15 March 1954
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 143 of 1952






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 15/03/1954


CITATION:  1954 AIR  297            1954 SCR  996  CITATOR INFO :  R          1955 SC 504  (88)  D          1956 SC  20  (16)  D          1963 SC 853  (15)  E          1964 SC1179  (4)  D          1980 SC   1  (18,20,22)  RF         1980 SC1789  (97)

ACT: Constitution  of  India, art. 14-Section  8-A  of  Rajasthan Ordinance XXVII of 1948 as amended-- Whether- - ultra  vires the  Constitution.

HEADNOTE:     Hold, that S. 8-A inserted in Rajasthan Ordinance  XXVII of  1948  by s. 4 of Rajasthan Ordinance X of, 1949  and  as amended by s.  3  of Rajasthan Ordinance XV of 1949 is  void under art. 14 of the     Constitution.   Frank J.  Bowman v. Edward A. Lewis (101 U.S. 22; 25  Law. Ed.  989),  Ramjilal  v. Income  Tax  Officer,  Mohindargarh ([1951]  S.C.R.  127), The State of Punjab  v.  Ajaib  Singh ([1953]  S.C.R. 254) and Thakur Madan Singh v. Collector  of Sikar (Rajasthan Law Weekly, 1954, p. 1), referred to.

JUDGMENT: CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 143 of 1952.     Appeal under article 132(1) of the Constitution of India from the Judgment and Order, dated the 997 11th  December,  195  1, of the High  Court  of  Judicature, Rajasthan at Jodhpur in D. B. Civil Miscellaneous Case No. 1 of 1951. M.   C. Setalvad, Attorney-Genaral for India and  K.   S. Hajela, Advocate-General of Rajasthan, (Porus A.  Mehta, with them) for the appellant,  N.  C.  Chatterjee. and U. M. Trivedi (Jiwan Sinha  Chandra and Ganpat Rai, with them) for the respondent.   1954.  March 15.  The Judgment of the Court was  delivered



by    GHULAM  HASAN  J.-This  appeal  filed  on  a  certificate granted by the High Court of Rajasthan under article  132(1) of  the Constitution arises from the judgment and  order  of the  said  High  Court  (Wanchoo C.J. and  Bapna  J.)  in  a petition under article 226 of the Constitution, whereby  the High  Court  held  that section 8-A  inserted  in  Rajasthan Ordinance  No.  XXVII  of 1948 by  section  4  of  Rajasthan Ordinance No. X of 1949, and the amendment to section 8-A by section  3 of Rajasthan Ordinance XV of 1949 are void  under article 14 of the Constitution and issued a writ restraining the  State  of  Rajasthan from  collecting  rents  from  the tenants  of lands comprising the Jagir of Bedla held by  the respondent.    The  respondent Rao Manohar Singhji is the owner  of  the Jagir  of  Bedla situate in the former State of  Mewar,  now included  in  the State of Rajasthan.  The former  State  of Mewar was integrated in April, 1948, to form what was  known as the former United State of Rajasthan.  In April and  May, 1949,  the  latter  State was amalgamated  with  the  former States  of  Bikaner, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur  and  the former  Union of Matsya to form the present United State  of Rajasthan.  Three Ordinances, No. XXVII of 1948 and Nos.   X and XV of 1949, were issued by the former State of Rajasthan in  connection  with State Jagirs.  The  management  of  the Jagirs  including  the  Jagir of Bedla was  assumed  by  the former  State  of Rajasthan in virtue of  the  powers  under these Ordinances.  After the final formation of the State of Rajasthan in May, 129 998 1949,  the  Ordinances remained in force in a  part  of  the present area of Rajasthan with the result that while  jagirs in  a  part -of the area were managed by the State  in  that area,  the  Jagirs  in  the rest  of  the  State  were  left untouched and remained with the Jagirdars.   On  4th  January, 1951, the respondent  filed  a  petition under  article 226 of the Constitution contending  that  the said  Ordinances were ultra vires the Constitution and  that they became void under article 13 (1) of the Constitution of India,  read  with  articles  14  and  31.   The  respondent challenged the Ordinances firstly because they constitute an infringement  of articles 14, 19 and 31 of the  Constitution and secondly because the Jagirdars only of the former  State of  Rajasthan  which was formed in  1948  are  prejudicially affected,  while  Jagirdars of the States  which  integrated later on are not at all affected (Para 9, K and L).  It  was alleged  that there was a denial of equality before the  law and  the  equal protection of the laws by  reason  of  these Ordinances  and further that the State had taken  possession of  the  property of the respondent  without  providing  for compensation.  The reply of the State was that the Jagir was a State grant held at the pleasure of the Ruler and that  it reverted  to  the Ruler on the death of the  holder  of  the Jagir and was regranted to his successor after the Ruler had recognized the succession.  The rights of the Jagirdars were non-heritable  and nontransferable and the Jagirs could  not be  partitioned amongst the heirs of the Jagirdar.   It  was pleaded therefore that even if the State took possession  of the  Jagir,  the Jagirdar was not entitled  to  compensation under article 31 (2).  It was also alleged that the impugned Ordinances  had  merely  the  effect  of  transferring   the management  of  the  Jagirs to the Government  and  did  not deprive  the  Jagirdars  of their  property  and  they  were consequently not hit by article 31 (2).  It was denied  that



