1. Hakumat Rai, petitioner No. 1 owned 67 acres of land in villages Karnana and Kaman in district Jullundur. After the coming into force of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 (hereinafter called the Punjab Act) Special Collector, Agrarian, Punjab somewhere in the years 1954-55 declared an area of 36 standard acres and 5 units of land surplus with Hakumat Rai. He was left with a permissible area of 30 standard acres. However, this area was not utilised for the resettlement of tenants till 6-5-1975 and remained in possession of the petitioners, Petitioners Nos. 2 to 6 are the adult sons of petitioner No. 1.
2. On the basis of a decree passed in a suit filed by Arjan Singh, petitioner No. 3 against other petitioners to the effect that he was owner in possession of the land measuring 90 Kanals 15 Marlas, mutation was sanctioned. The petitioners are progressive farmers. They invested huge sums of money on the land in dispute. They installed three tube wells; purchased three tractors for the cultivation of the land; constructed two farm houses and planted an orchard over a portion of the land.
3. On an application filed by petitioner No. 1, the District Collector, Jullundur, in exercise of the powers conferred on him, by Rule 8 of the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Rules, 1956 (hereinafter called 'the Rules'), framed under the provisions of the Act, classified the petitioner's farm in the category 'A' of well run farm vide his orders dated 16-5-1966. This order was passed on the basis of spot inspection made by the members of the Board and verification of the record of yields made by the District Agriculture Officer. On the basis of the inspection and analysis by the Board and the revenue authorities, the petitioners farm secured more than 85 per cent marks. The land declared surplus with petitioner No. 1 was thus riot utilised and it was granted exemption under Rule 8 of the Rules from being utilised for the resettlement of the tenants. The petitioners continued to cultivate their lands efficiently and diligently with the result that they were able to maintain the position of category 'A' well-run farm till the filing of the writ petition. However, the last inspection was made in the year 1973.
4. The Punjab Land Reforms Act (hereinafter called the Reforms Act) was enforced on 2-4-1973. After that date the authorities have not taken up any action to assess the farm of the petitioners. On the other hand mutation has been entered by the revenue authorities whereby effort has been made to transfer the land declared surplus with petitioner No. 1 to the ownership of the Punjab State. No notice under Section 9 of the Reforms Act was issued to the petitioners. The possession of the land has not been taken by the State. Under Section 8 of the Reforms Act, the land vest in the State only after the possession of the same has been taken by it. For taking possession the Collector can issue orders under Section 9 of the Reforms Act to the landowners, tenants or persons in possession of the land declared surplus. Apprehending that the petitioners shall be dispossessed from the land which has been declared surplus, they have filed this writ petition under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India.
5. It has been contended that rules framed under a statute are deemed to be incorporated in the body of the state itself. In support of this proposition, reliance has been placed on State of Uttar Pradesh v. Babu Ram AIR 1961 SC 751. It is urged that by the framing of Rule 8, the Legislature has carved Out an exception in Section 10-A of the Punjab Act. The result is that the land exempted under Rule 8 of the Rules, is taken out of the surplus pool and it does not remain surplus area, The provisions of Section 10-A are only enabling provisions. They authorise the State Government or any offer empowered by it in this behalf to utilise the surplus area for the resettlement of the tenants, There is no positive command that the surplus area must be utilised for the resettlement of the tenants. If the two provisions, namely Section 10-A of the Punjab Act and Rule 8 of the Rules, are read together, the inescapable conclusion is that the land exempted by the Collector comes out of the surplus pool. It no more remains surplus area.
6. It is then argued that when the Reforms Act came into force, Hakumat Rai, petitioner had five adult sons who are petitioners 2 to 5. Petitioner No, 1 by virtue of the provisions of Section 5 of the Reforms Act, was entitled to reselect his permissible area and also could select the separate permissible areas in respect of each of his five sons. The sons did not own any other land. Petitioner No. 1 was also entitled to include the area which had been declared surplus but which had not been utilised by the State Government, in his own permissible area.
