(1) Sat Paul Chopra petitioner by means of this petition under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India has assailed the order dated 7th December 1963 of the District Magistrate Amritsar, whereby he requisitioned the house in dispute situated in Majitha, district Amritsar, under section 29 of the Defence of India Act, 1962.
(2) According to the allegations of the petitioner, the house in dispute belongs to Captain Bimal Kumar Jain. The petitioner took it on rent in 1947 from Bimal Kumar, who was then a minor, through his mother. There was some dispute with regard to the rent of the house and its fair rent was fixed under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act at Rs. 14/- per mensem. An application was also filed for the ejectment of the petitioner but it was dismissed. The petitioner claims that Captain Bimal Kumar having failed to get the petitioner ejected in the proceedings under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, the provisions of the Defence of India Act could not be pressed into service for getting the house vacated from the petitioner. The impugned order for the requisition of the house is stated to be illegal and mala fide.
(3) The petition has been resisted by the State of Punjab and the District Magistrate, Amritsar, who have been impleaded as respondents in the petition, and a written statement has been filed on behalf of the District Magistrate. According to the District Magistrate, Mrs. Pushpa Jain, wife of Captain Bimal Kumar Jain, approached Government stating that since her marriage her husband had been posted on field duties at non-family stations and overseas with the United Nations Emergency Forces, and she had no place to stay as her husband's house in Majitha was occupied by the present petitioner. She accordingly, prayed that the house might be got vacated for her residence. A similar petition was also received from Captain Bimal Kumar. An enquiry into the matter was got conducted through the Secretary Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Board who, after visiting the spot, reported that the petitioner owned house No. 138 in Ward No. 3, at Majitha, besides a building site opposite to that house. It was further reported that the petitioner had in his possession another spacious house belonging to his widowed mother-in-law of whom the petitioner's wife was the only child Mrs. Pushpa Jain on account of being without any accommodation was forced to live with her parents in Lucknow. The secretary of the District Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Board, accordingly, recommended that the wife of Captain Bimal Kumar should be assisted in getting possession of the house to keep up the morale of military Officers serving outside the country.
The District Magistrate sent for the petitioner and explained to him the facts of the case. The petitioner then promised to look out for an alternative accommodation and to vacate the house. When the petitioner failed to keep his promise, the District Magistrate sent letter dated 11th October 1963 to the petitioner. The petitioner sent reply stating that he was making efforts to purchase a house and would vacate the house in dispute thereafter. The District Magistrate thereupon became convinced that the petitioner was putting off the matter on one excuse or the other and, in the circumstances, the District Magistrate considered it to be a fit case to requisition the house in the interest of affording have essential amenities to the family of a serving officer so as to secure peace of mind of a serving officer which is absolutely necessary for the efficient conduct of military operations and for securing the Defence of India. The house was accordingly, requisitioned and its possession was delivered to Mrs. Pushpa Jain on 13th February 1963.
(4) Mr. was, at the hearing of the petition has pointed out that in the impugned order it stated that the house was being requisitioned because it was necessary and expedient to do so far the efficient conduct of military operations and for securing the Defence of India. According to Mr. Was, although of the District Magistrate could requisition the house under section 29 of the Defence of India Act for securing the Defence of India and the efficient conduct of military operations, the real purpose of requisition in the present case was to place the house at the disposal of the wife of Captain Bimal Kumar for her occupation. This purpose, it is contended, is something quite distinct from securing the Defence of India and the efficient conduct of military operations.
(5) I have given the matter my consideration and am of the view that if the wife of an officer serving on the field or overseas, is without living accommodation, this facts is bound to distract his attention and weigh over his mind as a result of which, human nature being what it, is he would not be able to discharge his duties as efficiently as he would if such a distraction and weight over his mind were not there. Worry about his family in the very nature of things has a damping effect on the spirits and morale of a soldier and anything which removes the cause of that worry would inevitably result in boosting up his spirits and morale. To put it in other words in order to bring the best out of a member of the defence services, it is essential that he should be in a proper frame of mind which would hardly be the case if he is conscious of the fact that his wife is stranded for want of living accommodation.
In case an order is made with a view to afford that essential amenity to the wife of the serving officer it is bound to bring him solace and peace of mind and this fact must, as such, be conducive to greater efficiency on the part of the officer. The increased efficiency of an army officer is bound to have an impact so as to lead o better Defence of India and more efficient conduct of military operations. In the circumstances the impugned order for requisition of the house in question falls within the ambit of section 29 of the Defence of India Act and the District Magistrate cannot be said to have acted beyond his jurisdiction in requisitioning that house.
(6) So far as the allegation about the requisition order being mala fide is concerned, Mr. Wasu has frankly stated that the order would be mala fide, if it is not covered by the provisions of S. 29 of the Defence of India Act, but it would not be so if it falls within the ambit of those provisions. As I have found the order to fall within the ambit for the above provisions, the allegations about the order being mala fide would fall to the ground. Apart from that, keeping in view of the circumstances, of the case, I am of the opinion that the mere fact that the application for ejectment of the petitioner from the house in dispute had been dismissed in the past, would not go to show that the impugned order is mala fide.
(7) The petition consequently fails and is dismissed, but in view of the peculiar facts of the case, I leave the parties to bear their own costs.
(8) Petition dismissed.