Maharao Sahib Sri Bhim Singhji v Union Of India And Ors. 

Estimated Reading Time: 11 minutes

Introduction 

According to the Constitution, the power to make India’s laws is with the Parliament and State Legislatures according to their jurisdictions. The authority to amend the Constitution is only with the Parliament and not with the state legislative assemblies. However, this authority of the Parliament is not absolute. The Supreme Court has the authority to announce any law that it finds unlawful invalid. According to the Basic Structure Doctrine, any amendment that attempts to alter the Constitution’s basic structure is invalid. The Basic Structure Doctrine is not even stated in the Constitution. The idea came and progressed, time and again. It started with the Kesavananda Bharti Case[1] as it held that the Court held that the parliaments could not change and interrupt the Constitution’s basic structure. It was apprehended that; however, the Parliament has unconstrained authority to amend the Constitution. Still, it cannot interrupt and weaken the basic structure or essential structures of the Constitution, as it only has the authority to amend and not to redraft the Constitution. As time passed, the features of Basic Structure evolved. The SC can strike down any rule or modification that violates the features of the Basic structure of the Constitution because they distort the basic structure of the Constitution. There are many landmark judgments related to the concept, which has shown how the basic structure has been kept safely, so the integrity of the Constitution is maintained. 

The Supreme Court’s foremost authority on constitutional amendments had been that any part of the Constitution was changeable. The Parliament might, bypassing a Constitution Amendment Act in obedience with the supplies of Article 368[2], revise any rule of the Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights and article 368. In Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan[3], Justice J.R. Mudholkar, in his dissent, speculated whether the sphere of Article 368 comprised the authority to alter the essential feature or Amendment a part of the Constitution.

Since then, the basic structure has been questioned a lot of times. In the following case, there is an issue of an act that impairs the Basic structure doctrine of the Constitution.

Facts of the Case

A large group of people accommodating freelance lands in various urban accumulations in the country had registered writ petitions in this Judiciary, questioning the validity of some of the key rules of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act of 1976. Those writ petitions were predisposed on November 13, 1980, by a Constitution Bench that only some portions of the Rule need to be struck and the rest all should be sanctioned as a law. The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976[4], which has been enforced in 17 States and Union Territories in the country, has been challenged in the Court. It pursues to execute a maximum on empty lands in urban accumulations having a population of two lakhs or more. For that purpose, it categorizes such urban collections in various cities and towns in all the States and Union Territories into four groups. It sets the ceiling limit for each such group. The petitioners were not satisfied with the Act, and they, therefore, filed petitions in the Supreme Court.

Issue of the Case

The Issue Raised in the following case[5] is that:

  • Whether the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act of 1976 is constitutionally valid concerning Articles 39(b) and (c) of the Constitution.
  • Whether section 2(f) -Artificial definition of family in the Act offends against Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • Whether Section 11(6) of the Act is violative of Article 14 and 31(2) of the Constitution, as amended by the Twenty-fifth Amendment Act, 1971.
  • Whether Section 23 of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act of 1976. impairs the basic structure or framework of the Constitution and violates Art. 39 (b) and (c) and Art 31 (2) of the Constitution. 
  • Whether Section 27 (1) of the impugned Act impairs the legal framework of the Constitution and violates Articles 14 and 19(1) (f) of the Constitution.

Arguments by Petitioner 

The petitioner in the case mentioned above filed the suit where they wanted to court to strike down the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act of 1976, as they claimed that the said Act is ultra vires to the Articles 39(b) and (c) of the Constitution.

Therefore, the petitioners have pleaded for an order suppressing notices delivered to them by the disturbed knowledgeable authorities under the Act and a writ of mandamus leading the respondents not to contrivance the provisions from that place against them. Whether Section 23 of the impugned Act impairs the Constitution’s basic structure or framework is a violation of Art. 39 (b) and (c) and Art, 31 (2) of the Constitution and is, therefore, not protected under Arts. 31-B and 31-C.

