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Rama Nand Vs. State of Haryana and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petn. No. 158 of 1980
Judge
Reported inAIR1982P& H26
ActsPunjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953; Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 - Sections 42, 43 and 45
AppellantRama Nand
RespondentState of Haryana and ors.
Cases ReferredMota Singh v. The Financial Commissioner
Excerpt:
.....when the parties concerned acquire knowledge of passing of the said order. - 1961 pun lj 18. the state government took the matter in appeal and revision before the collector and commissioner in which they failed vide orders annexures p. 11. once again, sections 16 and 21 of the act, if read together, clearly go to show that apart from the harmonious construction according to the word 'held' in section 21, the legislature must have intended that section 21 would apply to any land held by a tenant or lessee under the government on the date of commencement of the act whereas according to section 16 of the act, it envisaged the acquisition of land by the state government not only after the commencement of the act but after 1st february, 1955, and for acquisition after 1955, the saving..........to 490 and 565 of 1980), is whether the tenant of the state government in respect of agricultural land acquired by the state government after 1st february, 1955, shall be governed by the provisions of the punjab security of land tenures act, 1953, (hereinafter called the 'act') and can claim protection by virtue of section 16 read with section 9 of the act and can avoid ejectment under the provisions of the punjab tenancy act. 1887.2. raja narinder singh and others were the land-owners and the petitioners in the seven cases before us were their tenants since long before the coming into force of the act. raja narinder singh and others gifted the property in dispute to the jhajjar education society, jhajjar, by three separate registered gift deeds during the period 1958 to 1961. by.....
Judgment:

Gokal Chand Mital, J.

1. A common question of law which arises in this set of seven writ petitions (C.W.P. Nos. 158, 486 to 490 and 565 of 1980), is whether the tenant of the State Government in respect of agricultural land acquired by the State Government after 1st February, 1955, shall be governed by the provisions of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953, (hereinafter called the 'Act') and can claim protection by virtue of Section 16 read with Section 9 of the Act and can avoid ejectment under the provisions of the Punjab Tenancy Act. 1887.

2. Raja Narinder Singh and others were the land-owners and the petitioners in the seven cases before us were their tenants since long before the coming into force of the Act. Raja Narinder Singh and others gifted the property in dispute to the Jhajjar Education Society, Jhajjar, by three separate registered gift deeds during the period 1958 to 1961. By another registered gift deed dated 2nd August, 1963, the Jhajjar Education Society, Jhajjar, gifted the property in dispute to the State of Haryana. The net result was that the petitioners became the tenants of the State of Haryana with effect from 2nd August, 1963.

3. After the State Government became the land-owner of the property in dispute, they started proceedings for ejectment of the petitioners under the Punjab Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Recovery) Act. 1959, and finally obtained orders of their ejectment. The petitioners filed writ petitions in this Court challenging the orders of ejectment on the ground that since they were tenants, no proceedings under that Act could be taken against them under the 1359 Act. At the hearing of those writ petitions, the State Government gave an undertaking that they would not implement the orders of ejectment, with the result that the writ petitions became infructuous. Thereafter, the State Government filed applications, under Section 42(b), 43 and 45 of the Punjab Tenancy Act. 1887. against the petitioners before, the Assistant Collector 1st Grade, Jhajjar, for their ejectment. The petitioners took up the defence that the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887, was not applicable to them as they had the protection of the Act which had the overriding effect and, therefore, they could not be ordered to be ejected under that Act. On the contrary, the stand of the State Government was that in view of Section 21 of the Act, the Act was not applicable to the land in dispute which came to be owned by the State Government and, therefore, the petitioners could not rely on any provision of the Act. The Assistant Collector upheld the contention of the petitioners and dismissed the applications and vacated the notices of ejectment issued against the petitioners by order dated 26th Now. 1976, copy Annexure P. 1. In doing so, he followed a decision of the Financial Commissioner in Bachan Singh v. Sardarni Rupinder Kumari. 1961 Pun LJ 18. The State Government took the matter in appeal and revision before the Collector and Commissioner in which they failed vide orders Annexures P. 2 and P. 3 respectively. Then a further revision was filed before the Financial Commissioner, Haryana. The Financial Commissioner took a view contrary to Bachan Singh's case (supra) and held that even if transfer of the property to the State Government is made after 1st February, 1955, the provisions of the Act would not come to the rescue of the petitioners and they would not be entitled to the benefit of Section 16 of the Act as the Act would be wholly inapplicable, by virtue of Section 21 of the Act, with the result that the revisions filed by the State Government were allowed by order dated 23rd November, 1979, (copy Annexure P. 4) and the matter was remanded to the Assistant Collector to decide the same on merits. The petitioners filed the present writ petitions to impugn the order of the Financial Commissioner initially, the writ petitions came up for consideration before me sitting singly and in view of the importance of the matter and conflicting view of the Financial Commissioner, the matter was ordered to be heard by a larger Bench and that is how these writ petitions have been placed before us for final disposal.

