R.S. Narula, J.
1. Besides raisins the question of the vires of Section 20A of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act (44 of 1954) (hereinafter called the Rehabilitation Act), other important questions of law have been raised by Mr. S. P. Goyal, the learned counsel for Asa Ram and two others, petitioners in this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. In order to appreciate those points, it is necessary to set out in some detail the relevant facts leading to the filing of this petition.
Urban agricultural land measuring 13 Bighas and 18 Biswas comprised in various Khasra numbers detailed in paragraph 1 of the petition situate at Karnal was on lease with Asa Ram petitioner and his brothers since 1943-44. The lessors were Muslims who migrated to Pakistanat the time of the partition of the country under the Indian Independence Act. The rights of ownership in the land in question were, therefore, declared to be evacuee property. On the coming into force of the Rehabilitation Act and on the issue of a notification under Section 12 thereof, this land was acquired by the Central Government, and formed a part of the compensation pool. Since the land had not been allotted by the Rehabilitation Department to any person, it formed part of the package deal under which all unallotted urban agricultural land was transferred to the erstwhile composite Stale of Punjab. As a result of the said package deal, the property passed out of the compensation pool. The Revenue Officer of Karnal (Tahsildar, Sales) put this property to auction on February 21, 1964. Part of the land described in paragraph 1 of the writ petition was purchased at the auction for Rs. 4.500/- by petitioner No. 3, and the rest of the land in dispute was purchased at the same auction by petitioner No. 2 for Rs. 9,000/-. The sale was subject to confirmation by a higher revenue authority designated as the Settlement Officer (Sales), Nilokheri, district Karnal. Though the bids of petitioners Nos. 2 and 3 referred to above were accepted by the tahsildar, the same had not yet been confirmed before the complication hereinafter mentioned was created.
There is another tract of agricultural land which, according to the respondents, has recently become urban. That land, measuring seven Bighas seven Biswas bearing Khasra No. 1280, is situate at Panipat. According to the petitioners this was shamlat land of Taraf Insar, but was in the exclusive possession of respondents Nos. 4 to 7, as they were also proprietors in the said Tarif. Annexure 'A' to the writ petition is a copy of the Jamabandi for the year 1946-47, in respect of that land. Respondents Nos. 4 to 7, who are K. G. Saiyidan, and Khawaia Ashar Abhas, sons of K. G. Saglani, and Mst. Mukhtiar Fatima and Mst. Musdaq Fatima, daughters of the above-mentioned K. G. Saglani, were treated as evacuees by the Custodian in 1947. It is admitted by both the parties that in fact they never left India, and never went to Pakistan. Be that as it may, the above-mentioned property of respondents Nos. 4 to 7 was acquired under Section 12 of the Rehabilitation Act, and initially allotted and ultimately sold out absolutely to one Chaudhary Partap Singh. In the meantime, respondents Nos. 4 to 7 had filed a petition for restoration of the Panipat land with the Central Government. Their application under Section 16 of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act (31 of 1950) was allowed, and the certificate stated that the Panipat property which had vested in the Custodian, and to whichrespondents 4 to 7 would have been entitled if the Evacuee Act was not in force shall be restored to them. A copy of the above mentioned certificate, dated June 21, 1954, is Annexure 'B' to the writ petition. The certificate was granted subject to the condition that the allottees of urban immovable properties were not to be evicted under any law for the time being in force relating to the control of rent of buildings and eviction of tenants therefrom. Before the Panipat land could be actually restored to respondents 4 to 7, permanent rights therein had been transferred to Chaudhary Partap Singh. When respondents 4 to 7 made an application for the restoration of possession by cancelling the permanent rights of Chaudhary Partap Singh, this application was allowed by the Chief Settlement Commissioner and the permanent rights of Chaudhary Partap Singh in the Panipat land were cancelled, and possession of that land was directed to be restored to respondents 4 to 7. Chaudhary Partap Singh filed a civil suit against the order of the Chief Settlement Commissioner which was dismissed by the trial Court. The decree of the Subordinate Judge was upheld in appeal, and was also upheld ultimately by this Court on April 7, 