20 August 1964
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 743 of 1963






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 20/08/1964


CITATION:  1965 AIR  632            1965 SCR  (1)  82  CITATOR INFO :  R          1965 SC1017  (10)  RF         1967 SC 856  (6,20)  R          1967 SC1110  (13)  RF         1967 SC1766  (4)  R          1968 SC 394  (7)  RF         1972 SC2027  (39)  RF         1972 SC2097  (6,18,19)  R          1972 SC2301  (61,63,65)  RF         1973 SC2734  (32)  F          1974 SC1522  (3)  RF         1975 SC1193  (23)  RF         1980 SC1762  (6)  F          1983 SC 920  (5)  F          1985 SC1394  (14,27)

ACT: East  Punjab  Holdings  (Consolidation  and  Prevention   of Fragmentation) Act (50 of 1948) as amended by Punjab Act (27 of  1960) and the Punjab Village Common  Lands  (Regulation) Act (1 of 1954)-Validity Constitution of India, 1950,  Arts. 19, 31 and 31-A.

HEADNOTE: As a result of proceedings for consolidation of holdings  in certain  villages in Punjab, some lands had been taken  away from the proprietors, reserved and given over to the village panchayats  or  allotted to  non-proprietors,  under  powers derived  from  various enactments, namely, the  East  Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act (L  of  1948)  as amended by Punjab Act (27  of  1960),  the Punjab Gram Panchayat Act (4 of 1953) and the Punjab Village Common  Lands (Regulation) Act (1 of 1954).  Under s.  7  of the  last  Act  the proprietors were  not  entitled  to  any compensation.    They  challenged  by  writ  petitions   the validity  of the proceedings and the enactments under  which the proprietor’s interest was acquired without  compensation as  being  in  breach  of  Arts.  19(1)(f)  and  31  of  the Constitution.   The High Court dismissed them following  its own  full  bench decision in Jagat Singh  v.  Punjab  State,



(1962) P.L.R. 241.  In appeals to the Supreme Court, it  was contended that : (i) The Full Bench decision was not correct in view of the decision in K. K. Kochuni v. State of  Madras [1960] 3 S.C.R. 887, and (ii) the Amending Act (27 of  1960) and the Regulation Act (1 of 1954) were ultra vires, HELD : (i) The Full Bench decision was right. [94C-D]. The  view taken by this Court has always been in  favour  of giving  a large and liberal meaning to the  terms  "estate", "rights in an estate" and "extinguishment and  modification" of  such right-, in Art. 31-A of the Constitution of  India, and also, to give a wide meaning to the expression  agrarian reform". [93C-D; 94A-B]. The enactments referred to above and the Punjab Security  of Land  Tenures  Act (10 of 1953) are all part  of  a  general scheme  of agrarian reforms and the modification  of  rights envisaged by them had the protection of Art. 31-A. [95B-C]. Case law considered. The  Kochuni  case [1960] 3 S.C.R. 887 did not  involve  any agrarian  reform.   It  considered a bare  transfer  of  the rights  of the sthanee to the tarwad without  alteration  of the  tenure  and without any pretence  of  agrarian  reform. That  was a special case and could not be applied  to  cases where  the  general  scheme of  legislation  was  definitely agrarian reform. [94B-C]. (ii) The  changes proposed by the consolidation  proceedings were  included  in the general scheme of planning  of  rural areas  and  the productive utilisation of vacant  and  waste lands.    If   agrarian  reforms  are   to   succeed,   mere distribution  of land to the landless is not enough.   There must  be a proper planning of rural economy and  conditions. A scheme 83 which makes villages self-sufficient cannot, but be regarded as  part  of   the larger  reforms  which  consolidation  of holdings,  fixing  of  ceilings on  lands,  distribution  of surplus  lands  and  utilising of  vacant  and  waste  lands contemplate. [94 E-G; 95A-B]. Quaere  : What is the relevance and bearing of Art. 31-A  as amended  by  the Constitution (Seventeenth  Amendment)  Act, 1964 on the case. [90D-E].

