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Gramanatham Land Explanied : TN

In Tamilnadu there is a classification in the Revenue records classifying some lands as “Gramanatham”.

Gramanatham is defined in the Law Lexicon as “ground set apart on which the house of a village may be built. Similarly, Natham Land is described in Tamil Lexicon published under the authority of University of madras to the effect that it is a residential portion of village; or portion of a village inhabited by the non – Brahmins; or land reserved as house sites.

The Division Bench of this Hon’ble Madras High Court has reported in 2004(3) CTC 270 has held law is well settled that when once a land is classified as Gramanatham, it is obvious that no portion of the said land will ever vest with the Government or Town Panchayat.

Though there are several judgments to this effect, the first judgment was rendered in S.Rengaraja Iyengar and another Vs. Achikannu Ammal and another reported in 1959(2)MLJ 513.

The operative portion of the judgment is as follows:

“The learned subordinate judge held that under section 3 (b) the land to which this appeal relates became transferred to the Government and that the title of the Plaintiffs’ vendors got extinguished. I do not consider that the view can be supported. A house – site owned by a person is what is generally known as Gramanatham, is not under Madras Act 3 of 1905, property of the Government. Section 2 of Madras Act 3 of 1905 says, in regard to lands, which are not covered by clauses (a( to (e) of sub – section 1 of section 2, that those lands are and hereby declared to be property of the Government, save in so far as they are Temple site or owned as house – site or backyard.

In order that a land may properly be described as a house – site, within the meaning of that expression in section 2 of Madras Act 3 of 1905, it is not necessary that there should be a residential building actually constructed and standing on that site. A person may, in a village habitation own a house in a street and a site on the outskirts of the habitation but within the limits of the Gramanatham, which he uses for a purpose of storing his hay and manure, if he is an agriculturist, or as a smith, if he is a smith, or as a brick – kiln if he is a brick – maker or as a place for weaving if he is weaver. On such sites, buildings or sheds are constructed or not, such sites are, in my opinion, house – sites within the meaning of that expression in section 2 of the Act….

Referring to the above said judgment, the Hon’ble High Court Madras has as reported in 2007(2) MLJ 113:

A reading of the said judgment, shows that when once a site is classified as Gramanatham, even if a portion of the said site is use for different purpose like agriculture, or a person, who is in possession of Gramanham, using a portion of the lands for the purpose of storing hay and manure or in the case of smith, using for brick – kiln etc.. In fact, holding that the incidental purpose for which the Gramanatham or housing site can be used cannot take away the character of Gramanatham as such.

This judgment was subsequently followed by this court with clear affirmation and was rendered in A.K.Thillaivanam and another Vs.Distict Collector, Chinghai Anna District 1998(3) LW 603. … In fact, this Court has also, while categorically holding that once the land is classified as Village Natham, no portion of the said land vests with the Government, even if a portion of the land is converted into agricultural land.

From the foregoing explanation is reference to the judgments, the lands

classified as Gramanatham land can be bought and sold. Subject to other encumbrances, owners of such Gramanatham lands make clear and marketable title to the land classified as Gramanatham lands.

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