Skip to content


Tikam Ram Vs. Mangtu and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 25 of 1968
Judge
Reported in6(1970)DLT421
ActsPunjab Preemption Act, 1913 - Sections 15(1) and 22
AppellantTikam Ram
RespondentMangtu and ors.
Advocates: K.D. Sood,; K.C. Sood and; H.S. Thakur, Advs
Cases ReferredBasawa Singh v. Sana Singh and
Excerpt:
property - pre-emption - sections 15 (1) and 22 of punjab preemption act, 1913 - matter pertaining to extent of right of pre-emption by tenants under section 15 (i) (c) (iv) - whether pre-emptor's right of substitution extends to whole of bargain as settled by vendor when his qualification to exercise that right extends only to portion of such property - pre-emptor not bound to claim whole when his right of pre-emption extends only to a part - due consideration to be given to extent of interest which tenant has in land sold that he seeks to pre-empt - in case tenant is tenant in respect of part of property sold though sale is by all co-sharers jointly his right to pre-empt will be limited only to part to which his tenancy extends - such tenant not entitled to pre-empt entire sale. - -.....hardayal hardy, j.(1) this is an appeal under clause 10 of the letters patent against the judgment of v. s. deshpande j. in a second appeal from decree passed by the senior subordinate judge, kangra at dharamsala, modifying the decree passed by the trial court in a suit for possession by pre-emption. (2) there is no dispute as to facts. smt. phulan devi and janki devi were the owners of land consisting of two fields bearing khasra nos. 622-min (measuring 1 bigha 9 biswas) and 662 min (measuring 4 bighas 10 biswas), the whole measuring 5 bighas 19 biswas. by a sale deed dated 20-9-1963, they sold two-thirds of the land to one teekam ram for rs. 1,000.00. mangtu alleging to be a tenant of a part of the field bearing khasra no. 662- min (measuring i bigha 9 biswas) to the extent of i bigha 7.....
Judgment:

Hardayal Hardy, J.

(1) This is an appeal under clause 10 of the Letters Patent against the judgment of V. S. Deshpande J. in a second appeal from decree passed by the Senior Subordinate Judge, Kangra at Dharamsala, modifying the decree passed by the trial Court in a suit for possession by pre-emption.

(2) There is no dispute as to facts. Smt. Phulan Devi and Janki Devi were the owners of land consisting of two fields bearing Khasra Nos. 622-Min (measuring 1 Bigha 9 Biswas) and 662 Min (measuring 4 Bighas 10 Biswas), the whole measuring 5 Bighas 19 Biswas. By a sale deed dated 20-9-1963, they sold two-thirds of the land to one Teekam Ram for Rs. 1,000.00. Mangtu alleging to be a tenant of a part of the field bearing Khasra No. 662- Min (measuring I Bigha 9 Biswas) to the extent of I Bigha 7 bids was only, field a suit for possession by pre-emption in respect of the entire land sold to Teekarn Ram. The trial Court decreed the suit. On appeal by Teekam Ram, the learned Senior Subordinate Judge modified the decree by limiting the pre-emption to two-thirds' share in the land measuring I Bigha 7 bids was out of Khasra No. 662-Min measuring I Bigha 9 bids was on payment of Rs. 260.00 which represents the proportionate sale price.

(3) Mangtu field a second appeal claiming that he was entitled to pre-empt the whole of the land sold to Teekam Ram. His claim has been allowed by the learned single Judge and the decision has led to the filing of the present appeal by Teekam Ram on a certificate granted by the learned Judge. The appeal thus involves a straight question regarding the extent of the right of pre-emption by tenants under clause fourthly or section 15(l)(c) of the Punjab Pre-emption Act, 1913, as amended by Punjab Act 10 of 1960. Section 15(l)reads:--

