By Dr Sanjay Chaturvedi, LLB, PhD
Accommodation Times Bureau
By traditional definition, the ancestral properties are those which are obtained from father or paternal grandfather or paternal great-grandfather or share obtained on a partition or self-acquired properties or separate properties of an individual (like those inherited from a maternal grandfather) thrown into the joint family properties. In 1986 the Supreme Court held in an appeal that property obtained by a son under the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, would constitute his own separate property and not ancestral property. The Supreme Court thus removed a large category of properties that formerly were regarded as ancestral properties from contention.
A search of Ancestral Properties:
Most of the people who reside in urban areas have been updated from their father or grandfather about the existence of their ancestral land. A very common story is:
“My father was an Inamdar – Vatandar- Revenue Officer (i.e.an elite of his time)
We once owned a land in a village. Our land was very fertile but unfortunately, it was acquired by the Government for construction of dam and factory and our other land went into the hands of tenants ((Marathi-Kul) after the introduction of tenancy act. The only thing that was left with us was a barren land.
After this incident, I left the village and settled in this city. On my father’s death, what so ever land was left, it was grabbed by local people and the rest of it was sold (illegally) by our relatives.
I was always willing to go to our village but I could not do so.”
Most often you are enthused to see your village but you do not do so.
One fine day you decide to purchase an agricultural land for developing out station property and before investing any money you try to accumulate maximum information possible about the land transaction from the various sources available to you. And one such source is land revenue department.
Often the revenue officer tells you that,“No sale, gifts, exchange or lease of any land shall be valid in favour of person who is not an agriculturist under Section 63 of Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948”
And after seeing your frowned face, he sympathetically adds “Just check if there is an ancestral land at your native place”
He shows you a way of transferring the land in your name and this gesture gives birth to a lot of questions in your mind but then you decide to never disclose them before this unknown officer.
In any case, if you do ask him about it, he is most likely to respond to you by saying
“Next time bring sat-bara (Village Form VII-XII) of your native place, I will help you out.”
You are quite aware that if there is any land in your native place, it is in the nature of either a barren or a fertile land and quite obviously there is no one out there cultivating it.
Does that mean it is an agricultural land? And if an answer is “yes”, but if no family member is cultivating it so how can I be a farmer?
All lands are basically agricultural land unless the Government classifies it as a non-agricultural land. So your grassland or rocky barren land is an agricultural land. Agriculturist means a person who cultivates the land personally and agriculture includes the raising of grass. Accordingly, the person who holds the land is agriculturist. The land is transferable heritable immovable property and so a family member of an agriculturist is also an agriculturist. You are also a farmer even if you are not showing physical presence on your grandfather’s land.
One of the objectives of land revenue administration is to recover the revenue, thus it is obvious that failure to pay arrears of land revenue makes the holding liable to forfeiture. On forfeiture, the occupancy ceases to be the property of the occupant under section 72 of MLR Code 1966. The forfeited land shall not change hands by way of inheritance. You know that none of your family members has paid any taxes for 40-50 years to the Government. So question before you is whether the land is forfeited by Government? It is a duty of Talathi to recover land revenue from you. In case if Talathi could not recover revenue from you he has to follow a lengthy procedure to forfeit the land. Instead of going for the lengthy procedure he is paying land revenue on your behalf from his own pocket or collecting it from the person who holds the interest in your land.
Now question before you is, How to search land?
Ancestral land might have spread in a number of villages. You have to try to collect the names of all the villages. If the land records of your village are available since 1920, you have to search land record from that date. So you should find names of your ancestral during that time. You should find out the names of your grandfather and your forefathers and if possible names of their brothers and sisters. Things will be easy for you if you could procure old land records from your old generation. After gathering the above information you have to follow the steps as mentioned below.
This is a very easy step. Just log on to http://126.96.36.199:8080/mahabhulekh/ click “Query” – Select – District -Taluka – Village. Now find names of your ancestral. If you could find them, you are very lucky. If their names are not on this website do not get upset because this website need not necessarily provide you with the history of your land.
Visit the Tahasildar office. Apply for computer record of Village form 8-A. If they provide you with your ancestral village form 8-A, you should be in a position to find out the total holding of your ancestral. If you do not get details from the Tahasildar office follow step 3.
Talathi is delivering all old Village Form VII-XII, VI and VIII-A for preservation in the Tahasildar’s office. Under the provision of section 327 of MLR Code, you can inspect the above-mentioned village forms. As you do not know the survey numbers of the land, you have to apply for inspection of all old records available in Tahasildar’s office. You are definitely going to get details of your ancestral property.
Now you will have to find out the history of lands. With the help of Village form VI, you will get details of all orders passed by revenue officers. It is binding on the revenue department to supply you with all the documents. After reading a history of your land over and over again with the help of this website you will be able to find out the exact status of your land. You may require consulting with the advocate. I am sure your efforts will not go in vain.
You acquire right over ancestral land by inheritance. After tracing out your ancestral land to make necessary changes in Record of Rights (Village Form VII-XII) you have to intimate Talathi under section 149 of the act. Talathi has to prepare Heir-Ship Cases Register under village form VI C as per Maharashtra Land Revenue Record of Rights and Register(Preparation and Maintenance) Rules 1971.
During my career, I have traced out and restored hundreds of acres of land of my family and of my clients. Restoration of your rights over land in case of land grabbing is also possible. You are also in a position to sell the land which is under dispute. You can seek help from me any time in this regard.