1961, while dismissing Chaudhary Partap Singh's Regular Second Appeal No. 1263 of 1960. In spite of having succeeded in the litigation with Chaudhary Partap Singh, respondents Nos. 4 to 7 appear to have arrived at some arrangement with him on account of which they did not avail of the order of restoration and did not reap the benefit of the decree of the Civil Court in their favour, but applied to the Central Government under Section 20A of the Rehabilitation Act for allotment of alternative land, on January 6, 1962. It may be remembered that whereas the Karnal land in dispute was urban agricultural land from the very beginning, the Panipat land was not so, but was declared to be so only on account of the same having come within the municipal area of Panipat. In the circumstances which have not been brought to light by the respondents and on the basis of some alleged order, a copy of which has neither been supplied to the petitioners nor produced here, the Government seems to have readily agreed to the suggestion of respondents 4 to 7. In spite of the fact that all the duties of the Government under Section 16 of the Evacuee Act had ostensibly come to an end, it lost no time in obliging respondents 4 to 7 and directing that the land in dispute on which petitioner No. 1 was originally a tenant, and for which petitioners Nos. 2 and 3 had given the highest bids, should be restored to respondents 4 to 7 in place of the original land for which certificate under Section 16 had already been granted. The petitioners have produced as Annexure 'E' to this writ petition a copy of letter, dated March 28, 1963, from the Under Secretary, Ministry of Housing, Works and Rehabilitation, Govt. of India, New Delhi, to the Custodian of Evacuee Property, Punjab, Jullundur. The Communication refers to some previous correspondence and then states as follows:
' ..........the restorees have representedvide their letter, dated the 14th February, 1963 (copy enclosed), that they are not being allotted alternative lands from the lands particulars of which were stated in Shri Balmukand's D. O. letter No. J/4/ 6257, dated April 2, 1962, to Shri Nair (copy enclosed), on the ground that the lands have now been classified as urban land, within the limits of Karnal. They have requested that since their original lands known as 'Abbas Garden' ordered to be restored under Section 16 of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, have come within municipal limits of Panipat, and have become urban land, they are entitled to allotment of alternative urban lands from the lands already reported by Shri Balmukand in his D. O. letter referred to above. The restorees' statement that their original lands (Abbas Garden) have become urban land has been certified as correct by Tahsildar, Panipat, vide his certificate, dated the 8th January, 1963 (enclosed). In the circumstances, the restorees request for allotment of alternative lands from the lands reported by Shri Balmukand may be considered and the position intimated to this department at an early date. As this case has been pending since long, an early action in the matter is requested.'
In demi-official letter, dated January 11, 1965, the Managing Officer (Urban Lands), Jullundur, wrote to the Additional Settlement Officer (Sales), Nilokheri, that it had been decided to restore the land in dispute to K. G. Saiyidan, and that, therefore, this land was being withdrawn from the package deal. It has not been shown as to how the Managing Officer (Urban Lands), Jullundur, was competent to withdraw any land from the package deal. Nor has any order of any superior authority been shown to me under which this action was taken. No law has been cited under which the land transferred by the Central Government absolutely to the then State of Punjab by the so-called package deal could be taken back from that State without any express and valid agreement of the State. The abovesaid communication was followed by the official memorandum, dated January 25, 1965, issued by the Managing Officer (Urban Lands), Jullundur, to the Tahsildar, Karnal, wherein it was stated that it had been decided to restore the land comprised in various Khasra numbers detailed in the communication (including the entire land in dispute in the present case) situate at Karnal 'in lieu of land left byhim (Shri K. G. Saividan) in Patti Insar Panipat (bearing Khasra No. 1280)', the Tahsildar was directed to deliver possession of the disputed land and the other land referred to in the said memorandum (copy of which is Annexure 'D' to the petition) to the restoree at an early date. In the endorsement to that letter, the local Karnal Attorney of K. G. Saiyidan was asked to approach the Tahsildar, Karnal, for taking possession of the land.
