(1) This is an appeal by two minor land-owners (Maesh Chander and Mohinder Kumar) against an order dated August 14, 1967 of the District Judge, Mandi, unholding the orders dated November 9, 1966 or the Compensation Officer who refused to give to the appellants the benefit of sub-section (2) of Section 11 of the Himachal Pradesh Abolition of Big Landed Estates and Land Reforms Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act) and allowed the application of the respondents-tenants for the grant of proprietary rights in the land held by them as tenants under the said land-owners.
(2) The land originally belonged to one Shri Parma Nand the grand-father of the appellants. On August 24, 1963 he made a gift of the same in favor of the minor appellants each of whom is a son of one of his two sons. On October 16, 1963 an application was made against Shri Parma Nand by the respondents-tenants for the grant of proprietary rights in the land in dispute. On Shri Parma Nand raising an objection that he had already gifted the land in favor of the appellants, the latter were brought on record as the land-owners. The Compensation Officer by his order dated June 26, 1967 held that the appellants were not entitled to the benefit of sub-sect ion (2) of Section 11 of the said Act as he did not agree that the minors have no other means of livelihood. He, thereforee, granted the proprietary rights in the land in favor of the tenants. On appeal the learned District Judge. Mandi, upheld the order of the Compensation Officer and dismissed the appeal. The minor-landowners have, thereforee, come up to this Court in this Miscellaneous Second Appeal.
(3) Mr. K. C. Sud, the learned counsel for the appsllants, his confined his arguments on the question of the eligibility of the minor appellants to the benefit of sub-section (2) of Section 11 of the Act. Sub-section (1) of Ssction 11 of the Act provides that a tenant after the commencement of the Act is entitled on application to acquire on payment of compensation the right, title and interest of the land-owner in the land of the tenancy held by him under the land-owner Sub-section (2) of the said Section reads as under :-
11.(2)Nothing contained in sub-section (I) shall apply to a landlord, if he has no other means of livelihood and is a minor, widow or a person suffering from physical or mental disability incapable of earning his livelihood. In the case of a minor, subsection (1) shall not apply during his minority and in other cases for his life time. This being the case of minors, the only relevant requirement to earn exemption from sub-section (1) of Section 11 of the Act is that they have no other means of livelihood.
(4) According to the learned District Judge the minor-appsllants belong to a well-to-do family consisting of the grand-father of the minor appellants, his two sons, each being the father of one of the appellants and their children. The grand-father is a ratired Revenus Officer. The family owns 73 Big has of land out of which 30 Big has is under personal cultivation. The minors are living with their parents along with other family members and are maintained by them. The family is not an agricultural family and has income from business. It was under these circumstances that the learned District Judge held that the tenants are entitled to the grant of the proprietary rights in the land under the Act and that the minor-appellants are not entitled to the benefit of sub-section (2) of Section Ii of the said Act.
(5) Mr. K. C. Sud contends that in this case evidence has been lei to show that the minors have no other source of livelihood, except the income from the land in dispule. The income of the grand-father or of the father according to him should not have been- taken into consideration, more specially as according to the facts proved on record the said income is hardly sufficient to maintain the other fam4y msmbers According to him, thereforee, the findings of the learned District Judge are not justified.
(6) The main question which falls for consideration is the meaning of the expression 'means of livelihood'. The ordinary significance of the word 'mean' is midway between two extremes. In the Webster's New International Dictionary resource, property, revenue or the like are considered as the means of livelihood. In reference to Section 488 of the Code of Criminal Procedure this expression has been held not to signify only visible means, such as real property or definite employ mont. If a man is healthy and able-bodied he must b3 taken to have the means to support his wife A.I. R. 1926 Mad 316 In A.T.R. 1934 All 396 the Court was considering an application for permission to sue as a pauper. The Court held that the share in the joint family property is to he included in the expression 'means'. The same proposition was held to hold good in respect of a minor members of a joint family. In its general sense all resources from which the necessaries and comforts of life are or may be supplied would be covered by the expression 'means of - livelihood'. The expression -paeans' has no relation to its source. In Air 1929 Lah 821 the expression means was taken, in this general sense, to include a mortgage in the petitioner's favor where the question was whether the petitioner was possessed of sufficient means, in order to decide his application for permission to sue as a pauper. In Mohan Lal v. Mahun Ram it was observed:-
'BUTthe statutory right of the minor under S. 20 Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, to be maintained by the father, cannot, invariably, be regarded as the means of the minor. It is not difficult to visualize a case where a father refuses, or neglects, to maintain his miror child will be unjust and inquitable, in such a case, to regard the legal right of the minor to be maintained as his means. But in a case where a minor is being actually maintained by his father, his statutory right to bs maintained may be taken into consideration, when ascertaining his means. The property of the father cannot be regarded as the means of the minor. It has, however, to be taken into account, in a case, where the legal rights of the minor to be maintained consitutes his means'.
(7) The judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court in MohanLal v. Mohuan Ram-, but the question whether the statutory right of maintenance of a minor can or cannot be treated as a means of livelihood was left open.
(8) This discussion will show that the expression 'means of livelihood' is not capable of any rigid interpretation. Decision in each case will depend on its own facts and circumstances. Means of livelihood do not necessarily mean personal or earned income alone. A child may have no property or income of his own and may be supported by his parents. In such a case, the support from his parents would be his means of livelihood. It would not cease to be so, if he has other means also. Every child may not be so lucky. If his parents are not alive, income from his land, if he has any, may be his only source of livelihood. A child of poor parents may have income from some land, which may be gifted to him by a stranger. That income may be his only source of livelihood.
(9) The present is not a case where the parents have refused to support the appellants or are incapable of maintaining them. On the other hand, it is amply proved by evidence on record that the appellants are living and are being maintained by their parents The father of appellant No. 1 is a brother of the father of appellant No. 2 Both these brothers with their father Parma Nand are living together along with their children. The two appellants are living as members of the same Family which is stated .to be ajoint family. The grandfather, namely, Parma Nand who lives with his family his a self-cultivated piece of land measuring about 30 Bighas. The family is also receiving 40 maunds of wheat and 100 to 150 maunds of rice from another land situated at Rewalsar. The two brothers also own a truck said to have been financed partly by a Finance Company. Its income has not been disclosed. They also run a Printing Press, which according to the statement of one of the brothers, is yielding an .income from Rs-1,200.00 to Rs.1,500.00 per annum. He has admitted that accounts are being maintained. But the same have not been produced. The grand-father is stated to be the owner of some other land in Village Baggi also. The resourcess of the grand-father can not be ignored, especially if his gift of the land in dispute in favor of the appellants is attributed to his attachment towards them. On being asked in cross-examination the fathtr of Mahesh Chander appellant slated that he was unable to give the figure of the total income or the total expenditure of the family. Under these circumstances the appellants have failed to show that the observations of the learned District Judge to the effect that the appellants belong to a wellto-do family having substantial income, are incorrect. lf the faily has sufficient income and the appellants are being maintained by their parents, it is difficult to hold that they have no means of livelihood apart from the land in dispute. I, thereforee, find no merit in this appeal andthe?ameisdii-inissed. In the circumstances, however, the parties are left to bear their own costs.