4. In order to appreciate the point involved in these cases, it will be useful to notice certain provisions of the Act, which are Sections 6, 9(1), 10-A(b), 16, 19 and 21(1), and are reproduce here under :--

'6. Certain previous transfers of land not to affect rights of tenants. No. transfer of land, except a bona fide sale or mortgage with possession or a transfer resulting from inheritance, made after the 15th August, 1947, and before the 2nd February, 1955, shall affect the right of the tenant on such land under this Act.

9. Liability of tenant to be ejected.

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no land-owner shall be competent to eject a tenant except when such tenant :--

x x x x x x (various grounds of ejectment (i) to (vii) are stated).

10-A. (b) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force and save in the case of land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force or by an heir by inheritance, no transfer or other disposition of land which is comprised in surplus area at the commencement of this Act, shall affect the utilization thereof in Clause (a).

16. Saving of tenancies from effect of mala fide transfer.

Save in the case of land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force or by an heir by inheritance, no transfer or other disposition of land effected after the 1st February, 1955, shall affect the rights of the tenant thereon under this Act.

19. Section 17 and 18 not to apply to certain property and tenants.

Nothing contained in Section 17 or Section 18 shall affect any land which is evacuee property, as defined in the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950, (XXXI of 1950) or any other land which may at any time be acquired by the Central Government for resettlement of displaced persons.

21. Saving of tenants and lessees under Government.

(1) Nothing contained in this Act shall affect any land held by a tenant or lessee under Government, or local bodies in the State, or any unallotted evacuee land. xxx xxx'

5. A reading of Sections 6 and 16 of the Act together shows that while bona fide sale, mortgage with possession or transfer resulting from inheritance made after 15th August, 1947, but before 2nd February, 1955, alone have been saved and all other transfers are not to affect the rights of the tenants under the Act during that period, according to Section 6, under Section 16 only the land acquired by the State under any law for the time being in force, or by an heir by inheritance, have been saved and no transfer or other disposition of land effected after 1st February, 1955, shall affect the rights of the tenant thereon under the Act. While under Section 6, certain bona fide transfers are permissible besides inheritance, under Section 16, no transfer is permissible which may have the result of affecting the rights of a tenant under the Act. The two exceptions are inheritance by an heir and the acquisition by the State Government under any law for the time being in force. According to Section 9(1) of the Act, no landowner is competent to eject a tenant except on grounds (i) to (vii) contained therein, notwithstanding any other law. This provision has the overriding effect on the other legislation concerning the ejectment of the tenant, namely, the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887, as the Urban Rent Control legislation, has over the Transfer of Property Act.

6. Section 10-A(a) of the Act authorises the utilization of surplus area and Section 10-A(b) thereof provides that the power to utilize is not affected by any transfer or other disposition of land comprising the surplus area at the commencement of the Act, save in the case of land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force or by an heir by inheritance. It deserves to be noticed here that Section 10-A(b), as it stood before the amendment made in the connection by the Punjab Security of Land Tenures (Amendment) Act, 1959, which was published on 19th January, 1959, was minus the words 'and save in the case of land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force or by an heir by inheritance'. Therefore, before the Amending Act, 1939, the utilization of the surplus area was not affected even by inheritance or by acquisition of land by the State Government under some law. But after the amendment, the saving clause operated in favour of an heir by inheritance and the acquisition by the State under some law. Section 19 of the Act has a reference to Sections 17 and 18 of the Act and before the scope of Section 19 is discussed, it will be useful to notice as to what is contained is Sections 17 and 18. Under Section 17 of the act, certain tenants have been conferred the right to pre-empt the sale of land under their tenancy, while under Section 18 certain tenants have been conferred the right to purchase land under their tenancy subject to the conditions laid in that section. Therefore, by virtue of Section 19, Sections 17 and 18 of the Act would not apply to evacuee property as defined in the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950, or any other land which may be acquired by the State (Central ?) Government for re-settlement of displaced persons, meaning thereby that there would be no bar to the applicability of Sections 17 and 18 of the Act to any other land owned by the Central Government. Even to land which is evacuee property or the one acquired by the Central Government for re-settlement of displaced persons, all other provisions would apply barring Sections 17 and 18.

7. This brings me to the consideration of Section 21(1) of the Act, which is the last provision to be construed. According to this provisions, nothing contained in the Act is to affect any land held by a tenant or lessee under the Government or local bodies in the State or any unallotted evacuee land. A bare reading of Section 21(1) does go to show that the provisions of the Act would not apply to land held by the State Government while in possession of a tenant or lessee. On the other hand, a reading of sections 6, 10-A(b), 16 and 19 goes to show that only limited protection has been granted to the property owned by the State Government or the Central Government. If Section 21 is to be read to completely exclude the applicability of the Act to the land owned by the Government, when it is in possession of a tenant, or a lessee, then the provisions of Secs. 6, 10-A and 16 of the Act would be rendered completely obsolete and redundant so far as the land owned by the Government in possession of tenant other than that which has acquired by it under any law for the time being in force is concerned. This could not have been the intention of the Legislature. Under the principle of interpretation of the provisions of law, it has been held that the provisions must be construed in such harmonious way that no provision of law is left redundant. It is equally true that if on true construction a statute leads to anomalous results the Courts have no option but to give effect to it and leave it to the Legislature to amend and alter the law, but when on a construction of a statute two views are possible, one which results in anomaly and the other not, it is the duty of Courts to adopt the latter and not the former, seeking consolation in the thought that law bristles with anomalies. (See N. T. Veluswami Thevar v. G. Raja Nainar, AIR 1959 SC 422).