there  was  any  discrimination  under  article  14  of  the Constitution.   The  High Court held on the  first  question that the pro I visions of Ordinances Nos.  X and XV of  1949 are  not  void under article 31 (2) or 19 (1) (f ).  On  the second  point they recorded the conclusion that section  8-A which  was  introduced in Ordinance No. XXVII  of  1948,  by section 999 4 of - Ordinance No. X of 1949, and the amendment to section 8-A by section 3 of Rajasthan Ordinance No. XV of 1949,  are void  under  article 13 (1) of the Constitution,  read  with article  14.   The  High  Court  accordingly,  allowed   the petition and prohibited the State from collecting rents from the  tenants of the land comprising the Jagir of Bedla  held by  the  respondent.   This  judgment  was  given  on   11th December, 1951, but we understand that since then the  State has passed Acts abolishing Jagirs throughout the State.  The question  however  is of some importance to  the  respondent inasmuch  as  it affects his right of collecting  the  rents even though for a short period.   In  appeal it is contended by the learned  AttorneyGeneral on behalf of the State of Rajasthan that the decision of the High Court that the impugned section 8-A as amended was  hit by  article  14 of the Constitution  is  erroneous.   Before deciding  the  validity  of  this  contention  it  will   be necessary to refer briefly to the relative provisions of the Ordinances.   Ordinance No. I of 1948 (the United  State  of Rajasthan  Administration  Ordinance,  1948)  was  made  and promulgated  on  April  28,  1948,  by  the  Rajpramukh   of Rajasthan  to provide for the administration of  the  United State  ,of Rajasthan after the latter came  into  existence. On  July 26, 1948, Ordinance No. XXVII of 1948, [the  United State   of   Rajasthan  Jagirdars  (Abolition   of   Powers) Ordinance, 1948] was made and promulgated by the  Rajpramukh providing for the abolition of judicial powers of  Jagirdars and  executive powers in connection with the  judiciary  and vesting them in the Government.  Section 8 of this Ordinance authorised  the  Government to make orders with  a  view  to carrying  out and giving effect to the provisions  and  pur- poses of the Ordinance and the various powers enumerated  in that section.  Then came section 8-A which was introduced by Ordinance X of 1949 [the United State of Rajasthan Jagirdars (Abolition  of  Powers) (Amendment)  Ordinance,  1949].   It reads thus:-   "Without  prejudice  to the generality  of  the  foregoing provisions, it is hereby enacted that the revenue which  was heretofore collected by Jagirdars shall 1000 henceforward be collected by and paid to the Government; the Government  will  after deducting the collection  and  other expenses pay. it to the Jagirdar concerned." It was amended by section 3 of Ordinance No. XV of 1949 [the United  State of Rajasthan Jagirdars (Abolition  of  Powers) (2nd  Amendment) Ordinance, 1949] by adding to  section  8-A after the word ’Revenue’ the following: " Including taxes, cesses and other revenue from forests."    It  is  not denied that when the State of  Rajasthan  was formed in April and May, 1949, the Jagirdars of only a  part of  the present State of Rajasthan could not  collect  their rents  while Jagirdars in other areas which were covered  by Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur and Matsya Union were under  no  such  disability. It appears that in  the  former State  of Rajasthan provisions regarding the  management  by Government of Jagirs and the right to collect rents  already existed,  whereas there was no such provision in the  former



