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The Union of India and ors. Vs. Tribhuwan Prakash Naryyar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 2-D of 1963
Judge
Reported inAIR1965P& H307
ActsDisplaced Persons (Claims) Act, 1950; Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954; Displaced Persons (Claims) Supplementary Act, 1954; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantThe Union of India and ors.
RespondentTribhuwan Prakash Naryyar
Cases ReferredSyed Yakoob v. K. S. Radhakrishnan
Excerpt:
.....rule 18. special revision of verified claims under clause (n) of sub-section (1) of section 5. the chief settlement commissioner may while exercising the powers of special revision conferred on him by cl (b) of sub-section (1) of section 5. call for the record of any verified claim and may pass any order in revision in respect of such verified claim in such manner as he thinks fit if he is satisfied that such order should be passed on one or the other of the following grounds namely: under these circumstances his findings was clearly vitiated and was open to challenge in writ proceedings. in support of his case the respondent had relied on (a) the location situated in the city of lahore and was a 2 1/2 storeyed building consisting of 12 shops and a well with some that as an platform:..........claims commissioner under the 1950 act, had become final and could not be revised suo motu by the chief commissioner or his delegate under the 1954 act especially when no proceedings under the 1950 act were pending at the time when the 1954 act came into force; 2. that there was no valid delegation of power by the chief settlement commissioner under the 1954 act to shri mehar singh chadha settlement commissioner and, therefore, he had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order and 3. that there were errors apparent on the record so far as the impugned order passed by mr. chadha was concerned and on that ground it was liable to be quashed. (2) the first tow contentions were repelled by the leaned single judge. with regard to the third the finding given by the learned judge was that the.....
Judgment:

Prem Chand Pandit, J.

(1) Tribhuwan Parkash Nayar, respondent was a displaced person from West Pakistan. According to his allegations he owned immovable property consisting of a 2 1/2 storied building containing forms. This property was situate in Lunda Bazar, outside Delhi Gate in the city of Lahore. When the respondent was a minor a ticket for lottery was purchased in his name and luckily he won that lottery and with the money contained there from his maternal grandfather. Bawa Kanshi Ram purchased this property from Bawa Balram Dass Bhall. Instead of getting a sale-deed executed at first an agreement to sell was made on 9-4-1933 vide Exhibit C-2, it was stated in this deed that the property was being purchased for the respondent for Rs. 3 lakhs.

Later on in May 1934 the sale was effected by an oral agreement and at the same time Bawa Balram Dass executed a rent-deed in favour of the said Bawa Kanshi Ram for Rs. 160/- per day, Bawa Kanshi Ram deed of transfer in favour of the respondent. The sons of Kanshi Ram actuallay executed a gift-deed on 28-3-1940, in favour of their sister the mother of the respondent and got the same registered on 16-7-1940 where by they gave this property to the done. The respondent had another brother Narain Nayar, but as this property in fact belonged to the respondent Exhibit C. 7 in his favour on 2-5-1944 by which she conveyed this property to the respondent.

On the partition of the country the respondent assessing this property at Rs. 10 lakhs filed his claim under the Displaced Persons (Claims) Act 1950 (hereinafter referred to as the 1950 Act). On 14-2-1953 the Claims Officer Jullundur after considering the documentary and the oral evidence that had been produced before him assessed the value of this property at Rs. 8 lakhs. The respondent s filed a revision petition against this order and Claims Commissioner Delhi accepted the same on 1-5-1953 and raised the value of the verified claim to Rs. 10 Lakhs. On the strength of this verified claim the respondent purchased two properties one in old Delhi and another in New Delhi in public auctions under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954.