'THEright of pre-emption in respect of agricultural land and village immovable property shall vest- (a) where the sale is by a sole owner,- First, in the son or daughter or son's son or daughter's son of the vendor; Secondly, in the brother or brother's son of the vendor; Thirdly, in the father's brother or father's brother's son of the vendor; Fourthly, in the tenant who holds under tenancy of the vendor the land or property sold or a part thereof; (b) where the sale is of a share out of joint land or property and is not made by all the co-sharers jointly,- First, in the sons or daughters or son's sons or daughter's sons of the vendor or vendors. Secondly, in the brother's or brothers' sons of the vendor or vendors; Thirdly, in the father's brothers or father's brother's sons of the vendor or vendors; Fourthly, in the other co-sharers; Fifthly, in the tenants who hold under tenancy of the vendor or vendors the land or property sold or a part thereof; (c) where the sale is of land or property owned jointly or is made by all co-sharers jointly,- First, in the sons or daughters or sons' sons or daughter's sons of the vendors; Secondly, in the brothers or brother's sons of the vendors; Thirdly, in the father's brothers or father's brothers sons of the vendors; Fourthly, in the tenants who hold under tenancy of the vendors or any one of them the land or property sold or a part thereof.'

(4) Learned single Judge has held that the right of pre-emption in section 15(1) given in respect of the agricultural land and village immovable property as defined in clauses (1) and (2) of sections 3, is general. The right extends to the whole of the land and the whole of the property sold by the vendors and is not capable of being split into parts. The learned single Judge says :-

'ONa survey of the scheme of the Act and particularly the scheme of section 15(1), it would appear that the principle is that the pre-emptor must take the bargain of sale as a whole. Neither can he ask that the sale should be split nor can he be compelled to accept a pre-emption of only a part of the land sold.'

(5) The proposition of law enunciated by the learned Judge would in the first blush appear to have, not only the support of the reasons given by his Lordship but also the backing of Tek Chand J. of Lahore High Court. In Mohammad Shafi v. Allah Din and others A.I.R. 1934 Lah 429 , the case referred to by the learned single Judge, that eminent Judge sitting with Coldstream J. said:

'IThas been held in a long series of cases, decided by the Punjab Chief Court and this Court during the last 50 years, that for purposes of pre-emption a sale transaction is regarded as indivisible in those cases, where the purchase money is paid in lump sum without any specification of the amount paid by the various vendees, and the mere fact that the shares to be taken by the vendees respectively are specified in the sale deed does not alter the nature of the transaction, it being at most an arrangement among the purchasers inter se, which does not affect the vendor: see inter alias Murad v. Mine Khan 94 P.R. 1895, Kesar Singh v. Punjab Singh 66 P.R. 1896 , Achhru v. Labhu 48 P. R. 1907, Khota Ram v. Mauj Din 16 I.C. 979, Majhi v. Narain A.I.R. 1914 Lah 128, Yakub Khan v. Karman 66 I.C. 466 and Mt. Prabhi v. Hamira A.I.R. 1919 Lah 427 It was also said that the right of pre-emption is not a right of re-purchase either from the vendor or the vendee, but is one of substitution for the vendee in the original sale and the pre-emptor is not only entitled but bound to take over the bargain in its entirety. Both these observations were, however, made in a case where a sale was in favor of two vendees who were to take the property in equal shares but the sale was a single and indivisible transaction, and a suit for pre-emption in respect of it was dismissed. During the pendency of the appeal one of the vendees died but his legal representative was not brought on record within the prescribed time and the appeal abated as against him. The question before the Court was whether the plaintiff's suit must be dismissed as a whole, even though he had prayed in the appeal for possession of whole property on payment of full price and imp leaded both the vendees in the appeal. Relying upon the earlier decisions of the Punjab Chief Court and Lahore High Court in Khan Mahomed Shah v. Mahomed Jan 104 P.R. 1882 , Ram v. Rana 149 P.R. 1889 and Husain Bibi v. Hakim A.I.R. 1919 Lah 25, it was held that as 'the subject matter of a pre-emption suit, when the property sold is one and subject to the same right of pre-emption, being one and indivisible, and it being necessary that the suit should either be decreed as a whole or dismissed as a whole, it was not competent to the Court to decree a part of the claim as against some of the purchasers and dismiss the rest of the claim as against the other purchasers.'

(6) It may however be noticed that the observations with regard to indivisibility of the sale transaction and the liability of the preemptor to take the whole transaction are with reference to a case where the sale is to move than one vendee and the purchase money is paid in lump sum without! any specification of the 'amount paid by the various vendees or where the property sold is one and is subject to the same right of pre-emption. The case is, thereforee, really no authority for the wide proposition enunciated by the learned single Judge that in every case of pre-emption the preemptor must take the bargain of sale as a whole, he can neither 'ask that the sale should be split nor can he be compelled to accept a pre-emption of only a part of the land sold.