7. On behalf of the State, it has been argued by Mr. Gurdarshan Singh Grewal, learned Additional Advocate General that Rule 8 only provides for exemption from utilisation of the surplus area under certain conditions under Rule 10. The committee constituted under Rule 9 could exclude the land comprised in the well run farm from the surplus area to be utilised for the resettlement of ejected tenants. This was a temporary arrangement, The rule was introduced to meet the deficit in food production. The committee had to make periodical assessments and the exemption had to prevail only up to the time the committee found the farm being run efficiently. However when the farm ceases to earn exemption in accordance with the classification given under R. 10, the land was declared available for resettlement of the tenants. This shows that only exemption from utilisation was granted of the land once declared surplus for the time being. It was not taken out of the surplus pool. It remained surplus all the time, simply the resettlement of the tenants was deferred Rule 8 was not engrafted in the body of the Punjab Act. It was framed only to advance the objects of the Act. This rule does not carve out any exception in Section 10-A. The powers of the State Government or the officers authorised by it to utilise the surplus area, remained intact. Section 10-A does not provide for any exemption. It only gives powers for the utilisation of the surplus area for the resettlement of the tenants. After the coming into force of the Reforms Act, the landowner is not entitled to any fresh selection of his permissible area, Areas which had been declared surplus under the Punjab Act are not available to the landowner for selection as separate permissible areas for his adult sons under Section 5 of the Punjab Act. In support of this contention, the learned counsel has relied upon Nachhatar Singh v. Collector Agrarian, Bhatinda 1975 Pun LJ 8, wherein it has been held that Section 28 of the Reforms Act does not confer any right or new rights on landowners whose surplus area has been finally determined under the Punjab Act. The landowner could not be permitted to select his permissible area or the permissible areas for his adult sons under Section 5 of the Reforms Act. At this stage, it will be necessary to notice the relevant statutory provisions:--
'2 (3) 'Permissible area' in relation, to a landowner or a tenant, means thirty standard acres and where such thirty standard acres on being converted into ordinary acres exceed sixty acres, such sixty acres; Provided that:
(i) no area under an orchard at the commencement of this Act, shall be taken into account in computing the permissible area:
(ii) for a displaced person--
(a) who has been allotted land in excess of fifty standard acres, the permissible area shall be fifty standard acres or one hundred ordinary acres, as the case may be;
(b) who has been allotted land in excess of thirty standard acres, but less than fifty standard acres, the permissible area shall be equal to his allotted area; (c) who has been allotted land less than thirty standard acres, the permissible area shall be thirty standard acres, including any other land or part thereof, if any, that he owns in addition,'
'Explanation--For the purposes of determining the permissible area of displaced person, the provisions of proviso (ii) shall not apply to the heirs and successors of the displaced person to whom land is allotted.' '2 (5-a) 'Surplus area', means the area other than the reserved area, and where, no area has been reserved, the area in excess of the permissible area selected under Section 5-B or the area which is deemed to be surplus area under sub-section (1) of Section 5-C and includes the area in excess of the permissible area selected under Sec, I9-B but it will not include a tenant's permissible area;
Provided that it will include the reserved area or part thereof, where such area or part has not been brought under self-cultivation within six months of reserving the same or getting possession thereof after ejecting a tenant from it, whichever is later, or if the landowner admits a new tenant, within three years of the expiry of the said six months,'
'10-A, (a) The State Government or any officer empowered by it in this behalf, shall be competent to utilize any surplus area for the resettlement of tenants ejected, or to be ejected, under clause (i) of sub-section (1) of Section 9.
(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 any heir by inheritance no transfer or other disposition of land which is comprised in a surplus area at the commencement of this Act, shall affect the utilisation thereof in clause (a),
Explanation--Such utilisation of any surplus area will not affect the right of the landowner to receive rent from the tenant so settled,
(c) For the purposes of determining the surplus area of any person under this section, any judgment, decree or order of a court or other authority, obtained after the commencement of this Act and having the effect of diminishing the area of such person which could have been declared as his surplus area shall be ignored.'