JUDGMENT: CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 743 of 1963. Appeals by special leave from the judgment and orders  dated December 13, 1961, and September 12, 1960 of the Punjab High Court in C.W. No. 319 of 1961 and Civil Writ No. 454 of 1958 and Letters Patent No. 388 of 1958 respectively. Bishan  Narain, S. K. Mehta and K. L. Mehta, for the  appel- lants (in C.As. Nos. 553 & 554/1962). Bishan  Narain and D. Goburdhun, for the appellant (in  C.A. No. 743/1963). R.Ganapathy Iyer and B.R.G.K. Achar, for the respondents (in C.As. Nos. 553 and 554/1962) and respondents Nos. 1 to 3 (in C.A. No. 743/1963). S.K.  Mehta and K. L. Mehta, for respondent No. 4  (in  C.A. No. 743/1963). The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Hidayatullah  J. This judgment will dispose of Civil  Appeal No.  743 of 1963 and Civil Appeals No. 553 and 554 of  1962. The appellants in Civil Appeal No. 743 of 1963 are owners of lands  in village Virk Kalan, Tehsil and District  Bhatinda. The  appellants in the other appeals are owners of lands  in villages  Sewana  and  Mehnd of  Tehsil  Hansi  in  District



Hissar.   Proceedings for the consolidation of holdings  are going  on in these villages under the East  Punjab  Holdings (Consolidation  and  Prevention of Fragmentation)  Act  1948 (Act  50 of 1948).  This Act was amended on  many  occasions but  we are concerned with it as amended by the East  Punjab Holdings  (Consolidation  and Prevention  of  Fragmentation) (2nd  Amendment  &  Validation) Act (27 of  1960).   In  the present  consolidation  proceedings portions of  lands  from those commonly owned by the appellants as proprietors,  have been reserved for the village Panchayat and given over to it for diverse purposes, and other portions have been  reserved either for non-proprietors or for the common purposes of the villages.   Without  going  into  too  much  detail  it   is sufficient to indicate that in village Virk Kalan 270 84 kanals  and  13  marlas  have  been  given  to  the  village Panchayat for management and realisation of income, although the  ownership is still shown in village papers  as  Shamlat Deh  in  the names of the proprietors and 10  kanals  and  3 marlas have been reserved for abadi to be distributed  among persons entitled thereto and 3 kanals and 7 marlas have been reserved for manure pits.  Similarly, in village Sewana  400 kanals  and  4 marlas have been set apart  for  the  village Panchayat for extension of the abadi and to enable grants of 8  marlas  of  land  to  be made  to  each  family  of  non- proprietors  and 16 kanals have been reserved for a  primary school  and some more for a phirni.  Similiarly, in  village Mehnd,  land has been reserved for the village Panchayat,  a school,  tanning ground, hospital, cremation ground and  for non-proprietors.  The proprietors were not paid compensation for  the  lands and it is the taking away and  allotment  of these  lands  which are the subject of  challenge  in  these appeals  on grounds about to be stated.  Before we do so  we will  set down some of the legislative measures  which  have relevance  and mention some of the cases decided under  them one of which led to the Second Amendment Act. The Consolidation Act (50 of 1948) was passed to provide for the  compulsory consolidation of agricultural  holdings  and for  preventing the fragmentation of agricultural  holdings. Section 18 of the Act provided that notwithstanding anything contained  in any law for the time being in force, it  shall be  lawful  for any Consolidation Officer  to  direct  inter alia:               "(a)  that any land specifically assigned  for               any  common  purpose  shall  cease  to  be  so               assigned  and to assign any other land in  its               place;               (b)               (c)   that if in any area under  consolidation               no  land  is reserved for any  common  purpose               including  extension of the village abadi,  or               if  the  land so reserved  is  inadequate,  to               assign other land for such purpose to               Section 46 of the Consolidation Act  conferred               powers  on the State Government to make  rules               for carrying out the purpose of the Act and in               particular to provide for :               (e)   the  manner in which the area is  to  be               reserved  under section 18 and the  manner  in               which it is to       85               be dealt with and also the manner in which the               village  abadi is to be given  to  proprietors               and   non-proprietors   (including   scheduled               castes,  Sikh backward classes,  artisans  and