4. Petitioner No. 3 having come to know of what was happening, made two applications for a copy of the order under which the land in dispute was sought to be handed over to respondents 4 to 7. In reply to his application, dated May 13, 1965, addressed to the Managing Officer (Urban Lands) Jullundur, he was informed in the letter's memorandum, dated June 1, 1965 (copy Annexure 'F'), that the restoration orders had been passed by the Central Government under Section 16 of the Evacuee Act, and that, therefore, the petitioner was requested to approach the proper Quarters for the purpose of supply of the copy of the order of restoration. In reply to the application, dated May 11, 1965, which petitioner No. 3 sent to the Chief Settlement Commissioner, he was informed in the Chief Settlement Commissioner's letter, dated June 18, 1965 (Annexure 'G'), that the petitioner was not an Interested party, being neither the restoree nor a tenant, and that, therefore, his request for the supply of the copy of the order of restoration could not be acceded to. When the petitioners were threatened with being dispossessed of their holdings without even being given a copy of the order under which the action was sought to be taken against them, they were driven to this Court as no other remedy appeared to be available to them. Their writ petition was admitted by the Motion Bench (Mehar Singh, J., as my Lord the Chief Justice then was, and R. P. Khosla, J.) on July 27, 1965. By order, dated August 23, 1965, passed on petitioners' Civil Miscellaneous 3159 of 1965, the dispossession of the petitioners from the land in dispute was stayed by Gurdev Singh, J. The ad interim stay order was made absolute by the order of B. R. Tuli, J., dated March 10, 1969.
5. Neither the State of Punjab and the State of Haryana nor respondents 4 to 7 have put in appearance in this case. None of them has either filed any return or appeared to contest the petition. An affidavit of Shri Karta Krishan, Regional Settlement Commissioner, Jullundur, dated May 15, 1968, has been filed as a return to the rule issued to respondent No. 2 i.e., the Regional Settlement Commissioner, Jullundur. Besides taking up a preliminary objection to the effect that the petitioners cannot seek any relief in this case as they have no legal right tomaintain the petition, it has been admitted in the return that the Karnal property in dispute had been declared as evacuee property and had been acquired by the Central Government and had subsequently been transferred by the Central Government to the State Government in a package deal. The auction sales in favour of the petitioners Nos. 2 and 3 held on February 21, 1964. by the Tahsildar, Karnal, have also been admitted. It has, however, been stated that the land was subsequently withdrawn from the package deal by the Regional Settlement Commissioner on January 18, 1965, in order to satisfy the claim of respondents Nos. 4 to 7, who were ordered to be restored the land which had originally been held by them. Respondent No. 2 has then stated in his return that the Additional Settlement Officer (Sales), Nilokheri, had stayed the confirmation of the sale in favour of the petitioners by his order, dated March 18. 1964, and therefore, the transaction of sale of the disputed property in favour of the petitioners was not finalised, and they had been told to apply for the refund of the amount paid by them. The stand taken up by respondent No. 2 regarding respondents 4 to 7 being or not being evacuees is contradictory. In paragraph 4 of the written statement it Is averred that respondents 4 to 7 could not personally occupy or supervise their property in the State of Punjab during the disturbances at the time of the partition of the country, and as such they were treated as evacuees in view of the provisions of Section 2(b)(ii) of the East Punjab Evacuee (Administration of Property) Act. 1947. On that basis it has been claimed that the property of respondents 4 to 7 was rightly treated as evacuee property in the first instance and correctly allotted to Chaudhary Partap Singh. It is then stated that the subsequent enquiries revealed that respondents 4 to 7 had not migrated to Pakistan, and, therefore, the property was rightly restored to them by the Central Government. As already stated, the order of restoration passed by the Central Government has not been produced before me. Nor has any order denotifying the property of respondents Nos. 4 to 7 as evacuee property been produced in this case. Action for the transfer of the disputed area as alternative property is stated to have been taken In pursuance of the letter, dated March 28, 1963, received by the Custodian, Evacuee Property, Punjab, from the Ministry; of Rehabilitation, The reason why the land of the petitioners is said to have been given to respondents 4 to 7 is stated In paragraph 14 of the return to be that the Panipat land of respondents 4 to 7 which had been directed to be restored to them was not available, and it wastherefore, decided to transfer the disputed Karnal land to them as an alternative area. There is no material on the record to show why the Panipat land was not available.
