Libertatem Magazine

The Supreme Court Disqualifies Revenue Records as Title Documents

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It was noted in a judgment by the Supreme Court that revenue records were not documents of title. A lessee could not be allowed to obtain a land right solely based on an entry in the revenue records, according to the Court.

Facts of the Case

On the basis of entries in the revenue records, the claimants had asserted rights over the forest land.

Under Section 117 of the UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950, the Governor issued a notification on October 11, 1952, stating that 162 acres of land in Village Kasmandi Khurd were not to be vested in the Gaon Samaj.

During the period from 1380 Fasli to 1388 Fasli, the six yearly Khatuni prepared by the Gaon Sabha recorded that the barren land which could be made cultivable including Khasra 1576 was transferred to the Department of Forest. The Khasra No. 1576 was transferred to the forest as a protected forest when the six yearly khatauni for the years 1395 to 1400 was made. For clarification, since the lessee’s name appeared for the first time in khatauni prepared for the years 1407-1412 fasli, the Forest Department had instituted proceedings under the Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1934, which were dismissed.

On account of the dismissal of an appeal against the order dated July 22, 1993, the Deputy Director Consolidation directed that the revenue entry for Khasra Nos 1576 and 1738 in the name of the Forest Department be corrected and the claim of rival claimants be set aside. Allahabad High Court set aside the order of Deputy Director of Consolidation dated July 8, 2004, on November 30, 2005.

Frustrated by these actions, the Forest Department (Prabhagya van Adhikari Awadh Van Prabhag) had approached the Supreme Court.

Arguments advanced

Counsel for the Department relied on the notification dated October 11, 1952, to establish that all rights, titles, and interests were vested in the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The counsel referred to section 117 of the Abolition Act which allowed the State to transfer lands, including forests, to local authorities by a general or special order, arguing that the land was not subject to any general or special order, and vested in the State clearly.

According to counsel for the lessees and Gaon Sabha, the notification u/s 4 of the Forest Act had failed to provide adequate details on the land at issue. Additionally, they claimed that the notification under Section 4 was vague since it did not fulfil the conditions and that Khasra No 1576 was only mentioned in the proclamation issued under Section 6 of the Forest Act.

Observation made by the Court

The bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian was hearing a challenge to the High Court’s ruling. 

The Court observed that the Forest Act section 4 required no other action. The proposed forest only needed to be described in Section 6 of the Forest Act. Detailed information about khasras included in 162 acres appeared in the proclamation, as per Section 6 of the Forest Act.

Court’s order

In this case, the Court had denied the claim of the claimants. 

The Apex Court set aside the order and explained that the land vested in the Forest Department by virtue of a notification published under the statute and that the lessee had to prove ownership by virtue of an agreement in writing by a competent authority, but no such agreement was produced in the case.

The Court while passing the judgment held that there were no ownership rights associated with the revenue record. Therefore, even if the name of the lessee was found in the revenue record, such entry without any supporting documents of creation of leases as per provisions of the Forest Act would made no difference and would have no effect on his claim to title or ownership of the 12 bighas of land in possession of the Gaon Sabha as a lessee.

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