1. I respectfully differ from the judgments of ray brothers Mukerji find Dwivedi and consider that the appeal should be allowed and the suit bought against the appellants by the respondents should be dismissed. The findings of fact which cannot be challenged in second appeal are that the respondents were the owners of the constructions made on the land possessed by the appellants as their riyayas, that is as licensees, that they never abandoned the village, their rights as licensees and the constructions but continued to be the owners of the constructions and the licensees of the site and that during their absence the appellants unlawfully took possession of the constructions and their site, demolished, the constructions and included the site in their own cattle-shed or constructed a cattle-shed over it.
On these findings the suit of the respondent was decreed by the trial court and they were ordered to be restored to possession over the sits of the constructions. There could have been no question of their being restored to possession over the constructions because they did not exist at all, The decree was passed on 19-1-1952 when the U. P. Tenancy Act, was in force. It was appealed from by the appellants, and during its pendencythe Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act came into force. The lower appellate court on17-7-1953 affirmed the decree of the trial court, but without considering the effect of Section 9 of the Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act on the rights of the parties. The appellants did not base any argument on the provisions of the section before it. They preferred a second appeal and now contended that the cattle-shed should continue to belong to them and that the site should be deemed to be settled with them by the State Government.
The position on 1-7-1952 (the date on which the new Act came into force) was that the respondents had a decree in their favour for possession over the site only. Their constructions had already been demolished and there was no question of their holding the decree for possession over them There remained only the site to which they were entitled as licensees, and they held a decree only for restoration of possession over it. There did stand a construction on it, namely the cattle-shed, but that admittedly belonged to the appellants; they might have unlawfully trespassed on the site of the constructions belonging to the respondents, unlawfully demolished them and unlawfully constructed a cattle-shed over it, still the respondent did not become owners of the cattle-shed. On account of the decree for possession over the site the cattle-shed might go to them along with the site in the execution of the decree, but it did not mean that they became owners of the cattle-shed. If 'A' trespasses upon the land of 'B' and places his chattels on it, or makes a construction on it at his own expouse, he remains the owner of the chattels or the construction and neither can be said to belong to the owner of the land. The law does not make 'B' owner of the chattels or the construction merely because he is the owner of the land; otherwise the would be entitled to a decree for possession, over the land and for possession over the construction and would not sure simply for possession over the land as he invariably does.
Though the suit of the respondents was decreed, it was in appeal, and, since Section 9 of the Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act came into force on 1-7-52, the appellate court was bound to consider its provisions before deciding the appeal. It had not merely to see whether the decree passed by the lower court was Correct or not; it had to deal with the matter as if it were itself trying the suit. When the only constructions that food on the site belonged to, and were in the occupation of, the appellants, only the appellants could continue to own and be in occupation of them; the respondents, who were not the owners and were not even in possession of them, could not possibly be said to continue to own them after. 1-7-52-Section 9 deals with two things; (1) a building, (I am dealing with the section as if it dealt only with a building) and (2) its site, and makes it clear that the site shall be deemed to be settled with that person, who is to continue to own the building. It is impossible under the section for a building to belong to one person and its site to be settled with another,
It is obvious that the first question to be decided by a Court is to whom the building is to continue to belong; the question with whom itssite should be deemed to be settled will depend upon the answer to it. The words 'shall continue to belong' mean, and cannot mean anything else, that whoever was the owner of the building before 1-7-52 will continue to be its owner after that date; the section does not contemplate at all that one person could be the owner before 1-7-52 and another, after that date. One more fact to be noticed is that the words 'shall continue' mean that the building itself continues; Section 9 will not apply to a building which ceased to exist before 1-7-52. Thus it cannot be applied to the construction belonging to the respondents; they ceased to exist before 1-7-52 and, therefore, there wan no question of their continuing to own anything, and if there was no question of their owning anything there was no question of any land being settled with them. As regards their own constructions they were not entitled to be deemed to be settled with their site because they did not exist, and, as regards the cattle-shed it did not belong to them, and was certainly not held by them, and hence its site could not be deemed to be settled with them. Thus they did not derive any benefit from Section 9 and their suit should have been dismissed by the appellate court.
2. In the view that I take it is unnecessary to decide what exactly is meant by the word 'held', Even if the word 'held' is used to mean 'held under a title' or 'held lawfully the respondents could not get the benefit of Section 9, because as explained above, the only building that stood on 1-7-1952 was the cattle-shed belonging to the appellants and in their own physical possession, and, since no building belonging to the respondents stood on that date, no land could be deemed to be settled with them. On 1-7-1952 they lost their rights as licensees (as I shall show presently) and, if they could get a decree over the site of their constructions, it could be only on the footing that the site was deemed to be settled with them; there was no other basis for a decree to be passed in their favour on or after 1-7-52. They could have got a decree for damages in respect of the malba of their constructions or on account of the demolition of their constructions, but that is not the decree sought by them. They could have got a decree for possession over the site only if their constructions had stood on it on 1-7-1952. According to the law it was for them to establish their title to the land; they could not get a decree on the basis of a weakness in the title of the appellants. The law is so well known that it is unnecessary to cite authorities. The appellants might or might net have been entitled to the benefit of the provisions of Section 9, but if the respondents were not entitled to it their suit Was doomed.