             labourers)  on  payment  of  compensation   or               otherwise;"               On March   3, 1956 the Punjab Government, by a               notification, added rule  16 to the Rules  for               reservation of the abadi for the proprietors  as               well  as  the non-proprietors and it  read  as               follows:-               "The  area  to  be  reserved  for  the  common               purpose of extension of abadi for  proprietors               and non-proprietors under section 18(c) of the               Act  shall be reserved after scrutinizing  the               demand  of  proprietors desirous  of  building               houses   and  of   non-proprietors   including               Harijan families working as agrarian labourers               who are in need of a site for house.  The land               reserved  for  extension  of  abadi  shall  be               divided into plots of suitable sizes.  For the               plots  allotted to proprietors area  of  equal               value  shall be deducted from  their  holdings               but  in the case of non-proprietors  including               Harijan  families  these  shall  be   allotted               without payment of compensation and they shall               be  deemed  to  be full owners  of  the  plots               allotted to them."               On  April 9, 1957 the Punjab Government  added               rule 16(ii) which provided for reservation  of               lands for the Gram Panchayat.  It read :               16(ii) : In in estate or estates where  during               consolidation proceedings there is no  shamlat               deh   land   or  such   land   is   considered               inadequate,  land  shall be reserved  for  the               village Panchayat, under section 18 (c) of the               Act, out of the common pool of the village  at               a scale prescribed by Government from time  to               time.  Proprietary rights in respect of  land,               so reserved (except the area reserved for  the               extension  of  abadi of proprietors  and  non-               proprietors)  shall  vest in  the  proprietary               body of the estate -or estates concerned,  and               it shall be entered in the column of ownership               of record of rights as (jumla malikan wa digar               haqdaran   arazi  hasat  rasad  raqba).    The               management  of such land shall be done by  the               Panchayat  of the estate or estates  concerned               on behalf of the village proprietary body  and               the Panchayat shall have the right to  utilize               the income               86               derived  from  the land so  reserved  for  the               common  needs  and benefits of the  estate  or               estates concerned." Rule 16(ii) was declared ultra vires on November 5, 1959  by the Punjab High Court in Munsha Singh v. State of Punjab(1). After  Munsha  Singh’s case the second amending Act  (27  of 1960)  was  passed.  It gave legal cover to rule  16(ii)  by including in section 2 of the Consolidation Act (50 of 1948) the following               "2(bb)  "Common purpose" means any purpose  in               relation  to any common need,  convenience  or               benefit  of  the  village  and  includes   the               following purposes               (i)   extension of the village abadi;               (ii)  provide income for the Panchayat of  the               village  concerned  for  the  benefit  of  the               village community-.



             (iii) village roads and paths; village drains;               village   wells,  ponds  or   tanks;   village               watercourses  or water channels;  village  bus               stands  and waiting places; manure pits;  hada               rori;  public latrines; cremation  and  burial               grounds;  Panchayat Ghar; Janj  Ghar;  grazing               grounds;   tanning             places;    mela               grounds;   public  places,  of  religious   or               charitable nature; and               (iv)  schools and  playgrounds,  dispensaries,               hospitals  and  institutions of  like  nature,               water-works   or  tub---wells,  whether   such               schools,    play    grounds)     dispensaries,               hospitals, institutions, water-works or  tube-               wells  may  be managed and controlled  by  the               State Government or not."               It  also added a new section (s. 23-A) in  the               Consolidation Act as follows :-               "23A.  As soon as-, a scheme comes into force,               the  management  and  control  of  all   lands               assigned  or reserved for common  purposes  of               the village, under section 18,-               (a)   in the case of common purposes specified               in sub-clause (iv) of clause (bb) of section 2               in respect of which the management and control               are  to be exercised by the State  Government,               shall vest in the State Government; and               (1)   I.L.R. [1960] 1 Punjab 589.               87               (b)   in the case of any other common purpose,               shall vest in the panchayat of that village;               and the State Government or the Panchayat,  as               the   case  may  be,  shall  be  entitled   to               appropriate the income accruing therefrom  for               the benefit of the village community, and  the               rights  and  interests of the owners  of  such               lands  shall stand modified  and  extinguished               accordingly:               Provided that in the case of land assigned  or               reserved for the extension of village abadi or               manure  pits  for  the  proprietors  and  non-               proprietors  of the village, such  land  shall               vest in the proprietors and non-proprietors to               whom   it  is  given  under  the   scheme   of               consolidation." It  also amended the preamble suitably.  All the  amendments were with retrospective effect. Before  fact follow up the result of this amendment  we  may say   something  about  three  other  Acts  of  the   Punjab legislature to which some reference will be necessity in the sequel.  The Punjab Gram Panchayat Act, 1953 (4 of 1953) was passed  to  provide for better administration in  the  rural areas of Punjab by Panchayats.  Section 19 of the  Panchayat Act laid multifarious administrative duties on the Panchayat like  sanitation, drainage, supply of water,  looking  after burial  and  cremation  grounds,  public  health,  providing schools, hospitals etc. and also emphasized-               (f)   pounds for animals;               (n)   the   development  of  agriculture   and               village  industries,  and the  destruction  of               weeds and pests;               (o)   starting  and maintaining a  grain  fund               for the cultivators and lending them seed  for               sowing purposes on such conditions as the Gram               Panchayat may approve.



