Amarsarjit Singh Vs. The State Of
Punjab  INSC 64 (20 February 1962)
20/02/1962 AIYYAR, T.L. VENKATARAMA AIYYAR,
T.L. VENKATARAMA SINHA, BHUVNESHWAR P.(CJ) SUBBARAO, K.
AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA MUDHOLKAR, J.R.
CITATION: 1962 AIR 1305 1962 SCR Supl. (3)
Resumption of jagirs-Cis-Sutlej
jagirs-Jagirdars, if sovereigns-Assignment of revenue by British Government-Implied
grant-Legislative competence of enactment-The Punjab Resumption of Jagirs Act,
1957 (Punjab 39 of 1957), ss.
2(1), 2(5)-Constitution of India, Seventh
Schedule, List II, entries 18,45.
The Punjab Resumption of jagirs Act, 1957,
came into force on November 14, 1957, and the State of Punjab proceeded to take
action there under for resuming the jagirs. The petitioners who were holders of
certain jagirs in that State known as the Cis-Sutlej jagirs claimed that they
could not be resumed under the provisions of the Act because they did not fall
within the definition of jagir contained in s. 2(1) of the Act on tile grounds
that there was at no time any grant of the Cis-Sutlej jagirs to their holders
much less any assignment of land revenue to them, and that even if there was
such a grant, it was not one made by or on behalf of the State Government as
required by s. 2(1) (a) of the Act. The history or these jagirs showed that the
jagirdars were originally rulers of the territories when they took possession
of them by conquest in 1763, but in course of time after the British came on
the scene, they were gradually stripped of all their powers as sovereigns, and
in 1852 the British took over the collection of revenue of the jagir land-, and
out of the collections the jagirdars were paid their share. Subsequent to 1852
there was a course of legislation relating to the jagirs. The question was
whether the assignment of land revenue to the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars was made on
the basis of an implied grant. The petitioners case was that as the Cis-Sutlej
Chiefs were never conquered, the payment of land revenue to them must be
related to their status as sovereigns and that the collection of the land
revenue was made only under all implied arrangement with them.
Held, that the status of the Cis-Sutlej
jagirdars was only that of subjects and that the payment of revenue to them by
347 the British Government was only on the basis of an implied grant to them.
Though the Cis-Sutlej Chief were not
conquered by the British, since the latter were in fact exercising sovereign
powers over the area it must be held that sovereignty had passed to them
otherwise than by conquest.
M/s. Dalmia Dadri Cement Co. Ltd. v. The
Commissioner of Income-tax,  S. C. R. 729, Thakur Amar Singji v. State of
Rajasthan,  2 S. C.R. 303 and Vajesingji Jorawar Singji v. Secretary of
State,  L.R. 51 I.A. 357, relied on.
Held, further that the British Government
which had made the grant was the "State Government" within the
meaning of s. 2(5) of the Punjab Resumption of jagirs Act 1957, and that the
jagirs in question were within the definition of "jagir" in s.2(1) of
Held, also, that the Act was within the
legislative competence of the State of Punjab under entries 18 and 45 of List
11 of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Petitions Nos. 82 of
1960 and 148, 168 to 174 and 357 to 361 of 1961.
Petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution of
India for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
Civil Appeals Nos. 453 to 474 of 1961.
Appeals from the,, judgment and order dated
May 25. 1959, of the Punjab High Court in Civil Writ Nos. 428, 303, 398, 402,
459 to 462, 421, 472, 473, 475, 490, 503, 509, 519, 520, 555, 590, 710 and 712
AND Civil Appeal No. 50 of 1962.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order date(] May 25, 1959, of the Punjab High Court in Civil Writ No. 347 of
Achhru Ram and Naunit Lal,for the petitioner
(in Potn. No. 82 of 60) and the appellant (in C. A. No. 50 of 62).
348 I. N. Shroff, for the petitioners (in
Petn. No. 148 of 61) and the appellants (in C. As. Nos. 457 to 474. of 61).