3. On 1-7-52 all the rights of the intermediaries vested in the State free from all encumbrances, which means that all the rights of persons holding under them, whether as tenants or as licensees, were extinguished. Section 9 was enacted to provide for buildings and their sites. The Legislature decided that the enforcement of the Act should not affect the rights in the buildings; they will continue as before. As regards their sites, the Legislature decided that they should be deemed to be settled with those to whom they belonged,or by whom they were held. If a person trespassing upon a land of an intermediary constructed a building, the building belonged to him and the Legislature decided that he will continue to own it as before; there is sense in this. The Legislature was not going to decide questions of title and had to leave them to be decided by Courts.
The abolition of Zamindari had nothing to do with ownership of buildings; the rights of intermediaries in the sites of buildings could cease and be vested in the State without the rights over the buildings being affected. After deciding that the rights over the buildings will continue unaffected, it decided that the licensee rights should go along with them, and this was quite logical. If a person trespassed upon an intermediary's land, when the intermediary lost all his rights he also lost the right to recover possession from the trespasser; he had no right to the building and could not claim that the building should be given to him and its site should be deemed to be settled with him. The only person who could continue to own it and with whom its site could be deemed to be settled was the trespasser. It was not a question of the Slate's favouring a transpasser as against a rightful owner; it had already taken away all the rights of the rightful owner by the vesting and, therefore, he was not to lose by the site not being settled with him.
4. The case of a building owned by one person and wrongfully possessed by another person stands on a different footing. As I said earlier, Section 9 deals with two distinct matters (1) a building and (2) its site. A building may belong to one person and its site, to another person. A building may belong to one person and may be in wrongful possession of another person. A site may belong to one person and may be in wrongful possession of another person who constructs a building on it. All these cases cannot He dealt with by one rule and the failure to realise that the different eases can Be governed by different rules has led to a good deal of confusion, and, if I may say with respect to the laying down of erroneous law.
The question of the meaning of the word ''held' arises only when a building belonging to one person is in the actual occupation of another person; if it is in the occupation of the person to whom it belongs he will undoubtedly continue to own it, regardless of the meaning of the word 'held'. If the word is understood in its ordinary meaning as 'is possessed' or 'occupied', it applied to him, and, even, if it is understood in the restricted meaning, it applies to him, as he is in possession or occupation under a lawful title, being the owner. It makes no difference whether he has a lawful title over the site or not, because one is concerned only with the building. When a building belonging to one person is in, possession of another person, whether as a tenant or licensee or as a trespasser, the question will arise as to which of them is to continue to own or hold it. Several persons may have different rights over a building, but they cannot have different rights over its site; the site can be deemed to be settled with only one of them. It follows therefore that only one of the persons claiming different rights in a building is contemplated by the phrase 'belonging to or held by'. Though a building can be said to belong to oneperson and to be held by another person, Section 9 contemplates that only one of them is the person to whom the phrase 'belonging to or held by' can apply.
The well-known canon of interpretation of statutes which avoids absurdities requires the Court to hold that if 'A' undoubtedly comes within a statute it should be interpreted so as to avoid 'B' also coming in, if both 'A' 'B' cannot come in at the same time. When an owner of a building has let it out to a tenant or a licensee he may be deemed to be the person contemplated by the phrase and its site can be deemed to be settled with him and not with the tenant or the licensee. In other words, 'belonging to or held by' can be understood to mean 'owned by', and where there is no question of ownership, 'possessed by'.
Where a building is in the possession of a trespasser and the right of the owner is not lost by lapse of time it certainly belongs to 'him, and, since the phrase 'belonging to or held by' must apply to only one person, it cannot be said to be 'held' by the trespasser. It seems to me that once the Court finds that it belongs to a certain Person, it is necessary for it to find by whom it is 'held; as I said earlier, an enquiry into who holds it will be necessary only when an enquiry to whom it belongs is not appropriate. The rightful owner will continue to own the building, notwithstanding its being in the possession of a trespasser and its site will be deemed to be settled with him. These are the only cases in which the site is deemed to be settled with a person who is not in occupation of the building and the present case is of a different kind and is similar to the case in Bharat v. Ch. Khazan Singh : AIR1958All332 . Neither the judgment of my learned brothers nor the argument in this case has persuaded me that either that case was wrongly decided or that the facts in the present case are different.
5. Section 9 deals with all buildings without regard to their ownership and occupation; buildings in the occupation of their owners (or persons claiming under them) are as much within its scope as buildings in occupation of trespassers. As the rights of the intermediaries vested in the State free fromall encumbrances, the Legislature had to make provision in respect of rights in buildings and their sites and Section 9 is the only provision. Consequently it deals with all buildings howsoever owned and howsoever occupied. The phrase 'belonging to or held by' must be so interpreted as to bring within the scope of the section cases of all buildings, howsoever owned and howsoever held. The first question to be considered is not what is the meaning of the phrase, but who is the one person in respect of whom it can be said that the building belongs to, or is held by, him; go into the meaningonly if you cannot answer it, i.e., you find that more than one person might come within the scope of the phrase. It is beyond comprehension now in the present case that the cattle-shed can be said to belong to, or be held by, the respondents. The appellants are the only persons to whom the phrase can apply and the site must be deemed to be settled with them. As I said previously I respectfully disagree with the view taken in Pheku Chamar v. Harish Chandra : AIR1953All406 . The appeal should be allow-ed and the connected appeals should be decidedin accordance with the view expressed above.