Punjab 5ecurity of Land Tenure Rules, 1956
'8(1) If any landowner wishes to claim exemption on the ground that: his surplus area is under a tea estate, or forms part of a well-run farm he may within a period of thirty days from the date of publication of Revenue Department, Notification No, 632-ARI(II)61/492, dated the I3th of February, 1961, or from the date of the order, passed by the Collector or the Special Collector, declaring the surplus area, or where an appeal against such order has been preferred to the Commissioner, within a similar period, from the date of the order passed by the Commissioner, whichever is earlier, apply in Form H together with relevant information in Form, J, to the Collector of the district; in which the land for which exemption is claimed is situate,
'(2) Cases relating to co-operative garden colonies and orchards received by the committee before the date of publication of the notification referred to in sub-rule (1) shall be disposed of by the Collector or the Special Collector, as the case may be, in accordance with the provision of the Act,'
'9 (1) On receipt of the application in Form H the Collector shall place it before a Committee consisting of himself as Chairman, one non-official member, and an official of the Agriculture Department, both to be nominated by Government, Government may, if considered necessary, also nominate an officer of the Revenue Department to represent it on the Committee.
(2) The Committee shall before deciding the application give the landowner an opportunity of presenting, has case, Proceedings before the Committee will be of a summary character the Chairman shall record the decision of the Committee giving reasons briefly for the decision taken and announce it to the party concerned.
In the event of a difference of opinion 6etween the members of the Committee the majority view shall prevail, and where opinion is equally divided, the Chairman will decide which of the two views shall prevail.'
'10 (1) In deciding the landowner's application the Committee shall exclude from the surplus area to be utilised for the resettlement of ejected tenants:--
'(b) Any area that is under tea estate, provided such tea estate was in existence at the commencement of the Act:
(c) Any area that is part of well-run farm.
(2) To decide if a farm is well-run, the Committee shall assign it marks in the manner explained in Rule II, and classify it as follows:--
Class A.--If it is awarded 80 per cent or more marks.
Class B.--If it is awarded 60 to 80 per cent marks.
Class C.--If it is awarded less than 60 per cent marks.
(3) (a) A Class 'A' farm shall be deemed to be well run farm.
(b) Fifty per cent of the area under a farm of Class 'B' shall be left with the owner, according to his choice, and the rest declared as available of resettlement of tenants, ejected or liable to ejectment.
(c) The entire area under a farm of Class 'C' shall be declared as available for the resettlement of such tenants,'
'11-A(1) to (5)..... ...... ...... .....
(6) If, as a result of review, the whole or any part of the farm, because of having ceased to earn exemption in accordance with the classification given in subrule (2) of Rule 10 is declared available by the Committee for resettlement, it may be utilised by the Circle Revenue Officer in accordance with the procedure laid down in these rules:
Provided that such declaration shall not be made without giving an opportunity of being heard to the landowner or the heir. as the case may be.' Reforms Act
'4 (1).... ...... ...... ...... ....
(2) 'Permissible area' shall mean in respect of--
(a) land under assured irrigation and capable of yielding at least two crops in a year (hereinafter in this Act referred to as 'the first quality land'), seven hectares; or
(b) land under assured irrigation for only one crop in a year, eleven hectares; or
(c) barani land, 20.5 hectares; or
(d) land of other classes including banjar land, an area to be determined according to the prescribed scale with reference to the intensity of irrigation, productivity and soil classification of such classes, having regard to the respective valuation and the permissible area of the classes of land mentioned at (a), (b) and (c) subject to the condition that the area so determined shall not exceed 21.8 hectares;
(i) where land consists of two or more classes, the permissible area shall be determined on the basis of relative valuation of such classes of land, subject to the condition that it does not exceed 21.8 hectares;
(ii) where the number of members of a family exceeds five, the permissible area shall be increased by one-fifth of the permissible area for each member in excess of five, subject to the condition that additional land shall be allowed for not more than three such members.'