             (q)   allotment of places for preparation  and               conservation of manure;               (t)   framing and carrying out schemes for the               improved methods of cultivation and management               of land to, increase production." 88 The  last  was  added  in  1954.   In  the  same  year   the legislature   enacted  the  Punjab  Village   Common   Lands (Regulation)  Act (1 of 1954) with the object of  regulating the rights in shamlat deh and abadi deh.  The provisions  of the  Common Lands Regulation Act resulted in the vesting  of all  rights of management in the shamlat deh in the  village Panchayat  and  in the land in the abadi deh under  a  house owned  by  a non-proprietor, in the non-proprietor  (s.  3). Section 4 provided:               "All lands vested in a panchayat by virtue  of               the  provisions of this Act shall be  utilised               or  disposed  of  by  the  panchayat  for  the               benefit  of  the inhabitants  of  the  village               concerned, in the manner prescribed."  Section               6 provided               "Any   income  accruing  from  the   use   and               occupation of the lands vested in a  panchayat               shall  be credited to the panchayat  fund  and               shall be utilised in the manner prescribed."               Finally, section 7 provided :               "No   person  shall  be  entitled  to  -   any               compensation for any loss suffered or  alleged               to  have  been  suffered as a  result  of  the               coming into force of this Act." The  Common  Lands Regulation Act was  challenged  in  Hukam Singh v. State of Punjab(1) but was upheld.  The High Court, however,  observed that Art. 31(2) would have  rendered  the Act void but for the enactment of Art. 31-A. The  last Act to which a brief reference may be made is  the Punjab  Security of Land Tenures Act, (10 of 1953)  and  its amendment by Act 57 of 1953 and Act II of 1955.  By that Act security  of  land  tenures,  fixing  of  areas  for  "self- cultivation" was provided and there was conferment of rights on  tenants to purchase lands under their  cultivation  from the landholders.  The validity of these Acts was  challenged but  they were upheld in Atma Ram v. State of  Punjab(2)  to which we shall refer later. The  appellants  in  this  appeal had  filed  a  Civil  Writ Petition (No. 319 of 1961) contending that the  distribution of shamlat lands was illegal and such lands, if they had  to be  redistributed,  could  only  be  distributed  among  the proprietors  but  could  not be  given  to  non-proprietors. Grover  J.,  who  heard the petition ,dismissed  it  on  the authority  of Jagat Singh v. Punjab State(3).   Against  his order special leave was granted by this Court and (1)  I.L.R.  [1955] Punjab 1334. (2) [1959] S.C.R.  1  Supp. 748. (3)  1962 64 P.L.R. 241. 89 Civil  Appeal No. 743 of 1963 is the result.  The other  two appeals arise from other writ petitions.  Writ Petition  No. 761 of 1957 (Civil Appeal No. 553 of 1962) was dismissed  by Grover J. against whose decision a Letters Patent Appeal was filed.  Writ Petition No. 454 of 1958 (Civil Appeal No.  554 of 1962) was heard by the Bench which heard the said Letters Patent  Appeal and both were dismissed on August  18,  1960. The  High  Court did not certify the judgments  as  fit  for appeal  but the appellants obtained special leave and  Civil Appeals Nos. 553 and 554 of 1962 were filed.