6. This is an appeal by two defendants against a decision of the 1st Temporary Civil and Sessions Judge Meerut decreeing the plaintiffs' suit. The plaintiffs filed a suit on the allegations that they were riayas in village Nagli Abdullah a hamlet of village Machhra, that the site of the house had been taken by their father from the defendants' ancestor about 60 years ago and that thereafter the plaintiffs made a few kothas on the site for their residential purposes. The plaintiffs further alleged that during the communal disturbances of l946 and 1947, they left the village temporarily for the purposes of security and lived with their relations in another village, that when conditions improved and security was restored in Nagli Abdullah they returned to it but found that their house had been unlawfully taken over by the defendants and not only that the defendants had demolished the plaintiffs' construction but they had also included the land in their own house.
7. The defence that was taken to the suit was that the site in dispute had been given to Husaini some 13 years ago on rent which was received in kind and that Husaini had subsequently abandoned his tenancy and therefore the site reverted to the appellants as Zamindari and that they had taken possession of the site as such.
8. The trial Court held that the site had been included in the residential house of the defendants and that the defendants had not abandoned the same by leaving the village. The lower appellate Court also held that the land in suit had the residential structures of the plaintiffs on it. The lower appellate Court accepted the case, of the plaintiffs to the effect that they were riayas and they possessed the site as such and that they had on the site their residential kothas. From the decision of the lower appellate Court, it is clear that the constructions which originally stood on the site were not only kuchcha constructions, but they were in a dilapidated condition. The lower appellate Court affirmed the findings of the trial Court to the effect that the plaintiffs did not abandon the site and that they did not abandon the village, for it found that they left the village with the intention of returning back to it.
9. The appellate Court affirmed the decision of the trial Court and dismissed the appeal, which meant that the plaintiffs had a decree in their favour for actual possession of the property detailed at the foot of the plaint.
10. In this second appeal, it was contended that on the findings arrived at by the Courts below, the plaintiffs' suit could not be decreed because of the provisions of Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950. Before turning to consider the effect of Section 3 on this case, it would be useful to reiterate the main findings on which the argument in respect of Section 9 was founded. The findings which need reiteration are:-
1. That the site was held by the plaintiffs at one stage as riayas and that on that site stood certain kuchcha constructions which were not invery good repair at the time when the plaintiffs temporarily left the village.
2. That the plaintiffs did not abandon the village but they only, temporarily, left the village with the idea of coming back to it when conditions in the village became settled and safe for them.
3. That during the absence of the plaintiffs from the village, the defendants who were intermediaries--having been formerly Zamindas--took possession of the constructions that stood on the site and the site as well and that after having taken possession thereof they demolished the dilapidated kuchcha constructions and included the site in their own residential house.
11. Section 9 is in these words:-
'All wells, trees in abadi, and all buildings situate within the limits of an estate, belonging to Or held by an intermediary or tenant or other person whether residing in the village or not, shall continue to belong to or be held by such intermediary, tenant or person, as the case may be, and the site of the wells or the buildings with the area appurtenant thereto shall be deemed to be settled with him by the State Government on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.'
12. On behalf of the appellants it was contended that the site in respect of which there was a dispute was, at any rate, an area appurtenant to the buildings both 'belonging to' and 'held' by the defendants. On behalf of the respondents, it was contended in reply that the land in dispute could not be said to 'belong to' or 'to be held' by the defendants because the land had been taken by the plaintiffs lawfully from the Zamindars and that the plaintiffs had raised certain constructions on that land and that the plaintiffs never abandoned either the constructions or the land which; could give the intermediary defendants the right to appropriate the land and the constructions thereon for their own benefit lawfully or to include the same in their own property. The solution to the controversy raised would depend upon whether the words 'belonging to' in Section 9 and the word 'held' in that section, require that there should be a lawful basis for claiming the property or for holding the property, that is to say, whether Section 9 requires a legal basis for the two situations which are visualised under that section in respect of buildings and the site on which such buildings, stood.
13. There has been a difference of opinion in this Court in regard to the true meaning of Section 9, and that was the reason why this case was referred to a Full Bench. In : AIR1953All406 , Agarwala and Chaturvedi, JJ., held that Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act did not confer any right on persons having no title to a piece of land and that it was confined in its application to a case where the building on the disputed land was lawfully held by the person in possession. They further expressed the view that the word 'held' in Section 9 referred to the existence of such possession as could be traced to a lawful origin. In : AIR1958All332 , Desai and Takru, JJ., held that there was nothing in the language of Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act which could suggestthat the site of a building could be settled with an intermediary, tenant or other person only if any of them was a lawful owner of it or held it lawfully, These learned Judges were of the opinion that the language used by the Legislature in Section 9 was so wide as to include the claim of a trespasser also, for the learned Judges expressed the view that in case a trespasser constructed a building on a site then the building and the site would be deemed to be settled with the trespasser and not with the owner of the site; they held that the building would be deemed to be settled with an intermediary only if the building belonged to him and not otherwise.
