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J & K High Court: Occupancy Tenants Have Ownership Right Beyond Ceiling Limit if They Are in Cultivating Possession of the Land

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Plaintiff has filed this petition against the certificate requesting the presence of concerned officers for construction of Receiving Station under PMDP Urban Scheme and against the claim over the State land falling in Khasra No.96.

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Facts of the Case 

The petitioner is an occupancy tenant of the land, measuring 2 kanals falling under Khasra No.96. The respondents are taking over the land without following the due process of law. The Power Development Department has acquired the land for which the plaintiff is demanding compensation.

Arguments by the Petitioner

The dispute concerns the attestation of mutation No.272 dated 08.06.1957. The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the said land, 486 and 487, beyond 182 kanals of ceiling limit of the erstwhile owner was escheated to the State by Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, 1950. He further submitted that the tillers were conferred the occupancy tenancy rights with the extinction of ownership right. The petitioner has attestation of mutation No.272 dated 08.06.1957 in the revenue records.

Arguments by the Respondent

The counsel for the respondents placing reliance upon mutation No.272 dated 08.06.1957. He submitted that the land exceeding the ceiling limit was escheated to the State but the rights of occupancy were also extinguished. He further submitted that the entries favouring the petitioner are fictitious and without any authority of law. Further, he added that there is no record to prove the conferment of occupancy rights of the land on the petitioner or his forefathers. 

Observation of the Court

The court observed that according to sub-section (2) of the Act, a landlord was not permitted to hold land in ownership beyond 182 kanals. But, if the land belongs to the State but was in actual cultivating possession of the tiller in Kharif, 2007, the actual possession was to be transferred to such tiller but must not exceed 160 kanals in ownership right. 

Thus, there is no provision in the Act of Svt. 2007, which would provide for the occupancy tenants to retain their occupancy rights. The respondents did not pass any formal order of termination of occupancy rights or take any step to evict them. The plaintiffs had the possession and were recorded in the tenancy column from time to time.

Yet, the petitioner and his predecessors-in-interest were in cultivating possession of the land as occupancy tenants. The same is clear from the revenue records and the stand of officials. 

Court’s Decision

The court held that the requisite funds for acquisition be provided by the Power Development Department, which has already taken over the land and has been constructing the Receiving Station. 

The Committee of Revenue Officers must be created to find out the reasons and circumstances under which the petitioner and his predecessors-in-interest continued to remain in possession of the land even after the attestation of mutation No.272 dated 08.06.1957. 

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