Sukhdev Singh Kang, J.
1. Dharam Pal. petitioner No. 1, and his brother Deep Chand were tenants on 17 Kanals--7 marlas of land situated in the revenue estate of village Kapuri, Tehsil Dadri, District Bhiwani, under Ganesh Dass, respondent No. 1. Previously, this land was owned by one Chokha Ram, a displaced person. It was purchased by the Ganesh Dass. He owns 30 acres of land. Ganesh Dass filed a suit for ejectment of his tenants Dharam Pal and Deep Chand from the suit land. The Assistant Collector Ist Grade passed a decree for ejectment and recovery of rent. On an appeal by the tenants, the Collector remanded the case for a fresh decision after affording the parties an opportunity to lead evidence. After remand, the Assistant Collector on the basis of the evidence led by the parties came to the conclusion that the tenants had made default in the payment of rent for three years and were liable to pay Rs. 156/- to the landowner within six months. He accepted Ganesh Dass's application and ordered the tenants' ejectment. The tenants went up in appeal which was partly allowed by the Collector on March 22, 1976. He affirmed the orders of ejectment but directed that since tenants were there on the land, in dispute, prior to the commencement of the Act, the landowner will get the possession of the land, in dispute, only when the appellant-tenants get land equivalent to the land in dispute out of the surplus pool. Both sides were dissatisfied with this order and preferred two appeals. Both the appeals were dismissed by the Additional Commissioner on Dec. 31, 1981. Deep Chand had died during the pendency of this appeal. Only Vijay Singh, petitioner No. 2 made an application and was impleaded as a legal representative of Deep Chand, Dharam Pal, petitioner No. 1, Vijay Singh, Raj Singh, Satbir Singh and Dharambir petitioners Nos. 2 to 5 sons of Deep Chand, Smt. Sarbati, petitioner No. 6 widow of Deep Chand and Smt. Lali, petitioner No. 7 daughter of Deep Chand filed a revision petition before the Financial Commissioner and raised inter alia the same plea that Dharm Chand were entitled to the allotment of 17 kanals--7 marlas of land before they could be evicted from the land, in dispute. The Financial Commissioner did not accept this contention and held that the petitioner-tenants were not entitled to the allotment of more than 17 kanals--7 marlas of land from the surplus pool and the Collector had rightly decided this issue. Aggrieved by this order, the petitioners at the time of motion hearing. Reliance was placed on a Single Bench decision of this Court in Gurmit Ram v. Financial Commr. Revenue, Punjab, 1979 Pun LJ 152, wherein it was held that sons of the deceased-tenant on the death of their father became tenants in their own rights and they became entitled to the benefit of the provision of sub-section (1) of section 7-A of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') and they were entitled to the allotment of alternative land of equivalent value in standard acres to the area under their cultivation. The Motion Bench was of the view that Gurmit Ram's case (supra) required re-consideration. The writ petition was admitted and ordered to be heard by a Division Bench.
2. It will be expedient to reproduce the relevant statutory provisions before embarking upon determination of the legal issue raised in this writ petition:--
The Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act. 1955--
S. 2(k)--'tenant' has the meaning assigned to it in the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 (Punjab Act XVI of 2887), but does not include a person--
(I) who holds a right of occupancy, or
(ii) who is relative of the tenant within the meaning of sub-clause (2) of clause (g).
xx xx xx
(m) all other words and expressions used herein and not defined but defined in the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 (Punjab Act XVI of 1887), or the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887 (Punjab Act XVII of 1887) shall have the meanings assigned to them in either of those Acts.
S.7-A(1) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) and (3), a tenancy subsisting at the commencement of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands (Second Amendment) Act, 1956, may be terminated on the following grounds in additional to the grounds specified in S.7, namely:--
(a) That the land comprising the tenancy has been reserved by the landowner for his personal cultivation in accordance with the provisions of Chapter II;
(b) that the landowner owns thirty standard acres or less of land and the land falls within his permissible limit:
Provided that no tenant (other than a tenant of a landowner who is member of the Armed Forces of the Union) shall be ejected under this sub-section:-
(I) from any area of land if the area under the personal cultivation of the tenant does not exceed five standard acres, or
(ii) from an area of five standard acres, if the area under the personal cultivation of the tenant exceeds five standard acres, until he is allotted by the State Government alternative land of equivalent value in standard acres'.
