  of the  ryotwari settlement in such estates.  That Act  follows by and large the provisions in Act 26 of 1948.  In Act 26 of 1963  Inams estates are divided into two  categories  namely (1)  existing  Inam estate and (2) a new Inam  estate.   The existing Inam estate refers to the estate consisting of  the whole  village and the new Inam estate means a part  village Inam  estate  of  Pudukkottai Inam estate.   The  "New  Inam estate"  was  not  an estate known to law  earlier.   It  is merely   a  name  given  to  part  village  Inam  estate   a Pudukkottai Inam estate for drafting convenience.- Act 27 of 1963 is an Act to provide for the termination of the  leases of  certain  lease-holds  granted  by  the  Government,  the acquisition  of  the rights of the lessees  in  such  lease- holds,  and the introduction of the ryotwari  settlement  in such  leaseholds.  Act 30 of 1963 is an Act to  provide  for the acquisition of the rights of the Inamdars in minor Inams and  the  introduction of the ryotwari  settlement  in  such Inams. We do not think it necessary to go into the contention  that one or more provisions of the impugned Acts are violative of Arts.  14,  19  and 31 as in our.  opinion  these  Acts  are completely  protected  by Art. 31’(A)  of  the  Constitution which says that               "Notwithstanding anything contained in article               13, no law providing for-               7 95               (a)   the  acquisition  by the  State  of  any               estate  or  of  any  rights  therein  or   the               extinguishment  or  modification of  any  such               rights........               shall be deemed to be void on the ground  that               it  is  inconsistent with, or  takes  away  or               abridges any  of  the  rights  conferred  by               article 14, article 1-9 or article 3 1." The expression "estate" is defined in sub-Art. (2) of  Art31 (A).   That  definition includes not merely Inams  but  also land held under ryotwari settlement as well as land held  or let for the purpose of agriculture or for purposes ancillary thereto,  including(,  waste  land, forest  land,  land  for pastures or site or buildings, and other structures occupied by  the  cultivators  of  land,  agricultures  and   village artisans. The impugned Acts are laws providing for the acquisition  by the  State of an "estate" as contemplated’ by Art.  31  (A). They  seek  to  abolish all  intermediate  holders  and  ’to establish direct relationship between the Government and the occupants  of the concerned lands.  These legislations  were undertaken  as  a  part  of  agrarian  reforms.   Hence  the provisions relating to acquisition or the extinguishment  of the  rights  of  the intermediate holders  fall  within  the protective  wings of Art. 31 (A)-see B. Sankara Roo,  Badami and ors. v. State of Mysore and anr. (1). It  is next contended on behalf of the appellants  that  the lands,  on which full assessment was levied under Act 40  of 1956  ceased  to be inams and therefore  provisions  of  the Madras  Act  26 of 1963 cannot be applied to the  same.   We have  not  thought  it necessary to  go  into  the  question whether as a result of Madras Act 40 of 1956, certain  Inams have  ceased  to be Inams, as in our opinion,  whether  they continued to be Inams or not they are still "estate"  within



the  meaning of Art. 31 (A) because they fall  either  under sub-clauses  (1) or (II) or (111) of Clause (a) of  Art.  31 (A)  (2)  and that being so the provisions of  the  impugned Acts cannot    be   challenged  on  the  ground  that   they infringe Arts. 14, 19 and     31.  The contention  that as the State purported to abolish Inams    and    not     other intermediaries the law cannot be held to be valid if     the intermediaries sought to be removed are   not Inamdars is an untenable one.  If the impugned legislation can be traced to a  valid  legislative power, the fact that  the  legislature wrongly  described some of the intermediaries sought  to  be removed  does  not  make the law invalid.   From  the  above observations, it should not be understood that we have  come to the conclusion that the intermediaries concerned were not Inamdars.   We have not gone into that question.   From  the provisions of (1)  [1969] 3 S.C.R. 1. 796 The  impugned Acts, it is quite clear that the intention  of the legislature was to abolish all intermediaries  including the  owners of those "estates" that were subjected  to  full assessment by Act 40 ,of 1956. It was next urged that Art. 31(A) does not protect a  legis- lation  where no compensation whatsoever has  been  provided for  taking the "estates".  We do not think we need go  into that question.  This contention bears only on the provisions of  the  Madras  Act 26 of 1963.  Section  18  of  that  Act provides  that compensation shall be determined  for  each Inam as a whole and not separately for each of the interests in  the  Inams.   The  validity  of  this  section  was  not challenged before us.  All that was urged was that for  some of the pro reties included in the Inam, no compensation  was provided.  Even if we assume this contention to be  correct, it  cannot be as  that no compensation was provided for  the acquisition  of the lnam as a whole.  Hence Art. 31(A)  bars the  plea  that  there was contravention of  Art.  31(2)  in making the acquisition in question.  One of the  contentions taken on behalf of the appellants  that the impugned Acts to the extent they purport to acquire mining lands are  outside the  purview  of Art. 31 (A).  It is not known  whether  the lands  in which mining operations are going on were  let  or held  as "estates".  There is also no evidence to show  that the  owners  of  those lands were  entitled  to  the  mines. Hence,  it  is not possible to uphold  the  contention  that lands  concerned in some of the appeals have  been  acquired without paying compensation. In  order to avoid the bar of Art. 3 1 (A), a  curious  plea was put forward.  It was urged that when the concerned bills were  submitted to the President for his assent as  required by  the first proviso to Art. 31 (A), the President was  not made   aware  of  the  implications  of  the  bills.    This contention is a wholly untenable one.  There is no  material before us from which we could conclude that the President or his  advisers  were  unaware of the  implications  of  those ’bills.  We must proceed on the basis that the President had given  his assent to those bills after duly considering  the implication of the provisions contained therein. it  was next urged that the provisions in the impugned  Acts reducing  the  liability  of the tenants in  the  matter  of payment  of the arrears of rent, whether decreed or not  was beyond the legislative competence of the State  legislature. This  contention  is agairt untenable.   Those  attears  are either affairs of rent or debts due from agriculturists.  It they  are  treated  as  affears  of  rent  then  the   State legislature had legislative power to legislate in respect of