6. When this petition came up for hearing before H. R. Sodhi, J. on July 17, 1969, an objection was raised by the learned Advocate-General for the State of Punjab, who was appearing for the Central Government and some other respondents, that the State Government was a necessary party to the petition. Counsel for the petitioners did not contradict the objection and sought leave of the Court to implead the State Government Sodhi, J. by his order, dated July 17, 1969, permitted the necessary amendment in the writ petition. It was in consequence of that order that the States of Punjab and Haryana were impleaded as respondents Nos. 8 and 9 respectively to the original writ petition, in which the two States had not been impleaded.
7. Mr. S. P. Goyal has firstly contended that Section 16 of the Evacuee Act does not and cannot apply to this case as respondents 4 to 7 admittedly never became evacuees as they never left India for Pakistan. Since the order of restoration is claimed by the respondents in their return to have been passed because of subsequent ascertainment of the fact that these respondents had never gone to Pakistan, the order of restoration in their favour could according to Mr. Goyal be passed under Section 27 of the Evacuee Act by denotifying the Panipat property. Counsel submits that Section 81(2A) of the Evacuee Act does not apply in this case.
8. The second argument of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that consequent on the grant of the certificate under Section 16, the allotment and permanent rights of Chaudhary Partap Singh in the Panipat land having been cancelled, and the cancellation having been upheld by the Civil Court right up to the decision of this Court in the Regular Second Appeal filed by Chaudhary Par-tap Singh, there was no impediment in the way of respondents 4 to 7 to obtain possession of their own property and Chaudhary Partap Singh being nothing more than a trespasser in the land after the decision of the Central Government and that of the Civil Court, there was no occasion for the Central Government to invoke Section 20A of the Rehabilitation Act in favour of these respondents.
9. The third argument advanced on behalf of the petitioners is that the alleged order passed by the Central Government under Section 20A of the Act directing the transfer of the disputed Karnal land to respondents 4 to 7 neither having been supplied to the petitionersnor even produced by the Central Government in reply to the notice of this petition, it may safely be presumed that no valid order had ever been passed by any competent authority under that provision. Still another submission made by counsel is that the unallotted and acquired evacuee land from the compensation pool which had once been absolutely transferred by the Central Government to the composite State of Punjab could not under any provision of law be unilaterally withdrawn from the so-called package deal by any authority. This argument is sought to be reinforced by Mr. Goyal by his further submission that no valid order withdrawing the land has been shown to the Court. He submits that the Regional Settlement Commissioner is not shown to have the authority to take any such action under any provision of the Rehabilitation Act. He also relies on a Division Bench judgment of this Court in Ram Chander v. The State of Punjab. 70 Pun LR 874 = (AIR 1969 Punj 4) to the effect that the rehabilitation authorities became absolutely functus officio in respect of the land which formed the subject matter of the package deal and did not have any jurisdiction after the package deal to deal with that property.
10. In the view I have decided to take of the last contention raised by counsel, I do not consider it necessary to deal with any of the abovementioned submissions of the learned counsel, though I think that there is prima facie a good deal of force in each one of them. Mr. Goyal has submitted that the provisions of Section 20A of the Rehabilitation Act are for all practical purposes pari materia with those of Section 20B of that Act. In fact in the objects and reasons for the introduction of Section 20B into the principal Rehabilitation Act it is clearly stated that Section 20B was sought to be Inserted on the lines of Section 20A. Section 20B of the Rehabilitation Act was struck down by this Court as unconstitutional in Kirpal Singh v. The Central Government, ILR (1967) 2 Punj and Har 574, on the ground that it was violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(f) of the Constitution.