8. Following view was taken by the Supreme Court in Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh v. The State of Vindhya Pradesh, AIR 1953 SC 394 (at p. 397) :--

'While, no doubt, it is not permissible to supply a clear and obvious lacuna in a statute and imply a right of appeal, it is incumbent on the Court to avoid a construction, if reasonably permissible on the language, which would render a part of the statute devoid of any meaning or application.'

Following the aforesaid of interpretation, the only reasonable way of interpreting Section 21 of the Act and of giving full effect to it while reading Sections 6, 10-A(b), 16 and 19 of the Act on the statute book, would be that it applied to such land held by a tenant or lessee under Government, or local bodies in the State, or any unallotted evacuee land on the commencement of the Act. The word 'held' has been used in the past tense and, therefore, Section 21(1) of the Act would be applicable only to such lands in possession of tenants or allottees immediately before the commencement of the Act. Therefore, on the harmonious construction as also on the plain reading of Section 21(1) of the Act, I am of the considered view that Section 21(1) would apply only to such land held by a tenant or lessee under Government, or local bodies in State, or any unallotted evacuee land, immediately before the commencement of the Act and not thereafter. If the State Government acquired land after the commencement of the Act by bona fide sale before 2nd February, 1955 such a transfer in favour of the State would be protected and the tenant will not be entitled to claim benefit of Section 6 of the Act in respect thereof. Similarly, if the State Government acquires surplus area by a voluntary transfer, the same would be liable to be utilized in pursuance of section 10-A(b) of the Act and the saving clause would apply only in respect of the land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force. The voluntary transfers do not come within the ambit of acquisition by the State Government under any law for the time being in force, but would be a case of transfer by private contract. This view finds support from a decision of A. N. Grover, J., in Mota Singh v. The Financial Commissioner, Punjab, 1963 Pun LJ 140, wherein it was held as follows :--

'Section 10-A(b) of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act saves only those lands which are acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force, which necessarily must refer to lands acquired under the Land acquisition Act or any other similar statute. Thus any land sold to the State Government by private treaty would not be covered by the saving clause under Section 10-A(b) of the Act.'

9. The aforesaid decision is approved.

10. Any acquisition by a private contract after 1st February, 1955, according to Section 16 of the Act, is not to affect the rights of a tenant thereon under the Act and the only saving clause is acquisition by the State under any law for the time being in force. The words 'land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force' cannot be equated with the words 'acquired in any manner' and, therefore, these words have to be read differently. The acquisition under any law for the time being in force is under the Land Acquisition Act or allied statutes, but private sale transactions are not called acquisitions under any law for the time being in force.

Therefore, the words used by the Legislature in Section 16 of the Act have to be interpreted as they are and by giving full meaning to these words, the only conclusion is that the saving is in respect of land acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force and not to land acquired by a private contract or gift.

11. Once again, Sections 16 and 21 of the Act, if read together, clearly go to show that apart from the harmonious construction according to the word 'held' in Section 21, the Legislature must have intended that Section 21 would apply to any land held by a tenant or lessee under the Government on the date of commencement of the Act whereas according to Section 16 of the Act, it envisaged the acquisition of land by the State Government not only after the commencement of the Act but after 1st February, 1955, and for acquisition after 1955, the saving clause is applied not to all acquisitions by the State, whether under law or by private contracts, but only to such acquisitions which are under any law for the time being in force. This further goes to show that Section 21 has application to such land in possession of a tenant or a lessee belonging to the Government on the commencement of the Act, whereas Section 16 of the Act has application to acquisitions by the State after 18th (1st?) February, 1955, other than under any law for the time being in force. Section 10-A(b) of the Act has application to utilization of such land which was not acquired by the State Government under any law for the time being in force which would be only after the commencement of the Act.

12. For the reasons recorded above, I am of the view that since the State Government acquired the land in dispute by gift on 2nd August, 1963, i.e., after 1st February, 1955, the rights of the petitioners as tenants thereon would not be affected by virtue of Section 16 of the Act. The necessary corollary would be that by virtue of Section 9(1), the State Government, who is their land-owner, shall not be competent to eject them except on grounds (i) to (vii) contained therein notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force namely, the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887. The only remedy available to the State Government to eject the petitioners would be either under Section 9(1) or under Sections 14-A(i) and (ii) of the Act. Accordingly, the decision in Bachan Singh's case (supra) is approved.

13. In the result, all the seven writ petitions are allowed with costs the decision of the Financial Commissioner dated 23rd November, 1979, Annexure P. 4 is set aside and that of the Commissioner, Ambala Division. dated 15th December, 1977, is restored; counsel's fee being Rs. 100/- in each case.

S.S. Sandhawalia, C.J.

14. I agree.

15. Petitions allowed.


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