A.P. Assigned lands prohibition Act Sec.3 (5) – Saving of sales – Nothing in this section shall apply to an assigned land which was purchased by a landless poor person in good faith and for valuable consideration from the original assignee or his transferee prior to the commencement of this Act and which is in the possession of such person for purposes of cultivation or as a house site on the date of such commencement.”

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.3673 OF 2009
Government of Andhra Pradesh
and another …Appellant (s)
versus
K. Varalakshmi and others …
Respondent(s)
JUDGMENT
M.Y. Eqbal, J.:

This appeal by special leave is directed against the
judgment and order dated 16.3.2004 passed by the High
Court of Andhra Pradesh whereby appeal preferred by the
plaintiffs was allowed and the judgment and decree passed
by the trial court in the suit instituted by the plaintiffs has
been set aside.
2. The factual matrix of the case is that the suit schedule
property admeasuring about five acre in Survey No.71/3 of
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Paradesipalem was Poramboke land. One Sagiraju
Bangaramma was in possession and enjoyment of the said
land by raising agricultural crops since 1950. By virtue of
her possession, the suit property was assigned to her by the
first defendant/appellant through a rough patta in
R.C.No.4118 of 1961. She continued to be in possession and
enjoyment of the suit property as absolute owner, and by
way of a registered sale deed dated 12.1.1970 (Ex.A-2), she
sold the suit property for a valuable consideration to one
Durga Ramalingeswara Rao. Subsequently, said
Ramalingeswara Rao died and after his death his wife Durga
Venkata Ratnam and his sons succeeded to the suit schedule
property, who by sale deed dated 27.1.1982 (Ex.A-1) sold
the suit land to the plaintiffs for valuable consideration and
passed on the possession thereof.
3. In March, 1988, the second defendant/appellant being
Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (in short,
‘VUDA’) fixed boundary demarcations to a part of the
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plaintiffs land, purporting to act under the directions of the
District Collector of Visakhapatnam. The plaintiffs being
absolute owners and possessors of the land got issued notice
under Section 80 of the Civil Procedure Code requesting
defendants to desist from interfering with the plaintiffs’
possession. Thereafter, plaintiffs instituted a suit for
declaration of title and permanent injunction.
4. It was averred in the plaint that the original assignee
i.e. S. Bangaramma was a landless poor, who sold the suit
land in the year 1970 to another landless poor Durga
Ramalingeswara Rao, who purchased it in good faith for
valuable consideration much earlier to the enactment of A.P.
Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfers) Act, 1977 (in short,
“Act of 1977”). The heirs of the said Ramalingeswara Rao in
turn sold the suit land to landless poor, who are the
plaintiffs-respondents herein. Hence, both the sale
transactions are protected under Section 3(5) of the
aforesaid Act. If the Government wants to exercise its right
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of resumption it is bound by law to issue a show cause notice
to the persons who obtained right and interest in the said
land and to the said persons in actual possession of the land.
5. The first Appellant-defendant in its written statement
opposing the suit denied assignment of land to Sagiraju
Bangaramma. Defendant contended that the land assigned
to the plaintiff’s predecessors in title Bangaramma is not the
suit land. It is only the land covered by Survey No.71/10
which is only Ac.4-94 cents. As the land was assigned
subject to certain conditions and violation of such conditions
by the assignee would entitle to resume the land assigned
even suo motu without any notice or payment of any
compensation. Even the land in Survey No.71/10 which was
assigned to Bangaramma was cancelled vide
Rc.No.904/87/Dt.30-4-87 for violation of the conditions as
she failed to bring the lands under cultivation. The VUDA –
defendant no.2 pleaded for dismissal of the suit on the
ground that the assigned land is not alienable but is only
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heritable. Any alienations made are illegal, void and
unenforceable.
6. The trial court dismissed the suit holding that the suit
land is an assigned land and Sagiraju Bangaramma- the
assignee had no right to alienate the property. With regard
to relief of injunction, the trial court observed that as there is
no resumption of the assigned land by defendant no.1 and,
moreover, when the plaintiff is not entitled for the
declaration he cannot be granted any injunction which is an
equitable relief. Moreover, the plaintiff has not established
his possession over the suit schedule property on the date of
filing of the suit as no documentary evidence or oral
evidence was adduced on his behalf in that regard.
7. Aggrieved by the decision of the trial court, the
plaintiffs preferred appeal before the High Court, which
decreed the suit filed by the plaintiffs holding that the
plaintiffs led in oral and documentary evidence and proved
Ex.A1 and Ex.A2, and the Government did not examine any
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responsible officer nor marked relevant documents to
demonstrate the assignment in favour of Bangaramma.
Learned Single Judge of the High Court observed as under:
“20. Unfortunately the court below found that the
plaintiffs could establish the transaction between the
legal representatives of Ramalingeswara Rao and the
plaintiffs, but the transaction between Bangaramma
and Ramalingeswara Rao could not be established.
This view of the court below cannot be ccepted for
two reasons; firstly the plaintiffs successfully proved
the transaction between Bangaramma and
Ramalingeswara Rao through Ex.A2 and also proved
the transaction between the legal representatives of
Ramalingeswara Rao and the plaintiffs through Ex.A-
1. Therefore, the plaint averments, evidence of
plaintiffs and the documents are quire consistent.
xxxxx
26. The cumulative effect is that there is no
evidence whatsoever, whether oral or documentary,
on behalf of the defendants and the plaintiffs could
successfully prove their case by examining PW’s 1 &
2 and by marking Ex.A-1 and A-2. When that is the
evidence on record on behalf of the plaintiffs and no
evidence whatsoever on behalf of the defendants
and nothing contra could be elicited by the second
defendant from the cross-examination of PW.1 and 2,
I am of the view that the Court below was in error in
holding that the plaintiffs, though could prove the
sale transaction between the legal representatives of
said Ramalingeswara Rao and the plaintiffs, could
not prove the sale transaction and the consequent
title of the vendors of the plaintiffs.”
8. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and
perused the record. It has been pleaded on behalf of the
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plaintiffs-respondents that the schedule property measuring
5 acres in S.No.71/3 was in the possession and enjoyment of
one Smt. Sagi Raju Bangaramma since 1960 and she had
been cultivating the said land since then. She had also been
assigned a rough patta for the said land in R.C. No.4118/61.
It has been contended on behalf of the respondents-plaintiffs
that the said Survey No.71/3 was subsequently sub-divided
into Survey No.71/10 and the respondents are in possession
of the said land. The plaintiffs purchased the suit land from
the successors of the deceased Durga Ramalingeshwar Rao
for a valuable consideration of Rs.20,000/- vide registered
sale deed dated 27.1.1982 and since then they have been
cultivating on it. It is pleaded by the plaintiffs that they were
landless poor persons as contemplated under Section 3(5) of
the Act of 1977. Respondents have denied that there was
any show cause notice dated 24.3.1983 issued to the
original possessor of the land in S.No.71/3 and that
subsequent to the said show cause notice the assignment of
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the said land was cancelled on 15.5.1983 for violation of any
condition of the assignment.
9. Learned counsel appearing for the respondents
submitted that the respondents have established by oral as
well as documentary evidence that the transfer of the land
from Sagi Raju Bangaramma to Durga Ramalingeshwar Rao
was prior to the commencement of the Act of 1977 and that
he was a landless poor person as contemplated under
Section 3(5) of the said Act. Learned counsel further
submitted that even if the aforesaid Act is considered to be
retrospective in effect, it would be irrelevant for the
purposes of this case as the transfer is clearly protected by
Section 3(5) of the Act.
10. Before appreciating the rival contentions made by the
learned counsel, we would like to refer Section 3 of Andhra
Pradesh Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfers) Act, 1977,
which is the sheet anchor of the appellants’ case. Section 3
reads as under:-
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“Section 3: Prohibition of transfer of assigned
lands (1) Where before or after the commencement
of this Act, any land has been assigned by the
Government to a landless poor person for purposes
of cultivation or as a house site, then,
notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any
other law for the time being in force or in the deed of
transfer or other document relating to such land, it
shall not be transferred and shall be deemed never
to have been transferred, and accordingly no right or
title in such assigned land shall vest in any person
acquiring the land by such transfer.
(2) No landless poor person shall transfer any
assigned land, and no person shall acquire any
assigned land, either by purchase, gift, lease,
mortgage, exchange or otherwise.
(3) Any transfer or acquisition made in
contravention of the provisions of sub-section (1) or
sub-section (2) shall be deemed to be null and void.
(4) The provisions of this section shall apply to any
transaction of the nature referred to in sub-section
(2) in execution of a decree or order of a civil court or
of any award or order of any other authority.
(5) Nothing in this section shall apply to an
assigned land which was purchased by a landless
poor person in good faith and for valuable
consideration from the original assignee or his
transferee prior to the commencement of this Act
and which is in the possession of such person for
purposes of cultivation or as a house site on the date
of such commencement.”
11. A bare perusal of the aforesaid provision would show
that sub-section (1) to (4) applies to all cases where the
assignment of lands was made either before or after the
commencement of the Act by the Government to a land less
poor person for the purpose of cultivation or a house site.
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However, sub-section (5) of Section 3 makes an exception in
cases where the land has been so assigned has been
purchased by another landless poor person in good faith or
for valuable consideration from the original assignee or the
transferee prior to the commencement of the Act.
12. It is the clear case of the plaintiff respondent that in
1971 their original assignee Sagiraju Bangaramma sold the
land for consideration to Durga Ramalingeswara Rao, who
was a landless poor person. The said Ramalingeswara Rao,
was in the cultivating possession of the land and growing
crop. After his death, his wife Smt. Venkata Ratnam and
sons succeeded the property and continuously remained in
cultivating possession till 1982 when they sold the land to
plaintiff in consideration of Rs.20,000/-. The plaintiffrespondents
proved the assignment deed and also led the
evidence and proved that they are the bona fide purchaser
for valuable consideration. Curiously enough, no evidence
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whatsoever was adduced on behalf of the defendantsappellants
in support of their defence, which has been rightly
noticed by the High Court.
13. In the background of these facts, we are fully in
agreement with the finding recorded by the High Court that
the transactions made in favour of the plaintiff and his
predecessors are fully saved by sub-section (5) of Section 3
of the Act.
14. Hence, we do not find any reason to differ with the
findings recorded by the High Court.
15. This appeal has, therefore, no merit and is liable to be
dismissed.
…………………………….J.
[ M.Y. Eqbal ]
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…………………………….J
New Delhi [Abhay Manohar
Sapre]
November 27, 2014
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ITEM NO.1 COURT NO.8 SECTION XIIA
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Civil Appeal No(s). 3673/2009
GOVERNMENT OF A.P. & ANR.
Appellant(s)
VERSUS
K. VARALAKSHMI & ORS.
Respondent(s)
Date : 27/11/2014 This appeal was called on for hearing
today.
CORAM :
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE M.Y. EQBAL
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE SHIVA KIRTI SINGH
For Appellant(s)
Ms. C. K. Sucharita,Adv.
For Respondent(s)
Mr. Sridhar Potaraju,Adv.
Mr. John Mathew,Adv.
UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the
following
O R D E R
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T
(Sukhbir Paul Kaur) (Indu Pokhriyal)
Court Master Court Master