Restrictions on Alienation of Land by Scheduled Tribes under The West Bengal Land Reform Act 1955

The West Bengal Land Reform Act 1955

14A. Provisions of Chapter IIA to override other provisions of this Act.—The provisions of this Chapter shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained elsewhere in this Act.

14B. Restrictions on alienation of land by Scheduled Tribes.—Save as provided in section 14C, [any transfer, other than restoration made under section 14E, by a raiyat] belonging to a Scheduled Tribe of his [plot of and] or part thereof shall be void.

14C. Modes of transfer of land by Scheduled Tribes.—(1) A raiyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe may transfer his [plot of land] or part thereof in any one of the following ways, namely,—

(a) by a complete usufructuary mortgage entered into with a person belonging [to a Scheduled Tribe] for a period not exceeding seven years;

(b) by sale or gift to the Government for a public or charitable purpose;

(c) by simple mortgage to the Government or to a registered cooperative society;

[(cc) by simple mortgage or mortgage by deposit of title deeds in favour of a scheduled bank, a cooperative land mortgage bank or a corporation, owned or controlled by the Central or State Government, or by both, for the development of land or improvement of agricultural production;]

[(d) by gift or will to a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe;]

[(e) by sale or exchange in favour of any person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe:

Provided that any such raiyat may, with the previous permission, in writing, of the Revenue Officer, transfer by sale his [plot of land] or any part thereof to a person not belonging to any Scheduled Tribe: Provided further that no such permission shall be granted by the Revenue Officer unless he is satisfied that no purchaser belonging to a Scheduled Tribe is willing to pay the’ fair market price of the [plot of land] or any part thereof and that the proposed sale is intended to be made for one or more of the following purposes, namely,—

(a) for the improvement of any other part of the [plot of land], or

(b) for investment, or

(c) for such other purposes as may be prescribed.]

[(2) xxx ]

(3) A complete usufructuary mortgage referred to in sub-section (1) may be redeemed at any time before the expiry of the term.

(4) A mortgagor under a complete usufructuary mortgage intending to redeem such mortgage before the expiry of its term or any person acting on his behalf, may make an application for redemption in such form and containing such particulars as may be prescribed to the Revenue Officer. On receipt of such application the Revenue Officer shall after service of notice to the mortgagee make an enquiry in the prescribed manner and pass a preliminary order declaring the amount due under such mortgage to the mortgagee at the date of such order and fixing a date for payment of such amount by the mortgagor. If the mortgagor pays such amount by the date so fixed the Revenue Officer shall make a final order directing the mortgagee to restore possession of the mortgaged property and to deliver up the mortgage-deed, to the mortgagor.

(5) A final order made under sub-section (4) shall be executed by the Revenue Officer in such manner as may be prescribed.

Explanation.—In this section “complete usufructuary mortgage” means a transfer by a raiyat of the right of possession in any land for the purpose of securing the payment of money or the return of grain advanced or to be advanced by way of loan upon the condition that the loan, with all interest thereon, shall be deemed to be extinguished by the profits arising from the land during the period of the mortgage.

[14D. Transfer in contravention of Chapter HA shall not be valid unless registered.—(1) No transfer of any land or any interest in such land by a raiyatbelonging to a Scheduled Tribe shall be valid unless made by a registered instrument.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Registration Act, 1908 (16 of 1908) or in any other law for the time being in force, no instrument of transfer or dealing with land or interest in such land by a raiyat belonging to the Scheduled Tribe made in contravention of the provisions of this Chapter shall be recognised as valid by any court, officer or authority exercising civil, criminal or revenue jurisdiction and no registering officer shall register any such instrument unless he is satisfied that the instrument does not contravene any of the provisions of this Chapter.

(3) If, in course of registration of any instrument referred to in sub-section (2) or in any proceeding relating to the registration of such instrument or in any proceeding before any civil, criminal or revenue court, any question arises as to whether the raiyat executing such instrument belongs to the Scheduled Tribe or as to whether such instrument has been made in contravention of the provisions of this Chapter, the registering officer or other officer or authority exercising powers under the Registration Act, 1908 (16 of 1908) or the civil, criminal or revenue court before whom such question arises, shall refer such question to the Revenue Officer referred to in section 14C and shall give effect to the decision of the Revenue Officer.]

14E. Power to Revenue Officer to set aside improper transfers by raiyat.—(1) If a transfer of a [plot of land] or any portion thereof is made by a ralyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe in contravention of the provisions of section 14C, or if the permission for the transfer is found, after an inquiry in the prescribed manner, to have been obtained by misrepresentation or fraud, or if in the case of a complete usufructuary mortgage referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 14C, the transferee has continued or is in possession for more than seven years from the date of transfer, the Revenue Officer may, of his own motion or on an application made in that behalf and after giving the transferee an opportunity of being heard, by an order in writing annul the transfer where necessary and eject the transferee from such [plot of land] or part thereof :

Provided that the transferee whom it is proposed to eject has not been in continuous possession for [thirty years] under the transfer made in contravention of section 14C, or in the case of a complete usufructuary mortgage referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 14C, for [thirty years] from the expiry of the[period of seven years, notwithstanding anything contained in the Limitation Act, 1963 (Act 36 of 1963)].