'5 (1) Every person, who on the appointed day or at any time thereafter, owns or holds land as landowner or mortgagee with possession or tenant or partly in one capacity and partly in another, in excess of the permissible area, shall select his permissible area and intimate his selection to the Collector, and where land is situate in more than one district, to the Collectors concerned. through a declaration to be furnished in such form and manner and within such period as may be prescribed and if such person has an adult son, he shall also be entitled to select separate permissible area in respect of each such son, out of the land owned or held by him, subject to the condition that the land so selected together with the land already owned or held by such son, shall not exceed the permissible area of each such son.
Provided that where land is situate in more than one patwar circle, the declaration shall be supported by an affidavit in the prescribed form.
(2) In making the selection, such a person shall include, firstly, land mortgaged without possession and, secondly, land under self-cultivation on the date of commencement of the period prescribed for furnishing the declaration under sub-section (1), but shall not include area declared surplus under the Punjab law, the Pepsu 1aw or this Act, other than the area which was exempt from utilisation by, the State Government immediately before such commencement,'
'7 (1) On the basis of the information given in the declaration furnished under Section 5 or the information obtained under Section 6, as the case may be, and after making such inquiry as he may deem fit, the Collector shall, by an order, determine the permissible area and the surplus area of a landowner or a tenant, as the case may be,
(2) If a landowner or a tenant fails to furnish the declaration supported by an affidavit as required by the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 5, while passing an order under sub-section (1), the Collector may reduce the permissible area of that person by such an area not exceeding two hectares of the first quality land or an equivalent area in valuation of other classes of land (hereinafter in this Act referred to as equivalent area), as may be specified in the order.
(3) Before passing an order under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), the Collector shall give to the landowner or tenant, as the case may be an opportunity of being heard,
(4) For the purpose of determining the surplus area of any person,--
(i) any judgment, decree or order of a court or other authority obtained on or after the appointed day and having the effect of diminishing the surplus area of such a person;
(ii) a tenancy created on or after the appointed day in any land which has been or could have been declared as surplus area of such a person under the Punjab law, the Pepsu law or this Act; shall be ignored.'
'8. Notwithstanding anything contained in any law, custom or usage for the time being in force, but subject to the provisions of Section 15, the surplus area, declared as such under the Punjab law or the Pepsu law, which has not been utilised till the commencement of this Act and the surplus area declared as such under this Act shall, on the date on which possession thereof is taken by or on behalf of the State Government, vest in the State Government free from all encumbrances and in the case of surplus area of tenant, which is included within the permissible area of the landowner, the right and interest of the tenant in such area shall stand terminated on the aforesaid date:
Provided that where any land falling within the surplus area is mortgaged with possession, only the mortgagee rights shall vest in the State Government.' '9 (1) The Collector may, by an order in writing, after an area has become surplus under the Punjab law or the Pepsu law or becomes surplus under this Act, direct the landowner or tenant or any other person in possession of such area to deliver possession thereof, within ten days of the service of the order on him, to such person as may be specified in the order,
(2) If the landowner or tenant or any other person in possession of such are refuses or fails without reasonable cause to comply with the order made under sub-section (1), the Collector may take possession of that area and may for that e, use such force as may be necessary.'
'11 (1) The surplus area, which has vested in the State Government under Section 8, shall be at the disposal of the State Government. (2) The State Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, frame a scheme for utilizing the surplus area under the Punjab law, the Pepsu law or this Act by,--
(a) conferment of rights of ownership on tenants in respect of such land as is comprised in the surplus area of the landowner of such a tenant; and
(b) allotment to tenants, members of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes and landless agricultural workers, of an area not exceeding two hectares of the first quality land or equivalent area, provided that the total area held or owned by any such allottee, after the allotment, shall not exceed two hectares of the first quality land or equivalent area,
(3) Any scheme framed by the State Government under su6-sectinn (2) may provide for the terms and conditions on which the rights to ownership are to be conferred on the tenants and also the terms and conditions on which the land comprised in the surplus area a to be allotted.