14. The word 'held' has not been defined in the Act, nor do we find any definition of the word in any of the Acts which could be said to be in pari materia to assist in determining the meaning of this word with any amount of certainty, so that we have to revert to the dictionaries for its meaning.
15. Webster's New Twentieth Century Dietionary (Second Edition) giving the meaning of the word 'held'' has this to say:-
'in law, (a) to decide; adjudge; electee;
(b) to bind by contract;
(c) to possess by legal title; as, who holds the mortgage?'
16. Bouvier's Law Dictionary (Baldwin's Century Edition) says this:-
'HOLD. A technical word in a deed introducing with 'to have' the clause which expresses the tenure by which the grantee is to have the land. The clause which commences with these words is called the tenendum. (Tenendum was that part of a deed which was formerly used in exposing the tenure by which the estate granted was held; but since all freehold tenures were converted into socage, the tenendum is of no further use even in England, and is therefore, joined to the habendum in this manner,--to have and to hold. The words 'to hold' have now no meaning in our deeds. According to Bouvier, it may be pointed out that habendum is that clause which usually following the granting part of the premises of a deed, which defines the extent of the ownership in the thing granted to be held and enjoyed by grantee. The equivalent words of 'habendum et tenendum' are 'to have and to hold'.)'
Bouvier further says this:-
'to decide, to adjudge, to decree: as the Court in that case held that the husband was not liable for the contract of the wife made without his express or implied authority;to bind under a contract; as, the obliger is held and firmly bound ..............'
Stroud's Judicial Dictionary Volume 2 (19S2 Third Edition) page 1328 says this:-
'There is a material difference between a holding and an occupation. A person may hold, though he does not occupy. A tenant is a Person who holds of another; he does not, necessarily, occupy.'
17. In some old English cases while interpreting the provisions of Statute 59 G. 3. c. 50, ft was pointed out that under that Act a building was 'held' and land was 'occupied'.
18. In Rule v. Inhabitants of Stow Bardolph, (1880) 1 B and Ad. 219 a distinction seems to hawbeen drawn between holding and possessing, but that was in respect of the Statute mentioned above. In Williams v. Philips, (1881) 8 QBD 437, while considering the question as to the nature of right that a plaintiff was entitled to under the words of the Statute 8 and 9 Vict. c. 118, Lord Justice Cotton said:-
'The plaintiffs claim to be entitled to the allotments under the words of the statute and under the words of the lease. We must first ascertain what the facts are, and then see how the words of the lease are to be construed. Up to the year 1857 certain rights of common attached to Werfa Farm existed over a common called Hirwain Common. In 1859, by an order made under the Inclosure Act, the rights of common, were extinguished, but the right to an allotment was created instead of it. I need not read the words of the lease. After the order had been made no right of common attached to the farm existed over the land to be inclosed; but in substitution for the right of common a right to an allotment was created, which was given to the owner of the farm. I do not think that the words of the lease comprise the right to the allotments. It was not a right 'belonging'' to the farm; it was not 'usually held or enjoyed' with the farm. Possibly by apt words the allotments might have been included in the demise; but they do not exist here, and it would be a little strange if a lease at a fixed rent were to include the right to allotments', which might not be finally set out for an indefinite number of years ............'
19. As I pointed out earlier, the word 'hold' or 'held' had not been defined anywhere and that we had to rely on the dictionary meaning of the word, and if necessary modify that meaning or add to that meaning according to any judicial interpretation that may have been given to these words.
20. Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (Second Edition) says that in legal parlance the word 'held' means to possess by legal title. Stroud in his Judicial Dictionary, Vol. 2 (Third Edition) at page 1328 (I have already quoted this earlier) says that there was a material difference between 'holding' and 'occupation'. If there was a material difference then 'held' could only appropriately refer to the title which entitled the person to occupy, for as pointed out by Stroud, a person may 'hold' and yet may not 'occupy'.
21. The observations of Lord Justice Cotton in the Case, Williams, (1881) 8 QBD 437 quoted by me earlier, also indicated that the words 'belonging to' and 'held' did refer to a legal origin.
22. In Pheku Chamar's case : AIR1953All406 , when a Bench of this Court said that they found it difficult to understand why the Legislature should have preferred a trespasser over a rightful owner, they in effect expressed the view that the word 'held' connoted the existence of a right or title in the holder and so did the words 'belonging to'. Nothing can, properly belong to a person who does not own the thing whether it the land, building or chattel, though it is in a certain sense possible for a person to hold a thing in the sense of having possession of the thing even though he was not the owner thereof. Nevertheless, it could not be said that the word 'hold'or 'hold' could not or should not refer to a lawful holding.
