Agricultural land ceiling dispute goes to larger bench

Mumbai: A case of Maharashtra on how a person tried to scuttle the agricultural land ceiling law by partitioning his land to two minor girls will go before a larger Bench of the Supreme Court as the 2-judge Bench split early this week on his appeal against the government acquiring his surplus land.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul allowed the appeal but Justice K M Joseph, the co-judge on the Bench, dismissed the appeal, refusing to interfere in the judgment of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court.

The case relates to late Vithaldas Jagannath Khatri of Chikhali in Buldana district, who had tried to divide the ancestral agricultural land to the family members, including two minor daughters, Shakuntala and Durgadevi, through a partition deed on 31.1.1970 to reduce ownership of his land coming under the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holding) Act.

Justice Kaul allowed the appeal with a forward in the judgment to point out how the government had put a ceiling on the agricultural land for redistribution to the large landless poor population and how the land owners endeavoured to redistribute it among the family to bring it within the ceilig limit or at least reduce the surplus land.

Dependents of Vithaldas moved the Apex Court against the Nagpur Bench dismissing the appeal he and his wife had filed to exclude 31 Acres and 29 Guntas given by him to his then minor daughters from his total land of 118 acres plus 17 Guntas.

Justice Joseph dismissed the petition, holding that he was not inclined to interfere in view of his finding that the properties allotted to the daughters were liable to be held by Vithaldas in calculation of the land ceiling.

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