(4) The State Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, add to, amend, vary or revoke any scheme made under this section,
(5) 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 the surplus area under the Punjab law, the Pepsu law or this Act, shall affect the vesting thereof in the State Government or its utilization under this Act,
(6) The utilization of any surplus area before the commencement of this Act will not affect the right of the tenant to purchase land in accordance with the provisions of Section 15 or the right of the landowner to receive rent from the tenant settled on the surplus area till the tenant becomes the owner thereof,
(7) Where succession has opened after the surplus area or any part thereof has been determined by the Collector, the saving specified in favour of an heir by inheritance under sub-section (5) shall not apply in respect of the area so determined.'
'28 (1) The Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 and the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955, in so far as these are inconsistent with the provisions of this Act, are hereby repealed,
(2). The repeat of the enactments mentioned in sub-section (1), hereinafter referred to as the said enactments, shall not affect--
(i) the proceedings for the determination of the surplus area pending immediately before the commencement of this Act, under either of the said enactments, which shall be continued and disposed of as if this Act had not been passed, and the surplus area so determined shall vest in, and be utilised by the State Government in accordance with the provisions of this Act:
Provided that such proceedings shall, as far as may be, be continued and disposed of, from the stage these were immediately before the commencement of this Act, in accordance with the procedure specified by or under this Act and the cases pending before the Pepsu Land Commission immediately before the date of commencement of this Act shall stand transferred to the Collector of the district concerned for disposal;
Provided further that nothing in this section shall affect the determination and utilisation of the surplus area, other than the surplus area referred to above, in accordance with the provisions of this Act;
(ii) the previous operation of the said enactments or anything duly done or suffered thereunder;
(iii) any right, privilege, obligation or liability acquired, accrued or incurred under the said enactments, in so far as such right, privilege, obligation or liability is not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act and any proceedings or remedy in respect of such right, privilege, obligati0n or liability may be instituted, continued or enforced as if this Act had not been passed,
Provided that such proceeding or remedy shall, as far as may be, be instituted, continued or enforced in accordance with the procedure specified by or under this Act.'
8. I have given my thoughtful consideration to the rival contentions raised by the learned counsel for the parties. There is no merit in the above contentions raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners, About 37 standard areas of land had been declared surplus in the hands of Hakumat Rai, petitioner No. 1 in or about the years 1954-55. No appeal; or revision had been filed against that order and it became final. By Rule 8 of the Rules, the landowners who had efficient and well-run farms, have been exempted. It was provided that so long as, these farms are run scientifically, they will not be utilised for the resettlement of tenants. This was a concession given to the landowners. Rule 8 did not amend the provision of Section 10-A, as is sought to be argued by the learned counsel for the petitioners. The land declared surplus with Hakumat Rai was not taken out of the surplus pool when the Collector granted him exemption under Rule 8. All that he did was that the land was not at that time utilised for the resettlement of the tenants. This position prevailed till the enforcement of the Reforms Act on 2-4-1973. No such exemption was granted by this Act or the rules framed thereunder. On the enforcement of this Act, the provisions of Punjab and Pepsu Acts in so far as they were inconsistent with the provisions of the Reforms Act stood repealed under Section 28 of the Reforms Act. Under Section 8 of the Reforms Act, the surplus area declared as such under the Punjab Act which had not been utilised till the commencement of the Reforms Act, shall vest in the State free from all encumbrances on the date on which possession thereof is taken by or on behalf of the State Government, Under Section 9 of the Reforms Act the Collector can by an order in writing direct the landowner or tenant or any other person in possession of the area which has been declared surplus under the Punjab Act to deliver its possession within 10 days of the service of his order, Under Section 11, the surplus area which has vested in the State Government under Section 8 is at the disposal of the State Government, The provisions of Rule 8 of the Rules are clearly inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 8, 9 and 11 of the Reforms Act because they have the effect of asking the surplus area unavailable for resettlement of the tenants, Under S. 28 any rights which may have accrued a favour of the landowners which are consistent with the provisions of the Reforms Act have been abrogated. The act result is that the provisions of R. 8 of the Rules ere clearly inconsistent with the provisions of the Reforms Act and the rights, it any, acquired under he Punjab Act in so far as they are inconsistent with the provisions of the Reforms Act are not recognised. Since he Reforms Act does not grant any exemption of the utilisation of the surplus areas from resettlement of tenants, the rights granted to the petitioners by the Collector are also abrogated by it,