23. It is well recognised that if a word is capable of being understood in a narrow as also; a broad sense then one has to look to the setting in which the word appears in order to ascertain the sense in which the Legislature used the word. In the Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, other words which could in the popular sense be synonym of the word 'hold' or 'held' have been used. For example, in Section 13, it is said that a thekedar of an estate or share therein shall, with effect from the date of vesting, cease to have any right to hold or possess, as such, any hind in such estate. The question naturally arises as to why the two words 'hold' or 'possess' have been used in juxta-position. In Section 16, which deals with the rights of occupation of land, the word 'occupant' has 'been used. If the intention of the Legislature was to use the word 'hold' in a general sense, then they should have used the words 'holder of land' in the section. In Section 17, the word 'held' has definitely been used in the sense of possessing the land under some title, The words of Section 18, in my opinion, provide some clue to the meaning which the Legislature wanted to give to the word 'hold' in the Act, for Section 18 says this:
'Subject to the provisions of Sections 10, 15, 16 and 17 all lands-
(a) in possession of or held or deemed to be held by an intermediary as sir, khudkasht or and intermediary's grove
(b) held as a grove by, or in the personal cultivation of a permanent lessee in Avadb,
(c) held by a fixed-rate tenant or a rent-free grantee as such, or
(d) held as such by-
(i) an occupancy tenant
(ii) ahereditary tenant
(iii) a tenant on Patta Dawami or Istamrari referred to inSec. 17
possessing the right to transferthe holding by sale.
(e) held by a grove holder, on the date, immediately preceding the date of vesting shall be deemed to be settled by the State Government
'with such intermediary..........'
Section 19 also used the word 'held' and also 'deemed to have been held'. It cannot be said that the word 'held' in the section could apply to a trespasser.
24. Section 20 contemplates rights in respect of land arising out of two clear cut situations: (1) where the right may arise out of legal origin, and (2) where the right may arise in favour of a trespasser merely by his being an occupant of the land, To my mind the use of the word 'occupant' in Sub-section (b) of Section 20 clearly indicates that the Legislature when it used the word 'held' did not intend to give the word a meaning that could embrace in its ambit a trespasser.
25. In the case of Bharat, 1957 All LJ 743 (2): (AIR 1988 All 332), the position was is pointed out in the decision itself, at page 744 column 9, that the defendant intermediary had admittedly lost actual possession in July, 1945 'and' thaton the date of vesting, he had neither any title nor was he in possession, nor had he any right to possess the land. Under the circumstances the question which we have to determine, namely, whether the word 'held' in Section 9 related to legal origin or not did not specifically arise for determination. The learned Judges in Bharat's case : AIR1958All332 further pointed out that the respondent of that appeal could not show any title better than the appellants after they had remained in peaceful possession for a year or more. The learned Judges further observed thus:--
'There is no dispute about the ownership; the respondent himself does not claim that it belongs to him. Since the building is situated within the limits of an estate, under Section 9 its site (together with the area appurtenant thereto) must be deemed to be settled with the appellants by the State Government. The appellants now are in lawful possession of the site of the building on account of the settlement and are not liable to ejectment. They might have been liable to be ejected as trespassers before the vesting but in consequence of the vesting, their possession on the site is to be deemed as the result of the settlement with the State Government in whom the land vests.'
The learned Judge in Bharat Singh's case : AIR1958All332 differed from the view expressed in Pheku Chamar's case : AIR1953All406 , as it appears to me, mainly, on the ground that they thought that by giving the meaning which the Bench had given to the word 'held' the Bench had in effect imported the word 'lawful' into the section. With great respect to the learned Judges, I do not think that in Pheku Chamar's case : AIR1953All406 , any such attempt had been made by the learned Judges.
26. In this connection, it may be useful to advert to what has been said by Mr. Justice Frankfurter in United States of America v. William F. Monia, (1943) 87 Law Ed. 376 at p. 382. Frankfurter, J. clearly pointed out that one could not always shut one's eyes to everything else except the naked words of an Act. The learned Judges warned against the pernicious effects likely to follow over-simplification in interpretations. As Frankfurter, J. pointed out 'a statute, like other living organisms, derives significance and sustenance from its environments from which it cannot be severed without being mutilated.' In my view, it would be mutilation, of the meaning and the intent of the Legislature to give meaning to the word 'held' and the words 'belonging to' in Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act as was given in Bharat's case : AIR1958All332 . It should not be forgotten that a man can unlawfully occupy or even possess something, but strictly speaking, in legal parlance, at any rate, he cannot unlawfully hold anything; the same applies to the expression 'belonging to'.
