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Ceiling Limit for Agrlicultaral Land in Karnataka - Basanagouda_vs_the_land_tribunal_and 2004 Kar Hc

Ceiling Limit for Agrlicultaral Land in Karnataka - Basanagouda_vs_the_land_tribunal_and 2004 Kar Hc

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Though Section 2(A)(12) defines a 'family' in the case of a married individual, as such individual, the spouse and their sons and unmarried daughters, in the context of Section 63, reading Sub-section (2) with Sub-sections (3) and (10), the term 'family' with reference to a Hindu father, means the individual, his wife, undivided minor sons and unmarried daughters.
Though Section 2(A)(12) defines a 'family' in the case of a married individual, as such individual, the spouse and their sons and unmarried daughters, in the context of Section 63, reading Sub-section (2) with Sub-sections (3) and (10), the term 'family' with reference to a Hindu father, means the individual, his wife, undivided minor sons and unmarried daughters.

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Basanagouda vs The Land Tribunal And Anr.

on 11 May, 2004

Karnataka High Court Basanagouda vs The Land Tribunal And Anr. on 11 May, 2004 Equivalent citations: 2004 (4) KarLJ 193 Author: R Raveendran Bench: R Raveendran, A S Reddy, K Manjunath JUDGMENT R.V. Raveendran, J. 1. The appellant's family consists of himself, his wife, one son and one daughter. According to appellant, there was an oral partition between himself and his minor son [Sharanappa] on 13-3-1972 and subsequently that was reduced into writing in the form of a memorandum of partition [palupatti]. According to appellant, under the said petition his minor son had been allotted Sy. Nos. 86 [7 acres 21 guntas], 156 [6 acres 15 guntas], 65 [6 guntas], 66/1 [2 acres 17 guntas], 290/A [34 guntas], 293/A [1 acre 11 guntas] and 294/B [18 guntas] in all 19 acres 02 guntas; and the appellant held the remaining land viz., Sy. Nos. 69/3 [3 acres 12 guntas], 74/2 [6 acres 20 guntas], 85 [10 acres 5 guntas], 334 [24 guntas], 335 [34 guntas], 338 [5 acres 6 guntas] and 40 [13 acres] in all 39 acres 21 guntas. 2. The appellant filed a declaration under Section 66 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 [for short, 'the Act'] in regard to the lands held by him. In the said declaration, he disclosed the total extent of lands held by him and also by his family members. According to appellant, the land which had fallen to the share of his minor son Sharanappa under the partition dated 13-3-1972 had to be excluded to determine whether he (the appellant) holds any excess land or not. 3. The Land Tribunal, Raichur by order dated 4-10-1981 held that the appellant was holding land in excess of the ceiling limit. Appellant challenge the said order in W.P. No. 1664 of 1982. This Court by order dated 22-2-1984 allowed the said writ petition, set aside the order of the Tribunal and remanded the matter to Land Tribunal for fresh consideration. On remand the Tribunal reconsidered the matter and passed a fresh order dated 6-3-1987. It found that the appellant had filed the declaration declaring an extent of 60 acres 10 guntas of Pooratipli Village; that on verification it found that the actual land held by the appellant was 58 acres 23 guntas (including a phut kharab of 1 gunta); that an extent of 55 acres 39 guntas was 'D' class land and 2 acres 23 guntas was 'C' class land; that when the 'C' class land was converted to 'D' class, the total extent would be equivalent to 61 acres 21 guntas of 'D' class land; and that as the ceiling limit was only 54 acres, the appellant held 7 acres 20 guntas of 'D' land in excess of the ceiling limit. The Tribunal held that as the partition dated 13-3-1972 was not by a registered deed, but merely by means of a palupatti on stamp paper of Rs. 2/-, it cannot be taken into consideration. As a consequence, the Tribunal held that the appellant should surrender 7 acres 20 guntas of 'D' class land held to be excess. 4. Feeling aggrieved, the appellant filed an appeal before the Raichur District Land Reforms Appellate Authority in R.A. No. 37 of 1987. The Appellate Authority by order dated 7-1-1988 ordered the return of the appeal to the appellant, as the order by the Tribunal was made final under Section 67(1)(d) of the Act and not therefore appealable. Thereafter, the appellant filed W.P. No. 2536 of 1992, challenging the order dated 6-3-1987 passed by the Land Tribunal, duly explaining the delay. In the said writ petition, he contended that the Tribunal committed a serious error in refusing to take note of the partition deed (palupatti) dated 13-3-1972 between himself and his minor son Sharanappa. Relying on the decisions of a learned Single Judge of this Court in Revanna Siddappa Hadri v. Assistant Commissioner, Indi and Ors., 1977(2) Kar. L.J. 187 and the decision of a Division Bench of this Court in Abdul Khader v. Land Tribunal, Sedam and Anr., (DB) the appellant contended before the learned Single Judge that the lands allotted to his minor son Sharanappa on partition shall have to be excluded while calculating the extent of land held by him, having regard to Section 63 of the Act as such a partition had taken place prior to 1-3-1974.