Arguments by Respondent

The counsel representing the Respondent depends upon three features to counterAct the consequence mentioned above elegantly from the significances given in Section 23(1) and (4). It was urged that the discarding of additional vacant land developed by the State under the Act will be fixed by the Preamble, which says that representation was put on the Rule Book with a sense to bring about the proper administration of land in urban agglomerations to promote universal welfare. In the primary place, it is well established that only when there is some uncertainty in the test of any establishment in the enactment that the Preamble could be looked at and here there is no vagueness whatsoever in Section 23(1) and (4). Secondly, far from there being any uncertainty, there is the direct rule in Section 23(1) and (4) indicating the significances in the matter of dumping or distribution of excess empty land, in the face of which the Preamble cannot control, lead or unswerving the discarding or circulation in any other manner. Further, dependence on Section 46(1) enables the Central Government to make commands for communicating the said Act’s procurements. Rules could guide the transfer or disposal of extreme vacant land. It may, however, be stated that the Central Government has so far enclosed no provisions under Section46 and, in any case, no rules composed thereunder can override the express provisions of Section 23. Lastly, dependence was placed on the Central Government’s specific guidelines in its Ministry of Works and Housing under the Act. On page 83 of the Compendium of Guidelines note containing guidelines on the utilization of excess vacant land acquired under the Act is published—paragraphs 3 and 4 of the said Note deal with the topic of priorities.

Summary of Judgement

In the following case of Maharao Sahib Sri Bhim Singhji v. Union of India, the primary purpose and determination of the Act, as its extended label and the Preamble illustration, is to deliver for the burden of a ceiling on empty land in urban accumulations, for the attainment of such land in addition to the ceiling limit, to control the creation of buildings on such land for substances connected there, to avoid the attention of urban land in the indicators of a few people and assumption and to exploit therein and to bring about a reasonable distribution of land in urban accumulations to subserve the common good, apparently in the continuance of the Directive Principles of State Policy mentioned in Article 39(c) and (b) respectively. 

 The Section highlights the aspect that such acquisition takes place in breach of the other condition precedent attaching to an eminent domain’s power, namely, payment of non-illusory compensation. However, Section 11(6) is a severable provision, and that alone is liable to be struck down as ultra vires and unconstitutional.

While the majority upheld the rules restricting ceiling on urban land, demanding of extreme urban land and preparation of maximum reimbursement, the Court annulled section 27 (1) of the Act in so far as it is an obligatory restriction on the allocation of any urban land with the structure or a portion of such building within ten years after structure, which is within the ceiling area. For such invalidation, the Court declared that imperilling urban land transfer, which is inside the ceiling limit, to the management body’s unrestrained decision was violative of Article 14. The limit did not connect with the object of the Act. 

Family as distinct in section 2(f) of the Act accords with the current lifestyle in metropolitan conditions and is neither unnatural nor arbitrary nor violative of Article 14. In these days of family devising and self-confidence, the courts cannot condemn as arbitrary, by process of statutory ratiocination, the legislative rule that a family shall be described as the parents plus their minor children.

Section 23 of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Administration) Act is efficient and does not agonize any lawful malady. Sub-section (4) of section 23 is the preponderance rules that remove additional vacant land acquired under the Act. Though it is the focus to the rules of sub-section (1), (2), and (3), the provision of sub-section (1) has allowed and not become obsessive, and the sub-sections (2) and (3) are associated to the provisions of sub-section (1). The disposal of additional empty lands must, therefore, be made severely following the directive of sub-section (4) of section 23, refrain to this, that in a given case such land may be settled to any individual, for any determination relating to, or in joining with any industry or the other determination mentioned in sub-section (1), provided that by such portion, mutual goodwill be subserved. The central test of discarding of extra land being social good, any removal in any particular case or cases that do not subserve that resolve will be liable, to be struck down as contrary to the scheme and intendment of the Act.

The illustration has also been placed in the Ninth Schedule by the Constitution (Fortieth Amendment) Act, 1976; in other words, the representation appreciates the advantage of both the articles’ defensive umbrella, Article 31-B and 31-C, as it stood before its amendment by the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976.

The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act. 1976 is valid. The iniquity from which a rule here or a provision thereof the challenged Act may reveal to grieve will not justify the determination that the Act is not dedicated to or does not, by its scheme; in fact, complete or accomplish the drives of clauses (b) and (c) of Article 39 of the Constitution.

The Subsections (1) (2) and (3) of Section 23 are to be struck down. The Court also declared that the rest of the rules of Section 23 of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, including sub-section (4) thereof as valid and constitutional.

