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Munshi and ors. Vs. Richpal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1977SC1206; (1977)2SCC605; [1977]3SCR1; 1977(9)LC250(SC)
ActsPepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955 - Sections 7 and 7A; Punjab Pre-emption Act, 1913 - Sections 15(1)
AppellantMunshi and ors.
RespondentRichpal and ors.
Cases ReferredRikhi Ram and Anr. v. Ram Kumar and Ors.
Excerpt:
.....of pre-emption - evidence adduced not enough to establish that plaintiff (preemptor) was tenant of suit land under vendor at time of sale - plaintiff was tenant of suit land on date of sale and his tenancy thereafter determined under sections 7 and 7a - plaintiff applied to tahsildar for restoration of his possession - held, plaintiff deemed to be tenant of suit land on date of sale and on all other material dates - held, plaintiff qualified and entitled to pre-empt land. - - (1) the date of sale, (2) the date of institution of the suit and (3) the date of passing of the decree and in the instant case, he failed to file a suit in the revenue court for recovery of possession of the suit land within one year of the date of his dispossession as contemplated by section 50 of the punjab..........the instant case, he failed to file a suit in the revenue court for recovery of possession of the suit land within one year of the date of his dispossession as contemplated by section 50 of the punjab tenancy act, 1887 not only his remedy was destroyed but his right and title was also extinguished at the expiry of that period on the general principles underlying section 27 of the limitation act, 1963, which may not in terms be applicable to the present case. though the learned counsel for the appellants cited a few cases in support of his contention but did not unfortunately bring to our notice the decision of this court in dindyal and anr. v. rajaram : [1971]1scr298 , which may in an appropriate case require reconsideration by a larger bench of this court, we think he cannot be allowed.....
Judgment:

Jaswnat Singh, J.

1. This appeal by special leave which is directed against the judgment and order dated September 24, 1969 of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh passed in R.S.A. No. 983 of 1969 arises in the following circumstances:

Bhavani Dass, respondent No. 2 herein, who owned agricultural land measuring 50 kanals & 6 marlas comprised in Khewat No. 223, Khatauni No. 467 468, situate in village Kohlawas,Tehsil Dadri,Distt. Mohindergarh,sold the same to Munshi, Dina and Rani Dutt, appellants before us, in lieu of Rs. 10,000/- by means of registered sale deed (Exh D-1) dated October 17, 1966, Alleging that he held that as a non-occupancy tenant under Bhavani Dass the aforementioned land on the date of its sale to the appellants and had continued to do so and as such had a preferential right of its purchase under clause Fourthly of Section 15(1)(a) of the Punjab Preemption Act, 1913 (Punjab Act 1 of 1913) which still applies to the State of Haryana, Richpal, respondent No. 1 herein, brought a suit on October 17, 1967 for possession of the said land by pre-emption, in the Court of the Sub Judge, Charkhi Dadri. The suit was resisted by the appellants contending inter alia that the plaintiff-respondent was neither a non-occupancy tenant of the land in question under Bhawani Dass, vendor, nor was he in possession of the land either on the day of the aforesaid sale or on the day of the institution of the suit. After settling the necessary issues and recording the evidence adduced by the parties, the trial court by its judgment dated February 1, 1969, decreed the suit in favour of the plaintiff preemptor on payment of Rs. 10,000/-(the consideration of aforesaid sale) plus Rs. 727/- the costs incurred by the vendees-appellants on the stamps, registration fee etc.) holding that he had been a tenant-at-will under the vendor from Kharif, 1957 to Rabi, 1968, that he was forcibly dispossessed after the sale; that wrongful eviction of a tenant could be of no consequence in the eye of law; that the plaintiff, preemptor continued to hold his rights as tenant including the right immediate possession & cultivation of the land notwithstanding his wrongful ouster therefrom by the vendees, who could not be allowed to take advantage of their own wrongs and that the former must be deemed 1o continue in legal possession of the land which was comprised in his tenancy under the vendor on the date of the sale right upto the date of the suit and the date of the decree of the trial court in his favour. The trial court further held that 'a tenant's eviction can only be had under Sections 7 and 7A of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955, and there is nothing on the record of the case to even insinuate that the plaintiff's tenancy which subsisted at the time of the impugned sale was ever determined or terminated Under Section 7 or 7A of the Act the plaintiff who was in physical possession of the land in suit as a tenant at the time of the sale has to be taken to be in legal possession uptill the present moment'. In conclusion, the trial court held that the mere act of forcible dispossession of the plaintiff pre emptor at the hands of the vendees after the sale could not have the effect of divesting him of his right to hold the land which he had acquired as a tenant of the vendor and in the eye of law he must be presumed to have continued to be a tenant all along and as such had a prefercential right of pre-emption. The judgment and decree passed by the trial court was affirmed in appeal not only by the Additional District Judge, Gurgaon, but also by a learned Single Judge and Letters Patent Bench of the High Court. Aggrieved by these decisions, the vendees-appellants have, as already stated, come up in further appeal to this Court.

