Land Reforms; Narayanappa (D) By Lrs. Vs. B.S. Ramaswamy (D) By Lrs. [Supreme Court of India, 08-08-2016]

Land Reforms Act, 1961 (Karnataka) – Section 48 A – Land Reforms Rules, 1974 (Karnataka) – Application in Form 7 – Occupancy Rights – Land Reforms Tribunal – Enquiry by the Tribunal – Correct clerical or arithmetical errors – Held, the Tribunal having adjudicated upon the application, it could only correct clerical or arithmetical errors as permitted by Section 48-A of the Act. The amendment sought by N was not in the nature of a clerical or arithmetical error. What he sought was not only a change in the survey number but also a change in the village and also a change in the area of the land for which occupancy rights were claimed. This was clearly beyond the ambit of a clerical or arithmetical error. That apart, the order of the Tribunal passed on 24th April, 1981 had attained finality since N did not challenge its correctness before any forum. Therefore, the proposed amendment sought by N was not in the nature of an amendment to the original application in Form 7 but a fresh claim made by him for a different parcel of land after the cut-off date of 30th June, 1979. In other words N sought to circumvent the provisions of the Act by making a fresh claim after the cut-off date by styling it as an amendment to the original application in Form 7. This was clearly impermissible and was an attempt to do so something in an indirect manner which could not have been done by him directly. In view of the above, find no reason to interfere with the judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court and accordingly dismiss the appeal.

Application in Form 7


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

(Madan B. Lokur) and (R.K. Agrawal) JJ.

August 8, 2016

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7343 OF 2016

(Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No. 18550 of 2013)

Narayanappa (D) By Lrs. .…Appellants

Versus

B.S. Ramaswamy (D) By Lrs. & Ors. ….Respondents

J U D G M E N T

Madan B. Lokur, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. The question in this appeal is whether the High Court was correct in holding that the appellant Narayanappa (represented by his legal representatives) was not entitled to claim occupancy rights in the land in question under of the provisions of the

Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961.

In our opinion, the question is required to be answered in the affirmative, and we do so.

3. On the enactment of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) all tenanted lands on the appointed date that is 1st March, 1974 vested with the State Government free of all encumbrances. However, tenants in possession of land on the appointed date were entitled to seek registration of their occupancy rights over the land in their possession. The Land Reforms Tribunal (hereinafter ‘the Tribunal’) was constituted to look into such claims, the last date for filing the claim being 30th June, 1979.

4. On 31st December, 1974 the appellant Narayanappa (now deceased) claimed occupancy right by filing an application in Form 7 under the Karnataka Land Reforms Rules, 1974 and invoking the provisions of Section 48-A of the Act. In the application, Narayanappa claimed occupancy rights in respect of land bearing Survey No. 93 measuring 4 acres 20 guntas in village Chalamakunte in Devanahalli taluka. In the application/Form the landlords were shown to be H. Kempaiah and B.S. Ramaswamy.

5. When Ramaswamy received notice of the application from the Tribunal with regard to the claim made by Narayanappa, he made an endorsement on the notice that he is not the owner of the land and therefore he has no interest in it.

6. When the application was heard by the Tribunal, Narayanappa’s claim was verified and it was held that since he was not a tenant in the land in question but was a kathedar, the question of granting occupancy rights in his favour did not arise. Accordingly, the Tribunal passed an order on 24th April, 1981 rejecting the application/Form 7 filed by Narayanappa. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court records that the order dated 24th April, 1981 was not challenged and has attained finality.

7. On 5th February, 1982 well after the cut-off date for filing the application/Form claiming occupancy rights, Narayanappa moved for an amendment in Form 7. Through the proposed amendment, he now claimed occupancy rights in Survey No. 134 in hamlet Yediyur in village Mahadevakodigehalli in Devanahalli taluka. According to Narayanappa he was illiterate, the Form had been filled up by someone on his behalf and since he was not able to understand its contents, a bona fide error had been made in not making a claim at the appropriate time in respect of Survey No. 134. At this stage, it may be mentioned that the claim made by Narayanappa in respect of Survey No. 93 was for 4 acres 20 guntas of land while the proposed amendment in respect of Survey No. 134 was for 8 acres 01 gunta of land.

8. When Ramaswamy came to know of the proposed amendment sought in Narayanappa’s application, he raised an objection but by an order dated 20th August, 1982 the Tribunal accepted the application and thereby the proposed amendment, while rejecting the objections raised by Ramaswamy.

9. Feeling aggrieved by the order passed by the Tribunal Ramaswamy (Dead) by Lrs. preferred a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court being W.P. No. 30929 of 2001 (KLRA). The learned Single Judge hearing the writ petition dismissed it by a judgment and order dated 18th June, 2009. The learned Single Judge relied primarily on the provisions of sub-Section (3) of Section 48-A of the Act to the effect that the Tribunal was empowered to permit an amendment in the application filed in Form 7. It was held that the Tribunal was not only entitled to permit the amendment but in view of sub-Section (6) it was empowered to suo motu rectify any error in the application.

10. The relevant extract of Section 48-A of the Act reads as follows:-