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Sundri Bai and ors. Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 618-D of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1974Delhi181
ActsDisplaced Persons (compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 - Sections 33, 34 and 40; Displaced Persons (compensation and Rehabilitation) Rules - Rule 7
AppellantSundri Bai and ors.
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Appellant Advocate S.K. Taneia, Adv
Respondent Advocate J.L. Kalra, Adv.
Cases ReferredSee Labh Singh v. Union of India
Excerpt:
.....price of the government built quarter - the quarter was allotted to a person who had a verified claim against the government for an amount less than the price of the quarter - it was held that such an adjustment was valid under rule 7 of section 40 of the act b) the case debated on the revision power of the joint secretary to government of india under the displaced persons (compensation and rehabilitation) act, 1954 while he was also a chief settlement officer - it was held that he had the powers to revise the decisions of a lower officer, who was delegated with the powers of chief settlement officer while taking the decision c) the case debated on the validity of section 33 of the displaced persons (compensation and rehabilitation) act, 1954 - it was held that the revision powers..........widow smt. suridri bai lodged a claim that she was entitled to three-fourths share of the verified claim of daulat ram and as such the said three-fourths share in the property in dispute be transferred to her. the other so is of daulat ram, namely, petitioners nos. 2 and 3 herein filed affidavits relinquishing their share of the verified claim in favor of their mother who is petitioner herein. this claim of the widow was accepted by the settlement officer-cum-managing officer on 10th august, 1964. apparently it was decided without an opportunity to the contesting respondent who, thereupon, filed an appeal which was allowed by order dated 23rd november, 1964 and the case was remanded to the settlement officer-cum-managine officer for redecision on merits after giving an opportunitv of.....
Judgment:

B.C. Misra, J.

1. One Daulat Ram who had died on 26th August, 1961 (the date given in the impugned order as 13th January, 1961 is admitted by the counsel for the parties to be incorrect) left behind him a widow and three sons. The widow and two of the sons are Petitioners in this writ petition while the other son Jarnman Lal is respondent No. 3. The other respondents 1 and 2 in the writ petition are the Union of India and the Chief Settlement Commissioner.

2. The writ petition is directed against the order of the Central Government dated 21st December, 1965 passed under Section 33 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act 44 of 1954 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) dismissing the revision against the order of Shri Rajni Kant, Authorised Chief Settlement commissioner dated 27th October, 1965 by which he dismissed the revision and maintained the appellate order of the authorised Settlement Commissioner dated 31st July, 1965. The result was maintenance of the order of the Managing Officer dated 24th March, 1965, finally ordering transfer of the property in dispute to Jaman Lal, the third respondent who is the contesting respondent in the case.

3. The material facts of the case briefly stated are that the property in dispute consists of a Government built quarter bearing No. B/21, Vijay Nagar in Kingsway Camp, Delhi. Its value has been determined to be Rs, 8,362. This quarter was allotted to the contesting respondent by order dated 25th June, 1950/1st July, 1950 by the Accommodation Officer (Annexure 'A'). The allotment is in favor of the contesting respondent while in the column for his relations, the names of the three petitioners as well Daulat Ram deceased are specified. Eventually this quarter was sought to be transferred to the contesting respondent. Daulat Ram deceased had a verified claim to the extent of Rs. 3,737. This claim was utilised in payment of the price of the quarter. Besides the said claim, the contesting respondent paid the balance of the price either in cash or by associating the claims of other persons and it was decided to transfer the same in his favor. It, appears that during his lifetime, Daulat Ram wrote a letter dated 27th March, 1958 to the Rehabilitation Authorities consenting to the adjustment of the Price of the said quarter from his verified claim mentioned above.

4. After the death of Daulat Ram, his widow Smt. Suridri Bai lodged a claim that she was entitled to three-fourths share of the verified claim of Daulat Ram and as such the said three-fourths share in the property in dispute be transferred to her. The other so is of Daulat Ram, namely, petitioners Nos. 2 and 3 herein filed affidavits relinquishing their share of the verified claim in favor of their mother who is petitioner herein. This claim of the widow was accepted by the Settlement Officer-cum-Managing Officer on 10th August, 1964. Apparently it was decided without an opportunity to the contesting respondent who, thereupon, filed an appeal which was allowed by order dated 23rd November, 1964 and the case was remanded to the Settlement Officer-cum-Managine Officer for redecision on merits after giving an opportunitv of hearine to both the parties. After remand, the Settlement Officer-cum-Managing Officer rejected the claim of the first petitioner herein by order dated 24th March. 1965 mentioned above, This is the order which has been affirmed on appeal as well as revision finally.

