Deprivation of Property Right Can Only be in Accordance with the Procedure Established by Law, reiterated Supreme Court

Deprivation of property right can only be in accordance with the procedure established by law, reiterated Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has reiterated that deprivation of property right can only be in accordance with the procedure established by law; the Court held this, while considering a case involving proceedings under Madhya Pradesh Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings Act, 1960.

Brief Facts of the Case

The Predecessor-in-interest of the appellant was a bhumiswami of agricultural dry land. In 1979, an order was published against the appellant declaring that some extent of land as surplus.

The proceedings for taking over possession and eviction under Section 248 of the Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code, 1959, were initiated against the appellant by the respondents.

While so, the appellant filed a suit for declaration of title and permanent injunction with respect to the said land. This suit was dismissed by the Trial Court. The Appellate Court reversed the findings of the Trial Court and held that the competent authority had failed to comply with the statutory provisions under Section 11(3) and 11(4) of the said Act.

 It declared that the appellant as the bhumiswami of the surplus land and the respondents were restrained from interfering with his possession of the land. The High Court, allowing the second appeal filed by respondents, set aside the Appellate Court judgment.

Issue before the Court

Whether the appellant had filed objections before the competent authority giving particulars of the pendency of the civil suit?

Observation of the Court

Considering the pleadings, the Court ruled that an admission by the respondents that the appellant in the return, filed as per Section 9 of the said Act, mentioned the aspect of the pending suit qua the subject land.

Referring to Section 11(4) of the Act, the bench noted that,

“In Section 11(4) it has been stated that in case the competent authority finds that any question has arisen regarding the title of a particular holder, which has not been determined by the competent court, the competent authority shall proceed to enquire summarily into merits of such question and pass such orders as it thinks fit. Thus, the power is vested with the competent authority to determine such conflict of the land holding. This is, however, subject to a proviso. The proviso clearly stipulates that if such a question is already pending for decision before the competent court, the competent authority shall await the decision of the court”

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The Court ruled that the very scheme of the Act has been breached by the respondents herein in not complying with the statutory provisions.

We say so as the right to property is still a constitutional right under Article 300A of the Constitution of India though not a fundamental right. The deprivation of the right can only be in accordance with the procedure established by law. The law in this case is the said Act. Thus, the provisions of the said Act had to be complied with to deprive a person of the land being surplus.

Setting aside the judgment of High Court, and upholding the judgment of Appellate Court, the bench observed:

“The provisions of the said Act are very clear as to what has to be done at each stage. In our view once a disclosure was made, the matter had to be dealt with under sub-section (4) of Section 11 of the said Act and in view of the pending suit proceedings between the appellant and Jenobai, the proviso came into play which required the respondent authorities to await the decision of the court. Sub-section 5 and thereafter sub-section 6 would kick in only after the mandate of subsection 4 was fulfilled. In the present case it was not so. Even notice was not issued to Jenobai. She could have clarified the position further. The effect of the decree in favour of Jenobai is that the appellant loses the right to hold that land and his total land holding comes within the ceiling limit. If there is no surplus land there can be no question of any proceedings for takeover of the surplus land under the said Act.”

CASE: BAJRANGA (Dead) by LRs vs. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH citation: CIVIL APPEAL No.6209 of 2010

CORAM: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy

Deprivation of property right can only be in accordance with the procedure established by law, reiterated Supreme Court

Also Read: Reservation Can’t be Allowed to be Made Effective with Retrospective Effect, Which is Against the Mandate of the Constitution: Jharkhand HC

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