Since as per the definition of the term 'agriculture' under Section 4(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Code, 2006, the use of the land for the purposes of a nursery in the facts of the present case, cannot be said to be a non-agricultural purpose and rather the same would have to be held to be included under the expression 'purpose connected with agriculture', the Allahabad High Court held that the reason assigned by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate for rejecting the application under Section 82 of the Code, 2006 would be wholly irrelevant for purposes of consideration of an application seeking cancellation of declaration under Section 80 of the Code, 2006.

The Bench of Justice Dr. Y. K Srivastava observed that "conditions which are required to be satisfied while considering an application under Section 82 of the Code, 2006 seeking cancellation of declaration made under Section 80, having been clearly specified under the section itself, the reference made in the order impugned to any other circumstance and on the basis thereof to reject the application of the petitioner, would therefore render the exercise of the discretionary power conferred on the authority as ultra vires and invalid".

Advocate Gaurav Singh appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Kaushal Kishore Mani appeared for the Respondent.

Going by the background of the case, the Petitioner trust had purchased land by means of a registered sale deed. Later, with an intent to construct an educational institution, the Petitioner moved an application under Section 80 of the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Code, 2006 for getting a declaration that the land in question was being used for non-agricultural purpose. Even though the declaration was answered in favor of the Petitioner, the educational institution was not established due to certain constraints. Accordingly, the Petitioner sought cancellation of the declaration obtained earlier.

Although a report was obtained from the Tahsildar stating that apart from a boundary wall of height of about 45 feet, there existed no other construction over the land in question and that the land was not being utilized for any commercial purpose, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate rejected the application for cancellation of the declaration.

After considering the submissions, the Bench found that the application filed by the Petitioners under Section 82 of the Code, 2006, seeking cancellation of the declaration made earlier under Section 80, was rejected by assigning a reason that the land in question was being used as 'nursery', which indicates that the land is being used for a commercial purpose and not for an agricultural purpose.

The central idea which emerges is that there should be tillage of land, sowing of seeds or planting or similar work on the land which invests the operation with the characteristic of agricultural operations and whenever this central idea is fulfilled there is user of land for agricultural purposes. In the wider sense, the term 'agriculture' has been interpreted so as to include all activities in relation to the land, even though they did not comprise these basic agricultural operations”, added the Bench.

After considering various judgments of the Apex Court, the Bench observed that if the products are raised from the land by performance of the basic operations which are necessary for the purpose of effectively raising the produce from the land, the subsequent operations attach themselves to the products of the land and acquire the characteristic of agricultural operations.

The cultivation of the land has been held to comprise not merely raising the products of the land in the narrower sense of the term like tilling of land, sowing of seeds, planting and similar work done on the land but would also include the subsequent operations. All these operations basic as well as subsequent, would form one integrated activity of the agriculturist and the term 'agriculture' would have to be understood as connoting this integrated activity”, added the Bench.

The High Court elucidated that the words used in Section 82 on the basis of which cancellation of declaration made under Section 80 may be sought, are 'any purpose connected with agriculture'.

The term 'agriculture' has been defined under Section 4(2) of the Code, 2006 to include horticulture, animal husbandry, pisciculture, flower farming, bee keeping and poultry farming. The word 'includes' has often being seen to be used in definition clauses in order to enlarge the meaning of the words or phrases occurring in the body of a statute. When it is so used these words and phrases must be construed as comprehending not only such things as they signify according to their nature and import but also those things which the definition clause declares that they shall include”, added the Court.

The Bench, therefore, highlighted that in the context of Section 4(2) of the Code, 2006, the word ‘includes’ would mean that the word 'agriculture' would not be restricted to the group of activities that follow but would only emphasize the attribute which is common to the group, and the attribute which is common to the group, in this case, is that all the activities enumerated are allied to the principle activity of agriculture.

The word 'agriculture' as defined under Section 4(2) of the Code, 2006 would have to be understood as being inclusive of its allied activities, and by necessary implication, the 'carrying on of an activity relating to nursery' cannot be held to be excluded, observed the Bench.

The High Court therefore, concluded that a decision by an authority exercising discretionary power under a statute must be arrived at by taking into account the relevant considerations and eschewing the irrelevant considerations, and remitted the matter to the Respondent Authority for passing a fresh order on the basis of the provisions contained under Section 82 of the Code, 2006.

Cause Title: Kanhaiya Lal Trust and Anr. v. State of U.P and Ors.

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