the  same under Entry 18 of List II of the  VIIth  Schedule. If they are considered as debts due from agriculturists then the 797 State legislature had competence to legislate in respect  of the same under Entry 30 of the same list. In regard to the Inams belonging to the religious and chari- table  institutions,  the impugned Acts do not  provide  for payment  of compensation in a lumpsum but on the other  hand provision is made to pay them a portion of the  compensation every year as Tasdik.  This is only a mode of payment of the compensation.   That  mode  was  evidently  adopted  in  the interest  of the concerned institutions.  We are  unable  to agree  that the method is violative of Art. 31(2).   At  any rate that provision is protected by Art. 31-A. It was next urged that by acquiring the properties belonging to religious denominations the legislature violated Art.  26 (c) and (d) which provide that religious denominations shall have  the  right to own and acquire  movable  and  immovable property  and  administer such property in  accordance  with law.   These provisions do not take away the right  of  the State   to   acquire   property   belonging   to   religious deuomintions.    Those   denominations   can   own   acquire properties and administer them in accordance with law.  That does  not  mean that the property owned by  them  cannot  be acquired.  As a result of acquisition they cease to own that property.    Thereafter  their  right  to  administer   that property  ceases  because it is no  longer  their  property. Art. 26 does not interfere with the’ right- of the State  to acquire property. Mr.  S. V. Gupte appearing for some of the appellants  urged that  the   Impugned Act contravenes the second  proviso  to Art. 31(A).  From the material before us it is not  possible to hold that any property under the personal cultivation  of any  of the appellants had been acquired.  Further there  is no  material to show what the ceiling is.  Hence it  is  not possible   for  us  to  examine  the  correctness  of   that contention.   If in any particular case, the second  proviso to  Art. 31 (A) has been breached, then to that extent,  the acquisition will become invalid. It was urged by Mr. Sastri appearing for some of the  appel- lants  that  the  impugned Acts do  not  acquire  the  lands concerned  in some of the appeals.  This contention was  not ’gone into by the High Court.  Dealing with that contention, the High Court in its judgment observed :               "But the applicability of the impugned Acts to               the  Inams in question cannot be  conveniently               investigated in the present writ  proceedings.               The  question will have to be determined  with               reference to the terms of the               798               grant,  the extent of the grant  has  to  be               ascertained  by  reference  to  the   relevant               materials.   Section 5 of Madras Act, XXXI  of               1963  (XXX of 1963 ?) makes special  provision               for determination of the question whether  any               non-ryotwari  area is or is (not an  ’existing               Inam Estate ’or’ part village Inam Estate’  or               a   minor  Inam  or  whole  Inam  village   in               Pudukkottai.  It is stated at the bar that in               most  of the cases now ’before us the  parties               have applied under the provisions of the  said               Act for determination of the character of  the               Inams  respectively  held ’by  them.   It,  is               needless  to  point  out  that  the   Tribunal



             constituted under the Act will be entitled  to               decide  that a particular property is  neither               an  existing Inam estate’ nor a  part  village               Inam  estate  nor a whole  inam  village  in               Puddukkottai   and  completely  out   of   the               coverage  of  Acts XXVI and XXX of  1963.   We               a1so make it clear that the disposal of  these               writ  petitions  now  does  not  preclude  the               Inamdars  from agitating The question  that  a               particular property is not an Inam at all  and               does  not  under  any of  the  aforesaid  four               categories or falls under one or other of  the               categories as may be urged for the inamdars." We agree with the High Court that the contention in question can be more appropriately gone into in the manner  suggested by the High Court. In  the  result these appeals fail and they  are  dismissed. But  ,under the circumstances; we make no order as to  costs in these appeals. V.P.S.                                              Appeals dismissed                             799