M.M. Kumar, J.
1. This is plaintiffs appeal filed against the judgment of reversal dated 22.1.1982 passed by the learned District Judge, Sangrur. The suit of the plaintiff-appellants claiming possession of the suit land has been dismissed.
2. The plaintiff-appellants filed Civil Suit No. 152 dated 21.3.1980 claiming that they were owners of the suit land as they have been cultivating the same along wish Bali Singh son of Mangal Singh who was their father. Bali Singh died leaving behind three sons and a widow who are the plaintiff-appellants. After the death of Bali Singh mutation is alleged to have been sanctioned in their favour. It has been alleged that the defendant-respondent has forcibly and un-authorisedly entered possession in Kharif 1979 and despite requests he refused to handover the possession. The trial Court placed reliance on sale certificate Ex.P-4 duly signed by the Assistant Collector 1st Grade, Sunam in favour of the plaintiff-appellants and mutation No. 1252 Ex.P-3 sanctioned in their favour. The plaintiffs have been shown in column No. 8 as owners. Bali Singh father of the plaintiff-appellants was shown in cultivating possession as tenant at will in the Jamabandi for the year 1977-78 Ex.P-1 which contains a note that mutation of the land was san:tioned in favour of the plaintiff-appellants. In Khasra Girdawari for the period 27.10.1078 to 5.10.1979 Ex.P-2 possession of the father of the plaintiff-appellants has been shown. However, from Kharif 1979 defendant-respondent was shown in possession as tenant at will. Reference has also been made to the statement of Naurata Ram Patwari DW3 who has admitted in the cross-examination that the plaintiff-appellants were given the proprietary rights and the mutation was sanctioned in their favour. On the basis of the afore-mentioned evidence it was held by the trial Court that plaintiff-appellants were owner of the suit land that the suit was filed within limitation because they were alleged to have been dispossessed in Kharif 1979 and the suit was filed on 21.3.1980. However, the learned District Judge reversed the findings upholding that in the Jamabandi for the year 1977-78 Ex.P-1, the State of Punjab is recorded as owner and Bali Singh father of plaintiff-appellant Nos. 1 to 3 and husband of plaintiff-appellant No. 4 was recorded in possession. It was further held that the Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Sunam could not have issued a certificate of sale under Section 15(2) of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972 (for brevity 'the 1972 Act').
3. Shri R.K. Batras, learned counsel for the plaintiff-appellants has argued that Gur- nam Singh was a big land owner and 18 kanals and 12 marlas of land owned by him was declared surplus. According to the learned counsel the plaintiff-appellants were tennt at will after the declaration of surplus area. The land came to be .vested under Sec tion 32(E) of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1955 (for brevity 'the 1955 Act') read with Section 8 of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1887 (for brevity 'the 1887 Act') and continued to be so under Section 8 of the 1972 Act as it was not utilised till the issuance of Ex. P-4 by the Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Sunam in favour of the plaintiff-appellants on 26.4.1977. The Certificate Ex.P-4 has been issued in favour of the plaintiff-appellants by the Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Sunam, on the payment of the entire amount. He has drawn my attention to Rule 17(3) of the Punjab Land Reforms Rules, 1973 (for brevity 'the 1973 Rules') which stipulates the issuance of a certificate in Form 'K' to a tenam authorising him ownership right of any land in accordance with the provisions of Section 15(4) of the 1972 Act. Accordingly, the possession was delivered to the plaintiff-appellants because even the father of the plaintiff-appellants Bali Singh was the tenant of Gurnam Singh. That is how they have been shown in possession in the Jamabandi Ex.P1 for the year 1977-78 and Khasra Girdawari for the year 1978-79 and mutation has been sanctioned in their favour on 27.9.1978.
4. Shri Amarjit Markan, learned counsel for the defendant-respondent has pointed out that the sale certificate Ex.P-4 has been issued in respect of land measuring 60 kanals 18 marlas whereas the suit has been filed claiming possession in respect of land measuring 18 kanals and 12 marlas. According to the learned counsel there is apparent discrepancy which has not been answered by any evidence by the plaintiff-appellants.
5. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and perusing the record, I am of the considered view that this appeal deserves to be accepted. According to Section 32(E) of the 1955 Act the surplus area of land owner or the surplus area of tenant which is not included within the permissible limits on the date on which possession thereof is taken by or on behalf of the State Government is deemed to have been acquired by the State Government and the same is to vest in the State Government free from any encumbrances created by any person. Under Section 8 of the 1972 Act, the vesting of any unutilised area in the State Government is to continue. Both the afore-mentioned Sections are reproduced hereunder for facility of reference.