Hardev Singh and Y. Kumar, for the petitioers
Nos. 168 to 174 and 357 to 361 of 61).
C. K. Daphtary, Solicitor-General of India,
K. L. Gosain, B. R. L. Iyengar, Lakshmi Chand and I. N. Shroff, for the
appellants (in C.As. Nos 453 and 456 of 1961).
K. L. Gosain, B. R. L. Iyengar, Lakshmi Chand
and I. N. Shroff, for the appellants I in C. A. No. 454 of 196 I).
B. R. L. Iyengar, Lakshmi, Chand and
I.N.Shroff, for the appellants (in C. A. No. 455 of 1961).
S.M. Sikri, Advocate-General, for the State
of Punjab N. S. Bindra and P. D. Menon, for the respondents (in all petitions
and Civil Appeals).
M. C. Setalvad, Attorney-General of India, J.
B. Dadachanji, O. C. Mathur and Ravinder Narain, for Intervener No.1 (Satinder
K. L. Mehta, for Intervener No. 2
(Raghuvinder Singh and others).
1962. February 20. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by VENKATARAMA AIYAR, J.-The question that rises for our decision
in the above writ petitions and appeals is whether certain jagirs in the State
of Punjab known as the "CisSutlej" jagir are liable to be resumed
under the provisions of the Punjab Resumption of Jagirs Act, 1957 (Punjab Act
39 of 1957), hereinafter referred to as
"the Act". This Act came into force on November 14, 1957, and the
respondent State then proceeded to take action there under for resuming the
jagirs. A number of petitions were thereupon filed in the 349 High Court of
Punjab under Art. 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity of the Act
and of the proceedings taken by the respondent State thereunder on the ground,
firstly, that the Act was ultra vires the powers of the State Legislature and
that its provisions were unconstitutional and void ; and, secondly, that even
if the -Act was intra vires the jagirs held by the petitioners were not
"jagirs" as defined in the Act, and were therefore not liable to be
resumed under its provisons. By their judgment dated May 25, 1959, the learned
Judges held that the legislation was within the competence of the State, and
that it did not contravence any of the constitutional provisions.
They further held that the jagirs held by the
petitioners fell within the definition of "jagir" under the Act, and
were liable to be resumed there under, and that accordingly no writ could be
issued against the State for proceeding under the provisions of the Act. By
their Order dated January 27, 1960, the learned Judges granted leave to appeal
to this Court under Art.. 133 (1) (a), and pursuant to the same, Civil Appeals
Nos. 453 to 474 of 1961 have been preferred to this Court. Appeal No. 50 of
1962 by special leave is also directed against the judgment of the Punjab High
Court in a Writ Petition tinder Art. 226. Some of the jagirdars have also filed
petitions in this Court under Art.
32) of the Constitution, impugning the Act
and the action of the State there under on the same grounds as those raised in
the appeals. We have accordingly heard arguments of learned Counsel both in the
writ petitions and in the appeals, and this Judgment will govern all of them.
Though a number of grounds have been taken in
the pleadings, impugning the Act as ultra vires and its provisions as
unconstitutional, in the argument before us, -the only contention that was
pressed was that the Cis-Sutlej jagirs do not fall 350 within the definition of
jagirs contained in the Act and that accordingly the State had no authority to
resume them under the provisions of the Act. And this contention is sought to
be sustained on two ground: (i) that there was at no time any grant of the
Cis-Sutlej jagirs to their holders, much less any assignment of land revenue to
them; and (ii) that even if there was such a grant, it was not one made by or
on behalf of the State Government as required by s. 2 (1). It is argued that if
either of these contentions succeeds, the jagirs in question would fall outside
the purview of the Act, and the State would have no right under its provisions
to resume them.