2. The sole point that has been urged before us on behalf of the appellants is that as according to the decision of this Court in Bhagwan Das v. Chet Ram : [1971]2SCR640 , the plaintiff-preemptor has to prove his subsisting right or preemptor on all the three material dates viz. (1) the date of sale, (2) the date of institution of the suit and (3) the date of passing of the decree and in the instant case, he failed to file a suit in the revenue court for recovery of possession of the suit land within one year of the date of his dispossession as contemplated by Section 50 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 not only his remedy was destroyed but his right and title was also extinguished at the expiry of that period on the general principles underlying Section 27 of the Limitation Act, 1963, which may not in terms be applicable to the present case. Though the learned Counsel for the appellants cited a few cases in support of his contention but did not unfortunately bring to our notice the decision of this Court in Dindyal and Anr. v. Rajaram : [1971]1SCR298 , which may in an appropriate case require reconsideration by a larger bench of this Court, we think he cannot be allowed to canvass the aforesaid point. A reference to the record of the case shows that the point now sought to be agitated for us was not raised by the appellants either in their written statement or in the grounds of the three appeals preferred by them before the courts below. All that appears from the record to have been urged by them in the grounds of the aforesaid appeals was that the evidence had not been properly appraised & that in the absence of any lease deed in his favour or any receipt evidencing payment of rent by him to the vendor, mere entries in the khasra girdawaries were not enough to establish that the plaintiff-preemptor was a tenant of the suit land under the vendor at the time of the sale. The suit land being, situate in the district of Mohindergarh which formed part of the territories of the erstwhile State of Pepsu, the case as rightly observed by the court of first instance, was governed by Sections 7 and 7A of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955, which in view of Section 4 of that Act have an overriding effect and provide as under:

4. Act to over hide other laws-Save, as otherwise expressly provided in this Act the provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force or any instrument having effect by virtue of any such law or any usage, agreement, settlement, grant, sanad or any decree or order of any court or other authority.

7. Termination of tenancy.-(1) No tenancy shall be terminated except in accordance with the provisions of this Act or except of any of the following grounds, namely:

(a) ...

(b) That the tenant has failed to pay rent within a period of six months after it falls due;

Provided that no tenant shall be ejected under this clause unless he has been afforded an opportunity to pay the arrears of rent within a further period of six months from the date of the decree or order directing his ejectment and he had failed to pay such arrears during that period;

(c) that the tenant, not being a widow, a minor, an unmarried woman, a member of the Armed Forces of the Union or a person incapable of cultivating land by reason of physical or mental infirmity has after commencement of the President's Act sublet without the consent in writing of the landowner, the land comprising his tenancy or any part thereof;

(d) that the tenant has, without sufficient cause, failed to cultivate personally such land in the manner and to the extent customary in the locality in which such land is situated;

(e) that the tenant has used such land or any part thereof in a manner which is likely to render the land unfit for the purpose for which it was leased to him;

(f) that the tenant, on demand in writing by the landowner, has refused to execute a kabuliyat agreeing to pay rent in respect of his tenancy in accordance with the provisions of Sections 9 and 10.

(2) ...

7-A. Additional groups for termination of tenancy in certain cases. (1) Subject to the provisions of Sub-sections (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 addition to the grounds specified in Section 7, namely:

(a) that the land comprising the tenancy has been reserved by the land-owner 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 the permissible limit;

Provided that no tenant 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 allowed by the State Government alternative land of equivalent value in standard acres.

(2) No tenant, who immediately preceding the commencement of the President's Act has held any land continuously for a period of twelve years or more under the same land-owner or his predecessor in title, shall be ejected on the grounds specified in Sub-section (1)

(a) from any area of land, if the area under the personal cultivation of the tenant does not exceed fifteen standard acres, or

(b) from an area of fifteen standard acres, if the area under the personal cultivation of the tenant exceeds fifteen standard acres:

Provided that nothing in this Sub-section shall apply to the tenant of a landowner who, both, at the commencement of the tenancy and the commencement of the President's Act was a widow, a minor an unmarried woman, a member of the Armed Forces of the Union or a person incapable of cultivating land by reason of physical or mental infirmity.

Explanation.-In computing the period of twelve years, the period during which any land has been held under the same land-owner or his predecessor in title by the father, brother or son of the tenant shall be included.

(3) For the purpose of computing under Sub-section (1) and (2) the area of land under the personal cultivation of a tenant, any area of land owned by the tenant and under his personal cultivation shall be included.

3. It cannot, in view of the above noted provisions of law and the decision of this Court in Rikhi Ram and Anr. v. Ram Kumar and Ors. : AIR1975SC1869 be disputed that an order or decree directing eviction of a tenant is necessary to be obtained to bring about a determination of the tenancy. A fortiori, a person who has been in possession of land with the right to possess it continues to hold the land and to be a tenant in spite of having been wrongfully put out of possession specially if he has initiated proceedings for recovery of possession. As in the instant case, it has been concurrently found by all the courts below that the plaintiff-preemptor was a tenant of the suit land on the date of sale and it has not been alleged much less proved that his tenancy was thereafter determined or terminated on any of the grounds set out in Sections 7 and 7A of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955 and he had admittedly applied to the Tehsildar for restoration of his possession he cannot be deemed to be a tenant of the suit land on the date of the sale as well as on all other material dates and thus fully qualified & entitled to pre-empt the land. We must fairly state that our judgment is based on the provisions of law brought to our notice by counsel and our conclusion is confined to the interpretation of the Acts referred to above.

4. For the foregoing reasons, we do not find any merit in this appeal which is dismissed. In the circumstances of the case, we leave the parties to bear their own costs of this appeal.


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