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5. The learned Single Judge, by order dated 15-7-1996 dismissed the writ petition, holding that having regard to the decisions of the Supreme Court in Begulla Bapi Raju v. State of Andhra Pradesh, , Ramondrasingh v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Ors., , Vengdasalam Pillai v. Union Territory of Pondichery, and Thumati Venkaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Ors., , a minor son is not entitled to claim a separate ceiling area and the extent of land held by the minor son should be clubbed with the land held by the father for the purpose of calculating the extent of land held and the ceiling area will have to be applied with reference to the aggregate land held by the family members. He held: "Therefore, the family as defined under the Act for the purpose of calculating the extent of land to be held by a family is wholly distinct and different from the concept and Hindu Undivided Family under the Hindu Law. The circumstance that a partition had taken place disrupting the joint family status consisting of the petitioner and his minor sons, has no relevance in determining the total extent of the holding of the petitioner in accordance with the provisions of Section 63(2) of the Act. That is because, the Act has created a special statutory unit consisting of the persons satisfying the description contained in Section 2(A)(12) of the Act, as constituting a family, for the purpose of fixation of the ceiling area under the Act. The stress is only on the existence of the relationship mentioned in the Section, and unity of title or jointness of holding in relation to property are not essentially for attracting the definition of family. Under Section 2(A)(12), the family means the individual, his wife, their minor sons and their unmarried daughter. They together constitute a family for fixing the ceiling area under Section 63(2) of the Act. That being so, the property alleged to have been allotted to the minor son under an unregistered document, which is said to have been executed on a stamp paper of Rs. 2/- as well as the land owned by the petitioner are liable to be taken into account for fixing the ceiling area of the family under Section 63(2) read with Section 2(A)(12) of the Act. Therefore, for computing the total extent of the holding of the family of the petitioner, the land alleged to have been allotted to the minor son of the petitioner under an unregistered document is liable to be taken into account. Family for the purpose of fixing the ceiling area as defined under Section 2(A)(12) read with Section 63(2) of the Act does not exclude the minor son also. Therefore, in this case, for the purpose of fixing the ceiling area of the family, the minor son of the petitioner cannot be excluded". Though he referred to the decisions in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra, the learned Single Judge did not choose to follow them, apparently as he felt that they were not good law, having regard to the decisions of the Supreme Court referred to above. The learned Single Judge did not hold that the said decisions in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra, were overruled by the Supreme Court or that they had ceased to be good law. But, he held that the said two decisions have not considered the scope of Section 63(2) of the Act, with reference to the definition of the expression 'family' in Section 2(A)(12), for the purpose of computation of the ceiling area; and that the Supreme Court has considered the scope of the term, 'family' in the aforesaid cased and held that a divided minor son cannot be excluded from the family; and that therefore the lands allotted to the minor son cannot be excluded for computing the extent of land held by the father. The learned Single Judge held that the minor's properties even if he was divided from the father, had to be taken into account and included in the holding of the father for determining the total extent held. Learned Single Judge also examined as to whether the partition put forth by the appellant was genuine or not and held that as the deed of partition was not registered, and as the palupatti had been executed only a stamp paper of Rs. 2/-, it created a suspicion that it was brought into existence in order to avoid or defeat the provisions of the Act. Feeling aggrieved the appellant has filed this appeal. 6. Having regard to the contentions urged, the following questions arise for consideration; (a) Whether there is a need to deviate from the view expressed in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's and Abdul Khader's cases?