These  appeals  were heard together and they  challenge  the correctness  of  the decision in Jagat Singh’s  case(1)  and thus  question the validity of the Amending Act 27  of  1960 because  they contend it is in breach of Arts. 19(1)(f)  and 31  of  the  Constitution.  Rules 16(i) and  (ii)  are  also challenged.    They  further  challenge  the  Common   Lands (Regulation) Act which is a part of the entire scheme.   The High Court in Jagat Singh’s case(2) has held that Act 27  of 1960  gives retrospective validity to rules 16(i)  and  (ii) and  the position which existed when Munsha Singh’s  case(3) was  decided does not obtain now.  The High Court  has  also decided  that Act 27 of 1960 is saved by Art. 31-A  and  the case  of this Court in K. K. Kochuni v. State  of  Madras(3) which interpreted Art. 31-A, as amended by the  Constitution (Fourth  Amendment)  Act, 1955, is not applicable.   In  the appeals before us the same points are raised and the  Common Lands (Regulation) Act is also challenged. These  appeals were heard and closed for judgment  on  April 27,  1964 but as the Court went into vacation at the end  of the  first  week of May, judgment had to be  postponed  till after the vacation.  The Court reassembled on July 20,  1964 but   on  June  20,  1964  the   Constitution   (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964, received the assent of the  President. That  amendment inter alia substituted retrospectively  from January 26, 1950, a new sub-clause (a) in clause (2) of Art. 31-A  and  added  a proviso to cl. (1).   These  cases  were decided  in  the  High Court under Art. 3 1  -A  as  it  was formerly.  The appeals were set down to be mentioned on July 20/23, 1964 before a different Bench, and counsel were asked if,  in view of the amendment, they wished to say  anything. Surprisingly enough none of the parties -wished to argue the appeals and though we cannot now refer to sub-cl. (a)  of cl. (2) of Art 31-A as it was formerly, because that sub- (1) (1962)64 P.L.R. 241.  (2) I.L.R. (1960)1 Punjab 589. (3)  [1960] 3 S.C.R. 887. 90 clause  must be deemed to have never existed, we are in  the unhappy position of not being able to express any opinion on Art.  31 -A as it must be deemed to have been all the  time. In view of the attitude of learned counsel the Bench  before which  the  statements  were  made  recorded  the  following order:-               "These appeals were set down for hearing today               to  enable the learned counsel  appearing  for               both   the  parties,  to  argue  whether   the               provisions  of  Art. 31-A, as they  have  been               amended   by  the  Constitution   (Seventeenth               Amendment)  Act, 1964, had any  relevance  and               bearing  on  the  case which  had  been  fully               argued before another Bench before this  Court               closed  for the summer vacation.  The  counsel               appearing  for both the parties made it  clear               that the amended provisions had no bearing and               they  wanted  us to decide  the  said  appeals               without reference to the said amendment.   The               appeals  will,  therefore,  be  set  down  for               judgment in due course." The  appeals thus remain to be decided on the old  arguments though  it is clear to us that the amendment of  Art.  31-A, far-reaching  as it is, must have affected one or  other  of the  parties.   It  seems  that  the  implications  of   the amendment of the Constitution will have to be worked out  in some other case. The  short point which we think arises is this: whether  the transfer  of  shamlat deh owned by the  proprietors  to  the