5. The main ground which prevailed with the authorities and which may be noticed from the order of the authorised Chief Settlement Commissioner is that the contesting respondent herein was the only allottee recognised by the department and that merely on the ground that a part of the price of the property had been paid out of the compensation of Daulat Ram, could not have entitled him to obtain transfer of the property. Reliance was placed on the letter dated 27th March, 1958 written by Daulat Ram in which he had stated that he had no objection if the value of the quarter fixed by the Government was deducted from the compensation payable to him. The authorised Chief Settlement Commissioner further held that the amount of compensation payable to Daulat Ram had been utilised in the purchase of the property under Rule 7 framed under the Act and not by way of as sociation. He, thereforee, held that the property had to be transferred to the contesting respondent.

6. Feeling aggrieved, the petitioners have filed the writ petition and during the pendency of the writ petition, an order had been passed by this Court on 12th September, 1966 directing maintenance of the status quo regarding possession and staying transfer of the property in favor of the third respondent until further orders. That stay has continued till now.

7. The petitioners have in the writ petition stated the salient facts of the case as mentioned above and have challenged the impugned orders on the ground that the statutory Rule 7 does not apply to the adjustment of the claim of a displaced person in the facts and circumstances of the case. The other ground is that Shri G. D.Kshetrapal, Joint Secretary to the Government of India, who had decided the revision finally or 21st December, 1965, was also the Chief Settlement Commissioner and so he could not sit in revision over his own order. The counsel has also urged that Section 33 of the Act is void since it confers arbitrary and unbridled powers on the Central Government in exercise of revisional jurisdiction. The last contention is that petitioner No. 1 be held entitled to a share in the property in dispute and its transfer to the extent of three-fourths share, and they have prayed for the quashing of the impugned orders mentioned above.

8. The departmental authorities have not entered appearance to contest the writ petition. On the other hand, the Settlement Officer (Judicial) has filed a letter to the effect that the department is not interested to contest the writ petition. The contest has, however, been raised by the third respondent who has filed a counter-affidavit in reply in which he has maintained that the impugned orders are legally correct and the writ petition should be dismissed. The basic facts mentioned above are not in dispute.

9. The counsel for the petitioners has raised the following contentions: -

1.The statutory Rule 7 framed under the Act does not apply to the adjustment of the price of the property purchased in the instant case.

2. Shri G. D. Kshetrapal, Joint Secretary, was*also the Chief Settlement Commissioner and so was purporting to revise his own order and so had no jurisdiction to exercise the powers of the Central Government under Section 33 of the Act.

3. The powers of revision conferred on the Central Government under Section 33 are unfettered and unguided and so the impugned order is legally bad.

4. The adjustment of the claim of Daulat Ram deceased passed on to him a right and interest in the property, which is heritable by all his legal representatives, including the petitioners.

