Sunday, January 24, 2010


By John Fernandes

The Goa government, as part of the agricultural reforms, to curb exploitation of poor farmers by the landlord and to safeguard the rights of the tenants to the agricultural land which they are in cultivatory possession, in short one can say for the benefit of farmers, brought out a legislation called “Goa, Damnan and Diu Agricutural tenancy Act 1964”.

That in 1972 to fortify or to give more teeth to the Agriculture Tenancy Act or in short to make the tenant owner of the land which they are/were in cultivatory possession and enjoyment, the Goa Government made an amendment to the act called 5th amendment to the Agricultural Tenancy Act, which came into force on 14/10/1976. The 5th amendment to the Agricultural Tenancy Act became famous as “Tillers’ day” . By way of the 5th amendment a new chapter “Chapter IIA” was introduce to the principal act by which special rights and privileges of tenants in the form of section 18A to 18L were inserted. The Agricultural Tenancy Act being beneficial legislation meant to help the poor farming community who were part of oppression and suppression for ages is also given special protection by including it into the IXth schedule of the constitution of India.

The agricultural Tenancy Act 1964 is also known as Beneficial legislation. Is it a beneficial legislation or is it any other civil legislation. If it is a beneficial legislation whether the benefits of the legislation has been down pour to the poorest of the poor, to the most needy one. My answer is no. The benefit of the beneficial legislation is yet to get large section of the poor farming community of Goa. There are hardly any efforts being done by our present rulers to make the Tenancy act a beneficial one.

That section 18A of the Agricultural Tenancy act which is introduced by the 5th amendment reads as under “18A. Tenants deemed to have purchased lands on tillers day: (1) On the tillers’ day, every tenant shall subject to the other provisions of this Act, be deemed to have purchased from his landlord the land held by him as a tenant and such land shall vest in him free from all encumbrances subsisting on the said day.”

Section 18C of the said act reads as under “18C. Mamlatdar to issue notices and determine price of land to be paid by the tenants.”

That to give effect to the 5th amendment to the agricultural tenancy act the respective taluka mamlatdars since the year 1995 used to issue suo-moto notices to the tenants under section 18C of agricultural tenancy act whose names are recorded in the survey records, which survey is maintained by the Government under the Land Revenue Code 1968 and large number of tenants taken the benefit of it as they have paid the purchase price of their tenanted land and obtained Sanad. However in some cases in Quepem taluka though the tenants have paid the purchase price, the concerned mamlatdat like Vanancio Furtado who is presently the Dy-Collector of Quepem did not signed the copy of the judgement as a result some of the tenants are denied the right of ownership due to the willful negligence of the mamlatdar. They are still facing litigation under the Tenancy Act. Now in respect of the same cases the successive mamlatdar has put an endorsement on the file which states that “since suo moto cases cannot be initiated now u/s.18C as per the Judgement of administrative, this case filed”

That in the year 1999 the Administrative Tribunal Panaji in ten Revision application being Revision Application No.71/96 to 80/96 file by Rui Tito vaz against the tenants from Betul , passed a judgment over the 18-C issue which held that mere recording name in survey record maintain under Land Revenue Code 1968 does not entitled one to be a tenant under the Agricultural Tenancy Act. That in order to claim under the Agricultural tenancy Act one has to first get himself declared as tenant. That after the judgment passed by the Administrative Tribunal, Panaji in revision application 71/96 to 80/96 all the 18-C cases in which su-moto notices were initiated by the respective mamlatdars under the agricultural tenancy Act 1964 and which were pending kept in abeyance or the proceedings closed and since then no further 18-C notices have been issued to the tenant.

That after the judgment all the ten revision applications were remanded back to the Quepem Mamlatdar by the Administrative Tribunal with a direction to first conduct an inquiry under section 7 of the Said Agricultural Tenancy Act and thereafter decide the proceedings under section 18C a fresh. The ten cases which were remanded back to the Mamlatdar by the Administrative Tribunal in 1999 are coming up for the final hearing in October 2009 that is after a long battle by the poor tenants for 10 years. This inspite of the fact that rule 10(14) provide for disposal of Tenancy application within one years. To fought the battle for ten years under the beneficial legislation the poor tenants might have invested in lakhs.

My argument is that, if a tenant who is tilling the land for generations together, who has been exploited for generation by their landlord and inspite of the fact that his/her name is recorded in the survey record as tenant, has to fight cases like any other Civil case for decades together to get declared himself/herself as tenant What is the use of beneficial legislation? In such circumstance can the Agriculture Tenancy Act 1964 is worthy to call as beneficial legislation? Or it can be termed as any other civil legislation?

What is the use of 5th Amendment to the Agriculture Tenancy Act which was enacted with a motive to make the tenants owner of the land which they are in cultivatory possession ? What is the use of including the Agricultural Tenancy act in the IXth Schedule of the constitution?

In a judgment passed by the administrative Tribual Panaji being Tenancy Revision case No.21/94 court (on pg.7) made a mention that survey under the Agriculture Tenancy Act was initiated at list in one taluka that is in Salcete however as the survey under land revenue code came into operation the survey initiated under the Agriculture tenancy act was abandoned. This was done in order to avoid duplicity of work. Which mean the government has indirectly adopted the survey conducted under Land Revenue Code 1968 to the Agricultural Tenancy Act. This is so as there is no separate survey record with the Government conducted under Agricultural Tenancy Act 1964.

That due to the Judgment passed in revision application 71/96 to 80/96 by the Administrative Tribunal Panaji most of the genuine tenants have been denied their right to purchase under 18-C. Now they have to file tenancy cases which they hardly win due to lack of written evidence as the transaction between the tenant and the Bhatkar are oral. After the administrative Tribunal judgement there is a tendency developed among the landlord to file eviction cases against the tenant whose names are recorded as tenants, which most tenant are compelled to compromise or forgo their right due to weak financial position or due to ignorance of law . Only those tenants who had paid the purchase price under 18-C prior to 1999 and those who have obtained Sanad are safe.

Under such circumstance the agricultural tenancy act cannot be termed as beneficial legislation but like any other civil legislation.

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