27. It is well recognised that, even though, what was called 'the doctrine of equitable construction' is no more relied upon by Courts, even so, it is perfectly clear that even now it is well entrenched in law that giving a liberal or a strict construction, to sections must be in accordance with certain principles: it is further well recognised that in interpreting a legislative enactment, Courts presume, without doubt, that a legislature performs its functions properly and that the legislature has 'as its ultimate intent the enactment of laws founded on recognised concepts of justice, common sense and reason--all of which operate to control the legislature in performance of its law-making function.' It is well recognised that civilized society is founded upon certain standards of ethical conduct, and that in a democracy, laws must harmonize with the general aims and standards of the people. It has been pointed out by Crawford in his book on Statutory Construction that--
'It must be assumed that the law-makers who represent the people, enact all laws in the light of what the people believe is honest, fair and equitable and in harmony with the public welfare. In other words the entire legislative process is influenced by considerations of justice and reason. Justice and reason constitute the great general legislative intent in every piece of legislation. Consequently, where the statute or a suggested construction operates harshly, ridiculously, or in any other manner contrary to prevailing conceptions of justice and reason, in most instances, it would seem that the apparent or suggested meaning of the statute, was not the one intended by the law-makers. In the absence of some other indications that the harsh or ridiculous effect was actually intended by the legislature, in addition to the apparent of suggested meaning, there is little reason to believe that it represents the legislative intent.' (p. 299)
28. In my view placing the interpretation that was put on the word 'held' and on the phrase 'belonging to' in Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition, and Land Reforms Act as put in the case of Bharat : AIR1958All332 would be to defeat the real intent of the legislature in enacting Section 9. As I have pointed out earlier the legislature, where it wanted to confer a right on a mere occupant it said so in unmistakable terms as in Section 20(b). It could not in my opinion be argued that the legislature by enacting the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act of 1950 intended to confer rights on persons who had no right at all. This piece of legislation was based on certain well-recognised modern conceptions of rights in property and rights to hold the property.
It was argued that Section 20(b) clearly indicated that the legislature wanted to confer rights on rank trespassers. I do not think that the legislature really wished to confer any rights on rank trespassers. What the legislature intended to do was to recognise the right of a person who had been recorded as an occupant in a certain Fasli year i.e. to say 1356 Fasli. The legislature presumed, and in my opinion it could legitimately do so, that a person when he was recorded in the revenue records then it could be assumed that hewas so recorded because he had some title to the land in respect of which he had been recorded as occupant; so that the legislature by enacting Section 20(b) could not be said to have really accepted the principle that even unlawful possession could equate with legal title.
29. From what I have said earlier, I feel no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that under Section 9, the word 'hold' did not connote a title o a trespasser, but that it referred to a title that had a legal origin. A person who trespassed on the land of another and constructed a building on that land of the other, did not by that trespass, unless the right of the owner was barred by the law of limitation, acquire under the provisions of Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act any tide, right or interest to continue the building on that land, or to have acquired any interest in that land. In my opinion, therefore, this appeal which is by the defendants must be dismissed.
30. I agree with the opinion of Mukerji, J., who has been good enough to send me an advance copy of his judgment. In view of the importance of the question raised in this case, I would however prefer to state shortly my own reasons for our view.
31. The facts of the case have already been stated fully in the judgment of Mukerji, J. The appeal comes to us for resolving the conflict between the decisions of two Division Benches of this Court in 1953 All LJ 197 : (AIR 1953 All 408) and 1957 All LJ 743 (2) : (AIR 195S All 332). In the former case it was decided that the word 'held' in Section 9 of the U. P. Zamindari Abolition, and Land Reforms Act, 1951 (hereinafter called the Act) connotes the existence of a right or title in the holder: in the latter case it was held that that word was also apt to refer to a person, who has encroached upon the land of another person and has erected a building over the land.
32. In the latter case the trespasser had encroached upon a piece of land in the Abadi long before the commencement of the Act. The Zamindar instituted a suit for his eviction from the site after demolition of the building. His claim was founded solely On his zamindari right. The suit was decreed, and on appeal the learned Judges held in essence that the trespasser could not be ejected at the instance of the zamindar who had no subsisting interest in the site, of the building after the commencement of the Act. It may be observed that in that case the learned Judges were not directly called upon to decide whether the trespasser was liable to be ejected at the suit of the Government or the Gaon Sabha. They Supported their opinion by a similar view already expressed in Syed Mohammad Raza v. Ram Lal, 1955 All LJ '496. There, however, Kidwai and H. S. Chaturvedi, JJ. expressly reserved their opinion about whether the Gaon Sabha would have any right to eject the trespasser.
33. With these preliminary remarks I would quote from Shorter Oxford Dictionary the meaning of the word 'hold':
'To own as property, to be in possession, or enjoyment of, to have or keep as one's own, to retain possession or occupation of.'
Webster's Dictionary defines the word thus:
'To retain in one's keeping, to maintain possession of or authority over, to retain by force, to own or possess, to occupy, to derive title to.'
34. It is apparent that according to its Dictionary meanings the word 'held' not only connotes the existence of a right or title but also denotes a wrongful possession. Now, there is little doubt that! when a word has only one meaning, it must be given that meaning. It is, however, a well-recognised rule of statutory construction that, if a word is susceptible of a narrower as well as broader meaning, we must look to the setting and vision of the Act in order to ascertain in what sense the Legislature has used the word in that setting and vision. Another well known rule of interpretation, which also lays stress on the context, is 'noscitur a sociis'. When two or more words, which are susceptible of analogous meaning, are coupled, together, they are understood to be used in their cognate sense. They take their colour from each other, and the more general is restricted to a sense analogous to the less general; In M. K. Ranganathan v. Govt. of Madras : 2SCR374 , apparently general words were given a narrower meaning in the light of their immediate collocation.