When the Displaced Persons (Claims) Supplementary Act, 1954, (hereinafter referred to as the 1954 Act), came into force, a notice dated 8-11-1957 was issued to the respondent by Shri Mehar Singh Chadha, Settlement Commissioner requiring him to show cause why his verified claim under the 1950 Act should no be revised. In pursuance of this notice the matter was taken up suo motu by Mr. Chadha and on 20-1-1958 he reduced the certificate claim of the respondent from Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 15,000/- Aggrieved by this order the respondent filed a writ petition in this Court praying that the order of Shri Chadha be quashed. The following three contentions were raised by the counsel for the respondent before the learned Single Judge:

1. That the order dated 1-5-1953 passed by the Claims Commissioner under the 1950 Act, had become final and could not be revised suo motu by the Chief Commissioner or his delegate under the 1954 Act especially when no proceedings under the 1950 Act were pending at the time when the 1954 Act came into force;

2. That there was no valid delegation of power by the Chief Settlement Commissioner under the 1954 Act to Shri Mehar Singh Chadha Settlement Commissioner and, therefore, he had no jurisdiction to pass the impugned order and

3. That there were errors apparent on the record so far as the impugned order passed by Mr. Chadha was concerned and on that ground it was liable to be quashed.

(2) The first tow contentions were repelled by the leaned Single Judge. With regard to the third the finding given by the learned Judge was that the impugned order was erroneous on the face of it because while passing the same the relevant evidence had been wholly ignored and the decision was based on pure surmises. As a result the learned Single Judge accepted the writ petition and quashed the impugned order. The learned Judge further remarked at the end of the judgment that

'it will be open to the Department to reconsider the entire matter as to valuation an come to proper conclusion on evidence. The department will before it reconsiders the matter issue notice to the petitioner and hear him and also receive any fresh material which the petitioner may like to place before it.'

Since the Department had succeeded on the principal questions of law the parties were left to bear their own costs. Against this decision the Union of India the Chief Settlement Commissioner and other officer have filed the present appeal under Clause 10 of the letters Patent.

(3) Learned counsel for the appellants has strenuously argued that the question as to what is the valuation of a particular property is essentially one of the fact and the learned Single Judge was in error in reversing the finding of fact given by the Chief Settlement. Commissioner on this point in writ proceedings. His submission was that the order of the Chief Settlement Commissioner regarding the valuation of the property in dispute was based on legal evidence and the learned Single Judge was wrong in remarking that the same was based on surmises and conjectures. He further submitted that even if the learned Single Judge was of the view that it was an erroneous finding of fact he had no jurisdiction to interfere with the same under Art. 226 at the Constitution. Learned counsel for the respondent on the other hand contended that the special powers of revision under ht 1954 Act were given in Sec 5 of that Act and Rule 18 of the Displaced Persons (verification of Claims) Supplementary Rules, 1954 and they were as under:

'Section 5. Special power of revision in respect of cases decided under Act 44 of 1950.

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the principal Act, the Chief Settlement Commissioner--

(a) may on an application for revision made to him within time by any person aggrieved by the decision of the Claims Officer call for the record of the case and make such order in the case as he thinks fit.

Explanation--for the purposes of this class an application for revision shall be deemed to be or to have been made within time, if--

(1) such application was not barred by limitation on the appointed day under the rules made under the principle Act and is filed within one month from the commencement of this Act or

(ii) such application has been fined before the appointed day and was not, on the date on which it was filed barred by limitation under the rule made under the principal Act;

(b) may on his own motion but subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf revise any verified claim and make such order in relation thereto as he thinks fit.

(2) No order varying the decision of the Claims Officer or revising any verified claim which prejudicial affects any person shall be made without giving him an opportunity of being heard.'

Rule 18. Special revision of verified claims under clause (n) of sub-section (1) of Section 5.

The Chief Settlement Commissioner may while exercising the powers of special revision conferred on him by cl (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 5. call for the record of any verified claim and may pass any order in revision in respect of such verified claim in such manner as he thinks fit if he is satisfied that such order should be passed on one or the other of the following grounds namely:--

(i) the discovery of any new matter of the documentary evidence which after the exercise of due diligence was not within the knowledge of or could not be produced by the claimant at the time when the claim was verified; or

(ii) correction of any clerical or arithmetical mistake apparent on the face of the record; or

(iii) gross or material irregularity or disparity in the valuation of the claim; or

(iv) any other sufficient reason; provided that the Chief Settlement Commissioner shall not entertain or take into consideration any application or representation made to him under this rule or representation made to him under this rule by any claimant if such application or representation made to him under this rule by any claim if such application or representation is made after the expiry of thirty day from the commencement of these rules'

The order of the Chief Settlement Commissioner according to the learned counsel showed that was not aware of any of these provisions and while passing this order he had exceeded the powers given therein. He further contended that while giving the decision regarding the valuation of the property in dispute he had ignored material evidence produced by the respondent and had rejected important documentary evidence on illegal and conjectural grounds. Under these circumstances his findings was clearly vitiated and was open to challenge in writ proceedings.

