Tek Chand, J.
1. This is a defendant's appeal from a decree-passed by the Additional District Judge Faridkotin favour of the plaintiff for possession of the property in suit. The plaintiff-respondent in this case is the Patiala and East Punjab States Union.
2. A suit had been instituted on 15th of March 1954 for possession of 258 Kanal's and 5 Marias of agricultural land in village Golewala and of 38 Kanals 9 Marias in village Kala Tola and of (7 Marias 5 Karams and 10 feet of residential site in village Golewala. The plaintiff had also included a prayer for the recovery of Rs. 11957-15-6 as mesne profits. The prayer of the plaintiff as to the mesne profits had been rejected by the trial Court and this matter is no longer in issue in the appeal.
3. Mst. Ruri, widow of Sunder Singh deceased occupancy tenant, had died on 8th Baisakh 1999 (April 1952). According to the plaintiffs allegations, she left no reversioner and the Raja of Faridkot, who was stated to be the Ala Malik of the land, had thus become the owner. It was also contended that under the rule of escheat the ruler of Faridkot had become entitled to the land, as besides being the landlord, he was also the Head of the Government and, therefore, repository of the sovereign rights; that on formation of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union, the latter as the successor of the previous sovereign ruler had become the owner of the land in dispute.
The above pleadings were traversed in the written statement. The defendant claimed to be a fifth degree collateral of Sunder Singh the deceased husband of Mst. Ruri. The Raja Sahib of Faridkot was admitted to be the Ala Malik but there was no right of escheat as the land in suit was his personal property. The trial Court had framed issues but later on an application was made for their amendment. The statement of the Government Pleader was recorded by way of further elucidation of the plaintiff's pleadings.
He said, that the plaintiffs position was, that His Highness the Raja Sahib of Faridkot as the sovereign head of the former Faridkot State held the land in dispute which was his personal property. Sunder Singh, husband of Mst, Ruri, was holding the land as an occupancy tenant under the Faridkot State as such, and not under His Highness Raja Sahib of Faridkot in his personal capacity. The issues, as finally framed, are reproduced below :
(1) Whether Mst. Ruri held the land in dispute as an occupancy tenant? O.P.
(2) Whether Mst. Ruri died heirless and the land in dispute reverted to His Highness the Raja Sahib of Faridkot, in his capacity as landlord the sovereign Head of the former Faridkot State under the then Extant Law? O. P.
(3) Whether the rights thus acquired by His Highness the Raja Sahib of Faridkot by reversion, passed on to the plaintiff on the formation of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union? O. P.
(4) In case issues 2 and 3 are not proved, whether Mst. Ruri died heirless and His Highness the Raja of Faridkot got the land in dispute as escheat under the General Law? O.P.
(5) In case issue No. 4 is established, whether those rights acquired by His Highness the RajaSahib of Faridkot, passed on to Patiala and East Punjab States Union, on its formation? O.P.
(6) Whether the plaintiff's claim with regard to-mesne profits is not cognizable by the Civil Court;, and what is its effect? O. D.
(7) Whether the suit is not properly constituted for lack of particulars regarding the mesne-profits? O.D.
(8) Whether the suit is tune-barred? O.D.
(9) Whether the defendant has effected improvements on the house in dispute of the value of Rs. 2900. If so, to what extent, is he entitled to the value of those improvements? O.D.
(10) Whether the defendant has Been in. wrongful and illegal possession of the suit land since the date of Mst. Ruri's death (8-l-1999Bk)? O.P.
4. The trial Court answered the first issue in the affirmative, and on the second issue, it was held, that Mst. Ruri had died heirless and the land left by her had reverted to the Haja Sahib of Faridkot in his capacity as the sovereign head of the State. On the third issue, it was held, that the rights acquired by the Raja Sahib of Faridkot by reversion had passed on to the plaintiff on the formation of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union.
The fourth issue was not decided, as it had become redundant and the fifth issue was not disposed of, as it did not arise any longer. Issues 6, 7 and 8 were not disposed of because the claim-for mesne profits had been given up by the plaintiff. The ninth issue was answered in the negative and the tenth issue in the affirmative. On the above findings, the plaintiff's suit was decreed as prayed. The learned counsel for, the appellant has-raised three points before us.
Firstly, he has claimed that under the law prevailing in Faridkot State, collaterals, irrespective of their degree, are entitled to succeed to occupancy holding and the right of succession is, there-Fore, not confined, as in Punjab under section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, to certain defined successors. Secondly, it was argued that on the record of this case the defendant has been found to be-a collateral of the fifth degree. Lastly, it was argued that even if the defendant is not shown to-be related to the last occupancy tenant, he being in possession, could not be evicted by the plaintiff in the absence of a better title. The right of escheat claimed by the plaintiff was denied.
5. In support of the first point, our attention has been drawn to Exhibit D.A. 5 dated 13th of January 1893 which is 'Dastur-ul-Amal' of Faridkot State which recites the rule of succession to proprietary and occupancy holdings. According to this Dastur-ul-Amal, a collateral, near or remote, is entitled to succeed to occupancy tenancy on the-death of the last occupancy tenant. A decision-of this Court in Gurbinder Singh v. Lal Singh,. 1958-60 Pun LR 528 : (AIR 1959 Punj 123), was cited. It was held by the Bench that in Faridkot State, succession to occupancy right was not governed by section 59 of the Punjab Tenancy Act butby the ordinary rules of succession prevailing there, and reference was made to the Dastur-ul-Amal mentioned above.
6. The next question which now calls for decision is( whether, on the record of this case; the defendant has proved himself to be the fifth degree collateral, and in support of this contention, he has relied upon three lands of evidence.
(After considering the evidence his Lordship proceeded:) On the evidence on the record, the defendant has failed to prove his relationship 'with the deceased occupancy tenant
6a. The last point which has been urged is that the plaintiffs have not established their right to the possession of the land by escheat.
7. Escheat is a species of reversion, and it is right, which now vests in the Crown or in the State as ultimus haeres upon the failure, naturalor legal, of the last tenant. Originally it was anincidence of Feudal Law whereby a fief reverted to the Lord, when the tenant died seised without heir in which event the land lapsed to the Lord of themanor, or to the Crown. This Feudal rule has been accepted both in India and in the United States with this difference that the land left by heirless tenant lapsed as bona vacantia to theState.
In order that this principle may be applied to the facts of this case, it has to be seen whether the land would lapse to the Raja of the Faridkot State said to be the proprietor by the defendant-appellant or to the State of Punjab as the successor of the State of Patiala and East Punjab States Union into which the State of Faridkot merged in 7,948. If the proprietary rights vested in the Raja of Faridkot in his personal capacity, then the plaintiff obviously has no claim and would not succeed.
If, on the other hand, the land formed part of the State property then on merger this would vest in the Patiala and East Punjab States Union. The difficulty which arises in this case is, that during the existence of Faridkot as a State prior to the merger, there was no sharp line of demarcation between the lands which were the exclusive personal property of the Raja and those which belonged to the State, which was represented by him as the Ruler. Our attention has been drawn to a number of documents, most of which are of an ambiguous character and do not admit of a positive inference one way or the other. (After considering the documentary evidence, his Lordship concluded:)
8. From the consideration of the relevant documents placed on the record, the contention of the appellant is not borne out but, on the other hand. the stand taken by the State can be sustained. I agree with the conclusions of Additional District Judge, Faridkot which are affirmed. The appeal fails and- is dismissed. In the circumstances of the case, the parties are left to bear their own costs of this Court
P.C. Pandit, J.
9. I agree.