It will be convenient at this stage to set
out the relevant provisions of the Act. Section 2 (1) defines "jagir"
as follows:" "jagir" means(a) any assignment of land revenue
made by or on behalf of the State Government; or (b) any estate in land created
or affirmed by or on behalf of the State Government carrying with it the right
of collecting land revenue or receiving any portion of the land revenue; or
(c)any grant of money made or continued by or on behalf of the State Government
which purports to be or is expressed to be payable out of the land revenue; or
(d) any grant of money including anything payable on the part of the State
Government in respect of any right, privilege, perquisite or office; and
includes any such grant or assignment existing in favour of Cis-Sutlej
jagirdars." 351 "Jagirdar" is defined in s. 2 (2) as meaning the
holder of a jagir. Section 2 (5) defines State Government as follows:"State
Government"(a) as respects any period before the 1st November 1956, shall
mean:(i) the Government of the Patiala and East Punjab State Union or any of
the Indian States which formed into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union on
the 20th August, 1948 and (ii) the Government of the State of Punjab and all
predecessor Governments thereof by whatever name called, the Governor-General
or the Governor-General in Council, as the case may be, and the Sikh Rulers,
but shall not include the Central Government as defined in the General Clauses
Act, 1897, after the period commencing on the 15th August, 1947.
(b) as respects any period after the 1st
November, 1956 shall mean the Government of the State of Punjab." Section
3 enacts that"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any
law or usage any grant settlement, sanad or other instrument, or any decree or
order of any Court or authority, all jagirs shall, on and from the commencement
of this Act, be extinguished and stand resumed in the name of the State
It is common ground that the jagirs which are
concerned in the present writ petitions and appeals consist of a right to the
revenue payable, on lands, and not of any estate such as will fall under s. 2
(1) (b) of the Act and that they must fall, if at all within s. 2 (1) (a).
Therefore the discussion narrows 352 itself to the question whether there was,
as required by s. 2 (1) (a) of the Act, any assignment of the revenue of these
jagirs and whether such assignment was by the State Government.
On the first question, as to whether there
was assignment of land revenue, the contention of the petitioners and of the
appellants-and they will hereafter be referred to compendiously as jagirdars-is
that the so called jagirs are not jagirs as ordinarily understood, that they
were not the subject matters of any grant by any State that they were in fact
originally independent States held by rulers with sovereign rights, that in
course of time the British Government imposed their sovereignty over them, and
finally took over the administration of the State and paid the revenue
collected there from to the rulers, not as person to whom the land-revenue had
been assigned, because there was no such assignment but as sovereigns of the
Therefore, it is contended, the co-called
jagirs are not within the definition of s. 2 (1).
That brings us on to the question of the true
status of the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars. The origin of these jagirs goes back to
1763. The collapse of the Moghul Empire had created a void in the political
,stage of this country, and many were the powers which stepped in with the
ambition of establishing their sovereignty. The British had established their
rule and bad extended their dominion up to the Jumna. The Sikhs had also
developed during this period from being a purely religious sect into a military
Organisation, and established several States beyond the Sutlej. The tract of
territory between the Jumna and the Sutlej was at this time under the
administration of a weak Afghan Governor called Zain Khan. The policy of the
British during this period was to hold the Jumna as the frontier, and so they
were indifferent to the fate of this Cis-Sutlej area. But the Sikh Chiefs 353
beyond the Sutlej could not resist the temptation of overthrowing the Afghan
Governor, seizing his territory and establishing themselves as its rulers. In
1763 the storm burst when a number of them crossed the Sutlej, overwhelmed the
Afghan Governor and occupied the whole country upto Jumna. "Tradition
still describes", says Cunningham in his History of the Sikhs, P. I 10, I
'how the Sikhs dispersed as soon as the battle was won and how riding day and
night each horseman would throw his be-It and scabbard, his articles of dress
and accoutrement, until he was almost naked into successive villages to mark
them as his." when the conquest was over each Chief declared himself the
ruler of the territory which he was able to occupy, and constituted himself its
This state of affairs continued until 1806.
