Vemareddy Kumaraswamy Reddy and Anr. Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh

Citation: AIR 2006 SC 3517

Decided on: 13.02.2006

Court: Supreme Court of India

Facts

The appellants were holding land in excess of the limit prescribed under the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural) Act, 1973,  (“Act“). The surplus land was surrendered by them which had fruit bearing cashew nut tree plantation. It is to be noted that the trees were 12 years old and stood on the surrendered land. The dispute relates to the amount payable in respect of fruit bearing trees standing on the land which were surrendered by the appellant. According to the authorities the payment was to be made for one year only and not for thirty years (life of cashew tree) as was claimed by the appellant. The Appellant filed writ petitions before the High Court which was dismissed. 

Issue

Whether notification issued by Authority for payment to be made for fruit bearing tree only for one year is justified.

Contentions

Appellant: Appellants are entitled to get the amount for 30 years and not only for one year.

Respondent:

  1. The purpose and object of the statute under which the lands were surrendered cannot be lost sight of.
  2. The appellants have been rightly held to be entitled for amounts payable for one year.

Held

On 1st contention of the Respondent (Principle of Statutory Interpretation)

A statute is an edict of the legislature. It is well settled principle in law that the Court cannot read anything into a statutory provision which is plain and unambiguous. Where, however, the words were clear, there is no obscurity, there is no ambiguity and the intention of the legislature is clearly conveyed, there is no scope for the court to innovate or take upon itself the task of amending or altering the statutory provisions. In that situation the Judges should not proclaim that they are playing the role of a law-maker merely for an exhibition of judicial valour. They have to remember that there is a line, though thin, which separates adjudication from legislation. Supreme Court then referred to its judgment in Commissioner of Sales Tax, M.P. v. Popular Trading Company, Ujjain [(2000)5SCC515] and further added that while interpreting a provision the Court only interprets the law and cannot legislate it. If a provision of law is misused and subjected to the abuse of process of law, it is for the legislature to amend, modify or repeal it, if deemed necessary.

Whether notification issued by Authority for payment to be made for fruit bearing tree only for one year is justified.

The Court after referring to Section 15 of the Act and Rule 11 of Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Rules, 1974, read with the notification published by authorities, held that the amounts are to be calculated from 5th to 30th year as up to five (5) years cashew trees are held to be not fruit bearing trees. That being so, the Apex Court held that stand of the State Government (as accepted by the High Court) that the signora rate is for one year and accordingly fixing it for the 12 year is clearly unsustainable.

On 1st contention of Appellant

Admittedly the trees were 12 years old at the time the land were surrendered and, therefore, for the balance 18 years only the appellants will be entitled to compensation at the relevant signora rates. Therefore, the Apex Court held that the amount payable for each 12 years old cashew tree at the signora rates, as per the Notification dated 21.3.1982 will be ‘the signora rate for 12 year tree’ multiplied by the ‘remaining age of the tree’ that is Rs. 85x 18 = Rs. 1530.

Author: Swati Agrawal

Editor: Vivek Verma

Image from here

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