(7) There are numerous authorities on the other hand from early times which appear to us to be directly in point and in which a contrary view has been taken. Only a few of those authorities may be noticed. The case of Sardar Lall Singh v. Dewa Singh and another 107 P.R. 1882 is a Full Bench decision of the Punjab Chief Court. One of the questions referred to the Full Bench for decision was in these terms :-

'WHETHER,when, as in this case, the vendor, by one deed of sale has sold several separate properties, a plaintiff who may have a right of pre-emption in regard to one only of those properties, can sue to enforce it in regard to that one alone without suing to take over the whole bargain ?'

(8) The question arose under the Punjab Pre-emption Act Iv of 1872 the provisions of which, barring a few exceptions with which we are not concerned, are in pari materia with the provisions of Act I of 1913. While answering the question in the affirmative Plowden J. who delivered the judgment of the Full Bench observed:-

'THEprinciple that the pre-emptor is bound to take the whole of the bargain as settled by the vendor, is a principle which may be admitted to the extent that the pre-emptor cannot omit to claim any portion of the property comprised in the bargain to which his right of pre-emption extends, but it cannot consistently with the provisions of Act Iv of 1872, be held to oblige him to claim the whole of the property sold when his right of pre-emption extends over only a portion of such property.'

(9) In fact the proposition that the right of pre-emption is generally limited to the extent of the pre-emptor's right is too well established to admit of a challenge. What follows from this doctrine is that a pre-emptor is not bound to claim the whole when his right of pre-emption extends only to a part. In Moti Ram and others v. Bakhwant Singh and others 1967 Pun LR 1041, a Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had occasion to deal with the sale of land under Sub-clause secondly of clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 15 of Act I of 1913 as amended by Act 10 of 1960. The sale was made by joint owners Ind Kaur and her two sons Balkar Singh and Nachhatar Singh (born from Tarlok Singh) to Moti Ram and Rikhi Ram and was sought to be pre-empted by Bakhwant Singh and Mohinder Singh minor sons of Tarlok Singh through their mother Karam Kaur also a widow of Tarlok Singh. The preemptors claimed their rights both as co-sharers with the vendors in the Khatas of the land sold and as brothers of Balkar Singh and Nachhatar Singh. The trial Court found that .the pre-emptors were not entitled to succeed on the first ground as it had not been established that they were co-sharers in the disputed land. On the second ground however, the trial Court found in favor of the plaintiffs and it was held that though they were step brothers of A Balkar Singh and Nachhatar Singh they were nevertheless entitled to rank in parity with them under the relevant provisions of the Punjab Pre-emption Act. In the result, a decree was granted in favor of the pre-emptors in respect of two-thirds of the land sold on payment of the proportionate price of Rs. 3,200.00, it having been held that they could not pre-empt the share in Ind Kaur, not being her sons. Eventually the matter came before the High Court where D. K. Mahajan J. relying upon a judgment of Gurdev Singh J. in Nathi Singh v. Lakmi Chand (R.S.A. No. 1616 of 1962 decided on 20th March, 1962) which was subsequently affirmed in Latters Patent appeal by Dulat 'and R. P. Khosla JJ. in Jangli and others v. Lakhmi Chand and others 1965 Pun LR 919 decreed the suit in toto even with regard to the share of Ind Kaur on payment of Rs. 5,000.00.

(10) The view taken by the Letters Patent Bench in Jangli and others v. Lakmi Chand and others') is fully in accord with the view of the learned single Judge in the case before us. It was said in that case that 'the right which has been given to the sons under the Punjab Pre-emption Act is the right to pre-empt the - 'sale' and not a part of the sale. Thus, each of the sons of all the vendors would be entitled to sue for the recovery of possession of the entire property sold on the basis of his pre-emptive right.'

(11) Leave to appeal having been granted by Mahajan J., the case came up before the Letters Patent Bench consisting of Falshaw . C.J. and H. R. Khanna J. (as his Lordship then was). The Bench was doubtful about the correctness of the decision of Gurdev Singh J. in Nathi Singh's case as also of the Letters Patent Bench which affirmed it and thought that the matter required reconsideration. The case was accordingly referred to a Full Bench. Two other questions were also considered by the Full Bench consisting of Shamsher Bahadur, P. C. Pandit and P. D. Sharma JJ. but with those we are not concerned in this appeal.

