1. The facts leading to this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India are not in dispute and may be stated here briefly. The petitioner is a displaced person from West Pakistan where he owned immovable property for which his claim was duly verified by the Rehabilitation authorities and the compensation payable to him in lieu of the said claim was determined at Rs. 3,666/-. After the formation of Pakistan in 1947 he settled down at Ludhiana and obtained some land situated there on lease from one Girdhari Lal for the construction of some buildings. Girdhari Lal professed to have purchased the land from one Dr. Nazim-ud-din through a sale deed executed on the 13th of August, 1947. The petitioner constructed a bungalow on the land some where in the year 1955-56. It transpired later on, however, that in the land was included some area which was evacuee property and which had not been purchased by Girdhari Lal from Nazim-ud-din.
2. A decision has been taken by the Central Government that if a displaced person was in possession of evacuee property with effect from the 31st of December 1957, or an earlier date, without proper allotment, such possession should be regularised in his favour provided he paid all arrears of rent in respect thereof. The petitioner made an application to the District Rent and Managing Officer, Ludhiana, for regularisation of his possession over that part of the land transferred to him by Girdhari Lal which the latter had not purchased from Dr. Nazim-ud-din and which was, therefore, evacuee property. The application was accepted on the 7th March, 1961. On the condition that the petitioner paid all arrears of rent up-to-date (vide order Annexure 'A' to the petition). The rent of the evacuee property in his possession was determined at Rs. 3.50 per mensem (vide order Annexure 'B' to the petition). The petitioner duly paid the arrears of rent.
3. The possession of the petitioner with regard to that part of the land which was evacuee property having been regularised, he became entitled under R. 25 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955(hereinafter to be referred to as the Rules) to a permanent transfer thereof in the favour. Proceedings in that connection were initiated and by a communication dated the 25th of April, 1963(vide Annexure 'C' to the petition) the Assistant Settlement Office. Jullundur (respondent No.4) informed him that the valuation of the evacuee land in question had been fixed at Rs. 14,146/- and that the compensation of Rs. 3,666/- mentioned above was being adjusted thereagainst.
4. Dissatisfied with the valuation of the evacuee land in his possession, the petitioner filed an appeal before the Settlement Officer (respondent No. 3) who, however dismissed the same on the 21st of May, 1963(vide Annexure 'D' to the petition) with the following observations:
'I have heard the appellant. He contends that he has produced the assessment as made by Shri Kishori Lal, retired Senior Valuer of the Valuation Department, Ludhiana, whereby he assesses the value of this property at Rs. 4.50 per sq. Yard. The appellant has further referred me to a sale-deed dated 27-3-1958, whereby one Shri Karam Singh sold a plot measuring 256 sq. Yards in favour of one Shrimati Krishna Wati in that very locality at Rs. 2,310/-. He further contends that the plot is on a low level and requires much expenditure for relevelling it.
'I have gone through the record. The valuation from 'A' as kept in the Valuation Office, Jullundur, has been consulted. I find that the Valuation Officer has evaluated 14 properties in the same locality and considering all the factors including the one that this side of the town is fast developing and as such the values of the site are rising day by day, he has fixed the value of this property at Rs. 20/- per sq. Yard. The old transaction cannot, therefore, be a good guide for fixing the value of the site in question. I, therefore, agree with the Valuation fixed by the Valuation Officer and find no force in the appeal which is rejected'.
5. The petitioner then went up in revision to the Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner (respondent No. 2) but again failed (vide order Annexure 'E' to the petition). Another petition for revision was filed by him under Section 3 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act, 1954, against the orders of respondents Nos. 2 to 4 with the Central Government but the same was rejected by the Join Secretary to Government to India, Ministry of Rehabilitation (respondent No. 1) on the 6th of November, 1964(vide order Annexure 'G' to the petition).
6. The main grouse of the petitioner is that he is not bound by the valuation of the evacuee land in question. The reasons listed in the petition and at the hearing by his learned counsel in this behalf are:
'(a) The determination of the value was a quasi-judicial proceeding at which he was entitled to have an opportunity of being heard and producing evidence.