States of Jaipur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur and  Matsya Union, but when the integration took place in April and May, 1949,  the discrimination exhibited itself not by virtue  of anything  inherent in the impugned Ordinances but by  reason of the fact that Jagirdars of one part of the present  State of  Rajasthan were already subjected to a disability in  the matter  of management of their Jagirs while the other  parts were   wholly  unaffected.   This  discrimination,   however undesirable,  was  not  open  to  any  exception  until  the Constitution  came  into  force on January  26,  1950,  when article  13 of the Constitution declared that "all  laws  in force  in  the  territory of India  immediately  before  the commencement  of  this Constitution, in so far as  they  are inconsistent with the provisions of this Part, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void." It becomes therefore necessary  to  see whether the impugned provision  which  is discriminatory on the face of it is hit by article 14  which declares  that  "the  State shall not  deny  to  any  person equality before the law or the equal protection of the  laws within   the   territory  of  India.,"   Such   an   obvious discrimination 1001 can  be  supported  only on the ground  that  it  was  based upon,,,& reasonable classification.  It is now well  settled by  the decision of this court that a proper  classification must  always  bear  a reasonable and just  relation  to  the things  in respect of which it is proposed.  Judged by  this criterion it seems to us that the discrimination is based on no classification at all and is manifestly unreasonable  and arbitrary.  The classification might have been justified  if the  State  had shown that it was based upon  a  substantial distinction, namely that the Jagirdars of the area subjected to the disability were in some way different to those of the other area of Rajasthan who were not similarly situated.  It was  perfectly  possible  for the State  to  have  raised  a specific  ground  in  order to get out of  the  mischief  of article 14, that the discrimination was based upon-what  the learned Attorney-General called geographical  consideration, that  the  Jagirs of the particular area  were  governed  by different  laws  of tenure and thus constituted a  class  by itself and that that was a good ground for  differentiation. No  such ground was ever put forward before the High  Court, much  less  was  any attempt made  to  substantiate  such  a ground.   In  the  absence of any  allegation  supported  by evidence  we are unabe to find in favour of the  State  that the  Jagirdars of the particular area to which category  the respondent  belongs  were  differently  situated  to   other Jagirdars.   The  preambles  of the Ordinances do not purport  to  show that  the conditions in the former State of  Rajasthan  were such  as to justify the imposition of the disability on  the Jagirdars  of that State while the conditions prevailing  in the other States forbade such a course.  The High Court held that  the Ordinance abolishing the Police and  the  Judicial powers  and  the administrative powers of the  Jagirdars  in respect to revenue in -forests was open to no objection  but there  was no reason for taking away from the  Jagirdars  by section  8-A the power to collect rents to which  they  were entitled.   We agree with the High Court in holding that there was  no real  and  substantial distinction why the  Jagirdars  of  a particular area should continue to be 1002 treated  with inequality as compared with the  Jagirdars  in another  area  of  Rajasthan.  We  hold  therefore  that  no



rational basis for any classification or differentiation has been  made  out.  Section 8-A of the impugned  Ordinance  as amended  is a clear contravention of the respondent’s  right under  article 14 of the Constitution and must  be  declared void.    The case of Frank J. Bowman v. Edward A. Lewis(1)  relied upon by the learned Attorney-General on behalf of the  State is  inapplicable  to  the facts  and  circumstances  of  the present case.  By the Constitution and laws of Missouri  the citizens  residing in one hundred and nine counties  of  the State  of  Missouri  had  the  right  and  privilege  of  an unrestricted  appeal  to  the supreme Court  of  the  State, while,  at the same time the right of appeal -was denied  to the  citizens of the State residing in four of the  counties in  the  easterly  portion of the State, as  also  to  those residing  in the City of St. Louis.  It was  contended  that this  feature  of  the judicial system of  Missouri  was  in conflict with the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of  the United States.  Bradley J. held that the equality clause  in the  14th Amendment contemplates the protection  of  persons against  unjust  discriminations  by  a  State;  it  has  no reference to territorial or municipal arrangements made  for different  portions of a State.  He went on to say:-"  If  a Mexican  State should be acquired by treaty and added to  an adjoining  State or part of a State, in the  United  States, and the two should be erected into.a new State, it cannot be doubted that such new State might allow the Mexican 1aws and judicature to continue unchanged in the one portion, and the common  law  and its corresponding judicature in  the  other portion.  Such an arrangement would not be prohibited by any fair  construction of the 14th Amendment.  It would  not  be based on any respect of persons or classes, but on municipal considerations  alone,  and a regard to the welfare  of  all classes within the particular territory or jurisdiction."    This  passage  which  was strongly  relied  upon  by  the learned Attorney-General does not advance his case (1)  1O1 U.S 22; 25 Law.  Ed. 989. 1003 for  in the present cage there is no question of  continuing unchanged @the old laws and judicature in one portion and  a different  law in the other.  As we have already said  there is  nothing  to show that there as any  peculiarity  or  any special  feature  in  the  Jagirs of  the  former  State  of Rajasthan   to  justify  differentiation  from  the   Jagirs comprised  in the States which subsequently integrated  into the present United State of Rajasthan.  After the new  State was formed, there was no occasion to take away the powers of Jagirdars of a disfavoured area and to leave them intact  in the rest of the area.   The  case in Ramjilal v. Income-tax Officer,  Mohindargarh (1)  is  distinguishable  on  the  ground  that  that   case proceeded  upon  the  principle  that  "pending  proceedings should  be concluded according to the law applicable at  the time  when  the  rights  or  liabilities  accrued  and   the proceeding  commenced  was a reasonable law founded  upon  a reasonable   classification  of  the  assessees   which   is permissible  under the equal protection clause.  "  Such  is however not the case here.    Reliance  was  also placed on the case of  The  State  of Punjab  v.  Ajaib Singh and Another(1).  In  that  case  the Abducted Persons (Recovery and Restoration) Act of 1949  was not  held to be unconstitutional under article 14  upon  the ground that it extended only to the several States mentioned in   section  1(2),  for  in  the  opinion  of   the   court classification  could well be made on a geographical  basis.