11. Two subsequent writ petitions of Municipal Committee, Jalalabad and others were allowed by this Court following the Division Bench judgment in Kirpal Singh's case, ILR (1967) 2 Punj & Har 574. In an appeal preferred against the judgment of this Court given in the writ petitions of Municipal Committee, Jalalabad and others (Sri Lachhman Dass V. Municipal Committee, Jalalabad, (1969) 1 SCC 653 = (AIR 1969 SC 1126)) the decision of the Division Bench in Kirpal Singh's case, ILR (1967) 2 Punj & Har574 came up for consideration. The question whether Section 20B of the Rehabilitation Act contravened Articles 14 and 19(1)(f) of the Constitution was left open by their Lordships of the Supreme Court In the view they took of the violation of Article 31(2) of the Constitution by the said provision. This Court had held that Section 20B was not violative of Article 31(2) of the Constitution. That finding of the Division Bench of this Court was reversed by the Supreme Court, and It was decided that Section 20B was
'(1) Where any evacuee or his heir is entitled to the restoration of any evacuee property on an application made by him in this behalf under Section 16 of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act. 1950, (31 of 1950) (hereinafter in this Section referred to as the Evacuee Property Act), and the Central Government is of opinion that it is not expedient or practicable to restore the whole or any part of such property to the applicant by reason of the property or part thereof being in occupation of a displaced person or otherwise then notwithstanding anything contained in the Evacuee Property Act, and this Act, it shall be lawful for the Central Government-
(a) to transfer to the applicant in lieu of the evacuee property or any part thereof, any immovable property in the compensation pool or any part thereof, being in the opinion of the Central Government as nearly as may be of the same value as the evacuee property or as the case may be, any part thereof, or
(b) to pay to the applicant such amount in cash from the compensation pool in lieu of the evacuee property or part thereof as the Central Government having regard to the value of the evacuee property or part thereof may. In the circumstances deem fit.
Explanation.-- The provision of this sub-section shall apply, whether or not, a certificate for the restoration of the evacuee property has been issued to the applicant under sub-section (1) of Section 16 of the Evacuee Property Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of the Administration of Evacuee Property (Amendment) Act. 1956, if the evacuee property has not in fact been restored to the applicant.
(2) Where in pursuance of Sub-section (1) any evacuee or his heir has been granted any immovable property from the compensation pool or has been paid any amount in cash from the compensation pool, his application under Section 16 of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act for the restoration of the evacuee property shall be deemed to have been disposed of, andultra vires Article 31(2), inasmuch as the said provision authorised the restoration of property inter alia to serve a purpose other than a public purpose. I think Mr. S. P. Goyal is correct in submitting that there is no material difference between the two provisions and the reasons for which Section 20B was struck down by the Supreme Court apply with equ force to Section 20A. The provisions Sections 20A and 20B of the Rehabilitation Act are set out below against each other to enable ready comparison:--
'(1) Where any person is entitled to the restoration of any property by virtue of any order made by the Custodian-General under Section 27 of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act,1950 (31 of 1950) or by the competent officer or the appellate officer under the Evacuee Interest Separation Act1951 (64 of 1951), and the Central Government is of any opinion that it is not expedient or practicable to restore the whole or any part of such property to that person by reason of the property or part thereof being in occupation of a displaced person or otherwise notwithstanding anything contained in the said Acts or this Act, it shall be lawful for the Central Government-
(a) to transfer to that person in lieu of the property to be restored or any part thereof, any immovable property in the compensation pool or any part thereof being in the opinion of the Central Government as nearly as may be of the same value as the property to be restored or, as the case may be any part thereof, or
(b) to pay to that person such amount In cash from the compensation pool in lieu of the property to be restored or part thereof, as the Central Government having regard to the value of the property to be restored or part thereof may in the circumstances deem fit.