(12) In the course of his judgment, Shamsher Bahadur J. who wrote the leading judgment in the case (P. C. Pandit and P. D. Sharma JJ. concurring) referred to several earlier decisions of the Punjab Chief Court and Lahore High Court including the case of Ram Rakha Mal v.Devi Das 89 P.R. 1905 decided by Chatterji and Johnstone JJ. in which it was held that 'where a bargain consisted of several distinct properties and the preemptor's right of purchase extended only to a portion of such bargain, the pre-emptor was not entitled to take the whole bargain but only that portion over which he had superior right.'

(13) The doctrine of indivisibility of the sale transaction which appears to have commended itself to the'learned single Judge and on which so much stress has been laid by the learned counsel for the respondent Mangtu before us, is also opposed to another decision of the Punjab Chief Court in Dulla v. Hari Kislan Doss 6 P.R. 1915 which is a judgment of Johnstone and Shadi Lal JJ. in which it was said : 'Where a sale, in respect of which a suit of pre-emption has been brought is by two vendors and indivisible from certain points of view inasmuch as it does not state the amount of purchase money paid to each vendor, the vendee is notwithstanding entitled to retain that part of the property sold in respect of which his rights are equal to that of the pre-emptor.' As was observed by Shamsher Bahadur J. the ratio decidendi of Dulla v. Hari Kistian Dass, has not been dissented from at any time. The conclusion reached in Dulla v. Hari Kishan Dass would not have been possible if the bargain of sale were to be treated as indivisible and thus inviolate from that point of view.

(14) The principle has also been recognized by the Lahore High Court in Ghalam Qadir and another v. Ditta and others 1945 P.L.R. 224 where a Full Bench of that Court consisting of Sir Travor Harries C.J. and Abdul Rashid and Abdur Rehman 17. said that' a pre-emptor must always claim the maximum to which he is entitled or has a superior right and his failure to do so would result in a dismissal of his claim on the ground that he was suing for partial pre-emption.

(15) After referring to the above cases and a few others, Shamsher Bahadur J. finally summed up the position and said that 'it seems to us that the decision in Jangli's case 1965 P.L.R. 919 being in conflict with settled principles is not correctly decided.'

(16) In his judgment the learned single Judge has referred to the decision in Kartar Singh and others v. Kirpal Singh as one of the cases on which reliance was placed on behalf of the vendee. It seems the full text of the judgment was not placed before the learned Judge and only a small extract from the judgment as reported in 1965 P.L.R. 64 (short note no. 123) was brought to his Lordship's notice. The decision, thereforee, does not appear to have received any particular attention. We have now had the advantage of seeing the full judgment of the Bench consisting of Falshaw C.J. and Harbans Singh J. The judgment was pronounced by the Bench on the same day i.e. 21st May, 1965 on which the decision of Dulat and R. P. Khosla JJ. of that Court in Jangli's case was delivered. It is. thereforee, clear that the learned Judges who were in one Division Bench were not aware of what the other Bench had decided. The view taken by the Bench deciding Kartar Singh's case is just the opposite of what was held in Jangli's case. As the decision has remained unreported, it is not noticed even by the Full Bench in Moti Ram and others v. Bakhwant Singh 'and others'). The case is directly in point as it deals with the construction of clause fourthly of section 15 (1) (a) of the Punjab Pre-emption Act which is in terms identical with section 15(l)(c) which we have to interpret in this appeal except that the sale under section 15(1)(a) is by a sole owner while that under section 15(1)(c) is by all the co-sharers jointly. In principle, however, there can be no difference between the two transactions. Harbans Lal, the original owner of the land. had sold in that case an area of 48 Kanals and 19 Marlas to Kartar Singh, Ram Rakha and Satnam Singh, defendant-appellants. The sale was sought to be preempted by Kirpal Singh, plaintiff-respondent, who claimed to be the tenant of an area of 38 Kanals and 10 Marias out of the land which was the subject matter of the sale. The Courts below decreed the suit for possession of the whole of tht land forming the subject matter of the sale. In second appeal which was referred to a Division Bench the decree in favor of the plaintiff-respondent was modified and he was granted a decree for possession of only 38 Kanal and 10 Marlas over which he held tenancy rights and not the entire suit-land, on payment of proportionate amount.

