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Dharam Chand Vs. Union of India, Ministry of Rehabilitation and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal No. 46D of 1956
Judge
Reported in9(1973)DLT451
ActsDisplaced Persons (Claims) Supplementary Act, 1954 - Sections 5; Displaced Persons (Claims) Act, 1950 - Sections 6; Displaced Persons (Verification of Claims) Supplementry Rules, 1954 - Rule 3
AppellantDharam Chand
RespondentUnion of India, Ministry of Rehabilitation and anr.
Advocates: R.C. Sawhney,; R.K. Aggaral and; Mehra, Advs
Cases ReferredState of U. P. v. Mohammad Nooh
Excerpt:
.....conferred upon him. wason, additional settlement commissioner had been delegated the powers of the chief settlement commissioner under sub-section (2) of section 10 of the act but inspire of his best efforts he has not been able to produce any such order or material from which it could be inferred that mr. l wason, on its face, does not show that he either possessed or purported to exercise any powers of the chief settlement commissioner delegated to him ;in the title of the order as well as in his designation below his signatures, only additional settlement commissioner is written and there is no reference to delegation of any powers of the chief settlement commissioner. rajni kant, settlement commissioner exercising delegated powers of the chief settlement commissioner, would have bad..........sled a revision bifore shri rajni kant, settlement commissioner with delegated powers of the chief settlement commissioner, which was dismissed by him by order dated 30th september, 1965. the petition of the petitioner before the central government was dismissed by order dated 25th november, 1965 on the ground that bo revision under section 33 of the displaced persons (compensation and rehabiliation) act lay since the chief settlment commissioner had decided the matter on the claim side. (3) feeling aggrieved, the pemioner has filed this writ petition and his counsel has, infer aha, contended that mr. k.l.wason, additional settlement commissioner had no jurisdiction to set aside the order of claims officer in suo motu revision because no powers of revision bad been conferred upon.....
Judgment:

B.C. Misra, J.

(1) The pentioner in this petition- preferred a claim for verification of land situated in Mansehra, District Hazara, N.W.F P. This was verified by Shri H. L Kapur, Claims Officer on 30th October, 1952 and be valued it as situated within the municipal limits of Mansehra Mr. K. L. Wason, Additional Settlement Commissioner, reviewed (r)he order suo motu and by his order dated 11th January, 1965 held that the land in dispute was situated in a rural area and so he revived the verification and assessed it in standard acres.

(2) Aggrieved by this order, the petitioner Sled a revision bifore Shri Rajni Kant, Settlement Commissioner with delegated powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner, which was dismissed by him by order dated 30th September, 1965. The petition of the petitioner before the Central Government was dismissed by order dated 25th November, 1965 on the ground that Bo revision under section 33 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabiliation) Act lay since the Chief Settlment Commissioner had decided the matter on the claim side.

(3) Feeling aggrieved, the pemioner has filed this writ petition and his counsel has, infer aha, contended that Mr. K.L.Wason, Additional Settlement Commissioner had no jurisdiction to set aside the order of Claims Officer in suo motu revision because no powers of revision bad been conferred upon him. The petitioner has also filed as Annexures copies of some documents to substantiate his plea that the land in dispute was actually situated within the municipal limits and probably this evidence had not been placed betore the authorities concerned.

(4) The writ petition has been contested and a counter-affidavit has been filed by Shri A.G Vaswani, Settlement Commissioner. In reply to the contentions fo the petitioner mentioned above, it is stated that the Additional Settlement Commissioner has powers under rule 3(d) of the Displaced Persons (Verification of Claims) Supplermentary Rules 1954, to revise the order. He has also asserted that the impugned order was based on original revenue records received from Pakistan.

(5) The claim of the petitioner had been verified under section 6 of the Displaced Persons (Claims) Act 64 of 1950 which is to the following effect:-

'6. Jurisdiction of Claims Officers.- (1) A Claims Officer shall have jurisdiction to decide such cases or such classes of cases as may, by general or special order, be transferred to him by the Central Government or by an officer empowered in this behalf by the Central Government. (2) A Claims Officer shall hold a summary inquiry into the cases transferred to him and, after taking such evidence and examining such documents, as may be necessary, pass such orders as he thinks fit in relation to the verification of the claim and the valuation of such claim (3) the decision of the Claims Officer shall be final. Provided that the Chief Claims Commissioner may call for the record of any ease which has been decided by the Claims Officer and may make such order in the case as he thinks fit and no order varying the decision of the Claims Officer shall be made without giving the person concerned an opportunity of being heard.'