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(b) Whether the decision in Abdul Khader's case, supra is no longer a good law having regard to the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court? (c) Whether the land allotted to the share of minor son under a partition which took place prior to 1-3-1974 should be excluded, in calculating the extent held by the father and other members of the family, to find out whether the total holding exceeded the ceiling limit or not? (d) Whether on facts, the learned Single Judge was justified in holding that the land allotted to the share of appellant's minor son cannot be excluded, as appellant failed to prove a valid partition? 7. Re: Point (a).--In Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, a learned Single Judge of this Court interpreted Section 63(10) of the Act and held that where there was a partition between Hindu father and his minor son (prior to 1-3-1974), the land transferred on partition to the minor son cannot be treated as land held by the family, nor can it be included for determining the extent of land held by the father and other members of the family and the question whether there is any excess holding should be determined only after taking note of such partition. The said decision was being consistently followed. But, another learned Single Judge of this Court in Abdul Khadar v. Land Tribunal, , examined the question as to whether a minor son separated from the family at a partition that had taken place prior to 1-3-1974 could still be treated as a member of the family as on 1-3-1974, though such question did not directly arise for consideration in the case before him. While incidentally examining the question, he held, purporting to follow the decisions of the Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra v. Vyasendra, , Begulla Bapi Raju's case, supra, Ramondrasingh's case, supra and Vengdasalam Pillai's case, supra, that the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, was no longer good law and if a minor son was a member of a 'family', the family as one entity is entitled to ten units, whatever may be the share of the minor son; and that the minor son loses his independent status, for purposes of ceiling and his status gets merged with that of his parents. 8. In an appeal against the said decision in Abdul Khadar's case, supra, in Abdul Khader's case, supra, a Division Bench of this Court examined the correctness of the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, with reference to the four decisions of the Supreme Court and held that it was correctly decided. The four decisions of the Supreme Court were distinguished on the ground that the wording of the Land Ceiling Statutes of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Pondichery considered in those decisions, were different from the wording of the Karnataka Act. The Division Bench allowed the appeal and held that the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, rendered on 22-4-1977, had held the field for several years and the Courts and the Tribunal had followed the said decision and landowners had adjusted their rights and arranged their affairs in accordance with the said decision and therefore the settled position of law should not be disturbed, having regard to the Rule of stare decisis. 9. However, we find that in this case, the learned Single Judge, following the very decisions distinguished by the Division Bench in Abdul Khader's case, supra, has held that not only the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, but also the decision of the Division Bench in Abdul Khader's cannot be followed, having regard to the principles laid down in the said decisions of the Supreme Court. When a Division Bench of this Court has referred and distinguished the said four decisions of the Supreme Court, and thereafter held that the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, is good law, it was not proper for the learned Single Judge of this Court to refuse to follow the decisions in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra, by relying on the very decisions of the Supreme Court, which were considered and distinguished by the Division Bench of this Court, 10. We may also at this juncture refer to the rule of stare decisis (that is, rule of abiding by decisions) which is a sound and well-settled policy based on the doctrine that definiteness and finality, consistency and security. It requires that an accepted and established decision, on the basis of which several contracts/dealings/transactions/settlements would have taken place, should not be disturbed, even if it is
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subsequently found to be not legally sound. The following passage from Salmond on Jurisprudence [12th edition] at page 157 is relevant: "Where the decision has stood for some length of time and been regarded as establishing the law, people will have acted in reliance on it, dealt with property and made contracts on the strength of it, and in general made it a basis of expectation and a ground of mutual dealings. In such circumstances, it is better that the decision though founded in error should stand". In Gajanan and Ors. v. Seth Brindaban, , the Supreme Court observed thus, with reference to the doctrine of stare decisis : "There is also another aspect which may legitimately be kept in view. . . . Where the meaning of a Statute is ambiguous and capable of more interpretations than one, and one view accepted by the highest Court has stood for a long period during which many transactions such as dealings in property and making of contracts have taken place on the faith of that