Sri Lanka Law Reports
 2 Sri LR.
FERNANDO AND OTHERSv.
LAND REFORM COMMISSION AND ANOTHER
G. P. S. DE SILVA, C.J.,
KULATUNGA, J. ANDRAMANATHAN, J.
S.C. APPEAL NO. 145/94.
C.A. APPLICATION NO. 553/93.
MARCH 28, 1995.
Writ of Certiorari – Land Reform Commission – Lease of land – Jurisdiction togrant the lease.
The land which was the subject-matter of the disputed lease by the Land ReformCommission of which the appellants claimed to be the owners was identified tobe a portion of a land which had vested in the Commission. The land claimed bythe appellants was in fact situated outside, to the south of the vested land.
The appellants failed to establish that the Commission acted in excess of itspower in leasing the land.
APPEAL from judgment of the Court of Appeal.
R. K. W. Goonesekera with J. C. Weliamupa for appellants.
Asoka de Silva, D.S.G. with Kumar Paul S.C. for 1st respondent.
K. Kanag-lswaran, P.C. with Dinal Philips, Harsha Cabral, M. A. Sumanthiran andA. Paranagama for 2nd respondent.
Cur. adv. vult.
The 1st and 2nd appellants who are mother and son respectivelytogether with the 3rd and 4th appellants (who also appear to be
Fernando and Others v.
Land Reform Commission and Another (Kulalunga, J.)
members of the same family) unsuccessfully applied to the Court ofAppeal for a writ of Prohibition prohibiting the 1st respondent (theLand Reform Commission) from leasing or otherwise alienating anyportion of the land called “Tillawilawatte" other than a portion inextent 38 1/2 acres from and out of the Northern portion of Lot 2 inPreliminary Plan PU 754. Hence this appeal.
The appellants state that the total extent of the land is 238 acresand that this includes an extent of 138 1/2 acres which was owned by“Blom Family". There were two claimants to that extent namely,Oawald Thomas Blom and Orville Thomas Anthony Blom, each ofthem being entitled to 50 acres under the Land Reform Law. Theexcess land owned by them, in extent 38 1/2 acres, vested in theCommission. By a statutory determination made in terms ofsection 19 of the Law and published in Gazette (Extraordinary)No. 165/4 dated 28.05.1975 each of them was allowed to retain anundivided 50 acres from and out of Lot 1 in Plan PU 754.
The dispute in the case arose from action taken by the 1strespondent to grant the 2nd respondent company a renewal of alease of two contiguous allotments of land in extent 50 acres and30A.1R.15P. respectively, which constitutes Lot 2 in Plan PU 754. Thesaid lease was initially granted for a period of 10 years. In terms ofClause 4(c) of the lease, the lessee is entitled at its option to therenewal of the lease for a further period of 10 years upon the lesseegiving three months notice in writing of its intention for a renewal.Accordingly, the 2nd respondent has on 30.03.92 applied for arenewal of the lease.
The leased land was used by the 2nd respondent for a prawnculture project.
The appellants claim to have purchased, between 1987 and 1992,undivided shares of this land totalling 40 acres. On the strength ofsuch claim, the 2nd appellant entered the Southern portion of Lot 2 inthe aforesaid plan and himself commenced prawn farming there.Consequently, on 03.04.92 the 2nd respondent instituted D.C.Marawila case No. 537/L against the 2nd appellant for ejectment and
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 2 Sri LR.
a permanent and/or interim injunction, restraining him from interferingwith the 2nd respondent’s possession of the lands which had beenleased to the 2nd respondent.
On 25.05.93 the Court refused an interim injunction as thedefendant was in possession of a part of the land in suit. However,the Court proceeded to permit the addition of the Land ReformCommission for effectual adjudication of the questions involved in theaction. That action is pending.
In the meantime, on 08.06.92 the appellants instituted D.C.Marawila case No. 543/L against the Land Reform Commissionpraying for an order on the defendant to release 40 acres of land onthe southern side of the lands leased to the 2nd respondent, for aprohibition on the defendant leasing the said extent of 40 acres andfor an interim injunction to the same effect. The appellants did notpray for a declaration of title to the said extent of land.
On 20.07.93 the Court refused the application for an interiminjunction for the reason that the appellants had suppressed factsrelating to the connected case No. 537/L. An application for leave toappeal against that order was refused by the Court of Appeal;whereupon the appellants withdrew the action, with liberty to file afresh action. Immediately thereafter, on 29.07.93 they filed the writapplication before the Court of Appeal complaining that the landwhich had been leased to the 2nd respondent is not a land whichwas vested in the 1st respondent; hence the 1st respondent is actingin excess of its power under the Land Reform Law in seeking torenew the lease.