(4) It is undisputed that the question which was to be determined in the present case was as to what was the value of the property left by the respondent in West Pakistan. This question is essentially one of fact. In support of his case the respondent had relied on (a) the location situated in the city of Lahore and was a 2 1/2 storeyed building consisting of 12 shops and a well with some that as an platform: (b) its rental value being Rs. 160/- per day; (c) the offer of Rs. 6 lakhs made by Dwarka Dass Sehgal Exhibit C-5 dated 4-5-1944(d) another offer of bit C-6 dated 30-11-1944; and (e) the statement of Dwarka Dass Sehgal in support to Exhibit C-5. It may be stated that both the post-cards, Exhibits C-5 and C-6 were addressed to Bawa Balaram Dass though they were meant for the claimant. In the impugned order the Chief Settlement Commissioner has relied on the value of this property namely Rs. 5,000/- as given in Exhibit 'X' which was a gift deed executed by the sons of Bawa Kanshi Ram in favour of their sister the mother of the respondent later on the mother gave this property by will to the petitioner on 2-4-1944. The Chief Settlement Commissioner was of the view that if the valued of this property in appreciated to three times that is res. 15,000/- and accordingly this amount was fixed as the value of the same. Mr. Chadha discussed both these postcards and with regard to Exhibit C-6 his finding was that it was a forged one. As no reliance on the same, because according to him it seemed to have been written after the partition of the country and not at the time when it purported to have been written. Mr. Chadha while giving the history of the case has mentioned about the extent and situation of this property as also its rental value but after giving detailed reasons he had disbelieved the entire version of the claimant including the agreement of sale (Exhibit C-2) which has been held to be a forgery. Obviously, if the agreement of sale was not there the question of the oral sale by Bawa Balram Dass in May 1934 in favour of Bawa Kanshi Ram and the execution of the rent-deed for Rs. 160/- per day by the former in favour of the latter did not arise. It may also be mentioned that this rent-deed is not forth coming on the record of this case. Mr. Chadha, however, only relied on the registered gift-deed executed by the sons of Bawa Kanshi Ram in favour of their sister the mother of the respondent for determining the value of the property in dispute.

The learned Single Judge has reversed this finding of fact on the ground that in arriving at the same the Chief Settlement Commissioner had totally ignored the relevant evidence and his decision was based on pure surmises an don conjectures. The learned Judge further remarked that the two post-cards Exhibits C-5 and C-6 had been rejected by Mr. Chadha on erroneous grounds, because there was no material whatsoever on the record on the basis of which these documents could be held to be forged ones.

(5) The powers of the High Court to interfere with findings of fact in writ proceedings have recently been laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Syed Yakoob v. K. S. Radhakrishnan, AIR 1964 SC 477, where it was observed thus--

'The jurisdiction of High Court to issue a writ of certiorari is a supervisory jurisdiction writ of certiorari is a supervisor jurisdiction and the Court exercising it is not entitled to act as an appellate Court. This limitation necessarily means that findings of fact reached by the inferior court or Tribunal as result of ht appreciation of evidence cannot be reopened or question in writ proceedings. An error of law which is apparent on the face of the record can be corrected by a writ but not an error of fact however grave it may appear to be. In regard to a finding a fact recorded by the Tribunal a writ of certiorari can be issued if it is shown that in recording the said finding the Tribunal had erroneously refused to admit admissible and material evidence or had erroneously admitted inadmissible evidence which has influenced the impugned finding. Similarly if a finding of fact is based on no evidence that would be regarded as an error of law which can be corrected by a writ of certiorari.