interpretation the Court would ordinarily be reluctant to put upon it a different interpretation which would materially affect those transactions". In Raj Narain Pandey and Ors. v. Sant Prasad Tewari and Ors., , the Supreme Court observed thus: ". . . . In the matter of the interpretation of a local statute, the view taken by the High Court over a number of years should normally be adhered to and not disturbed. A different view would not only introduce an element of uncertainty and confusion, it would also have the effect of unsettling transactions which might have been entered into on the faith of those decisions. The doctrine of stare decisis can be aptly invoked in such a situation". A Full Bench of this Court in Syed Basheer Ahamed and Ors. v. State of Karnataka and Ors., , considered whether the decision of the Division Bench of this Court in Lakshmana Gowda v. State of Karnataka, 1981(1) Kar.L.J. 1 : ILR 1980 Kar. 892, on point No. (iii) therein, was rightly decided. It was held: "Apart from the fact that the said decision on point (iii) in Lakshmana Gowda's case, supra, applying the doctrine of feeding the grant by estoppel is a just and proper interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Act, the Rule of stare decisis is a compelling reason to follow it. Lakshmana Gowda has held the field for more than a decade and has been followed consistently. We hasten to add that Lakshmana Gowda's case, supra, is neither founded in error nor legally unsound. We have referred to the Rule of store decisis at some length only to underline that, even if a different view is possible, it is not prudent or advisable to change the settled position at this stage. . . .". 11. We are therefore of the view that the learned Single Judge ought not to have deviated from the law laid down in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khaddr's case, supra. Even if he had any doubt about the correctness of the said decisions, having regard to their binding nature, he should have referred the matter to a larger Bench rather than ignoring them (vide Lala Shri Bhagwan and Anr. v. Ram Chand and Anr., ). We accordingly answer point (a) in the negative. 12. Re: Point (b).--We will now consider whether the decisions in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case and Abdul Khader's case, were correctly decided or not. For this purpose, it is necessary to refer to the relevant provisions of the Act. Section 2(A)(12) defines family thus: "In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, "Family" means.-

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(a) in the case of an individual who has a spouse or spouses, such individual, the spouse or spouses and their minor sons and unmarried daughters, if any; (b) in the case of an individual who has no spouse, such individual and his or her minor sons and unmarried daughters; (c) in the case of an individual who is a divorced person and who has not remarried, such individual and his minor sons and unmarried daughters, whether in his custody or not; and (d) where an individual and his or her spouse are both dead, their minor sons and unmarried daughters", The term "joint family" is defined in Section 2(A)(17) as meaning, in the case of persons governed by Hindu Law, an undivided Hindu family, and in the case of other persons, a group or unit, the members of which are by custom joint in estate or residence. Section 63 deals with ceiling on land. Sub-sections (1), (2), (3) and part of Sub-section (10), which are relevant for our purpose are extracted below: 63. Ceiling on land.--(1) No person who is not a member of a family or who has no family shall, except as otherwise provided in this Act, be entitled to hold, whether as landowner, landlord or tenant or as mortgagee with possession or otherwise or partly in one capacity and partly in another, land in excess of the ceiling area. (2) The ceiling area for a person who is not a member of a family or who has no family or for a family shall be ten units: Provided that in the case of a family consisting of more than five members the ceiling area shall be ten units plus an additional extent of two units for every member in excess of five, so however that the ceiling area shall not exceed twenty units in the aggregate. (3) In the case of a family the ceiling area shall be applied to the aggregate of the lands held by all the members of the family, including the 'stridhana' land. (4) to (9) xxx (10) Notwithstanding anything in the preceding sub-section, if any person has.(i) after the 18th November, 1961 and before the 24th January, 1971 transferred any land the extent of which if added to the other land retained by him could have been deemed to be surplus land before the date of commencement of the Amendment Act; or (ii) after the 24th January, 1971 transferred any land, otherwise than by partition or by donation to the Karnataka Bhoodan Yagna Board established under the Karnataka Bhoodan Yagna Act, 1963 (Karnataka Act 34 of 1963) or by sale to the tenant of such land in conformity with any law for the time being in force, then in calculating the ceiling area which that person is entitled to hold, the area so transferred shall be taken into account and the land exceeding the ceiling area so calculated shall be deemed to be in excess of the ceiling area notwithstanding that the land remaining with him may not in fact be in excess of the ceiling area. xxx xxx xxx Explanation.--For purposes of this sub-section the land shall be deemed to have been transferred if, it has been transferred by act of parties (whether by sale, gift, mortgage with possession, exchange, lease or any other kind of disposition made inter vivos).