The scheme of this provision would show that the Claims Officer is required to hold a summary enquiry after recording such evidence and examining such documentas may be necessary and his decision would be final. It is subject to only one condition namely that the Chief Claims Commissioner may call for the record of any case and make such order as he thinks fit,

(6) The said Act was followed by the Displaced Persons (Claims) Supplementary Act 12 of 1954. In respect of the claims which had not been verified, a provision has been made by section 4 of the Act with which we are not concerned in this case. Section 5 of the Act makes a prevision for revision which reads as follows :-

'5 Special power of revision in respect of cases decided under Act Xliv of 1950, (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the principal Act, the Chief Settlement Commissioner :- (a) may on an application for revision made to him within time by any person aggrieved by the decision of the Claims Officer, cull for the record of the case and make such order in the case as be thinks fit Explanationn:-For the purposes of this clause, an application for revision shall be deemed to be or to have been made within time, if. (i) Such application was not barred by limitation on the appointed day under the rules made under the principal Act and is filed within one month from the commencement of this Act ; of (ii) Such application had been filed before the appointed day and was not, on the date on which it was filed, barred by limitation under the rules made under the principal Act : (b) may, on his own motion, but subject to any rules that may be made in this behalf, revise any verified claim and make such order in relation thereto as he thinks fit. '(2) No order varying the decision of the Claims Officer or revising any verified claim which prejudicially affects any person shall be made without giving him an opportunity of being heard.'

Section 10 of this Act makes provision for delegation of the powers. Sub-section (1) provides for conferttient of the power of the Central Government on the Chief Settlement Cammissioner and suo-section (2) reads as follows :-

'(2) Subject to the provisions of this Act and the rules made there under, the Chief Settlement Commissioner may delegate all or any of his powers under this Act to the Joint or Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner or any Settlement Commissioner or Additional Settlement Commissioner as may be specified by the Chief Settlement Commissioner.'

The result of the: perusal of the statutory provision is that the order of the Claims Officer passed under the Act of 1950 was final subject only to revision by the Chief Claime Commissioner and by the force of the Supplemantary Act only the Chief Settlement Commissioner had the power to revise a verified claim of his own motion. It is not denied that the impugned order of 11th January, 1965 had not been passed by the Chief Settlement Commissioner himself but by the Additional Settlement Commissioner. I gave an opportunity to the counsel for the respondents.to place any material on the record to show that Mr. Wason, Additional Settlement Commissioner had been delegated the powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner under sub-section (2) of section 10 of the Act but inspire of his best efforts he has not been able to produce any such order or material from which it could be inferred that Mr. Wason, on the date of the impugned order of 11th January, 1965, exercised the powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner. Even the order of Mr. K. L Wason, on its face, does not show that he either possessed or purported to exercise any powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner delegated to him ; in the title of the order as well as in his designation below his signatures, only Additional Settlement Commissioner is written and there is no reference to delegation of any powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner. This should be read in contra-distinction with the order passed by Mr. Rajni Kant who was Settlement Commissioner but whose order specifies that he wai acting with delegated powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner, Moreover, Mr. Rajni Kant, Settlement Commissioner exercising delegated powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner, would have bad no jurisdiction to sit in revision over the order of Mr.Waso, Additional Settlement Commissioner, had he passed it exarcising powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioiner, but Mr.Rajni Kant has not dismissed the revision on this ground. As a result, if follows that Mr. Wason did, on the material date, not possess or exercise any powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner and so his order cannot be supported on the ground that it has been passed by the Chief Settlement Commissioner )n revision. As a matter of fact, this was only suggested during the course of arguments. It has not been contended in the return filed by the respondents in which reliance has been placed only on rule 3(d)of the Displaced Persons ( Verfication of Claims) Supplementary Rules, 1964 which is to the effect :-

'3. Additional powers of the Chief Settlement Commissioner and other officer appointed under section 3. The Chief Settlement Commissioner, the Joint or Deputy Chief Settlement Commissioner and every Settlement Commissioner, Additional, Additional Settlement Commissioner and Settlement Officer, shall have the game powers as arc vested in 8 civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedare, 1908 (Act V of 1908), when trying a suit in respect of the following matters, namely:- (a) * * * (b) * * * (c) * * * (d) reviewing on order on any of the following grounds, namely- (i) the discovery of any new or important matter or evidence which after the exercue of dua diligence was not within the knowledgs of, or could not be produced by, the claimnot at the time when the claim was verified/or (ii) o0 account of some mistake or error apparent on the face of the record; or (iii) for any other sufficient reason.'