9. By grant of exemption under R, 8, !the land was not taken out of the surplus pool. It continued to remain the surplus area of Hakumat Rai and only the resettlement of tenants on this land was deferred and Hakumat Rai was permitted to cultivate it for the time being so long as he continued to satisfy the conditions laid in the rules. This land had not reverted to Hakumat Rai under the Punjab Act also a landowner was entitled to retain 30 standard acres of land as his permissible area. If the argument of the petitioners is accepted then Hakumat Rai would have been allowed to retain 67 standard areas of land which was not permissible under the Punjab Act, Since this land had already been declared surplus under the Punjab Act there was no question of providing a fresh opportunity to Hakumat Rai to select his permissible areas for his adult sons under Section 5 of the Reforms Act. The matter is not res integra and falls squarely within the ratio of Nachhatar Singh's case (1975 Pun LJ 8) (supra). In that case, it has been clearly held that the landowner whose land has been declared surplus under the Punjab Act, is not entitled to fresh selection of his permissible area or any selection of permissible areas for his adult sons. The provisions of the Reforms Act do not confer any new rights on the landowners.
10. It was also contended that the Reforms Act is an expropriatory measure and should be construed very strictly, any interpretation which results in hardship or inconvenience should be avoided. There is no merit in this contention also. The above mentioned principle of interpretation though supported by Craies in his book Craies on Statute, is not applicable to the facts of the present case, in view of the clear language of the statute the petitioners cannot import the notions of inconvenience or hardship. The inconvenience and hardship are inherent in the process of land reforms. The persons possessing large holdings are made to surrender lands belonging to them. They naturally must be feeling the pinch. However, there is no escape from the same. The land reforms have been devised to ameliorate the conditions of the teeming masses. The language used in the Reforms Act is very clear. There is no ambiguity. The Court has to apply the mandate of the legislature as expressed in the language of the statute.
11. It was contended that in fact there is no inconsistency between the provisions of Rule 8 of the Rules and the provisions of the Reforms Act. This plea has been dealt with in the earlier part of the judgment, There is a clear conflict between Rule 8 of the Rules and Sections 8, 9 and 11 of the Reforms Act.
12. It was also contended that Section 5(2) of the Reforms Act permits re-selection by petitioner No. 1 of his permissible area. Since the Collector had granted exemption to. him under Rule 8 of the Rules, there is no force in this contention. The exemption had not been granted by the State Government, it had been granted only by the Collector. However, sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the Reforms Act, refers only to the exemption granted by the 5tate Government. It is under the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lends Act; 1955, that exemptions are granted by the State Government. The only relevant provision under Punjab Act is Rule 8, and under that only Collector is empowered to grant exemption, in the present ease, the exemption had been granted by the Collector. So Hakumat Rai is not entitled to re-select his permissible area.
13. It was urged that unless the State Government had taken possession of the land in dispute, it did not vest in the State. So the revenue authorities could not enter the mutation in the name of the Punjab Government. It has been averred in the return filed by the State that the mutation has not been decided and it has been categorised as a disputed one. It shall be decided after hearing the parties. The petitioners are at liberty to raise whatever pleas are available to them. The petitioners cannot make grievance of the simple fact that the mutation has been entered in the revenue records.
14. It was also argued that the provisions of Land Reforms Act are expropriatory and are violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. The Constitutional vires of this Act has been upheld by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in State of Punjab v. Sucha Singh, 1977 Pun LJ 139: (AIR 1977 SC 915). Moreover, this statute has been placed in the 9th Schedule and it cannot be challenged on the ground that this is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by the provisions of part III of the Constitution of India.
15. For the reasons recorded above, I find no merit in this petition and the same is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.
16. Petition dismissed.