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(emphasis supplied) 13. Interpreting Section 63(10), a learned Single Judge of this Court in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, held that where there was a partition between a Hindu father and his minor son, the share of the minor son should not be treated as land held by the family. The learned Single Judge held thus: "..... that the land transferred on partition is not included in the deemed transfer of land laid down in the explanation to Section 63(10). It is undisputed that partition between the first and the second petitioners was reported to the revenue authorities and mutation entries were effected. . . . The first and second respondents have committed an illegality in taking the entire extent of land as the holding of the family of the second petitioner. They were required to calculate the area of the land which is in excess of the ceiling area after taking into consideration the partition and the extent of land that fell to the share of the first and second petitioners. They have failed to do so. Therefore, their calculation cannot be sustained in law". 14. Another Single Judge of this Court reconsidered the issue in Abdul Khadar's case, supra and held that the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, was not good law having regard to the four decisions of the Supreme Court (referred to above). On appeal the decision of the learned Single Judge was reversed. The Division Bench held (Abdul Khader's case, supra): "It is therefore necessary to examine the correctness or the legality of the observations made by the learned Judge. As a preliminary to the consideration of this aspect of the matter, we may note that though the agrarian relations Acts brought about in several States during 1960s and 1970s have some common features, they do differ on the question of the ceiling limits prescribed, the rate of compensation payable, exemptions on agricultural holdings and the like. It was bound to be so for reasons both historic and geographic. Unlike in the case of trade, commerce and industry which are a modern phenomenon, land relations have evolved through history in different ways in different regions. Fertility of the soil and also pressure on land, irrigation facilities, patterns of cultivation, nature of holdings, etc., widely differ from State to State". After distinguishing the four decisions of the Supreme Court, the Division Bench did not find any error in the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, and declared it to be good law. 15. We will now independently consider whether the four decisions of the Supreme Court relied on by the learned Single Judge are applicable. Before doing so, we should remember the dangers in importing the principles laid down with reference to statutes dealing with similar subject in other States. Unless the frame and structure of the other statute and the wording of the provision in the other statute interpreted in the decision relied on are similar, the interpretation relating to the other State statute may not be of much assistance. Crawford in his Statutory Interpretation gives the following warning: "The Risks Attending Construction with Reference to other Statutes.--While it must be admitted that valuable and often indispensable assistance in ascertaining the legislative intent in a given statute may be derived by construing it in the light of other statutes, it must also be recognised that certain dangers exist. Unless, the interpreter proceeds with caution, the legislative intention may be completely lost. Often, where statutes in pari materia are consulted, it is not easy to determine what statutes may be properly considered. Some may be included which should not, and others excluded which should be considered in pari materia. In either event, there is danger that the legislative intent may remain unknown. Only by considering each and every statute in pari materia, and no others, can a statute be placed in the proper position for construction. Otherwise, the Court is as likely to misinterpret the statute as it would fail to grasp the true meaning of a sentence should it delete certain words or add words to those which already appear". 16. The decision in Vyasendra's case, supra, dealt with the provisions of the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961. The question considered was whether the land held by a wife as a separate streedhan property should be treated as land held by the "family unit" under that Act. The Supreme Court held