By this time, Ranjit Singh the ','Lion of the Punjab", had built up a
powerful State across the Sutlej. He had already subdued the petty rulers
within that area and was turning his attention to the territories 'south of the
Sutlej and had occupied some of them. The Cis-Sutlej rulers became alarmed
about their future and appealed for protection to the British, who had, by this
time, changed their policy of nonintervention. The appeal was welcome, and met
with prompt response. The result was that in 1809 the British entered into a
treaty with Ranjit Singh whereby he surrendered his acquisitions south of Sutlej
and agreed not to interfere with the Cis-Sutlej States. And this was followed
by a proclamation by Colonel Ochterlony in May 1809 whereby the Cis-Sutlej
Chiefs were assured of their rights as sole owners of their possessions and
exempted from payment of tribute, but were required to furnish supplies to the
British Government and assist them against their enemies.
The British Government also promulgated a
rule that whenever any of the rulers died without issues, his State would lapse
to the British Government.
354 This was the position until 1846 when a
drastic change in the situation took place. In 1845, there was war between the
British and the Sikhs, and in that war the Cis-Sutlej rulers far from helping
the British against the Trans Sutlej Sikhs, were either unsympathetically
neutral or actively hostile to them, and that brought about a change in the
policy of the British Government towards them. The position is thus stated by
Kensington in the Ambala Gazetteer at p. 26:"Having thus already lost the
confidence of the Government the Sikh Chiefs in the Sutlej campaign forfieted
all claim to consideration.
It was seen that the time had arrived for the
introduction of sweeping measures of reform and the Government unhesitatingly
resolved upon a reduction of their privileges. Several important measures were
at once adopted. The police jurisdiction of most of the chiefs was abolished,
the existing system being most unfavourable to the detection and punishment of
crime. All transit and customs duties were also abolished; and thirdly, a
commutation was accepted for the personal service of the chief and his
contingent. The despatch of the Governor General embodying this resolution was
dated November 7th, 1846." While the sweeping changes aforesaid were being
introduced, the second Sikh War broke out and that ended in the annexation of
the Punjab. And with that the Deed for maintaining appearances and for
recognizing the Cis-Sutlej Chiefs as rulers came to an end. The British
Government then proceeded to act swiftly and firmly, and in June, 1849, they
made a declaration that the Chiefs should "cease to hold sovereign powers,
should lose all criminal, civil and fiscal jurisdiction, and should be
considered as no more than ordinary subjects of the British Government in the
possession of certain exceptional 355 privileges" (1). Pursuant to this
declaration, the Chiefs were stripped of all their governmental functions and
the final denouement took place in 1852 when the British took over the
collection of revenue for the jagir lands. The rules for settlement of revenue
were made by them, and the actual settlement and collection of revenue were
made under their authority, and out of the collections the jagirdars were paid
On these facts, the question is whether it
can be said that there was an assignment of the land revenue to the jagirdars.
Express grants to them, there were none. The point in debate before us is
whether grants of the land revenue could be implied from the facts stated
A somewhat similar question came up for
decision before this Court in Thakar Amar Singhji v. State of Rajasthan (2)
with reference to a class of jagirdars in the State of Rajasthan known as
Bhomicharas. They were once the rulers of the territories which were claimed to
be jagirs, and later on the State of Jodhpur imposed its suzerainty over them
and exacted an annual payment called "Foujbal". The Bhomioharas
contended that they had come into possession of the territories as rulers and
held them as rulers and not as jagirdars under grants made by any ruler. In
repelling this contention, this Court held that a grant may be implied as well
as express, and that on the facts which were Proved, the Bhomicharas, though
they held originally as rulers, must be held to have been reduced to the status
of subjects, and that their position was that of jagirdars under an implied
grant. The position of the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars bears a close analogy to that
of the Bhomicharas in Thakur Amar Singji's case (2). They became rulers of the
territories when they took possession of them by conquest in 1763. The first
inroads into their (1 ) Griffin's "Rajas of that Punjab", P. 199.
(2)  2 S.C.R. 303.