(17) As our own view of section 15 in so far as it is relevant for the decision of this appeal coincides with what was said in that case, we feel no apology is needed if we quote from the above judgment in extenso. It was there said :-

'SECTION15 only enumerates the persons in whom the right of pre-emption vests and does not deal with the question of the extent to which each of such persons shall have a right. Under clause (b) of subsection ( 1 ) of this section, where the sale is of a share out of joint land and is not made by all the co-sharers jointly, the right vests 'in the other co-sharers'. There can be a case where the vendor owns property in two or three Khatas and he has different co-sharers in these Khatas. If 'A' is a co-sharer in the first Khata, 'B' a co-sharer in the second Khata and 'C' a cosharer in the third Khata, then obviously 'A' being only a co-sharer in the first Khata can pre-empt the sale to the extent of that Khata and no more. Being a co-sharer in a part of the property sold he is qualified to pre-empt and can thereforee, bring a suit for preemption of sale, but he can pre-empt only to the extent of the Khata in which he is a co-sharer. It is well established that where there is a bargain of distinct properties, by a person having preferential rights only to a portion of such bargain, that does not give him a right of pre-emption as regards the other portions simultaneously sold. (See inter alias in this connectionP.R. 87 of 1895 P.R. 16 of 1905 and P.R. 112 of 1907). Similarly, i.f in a sale a vendor includes properties in different villages it will be fantastic to hold that simply because a tenant holds under tenancy of the vendor of some property situated in one village, which forms part of the sale, he would be either entitled to or is bound to pre-empt the whole sale. If the law is interpreted in the manner in which the Courts below have done, the result would be that the very object of the legislature to benefit the tenants and to give them security of tenure of the land held by them may be frustrated. A tenant may be holding tenancy, say over 20 Kanals of land, and the vendor sells 100 acres of land, including the 20 Kanals so held by the tenant; according to this view of the law the tenant would be bound to pre-empt the entire sale. because otherwise he will be non-suited on account of partial pre-emption. Obviously a tenant holding tenancy over such a small area would be incapable of finding finances to pre-empt the whole sale. Thus if the provision is interpreted in that manner, it may not necessarily, in all cases, work for the benefit of the tenant. Furthermore there may be 100 tenants over this area of 100 acres sold by the vendor. If everyone of the tenants is entitled to pre-empt only the land held by him, the matter will be quite simple. But to hold that everyone of these tenants must necessarily pre-empt the whole sale is likely to lead to fantastic results.'

(18) Finally the learned Judge, Harbans Singh J. who wrote the Judgment of the Bench, ended up by saying :-

'TAKINGinto consideration the object that was apparently in view of the legislature, viz., to afford security of tenancy to the tenants, and in view of the fact that it is well recognised that a person as of right can exercise his right of pre-emption only over that part of the property qua which he has a superior right of pre-emption. I have no hesitation in holding that the only proper inter-pretation of the clause in question is that although a tenant becomes qualified to bring a suit for pre-emption as soon as he can establish that he holds rights of tenancy over any portion of the land which forms part of the sale, his right to pre-empt extends only to the extent of the property over which he has the tenancy rights.'

(19) The same view of law has been uniformly held in Allahabad' High Court. In Mukund Sarup v. Sarvi Bagum (21.C 65 ) three villages were sold together by one sale. On a suit for preemption having been instituted by the plaintiffs, it was found that one of the plaintiffs had pre-emptive right in respect of only one of the villages and not in respect of the other two. The case was remanded to determine as to what part of the purchase price was attributable to the village in respect of which the plaintiffs had a superior right of pre-emption. Such an order could not have been made if the plaintiffs were bound to pre-empt the entire sale. Abhainandan Prasad v. Bhagwan Datt Pathak and another : AIR1925All765 ) is another case from Allahabad where Sulaiman J. held :-

'IFtwo properties are sold under a sale deed, one of which is capable of pre-emption and the other is not, and the property capable of pre-emption is pre-empted, the vendee cannot lose his rights in the property which was not capable of pre-emption. That property must be deemed to remain vested in the vendee. It is immaterial whether the plaintiff did pay the whole or only a part of the total sale consideration. It would have been open to the plaintiff to ask the Court to apportion the consideration and reduce the amount in view of the fact that part of the property sold was not being pre-empted; but if for some reason or other a pre-emptor omitted to do so, and submitted to a decree for pre-emption of a part of the property on payment of the whole amount, that could not destroy the rights of the vendee in the property which had not and could not have been pre-empted.'

