Single individual may be treated a class by itself on clear transgression of the constitutional principles; challenge to Section 157-B of U.P. Zamindari Act dismissed: Uttaranchal HC

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Alok Singh, J. dismissed a writ petition wherein the petitioner could not satisfy the Court as to how he was being deprived of his fundamental right.

The Petitioner, a member of Scheduled Tribes community namely Buxa, has sought to quash the provisions of Section 157-B of the U.P. Zamindari Abolition & Land Reforms Act, 1950 of being ultra-vires and unconstitutional.

The petitioner was a Bhumidhar with transferable rights of 1.3040 hectares of land in his village. He took a loan from two banks by mortgaging the aforesaid land. Subsequently, he wanted to sell his land in order to pay his loans but due to the restriction on the transfer of land, as per Section 157-B. He further submits that land mortgaged could be sold by the bank but he was restricted for the same, which he pleads amounts to discrimination under Article 14 of the Constitution of India along with Article 300-A, wherein no person shall be deprived of his property, save by authority of law.

It was submitted by the respondent that this Court could declare “any provision” of the Act as ultra-vires or unconstitutional, if petitioner was able to prove that it is violative of any fundamental right; but will not work upon an apprehension that had the land been sold by the petitioner, he would get a better price for it.

The Court explained the object of inserting Section 157-B in the Act and said that welfare was the intention behind creating the same. It sought to protect the land of members of Scheduled Tribes from muscleman, influential persons or land mafias, etc. It was held in Ram Krishna Dalmia v. S.R. Tendolkar, AIR 1958 SC 538, ‘that a single individual may be treated as a class by himself.’ But in this case, the petitioner had not been deprived of any of his constitutional right, hence does not create a class in himself. Also, Section 157-B does not create an absolute bar on the transfer of land as it could be transferred to a person belonging to Scheduled Tribes.

Accordingly, as the Bank and petitioner are two different entities having different status, thus there was no discrimination with the petitioner being a member of Scheduled Tribes. [Diwan Singh v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 814, dated 06-09-2018]

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