The Court of Appeal held that the appellant’s claim was to anundivided share of the land, the total extent of which is 238 acres;that they have failed to establish, with reference to proper metes andbounds, that they are entitled to claim an extent of 40 acres on thesouthern side of 80 acres leased out to the 2nd respondent; and thatthe matter should appropriately be determined before a Civil Court.The Court was of the view that the appellants had failed to show thattheir proprietary rights would be adversely affected by the lease ofthe land and hence dismissed the application.
Fernando and Others v.
Land Reform Commission and Another (Kulatunga, J.)
Arising from the above decision, the appellants obtained specialleave to appeal on three questions namely, (1) whether the petitionershave locus standi to apply for a writ of prohibition (2) whether the1st respondent has the power to acquire title by prescription (3) if theabove two questions are answered in favour of the appellants,whether they were entitled to the writ of prohibition sought by them.
On the 1st question, the submission of the learned Counsel for theappellants is to the effect that what is relevant is not whether theappellants had shown that their proprietary rights are adverselyaffected, but whether the 1st respondent would be acting in excessof its jurisdiction by leasing land not vested in it; and whether in thecircumstances of this case where the appellants have shown thatthey do have some interest in the land, any of them can be treated asa mere busy body. Counsel submits that upon such consideration,the answer to question No.1 should be in favour of the appellants.
The 2nd question has been raised because in D.C. CaseNo. 543/L and in the Court of Appeal the 1st respondent is said tohave admitted that the excess land vested from Blom family is only38 1/2 acres and that the 1st respondent acquired prescriptive title tothe balance land leased to the 2nd respondent. However, inopposing special leave to appeal, the Deputy Solicitor-General hadsubmitted that the said balance land had also vested in the 1strespondent but that they were unable to trace the relevant statutorydeclaration. Counsel for the appellants submits that having regard tothe object of the Land Reform Law, the Land Reform Commissioncannot claim the power to acquire title by prescription.
It appears that the presentation of the case for the parties has ledto considerable confusion. Thus it has been said that the extent of theentire land is 238 acres. The relevant averments might give theimpression that the entirety of the land is depicted in Plan PU 754.However, according to the tenement list, the extent included thereinis only 180A.1R.15P. This is made up of Lot 1, in extent 100 acres,given to Blom brothers, and Lot 2, 80A.1R.15P. claimed by the LandReform Commission. The plan also shows that the boundaries of theland depicted therein were shown by the “owners” O.T.A. Blom and
Sri Lanka Law Reports
 2 Sri L.R.
T. Blom. In the remarks column, it is noted against Lot 1 that O.T.A.Blom and O.T. Blom were each allowed to retain an undivided 50acres, being the maximum entitlement under the Law. Against Lot 2,it is noted that the extent of 80A.1R.15P. has vested in the LandReform Commission from the "original owners” namely, O.T.A. Blomand O.T. Blom.
Thus according to the plan produced by the appellantsthemselves, prima facie, Blom brothers owned 180A.1A.15P. and theexcess land, in extent 80A.1R.15P. vested in the 1st respondent. Ifthe entire extent of “Tillawilawatta” is 238 acres then an extent of 58acres lies outside the Plan PU 754. In fact, the plan shows that a partof this land, owned by Marshall Tissera, lies to the south of the plan.According to the appellants' plaint in case No. 543/L, the originalowners of the land out of which the appellants claim to have acquiredan undivided 40 acres were Tisseras including Marshal Tissera. Thisshows that the interests which the appellants claim to have acquiredare interests in the said portion of "Tillawilawatta” originally owned byTisseras and situated outside, to the south of the plan.
In the circumstances, the appellants have failed to establish thatthe 1st respondent has acted in excess of its power in leasing theland to the 2nd respondent. Hence the question of locus standi andthe question as to the power of the Land Reform Commission toacquire title by prescription do not arise. Accordingly, I dismiss theappeal and affirm the judgment of the Court below. The appellantswill pay the 2nd respondent a sum of Rs. 3500/- (Rupees ThreeThousand Five Hundred) as costs of this appeal.
G. P. S. DE SILVA CJ. -1 agree.
RAMANATHAN J. – I agree.
FERNANDO AND OTHERS v. LAND REFORM COMMISSION AND ANOTHER