2011(7) ALL MR 676
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
V.M. KANADE, J.
Appa Dadu Patil Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Anr.
Writ Petition No. 4107 of 1993
13th January, 2011
Petitioner Counsel: Mr. UMESH MANKAPURE
Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act (1948), S.84-C - Suo motu proceedings-Limitation - Agreement for transfer of land - Suo motu inquiry initiated by Tahasildar after three years from date of agreement - Since the inquiry was not initiated within a reasonable period of time, order passed by the Tahasildar quashed and set aside.
JUDGMENT :- Heard the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner. None appears on behalf of the respondents. The petitioner is aggrieved by the order passed by the Tenancy Avval Karkoon, who was pleased to declare the sale of the land by the petitioner herein as invalid since sanction to transfer the land was not obtained under S. 43 of the Bombay Tenancy & Agricultural Lands Act, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as the "Act) and further directed that the said land should be forfeited and should vest in the State Government. The said order was confirmed by the Sub-Divisional Officer in Tenancy Appeal No. 64 of 1989 and by the MRT by his order dated 27th January, 1992.
2. The brief facts are that respondent No.2 was a tenant in respect of the suit lands which are situated at Nagaon, admeasuring 1 Hectare & 28 Ares + 12 Ares which was a Potkharab land. Pursuant to the order passed under S. 32-G of the Act in favour of respondent No. 2, he purchased land and certificate under S. 32-M of the Act was issued in his favour. Thereafter he entered into an agreement with the petitioner herein. According to the petitioner, the said agreement was only a document of mortgage. The said agreement was entered into between the parties on account of money advanced by the petitioner to respondent No.1 and it was not an actual sale. It is also the case of the tenant that actual possession of the suit land was neither handed over nor taken by the petitioner herein and as such there was no contravention of the provisions of Section 84-C of the said Act.
3. The Tahsildar, however, started suo-motu inquiry in respect of the said lands in 1988, that is after a lapse of three years from the date of alleged agreement between the parties. The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner submitted that all the Courts below have committed an error of law which is apparent on the face of record. He submitted that though no limitation is prescribed for exercising power under Section 84-C of the Act. The said powers has to be exercised within a reasonable period of time. He invited my attention to the judgment of the Apex Court in the Case of - Mohamad Kavi Mohamad Amin, Appellant vs. Fatimabai Ibrahim, Respondent [(1997) 6 Supreme Court Cases 71]. He pointed out that in the said case the Apex Court had held that inquiry which was started after one year from the date of sale was not initiated within a reasonable period of time.
4. In my view, there is some substance in the submission made by the learned counsel for the petitioner. It is a well settled position in law that where the statute does not prescribe any period of limitation, the authority is expected to exercise such power within a reasonable period of time. In the present case, admitted position is that the alleged agreement was executed on 14-3-1985 and suo-motu inquiry was initiated in the year 1988. Obviously, therefore, in my view, the said inquiry was not initiated within a reasonable period of time. The Apex Court in the case of Mohamad Kavi Mohmad Amin (supra), has observed in paragraph 2 as under -
"Section 84-C of the Act does not prescribe any time for initiation of the proceeding. But in view of the settled position by several judgments of this Court that wherever a power is vested in a statutory authority without prescribing any timelimit, such power should be exercised within a reasonable time."
5. The ratio of the said judgment, therefore, squarely apply to the present case. In this case the petitioner admittedly is an agriculturist. On this ground alone, the impugned orders passed by the authorities below are liable to be quashed and set aside, since it is apparent on the face of record that they have committed an error of law. Writ petition is, therefore, allowed in terms of prayer clause (b), and is accordingly disposed of.