Only agriculturalists can purchase land in Himachal: SC | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Only agriculturalists can purchase land in Himachal: SC

By, New Delhi
Feb 03, 2023 12:30 AM IST

A person who is not an agriculturist can only purchase land in Himachal Pradesh with the permission of the state government, said the bench, referring to Section 118 of the Act.

Only agriculturists engaged in cultivation can purchase land in Himachal Pradesh, the Supreme Court said, adding, that others will need a prior permission of the state government to purchase land in the Himalayan state.

“The government is expected to examine from a case-to-case basis whether such permission can be given or not,” it added. (ANI)
“The government is expected to examine from a case-to-case basis whether such permission can be given or not,” it added. (ANI)

Citing the relevant provisions in the 1972 Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, a bench of justices PS Narasimha and Sudhanshu Dhulia highlighted the objective behind the legislative proscription. “The purpose is to save the small agricultural holding of poor persons and also to check the rampant conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes,” the court underscored in a ruling on Tuesday.

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A person who is not an agriculturist can only purchase land in Himachal Pradesh with the permission of the state government, said the bench, referring to Section 118 of the Act. “The government is expected to examine from a case-to-case basis whether such permission can be given or not,” it added.

The court’s emphasis on the land laws of the northern state came as it heard a case relating to transfer of an agricultural land for a non-agricultural purpose. The petitioner was an agriculturist from the state who was assigned the right as the purchaser of two plots of land by a private company. The company had purchased the land for a non-agricultural purpose but after it failed to get an approval of the state government, it assigned the right to the petitioner for executing the sale deed with the seller of the land.

The petitioner filed a suit before a civil court in the state for the execution of the sale deed but the plea was dismissed. The high court also rejected the appeal on the ground of delay in filing the appeal.

In its judgment, the apex court not only affirmed the high court order but also highlighted the pertinent provisions and the purpose of the 1972 Act.

“Under Section 118 of the 1972 Act, only an agriculturist, which is defined under Section 2(2) of the 1972 Act, can purchase land in Himachal Pradesh, which would mean a landowner who personally cultivates his land in Himachal Pradesh. If a non-agriculturist has to purchase a land, it can only be done with the prior permission of the state government,” recorded the judgment.

It emphasised that the whole purpose of Section 118 of the 1972 Act is to protect agriculturists with small holdings. While the government is empowered to grant approval, the court said, it is expected to examine the request on the basis of the facts of every case.

“In the present case, it thought it best, not to grant such a permission. However, the purpose of the transfer remains the same, which is a non-agricultural activity. By merely assigning rights to an agriculturist, who will be using the land for a purpose other than agriculture, would defeat the purpose of this Act,” said the bench, putting its stamp of approval on the subordinate court orders refusing the transfer of land.

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