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that the land held by the wife should also be included having regard to the definition of "family unit" contained in the explanation to Section 4(1) of the said Act. Section 4 of the Maharashtra Act provides that all land held by each family unit whether jointly or separately shall, for the purpose of determination of ceiling area of the family unit, be deemed to be held by the family unit. The explanation to the said section defined the "family unit", as a person and his spouse/s and their minor sons and minor unmarried daughters, if any. The wording of the Karnataka Act as noticed above is different. It does not refer to lands held by the family unit either jointly or separately..Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 63 defines the ceiling area for a person who is not a member of a family or who has no family, or a family as 10 units. The proviso to Sub-section (2) provides that in the case of a family consisting of more than five members, the ceiling area shall be 10 units plus an additional extent of 2 units for every member in excess of five, so, however, that the ceiling area shall not exceed 20 units in the aggregate. Sub-section (3) provides that in the case of a family, the ceiling area shall be applied to the aggregate of the lands held by all the members of the family, including the stridhana land. As the definition of "family" includes an individual, his spouse/s and their minor sons and unmarried daughters, Section 63(2) and (3) if read in isolation, not subject to any other provisions, may have to be interpreted as requiring that the land held by a minor son should also be included, for determining whether the aggregate of the land held by a person exceeded the ceiling limit. In fact, that is the law laid down in Vyasendra's case, supra followed in Bapi Raju's case, supra. But, sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 63 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act cannot be read in isolation. Sub-section (10) of Section 63 provides that notwithstanding anything in the preceding sub-sections, if any person has after 24-1-1971 transferred any land, otherwise than by partition, then, in calculating the ceiling area which that person is entitled to hold, the area so transferred shall be taken into account. Section 63 as it stands now (except Sub-section (2-A)) was substituted by Act No. 1 of 1974 with effect from 1-3-1974. Therefore, the ceiling area has to be applied to the aggregate of the land held by a person and the members of the family as on 1-3-1974, as the said section was given effect from that date. Sub-section (10) makes it clear that any land allotted by partition held before 1-3-1974 need not be included for the purpose of ascertaining the extent held by an individual. Sub-section (10) does not make any distinction between partition among major members and minor members. Sub-section (10) starts with a non obstante clause. Therefore, in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra, this Court held that any land held by the divided minor son cannot be included, for finding out the total area held by a person and his family, if the partition/division had taken place prior to 1-3-1974. The decision in Vyasendra's case, supra, will not apply as the Maharashtra Act did not contain a provision similar to Section 63(10) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act. 17. The decision in Bapi Raju's was under the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973. The question considered was whether the land standing separately in the name of a minor son should be taken as a land held by the "family unit" of which the said minor son was also a member. The Supreme Court, following Vyasendra's case, supra, held that the land allotted to a minor son should also be treated as land held by the family unit. Section 7 of the Andhra Pradesh Act provided that partitions taking place after a certain date had to be treated as null and void. On the other hand, the effect of Section 63(10) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act is that the lands allotted on partition before 1-3-1974 will have to be excluded in calculating the ceiling area which a person is entitled to hold. It would therefore appear that the Andhra Pradesh Act had no provision similar to Section 63(10) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act. Therefore, the decision in Bapi Raju's case, supra, is not of any assistance. A similar view taken in Thumati Venkataiah's case, supra, with reference to the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Act, is also of no assistance. 18. In Ramondrasingh's case, supra, the Supreme Court considered the question whether a minor son can claim a separate ceiling area independently having regard to the provisions of Madhya Pradesh (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1960. The Supreme Court relying on the decision in Bapi Raju case, supra and considering Sections 6, 7 and 2(gg) of the Madhya Pradesh Act, held that a minor son cannot claim a separate ceiling area. It negatived the contention that a minor son who is deemed to be entitled to an area of joint family land, proportionate to his share, under Section 6(ii) of the Act is entitled to claim a separate ceiling
