1. Air Commodore A. S. Lamba, Vir Chakra, Estate Officer, Air Force Station, Halwara, ordered the eviction of petitioner Tara Singh son of Shri Kehar Singh, vide order dated 7-2-1983, from the land measuring 10 Acres 2 Kanals, Plot No. 17, Khasra No. 70 Min at Ferozepur Airfield belonging to the Government of India as he was found in unauthorized and illegal occupation thereof. The appeal against that order filed by the petitioner under Section 9 Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971,was dismissed as being barred by limitation by Shri J. C. Aggarwal, Additional District Judge (Appellate Officer), Ferozepur vide order date 10-9-1983. The petitioner has impugned both these orders.
2. The order of the Estate Officer has been impugned on the ground that the same had been passed ex parte without giving the petitioner an opportunity of hearing. The appellate order has been challenged on two grounds:. (i) that the Additional District Judge was not competent to deal with the appeal, because only that judicial officer, other than the District Judge, who has standing of ten years, could try the appeal and since Mr. Aggarwal had only two years standing, so. obviously in terms of Section 9(1) he was not competent to deal with the appellant and (ii) that the appeal had been wrongly dismissed on the ground that the same was barred by limitation, because in fact, it was not so barred by limitation.
3. In our opinion, there is no merit in this petition. Perusal of the order of the Estate Officer would show that a notice under Section 4(1), Public Premises Act dated 29-11-1981 Exhibit E. 2 was served on Tara Singh petitioner to appear on 10-12-82 in the Court of the Estate Officer. When he did not appear on that date he was again summoned vide letter dt. 18-12-1982, Exhibit E-4 to appear on any date on or before 30-12-1962. He failed to appear on 30-12-1982 in the Court of the Estate Officer. He was given another chance to appear in the Court of the Estate Officer on any date between 10-1-1983 to 14-1-1983 vide Exhibit P. 6. The petitioner still did not appear in this Court.
4. In view of the fact that Tara Singh petitioner had been served, at least to appear in the Court of Estate Officer on 10-12-1982 and he absented self m that date and thereafter he had been given 2-3 more opportunities to appear in the Court of Estate Officer, so it cannot be said that the petitioner had not been given opportunity of hearing by the Estate Officer.
5. In order to appreciate the challenge to the appellate order, relevant provision of Section 9 of the Act would deserve noticing. It reads under:--
'9. Appeals:--(1) An appeal shall lie from every order of the estate Officer made in respect of any Public premises under Section 5 or Section 7 to an appellate to who shall be the district Judge of the district in which the public premises are situate or such other judicial officer in that district of not less than ten years' standing as the district Judge may designate in this behalf.'
6. The learned counsel for the petitioner has drawn our attention to a single Bench judgment of this Court reported in Bawa Gopal Singh v. Union of India 1980 Rev LR 59: (AIR 1980 Punj and Har 68), in support of his submission that judicial officer of 10 years' standing, if he is not a District Judge, is alone competent and not a judicial officer of less than 10 years' standing even if he be an additional District Judge.
7. With respect, the authority cited on behalf of the petitioner does not lay down the correct law.
8. A bare perusal of the provision of sub-section (1) of Section 9 envisages that an appellate officer mentioned therein is identified to be either a District Judge or a judicial officer of that district designated by the District Judge and of not less than 10 years standing. In other words, two categories of officers are to act as appellate officer, i.e., either a District Judge or a judicial officer of not less than 10 years' standing. While in common parlance every officer who exercises judicial functions can be called a judicial officer but here the statute distinguishes a judicial officer from a District Judge. The question, therefore, would arise as to whether the Additional District Judge is a District Judge or a judicial officer. But before grappling with that aspect it deserves highlighting that the statutory Provision in question when talking of the District Judge does not talk of a persona designata but District Judge as a Could. Had it been otherwise then he could not designate any judicial officer to deal with appeal for District Judge as a persona designata would enjoy no authority over the other judicial officers of the District. He does so only if he acts as a Court.
9. Chapter VI of the Constitution deals with subordinates Courts. Article 233 deeds with the appointment, posting and promotion of District Judges. Art. 236 which has defined the expressions 'District Judge' and 'judicial service' in Clauses (a) and (b) respectively thereof has defined the expression 'District Judge' as including inter alia Additional al District Judge.
10. Sub-section (3) of Section 21, Punjab Courts Act, provides that an Additional District Judge dealing with. and disposing of the cases which are either made over to him by the District Judge or the High Court by general or special order had directed him to deal with, shall be deemed to be the Could of the District Judge.
11. In view of the aforesaid constitutional and statutory provision, Additional District Judge fells in the category of District Judge and therefore he does not have to have 10 years' standing to be legally competent to deal with an appeal in terms op sub-section. (1) of Section 9 of the Act. The requirement of 10 years' standing is prescribed for judicial officer other than the District Judge.
12. To the extent that the learned single Judge in Bawa Gopal. Singh's. case (AIR' 1980 Punj & Har 69) (supra) held that an Additional District Judge of less than 10 years' standing is not competent to deal with the appeal, we may with respect say that he does not lay, down the correct law and we therefore, expressly overrule the said decision and hold. that the requirement of 10 years' standing has to be satisfied. by the judicial officer other than the District Judge which expression includes inter alia an Additional District Judge as well.
13. Coming now to the question of limitation, it may be observed that. the appellate authority has given dear finding on the basis of the facts; recapitulated in the order that the appeal was clearly barred by limitation and we see no reason to differ from the said conclusion; for it cannot be said that the said finding is based op no material. A finding based on requisite material of a Tribunal or a Court below is sacrosanct for the writ Court and cannot be interfered with.
14. For the reasons aforementioned, we find no merit in this petition and, dismiss the same.
15. Petition dismissed.