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500 Words Case Analysis of Shanta Bai v. State of Bombay, 1958

The case in brief
The case revolved around petitioner A whose husband B, the owner of a forest, has executed an unregistered document in the form of a lease in favor of A. Due to this, A got the right to cut and make use of bamboo, teak, and fuelwood for consideration of Rs. 26,000 for 12.5 years.

In 1950, the Madhya Pradesh Abolition of Proprietary Rights Act was passed making A lose her right to cut any more trees. A filed a petition under Article 32 that her contractual right is denied and A further claimed compensation. The issue was whether the nature of the right was a right regarding movable property or immovable property.

The 5-judge bench pronounced a judgment in which 1 judge gave a separate judgment. The 4 judges in their judgment explained that the document cannot be taken as a lease but it does allow A to enter the land to cut the trees aforementioned. It was told to be profit-a-prendre, i.e., the right to take soil or minerals or any produce from a land. It was included in the judgment that such trees are considered as standing timber as on the date of the document but since the size is minimal and can fall earlier, are regarded as movable property.

The deed was an unregistered document that confirms that there was no violation of any fundamental right in the first place and A cannot enforce it as A has not acquired any right in the eyes of the law. Therefore, the petition was dismissed.

One judge, Justice Bose pronounced a separate judgment that in case of a lease, one can enjoy the property but that does not give them the right to remove it or take it away from its original location. He added that trees are immovable and in case of a lease, registration is a necessary requirement and for the lease of immovable property form more than a period of one year, registration is a must. The remaining trees covered by the grant would be immovable property, and the deed required registration because the total value was Rs. 26,000.

The major conclusions arrived from this case were that trees are regarded as immovable property. In the case of a lease, the person who enjoys the property has no right to take it away. In a profit-a-prendre, one has permission to enter the land, not to enjoy it, but to remove something. In the event that registration is required, a deed is used to transfer the right. There is a distinction between lease and profit-a-prendre. The lease enjoys movable property, whereas a person has only the right to take the goods (such as soil, or minerals from land) in profit-a-prendre.

Reference:
  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/963790/
  2. https://blog.ipleaders.in/article-32-constitution-india/

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