village  Panchayat  for the purposes of  management  in  the manner  described  above and the conferment  of  proprietary rights  on non proprietors in respect of lands in abadi  deh is  illegal and the several provisions of law allowing  this to  be  done  are  ultra  vires  Art.  31  inasmuch  as   no compensation  is payable or whether the law and  the  action taken are protected by Art. 31-A? The argument of Mr. Bishan Narain in these appeals was  that they were covered by the Kochuni case(1).  In that case this Court  observed that the Madras Marumakkathyam  (Removal  of Doubts)  Act,  1955 was invalid by reason of  Art.  19(1)(f) inasmuch  as  it deprived a sthanee of  his  properties  and vested  them in the tarwad contrary to Art. 19(1)  (f).   It was also held (as has been correctly summarized in the head- note) that it was not saved by Art. 31-A (as it then  stood) because even if the sthnam properties held in janmam  rights could  be regarded as "estates", Art. 31-A did  not  protect them  since,  properly  construed,  the  article   envisaged agrarian reform only and provided for the (1)  [1960] 3 S.C.R. 887. 91 acquisition, extinguishment, or modification of  proprietary and  various other kinds of subordinate rights in  a  tenure called  the estate solely for that purpose.  It was  pointed out that although the statement of objects and reasons could not properly be looked into for purposes of  interpretation, it  could  be  referred  to  for  the  limited  purpose   of ascertaining  the conditions prevailing at the time  of  the Fourth  Amendment.  It was pointed out that Art. 31  -A  cl. (b)  must be read with cl. (1) (a) and as the  impugned  Act did not contemplate any agrarian reform or seem to  regulate the rights inter se between landlords and tenants or  modify or  extinguish  any  of the rights  appertaining  to  janmam right,  leaving all the characteristics intact, it  did  not come within the purview of Art. 3 1 -A of the Constitution. In  Jagat  Singh’s  case(1) the Full Bench  of  five  Judges agreed  that  the impugned provisions did  come  within  the conception  of agrarian reforms but conflicting  views  were expressed  regarding the ambit of Art. 31-A as expounded  in the Kochuni case(2).  A part of the statement of objects and reasons which accompanied the Fourth Amendment has been  set out  in  the  Kochuni  case  (2 )  but  from  the  lines  of operations  which  were  in contemplation  in  the  proposed amendment  only  one  appears to  have  been  quoted  there. Perhaps  No.  (ii)  is also important to  consider  in  this connection and it reads: (ii) The  proper planning of urban and rural  areas  require the beneficial utilisation of vacant and waste lands and the clearance of slum areas." Consolidation  of  holdings is really nothing  more  than  a proper  planning  of rural areas and this planning  must  of necessity take note of vacant and waste lands.  While we  do not seek to interpret the impugned rules and Acts, nor  even Art. 31-A of the Constitution with the aid of this statement of Objects and Reasons, for such a canon is not approved  of in our practice, we have only completed the picture which to our minds emerges from these objects and statements, if they are at all considered relevant for any purpose. In  Kochuni case(3) reference was made to Atma Ram v.  State of  Punjab(4) and the following passage was quoted  to  show that agrarian reform was the core of Art. 31-A:-               "Keeping  in view the fact that Art. 31-A  was               enacted  by two successive amendments--one  in               1951 (First Amendment), and the second in 1955               (Fourth



