(1) This is a petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution field by Smt. Viran Bai, widow of Parshotam Lal, petitioner No. 1, and her four sons, Bhagwan Dass, Sat Narain, Bhim Sen and Madan Mohan, petitioners Nos. 4 to 5, the last two being minors, challenging the legality of the order, dated 4-9-1963 passed by the Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner.
(2) According to the allegations of the petitioners, they were displaced persons from West Pakistan. The husband of petitioner No. 1 migrated to India after the partition of the country. He got the house in dispute situate in Chandni Dhowk, Delhi, which was owned by one Ayub Khan, on a monthly rent of Rs. 10 on 15-2-1948 from its owner. Subsequently, Ayub Khan left for Pakistan and became an evacuee and this house vested in the Custodian as evacuee property. On 15-5-1948 Parshotam Lal applied for its allotment, but, unfortunately, he died in January, 1949. The petitioners, who are his heirs and legal representatives, continued to live in the house as tenant-allottees from 1948-1949. The Custodian, Evacuee Property, charged the entire rent from petitioner No. 1, but granted receipt in the name of Parshotam Lal. The petitioners were in occupation of the first floor, of this house, while Kishan Chand, respondent No.4, was occupying a part of the ground floor. The remaining portion of the ground floor was in possession of Lachmi Narain and Ram Chand, who were non-claimants. All the petitioners held a verified claim for Rs. 58,000 in equal shares. In addition, petitioner No. 1 had an individual verified claim for Rs. 2,815 and petitioner No. 2 for Rs. 34,000. Respondent No. 4 held a certified claim for Rs. 29,400. The petitioners applied to the Regional Settlement Commissioner, Delhi, for the transfer of this house against compensation due to them on the basis of their verified claims. By his order, dated 25-9-1961, he, however, held that respondent No. 4 was eligible for the transfer of this house, because he had the highest verified claim.
(3) Aggrieved by this order, the petitioners went in appeal. The same was heard by Shri Parshotam Sarup, Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner, who vide his order, dated 4-9-1962 came to the conclusion that the petitioners were to be treated as individual claimants and in view of that respondent No. 4 had a better right than the petitioners. As a result, he dismissed the appeal.
(4) Thereafter, the petitioners field an application under S. 33 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), before the Central Government, but the same was also dismissed on 14-9-1962. This led to the filing of the present writ petition on 2-2-1963.
(5) Learned counsel for the petitioners has submitted that the Rehabilitation Officers had misconstrued R. 30 framed under the Act. The petitioners had, after the death of Parshotam Lal, filed claims for verification in regard to the property left by him in Pakistan as his heirs. They were in occupation of the house in dispute and also held verified claims. In view of this, their claims should have been treated as a single unit. That being so, they had a better right to the transfer of the house in dispute in their favour as against respondent No. 4. For this submission, reliance was placed on a Bench decision of this Court in Wazir Chand v. Piran Ditta, ILR 1961(1) Punj 59. It was also contended that petitioners Nos. 4 and 5 were minors and were living with their natural guardian, petitioner No. 1. In any case, their claims at least should have been clubbed with that of petitioner No. 1 in that view also, their verified claim was higher than that of respondent No.4. Learned counsel for respondent No.4, on the other hand, argued that the officers below had correctly interpreted R. 30. Parshotam Lal was not the allottee of the house in dispute, but it was petitioner No. 1. The petitioner had filed separate claims for their properties and, therefore, their claims could not be treated as a single unit. The principle laid down by the Bench decision in Wazir Chand's case, ILR (1961) 1 Punj 59 was not applicable to the facts of the instant case. The relevant portion of R. 30 is as under:
'If more persons than one holding verified claims are in occupation of any acquired evacuee property which is an allottable property, the property shall be offered to the person whose gross compensation is the highest and other persons may be allotted such other acquired evacuee property which is allottable as may be available.
* * * * * * * * A plain reading of this Rule would show that the property had to be transferred to the claimant, who was in possession of the property and whose gross compensation was the highest. It has been found in the present case that all the petitioners, except in petitioner No. 2, were in possession of this house and held verified claims. The question is whether the verified claims held by these occupant-petitioners can be joined together in order to determine their eligibility for the transfer of this house, which indisputably an allottable property. Admittedly, all of them are the heirs of Parshotam Lal and the property in respect of which they were claiming compensation also belonged to him. Parshotam Lal was occupying this house, but he died after having applied for its allotment and the same was then allotted to his widow, petitioner No. 1. No doubt, the petitioners are holding verified claims in their own names, but the fact remains that they are deriving their right of occupation from Parshotam Lal. Moreover, their claims related to the property which actually belonged to Parshotam Lal. Under these circumstances, in my opinion, their claims can be treated as a single unit for the purpose of R. 30. That being so, their gross compensation would be higher than that of respondent No. 4 and, as such, they were entitled to the transfer of this house. The Rehabilitation Authorities were, therefore, wrong in transferring the same in favour of respondent No. 4 and their orders are consequently liable to be set aside.
(6) The result is that this writ petition succeeds and the impugned order is quashed. In the circumstances of this case, however, I will make no order as to costs.
(7) Petition allowed.