A plain reading of this sub-rule will show that the power of review under rule 3 can be exercised by an officer who has passed the order sought to be reviewed and any other or superior officer has no jurisdiction to review the order. The reason is that the powers are the same as are vested in the Civil Court under the Code of Civil Procedure and this has reference to section 114 and Order 47, Rule I of the Code where it is expressly provided that an application for review of the judgment is to be made to the Court which passed the decree or made the order. In other words, the power of review, in the nature of things, where it is conferred on a judicial authority, relates to reviewing its own orders. The judicial review by a higher authority is normally not called review but is known as appeal or revision. Under this Act, the power of revision undoubtedly vests in the Chief Settlement Commissioner. But the power of review of the order by the subordinate officer would vest In him and could not be exercised by a different or a higher officer known as Additional Settlement Commissioner. In the view I am taking, I am supported by an authority of the High Court of Bombay in Damomal v. Union of India. In this case, a Division Bench of the High Court observed that the power to review is principally the power vested in an officer to review an order previously passed by himself and not by any body else and the officers have no general power of reviewing their decisions sua motu. The Court also observed that powers to review under this Act were co-extensive with the powers of the Civil Courts under the Code of Civil Procedure while trying a suit. There are other observations also in this decision to support the contention that the Additional Settlement Commissioner can only review the order previously passed by him and he has no jurisdiction to review an order passed by another authority. The result is that the order passed by Mr. Wason is. in my opinion (as at present advised and on the state of the material placed on the record) without jurisdiction and will have to be quashed.

(7) Mr. Mehra has lastly contended that the final order in the case had been passed by the Chief Settlement Commissioner on 30th September, 1965 on reivsion filed by the petitioner and without doubt the Chief Settlement Commissioner had jurisdiction to revise the order and pass such orders as he thought fit and if he has in revision affirmed the order of the Additional Settlement Commissioner reversing the order of Mr. Kapur, the petitioner does not entertain any real grievance. I am, however, unable to accept the said submission. If the order passed by a Court or officer of first instance is without jurisdiction, the order is nan-est. The mere fact that it was subject-matter of an appeal or revision before a higher Court or officer will ant lend Validity to the order even if the appellate authority had legal jurisdiction to pass the same order. The Federal Court in Suraj Narain v. North West Frentier Province'. observed at page 6 :-

'IT was next contended on behalf of the respondent that as the plaintiff in the present case had appealed tothe Inspector-General of Police against the Deputy Inspector General's order dismissing him, the rejection of that appeal was equivalent to a dismissal from office by the Inspector-General himself and as such sufficient to satisfy sub-section (2) of section 240 of the Act. We cannot accede this contention. In theory as well as in practice there is a well marked difference between a decision given by an officer who acts in the censciousness that he is primarily responsible for the investigation and decision of the case and the act of one who is expected only to satisfy himself that another officer who had the primary responsibility has properly dealt with the case. The distinction seems to us one of substance and Is not merely formal or technical.'

Support for this proposition can also be derived from a decision of the Supreme Court in State of U. P. v. Mohammad Nooh' I am, thereforee, of the view that if the order of Mr. Wason was without jurisdiction, the order of the Chief Settlement Commissioner passed on revision cannot lend any validity to it as he had no valid order to revise. Moreover the petitioner feels that ha had not had sufficient opportunity before the officer concerned to show that the land in dispute was really situated within the municipal limits and so the order of Mr.Kapur was valid and unassailable.

(8) As a result, I get aside the order of the Chief Sattlement Commisstioner dated 30th September. 1965 and of Mr. K.L. Wason, Additional Settlement Commissioner dated 11th January, 1965, and direct that the Chief Settlement Commissioner may reconsider the matter afreh according to law after affording an opportunity to the petitioner to place material before him. The order of the Central Government shows that the petition under section 33 of the Act was not maintainable and so it does not require any interference. The writ petition is consequently allowed, but in the circumstances of the case, the parties are left to bear their respective costs.


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