10. A 'resume' of the facts shows that the claim of Daulat Ram deceased had not been associated in the purahase of the property and so it could not be said that he had joined in the purchase or was entitled to any share or interest in the property. The rehabilitation authorities have noticed that Daulat Ram during his lifetime, by a letter mentioned in the orders had agreed for the utilization of the claim in payment of the price of the property. The adjustment had, thereforee, been made by the authorities under Rule 7 and not under Rule 90 (15) as amended. The material portion of clause (d) (iii) of Section 2 of the Act defines public dues as including the amount of purchase money or any part thereof and any interest on such amount or part remaining unpaid and recoverable from the displaced person on account of transfer to him of any property or interest therein. The relevant portion of Rule 7 framed under the Act lays down that the Settlement Commissioner would ascertain the public dues recoverable from, the applicant and the members of his family a-ad the same shall, after enquiry under another statutory rule, be recoverable. Under Rule 7, public dues of the nature of unpaid Installments on account of any property purchased on Installment basis as well as any other dues payable to the Central Government or the State Government or the Custodian, which may be declared as public dues, shall be payable. Sub-rule (3) gives the definition of members of the family as including the father residing with the applicant. There is a proviso to sub-rule (3) which does not apply to the facts of the case and so we are not concerned with it. A perusal of the said provisions leaves no room for 4oubt that money was payable by the, contestiid-align: none;punctuation-wrap:simple;text-autospace:none'>10. A 'resume' of the facts shows that the claim of Daulat Ram deceased had not been associated in the purahase of the property and so it could not be said that he had joined in the purchase or was entitled to any share or interest in the property. The rehabilitation authorities have noticed that Daulat Ram during his lifetime, by a letter mentioned in the orders had agreed for the utilization of the claim in payment of the price of the property. The adjustment had, thereforee, been made by the authorities under Rule 7 and not under Rule 90 (15) as amended. The material portion of clause (d) (iii) of Section 2 of the Act defines public dues as including the amount of purchase money or any part thereof and any interest on such amount or part remaining unpaid and recoverable from the displaced person on account of transfer to him of any property or interest therein. The relevant portion of Rule 7 framed under the Act lays down that the Settlement Commissioner would ascertain the public dues recoverable from, the applicant and the members of his family a-ad the same shall, after enquiry under another statutory rule, be recoverable. Under Rule 7, public dues of the nature of unpaid Installments on account of any property purchased on Installment basis as well as any other dues payable to the Central Government or the State Government or the Custodian, which may be declared as public dues, shall be payable. Sub-rule (3) gives the definition of members of the family as including the father residing with the applicant. There is a proviso to sub-rule (3) which does not apply to the facts of the case and so we are not concerned with it. A perusal of the said provisions leaves no room for 4oubt that money was payable by the, contestied in the notification, Subsection (2) authorises conferment of powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner, on lower -authorities. The Central Government, thereforee, had power to delegate its powers of revision exercisable under Section 33 of the Act on its Joint -Secretary who may or may not be occupying the office of the Chief Settlement Commissioner. There is, thereforee, nothing wrong with the delegation of the powers. See Labh Singh v. Union of India, 0043/1970 : AIR1970Delhi171 . The argument that he was exercising the revisional powers in respect of his own orders is simply misconceived. The order dated 27october, 1965 had been passed by Mr.Rajni Kant who was not the Chief Settlement Commissioner but was a lower authority on whom again powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner had been conferred under Section 34 of the Act and so he was the authorised Chief Settlement Commissioner. As such the authorities which passed the aforesaid order in the first instance as well as the revisional order of the Central Government dated 21st December, 1965 were different. Consequently no prejudice whatsoever has been caused to the petitioners by the impugned order and the contention is rejected.

12. So far as the third contention is concerned, the provision of law contained in Section 33 of the Act lays down that the Central Government may at any time call for the record of any proceeding under this Act and may pass such order in relation thereto as in its opinion the circumstances of the case require and as is not inconsistent with any of the provisions contained in this Act or the rules made there under. We have in this Act almost similar revisional power conferred upon the Chief Settlement Commissioner under Section 24 of the Act. It is obvious that the exercise of revisional powers over the orders and actions of the subordinate authorities is vested in very high officers or authorities and in the very nature of things, the exercise of such power must be left to the discretion of the authorities exercising such power subject to the condition that it should be exercised according to the provisions of law and the principles of natural justice. No further restriction or fetter on the exercise of revisional powers is really called for. Moreover the guidance needed for exercise of such power is furnished by the provisions of the statute and the statutory rules themselves. Not leaving the matter to chance, the Parliament in enacting Section 33 has made explicit what was implicit that the Central Government will not act inconsitently with the provisions of the Act or the statutory rules made there under and it will exercise its revisional power to pass such orders in relation to the matter as the circumstances of the case may require. I am of the view that this is not a case of excess delegation of power. The contention has no force and is rejected.

13. The last contention of the learned counsel is devoid of any merit. As is obvious from the earlier part of the judgment, Daulat Ram deceased had not associated himself in the purchase of the property and he never claimed any right, title or interest in it during his lifetime which expired on 26th August, 1961, although the property had been allotted on 25th June, 1950 and had been agreed to be transferred in July 1951. Moreover the letter of the deceased dated 27th March, 1958, on which the rehabilitation authorities have relied and in respect of which the counsel for the petitioners has not raised any contention. Has clinched the issue againist the petitioners and establishes that the deceased never claimed any right or interest in the property but allowed his claim to be utilised in the conveyance of the property in favor of the third respondent who was his son. Another significant fact is that apart from the association of the said claim, the balance of the price had all been paid by the third respondent either in cash or by associating other claims and at no stage did Daulat Ram deceased or the petitioners legal representatives either offered or attempted to pay any part of the -price themselves. Moreover it was the third respondent only who had been recognised as an allottee and transferee of the property in dispute. I am, thereforee, unable to, accept the contention that Daulat Ram deceased or for that matter his legal representatives petitioners had acquired any right, title or interest in the property in dispute. The contention, thereforee, fails.

14. As a result, I do not find any substance in the writ petition and dismiss the same, but in the circumstances of the case, the parties will bear their respective costs.

15. Petition dismissed.


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