Explained| What invalidates surrender of tenancy under the Andhra Pradesh Tenancy (Andhra Area) Act, 1956?

Supreme Court: Interpreting the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Tenancy (Andhra Area) Act, 1956, the bench of UU Lalit and S. Ravindra Bhat*, JJ has laid down the twin conditions that make a valid surrender of tenancy,

  • firstly, three months’ notice in writing to the landlord, and the Special Officer about the intention to surrender the tenancy, and
  • secondly, satisfaction recorded by the Special Officer in an order, after due inquiry about the voluntary nature of the surrender of tenancy.

The Court explained that Section 13 of the Act enacts that, notwithstanding anything contained in Sections 10, 11 and 12, a landlord cannot terminate the tenancy and evict his cultivating tenant except by an application made in that behalf to the Special Officer on the grounds mentioned in that section and if the cultivating tenant intends to surrender his tenancy the procedure prescribed by Section 14 of the Act has to be followed.

Thus, as a matter of law, the requirement of notice for the prescribed period of three months, to the landlord, and the concerned revenue official is mandatory. This provision, in the form of a procedure enacted for the welfare and protection of a tenant has to be construed in its literal and plain terms. The material phrase in Section 14 (1) is that “the surrender of such holding shall take effect only after it is accepted by the Special Officer on being satisfied, after making such inquiry as he thinks fit, that such surrender is voluntary and genuine.”

The Court, hence, held that not following the prescribed procedure, invalidates the so-called surrender.

Important Rulings

Adapala Subbaiah vs. Shaik Hasan Saheb, 2006 SCC OnLine AP 943

“As per that Section 14, surrender of holding by a tenant can only be at the end of any agricultural year, after giving his landlord and the Special Officer at least three months’ notice expiring with the end of such agricultural year. ‘Agricultural year’ is defined in Section 2(a) of the Act as the year commencing on the 1st day of June or such other date as may be notified by the Government in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette in respect of any locality having regard to the usage or custom of the locality in respect of the commencement of agricultural operations therein. If the respondent really had cultivated the land of appellant and had vacated the same in 1981-82, in view of Section 14 of the Act, he should have given a notice in March 1981 both to the appellant and the Special Officer intimating them about his intention to vacate the land. It is not even the case of appellant that any such notice was given by the respondent. When the tenancy Act confers special rights including the right to purchase the land is given to the tenant, no ordinary prudent tenant would vacate the land that too without following the procedure prescribed in the Act. Therefore, the contention of the appellant that the respondent took the land on lease for only one year and vacated it at the end of the year is difficult to be believed.”

Mygapula Venkateswara Rao vs. Ponangi Venkataraju, 1990 SCC OnLine AP 26

“This requirement of giving notice before three months is stipulated with a view to safeguard the interests of the tenant So long as the surrender as contemplated under Section 14 of the Act has not been completed and final order has been passed in pursuance of an oral or written agreement if any entered into between the landlord and the tenant, it cannot be said to be a final one. Unless and until final order has been passed with regard to the surrender by the Special Officer under Section 14 of the Act, the relationship of landlord and tenant cannot be said to have been extinguished.”

[Musunuri Satyanarayana v. Dr. Tirumala Indira Devi, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 984, decided on 27.10.2021]

Amicus Curiae: Advocate Sridhar Potaraju

*Judgment by: Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

Know Thy Judge| Justice S. Ravindra Bhat

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