V.P. Gupta, J.
1. In this Letters Patent Appeal the appellants are the plaintiffs while the respondents are the defendants in the main suit.
2. The plaintiffs filed a suit on 23-7-1964 in the Court of Senior Sub Judge, Mandi, for permanent prohibitory and mandatory injunction to the effect that the land of khasra Nos, 2649/314 and 2651/1618 (2 plots) measuring 3 bighas and 14 biswas of Jamabandi 1959-60 in village Mahadev, Tehsil Sunder Nagar is in possession of the parties in equal shares and defendant 1 (Chamaru) be directed to refrain from causing interference in the ownership and possession of the plaintiffs in any manner.
3. The plaintiffs alleged that the disputed land was government land which was granted to defendant 1 as nautor. The plaintiffs objected to this grant of nautor. A compromise in writing was effected between the parties on 15-12-1954. According to the compromise/agreement, the parties came in possession of the disputed land in equal shares, each party having l/9th share. Defendant 1 also agreed to get a mutation sanctioned in plaintiffs' favour. The plaintiffs were also put in possession of the land and they did not doubt the bona fide of defendant 1. The plaintiffs alleged that after 12-7-1964 defendant 1 started interfering with the plaintiffs' possession over the suit land and as such they were compelled to file the suit.
4. The defendants did not admit the plaintiffs' claim and contested the suit. The alleged agreement/compromise was denied and it was further alleged that the same was void and unenforceable.
5. On the pleadings of the parties, thefollowing issues were framed on 5-1-1965 : --
1. Whether the plaintiffs are owners and in possession of the land in suit? OPP
2. Whether defendant 1 is causing interference in the possession of the plaintiffs over the land in suit? OPP
3. Whether the suit is within time? OPP
4. Whether the suit is not maintainable in the present form? OPD.
5. Whether defendant 1 is estopped from denying the execution of the suit agreement? OPP
6. Whether defendant 1 had executed the agreement dt. 15-12-1964? OPP
7. If issue 6 is found in affirmative, whether said agreement is void for the reason set out in the written statement?
6. The Senior Sub Judge gave findings on issues 1 to 3 and 6 in favour of the plaintiffs and decided issues 4, 5 and 7 against the defendants. As a result of these findings the plaintiffs' suit for declaration and injunction was decreed on 30-11-1966.
7. The plaintiffs preferred an appeal in the Court of District Judge, Mandi who accepted the appeal on 17-10-1967 and dismissed the plaintiffs' suit. He held that the agreement dt. 15-12-1954 (Ex. P. W. 4/A) was simply a paper transaction and was never acted upon and the suit was barred by limitation. The agreement Ex. PW 4/A was held to be against the spirit of the nautor patta (Ex. D-l).
8. Dissatisfied with this judgment and decree of the District Judge, the plaintiffs. filed an appeal in this Court (R. S. A. No. 24 of 1968). A learned single Judge of this Court vide his judgment and decree dt. 16-4-1971 dismissed the appeal with costs. He held that the disputed land was leased out to defendant 1 by the Government and defendant 1 could not confer any rights upon the plaintiffs by any compromise (Ex. PW 4/A). He further held that the suit was time barred and the agreement dt. 15-12-1954 (Ex.PW 4/A) was never acted upon.
9. Now before us the learned counsel for the appellants (plaintiffs) contended that theagreement dt. 15-12-1954 (Ex. PW 4/A) was valid and binding and defendant 1 had handed over the possessionof the land to the plaintiffs. He contended that defendant 1 was competent to do so and the findings of the learned District Judge and the single Judge of this Court were not based upon proper appreciation of law and facts. He frankly conceded that the Himachaf Pradesh Nautor Rules, 1954 (hereinafter the Nautor Rules) have the force of law in view of the decision in AIR 1979 Him Pra 35 (Som Krishan v. Stale) and in fact these rules are to be considered 'law' for all purposes.
