1. The facts leading to this petition under Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India are these. During the course of proceedings held in village Gandhar in Tehsil Muktsar. District Ferozepur for consolidation of land holdings, the petitioners felt dissatisfied with the allotment made to them by the Consolidation Officer and agitated the matter before the Settlement Officer in an appeal which was decided on the 27th of July, 1966, through an order (Annexure 'C' to the petition and hereinafter referred to as Annexure 'C') which held-
(a) The percentage of the petitioners at their first major portion was 17.62 while that of respondents Nos. 5 to 15 was lower, being only 16.
(b) Respondents Nos. 5 to 15 had been allotted land 'out of allocation'.
(c) Rectangles Nos. 93 and 109 should be given to respondents Nos. 5 to 15 as they lay in the vicinity of their first grade major portion where they had already been allotted a substantial area of land.
(d) The petitioners are entitled to have their entire area of A grade land consolidated at their first major portion.
The order remanded the case to the Consolidation Officer for a fresh decision in the light of the findings above set out. The Consolidation Officer complied with Annexure 'C' and made allotments in accordance therewith to various parties as detailed in his order of the 6th of September, 1966 (Annexure 'D' to the petition). Against this order of the Consolidation Officer respondents Nos. 5 to 15 filed a revision petition under Section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) before the State Government and also instituted an appeal before the Settlement Officer. The appeal was dismissed on the 29th of November, 1967 (Annexure 'E' to the petition) but the Additional Director, Consolidation of Holdings, Punjab, Ferozepur, exercising the powers of the State Government under Section 42 of the Act, accepted the revision petition on the 6th of August, 1968 (Annexure 'F' to the petition) without examination of or reference to the two orders passed by the Settlement Officer and above mentioned. It is the order of the Additional Director which is impugned in these proceedings and the operative part of which runs thus:--
'If has transpired that Sadhu Singh respondent has been allotted land in rectangles Nos. 81 and 86 to 88 as overflow without any right. The land could have been easily allotted to Chanan Singh, etc., so as to give them the benefit of having one Tak at their A1 right. After that is done, the land allotted to them at their A-3 right in rectangle No. 73 can be allotted to Jita Singh, who will then be near his father Natha Singh. The land vacated by Jita Singh in rectangles Nos. 60, 61 and 76 will then be allotted to Gurnam Singh and Baljit Singh near the land of their father Gurdial Singh. The land at present allotted to Gurnam Singh, etc., in rectangles Nos. 93 and 109 shall be allotted to Chand Singh, Gurbakhsh Singh, Nachhatar Singh, etc. Sadhu Singh will be compensated for the loss of his land in rectangles Nos. 81, 82 and 86 to 88 by getting some land from Chand Singh, Nachhatar Singh and Gurbakhsh Singh.'
2. This petition must succeed on the short ground that no real opportunity of being heard was given by the Additional Director to the petitioners. It is claimed by the petitioners that they brought to the notice of the Additional Director the order passed by the Settlement Officer on the 29th of November, 1967, and contained in Annexure 'E' to the petition but that the Additional Director returned the same to them without perusing it. Now it was clearly the right of the petitioners that before the Additional Director passed any order to their prejudice, he took into consideration the decisions already given in their favour by officers subordinate to him and also the reasons for those decisions. On two occasions the petitioners had been successful before the Settlement Officer, orders passed by whom should not have been just ignored by the Additional Director whose duty it was to give due deliberation to the reasoning contained therein and then to pass a speaking order affirming or reversing them. The order which he actually passed, however, not only gives no reasons why those orders were not being uphold but makes no mention thereof even though they were the best defence which the petitioners could make. The Additional Director was discharging a quasi-judicial function while hearing the petition under Section 42 of the Act and he was well advised in refusing to take into consideration the grounds of the two orders passed by the Settlement Officer and to give his own comments thereon before he differed with them. In any other view of the matter is taken, the provisions governing the right of appeal given to aggrieved persons under various provisions of the Act would be rendered practically ineffective if not redundant.
3. For the reasons stated I find that the impugned order contravenes the principles of natural justice and is also not a speaking order in so far as it goes against and ignores the two decisions taken by the Settlement Officer. It is accordingly quashed with a direction to the Additional Director to rehear the petition under Section 42 of the Act in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above. The parties are directed to appear before him on the 15th of September, 1971. There will be no order as to costs.
4. Petition allowed.