HM Journal

Where Does the Authority of Leased Land Lie With?

Court Name:  The Supreme Court of India

Judgment Name:  Harwansh Kaur & ANR V/s Special Area Development Authority & ORS.

Judgment Date: October 22, 2021

Judgment Bench:  J. Uday Umesh Lalit & J. S. Ravindra Bhat.

Introduction:

This is an appeal challenging the judgment by the Madhya Pradesh High court, which is also a judgment of appeal from the Trial Court. This case has started as the Gram Panchayat has got a sanction to construct a school and playground in the village on an assigned land, where a farmer has been in possession of it for his lifetime,  doing agriculture and claims that the government has given the land to him on lease and hence is the owner of the property.

Brief Facts of the Case:

  • The Gram Panchayat under a welfare scheme was successful in granting a school and playground, which was signed by the village tahsildar and the consent of the collector was also said to be obtained.
  • The said land where the construction was to take place was under the possession of Late Dilip Kumar all his lifetime. Upon which he has been doing agricultural operations.
  • The Gram Panchayat has reportedly threatened the farmer to give away the possession over the property for the said construction.

Contentions of the Plaintiff:

The plaintiff claims that under Section 158 (3)(1) of the M.P. land revenue ode, the said land has been given for permanent lease, and from such date, he will be presumed to be the owner of the property,  Hence the land cannot be taken for construction purpose because as per the act the land cannot be sold or transferred.

Contentions of the Defendant:

Defendant contended that there are no proper documents as in if the land belonged to the state of Madhya Pradesh or Dilip Kumar. Since there is no proper documented evidence and since the consent of all the authorities has been taken the construction would be legal.

Principles and Observations of the Court:

As the case here is an appeal challenging the judgments of various cases, the courts have taken into consideration various legal aspects and schemes related to the same. The same shall be emphasized hereunder. The court has taken into consideration Section 158(3)(1) of the M.P. Land Revenue Code, which reads as each person holding the land under his land ownership right on the basis allotment by the state government of the basis of lease approved, from that date shall be presumed to be the landowner and would have every right as every landowner but will not be allowed to sell the land for the next 10 years. Hence this proves that since the leased owner is no more hence the husband of the plaintiff and his descendent shall be the owners of the property as per Section 18(3)(1) of the afore side act.

Judgment held

  • Firstly to go step by step in understanding the judgment of the case, the stand of the defendants is that the disputed land is government land mentioned under the Khasara of 20032004, and late Dilip Kumar has never been the owner of the land.
  • The defendant also argues that the disputed land is not under the possession of the plaintiff nor has been given for lease it is under the Gram Panchayat which belonged to the village. It is said that he has got forced entry into the land and should also not be entitled to compensation.
  • After the consideration of material facts, the said documents are in the possession of the defendant himself, which annualized proves that the land has been given for lease.
  • It was verified that the land has been given for lease by the collector, Gwalior district in a document dated 31.08.2001.
  • Now herein the defendants have denied the claim of the plaintiff that the disputed land was never under the possession of Defendant no.3, but was under the possession of Defendant 1 and2 who are the wife and son of late Dilip Kumar.
  • Coming to the major confusion as to is the disputed land under the ownership of the Government of Madhya Pradesh or Dilip Kumar? The pieces of evidence here put up that earlier it was under the state, the Nayab Tahsildar on the order dated 7.12.60, had given the land to Dilip Kumar. Before the death, Dilip Kumar has filed a suit and got the land transfers to the legal heirs of the family.
  • As per the land allotment under the SADA, since the land was not under the possession of the state the same cannot be given for lease to Dilip Kumar, Hence the allotment was found to be baseless.
  • The High court stated that the transfer of property was not clearly mentioned, and the initial entry of Dilip Kumar was only for two under as per the Revenue records later the name was said to be deleted.
  • The court has found that due to the lack of the document and the proof required the appeal shall be taken into consideration and the investigation may also take place.

My Opinion

In my opinion, I agree with the decision of the Supreme Court by giving a chance to the parties, as justice should always have an upper hand in society. I do disagree with the judgments of the other courts as it was clear that there was only evidentiary evidence regarding the possession of land but the transfer or lease had no documented proof, hence the decision at the same point should have relied on more proper evidence to reduce the number of cases to the upper courts in the form of appeal.

Written by: Manjusha Siriparapu

College: Army Law Institute, Mohali.

References:

https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2019/31283/31283_2019_32_17_30803_Judgement_22-Oct-2021.pdf

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