             (1)  [1962]  64-P.L.R  241.     (2)  (1960]  3               S.C.R. 887.               (3)   [1959] S.C.R. 1 Supp. 748.               92               Amendment)-with retrospective effect, in order               to   save   legislation   effecting   agrarian               reforms,  we  have every reason to  hold  that               those  expressions  have been  used  in  their               widest amplitude, consistent with the  purpose               behind those amendments." The  expressions from Art. 31-A which were given  such  wide connotation  were "any estate or of any rights therein"  and "the  extinguishment  or modification of  any  such  rights" occurring in Art. 31A(1).  The Act there considered was  the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act (10 of 1953) as  amended by  Act 11 of 1955.  It limited the area of land  for  "self cultivation", gave the tenants rights to purchase lands with them  and in this way " modified" the rights  of  landlords. It  also released excess land for redistribution.  This  was regarded   to  be  agrarian  reform  and  thus  within   the protection  of Art. 3 1 -A.  The observations of this  Court in  Thakur Raghubir Singh’s case(1) were explained and  were confined to the facts of that case.  Article 31-A was  appa- rently  not then viewed from the angle later adopted in  the Kochuni  case(3), namely, that Art. 31-A was concerned  with "tenures"  as  such.   There is reason  to  think  that  the Kochuni  case  was regarded on other occasions too,  as  one decided on its own facts.  In Gangadhar Narayanrao  Majumdar v. State of Bombay(3) in considering the words "estate"  and "rights in an estate", the right of an inamdar under  Bombay Acts  Nos.  11, VII of 1863 to appropriate  to  himself  the difference between the full assessment and the quit rent was treated  as a right in an estate and its extinguishment,  or modification,  was  considered to protected  by  Art.  31-A. Similarly,  in  Ram Narain Medhi v. State of  Bombay(4)  the Bombay  Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Amendment) Act  1956 (which  amended Bombay Act LXVII of 1948) was  in  question. It  sought  to distribute equitably the  lands  between  the landlords  and tenants by way of compulsory purchase of  all surplus lands by tenants in possession thereof from April 1, 1957 (known as the Tillers’ Day).  The fundamental idea  was the  prevention of concentration of lands in the hands of  a few landholders.  It was pointed out that this was protected by Art. 31-A.  No doubt the redistribution of lands so  that a few may not monopolise the land is the cardinal  principle on  which  agrarian  economy in  a  socialistic  pattern  of society  rests.  But certain observations in the  case  show that  abolishing  intermediaries  or  modifications  of  the tenures (1) [1953) S.C.R. 1049.   (2) (19601 3 S.C.R. 887. (3) [1961] 1 S.C.R. 943.  (4) [1959] Supp. 1.S.C.R. 489.                              93 was  not  the only objective open under Art. 31-A.   It  was observed:               With  a  view  to  achieve  the  objective  of               establishing a socialistic pattern of  society               in the State within the meaning of Articles 38               and 39 of the Constitution,, a further measure               of  agrarian reform was enacted by  the  State               Legislature,    being   the   impugned    Act,               here before referred to, which was designed to               bring  about such distribution of ownership  -               and  control of agricultural lands as best  to               subserve  the  common  good  thus  eliminating               concentration   of   wealth   and   means   of



             production to the common detriment."  (Italics               supplied) It  is  clear that in this passage a wider  meaning  to  the expression, agrarian reforms" than that given in the Kochuni case(1) is discernible.  We shall refer to one more case  to illustrate  our  point.  in Sonapur Tea Co.  Ltd.  v.  Must. Mazirunnessa(2)  the  validity  of  the  Assam  Fixation  of Ceiling  of Land Holdings Act, 1957 was considered  and  the question  was  whether the rights which were taken  away  or abridged  by the Assam Act were "rights" in relation  to  an estate  within  the meaning of Art. 3 1 -A (2)  (b)  of  the Constitution.   The  Kochuni case(3) was decided on  May  4, 1960  and the decision in the Assam case was given on  April 4,  1961 but there is no mention of the dicta in the  former case.  -It was held that the rights which were  extinguished undoubtedly  constituted "rights in relation to  an  estate" and Mr. N. C. chatterjee who argued the case, conceded  that this was so (see p. 730).  The same conclusion regarding the meaning  of the word "modification" was reached in  Burrakur Coal  Co.  Ltd. v. Union of India(4)  without  adverting  to Kochuni  case(5).   See  also State of  Bihar  v.  Rameshwar Pratap  Narain Singh(6) and state of Bihar v. Umesh  Jha(5). In  the  latter a provision of the Bihar  Land  Reforms  Act 1950, as amended by the Bihar Land’ reforms (Amendment) Act, 1959  which empowered the Collector to  annual  anticipatory transfers  of land designed to defeat the object of the  Act was held to be protected by Art. 31-A, though the section by itself   did   not  provide  for  the   "extinguishment   or Modification" of any rights in an estate.  It was  justified as  an  integral  part of a statute which did  so  and  thus received  the protect of Art. 3 1 -A along with  the  parent Act. (1) [1960] 3 S.C.R. 887.  (2)[1962] 1 S.C.R. 724. (3) [1962] 1 S.C.R. 44,61.  (5) [1962] 2 S.C.R. 687.    (4) [1962] 2 S.C.R. 382. 94 From a review of these authorities it follows that when  the Punjab  High Court decided these cases on the  authority  of Jaga  Singh’s  case(1) the view taken in this Court  was  in favour  of giving a large and liberal meaning to  the  terms ’estate’,  ’rights  in at estate’  and  ’extinguishment  and modification’  of  such  rights  in  Art.  31-A.   No  doubt Kochuni’s  case(2) considered a bare transfer of the  rights of  the  sthanee  to the tarwad without  alteration  of  the tenure  and without any pretence of agrarian reform, as  not one contemplated by Art. 31 -A however liberally  construed. But that was a special case and we cannot apply it to  cases where  the  general  scheme  of  legislation  is  definitely agrarian reform and under its provisions something ancillary thereto  in  the  interests  of rural  economy,  has  to  be undertaken  to  give  full effect to the  reforms.   In  our judgment the High Court was right in no applying the  strict rule in Kochuni’s case(3) to the facts here. The High Court was also right in its view that the  proposed changes  in the shamlat deh and abadi deh were  included  in the  general  scheme  of planning of  rural  areas  and  the productive  utilisation  of  vacant and  waste  lands.   The scheme  of  rural  development  today  envisages  not   only equitable  distribution  of land so that there is  no  undue imbalance in society resulting in landless class on the  one hand  and a concentration of land in the hands of a  few  on the  other,  but  envisages also  the  raising  of  economic standards and bettering rural health and social  conditions. Provisions for the assignment of lands to village  Panchayat for  the  use  of the general community,  or  for  hospitals



