ANDHRA PRADESH LAND REFORMS (CEILING ON
AGRICULTURAL HOLDINGS) ACT, 1973
(ACT NO.I OF 1973)
I. BACK GROUND :
Before independence, there existed many intermediaries between the
Ruler and persons cultivating agricultural lands. They were known as
Zamindars, Inamdars and Jagirdars etc., owning large chunks of lands. They
were endowed with the right to collect from the ryot, Govt. share of produce.
Over the years, series of land reforms were taken up to better the condition of
the poor ryots. Important among them are –
(i) Permanent settlement of 1802, giving the Zamindar, the right to collect
Govt. share on condition of payment of peishkush.
(ii) Estate Land Act 1908, providing the right of occupancy in land to the
ryot and for settlement of fair and equitable rent.
(iii) After independence, first attempt at Land Reforms in the Country began
with the abolition of intermediaries and bringing the tenant into direct
contact with the State under the ryotwari tenure. Following are the
enactments made towards this end.
(a) A.P. (Andhra Area) Estates (Abolition and Conversion into
Ryotwari) Act 1948.
(b) A.P. (Telangana Area) Abolition of Inams Act, 1955.
(c) A.P. (Andhra Area) Inams (Abolition and Conversion into
Ryotwari) Act, 1956.
(d) A.P. (Telangana Area) Abolition of Jagirs Regulation 1358 Fasali.
(iv) After expropriatory legislation, next step taken in the field of Land
Reforms is protection of tenants by means of the enactments mentioned
(a) A.P. (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1950.
(b) A.P. (Andhra Area) Tenancy Act, 1956.2
II. LAND REFORMS :
Introduction and Objectives :
(i) The most important step in the field of Land Reforms taken in the State
was to impose a ceiling on agricultural land holdings. The A.P. Land
Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act 1973, enacted for this
purpose can be said to be culmination of land reforms in the State.
(ii) Before this enactment, huge land holdings were in the hands of a few
people resulting in extraordinary concentration of wealth detrimental to
the common good of the poor people engaged in agriculture. The Act
aims at ameliorating the conditions of poor agriculturists and curbing
the feudal tendencies of landlords, by taking over the ceiling surplus
land and distributing the same among the landless poor.
(iii) The Act gives effect to certain Directive Principles of Constitution of
India and it is effective from 1-1-1975.
(iv) The Act is included as item No.67 in the IX Schedule of the
Constitution of India, as a result of which none of the provisions of the
Act shall become void, notwithstanding any judgment of any Court.
III. CERTAIN IMPORTANT DEFINITIONS:
ÿ “Appellate Tribunal” means Appellate Tribunal constituted U/s 20 or
District Collectors concerned. (Refer Section 3 (a)).
ÿ “Bank” means a banking company as defined in Section 6 of the banking
Regulation Act 1949 (Refer Section 3(b)).
ÿ “Double Crop wet land” means any wet land registered as double crop or
compounded double crop wet land in Land Revenue records (Refer
Section 3 (d)).
ÿ “Dry land” means land registered as dry, manavari etc., in Land Revenue
records (Refer Section 3 (e)).
ÿ “Family Unit” means individual, spouse, minor sons, unmarried minor
daughters (Refer Section 3 (f)).
ÿ “Government” means State Government (Refer Section 3 (g)).
ÿ “Government Source of Irrigation” means a source of irrigation
registered as such in land revenue records. (Refer Section 3 (h)).
ÿ “Holding” means entire land held by a person as an owner, limited owner,
usufructuary mortgagee and tenant. (Refer Section 3 (i)). 3
ÿ “Land” means land which is used or is capable of having used for
agriculture and for purposes ancillary there to (Refer Section 3 (j)).
ÿ “Owner” includes a person by whom or in where favour a tenant is
created. (Refer Section 3(k)).
ÿ “Tenant” means a person who cultivates by his own labour etc. (Refer
Section 3 (K)).
IV. IMPORTANT PROVISIONS OF THE ACT :
(i) “Standard Holding” means extent of land specified in Section 5. In the
case of family unit consisting not more than (5) five members, it ranges
from 10 to 27 acres in respect of wet lands and from 35 to 54 acres in
respect of dry lands, based on the classification of lands in the first
(ii) “Ceiling Area”
a) In the case of family unit consisting of not more than five members,
an extent of land equal to one standard holding.
b) In the case of family unit consisting of more than five members,
land equal to one standard holding plus one fifth of standard
holding for every additional member, not exceeding two standard
holdings vide Section 4(1) and (2).
(iii) Increase of ceiling area in certain cases :
As per Section 4-A, in respect of a major son of a family unit, who
holds no extent or an extent of land less than the ceiling area, the
existing area is to be increased equal to the ceiling area applicable.
(iv) Constitution of Tribunals:
Government are empowered to constitute as many Tribunals as
necessary for implementation of the Act, as per the provisions
contained in Section -6.
(v) Special provisions in respect of certain transfers etc., already done:
Burden of proof lies on person who on or after 24-1-1971 but before the
notified date has transferred any land by sale etc., In case such person
has not proved such transfer is to be disregarded.4
(vi) Declaration of Holding:
Under Section 8 every person whose holding on the notified date
exceeds the specified limits shall within thirty days from the notified date
furnish a declaration to the Tribunal.
(vi)(a) Special Provisions for Protected Tenants :
When holding of any owner includes land held by a protected tenant,
tribunal to determine whether it is transferred to protected tenant
U/s 38-E of Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Tenancy and Agricultural
Land Act, 1950.
If so, extent of land transferred to be excluded from the holding of such
owner and included in the holding of such tenant (Refer Section 13).
