Land Classification Dispute: High Court Decision Overturned by Supreme Court

In a significant legal development, the Supreme Court has rendered a decision in the case of a land classification dispute. The matter involved the High Court’s decision in a lawsuit regarding the land rights between the State of Madhya Pradesh and the plaintiffs. Stay tuned to know more about the Supreme Court’s ruling and its impact on the involved parties.


  • The plaintiffs claimed that the land in question was Khud-kasht land of their predecessors Nirbhay Singh and Pratap Singh, who were Zamindars of Village Enchada.
  • The State Government denied the claim of Khud-kasht land, stating that Nirbhay Singh and Pratap Singh became pakka tenants of the disputed land and acquired Bhumiswami rights.
  • The Trial Court dismissed the suit based on the land being recorded as ‘Grass’ land at the time of Zamindari abolition.
  • The plaintiffs sought declaration of Bhumiswami rights and permanent injunction against the defendants from interfering in their possession of the land.
  • The plaintiffs were treated as encroachers by the State of Madhya Pradesh despite acquiring Bhumiswami rights under the Land Revenue Code.
  • The Khasra entry for the land in question showed cultivation of ‘Jwar’ in the past and was recorded as ‘Grass’ land before the Zamindari Abolition Act came into force.
  • The High Court decreed the suit filed by the plaintiffs, declaring them as Bhumiswami of the land
  • Permanent injunction granted in favor of the plaintiffs
  • State of Madhya Pradesh filed an appeal, claiming the land was not ‘Khud kasht’ land
  • State argues that the High Court erred in reversing the concurrent findings of fact
  • Dispute revolves around the classification of the land in question

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  • The main question is whether the plaintiff acquired the rights of Pakka tenant under the Zamindari Abolition Act and that of Bhumiswami under the provisions of section 158 of Madhya Pradesh Land Revenue Code, 1959.
  • The Zamindari system was abolished on 2.10.1951 in the erstwhile State of Madhya Bharat.
  • The specific question in this appeal is whether the land recorded as ‘Grass’ land before the date of vesting can be considered as khud-kasht land of Ex-Zamindar.

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  • Learned counsel for the respondent argued that growing grass constituted an agricultural purpose.
  • The counsel emphasized that the act of growing grass should be considered within the realm of agricultural activities.
  • It was contended that the cultivation of grass should be regarded as a legitimate agricultural endeavor.
  • The argument put forth was that the practice of growing grass served a significant agricultural function.

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  • Section 4(1) of the Abolition Act automatically vests grassland, i.e., ‘Bir land,’ held by the proprietor in the State free from encumbrances.
  • The pakka tenant is defined in Section 54(vii) of the Madhya Bharat Land Revenue and Tenancy Act.
  • The Zamindari Abolition Act confers pakka tenant rights on a proprietor for Khudkasht land recorded in revenue papers prior to vesting.
  • Section 158(1)(b) of the M.P. Land Revenue Code designates ‘pakka tenant’ as Bhumiswami if falling under specific categories.
  • The growth of Grass is considered an agricultural purpose under Section 55 of Madhya Bharat Land Revenue Tenancy Act.
  • The entries in the revenue records are presumed correct unless rebutted.
  • The requirement for ‘Bir land’ to vest in the State is that it must not be recorded as Khud-kasht before the date of vesting.
  • Sections 37, 38, and 190 of the Abolition Act deal with the conferral of rights to proprietors and occupancy tenants based on specific criteria.
  • The High Court cannot interfere with findings of fact based on proper evidence appreciation.
  • The purpose of the Abolition Act was for agricultural improvement by acquiring rights of intermediaries.
  • Section 4(1)(a) of the Zamindari Abolition Act states that all the rights, title, and interest of the proprietor in the zamindari area, including various assets like land, forests, trees, wells, tanks, fisheries, etc., shall automatically cease and be vested in the State.
  • Section 3 of the Act outlines the transfer of proprietary rights from the proprietor to the State, free from any encumbrances.
  • Section 4(2) provides a saving clause for the proprietor, allowing them to retain possession of their personally cultivated land (Khud-kasht land) recorded in the village papers at the time of vesting.
  • The term ‘Khud-kasht’ is defined in section 2(c) as land cultivated by Zamindars personally or through employees, and it includes sir land.
  • Section 4(1) of the Act, with a non-obstante clause, clearly establishes that all rights and interests of the proprietor in the zamindari area automatically vest in the State.
  • High Court of Madhya Pradesh case of Bheron Singh vs. Government of M.P., 1983 R.N. 243 is being relied upon.
  • The case discusses the entry of ‘Bir’ land, which is grassland, in the column of ‘Alavajot’, meaning not under plough.
  • This specific entry of grassland is under consideration as it pertains to land usage and classification.
  • The plaintiff in the case was the former Zamindar of the land which was recorded as ‘Khudkasht land’.
  • The court did not accept the argument as the provision of section 4(1) of the Abolition Act, 2003 was not considered in the previous case of Bheron Singh.
  • The decision in Bhairon Singh was overruled as it was not considered good law.
  • Only the land under personal cultivation, as defined in section 2(c) and recorded as Khud-Kasht under section 4(2), was saved from vesting in the State.
  • Grass was recorded in Alavajot column, indicating areas not under plough.


  • The appeal has been allowed.
  • The judgment and decree of the Trial Court have been restored.
  • No costs are to be paid.
  • The judgment and decree of the High Court have been set aside.


Case Number: C.A. No.-007991-007991 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

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