356 sovereignty were made in 1809 when the
British established their suzerainty over them and further declared that the
territories of the rulers who died without heirs would escheat to them. Then in
1846 the British Government deprived them of police jurisdiction, and the power
to levy customs, and in 1849, of all their sovereign functions. It is not
disputed that as a result of all these acts they were reduced to the position
of ordinary subjects, that indeed being the objective of the British Government
as avowed in their declaration of June, 1849. It is with reference to this
background that we must examine the true character of the revenue settlement
made in 1852. If the jagirdars had sunk to the position of subjects on that
date the payment of revenues to them by the British Government can only be on
the basis of an implied grant to them.
Learned Counsel for the jagirdars however
demur to this conclusion. They contend that the position of the CisSutlej
jagirdars differs fundamentally from that of the Bhomicharas in Thakur Amar
Singhji's case (1), that the latter were conquered by the rulers of Jodhpur and
compelled to pay to them a tribute called "Foujbal", but that the CisSutlej
Chiefs were never conquered by the British, and never paid any tribute to them,
that they were receiving revenue from the lands as rulers before the British
came on the scene, and that they continued to receive the same without a break
even after the British had established themselves, and that there was nothing
which the British Government did from which a resumption and a re-grant could
be inferred. -Under the circumstances, it is said, the, payment of land revenue
to them must be related to their status as sovereigns, and if the British
Government took upon themselves the work of settlement and collection of land
revenue, it was (1) [ 1955] 2. S. C. R. 303.
357 oh their behalf and under their authority
and under an implied arrangement with them.
The assumption underlying this argument is
that, as the cisSutlej Chiefs ;are-not conqaered by the British, their status
must necessarily be that of sovereigns, and that in consequence the payment of
land revenue to them could not be as jagirdars holding under an implied grant
from the Government. That, however, is not correct. It is settled law that
conquest is not the only mode by which one State can acquire sovereignty over
the territories belonging to another State, and that the same result can be
achieved in any other mode which has the effect of establishing its
sovereignty. Thus, discussing what is an ,'act of State", the Judicial
Committee observed in Cook v. Sir James Gordon Sprigg (1) :"The taking
possession by Her Majesty, whether by cession or by any other means by which
sovereignty can be acquired, was an act of State' " To the same effect are
the 'following observations of Lord Danedin in Vajesing Jaravarsingji v.
Secretary of State for India in Council (2) : "When a territory is
acquired by a sovereign State for the first time, that is an act of State. It
matters not how the acquisition has been brought about. It may be by conquest,
it may be by cession following on treaty, it may be by occupation of territory
hitherto unoccupied by a recognised ruler." Laying down the law in similar
terms, this Court observed in M/s. Dalmia Dadri Cement Co. Ltd.v. The
Commissioner of Income-tax (3) :"The expression act of State' is, it is
scarcely necessary to say not limited to hostile (1) (1899) A.C. 572.
(2) (1923-24) L. R. 51 I. A. 357, (3) 
R. 729, 739.
358 action between rulers resulting in the
occupation of territories. It includes all acquisitions of torritory by a
sovereign State for the first time, whether it be by conquest or cession. Vide
Vajesingji Joravar Singji V. Secretary of State and Thakur Amar Singji v. State
of Rajasthan . " And, more recently, this question has been considered by
this Court in Promod Chandra Deb v. The State of Orissa (1), and the result was
thus stated :" 'Act of State' is the taking over of sovereign powers by a
State in respect of territory which was not till then a part of its territory,
either by conquest; treaty or cession, or otherwise." The fact, therefore,
that the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars were not conquered by the British does not
conclude the question as to whether they arc to be regarded as sovereigns or
That must depend on who were in fact exercising
sovereign powers over the territories in the States-the Chiefs or the British.
If the latter, then it must be held that the sovereignty over the area had
passed to them, otherwise than by conquest, and that the true status of the
Chiefs was that of subjects.
Viewed in this light, the case does not
present much of a problem. It has been already seen that from 1809 onwards, the
Chiefs had been gradually stripped of their powers as sovereigns and that the
process of disintegration was completed in 1849. It is indeed conceded on
behalf of the jagirdars that after that date it was the British Government
which was exercising sovereign powers over the territories and that the Chiefs
had been rod aced to the status of its subjects. But the contention that is
urged is that even when everything else had been (1) Writ Petitions Nos. 79 of
1957, 167 and 168 of 1958 and 4 of 1959 decided on November, 16, 1961.