(vii) Determination of Ceiling Area:
The Tribunal has to publish the declaration make an enquiry and pass
orders, determining whether the person holds land in excess of the
ceiling area and if so the excess area vide Section 9.
(viii) Surrender of Land:
Person holding land in excess of ceiling limit is liable to surrender the
land held in excess, and the tribunal, after making enquiry pass orders
approving the surrender or otherwise vide section 10.
(ix) As per section 11, the RDO on surrender of the land, has to take
possession or authorize any officer to take possession of the excess land
which shall vest in Government free from all encumbrances.
(x) Disposal of Land vested in Government :
ÿ Lands vested in government are to be allotted for house sites for
agricultural labourers etc., or transferred to weaker sections dependant on
agriculture for agricultural purposes (Half of total extent to SCs and STs
and not less than two thirds of balance extent to BCs Section 14(1))
ÿ Every allottee/transferee to pay fifty times the land revenue within fifteen
years, subject to a maximum of Rs. 1250 per hectare of wet land and
Rs. 375/- per hectare of dry land. Thereafter, patta is to be granted.
ÿ Maximum extent to be allotted for house site five cents – Rule 10(2)
ÿ For agricultural purpose – Ac 2-50 wet or Ac 5-00 Dry – Rule 10(2).5
ÿ Transferee shall not alienate the land by sale, gift, lease etc., – Section
(xi) Resumption of land in case of violation of conditions:
ÿ If the conditions of allotment/transfer are violated, the RDO shall resume
the land after giving an opportunity to the persons affected and making an
enquiry (Section 14-5)
(xii) Declaration of future acquisition:
ÿ In respect of acquisition on or after notified date, exceeding ceiling area
declaration is to be furnished vide Section 18.
(xiii) Declaration to be furnished before Registering Officer:
Any person presenting a document of alienation of land before Registering
Officer is to furnish a declaration that the holding of transferor does not
exceed the ceiling area, as per Section 19.
Appeal lies to appellate Tribunal within thirty days vide Section 20.
Revision lies to the High Court against the orders of the Appellate Tribunal
within sixty days as per Section 21 and Rule 17.
Lands held by State and Central Governments, religious, charitable and
educational institutions, local authorities, Government Corporations etc.,
exempted from provisions of Act (Refer Section 23).
Persons who failed to file declarations within the prescribed period liable
for imprisonment upto two years or with fine upto Rs.2000 or with both
(Refer Section 24).
Prosecution to be sanctioned by District Collector (Refer Section 24(4)).
(xvii) Act to override other Laws (Section 28).6
V. DEFICIANCIES IN THE ACT AND THE SUGGESTIONS MADE :
(i) The provisions of the Act have been observed more in breach subverting
the same by way of filing wrongful declarations, suppressing the land
holdings and by way of benami transactions etc., In some cases, the
surplus lands which are not fit for cultivation or for any other purpose were
taken possession probably in collusion with the declarants. Consequently,
there is a large scale diminution in the ceiling surplus land that could have
been vested with the Government for allotment to landless poor. There is
therefore, every need to review all such cases in order to get as much
ceiling surplus land as possible for the benefit of the poor. There is no
provision in the Act to review such cases involving fraud.
In this connection, it may be relevant to quote the ruling in S.Jaipal
Reddy Vs. The Land Reforms Tribunal, Kalwakurthy and others 1978(1)
ALT 66 (NRC) 1979(1) An. W.R. 220, in which it was observed that “Since
there is no provision made in the Act for reopening of the cases once
disposed of by the Land Reforms Tribunal, it has no power to reopen the
case once disposed of”.
Hence, it is suggested that a provision may be made in the Act for
reopening the cases of Land Reforms wherever fraud is involved.
(ii) In case of violation of conditions of allotment / transfer of ceiling surplus
lands, R.D.O is empowered to resume such lands after giving an
opportunity to the persons affected vide Section 14(5). This is resulting in
delay in as such as the R.D.O has again to obtain report from the
Tahsildar and take action as per the said provision. This apart, the
Tahsildar is the competent authority to make assignment of Government
land and he is also authorized to resume the land assigned in cases of
violation of conditions of assignment.
As such, it is recommended that as in the case of A.P. Assigned
Lands (Prohibition of Alienation) Act 1977, the Tahsildar may be
empowered to resume the ceiling surplus land allotted / transferred duly
amending Section 14(5) and Rule 10(5).
(iii) According to Section 14(2), read with Rule 10(4), the allottees / transferees
are liable to pay fifteen times the land revenue within fifteen years, subject
to a maximum of Rs.1250/- per hectare of wet land and Rs.375/- per
hectare of dry land. All of them are landless poor persons.
In the case of Government lands assigned to the landless poor, the
assignment is made free of cost. On the same analogy, allotment /
transfer of ceiling surplus land may also be done to the landless poor free
of cost suitably amending the above provisions.7
(iv) As seen from the definition of “Wet Land” in Section 3, “Wet Land” means
not only land registered as such in the land revenue accounts of the
Government but also includes land not registered as wet which has been
included in the Ayacut of any Government source of irrigation and land
irrigated by water from any Government source of irrigation in any four
Fasali years within a continuous period of six Fasali years immediately
before the specified date.
Several instances are there where the lands, though not registered
as wet, were localized and included in the command area of the Irrigation
sources. In all such cases, a thorough verification of the Adangals /
Pahanies and the water rate accounts is to be got done, if not already
done (does not seem to have been done in most of the areas), so that the
land owners may be required to file fresh declarations U/s 18, owing to
alternation in the classification of the land. This would result in the
reduction of standard holding and thereby the Government would get
more ceiling surplus land.