(2) When the Revenue Officer has passed any order under sub-section

(1), he shall restore the transferred [plot of land] or part thereof to [the transferor or his successor-in-interest, in such manner as may be prescribed.]

[Explanation.—For the purpose of this sub-section, the word “restoration” shall mean restoration of the plot of land or part thereof which has been transferred by araiyat belonging,to a Scheduled Tribe and include an equivalent quantum of plot of land or part thereof of the same character within the near vicinity of the transferred plot of land or part thereof.]

[(3) For the purpose of restoration of possession of any land and evicting any person in actual occupation of such land under sub-section (2), any such Revenue Officer may use such force as may be required for evicting the person in actual occupation of such land and may send a written requisition in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed to the officer-in-charge of the local police station having jurisdiction or to any police officer superior in rank to such officer-incharge, and on receipt of such written requisition, the police officer concerned shall render all necessary lawful assistance for enforcing delivery of possession of such land:

Provided that the provisions of this sub-section shall not be ‘applicable to any person not belonging to the Scheduled Tribe, if he has been owning, possessing or cultivating land not exceeding 0.4047 hectare in area in the aggregate and the transfer was made by a member of the Scheduled Tribe owning, possessing or cultivating land measuring 4 hectares or more in area in the aggregate.]

14F. Restriction on the sale of raiyat’s [plot of land] or any portion thereof.-[(1) No decree or order shall be passed by any court for the sale of the [plot of land] or any portion thereof, of a raiyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe nor shall any such [plot of land] be sold in execution of any decree or order.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), and the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (9 of 1872), no decree or order relating to any land or interest in such land shall be passed by any court against a raiyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe on the basis of any consent, agreement or compromise. Any such decree or order passed in contravention of this sub-section shall be void.]

[14FF. Benami transaction or instrument to be void.—(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (4 of 1882) or in any other law for the time being in force, any benami transaction or instrument relating to any land or any interest therein showing the name of any person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe as the ostensible owner shall be void for all purposes.

(2) No Court shall entertain any suit to enforce any right in respect of any such land or interest in such land against a person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe by or on behalf of a person claiming to be the real owner of such land or interest therein.]

14G. Power to the Revenue Officer to settle or sell [plot of land] for realization of certificate dues.—(1) When a certificate is filed for the recovery of an arrear of revenue or any other public demand recoverable under the Bengal Public Demands Recovery Act, 1913 (Bengal Act 3 of 1913), in respect of the [plot of land] of a raiyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe, the Certificate Officer shall, before a proclamation for sale of the [plot of land] is issued in execution of the certificate, refer the case to the Revenue Officer having jurisdiction who may, in his discretion—

(a) eject the defaulting raiyat from his [plot of land] and put another person belonging to a Scheduled Tribe in possession of the [plot of land] for a period not exceeding seven years on payment of the amount due in respect of the certificate by him; or

(b) sell the [plot of land] to a member of a Scheduled Tribe, if available, and, if not available, to any other person at a fair market price to be fixed by the Revenue Officer, not being less than the amount due in respect of the certificate:

Provided that if the homestead of the defaulting raiyat is comprised in the [plot of land], he shall not be ejected from such homestead under clause (a), nor shall such homestead be sold under clause (b).

(2) (I) If the Revenue Officer puts any person in possession of the [plot of land] under clause (a) of sub-section (1) for any period, the amount paid by such person shall, at the end of such period, be deemed to have been satisfied in full, and the Revenue Officer shall then restore the [plot of land] to the defaulting raiyat.

(ii) If the Revenue Officer sells the [plot of land] under clause (b) of sub-section (1), any amount that may remain out of the sale-proceeds after satisfaction of the amount due in respect of the certificate shall be paid to the defaulting raiyat.

14H. Appeal and revision.—An appeal, if presented within thirty days from the date of the order appealed against, shall lie to the Munsif having jurisdiction from any order made under sub-section (4) of section 14C or section 14E or section 14G and his order shall be final:

Provided that an application for revision or modification of the order passed by the Munsif on appeal shall lie to the District Judge if made within sixty days from the date of the order:

Provided further that the provisions of section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 (Act 36 of 1963), shall apply to an appeal under this section.

[14HH. Setting aside of sale of land of a raiyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe.—Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), or in any other law for the time being in force, every court exercising appellate or revisional jurisdiction shall, either of its own motion or on an application made in this behalf, set aside the sale of land of a raiyat belonging to a Scheduled Tribe or any portion of such land in execution of a decree in favour of a person not belonging to a Scheduled Tribe, notwithstanding the failure of the party to file any objection before the court which passed the decree or passed any order for execution of the decree.]

14I. Bar to suits.—No suit shall lie in any Civil Court to vary or set aside any order passed by the Revenue Officer in any proceeding under this Chapter except on the ground of fraud or want of jurisdiction.