359 lost, there was still one relie of
sovereignty left with them and that was the right to receive the land revenue.
If this were the true position, the status of the jagirdars would be that of
subjects of the British in respect of all matters except as to the right to
receive revenue, in respect of which alone they would have to be regarded as
sovereigns. This is clearly untenable, because a person cannot be both a
sovereign and a subject at the same time.
Dealing with this identical contention, this
Court observed in Thakur Amar Singhji's case (1) :
"The status of a person must be either
that of a sovereign or a subject. There is no tertium quid. The law does not
recognise an intermediate status of a person being partly a sovereign and
partly a subject, and when once it is admitted that the Bhomicharas had acknowledged
the sovereignty of Jodhpur their status can only be that of a subject. A
subject might occupy an exalted position and enjoy special privileges, but he
is none the less a subject ; and even if the status of Bhomicharas might be
considered superior to that of ordinary jagirdars, they were also
subjects." (pp. 336-337) If the status of the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars is in
all other respects that of subjects, the right to receive the revenue
collections must also be ascribed to their character as subjects, and that can
only be under an implied grant.
But it is contended that the implication of a
grant in favour of the jagirdars could not be made here as in the case of
Bhomicharas in Thakur Amar Singhji's case (1), because a proposal for
resumption and re-grant of the territories of the Cis-Sutlej Chiefs was
actually put forward in 1846 but was negatived. Reference was made to the
following (1) [19551 2 S. C. R. S03.
360 account thereof given in J. M. Douie's
"Punjab Land Administration Manual", 1931, p. 45 para 102:"It
was indeed proposed in 1846 after the first Sikh War to declare all the estates
forfeit on account of the laches of their holders, and to re-grant them under
sanads from the British Government. But Lord Hardinge deemed it impolitic to
proclaim to -all India the misconduct of the Cis-Sutlej Chiefs and negatived
proposal.In a, sense then the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars, great and small, are
mediatized rulers, and little though they have as a body deserved at our hands,
this fact should not be lost sight of in our dealings with them." The argument
is that though a grant could be implied in certain circumstances where no
express grant was forthcoming, that could not be done when a proposal for grant
is shown to have been actively considered and rejected. This contention sounds
plausible but breaks down when the reason for the rejection of the proposal is
examined. That was, as stated in the despatch of Lord Hardinge dated November
17, 1846, that "a general measure of resumption would create alarm and
must be preceded by a public declaration of the disloyalty of the largest
portion of the Sikh protected States explaining the grounds of
forfeiture," and this was considered inexpedient.
Consistently with this reason it is
impossible to hold that the British Government, in declining to make a resumption
and re-grant, intended to continue the recognition of the Chiefs a,,
sovereigns. On the other hand, the true inference to be drawn is that the
British wanted to give the chieftains only the status of jagirdars but for
reasons of policy they sought to do it in such manner as to avoid publicity,
and that is why the proposal for making resumption and regrant was not adopted.
In the very despatch of 361 Lord Hardinge dated November 17, 1346, wherein the
proposal for resumption and re-grant was dropped, it was stated that there was
no need for it as the same ends could be obtained by adopting certain measures
such as the taking over of the police administration and customs and the like.
The reason, therefore, for not making a resumption and an express grant is one
which would support an inference of implied grant.
An argument is also sought to be built on the
description given of the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars as "mediatized rulers"
in the extract from J. M. Douie's "Punjab Land Administration Manual"
already given, that their status is that of sovereigns. This expression was
originally used with reference to German Princes in Holy Roman Empire who,
having been at one time vassals of the Emperor, were subsequently subjugated by
other Princes who were also vassals of the Emperor. The meaning of the word
"mediatise" in modern usage is given in The Oxford English
Dictionary, Vol. VI, P. 292, as "annex (Principality) to another State,
leaving former sovereign his title and (usually) more or less of Ilia rights of
Government". It might be 'correct to speak of the Chiefs as mediatized
rulers in 1846, when, though deprived of their powers in matters of police and
customs, they continued to exercise civil and fiscal powers. But when they were
divested in 1849 of all their Governmental powers they (,-eased to be rulers,
"mediatized" or otherwise, and when the revenue settlements were made
in 1852, they had no vestige of sovereignty left in them, and had become
ordinary subjects of the British with some privileges.