There  the  Muslim abducted persons- found in  those  States were  held  to form one class having  similar  interests  to protect  and their inclusion in the definition  of  abducted persons could not be called discriminatory.;    The  learned  Attorney-General  referred  to  two   cases decided  by  the same.  Bench of the Rajasthan  High  Court, Thakur  Madan  Singh  v.  Collector  of  Sikar(3),  and   an unreported  judgment delivered on November 10, 1953, In  re, Raja Hari Singh v. Rajasthan and argued (1)  (1951] S.C.R. 127. (2)  [1953] S.C.R. 254. (3)  Rajasthan Law Weekly, 1954, P.1. 1004 that  the Bench -had not stuck to its view expressed in  the judgment under appeal.  A careful, perusal of the  judgments in  these  cases will show that this is far from  being  the case.  The former case was distinguished from the case under appeal  on the ground that there was a reasonable basis  for classification in that case, while no such basis existed  in the  case  before us.  It appears that before  Jaipur  State merged into the present United State of Rajasthan there were District Boards existing in that State.  They were continued on the formation of the new State but there were no District Boards  in the other States.  The argument that  the  Jaipur District  Boards  Act was invalid under article  14  of  the Constitution  was repelled it being held that the  existence of  District  Boards in Jaipur was for the  welfare  of  all classes within Jaipur that Jaipur had reached a higher stage of  development than many of the other States and  it  would have been a retrograde step to deprive the People living  in the  former  Jaipur  State of the benefits  -of  Local  Self Government  conferred by the District Boards Act.   Reliance was  placed  on the observations of Bradley J. in  Frank  J. Bowman  v.  Edward  A.  Lewis(1)  in  connection  with   the illustration  of  the Mexican State and* the  learned  Chief Justice referred with approval to the decision under  appeal before us.  In the second case the attack was on the alleged discriminatory provision contained in the Mewar Tenancy  Act and  the Land Revenue Act.  Under these Acts the rent  rates had been approved by the Board of Revenue and the Government and they were alleged to be detrimental to the interests  of the Jagirdars.  The Jagirdars had challenged those Acts by a petition  under article 226.  It appears that no  such  laws existed  in the other parts of Rajasthan.  The  decision  of the High Court proceeded on the ground that it was not shown that there were no similar tenancy and Land Revenue laws  in other  parts  of  Rajasthan  and  the  impugned  Acts  being ameliorative  legislation  designed to  raise  the  economic status  of the agriculturists in Mewar could not be said  to constitute   any  discrimination  merely  because  no   such legislation (1)  101 U.S. 22 ; 25 Law.  Ed. 989. 1005 existed  in the other parts of Rajasthan .  This  difference between the two parts did not justify that such  progressive and  ameliorative  measures for the welfare  of  the  people existing in a particular area should be done, away with  and the State be brought down to the level of the  unprogressive States.   The judgment shows that the Bench far  from  going back  on  its  previous view adhered  to  it  and  expressly distinguished the case under appeal before us on its special facts. .      As  a result of the foregoing discussion we  hold  that the view taken by the High Court is correct.  We accordingly dismiss the, appeal with costs.



                    Appeal dismissed. Agent for the appellant: R. H. Dhebar.