35. Coming back, therefore, to Section 9 of the Act we notice that the word 'held' is the proximate associate of the expression 'belonging to'. This expression connotes a lawful right or title and excludes a wrongful possessory claim. The word 'held' should therefore be construed in a cognate sense, and so construed it would also connote the existence of a lawful right or title,
36. Again, we have also to look to the expression 'by an intermediary or tenant or other person', which follows immediately after the word 'held'. In the context of intermediary and tenant when the words 'other person' are read cjusde:n generis, as they should be, they would also refer to lawful title-holder and not to a wrongful occupant.
37. Let us now examine the remote context of the word in the body of the Act itself. In Section 2(1) (c) of the Act the word 'held' is definitely used in the limited sense of a lawful right. In Sections 13, 17, 18, 21, 144, 204, 240A, 290, 298, 304 and 314, it is used in the context of lawful title-holders. It may also be observed that, whenever the Legislature intended to bestow a legal right on a wrongdoer, it has said so in plain and unambiguous language, for instance, in Sections 16, 20, 21(2), 210 and 228.
38. It would be presumed that the Legislature was aware that the word 'held' has been used to connote a lawful title in some of the earlier tenancy laws, for instance, in Section 7 and Clause (c) of the first proviso to Section 8 of the N. W. P. Rent Act, 1881 and Section 3(10) of the U. P. Tenancy Act.
39. At this stage we may also notice some precedents, which support our view. In Harjas v. Radha Kishan, ILR 8 All 256, the phrase land held by him as Sir' in Section 7 of the N. W. P. Rent Act, 1881 came up for interpretation by this Court. The defendant in the case had sold his one-third share in sir land to the plaintiff, who was already in possession over the land as a mortgagee. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant did notbecome an expruprietary tenant under Section 7, for the land was not at the time of sale 'held by him as Sir'. Repelling this contention Straight, Officiating C. J. said that
'the words 'land held by him as Sir' must be construed to mean land belonging to him, or to which he was entitled, as sir.' In E. v. Inhabitants of North Collingham, (1823) 1 B and C. 578, it was said that 'hold' was used in contradistinction with 'occupy' to connote the sense of 'held under law'. In Rule v. Inhabitants of Tonbridge, (1826) 6 B and C. 88, this view was adopted. In Smallwood v. Sheppards, (1895) 2 QB 627, it was said that 'held' was different from 'enjoyed' and that a person could hold as tenant though he was not occupying the premises.
40. The object underlying Section 9 is to be seen in the light thrown by the preamble and Section 6 of the Act on the backcloth of the antecedent law with respect to buildings in villages. Before the advent of the Act the zamindar was the absolute proprietor of every inch of soil within his zamindari, and nobody could build houses or other structures without his leave. Any person erecting a building without his permission stood in the position of a trespasser. The Zamindar, however, used to grant licences to his Raiyat generally to build their houses, etc; over his land. Even in regard to these licences a transferee of a building from a Riyaya without the permission of the Zamindar stood in the position of a trespasser qua the zamindar, who could eject him at will.
The preamble of the Act indicates that one of the objects of the Act is to transfer the right, title and interest of the zamindar in his zamindari to the State. On such transfer the State becomes the sole proprietor of all land within the zamindari, and it would according to general law be entitled to eject the trespasser, who has erected or purchased any building within, the zamindari area without leave of the quondam zamindar. Coming now to Clause (b) of Section 6 of the Act we notice that the licence granted by the quondam zamindar in favour of a Riyaya to erect a building on his land is determined by operation of law. Consequently on trie vesting of the zamindari in the State a Riyaya also became a trespasser qua the State with respect to the site of the building. The Legislature was thus called upon to define the nature of relationship between the State on the one hand and the rank trespasser or the former licensee-trespasser.
The purpose of Section 9 is, I think, to define this relationship. There is no dispute here that the Legislature intends to maintain the status quo qua the former licencee trespasser. He would now hold the site of the building from the State, It is however maintained that the general language of Section 9 also evidences a legislative intention to recognise the claims of a rank trespasser. I see nothing plain and precise in Section 9 and its marginal note, which would make manifest a legislative intent of clothing the rank trespasser with the garb of law. The marginal note cannot, however, be referred to for any purpose in connection with the construction of Section 9 (see Balraj Kunwar v. Jagatpal Singh, ILR 26 All 393 at p. 406 (PC) andCommr. of Income-tax, Bombay v. Ahmedbhai Umarbhai and Co. : 181ITR472(SC) .
41. If I fail to see in Section 9 anything pointing infallibly to the benefit of the rank trespasser, it is not from caprice or humour, but because I conceive that an interpreter should not, when faced with the delicate task of interpreting an equivocal term in a statute, go by the letter of the law; he should steadily pierce the sematic veil and look for the true meaning with the aid of the rule of presumption that the Legislature does not intend to overthrow suddenly any fundamental juridical norm, in particular, the rule of law, that binds and distinguishes a civilised community from savage society. This presumption is rebuttable but only by inexorably plain language. A flexible term in a statute should not therefore be so interpreted as to impair the rule of law or make any fundamental departure from the general system of the law.