(20) MT. Zainab Bibi v. Umar Hayat Khan and others : AIR1936All732 is yet another case from Allahabad where a Division Bench of that High Court took the same view. The judgment contains a reference to some of the earliest cases decided by that Court (see Oomur Khan v. Moorad Khan 1865 N.W.P. Rep (173) Salig Ram v. Devi Prasad 1875 7 N.W.P. H.C.R. 38 and Durga Prasad v. Munshi (1884-6 Allahabad 423) The observations in 6 Allahabad 423 are important and we, thereforee, take the liberty of quoting them in extenso. Mahmood J. with whom Brodhurst J. concurred, said:-

'EVERYsuit for pre-emption must include the whole of the property, subject to the plaintiff's preemption conveyed by one bargain of sale to one stranger; and a suit by a plaintiff, pre-emptor, which does not include within its scope the whole of such preemptional property, is unmaintainable as being inconsistent with the nature and essence of the preemptive right.'

and went on to add that there was a clear exception in the case where-

'UNDERone and the same deed of sale, property subject to pre-emption is sold along with other property not subject to the right, the plaintiff pre-emptor cannot, ex necessitate rei sue for the whole property conveyed by the sale; but only for so much as is subject to his pre-emptive right.'

(21) This rule was further reiterated in Mohindra Man Singh v, Maharaj Singh (A.I.R. 1923 Allahabad 48) where it was held that:-

'IT is the duty of the pre-emptor to claim preemption in respect of the whole of that part of the property sold as to which he has a right, failing which his whole claim must fail. If the vendee has included properties in which the plaintiff has no right to preempt, the pre-emptor is entitled to exclude them, but he must nevertheless claim pre-emption in respect of the whole of that part with regard to which he has the right.'

(22) All these cases were no doubt based on the customary law prevalent in the United Provinces which obviously owed its origin to the rules of Mohammedan Law; but the position remained unaltered even after the Agra Pre-emption Act of 1922 which, to a great extent, consolidated the old law, though in some respects it also amended the same. The case of Mt. Zainab Bibi to which we have already referred was a case under the Act of 1922.

(23) There is no material difference between the Agra Pre-emption Act of 1922 and the Punjab Pre-emption Act, 1913 in so far as their provisions relate to the nature and extent of the right of preemption. The decisions under the former Act can, thereforee, be read as useful guides for the purpose of interpreting the provisions of the latter Act and have been so read in several decided cases.

(24) Mr. Thakur learned counsel for the respondent laid great emphasis on the doctrine of pre-emptive right being a mere right of substitution and not a right of re-purchase and referred us to two ifull Bench decisions, one of Lahore High Court in Mt. Sant Kaur v. Teja Singh and others A.I.R. 1946 Lah 142 and the other of the East Punjab High Court in Wazir Ali Khan v. Zahir Ahmed Khan and others A.I.R. 1949 East Pun 193 . Both these cases deal with the effect of vendee transferring the property sought to be pre-empted to a person having a superior right of pre-emption. Neither of them has, thereforee, any direct bearing on the question before us. There is no denying the fact that the right of pre-emption is a right of substitution. The question, however, is whether the pre-emptor's right of substitution extends to the whole of the bargain as settled by the vendor when his qualification to exercise that right extends only to a portion of such property. On that point the cases cited by the learned counsel can throw no light and thereforee no help can be derived by him from them. Apart from authority, even on the construction of section 15 the learned single Judge does not appear to us to be right. The learned Judge is no doubt right when he says that the right of pre-emption is conferred by the opening words of section 15(1) viz. 'the right of pre-emption in respect of agricultural land and village immovable property shall vest.' He is also right when he says that the rest of the sub-section is divided into three clauses, each of which is divided into sub-clauses. The clauses refer to the nature of the sale and the manner in which and the persons by whom the sale may have been brought about while the sub-clauses describe the persons who are entitled to preempt. What he appears to us to have gone wrong, and we say so, with great respect, is when he says that since the other subclauses do not prescribe the quiifications of the persons who are entitled to pre-empt, and sub-clause fourthly of clause (a) and clause (c) which refers to tenants, also gives the qualifications of the tenants, a different meaning has to be given to that sub-clause and it has to be held that even a tenant of a part of the property is entitled to pre-empt the entire sale.