10. We have considered the contentions and have gone through the records.
11. The disputed land was a Government land and it was granted to defendant 1 (Chamaru) under the Nautor Rules vide a pattadt. 3-12-1955 (Ex. D-l). It was granted to defendant 1 for 'kasht mazrua' purposes only, that is, cultivation. It was admitted by the plaintiffs' counsel that the land was granted to defendant 1 for subsistence purposes as is mentioned in Rule 4(a) of the Nautor Rules. According to Rule 5 of the Nautor Rules, land could be granted to landless persons or if no landless person comes forward for a particular piece of land to such persons as hold land less than 10 bighas per holding. Under Rule 9(a) of the Nautor Rules the grant of nautor was subject to the following conditions : --
'(a) that in the case of nautor granted forsubsistence no land revenue shall be chargedfor the first 4 harvests. If the grantee fails tobreak up and terrace the land within twoyears from the date of grant the grant shall beliable to resumption and no compensationshall be due to the grantee even if certainimprovements have been effected;
(b) to (d) x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x'
Inthe patta(Ex. D-l) condition No. 6(c) reads as follows : --
'Obligations of the grantee
The grantee hereby covenants with Government as follows : --
(a) & (b) x x x x x.x x x x x x x x x x x x (c) Within two years of the date of this grant to cause it to be fit for cultivation or within four years in the case of grant for orcharding, to plant up land with fruit trees, and to protect the land against erosion in such manner as may be considered adequate by the Deputy Commissioner, if the slop is excessive to provide suitable terracing. (d) to (i) x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x'
12. Thus according to the Nautor Rules and the conditions of the patta (Ex. D-l) the disputed land was granted to defendant 1 for 'subsistence' and he was to make it fit for cultivation within two years. In case defendant 1 failed to break up and terrace the land within two years, the grant was liable to resumption and defendant I could not claim compensation even if certain improvements had been effected by him. A combined reading of the various Nautor Rules and the conditions of the patta (Ex. D-l) clearly indicate that the object to such grant is to implement a policy of the Government to help certain persons who are either landless or have very little holdings and who need land for cultivation for the purposes of their 'subsistence'.
13. Defendant 1 got the land subject to the conditions incorporated in the patta (Ex.D-1) and under the Nautor Rules. The Government while granting, the nautor to defendant 1 must have kept in view the fact that defendant 1 required the land for his subsistence and it could be granted in his favour under the Nautor Rules. Now, even if the agreement dt. 15-12-1954 (Ex. PW 4/A) is admitted to be proved, still such an agreement is 'forbidden by law' and is not enforceable under Section 23, Contract Act. By this agreement defendant 1 had agreed to divide the disputed land in 9 equal shares thus keeping only one share for himself. For the remaining 8/9th share he agreed to relinquish his rights and accept the other 8 persons as owners. Defendant 1 after having got the land as 'nautor' for himself for subsistence purposes was bound by the conditions of the patta (Ex. D-l) as well as the Nautor Rules. He had no authority or right to transfer his ownership rights to third person on payment of any amount. Further, the land was given to defendant 1 for cultivation purposes only. By the agreement (Ex. PW 4/A) defendant 1 agreed that the 8/9th portion of the land would remain in the ownership of the other persons as it was their grazing ground. 1 n other words, this land could not be utilized for cultivation purposes and was to remain a grazing ground, that is, uncultivated land. Such an agreement is clearly forbidden by law and will defeat the very object of the grant of land in favour of defendant 1. Hence the plaintiffs cannot seek the enforcement of this agreement (Ex.PW 4/A). The purpose of granting nautor to various persons under the Nautor Rules is a matter of policy of the Government. The Government wanted to help certain poor and landless persons by giving them land for their subsistence.
14. In AIR 1934 Mad 811 (Ganesh Naicken v. Arumugha Naicken) it was held that where a grant was in the nature of a gift by the Government with a specific provision that the property shall not be alienated without the consent of the Tehsildar, it was intended to be personal to the grantee. Any contract which has the effect of circumventing this policy of the Government would be opposed to public policy.
15. In the present case too, the Government granted nautor to defendant 1 with certain specific conditions. Under the conditions of the patta (Ex. EM) and the Nautor Rules, defendant 1 was supposed to break up the land and make it fit for cultivation so that he could utilise the same for his subsistence. Defendant 1 was under an obligation to allow the Government to resume this grant without any compensation even if he had made certain improvements on the same, if he failed to break up and terrace this land within two years from the date of the grant. Thus it was also a persona! grant to defendant 1. By transferring his rights of grant in favour of other 8 persons defendant 1 has in fact circumvented the policy of the Government and this action of defendant 1 is, therefore, against the public policy.
16. In view of the above discussion, theagreement dt. 15-12-1954 (Ex.PW 4/A) is unenforceable and the plaintiffs cannot be granted any relief on the basis of this agreement. We also do not find any reasons to disagree with the various reasonings given by the learned single Judge in his judgment D/-16-4-1971.
17. As a result of the above discussion, the present appeal is dismissed.
P.D. Desai, C.J.
18. I agree.