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area independently. Following the decision in Bapi Raju's case, supra, it held that Section 6(ii) of that Act does not have any effect on the ceiling area to which, a family as defined in Section 2(gg) is entitled under Section 7 of the Act. It did not consider the question whether the divided share of a minor son, should be added to that of the father, to ascertain whether the holding by the father is in excess of the ceiling limit. Hence, that decision is not relevant to the case on hand. 19. In Vengdasalam Pillai's case, supra, the Supreme Court, considering the provisions of the Pondichery Land Reforms (Fixation of Land Ceiling on Land) Act, 1973, held that separate properties of minor sons as well as of wife obtained on partition before the appointed date have to be included while computing the holding of the family. What is relevant is that Section 4(4) of the Pondichery Act specifically provided that in calculating the extent of land held by any person, any land which was transferred by sale, gift or otherwise or partitioned by that person after the appointed date but before the commencement of the Act, shall be taken into consideration as if such land had not been transferred or partitioned as the case may be. Such a provision is not found in the Karnataka Act. On the other hand, the Karnataka Act provides for exclusion of property allotted on partition. 20. We therefore, find that the decision of the learned Single Judge in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and of the Division Bench in Abdul Khader's case, supra, have rightly held that the four decisions of the Supreme Court are inapplicable as they have been rendered with reference to specific wording of the respective State Acts, which are different from the provisions of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act. 21. Though Section 2(A)(12) defines a 'family' in the case of a married individual, as such individual, the spouse and their sons and unmarried daughters, in the context of Section 63, reading Sub-section (2) with Sub-sections (3) and (10), the term 'family' with reference to a Hindu father, means the individual, his wife, undivided minor sons and unmarried daughters. If the term 'family' is to be read as including the divided minor sons also that it would render nugatory, the words 'otherwise than by partition' in Sub-section (10)(ii) of Section 63. Clause (ii) of Sub-section (10) excludes all land allotted on partition before 1-3-1974 and does not restrict the exclusion to only land allotted to adult (major) members of the family. Sub-section (10) starts with an non obstante clause "notwithstanding anything in the proceeding sub-sections". It gives the provisions of Sub-section (10), an overriding effect over the other sub-sections of Section 63 in the event of conflict, Therefore, a combined reading of Sub-sections (2), (3) and (10) of Section 63 and the definition of the term family in Section 2(A)(12), makes it clear that when there is a partition between a Hindu father and his minor son prior to 1-3-1974, the land allotted to the minor son should not be treated as land held by the family. We therefore hold that the decision in Abdul Khader's case, supra, to the extent it hold that the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, is correctly decided in regard to the share allotted to a minor son at a partition, is good law. We express no opinion on the other aspect considered and decided in Abdul Khader's case, supra, in regard to definition of 'joint family' in Section 2(A)(17) of the Act and applicability thereof to Muslims. 22. The learned Advocate General appearing for the State fairly, and in our opinion correctly submitted that having regard to the doctrine of stare decisis, the question of reconsidering the correctness of the decision in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, as reiterated in Abdul Khader's case, supra, may not arise and the principle laid down in the said decisions regarding the share of divided minor son, will have to be accepted as correct law insofar as Karnataka is concerned. 23. We are conscious of the fact that the interpretation in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra, is not the only interpretation possible in respect of Section 63(2), (3) and (10). The following alternative interpretation of Section 63(2), (3) and (10) of the Act, is also possible: Sub-section (2) prescribes the ceiling area for a family is ten units. Sub-section (3) provides that in the case of a family, the ceiling area shall be applied to the aggregate of the lands held by all the members of the family. Section 2(A)(12) defines 'family', in the case of an individual who has a spouse, as such individual, the spouse and their minor sons and unmarried daughters, Therefore if the minor sons and/or unmarried daughter of the
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Basanagouda vs The Land Tribunal And Anr. on 11 May, 2004

