J.M. Tandon, J.
1. Evacuee land measuring 34 Kanals and 5 Marlas (nehri) in village Sulchani, Tehsil Hansi, District Hissar, which was a part of Package Deal Property, was put to auction restricted to Harijans on 17th of June, 1977 and the highest bid offered was that of Asha Ram respondent for Rs. 16,500/- against reserved price of Rs. 10,000/- . The respondent signed a memorandum of offer at the time of auction which contained a condition that the auction was subject to confirmation by the Settlement Commissioner or any other Officer appointed in this behalf and till the auction is confirmed and intimation thereof given to him, it will not be treated as sale. It was also provided that the Settlement Commissioner or the Officer shall not be bound to accept the highest bid and also shall not be bound to disclose the reasons therefor. A similar provisions is contained in the Rules for the sale of surplus rural evacuee land properties purchased from the Central Government. The relevant part of the Rules reads :--
'5. (h) .... ... ... ..... ........ ...... ... ... ..... .................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. The highest bid in respect of which an initial deposit has been made shall, be subject to the approval of the Settlement Commissioner or an Officer appointed by him for the purpose.
Provided that on bid shall be accepted until after the expiry of fifteen days from the date of the auction. (i) Procedure for acceptance of the highest bid : (1) The Settlement Commissioner or other Officer shall not be bound to accept the highest or other bid and shall not be bound to disclose his reasons therefor. Every bidder shall be bound by his bid and shall if he resiles from such bid, be liable to forfeit his deposit of earnest money. The decision of the Settlement Commissioner with regard to the forfeiture of the deposit shall be final. xx xx xx xxxxx xxx'
2. It is thus clear that the highest bid of Rs. 16,500/- offered by Asha Ram respondent was subject to approval by the Settlement Commissioner or an Officer appointed by him for this purpose. The Settlement Commissioner has appointed Settlement Officer for exercising the discretion in the matter of approval of the highest bids in terms of R. 5(I) reproduced above. The auction file in which the highest bid was that of the respondent came up before the Settlement Officer on 12th of Oct., 1977. He recorded the following note on that date :
AA '(Report of Patwari regarding Munadi is not on the file. Proclamation defective. Present: None.)
In view of the defect at 'AA' above highest bid of Rs. 16,500/- received on 17-6-1977 is set aside with direction of resale.'
3. The effect of the note of the Settlement Officer dated Oct. 12, 1977 is that he did not approve the highest bid of Rupees 16,500/- offered by the respondent. The question of setting aside the sale in favour of the respondent did not arise because the sale had so far not been made. The phraseology used by the Settlement Officer in his note dated Oct. 12, 1977 is obviously incorrect. It is significant that the Settlement Officer passed the order dated Oct. 12, 1977 suo motu and not as a consequence of an objection petition filed by anybody against the auction. The respondent filed a revision against the order of the Settlement Officer dated Oct. 12, 1977 which has dismissed by the Deputy, Secretary, rehabilitation-cum-Settlement Commissioner, vide order dated Nov. 30, 1977. The respondent pleaded before the Settlement Commissioner that Munadi of the auction had been made in the village by the peon of the Rehabilitation Department and a report to that effect had also been entered in the Roznamcha of the Patwari. The Settlement Commissioner still did not feel inclined o set aside the order of the Settlement Officer dated Oct. 12, 1977 and further to approve the bid of the respondent on the ground that this very land had been put to auction in 1968 and the highest bid offered was Rs. 17,000/- and further only two persons had participated in the auction which took place on 17th June, 1977 which was indicative that fair opportunity had not been given to eligible persons to offer bids in the auction.
4. The respondent feeling aggrieved by the order of the Settlement Commissioner dated 30th Nov.,, 1977 filed C. W. P. No. 3904 of 1977, which was accepted by the learned single Judge of this Court vide order dated Nov. 30, 1979. The learned single Judge pointed that 'Once reasons have been given in the order and these reasons are found to be erroneous on the face of the record the High Court would be entitled to interfere under Art. 226 of the Constitution'. It is against this order of the learned single Judge that the present Letters patent Appeal has been filed.
5. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the highest bid offered by the respondent was subject to approval of the Settlement Officer under the Rules of the sale of surplus rural evacuee property purchased by the State Government as also the terms of the memorandum of offer signed by the respondent at the time of auction. The relevant rule reproduced above and also the condition contained in the memorandum of offer envisaged that the Settlement officer was not bound to accept the highest bid or other bid and further was not bound to disclose his reasons therefor, The order of the Settlement Officer not approving the highest bid of the respondent and that of the Settlement Commissioner upholding it was not liable to be set aside in C. W. No. 3904 of 1977. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellants must prevail.
6. The learned single Judge has placed reliance on Bhajan Singh v. State of Haryana, 1980 Pun LJ 87. In that case Bhajan Singh had offered the highest bid of Rs. 2,400/- in an auction of the evacuee land. Ajaib Singh filed on objection petition impugning the auction in favour of Bhajan Singh on the ground that it had not been properly conducted. The Settlement Commissioner set aside the auction sale on the ground that only 3-4 persons had participated at the time of auction which proved that no property proclamation had been made in the village for the sale of land in dispute and further the objection was prepared to pay Rs. 3,200/- as against the highest bid of Rs. 2,400/- offered by Bhajan Singh. In Civil Writ filed by Bhajan Singh the order of the Settlement Commissioner against him was set aside. It is obvious that the facts of Bhajan Singh's case are not similar to the facts of the case under consideration. In Bhajan Singh's case (supra) the sale was sought to be set aside by the objector and it could only be done under R. 92 of the Displaced Persons (compensation and Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955 (hereinafter called 'the Rules') by holding that there had occurred irregularity or fraud in the conduct of sae. The sale under Rule 92, therefor, could not be set aside on the ground that 3-4 persons had participated in the auction or the objection was prepared to offer a higher bid. In the instant case, the highest bid. In the instance case. the highest bid offered by the respondent was subject to the approval of the Settlement Officer and he declined to approve it. in this context it is irrelevant that the observation of the Settlement Officer that the report of the Patwari regarding Munadi as not on the file and as such proclamation was defective, turned out to be incorrect before the Settlement Commissioner, in revision. It is significant that the Settlement Officer as also the Settlement Commissioner were competent not to approve the highest bid of the respondent in spite of the fact that the Patwari has made a report regarding the Munadi in the Roznamcha and further the publication about the sale had been made in the locality by a peon of the Rehabilitation Department.
7. In Chandgi Ram v. Moonga Ram, AIR 1971 Punj & Har 375, it was held that a combined reading of Rr. 92 and 90 shows that under R. 90, there is no provision for an aggrieved person to make an application to the Settlement Commissioner asking him not to give his approval to the bid, which was accepted by the officer conducing the auction to sale after the initial deposit has been made by the highest bidder. Under R. 92(2)(a), however, he can make an application, where the sale is made by public auction for setting aside the sale. The application has to be made within seven days from the date of acceptance of the bid and not from its approval. An application not missed. It was further held that recording of findings that material irregularity or fraud has been committed in publication or conduce of sale and that applicant has sustained substantial injury thereby is condition precedent before setting aside sale. The ratio of this authority is also not applicable to the cane under consideration. No objection was filed by anybody for getting the sale in favour of the respondent set aside. The highest bid offered by the respondent was subject to approval by the Settlement Officer and he declined to approve the same. For the same reasons, the rule laid down in Harikishan Singh v. State of Punjab, 1967 Cur LJ 706(Punj) is not applicable to the instant case.
8. In view of the discussion above, it is clear that the highest bid of Rs. 16,500/- offered by the respondent was subject to approval by the Settlement Officer or the Settlement Commissioner. The Settlement Officer as also the Settlement Commissioner declined to approve the bid of the respondent. They were competent to decline the highest bid of the respondent in spite of the fact that there was no irregularity or fraud in the publication of sale. The order of the leaned single Judge setting aside the order of the Settlement Officer dated Oct, 12, 1977 and that of the Settlement Commissioner dated Nov. 30, 1977 cannot be sustained.
9. In the result the Letters patent Appeal is accepted, the order of the learned single Judge dated Nov. 30, 1979. Set aside and C. W. P. No. 3904 of 1979 is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.
10. I agree.
11. Appeal allowed.