The Court unanimously dismissed the petitions and upheld the said Act’s constitutional validity by a majority of 4:1.

Analysis

The preface to the Act ought to determine clarification worries from section 23 of the said Act’s poor drafting. Mutual upright, being the writing on the wall, any disposal that does not serve that purpose will be outside the Act’s scope and, therefore, missing in capability in various senses. According to the Constitution, private property cannot be attained or agreed for private resolves through an empowering power like that controlled in sub-section (I) of section 23 may be trained in cases where the standard good dictates the distribution of excess vacant land to industry, as defined in clause (b) of the Explanation to Section 23.

The court struck down Section 27(1) for the cause that it did not effectively resist the uninformed exercise of the authority to fund or trash the authorization. The judges instituted the provision to be violative of Article 14 and was, therefore, struck down as being excessive and unconstitutional. Justice A.P. Sen, J. took the interpretation that there was no defence for the stopping of transactions by way of auction, mortgage, gift or tenancy of vacant land or structure for a period beyond ten years even though such land, with or without structure thereon, fell within the ceiling restrictions. The right to obtain, hold and arrange property definite to a citizen under Article 19(1)(f) carries the right not to hold many properties. It must be outrageous, inacceptable or an unprincipled travesty of the essence of equal justice. 

Conclusion 

Well, this is what our Constitution affirms. We look into the very 1st Amendment in 1951 to the 124th Amendment in 2019, and the Constitution has been improving its approach to the doorway of betterment. It wasn’t all sunshine and rain, and in fact, it had its storm. 

The land claim turned out to be a lot of arguable claim with many reforms and analysis simultaneously beside it. With Article 31, 19(1)(g) and Article 31C being[6] declared as illegal and its second part been changed to Article 300A for making the fundamental right only a constitutional right, the property law kept diminishing.

The land which was abandoned in metropolitan agglomerations was taken by the administration to be used for state policies.

The Court decreed out that the property in metropolitan agglomeration cannot be appropriated for giving any variety of benefit to the public, and it has nowhere been stated in that Act. part from the property part, many people have also looked at this discriminatory side of the impugned Act in the Case as it violates Article 14 and declares in unconstitutional. The Court upheld the constitutional validity of Article 31(1)(a). In Bhim Singhji v. Union of India, Krishna Iyer and Sen, JJ., affirmed that the notion of the cultural and financial decision – to establish a progress state forms a part of the Basic Structure. The two judgments of the State of Kerala & Anr. v. The Gwalior Rayon Silk Mfg. Co.[7] and State of Karnataka v. Ranganatha Reddy[8] pointed out certain facts that stated Article 31 A cannot be challenged. In Gwalior Rayon’s Case, the Court sustained the legality of the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting and Assignment) Act, 1971, which rendered for the vesting of parklands owned in Janman rights, even though there was no rule for reimbursement of damages. The Court held that since the Act visualised a system of agrarian improvement, it was preserved under Art.31A and could not be questioned on the ground that it takeaways, decreases or abolishes the fundamental rights guaranteed by Arts.14, 19 and 31. The Bhim Singh Ji case points out that the concept of friendly and industrial justice-to build a Welfare State-is equally a part of the basic structure or the foundation upon which the Constitution rests. The provisions of sub-section. (1), (2) and (3) of Section 23 and directed to the provisions of subsections (1), (2) and (3) in Section 23(4) are the very converse of a Welfare State’s idea based on social and economic justice.

The provisions if would have been ultra vires to the Constitution then the Court would have declared the Act as unconstitutional. 


[1] Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225.

[2] The Constitution of India, 1949, Article 368.

[3] Sajjan Singh vs State Of Rajasthan, 1965 AIR 845.

[4] The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976.

[5] Maharao Sahib Sri Bhim Singhji v Union Of India And Ors. , 1985 AIR 1650.

[6] Laxman, Emergence of Article 31 A, B and C and its validity, http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1435/Emergence-of-Article-31-A,-B-and-C-and-its-validity.html

[7] State of Kerala & Anr. v. The Gwalior Rayon Silk Mfg. Co., 1973 AIR 2734.

[8] State of Karnataka v. Ranganatha Reddy, 1978 AIR 215.

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