A finding of fact recorded by the Tribunal cannot however be challenged in proceedings for a writ of certiorari on the ground that the relevant and material evidence adduced before the Tribunal was insufficient or inadequate to sustain the impugned finding. The adequacy or sufficiency of evidence lead on a point and the inference of fact to be drawn from the said finding being within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Tribunal the points cannot be agitated before a writ Court;

That thought it would have been better if the Tribunal had given reasons for its findings the failure of the Appellate Tribunal to give a reasons in that behalf or to refer specifically to the evidence adduced by b would not be itself constitute such an error in its decision as to justify the issue of a writ of certiorari under Art. 226.

* * * * * * * * * * That the argument that some evidence was not duly considered by the Tribunal would normally pertain to the realm of the appreciation of evidence and would normally pertain to the realm of the appreciation of evidence and would as such be outside the purview of an inquiry in proceedings for a writ or certiorari under Art. 226.'

Bearing these principles in mind the point for decision is

'Was the learned Single Judge justified in interfering with the finding of fact given by the interfering with the finding of fact given by the Chief Settlement Commissioner with regard to the valuation of the property is dispute in writ proceedings?'

A reading of the impugned order would show that it could not be said that the finding was based on no legal evidence. As already mentioned above the decision is based primarily on the valuation given in the gift-deed, Exhibit 'X' where-in the value of the property was mentioned as Rs. 5,000/- (Rupees five thousand). The Chief Settlement Commissioner has however rejected the two post-cards Exhibits C-5 and C-6 and refused to place any reliance on them. The learned Single Judge in my opinion if I may say so with great respect had no jurisdiction to interfere with the finding of fact given by the Chief Settlement Commissioner. He was in error in holding that the findings was based on pure surmises and conjectures when it is clear on the record that there was legal evidence (Exhibit X) in support of the same. IF the two postcard had Been rejected by Mr. Chadha may be on wrong grounds the learned Single Judge could not go into this matter because it pertains to the realm of appreciation of evidence.

It may however be mentioned that while discussing Exhibit C-5 the learned Chief Settlement Commissioner had stated that Bawa Balram Dass was not living in Delhi at the time when this letter was written. The learned Single Judge however seems to be under the impression this observation was made by him regarding the claimant. There was no relevant evidence which had been ignored by the Chief Settlement Commissioner. These was no relevant evidence which had been ignored by the Chief Settlement Commissioner and in my opinion in view of the latest pronouncement of their Lordships of the Supreme Court they are not valid grounds in law for interference with the impugned order.

(6) It is true that the Chief Settlement Commissioner in his order had mad no reference to Sec 5, of 1954 Act and R. 18, but it is clear from his decision that the case is governed by grounds (iii) and (iv) of Rule 18 mentioned above. The Chief Claims Commissioner under the 1950 Act had valued the property at 10 lakes. The Chief Settlement Commissioner under 1954 Act had valued the same at Rs. 15,000/- and thus there gross disparity in the valuation of the claim. It is immaterial if no reference is made to the specific rule in the impugned order but if it falls under any of the grounds mentioned in Rule 18, then the order would be a valid one.

(7) Learned counsel for the respondent then submitted that the decision of the learned Single Judge on contentions (1) and (2) was incorrect.

(8) As regards contention No. 1 the submission was that the respondent's claim was not pending when the 1954 Act came into force. The Claims Officer under the 1950 Act had valued the property at Rs. 8 lakhs on 14-2-1953 and the Chief Claims Commissioner on revision had enhanced it to Rs. 10 lakhs on 1-5-1953. both these decision had however been given before the 1954 Act came into operation on 17-5-1953. Learned counsel submitted that under these circumstances no action could be taken under Sec 5 of the 1954 Act which only dealt with the disposal of certain proceedings pending under the 1950 Act and with matters connected therewith. Reference in this connection was invited to the preamble of the 1954 Act, which ran thus--

'An act to provide for the disposal of certain proceedings pending under the Displaced Persons (Claims)Act 1950 and for matters connected therewith.'

