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Ananda Behera v/s States of Orissa

The case is about fishery rights in the Chilka lake which is situated in what was once the estate of the Raja of Parikud. This estate vested in the State of Orissa under the Orissa Estates Abolition Act, 1951 (Orissa Act I of 1952) on 24-9-1953 and has now ceased to exist in its original form. This case comes under section 54 of the Transfer of property act it deals with the sale .

Under TP act "Sale" defined."Sale" is a transfer of ownership in exchange for a price paid or promised or part-paid and part-promised and This case is based on two import acts under Transfer of property Act, 1882 (1) Section 3(26) General Clause Act, 1897 defines "Immovable property includes land, Benefits to arise out of land, and things attached to earth, or permanently fastened to anything attached to earth". (2)

Section 2(6) of Indian Registration Act, 1908 defines "Immovable property includes land, buildings, hereditary allowances, right to ways,lights,ferries,fisheries or any other benefit to arise out of land, and things attached to the earth, or permanently fastened to anything which is attached to earth, but not standing timber, growing crops, or grass".

This case law is pertaining to the dispute that arose due to the Orissa Estate Abolition Act,1951 that ceased the Petitioner from entering the lake and carrying on the business from the land acquired by the government. Plaintiff approached the court of law to exercise his rights and seek justice for his grievances.

Facts of the Case:
The Plaintiff had secured a license from its ex-proprietor � Raja of Parikud to catch fishes in specific areas of Chilka lake by oral contract.

The Plaintiff owned a business of catching the fishes for the purpose of selling them from the fisheries of Chilka lake.

The Plaintiff obtained the license to fish from Raja of parikud by paying heavy sums of money and had the receipt of payment for the same. The lake had sections and 4 sections of which were obtained with a license to fish by the petitioner.

Orissa Estates Abolition Act was passed in the year 1951 and as per Orissa Act I of 1952 on 24-9-1953, the authority of land owned by Raja of Parikud vested in the interest of the State of Orissa.

The licenses were obtained by the Plaintiff prior to the land vested to the State of Orissa, however it was for future years which were all dated after the date of the ownership control by the State of Orissa

Since the Plaintiff was dismissed from fisheries from the Chilka lake, he filed a petition against State of Orissa as per the Article 19(1)(f) and 31(1) and as per "sale of future goods"

  • The State of Orissa barred the entry of Plaintiff to catch fishes in the land in which Chika Lake existed.
  • Whether the Plaintiff's claim over the fisheries under "Sale of goods Act" is a valid claim or not.
  • Whether right to fish can be claimed as per Fundamental right under the Article 19(1)(f) and 31(1) as per the oral contract he entered with the ex proprietor
  • Whether fishing in the lake is considered "Profit A Prendre" and as a part of Immovable property
Plaintiff Argument:
Plaintiff approached court as per his Fundamental right over the land acquired by the government, Right to Property under the Article 19(1)(f) and 31(1)( Repealed in 44th amendment 1978), and as per "Sales of Future Goods" under " Sales of Goods Act" to enter the land to fish for the purpose of businesses.

Defendant Argument:
The defendant refused to acknowledge the licenses obtained as the Plaintiff's agreement with the previous proprietor Raja of Parikund was for "Future years" , which were dates after the acquisition of land ownership by the State of Orissa.

The Court held that the Chilka lake is an "Immovable property" as per the Section 3(26) of General Clause Act and Fisheries are the "Benefits Arising out of Land". Right to enter the land and carry-on fishing for the purpose of business is also regarded as "Benefits arising out of land" or "Profit a prendre".

In this case "Benefits Arising out of land", i.e Fisheries are considered as "tangible immovable property" then the property was over Rs.100 in value and such "sale of property" should be registered under the Section 54 of Transfer of Property Act. Since there was no Registration of the contract by the petitioner as per Sec 54 of TP Act and purely based on oral agreement, he has no fundamental right over the property.

As per Article 19(1) and 31(1), Right to property is also not valid since the "State of Orissa" did not take possession over the contract. Since the entire right and ownership vested in the interest of State of Orissa, and Since Fishes come under "Benefits arising out of land" as per the Section 3 of General Clause Act under Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the owner had absolute power over barring someone to access their land and "Right to regulate" rules as per their discretion. Petition is hence failed and is dismissed with applying relevant costs of the case.

Court's Observation:
Profit A prendre which is considered as right to access someone's land and use the "benefits arising out of land" for the business purpose under "Sale" or transfer of ownership defined under "Transfer of Property Act, 1882" was purely based on the personal contract with the ex-proprietor and was not registered and since it does not concern The State of Orissa, the claim by the petitioner under the Article 32 is inappropriate because the contract was for future dates and the petitioner did not fish until then to claim his right as per Article 32.

Since the contract was as per the "Sales of goods Act" with the previous proprietor, it is regarded as personal right as per the contract and The State of Orissa is not held liable for the same. Refusing to fish in the lands acquired by the state amounts to breach of contract (to which the previous proprietor is responsible and not the State of Orissa), but not breach of Fundamental Right. Hence it was observed that it's not a proper way of approaching this case.

It is important to follow the guidelines as per the Law to exercise your rights. In this case Plaintiff should have registered the "Sale" or "Transfer of Ownership" to have his claim over accessing the land. However, the depth of the Orissa Estate Abolition Act needs to be studied or ascertained to know the rights of the ex owners and parties involved in Encumbrance of the said property.

This can also be analyzed under two parameters
Ethical/ Societal: With the Abolition of Estate Act or any such enactment of land Acquisition by Government, they also need to have remedies or provisions for the people carrying on businesses under the acquired property. Considering the possible fact that they could be sole earners of the family, they cannot be deprived of their rights.

In this case, although the petitioner didn't register his sale or transfer of ownership under sec 54 of Transfer of Property Act, he could have been guided to get the compensation either from the previous proprietor or from The State of Orissa based on the receipt he held for the sum of money he paid to conduct the business.

Since there was no written contract with the ex-proprietor and no registration of Sale of property which values more than Rs.100 because of the nature of business being "tangible Immovable property" under Section 54 of Transfer of Property Act, the State of Orissa is not held liable for his previous agreement as the approach by the petitioner was based on " Sales of future goods" and the dates of interest in the matter were post the acquisition by the Government. Hence the interest of the land and its regulation vests in The State of Orissa.

Since the legalities or Law of the Land precedes over any other interests, I would assent the honorable Court decision on this case.

Thus, in conclusion this case is widely discussed under Transfer of Property Act, 1882 for its nature of approach in the court of law and scope of its rights over the property under "Profit a prendre".

It is important to note that Sale transfer of such property is to be duly registered as per section 54 of TP Act and in the cases of this kind which predominantly focuses on land Acquisition by Government, the petitioners have no right over their previous contract made with ex proprietor unless followed with all the guidelines as per Court of Law. This case gives us the insight about Immovable property and its scope of rights under Transfer of Property Act, 1882

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