schools,  manure  pits, tanning grounds etc. enure  for  the benefit  rural  population  must  be  considered  to  be  an essential  part of the redistribution of holdings  and  open lands  to  which  no  objection  is  apparently  taken.   If agrarian  reforms are to succeed, mere distribution of  land to  the  landless  is not enough.  There must  be  a  proper planning of rural economy and conditions and a body like the village Panchayat is best designed to promote rural  welfare than  individual owners of small portions of lands  Further, the  village Panchayat is an authority for purposes of  Part III  as was conceded before us and it has the protection  of Art 3 1 -A because of this character even if the taking over of sham lat deh amounts to acquisition.  In our opinion, the High  Court was right in deciding as it did on this part  of the case. With respect to abadi deh the same reasoning must apply ’The settling  of  a body of agricultural artisans (such  as  the village  carpenter,  the  village  blacksmith,  the  village tanner (1) (1962) 64 P.L.R. 241. (2) [1960] 3 S.C.R. 887. 95 farrier,  wheelwright, barber, washerman etc.) is a part  of rural  planning  and  can be comprehended  in  a  scheme  of agrarian reforms.  It is a trite saying that India lives  in villages  and  a  scheme to  make  villages  self-sufficient cannot  but be regarded as part of the larger reforms  which consolidation  of  holdings, fixing of  ceilings  on  lands, distribution  of surplus lands and utilising of  vacant  and waste  lands contemplate.  The four Acts, namely,  the  Con- solidation Act, the Village Panchayat Act, the Common  Lands Regulation Act and the Security of Tenure Act are a part  of a  general scheme of reforms and any modification of  rights such  as the present had the protection of Art.  31-A.   The High Court was thus right in its conclusion on this part  of the case also. In  our opinion these appeals must fail.  We, however,  make it  clear  that by reason of the  circumstances  which  have supervened we have done no more than examine the correctness of  the decisions under appeal (particularly the Full  Bench decision  in  Jagat Singh’s case(1) which  was  followed  in them)  in the light of facts and law present to the mind  of the  Full  Bench.  For obvious reasons we have  not  strayed beyond that limit but if we have expressed any opinion which seems to bear on the Seventeenth Amendment, it should not be regarded  as  deliberate or binding.  The appeals  fail  and will be dismissed but there will be no order about costs. Appeals dismissed. (1) (1962) 64 P.L.R. 241. 96