Section 5 of the 1954 Act, which has already been reproduced above deals with the special powers of revision conferred on the Chief Settlement Commissioner in respect of cases decided under the 1950 Act. A reading of Sub-clause (b) of this Commissioner could suo motu subject of course to the Rules that might be framed in that behalf revise any verified claim and make such order in relation thereto as he thought fit. The definition of certified claim is given in Section 2(f) of this Act

It says--

'The verified claim means any claim registered under the principal Act (1950 Act) in respect of which a final order has been passed under that Act.'

Now the question arises as to what is meant by the words 'final order' as understood under the 1950 Act. According to the learned counsel for the respondent, the final order under the 1950 Act was passed by the Claims Officer on 14-2-1953 and for this he placed his reliance on sub-sec (3) the decision of the Claims Officer shall be final Sec 6 of the 1950 Act, where it is stated that the decision of the Claims shall be final. Section 6 of this Act is as under--

'Section 6 Jurisdiction of Claims Officers.

(1) A Claims Officer shall have jurisdiction to decide such cases or such classes of cases as may by general or special order be transferred to him by the Central Government or by an officer empowered in this behalf by the Central Government.

(2) A claims officer shall hold a summary inquiry into the cases transferred to him and after taking such evidence and examining such documents as may be necessary pass such orders as he thinks fit in relation to the verification of the claim and the valuation of such claim.

(3) The decision of the Claims officer shall be final:

Provided that Chief Claims Commissioner may call for the record of any case which has been decided by the Claims Officer and may make such order in the case as he thinks fit and no order varying the decision of the Claims Officer shall be made without giving the person concerned an opportunity of being heard.'

It will be seen that the learned counsel has ignored the provision to sub-section (3) mentioned above. The finality of the order of the Claims Officer is subject to this proviso. It in a particular case the Chief Claims Commissioner had revised the order of the Claims Officer either suo motu or at the instance of any party then in that case the final order would be that of the Chief Claims Commissioner and not of the Claims Officer. In the instant case the final order will be that of the Chief Claims Commissioner passed on 1-5-1953 and the same could be revised suo motu by the Chief Settlement Commissioner under S. 5(1)(b) of the 1954 Act. As regards the submission of the learned counsel for the respondent based on the preamble of the 1954 Act it may be mentioned that the said preamble stated that that Act was enacted to provide for the disposal of certain proceedings pending under he 1950 Act, and for matters connected therewith. We cannot ignore the words 'and for matters connected therewith. 'In the present case the revision filed by the respondent under the 1950 Act had been disposed of by the Chief Claims Commissioner before the 1954 Act came into force and therefore since a final order had been passed under the 1950 Act the respondent's claim became a 'verified claim' within the meaning of Section 2(f) of the 1954 Act. That being so the same could be revised by the Chief Settlement Commissioner under Section 5(1)(b) of the 1954 Act. The languages of Section 5(1)(b) is quite clear and unambiguous. Therefore suo motu revisions covered by this provision would come within the words 'or for matters connected therewith' occurring in the preamble. Even if the permeable is inconsistent with the provisions contained in Section 5(1)(b) then the latter would override the former when its language is quite clear. There is thus no force in the first contention.

(9) Coming to the second contention the argument was that Mr. Chadha was the Settlement Commissioner and he was not delegated the powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner and consequently the impugned order passed by him was without jurisdiction.

(10) This matter has been considered by the learned Single Judge and he has come to the conclusion that by virtue of the notification date 8-1-1956 the Chief Settlement Commissioner had specifically delegated his powers under Section 5 of the 1954 Act to Mr. Chadha, the settlement Commissioner. It is undisputed that under Section 10 of the 1954 Act, such a delegation is valid. It is true that later on in another notification dated 30-4-1956 certain other powers were also delegated to all the Settlement Commissioner but that did not mean that the previous powers conferred on Mr. Chadha had been withdrawn because firstly the latter notification did not say so an secondly it did not in any way supersede the first notification. There is therefore no merit in this contention as well.

(11) In view of what I have said above this appeal is accepted the judgment of the learned Single Judge is set aside and the writ petitioner of the respondent is dismissed. In the circumstances of this case however I will leave the parties to bear their own costs.

Mehar Singh, J.

(12) I agree.

(13) Appeal Accepted


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