Wednesday, September 15, 2010

HC says no to agro land transfer through will

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court has ruled that farming land cannot be transferred to non-agriculturists simply by way of a will. This recent decision that upholds an existing law, could prove a set back for developers eyeing the vast expanse of agricultural land.

In a case related to a small piece of land in Chharodi village, Justice KS Jhaveri has ruled that land under new tenure cannot be bequeathed to people who are not farmers by the way of a will.
With this observation, the court has upheld the decision by revenue authorities who had refused entry of names of non-agriculturists in revenue record of rights.
As per case details, a farmer in Chharodi village, Bhikhaji Thakore, bestowed a plot measuring one acre and two gunthas to three persons — Vimalchand Udaychand, Parasraj Gunpatraj and Shaladevi Puranraj, who were associated with him, by preparing a will in April 1964. Few months later, the farmer passed away.
Nearly three decades later, when the city limits began expanding quickly towards Chharodi, the three persons filed an application before the revenue authority on basis of the will executed by the farmer. They requested for entering the revenue entry in the records of rights. The entry was not mutated, and this led them to approach the district court for obtaining probate of the will. They did not succeed, and the high court was moved.
The high court in 1990 granted probate in favor of the petitioners. Following this, the lower court also granted probate in favor of them. After this, they filed another application before the revenue authorities, but their application was rejected again on the grounds that transferring the land to them would be breach of provisions of the Fragmentation and Tenancy Act, as the plot was new tenure land. After nine years of departmental process, they filed a petition in the high court claiming that the will was made in their favor and hence, they should be declared owners of the plot.
However, Justice Jhaveri held that the revenue department was right in denying permission to enter their names in revenue records not only because it was new tenure land, but also that it cannot be transferred to non-agricultsurists through a will.

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