(b) It was incumbent on the concerned authorities to bring to his notice all the material on the basis of which the value was determined'.
7. In my opinion, the case put forward on behalf of the petitioner is unexceptionable. The value of the land was to be determined in accordance with the provisions of Rule 24 of the Rules and the land was then to be transferred to the petitioner, who was the person in occupation thereof, under Rules 22 and 25 of the Rules. Rules 22 and 24 and sub-rule (1) of Rule 25 may be set out here for facility of reference:
'22. The following classes of acquired evacuee property shall ordinarily be allotted, namely:
(a) any residential property in the occupation of a displaced person, the value of which does not exceed fifteen thousand rupees;
(b) any shop in the occupation of a displaced person, the value of which does not exceed fifteen thousand rupees;
(c) any industrial concern in the occupation of a displaced person, the value of which does not exceed fifty thousand rupee:
'Explanation:--No property referred to in clause (a) or clause (b) shall be allottable, if it is in the occupation of two or more persons, whether any or all of them be displaced persons or not'. '24.(1) Where any acquired evacuee property which is an allottable property is to be transferred to any person in occupation thereof in satisfaction of the whole or a part of the compensation, payable to such person, the Settlement Officer, shall first determine the value of the property having regard inter alia to all or any of the following matters:--
(a) the amount for which property was assessed for the purpose of municipal taxes during the year in which the date of acquisition falls;
(b) the annual rental income of the property;
(c) sales of similar or contiguous property during the last three years;
(d) the present market value of the site and the present value of the evacuee building and in the case of an industrial concern the value of the machinery.
'(2) For the purpose of determination of the value of any acquired evacuee property under sub-rule (1), depreciation may be allowed according to the age of the building, quality of construction and the standard of maintenance of the property'.
'25.(1) Where an applicant for payment of compensation is in sole occupation of an acquired evacuee property which is an allottable property, such property may be transferred to him in lieu of the compensation payable to him under the Act:
Provided that the total amount of net compensation payable to the applicant is not less than half in the case of property other than an industrial concern and less than 1/4th in the case of an industrial concern or such other smaller proportion as the Chief Settlement Commissioner may in either case determine, of the value of the property as determined under Rule 24: Provided further that no industrial concern shall be transferred to the applicant unless he pays up the arrears, if any, of the lease money outstanding against him in respect of such concern.'
8. These provisions leave no room for doubt that the person in occupation of an allottable property has a vital interest in the process and result of valuation which must be carried out as laid down in Rule 24. Under Rule 22 the answer to the question whether a property is allottable depends on its value and Rule 25 will create right in favour of an occupant of that property only if it is allottable. In these circumstances it must be held that when the Rehabilitation authorities evaluate a property in accordance with the provisions of R. 24, they perform quasi-judicial functions with which the persons interested must be associated. It follows that the petitioner was entitled to be given notice of all the material on the basis of which the Assistant Settlement Officer (respondent No. 4) proceeded to determine the value of the land in question and then to be given an opportunity to lead such evidence as might be relevant to such determination and as he (the petitioner) might like to produce. The orders passed by the respondents do not meet any of these requirements. Neither was the petitioner informed at any time of the evidence which forms the basis of the determination of the value of the land at Rs. 14,146/- nor was he given any opportunity to lead his own evidence in rebuttal of the material relied upon by the Rehabilitation authorities. The principle of natural justice that no action to the detriment of a person shall be taken without giving him an opportunity of being heard, has been violated in the present case and the impugned orders therefore, cannot be supported. Accepting the petition and quashing them all, I direct that the petitioner be informed of all the evidence on which the valuation of Rs. 14,146/- is based and that the valuation be determined afresh after giving him an opportunity to produce such evidence as he considers necessary and as may be relevant. The respondents shall bear the costs of the petitioner. Counsel's fee Rs. 100/-
9. Petition allowed.