V.S. Deshpande, J.
(1) This appeal relates to the construettion of the word 'person' used in sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961 (hereinafter called the 196l Act).
(2) The writ petition was filed by the appellant alleging that the suit land in khasra No. 284 had belonged to respondent No 8 Madan Lal by virtue of a sale dated l4th November,IS53 executed by one Shrimati Murtoo. On the 4th March 1955, by virtue of Section 3 of the Pepsn Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1954 (hereinafter called the 1954 Act), the said land became vested in the Gram Panchavat respondent No.2, as being incinded in Sharniiat Deh of the village. Subsequentiy. however, the definition of Shamilat Deh was changed by the 1961 Act which repealed the 1954 Act with the result that the suit land ceased to be Shamilat Deh. Sub-section (2) of Section 3, which provided for the disposal of such land, is reproduced below:-
'(2)Ntowithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) or section 4, where any land has vested in a panchayat under the shami' lat law but such land has been excluded from shamitat deh as defined in clause (g) of section 2,all rights, title and interest of the panchayat in such land shall as from the Commencent of this Act, cease and such rights, title and interest shall be revested in the person or persons in whom they vested immediately before the commencement of the shamilat law and the panchayat shall deliver possession of such land to such person or presons: Provided that where a panchayat is anable to deliver possession of any such land on account of its having been sold or utilised for any of its purposes, the rights,title and interest of the panchyat in such land shall nto so cease but the panchayat shall, ntowithstanding anything contained in section 10. pay to the person or persons entitled to such land compensation to bs determined in accordance with such principles and in such manner as may be prescribed.'
(3) In accordance with the above provision of law, respondent No.3 Madan Lal was the person in whom the right, title and interest in the suit land, which was since then given the khasra No. 284/1, revested in as much as the same had vested in him immediatly before the commencement of 'Shamilat Law', which in this connection meant the 1954 Act, as per the definition of 'Shamilat Law' in Section 2(h) (ii) of the 1961 Act. On 4th March, 1957, Madan Lal is alleged by the petitioner to have sold the suit land to her and her husband even though prior to that date in pursuance of the 1954 Act. the suit land had already vested in the Gram Panchayat, respondent No. 2. thereforee, when the suit land ceased to be a part of Shamilat Deh because of the enactment of the 1961 Act and the title to it under Section 3(2) thereof revested in the person in whom the title had vested immediately before the commencement of the 1954 Act, the question which arose for consideration was whether the title could be said to have revested in Madan Lal or the petitioner or any oie else or in no one. The learned single Judge in the judgment under appeal construed the word 'person' in Section 3(2) of the Act to mean only Madan Lal in as much as be alone was the owner of the land prior to the commencement of Shamilat law. According to the learned Judge, thereforee, the Panchayat was bound to return the possession of the suit land to Madan Lal alone. There was no obligation on the Panchayat to deliver possession of the suit land to the petitioner and no writ or direction could, thereforee, he issued to the Panchayat directing it to do so.
(4) Learned counsel for the appellant contended before us that the word 'person' in Section 3(2) of the 1961 Act must include the successors in title of Madau Lal on the date on which the said Act came iito force. If the word 'person' is narrowly construed to restrict it only to the person who actually held the land prior to the commencement of Shamilat Law, then such construction would lead to absurdity. For instance, the person in whom the land had vested immediately prior to the commsncement of Shamilat Law may be dead on the date of the commencement of the 1661 Act. The constroction adopted by the learned single Judge would lead to the conclusion that the land would nto revest in anyone since the only person in whom it could revest had died. It is well-known that ownership of land is heritable and transferable. The death of the owner does nto cause a vaccume in the title to the land. The construction which appealed to the learned single Judge would, however,lead to such a vaccume in the title in as much as the land would nto vest in anyone if the owner had either died or had transferred the land to someone else prior to the commencement of the 1961 Act. It is an elementary principle of construction of statutes that a construction which leads to such an absurdity should nto be adopted and we are nto, thereforee, presuaded to adopt it. We may also refer, in this connection to the provisions of Section 37 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 according to which, promises bind the representatives of the promiser in case of the death of such promiser before performance unless a contrary intention appears from the contract. It is also well-known that the rights under a contract can be assigned and thereupon the assignee becomes enittled to the rights of the assignor. The principle underlying Section 4 of the Transfer of Property Act is that the principles of the law of contracts should apply in so far as it is necessary to the transfers of immoveable property. It would appear, thereforee, that if, as the petitioner contends, the right, title and interest of Madan Lal in the suit land has been transfened by Madan Lal to the petitioner, then it was the petitioner in whom the said right, title and interest revested on the commencement of the 1961 Act in as much as she was the successor in title of Madan Lal.
(5) It may be also mentioned that Section 18 of the General Classes Act lays down that in any Central Act, it shall be sufficient, for the purpose of indicating the relationship of a law to the successors of any functionaries, to express its relation to the functionaries. That is to say, when a functionary is mentioned in a statute, it would include the successors of such a functionary. We see no reason why by way of anology such a principle should nto apply to the 'person' in Section 3(2) of the 1931 Act.
(6) The learned single Judge further observed that if the petitioner bad acquired any right to the suit land, it was open to her to take such steps as the law of the land permits her to take. If the learned Judge thereby meant that the petitioner should pursue her remedies in a civil Court, we would like to point out that Section 13 of that 1961 Act bars Jurisdiction of the civil Court over any matter arising out of the operation of the said Act. The attention of the learned single Judge doss nto seem to have been invited to this provision and, thereforee, there is ntohing to show that it was taken into account by him before arriving at tb3 conclusion that he did.
(7) Learned counsel for the respondents argued that Madan Lal, who is alleged to have transferred the suit land to the petitioner him self, had no title to the suit land on 4th March, 1957 in as much as the said land had vested in the Gram Panchayat on the commsncement of the 1954 Act. In our view, this lack of title on the part of Madan Lal does nto invalidate the transfer by him in favor of the petitioner in view of the principle embodied in S. 43, Transfer of Property called in English law as 'equity feeding the estoppel'. The transfer of the suit land by Madan Lal to the pstitioaer on 4th March, 1957 is covered by the said principle in as much as Madan Lal must have represented that he was authorised to transfer the land to the petitioner. Such a representation would be either fraudalent or erroneous in view of the legal position that the said land had already vested in the Gram Panchayat prior to 4th March, 1957. thereforee, when on the commencement of the 1961 Act when the transfer in favor of the petitioner was still subsisting, the title to the suit land revested in Madan Lal. the petitioner would be entitled to the same title in view of the transfer made by Madan Lal in favor of the petitioner.
(8) The learned single Judge dismissed the wiit petition on the preliminary ground that the revesting of the title to the suit land on the commancement of the 1961 Act could nto bs in the petitioner as she was nto the original owner of the land but only an alleged successor in title. He did nto decide any toher point. In view of the fact that we have construed the word 'person' in Section 3(2) of the 1961 Act to include a successor in title, we are constrained to hold that the writ petition could nto have been dismissed on this preliminary ground.
(9) We, thereforee, allow the appeal and remand the case for consideration of all toher issues by a learned single Judge of this Court and direct that the parties to appear before him on the 15th October, 1968 for final hearing and that the case be listed for the said date accordingly. As the merits of the writ petition-are yet to he tried, we order that the costs of this appeal shall abide the event.