'S.4 Definitions--In this Act, unless there is something repugnant in the subject or context--
(1) to (4) xx xx xx
(5) 'tenant' means of person who holds land under another person and is or but for a special contract would be, liable to pay rent for that land to that other person; but it does not include--
(a) an inferior landowner, or
(b) a mortgagee of the rights of a landowner, or
(c) a person to whom a holding has been transferred, or an estate of holding has been let in farm, under the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887 (XVII of 1887), for the recovery of an arrear of land revenue or of a sum recoverable as such an arrear, or
(d) a person who takes from the Government a lease of unoccupied land for the purpose of subletting it:
x x x x
(7) 'Tenant' and 'landlord' include the predecessors and successors in interest of a tenant and landlord, respectively:
(8) 'tenancy' means a parcel of land held by a tenant of a landlord under one lease or one set of conditions:
x x x x'
3. The Act constitutes a measure off the agrarian reforms. In order to bring about harmony between the 'landlord' and their 'tenants' whose relations had become strained resulting in an explosive situation land reforms and consolidation of existing law relating to tenancies were the need of the hour. So, the Act was framed to protect the tenants against unjust termination of their tenancies and to provide security of tenure to tenants by protecting them from unreasonable and capricious ejectment. The grounds for termination of tenancy have been furnished in S.7 and S.7-A of the Act. Chapter III thereof has been captioned 'general rights of tenancy' and both Ss. 7 and 7-A regulate the termination of tenancy. The orders of termination of tenancy lead to the eviction of tenants. The tenancy of a tenant is terminated on the establishment of grounds specified in Ss. 7 and 7-A. However, under S.7-A, a further protection after the termination of the tenancy has been provided. A tenant can be ejected from his tenancy only from an area exceeding 5 standard acres or from an area of 5 standard acres if he is allotted by the State Government alternative land of equivalent value in standard acres.
4. In the present case, Dharam Pal and Deep Chand were tenants under Ganesh Dass. Both of them held one parcel of land under one lease. It was one tenancy. They did not cultivate separate parcels of land individually. It was a joint cultivation. On the death of Deep Chand, petitioner Nos. 2 to 7 became tenants along with Dharam Pal of this very parcel of land. They were not individually cultivating separate parcels of land. They continued to cultivate it jointly. The object of the proviso to S.7-A is that on the passing of the ejectment orders a tenant should not be thrown on the roadside. It is provided that the tenant should be first allotted land equivalent to the land forming part of his tenancy. However, a ceiling of 5 standard acres for such allotment was fixed. Within this limit, the tenants were to get equivalent of their tenancy in standard acres. In the present case, the petitioners were tenants over 17 kanals--7 marlas of land jointly. None of them could claim to be in cultivating possession of whole of this land. The possession and cultivation was joint. So, they under the proviso to S.7-A were entitled jointly to the allotment of land equivalent to 17 kanals--7 marlas. Neither on the language of S.7-A, nor on any principle, the petitioners can claim that they individually be allotted land equivalent to 17 kanals--7 marlas. If this contention is accepted, then it will be putting premium on the defaults by the tenants. If they had not been ejected they would have continued cultivating and enjoying the fruits of 17 kanals--7 marlas of land. On their ejectment for non-payment of rent, each of them could not get land of the value of 17 kanals--7 marlas. This is just and equitable. Furthermore if this interpretation is accepted then successor-in-interest of tenants can get collusive ejectment orders just to get benefits of the demise of their predecessor-in-interest. In the very nature of things the allotable surplus land with the State is limited. It has to be equitably distributed amongst the eligible ejected tenants or person belonging to other categories. The interpretation canvassed by the petitioners will defeat the very purpose of equitably distributing the meagre surplus land amongst the numerous tillers of the soil. On the death of a tenant leaving behind a large number of sons and daughters, the family may claim to the allotment of land which may even exceed the ceiling limit fixed by the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holding Act, 1972.
It is thus obvious that the interpretation canvassed by the petitioners does not comport with the scheme of distributive social justice and the clear language employed in S.7-A of the Act. The petitioners' contention is neither based on any principle nor is supported by any binding precedent. With great respect to the learned Judge who decided Gurmit Ram's case (1979 Pun LJ 152) (supra) we have not been able to persuade ourselves to concur in the ration of that case.
5. We hold that on the demise of a tenant his successors-in-interest under proviso to S.7A of the Act are collectively entitled to the allotment of land equivalent to the land comprised in their tenancy. Each of them individually is not entitled to the allotment of land equivalent to the land comprised in the joint tenancy.
6. Consequently, we find no merit in this writ petition and dismiss the same. However, there shall be no order as to costs.
Prem Chand Jain, Ag.C.J.
7. I agree.
8. Petition dismissed.