'32-E. Vesting of surplus area in the State Government- Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any law, custom or usage for the time being in force, and subject to the provisions of Chapter IV-C after the date on which the final statement in respect of a landowner or tenant is published in the Official Gazette, then-
(a) in the case of the surplus area of a landowner,or in the case of the surplus area of a tenant which is not included within the permissible limit of the landowner, (such area shall, on the date on which possession thereof is taken by or on behalf of the State Government, be deemed to have been acquired) by the State Government for a public purpose and all rights, title and interest (including the contingent interest, ifany, recognised by any law, custom or usage for the time being in force) of all person in such land shall be extinguished, and such rights, title and interest shall vest in the State Government free from encumbrances created by any person; and
(b) in the case of the surplus area of a tenant which is included within the permissible limits of the landowner, the right and interest of the tenant in such area shall stand terminated'
Provided that, for the purposes of clause (a), where any land falling within the surplus area is mortgaged with possession, only the mortgagee rights shall vest in the State Government.'
'8. Vesting of unutilised surplus area in the State Government - 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 areas 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.'
6. It is not disputed that Gurnam Singh was a big land owner and his land was declared surplus and the same vested in the State Government. It is also not disputed that father of plaintiff-appellants 1 to 3 Bali Singh used to be a tenant of Gurnam Singh and under Section 15 of the 1972 Act a tenant is entitled to purchase the land on the payment of the sale consideration such a tenant is deemed to have become the owner. It is further appropriate to mention that on the completion of the sale a certificate in form 'K' conferring proprietary right is required to be issued. Section 15 of the 1972 Act and Rule 17 of the 1973 Rules read as under:-
'15. Saving of certain rights of tenants to purchase land- (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a tenant who was entitled to purchase the land comprised in his tenancy, under Section 18 of the Punjab Law or Section 22 of the Pepsu Law, shall be entitled to purchase such land from the landowner on the same terms and conditions as were applicable immediately before such commencement:
Provided that -
(2) An application for the purchase of land under sub-section (1) shall be made to the Assistant Collector of the first grade having jurisdiction who shall, after giving notice to the landowner and after making enquiry in the prescribed manner, determine the amount payable in respect thereof.
(3) The tenant may pay the amount determined under sub-section (2) either in lump sum or in half yearly installments not exceeding fifteen in the manner prescribed.
(4) On the payment of the entire amount or the first installment thereof, as the case may be, the tenant shall be deemed to have become the owner of the land and that Assistant Collector shall, where the tenant is not already in possession of the land, put him in possession thereof, subject to the provision of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887.
(5) If a default is committed in the payment of any of the installments, the entire outstanding balance shall, on application by the person entitled to receive it, be recoverable as arrears of land revenue.
(6) If the land is subject to mortgage at the time of purchase, the land shall pass to the tenant unencumbered by the mortgage, but the mortgage amount shall be a charge on the purchase price.'
'17. Procedure on application made under Section 15-(1) The application under sub-section (2) of Section 15 shall be made in form T.
(2) The Assistant Collector of the first grade shall, after verifying the particulars given in the application made under sub-rule (1) and after making a summary enquiry, determine the amount payable in respect of the land for which the application is allowed.
(3) When a tenant has become owner of any land in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (4) of Section 15, the Assistant Collector of the first grade shall issue to him a certificate in form 'K'. The Assistant Collector of the first grade shall prepare three copies of such certificate, one to be placed on the file, the second to be sent to the landowner and the third to the Patwari concerned, who shall make entries in the mutation registered in accordance with the certificate, which shall for purposes of attestation of the mutation and charging of fee, be treated as if it were an order of a revenue officer.'
A perusal of Section 15 of the 1972 Act would show that an application for purchase of land has to be filed before the Assistant Collector 1st Grade who has to be determine the amount payable in respect of the land after making due enquiry and thereafter the mode of payment under sub-section (3) has been prescribed. Sub-section (4) confers ownership right on the tenant when he makes either the entire payment or the payment of the first installment. According to Rule 17 of the 1973 Rules a certificate is required to be issued when he becomes full fledged owner. Therefore, it is patent that the plaintiff-appellants have ownership rights in the suit land. On the contrary there is no evidence adduced by the defendant-respondent to show as to how they have any connection with the suit land. Therefore, the appeal deserves to be allowed and the learned District Judge has miserably failed to take into account the legal position.
7. The argument of the learned counsel for the defendant-respondent that there is discrepancy in the area mentioned in the certificate Ex.P-4 and the total area of the land mentioned in the head note of the suit would not require any detailed consideration be cause the suit has to be filed only to the extent of the defendant-respondent has taken forcible possession of the land.
8. For the reasons recorded above, this appeal succeeds and the same is allowed with costs. The suit of the plaintiff-appellants for possession of the suit land is decreed. It is directed that defendant-respondent shall hand over vacant possession of the suit land to the plaintiff-appellants within a period of two months failing which the plaintiff-appellants shall be,entitled to execute the decree. Costs are assessed at Rs. 5,000/-