(25) It is one thing to say that a tenant who is entitled to pre-empt under sub-clause fourthly of clause (a) of section 15(1) may be a tenant of the vendor with respect to the whole of the land or property sold or with respect to only a part thereof but to say that thereby even a tenant of a part of the land or property sold shall be enitled to pre-empt the bargain relating to the sale of the entire land or property by the vendor is an entirely different thing. The same applies to sub-clause fourthly of clause (c). While the tenant of even one of the joint vendors who is a tenant of a part the land or property sold, is entitled to pre-empt, his right to pre-empt cannot extend to the sale of the entire land or property by the vendors but will be confined to the part to which his tenancy extends. The right of pre-emption on the ground of relationship cannot be equated with the right of pre-emption on the ground of holding a share in the property or holding tenancy rights over a part of it. In one case the relationship embraces the entire property of the vendor for it is personal to the owner of the property, while in the other case what clothes the co-sharer or the tenant with a preferential right is only qua a certain portion of the property. With regard to the claim for pre-emption based on relationship, however, no definite opinion need be expressed in this case as the question is not before us. It seems to us that in the case o fco-sharers and tenants what really matters is the extent of the interest which the tenant or a co-sharer has in the land or property sold that he seeks to pre-empt. If he is a tenant under all the co-sharers in respect of the property sold and the sale is by all of them-Jointly his right to pre-empt will extend to the whole of the subject matter of sale. On the other hand, if he is a tenant of only one of the co-sharers or is a tenant in respect of a part of the property sold, though the sale is by all the co-sharers jointly, his right to pre-empt will be limited only to the part to which his tenancy extends. He cannot pre-empt the entire sale.

(26) In fact the learned Judge himself concedes at one place that sub-clause fourthly is not concerned with defining in respect of which particular land or property the right of pre-emption arises.

(27) It only lays down the qualifications of the tenants who can exercise such right. For the extent 'and dimensions of that right thereforee we must look to the general principle of law and that principle is that the right is confined only to the part of the property to which the tenancy of the person who seeks to exercise that right extends, nothing more and nothing less. We also do not find anything in the scheme of the Act which should enable us to take a view different from the one we are inclined to take.

(28) We may here notice two arguments, one advanced by the counsel for the respondent and the other by the counsel for the appellant before we pass on to the other argument which appears to have weighed with the learned single Judge in arriving at the conclusion at which he did.

(29) It was urged by the learned counsel for the respondent that the right of pre-emption had been uniformly regarded as paratical and as an inhibition on the right of the person holding and disposing of his property. There was, thereforee, nothing inequitable and unjust if the legislature deliberately rendered the exercise of that right by the tenant difficult by making it compulsory for him to find the money required for pre-empting the entire transaction. We cannot inpute that intention to the legislature which for the first time in 19610 conferred on the tenants the right to pre-empt by amending section 15 of the Punjab Pre-emption Act, 1913 by Punjab Act 10 of 1960. As was said by Harbans Singh J. in Kartar Singh's case :

'THEgeneral agrarian policy followed by the welfare State is to provide security to the tiller of the soil. By enactment of the Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 (Punjab Act 10 of 1953), the circumstances under which a tenant can be ejected by the landlord have considerably been reduced. There is also provision made whereby an old tenant can, under certain circumstances, purchase the land under his continuous tenancy even against the wishes of the landlord. The new provision in the Pre-emption Act giving a right of pre-emption to a tenant, i.e. to pre-empt a sale, obviously is a step in the direction of providing him security.'

(30) Learned counsel for the appellant contended, on the other hand, that the primary object behind the law of pre-emption with regard to sale of agricultural land and village immovable property is to maintain the homogeneity of village communities and to prevent the induction of strangers. Take a case where the coL3HCD/70-3. sharers have land in various villages X, Y and Z which are under the tenancy of different tenants. A is a tenant of the joint vendors in village X. The co-sharers jointly sell the property in village Y to C. If A who is a tenant in village X can pre-empt the entire sale it will have the effect of introducing a stranger in village Y and thus disturb the homogeneity of the village community in that village. The argument may sound strange in the context of present day conditions 'but is not entirely lacking in substance.

