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  • Aryan Agarwal

Case Title: K.C Gajapati Narayan Deo & ORS. V. The State Of Orissa, 1953 AIR 375

Case No: Civil Appeals No 71 to 76 of 1953.

Petitioner: The Supreme Court Reports K.C. Gajapati Narayan Deo and Other.

Respondent: The State of Orissa.

Bench: Hon’ble M. Patanjali Sastri (Cj); Hon’ble B.K. Mukherjee; Hon’ble Sudhi Ranjan Das; Hon’ble Ghulam Hasan and H Natwarlal Bhagwati, Hon’ble J.J.

Case Type: Civil Appeal.



1.The Orissa Estates Abolition Act of 1952 was enacted on 23.01.1952 in the State.

2. The main objective of the concerned Act was the abolition of all zamindaris, other proprietary estates, and interests in Orissa and after eliminating those intermediaries, associating the occupants of lands in contact with the State Government.

3. Aggrieved by the provisions of legislation enacted, the proprietors of the estates filed Six appeals before the High Court of Orissa invoking Article 226 of the Constitution.

4.The petition was filed for challenging the constitutional validity of the Orissa Estates Abolition Act of 1952 as a whole. However, the matter was dismissed by the learned bench of the Orissa High Court.

5. Aggrieved by the dismissal, the petitioners have filed another appeal u/a 132 and 133 in the Hon’ble Supreme Court assailing the validity of the said Act being violative of the Constitution of India.


Issues Involved:

1. Whether the said legislation ultra vires the Constitution so far, the private lands & buildings of owners are concerned and hence void?

2. Is the provision of the Orissa Agricultural Income-tax (Amendment) Act, 1950, and the Madras Estates Land (Amendment) Act, 1947 valid concerning the determination of compensation payable?

3.Whether the procedure prescribed for making compensation to the proprietors valid?



The Hon’ble Apex Court emphasized the meaning and scope of the doctrine of colorable legislation in this matter. Thus, the substance of the legislation is primary and if the subject matter of substance stands beyond the powers of the legislature to be enacted in the form clothed, the law can be condemned to such extent. The Constitutional prohibitions should be taken care of by the legislature while enacting laws




1. The Orissa Agricultural Income-tax (Amendment) Act of 1950 is not a Bonafede enactment and aims to reduce by artificial means, the net income of the intermediaries, to reduce the compensation payable.

2. The amendment so made was drastic and was mainly done to target the class of intermediaries under the ambit of the Estates Abolition Bill, which was expected to be enacted.

3. In support of the argument the counsel referred to the cases, State of Bihar v. Maharaja Kameshwar Singh and Others, where the two provisions of the Bihar Land Reforms Act were held to be unconstitutional on the ground that the provisions constituted fraud on the Constitution and, Union Colliery Company of British, Columbia Ltd. v. Bryden, where the doctrine of colorable legislation came for consideration.

4.Also, the provision of amended legislation contains improper classification contained with unfettered Government discretion, thus being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

5.  Another contention was regarding the vested interest of the State Government in the building used for the office. The appellant asserted that such a building should not be considered as part of the acquisition.

6.That the manner of compensation payable mentioned under Section 37 of the Act is a mere piece of colorable legislation and is unconstitutional.


1. The counsel for the State gave the following contentions to counter the petitioner’s arguments

2. That the contentions asserted by the petitioner are not well framed and are irrelevant for the instant case.

3. That the Petitioner fails to mention any grounds challenging the validity of the Estates Abolition Act, the primary concern of the case.

4.Furthermore, the provision of the Act concerning the calculation of gross assets based on the rent payable is not illegal. However, if the appellants wish, they can raise objections on the computation of gross assets of an estate.

5.That if in this case, the provisions for computations are found void, such rent settled will be set aside to be open for the appellants to include the preceding year’s rent as rents settled.


The Hon’ble Supreme Court after hearing the contentions of both the sides and discussing the constitutional questions at length dismissed all six appeals, directing the parties to bear their respective costs.


Ratio Decidendi

· The doctrine of colorable legislation depends upon the competency of the legislature to enact that law, the procedure followed and not merely on the motive of the body in passing such law. The maxim asserts, “You cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly.”

· The legislature was competent to make laws on the subject and also the ulterior motive for laying the Act was not beyond the competency of the State Legislature. Thus, the Orissa Agricultural Income-tax (Amendment) Act,1950 Act cannot render the law as colorable and was not void.

· The State Legislature is empowered u/a 31(2) of the Constitution to place buildings which are within the ambit of the estate for management or administration purpose in the Government.

The provisions mentioned in Orissa Estates Abolition Act, 1950 for determination of compensation is not a colorable legislation as it comes within the ambit of Entry 42 of List III of Schedule VII of Constitution


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