No Proceedings Under the UP Ceiling Act Could Continue Based on a Notice Issued U/Sec 9 (2) in the Name of a Dead Person: Allahabad HC

In a legal development, the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench, has quashed the land ceiling proceedings initiated against Bhanvi Saran Singh and others. The court’s decision came in response to a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. 

The petitioners sought the quashing of the entire ceiling proceedings initiated against Sri Hanuman Singh, their predecessor in interest, who had passed away before the initiation of the proceedings.

Justice Subhash Vidyarthi observed, “No proceedings under the Ceiling Act could continue on the basis of notice under Section 9 (2) issued in the name of a dead person.”

The petitioners, represented by Advocate B.K. Saxena contended that a notice under the Proviso appended to Section 9 (2) of the Uttar Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1960, was issued in the name of Hanuman Singh, despite his demise in May 1975, before the issuance of the notice.

The court noted that the original tenure-holder, Hanuman Singh, had died before the issuance of the notice, a fact not denied in the counter-affidavit filed by the State. Quoting the Division Bench’s decision in Horam Singh and others Vs. District Judge, Moradabad, and others: 1978 SCC OnLine All 682 = 1979 All LJ 85, the court emphasized that no proceedings for declaring the land of a tenure-holder who is dead on the date of notification under Section 9 of the Ceiling Act could be taken.

In a detailed order, the court observed, “The approach of the Prescribed Authority and the Appellate Court declaring any land to be surplus for the sole reason that the petitioners could not provide copies of the records, which ought to have been maintained by the State authorities, is against the basic principle of the dispensation of justice.”

The court further highlighted the procedural lapses, stating, “The prescribed authority and the appellate authority have not taken into consideration the aforesaid fact and the position of law and have passed the impugned orders against the petitioners, without the application of mind to these facts, which makes the impugned orders unsustainable in law.”

The State had argued that even if the notice was issued after the death of Hanuman Singh, the original tenure holder, the notice published under Section 9 would apply to the heirs of the deceased tenure holder as per Rule 19 (2) of Uttar Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Rules, 1961. However, the court held that the provisions contained in Rule 19 (2) could not be relied upon, as the Division Bench had held it to be ultra vires.

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The court allowed the writ petition, quashing the impugned order dated 02.05.1985, passed by the Prescribed Authority (Ceiling), Tehsil Malihabad, District Lucknow in Case No. 7, and the order dated 13.09.1974, passed by the learned Additional Commissioner (Judicial), Lucknow Division, Lucknow.

However, the court stated that it would be open for the authorities to institute fresh proceedings under the Ceiling Act against the petitioners, of the law. The parties were directed to bear the costs of litigation.

Case Name: Bhanvi Saran Singh And Others Vs. State of U.P

Case No.: WRIT – C No. – 3000102 of 1994

Bench: Justice Subhash Vidyarthi

Order Dated: 08.5.2024

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