(31) Learned Judge has next referred to the provisions of sections 22 and 25 of the Act in support of his argument regarding indivisibility of the bargain. Under section 22, the plaintiff is called upon to deposit initially one-fifth of the probable value of the land or property sold which according to the learned Judge means the value as a whole and not of a part of the land or property. Likewise, he says that under section 25, the Court has to determine the price of the land sold as a whole. According to him, there is no provision in the Act authorizing the Court to split the right of pre-emption and to determine the value of only a part of the land sold by granting only partial pre-emption with respect to a part of the land.

(32) The argument does not appear to us to be well-founded. What section 22 lays down is not that the Court should require the plaintiff to deposit one-fifth of the value of the land or property sold as entered in the deed. It is the probable value of the land or property. The actual amount which the plaintiff is bound to pay at the conclusion of the suit is the market value of the land or property and that has to be determined in the manner laid down in section 27. If only a portion of the entire area sold is pre-emptible, then it is apparent that the Court will calculate the probable value of that portiom and require the plaintiff to deposit a sum not exceeding one-fifth of that value. There is no reason to suppose that what the Court can do in the end and cannot be done by it in the beginning, when the question is only of deter- mining the probable and not the actual value of the land or pro- perty sold. Section 25 which gives power to the Court to deter- mine the market price of the land or property if the parties are not agreed as to the price at which the pre-emptor shall exercise his right of pre-emption nowhere lays down that the price of the whole of the land or property has to be fixed. In Talib Hussain and others v. UttamChand and others (A.I.R. 1929 Lahore 140) () it was held by Jai Lal J. that-

'IFa portion of the entire area sold is pre-emptible, then it is the real market value of that portion that is to be determined, and it is not fair to work out the value of the portion according to the total price paid for the -whole area.'

(33) The object of section 22 is not to determine the real value of the property at the very commencement of the action. It is only to test the bona fides of the pre-emptor and to prevent frivolous and vaxatious proceedings, for the Court may require the plaintiff to give security only for the payment of the amount instead of asking him to deposit cash.

(34) The ultimate power of the Court to split the sale and determine the price which the pre-emptor has to pay for the portion of the property which alone is pre-emptible has never been in doubt. Reference my be made in this connection to a Division Bench judgment of the Punjab High Court (Falshaw C.J. and H. R. Khanna J.) in Basawa Singh v. Sana Singh and another 1966 Pun lr 128. The judgment is by H. R. Khanna J. (as his Lordship then was). His Lordship said that 'where a vendee has included in the sale deed some property in respect of which the plaintiff pre-emptor has no right of pre-emption and some other in respect of which he has such a right and the Court passes, a decree regarding property about which the plaintiff has a right of pre-emption, it would not be in consonance with principles of justice and equity to burden the plaintiff with payment of the full sale price, including the price for the portion of the property in respect of which his suit is being dismissed.'

(35) For the reasons given above, we are of the view that the plaintiff-respondent is entitled to a decree for possession by pre-emption . of two-thirds share in the land measuring 1Bigha 7 bids was (i.e. 18 biswas) out of land measuring I Bigha 9 bids was comprised in Khasra No. 662-Min (which is under the tenancy of the plaintiff), on payment of the amount which represents the market value of that portion of the land and that appellant is entitled to retain the rest of the property sold to him by the lant is entitled to retain the rest of the property sold to him by the vendors. The learned Senior Subordinate Judge has fixed the value of that portion at Rs. 260.00. He has done so by dividing the total value of the land sold between the portion which the appellant has been allowed to retain and the portion for which a decree has been passed in favor of the respondent. This is not correct. We, thereforee, remand the case under Order 41, Rule 25 of the Code of Civil Procedure to the trial Court with a direction to find out the market value of 18 bids was of land out of land measuring I Bigha 9 bids was comprised in Khasra No. 662-Min (which is under the tenancy of the plaintiff-respondent). The trial Court's report should be submitted within three months from to-day. The parties are directed toappear in the trial Court on 16-7-1970.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //