A bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra gave the verdict on an appeal by the Rajasthan government against the state high court's order holding such a sale to be valid in law.
The high court had passed its order on an appeal by a firm, Aanjaney Organic Herbal Pvt Ltd, against the refusal by the state authorities to recognise or grant mutation to the purchase of a plot by the company from a person belonging to scheduled caste.
"The Act is a beneficial legislation which takes special care to protect the interest of the members of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe.
"Section 42 (SC, ST Act) provides some general restrictions on sale, gift and bequest of the interest of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, in the whole or part of their holding.
"The reason for such general restrictions is not only to safeguard the interest of the members of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, but also to see that they are not being exploited by the members of non-Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe.
"We find Section 42(b) of the Act has to be read along with the constitutional provisions and, if so read, the expression `who is not a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe would mean a person other than those who has been included in the public notification as per Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution," said Justice Radhakrishnan, writing the judgement for the bench.
That property was purchased on September 26, 2005 through a registered sale deed for a consideration of Rs 60,000.
The high court had held that such a transfer was valid as the company being a `juristic person' does not have a caste and, therefore, any transfer made by a Scheduled Caste person would not be hit by Section 42(b) of the Act.
"If the contention of the company is accepted, it can purchase land from Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribe and then sell it to a non-Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe, a situation the legislature wanted to avoid.
"A thing which cannot be done directly can not be done indirectly by over-reaching the statutory restriction.
"We are, therefore, of the view that the reasoning of the high court that the respondent being a juristic person, the sale effected by a member of Scheduled Caste to a juristic person, which does not have a caste, is not hit by Section 42 of the Act, is untenable and gives a wrong interpretation to the above mentioned provision," the apex court said.
Please tell me which judgment?
Non SC and non ST people will not like this judgment because it will prevent them to get transfer their land at easy price. There is historical reasons justified very well in various Supreme court judgments. It may be noted that lands were taken away by tribes and there was minimal objection in the initial days after independence as the tribes expected secured future and development which never came. Today there is resistance against acquisition every where. Govt. has failed to protect land and the govt. authorities have failed to protect the land rather allowed the land to be transferred in the hands of others against the doctrine of supporting the SC ST interests.
The newspaper has read the judgement wrong. The judgement says that companies in rajasthan cannot buy from SC/ST. In other places, companies can buy if there is a provision in the law. for example in UP, s. 157A of UP Zamindari Act says that SC cant sell land to non sc without permission of collector (see act for details).
This judgement is against the interest of SC/ST persons who want to sell their land for their other financial needs or to benefit from appreciation of value of land as they will be forced to sell to only SC/ST persons there not allowing them to get competitive/ best rate for their land as nobody other than SC/ST person can buy their land. It may help other SC/ST persons but not the seller owning the land and belonging to SC/ST.
Acquisition of land for mining in tribal areas often involves this transaction and has led to more intensive mining of minerals at the cost of maginalised communities, deforestation change of demography. It is also required for planning new urban areas and may raise the cost of urbanisation which is the way to go for India in the days to come due to heavy population pressure.