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Biswambhar Singh and ors. Versus State of Orissa

1962 (11) TMI 73 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Civil Appeals Nos. 112 and 113 of 1960 - Dated:- 16-11-1962 - B. P. Sinha (CJ), J. C. Shah, K. C. Das Gupta, K. N. Wanchoo And P. B. Gajendragadkar, JJ. JUDGMENT B. P. Sinha, CJ. These two appeals on certificates of fitness granted by the High Court of Orissa raise the question of the constitutionality of the Orissa Estates Abolition (Amendment) Act (Orissa XVII of 1954) amending the main Act, the Orissa Estates 1954) amending the main Act, the Orissa Estates Abolition Act (Orissa I of 1952), wh .....

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State of Gangpur. The two petitioners' Zamindaries covered about 540 sq. miles between them. The petitioners in the High Court in their petitions, claimed a sovereign status and referred to a mass of historical literature, including references to the Imperial Gazetteer by W.W. Hunter, Sir Richard Temple's Treaties, Zamindaries, Chieftainships in Central Provinces, and other official records. The High Court has found that the remote ancestors of the petitioners were Bhuiyan Chiefs, who w .....

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ngpur remained undefined, though in successive revenue settlements made by the Ruler of Gangpur, with the concurrence of the then political Department, of the Government of India, they were described as Zamindars, and 'Khewats' were issued to them. The High Court, on an examination of the relevant evidence, came to the conclusion that these Zamindars ultimately lost all vestiges of their sovereignty, and as a result of historical process became subject to the laws promulgated by the Rule .....

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s' as defined in Art. 31A(2)(a) of the constitution. The High Court also rejected the contention that the Act, in so far as it applied to the petitioners, was discriminatory. The High Court thus held that Art. 14 of the Constitution had not been contravened. It also held that the Act was not void under Art. 254(1) of the Constitution. It further held that the so called violation of Art. 17(2) of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" promulgated by the General Assembly of the .....

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n this Court in respect of their respective lands. When the Orissa Act I of 1952, the main Act, was enacted and came into force in February 1952, the Government of Orissa notified the petitioners' property also as coming within the purview of the Act. The appellants along with another person claiming the same rights, belonging to Nagra, moved the High Court under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging the constitutionality of the Act. Those applications were heard by the High Court, and by .....

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regards the proprietor of Nagra Zamindari, by a majority judgment, it was decided that he came within the definition of an 'intermediary', and that, therefore, his land would come within the definition of an 'estate', as defined in s. 2(g) of the Act. This Court distinguished the case of Nagra from that of the other two on the ground that the Zamindar of Nagra had acknowledged the overlordship of the Raja of Gangpur. As a result of the decision of this Court, allowing the appeal .....

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nue rolls or any of the general registers of revenue-paying lands and revenue-free lands, prepared and maintained under the law relating to land revenue for the time being in force or under any rule, order, custom or usage having the force of law, and includes revenue-free lands not entered in any register or revenue-roll and all classes of tenures of under-tenures and any jagir, inam or muafi or other similar grant; Explanation I - Land Revenue means all sums and payments in money or in kind, b .....

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anation III - In relation to merged territories, 'estate' as defined in this clause shall also include any mahal or village or collection of more than one such mahal or village held by or vested in an Intermediary which has been or is liable to be assessed as one unit to land revenue whether such and revenue be payable or has been released or compounded for or redeemed in whole or in part." "(h) 'Intermediary' with reference to any estate means a proprietor, sub-proprie .....

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ll of another Intermediary shall be deemed to be one Intermediary for the purposes of his Act; Explanation II - The heirs and successors-in-interest of an Intermediary and where an Intermediary is a minor or of unsound mind or an idiot, his guardian, Committee or other legal curator shall be deemed to be an Intermediary for the purposes of this Act. All acts done by an Intermediary under this Act shall be deemed to have been done by his heirs and successors-in-interest and shall be binding on th .....

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after the amendment of the Act the legislature has failed to achieve its objective of bringing the land of these two petitioners within the mischief of the Act. In other words, the contention is that the appellants were sovereign rules whose States could not be taken over by the State of Orissa even after the amendment of the Act, as aforesaid. The definition of 'intermediary' in s. 2(h) as amended, the argument proceeds further, would not take in the appellants' properties so as to .....

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se (h) of s. 2 would not cover the interest of the appellants. If it is held, as we must hold in agreement with the High Court, as will presently appear, that the appellants were not holders of sovereign States, then the inference is clear that they held or owned an 'interest in land between the Raiyat and the State.' As admitted on all hands, they are not Raiyats. Then, whatever their interest may be, whether as proprietors or tenure-holders or Inamdars or Jagirdars or Khorposhdars, etc .....

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he main argument, therefore, of Mr. Chatterjee was directed to showing that the appellants held the lands as sovereign power, and that the Takoli which they paid to the Raja of Gangpur was only in the nature of tribute and not land revenue. In our opinion, there is no substance in this contention. It is true that there is no evidence of an act of State in the nature of a conquest by the Raja of Gangpur or that the Raja imposed his sovereignty on these principalities by force of arms or by expres .....

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e been the result of a historical process spread over many years, and sovereign powers including the right to legislate in that territory and to administer it may be acquired without the territory itself merging in the new State. It has been found by the High Court that the various laws which were in force in Gangpur State were in force in Hemgir and Sarapgarh also, by their own force and not as a result of any agreement between sovereign State. Furthermore the various department of administrati .....

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torical process spread over many years, those rights became vested in the Ruler of Gangpur not necessarily by express agreement but impliedly, by conduct, over a series of years. We are concerned with the year 1947, and in that there is no evidence on behalf of the appellants that they had any any sovereign authority left in them. Their position is analogous to that of the Bhomicharas of Rajasthan, dealt with by this Court in Thakur Amar Singhji v. State of Rajasthan [1955] 2 SCR 303 , and that .....

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e Ruler of Gangpur became, in effect, the sovereign power exercising his sovereign authority over those territories also, and the outward symbols of sovereignty were that the laws of Gangpur State were in force in Hemgir and Sarpgrah areas also not by virtue of any orders of the appellants but by their own force, as has been pointed out by the High Court on a consideration of all the relevant evidence, which need not be recapitulated here. The administrative control also had passed into the hand .....

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