2009(5) ALL MR 149
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
N.N. MHATRE, J.
Govind Babu Khot (Since Deceased By Heirs And Lrs.)Vs.State Of Maharashtra
Writ Petition No.5934 of 1991
25th June, 2009
Petitioner Counsel: Ms. S. M. DANDEKAR
Respondent Counsel: Mr. R. M. PATNE
Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act (1948), S.84-C - Suo moto enquiry - Inordinate delay of three years - Held, suo moto enquiry cannot be started after an inordinate delay of almost three years after the sale-deed was executed between the petitioners and the original tenant.(Para 6)
JUDGMENT :- The petitioners are aggrieved by the order passed by the Maharashtra Revenue tribunal by which the revision application filed by the petitioner has been dismissed. The orders passed in Tenancy Appeal No.65 of 1982 on 21.8.1986 and Tenancy Case No.Amanapur/ER 27/218 on 10.9.1982 are confirmed by this order. The Tribunal has held that the proceedings under the provisions of section 84-C(3) should be initiated.
2. The petitioners are concerned with Gat No.913 admeasuring 2 hectares and 11 ares situated at village Amnapur Taluka Tasgaon Sangli. One Narhar Narayan Gulavani was the original owner of this land. Ganoo Dnyanu Mali was the tenant. Govind Babu Khot was his subtenant. The petitioners are the heirs of Govind Babu Khot.
3. Proceedings were initiated by the landlord u/s.70-B of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act against the original tenant. That matter was compromised and Mali was accepted as a tenant. He purchased half the land and surrendered the other half to the landlord. The petitioners' predecessor was in possession of the land even prior to the proceedings initiated u/s.32-G. Since the tenant was unable to purchase the property, the petitioners' predecessor - Khot paid the purchase price fixed under 32-G to the original tenant so that he could purchase the land on his behalf. An agreement of sale was entered into between the tenant and subtenant i.e. Govind Babu Khot and a consideration of Rs.10,000/- was paid by him. An application was preferred by both the tenant and Khot before the Collector for permission to sell the land to the the latter. There was no communication from the Collector. Thereafter, on 24.10.1977, the tenant executed a registered sale deed in favour of Govind Khot for the sum of Rs.15,000/-. After purchasing the land the petitioners have incurred expenditure of about Rs.27,000/- towards improvements of the land including laying of pipelines, installing an electric motor, etc..
4. In 1980, a suo moto enquiry was initiated against the petitioners u/s.84-C r/w. sections 43 and 32-G by the Tehsildar, Tasgaon. Neither the tenant nor the original landlord were issued notices. The Tehsildar by his order dated 10.9.1982 declared the purchase invalid and held that the land vested in the State Government. Aggrieved by this decision, the petitioners preferred an appeal before the Sub-Divisional Officer, Miraj. That appeal was dismissed on 21.8.1986 after which the petitioner preferred a revision application. That revision has also been dismissed.
5. The main contention of the learned advocate for the petitioner is that a suo moto enquiry under section 84-C could not have been started after an inordinate delay of almost three years after the sale deed was executed between the petitioners and the original tenant. Reliance is placed on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Mohamad Kavi Mohamad Amin Vs. Fatmabai Ibrahim, (1997)6 SCC 71 in support of the aforesaid submission. The learned advocate for the petitioner points out that the petitioners have expended huge amount towards improvement of the land and, therefore, the land cannot vest in the government.
6. In my opinion, after considering the submissions of the learned advocate for the petitioner as well as the learned AGP, the orders impugned in the petition will have to be set aside. Undisputedly, the agreement of sale was entered between the parties in 1971. An application was submitted to the Collector immediately thereafter for permission to sell the land. The registered sale deed was executed in 1977 and the suo moto enquiry was initiated in 1980. Thus, there has been an inordinate delay of three years during which time the petitioners have incurred costs of Rs.27,000/- for improving the land by laying pipelines and installing an electric pump. The judgment in the case of Mohd. Kavi Mohamad Amin (supra) delivered by the Supreme Court is applicable squarely to the facts in the present case. In that case, there was a delay of 9 months despite which the Supreme Court observed that the suo moto powers u/s.84-C had not been exercised within a reasonable time. In the present case despite the application for permission to sell the land being submitted in 1971, the Collector did not communicate his decision to Khot or the tenant.