1. This judgment will dispose of Civil Writ Petitions Nos. 468, 469, 470, 471 and 472 of 1970, as common questions of law and facts are involved in them. To better appreciate the controversy between the parties, it will be useful to narrate the facts in Civil Writ Petn. No. 468 of 1970, Bhajan Lal v. The Financial Commr., Haryana.
2. On the application filed by Khiraj alias Khaira, respondent No. 5, who was a tenant on the lands of the petitioners. who are big land-owners, under S. 18 of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 (hereinafter called the Act), the Collector allowed the purchase of land in dispute and the Assistant Collector 1st Grade, Sirsa, assessed the compensation for the land to the tune of Rs. 5923-39 P. This was to be Paid by the tenant in 10 equal half yearly instalments. The petitioners filed an appeal against this order. The main plea raised was that the land could not be purchased by the tenant in view of the provisions of S. 19 of the Act as the land in dispute was an evacuee property and the proprietary rights had not been granted to the petitioners in that land till then. This appeal was dismissed on 5th of Aug. 1969. The petitioners moved a revision petition before the Commissioner. The learned Commissioner held that the petitioners have been conferred proprietary rights by the Rehabilitation Department and their case was not covered by S. 19 of the Act as the protection to the refugees was available only up to the year 1959. However, the Commissioner accepted the contentions of the petitioners that the price fixed by the Assistant Collector of the land based on the 10 years average price was wrong, because according to him the correct procedure for determining the value was that average price of each year should be worked out and then 10 years average should be worked out on that basis. The Commissioner made a reference to the Financial Commissioner that the case should be remanded to the Assistant Collector, Sirsa, so that he may fix the price of the disputed land in accordance with law. This recommendation by the Commissioner came up for decision before Shri B. S. Grewal, Financial Commissioner, Haryana. In the meantime, Mr. S. K. Chhibber, Financial Commissioner, Haryana, had given a decision in which he had interpreted the provisions of Section 18(2) of the Act, This provision was brought to the notice of the Financial Commissioner, Mr. S. K. Chhibber in Mangli v. Mohinder Kumar, 1970 Pun LJ 8 held:--
'The Collector has held that the average price calculated by the Assistant Collector has been artificially lowered down by lumping of the land that was subject of the transactions for 10 years on one side and by lumping the consideration money for these transactions on the other and then dividing the entire consideration money by the entire land. The Collector has, therefore, directed the Assistant Collector to recalculate the price and compensation due to the respondents and this direction has been upheld in appeal by the learned Commissioner. The contention of the petitioner is that certain mutations should have been excluded for purposes of calculating average price. The reasons given in support of this contention are vague and are, therefore, not satisfactory. The direction of the Collector, that the average price of land for each year of the ten years period should be worked out separately first in order to arrive at the exact price for the entire period, is in order. Any other basis would make the calculations meaningless.............................,
Shri B. S. Grewal, Financial Commissioner, did not accept this interpretation as he had earlier taken a different view in Lachhman Ram v. Ram Rikh, 1970 Pun LJ 152, wherein he has held:
'The Assistant Collector......................shall determine value of the land which shall be the average of the price obtain1ng for similar land in the locality during 10 years immediately preceding the date of the application. This means that the average price has to be worked out by taking all relevant sales in the locality in the preceding 10 years and not by the average of annual sales for the preceding 10 years. Had the Legislature intended the latter, it would have used different words and specified that the price shall be computed by determining the average of annual sales for a period of-10 years. As no such words have been used, the obvious and direct interpretation is that all relevant sales must be taken together and the average worked out. It is an elementary principle of interpretation of statutes that where wording is unambiguous, no addition or alteration can be made in their meaning. That being the position, I must respectfully disagree with the interpretation given by my learned colleague in the aforementioned case.,... ' At this stage, it will be useful to reproduce the language of S. 18 (2) of the Act:-- '18 (2). A tenant desirous of purchasing land under sub-section (1) shall make an application in writing to an Asstt. Collector of 1st Grade having jurisdiction over the land concerned and the Asstt. Collector after giving notice to the landowner and to all other persons interested in the land and after making such inquiry as he thinks fit, shall determine the value of land which shall be the average of the prices obtaining for similar land in the locality during 10 years immediately preceding the date on which the application is made.'
This sub-section prescribes that the average of the prices for similar lands in the locality during the last 10 years immediately before the date of the application will determine the value of the land. It is clear that the average of the prices for the 10 years has to be calculated. It has rightly been pointed out by Mr. Grewal that sub-section mentions only the average prices. It does not refer to the annual price. It does not say that the average has to be worked out for each year and then the average of 10 years has to be clubbed and then divided by 10. If that could have been the intention of the legislature then they would have used the words 'annual sales' in the sub-section. Since no such words have been used, then the only interpretation that can be put on the words used is that the average of the prices prevalent for the preceding 10 years has to be taken down and then the price determined. To my mind, the interpretation put on the sub-section by Shri S. K. Chhibber reads some words in the sub-section which are not there. Shri Grewal has correctly interpreted the sub-section. The price was, therefore, correctly assessed and the reference by the Commissioner had been rightly dismissed by the Financial Commissioner.
3. Section 19 of the Act does not debar the purchases by the tenants because their applications have been filed after 1959.
4. For the reasons recorded above, I find no merit in these writ petitions and the same are hereby dismissed with no order as to costs.
5. Petitions dismissed.