individual have become the owners of any lands in pursuance of any partition, then the extents of those lands held by such minor sons and/or unmarried daughters will also have to be added to the lands held by the father and mother so as to determine the total extent held by the family, and then the ceiling area should be applied. The effect of Sub-section (10) is not to exclude the lands allotted to any minor sons on partition. The intention of Sub-section (10) is only to add to the area held by any person all land that was transferred by him way of sale, gift, mortgage with possession, exchange, lease or any other kind of disposition made inter vivos, after 18-11-1961, as detailed in Sub-section (10). What cannot be included are only, G) lands transferred by partition; (ii) lands donated to Karnataka Bhoodan Yagna Board; and (iii) lands sold to tenants of such lands. The lands allotted to the sons (either adults or minors) at a partition will get excluded under Sub-section (10)(ii), but the lands allotted to minor sons at the partition will get included by virtue of Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 63 read with the definition of 'family'. As a consequence the separated lands of a minor son will have to be added to the lands held by his father and other members of the 'family' and then the ceiling limit should be applied. This alternative interpretation will also be in consonance with the several decisions of the Supreme Court (referred to above) dealing with land ceiling laws of other States. But, this is where the principle of stare decisis comes into play. If two interpretations are possible or permissible, and one interpretation has been accepted and declared to be the legal position by the Courts and has held the field for several years, and public have arranged their affairs in accordance with such interpretation, it is not proper to change the law by stating that the other interpretation is preferable, even if the first interpretation is not strictly correct. Another aspect also requires to be noticed. The land holding is to be calculated and ceiling area applied as on 1-3-1974. The question whether minor son's divided property should be included or not is also to be decided as on 1-3-1974. The question therefore is not a recurring one, but one that has already arisen, dealt with and settled in most of the cases with reference to the law laid down in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra. There is no question of any fresh case arising hereafter with reference to inclusion of minor's separate property. There is therefore no need to consider whether the alternative interpretation considered by us, is preferable to the interpretation accepted in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra. 24. Re: Point (c).--Having regard to our finding on point (b) holding that the decisions in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra and Abdul Khader's case, supra are correctly decided and are good law, it follows that the land allotted to a minor son at a partition which took place before 1-3-1974 should be excluded while calculating the land held by his father and his family, for applying the ceiling limit. 25. Re: Point (d).--The Land Tribunal has held that the partition dated 13-3-1972 was not registered, it cannot be taken into account. The learned Single Judge has also held that absence of registration creates a reasonable suspicion about the genuineness of the partition and an inference that the partition was brought into existence in anticipation of or in order to avoid or defeat the provisions of the Act. The law does not require a partition to be registered. In fact, in Revanna Siddappa Hadri's case, supra, this Court had considered and accepted an unregistered partition. This Court in several other decisions also, has taken the view that unregistered partitions has to be taken note of. One of them is the decision in Guranagowda v. State of Karnataka, 1982(2) Kar. L.J. Sh. N. 36, wherein it is held that in calculating ceiling limits, a partition set up must be taken note of; that whether in a given case, a partition has in fact taken place or not would be a question of fact to be decided on the material available; and that it is not correct to say that because there is no registered document, the partition cannot be take note of. As the Tribunal has wrongly failed to take note of the partition merely because it was not registered, and as the learned Single Judge has also looked at the partition with suspicion, without any factual basis, the matter will have to go back to the Tribunal to consider whether there was in fact a partition on 13-3-1972 as alleged by the appellant. 26. We therefore, allow this appeal and set aside the order dated 15-7-1996 dismissing W.P. No. 2536 of 1992. The said writ petition is allowed and the order dated 6-3-1987 of the Land Tribunal, Raichur, is quashed. We remand the matter to the Tribunal for fresh consideration as to whether there was in fact a partition on 13-3-1972 and then decide the matter in the light of our observations. If the Tribunal reaches the
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Basanagouda vs The Land Tribunal And Anr. on 11 May, 2004

conclusion that there was such a partition, it shall exclude the area allotted to the minor son of the appellant while calculating land held by the family of appellant for applying the ceiling limit. Parties to bear their respective costs.

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