(2) Where in pursuance of Sub-section (1) any person has been granted any immovable property from the compensation pool or has been paid any amount in cash from the compensation pool, his right, title and interest in the property to be restored shall be deemed to have been extinguished.'
his right, title and interest in such evacuee property shall be deemed to have been extinguished but such extinguishment shall not affect the power of the Central Government to acquire the evacuee property under Section 12 of this Act'
A plain reading of the two sections would show that except for the difference in the proceedings (under Section 16 in one case and under Section 27 in the other) there is practically no other material difference between the two provisions. I would, therefore, hold that for the same reasons as appealed to their Lordships of the Supreme Court in the case of 1969-1 SCC 653= (AIR 1969 SC 1126), Section 20A of the Rehabilitation Act is ultra vires Article 31(2) of the Constitution. I am, further, of the opinion for the reasons given in my judgment in Kirpal Singh's case, ILR (1967) 2 Pun) & Har 574. with which D. K. Mahaian, J. concurred, that Section 20A of the Rehabilitation Act is also unconstitutional as being violative of the guarantees contained in Articles 14 and 19(1)(f) of the Constitution. The result is that the very basis of the impugned action, i.e., the alleged order said to have been passed by the Central Government under Section 20A of the Act without which the land of the petitioners could not possibly be claimed from them for being handed over to respondents 4 to 7 is invalid and unconstitutional.
12. Mr. Sukhdev Khanna, learned counsel for respondent No. 1, has not been able to advance any cogent argument against the submissions of Mr. Goyal. He has, however, vehemently stressed that this writ petition should be dismissed on the short ground that the petitioners have no legal right for the conferment of which they can invoke the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. His submission is that the petitioners being mere auction bidders whose bid had not yet been confirmed by the appropriate authorities have no proprietary right in the Karnal land, and cannot, therefore, ask for any relief in these proceedings I am unable to find any force in this submission. At least one of the petitioners was a tenant on the evacuee land and his tenancy has not been shown to have been extinguished by any order of any appropriate authority. Tenancy itself amounts to a demise in the property and constitutes interest in the land to that extent. Be that as It may, it is not necessary that a petitioner in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution must have real proprietary Interest in the property which he wants to safeguard. In Gadde Venkatesawara Rao v. Government of Andhra Pradesh. AIR1966 SC 828. It was held that a petitionerwho seeks to file an application under Article 226 of the Constitution should ordinarily be one who has a personal or individual right in the subject-matter of the petition. At the same time it was emphasised that a personal right need not be in respect of a proprietary interest, and it can also relate to an interest of a trustee. The most crucial part of the dictum of the Supreme Court in Gadde Venkateswara Rao's case, AIR 1966 SC 828 is that in exceptional cases, a person who has been prejudicially affected by an act or omission of an authority can also file a writ even though he has no proprietary or even fiduciary interest in the subject-matter thereof. While following the abovesaid judgment of the Supreme Court, it was held by the Calcutta High Court in Ruttonjee and Co. v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1967 Cal 450, that anybody prejudicially affected by an act or omission of an authority could invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. In K. N, Guruswamy v. The State of Mysore, AIR 1954 SC 592, it was held at pp. 595 and 596 that even a bidder at a public auction, though he had no legal right to obtain a licence by virtue of his bid being the highest, was entitled to have a writ of mandamus in the absence of any other bar where the State Government may have to grant the licence by public auction. Similarly Patna High Court held in Rambharosa Singh v. Govt. of the State of Bihar. AIR 1953 Pat 370, that even an intended bidder at a public auction had a right to insist that it must be held as enjoined by the law. In the light of the abovesaid judgments of the Supreme Court and various High Courts, I have no hesitation in repelling this objection of the learned counsel for respondent No. 1.
13. For the aforementioned reasons this writ petition is allowed, the Impugned orders of respondents 1 to 3, and the Impugned proceedings taken in hand by those respondents for directing the Karnal land of the petitioners being given to respondents 4 to 7 under Section 20A of the Rehabilitation Act, are set aside. The respondents are restrained from interfering with the possession of the petitioners over the Karnal land in pursuance of the alleged orders passed under Section 20A. In the absence of any other legal impediment to the same, res-pendents Nos. 2 and 3 shall now proceed to confirm the bid of petitioners 2 and 3 In respect of the Karnal land to finalise the sale thereof in their favour in accordance with law. The petitioners shall be entitled to recover their costs incurred by them in this Court from respondent No. 1 Counsel's fee Rs. 300/-.