42. Here one may quote, profitably, from the opinion of Bhagwati, J. in : 2SCR374 . While giving to some general words in the amendment to Section 232(1) of the, Indian Companies Act a limited meaning, Bhagwati, J. observed :
'Whereas before the amendment the secured creditor stood outside the winding up and could if the mortgage-deed so provided, realise his security without the intervention of the court by effecting a sale either by private treaty or by public auction, no such sale could be effected by him after the amendment and that was certainly a fundamental alteration in the law which could not be effected unless one found words used which pointed unmistakably to that conclusion or unless such intention was expressed with irresistible clearness .............
Such a great and sudden change of policy could not be attributed to the Legislature and it would be legitimate therefore, to adopt the narrower interpretation of those words of the amendment rather than an interpretation which would have the contrary effect.'
43. If consideration of a mere great and sudden change of policy' appeared to Bhagwati, J. to be a proper reason for not giving the whole meaning to the general words of Section 232(1) of the Indian Companies Act, it would, I think, be far less proper for me to think that the word 'held' is intentionally used in Section 9 by the Legislature for the purpose of acknowledging mere might as right, because the efficacy of the rule of law cannot be minimised without disastrous consequences to the society.
44. Adverting to the rule of literal interpretation I have to bear in mind that words are only in exact media of expression. I feel irresistibly inclined to quote the eloquent words of Frankfurter, J. in (1943) 87 Law Ed. 376 at p. 382:
'This question cannot be answered by closing our eyes to everything except the naked words of the Act of June 30, 1906. The notion that because the words of a statute are plain, its meaning is also plain, is merely pernicious oversimplification. It is a wooden English doctrine of rather recentVintage .......... to which lip service has onoccasion been given here, but which since the days of Marshall this Court has rejected, especially in practice .............. A statute, like other livingorganism, derives significance and. sustenance from its environment, from which it cannot be severedwithout being mutilated.'
45. I do not therefore view with favour the method of looking at law as mere disembodied symmetry. Law, as I perceive it, is life and all that is intimately associated with enlightened life. To a large measure, law reflects the dominant philosophy and the meres of the times; it strives to preserve and consolidate social order and equilibrium. Consequently it is a fallacy to determine the true denotation of penumbric expression by syllogism alone; the Judge must bring to bear on his task a judicious combination of logic, history, utility and the accepted standards of right conduct and other similar things. In his quest he must also be guided by the traditions of the age, by precedents and by the duty of adherence to fundamental principles,
46. There is yet another rule of statutory construction, which should not be overlooked in interpreting the general language of Section 9. This generality, if given its full swing, would give rise to a conundrum and inconsistencies. For instance, if a building belongs to one and is held by another as a trespasser, with whom the State would settle the site of the buildings? The owner or the trespasser. Again, suppose some land is deemed to be held by an intermediary as Sir or intermediary's grove on June 30, 1952 and on that very date a trespasser constructs a room over a portion of that land. With whom will the State settle the site of the room? According to Section 18 it will be deemed to be settled with the intermediary whowould become a Bhumidhar; according to Section 9, if its general language is given its full sweep, it will be settled with the trespasser. A similar conflict will arise as between a Sirdar under Section 19 and a trespasser under Section 9.
Take a third hypothetical case. Suppose a person is recorded as occupant of some land in the Khasra of 1356 F., but on June 30, 1952 a trespasser forcibly occupies a portion of that land and builds a room over there. Section 20(b) (i) givesto the former Adhivasi rights and entitles him to recover under Section 232 possession over the portion of land whereon the latter has built the room, but according to the wide meaning of Section 9 the site of the room will be settled by the State with the latter, who cannot consequently be ejected by the former. These illustrations are, I think, sufficient So dissuade me from allowing to the general language of Section 9 its full play. I cannot imagine that the Act confers rights only to be snatched awayat the next breath, nor can I suppose that the Legislature intended to stultify itself.
47. In the end, one has to make a choice Between the broader and the narrower meaning of the word 'held' in Section 9. The former has, I flunk, nothing to commend itself but the insulting rule of literal interpretation; the latter has the support of the rule of organic interpretation and precedents and it also harmonises with the object andsetting of the Act. For my part, I have therefore, no hesitation in adopting the narrower meaning. I would, therefore, hold that the word, 'held' in Section 9 refers to a person having some sort of right or title to the building as well as its site, for the word 'building' includes the site also (Victoria City v. Bishop of Vancouver Island, (1921) 2 A. C., 384 at p. 390). It does not, in my opinion, refer to a person, who has encroached upon the land of some other person and erected a building over there or has taken possession over the building and the site thereof by ejecting forcibly a rightful claimant.
BY THE COURT
(AS PER MAJORITY)
48. For the reasons given in our separate judgments, we are of the opinion that this appeal should be dismissed and we direct accordingly. We arc also of the opinion that under the circumstances of the case, the parties should bear their own costs of the appeal. The costs of the courts below remain unaltered by our order.