The true character of the revenue settlements
made with the Cis-Sutlej jagirdars is brought out correctly, in our opinion, in
the following observations in Baden Powell's "Land Systems of British
India", Vol. 11 at p. 701:362 "Under our Settlement arrangements, the
jagirdar now receives the revenue, the original land holding communities or
individuals being settled with and retaining full proprietary rights. He in
fact is a mere assignee of the revenue, taking.part of what otherwise would go
to the State." Even more explicit is the statement of the position by
Kensington in the Ambala Gazetteer, pp.27-28:"The final step necessitated
by the march of events was taken in 1852 when the revenue settlement begun for
British villages in 1847 was extended to the villages of the chiefs.
Thereafter the chiefs have ceased to retain
any relies of their former power except that they are still permitted to
collect their revenues direct from their villages, the cash assignment of
revenue. They have sunk to the position of jagirdare but as such retain a right
to the revenue assigned to them in perpetuity." It was argued by the
learned Advocate-General who appeared for the respondent that subsequent to
1852 there has been a course of legislation relating to the jagirs which
proceeds on the basis that their holders were subjects. The preamble to the
Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1871 (Act 33 of 1871), under which land revenue was
settled is as follows:"Whereas the Government of India is by law entitled
to a proportion of the produce of the land of the Punjab to be from time to
time fixed by itself and whereas it is expedient to consolidate and define the
law relating to the settlement and collection thereof, and to the duties of the
Revenue Officers in the Punjab." It is under this Act that the revenue
settlements for the jagir lands are also made. This shows that in exercising
fiscal jurisdiction, the British Government 363 considered itself as acting in
its sovereign capacity. Then there is Punjab Descent of Jagirs Act,, 1900
(Punjab Act IV of 1900), which introduced in the Punjab Laws Act, 1872, as.
8 to 8C enacting rules of descent "in
respect of succession to any assignment of land revenue" and providing for
the recognition of successors to the deceased jagirdars by the Provincial
Government on certain -conditions specified therein. We have then the Punjab
Jagire Act V of 1911 dealing with the same topic. The preamble to the Act
states that "it is expedient to consolidate the law governing the
assignments of land revenue and other grants hitherto known as jagirs, and to
make more precise provisions regarding the manner in which such assignments are
to be made or continued in the future." Jagir is defined in s. 2 in torms
substantially the same as under the present Act. This Act repeals as. 8 to 80
of the Punjab Laws Act, 1872, which were inserted by the Punjab Descent of
Jagirs Act IV of 1900, and reproduces them in as. 7 to 10. Section 7(1)(b)
provides for the acceptance by the jagirdars of the rules of descent framed by
the Government by executing a written instrument, and it has been stated before
us that the jagirdars have accepted the rules in the manner provided in the
By way of sample, the copy of the acceptance
executed by the petitioner in Writ Petition No. 82 of 1960 has been marked as
part of the record. Oa these materials, the conclusion would appear to be
irresistible that the right of the Jagirdars to raceive land revenue rests on
implied grants by the British Government.
It must be mentioned that in Abdul Ghafoor
Khan v. Amar arji Singh, Regular Second Appeal No. 561 of 1946 in the Punjab
High Court there are ob. servations of the learned Judges.
Mahajan and Teja Singh, JJ., that there was
no-gift of the jagir lands or assignment of the land revenue by the British
Government to the Cis-Sutlej -jagirdars, and they are relied on as authority
for the contention that 364 there was no grant to them express or implied. But
the point for decision in that case was whether these jagirdars could alienate
their interests beyond their lifetime. It was held that they could not and the
reason therefor was thus stated:
"After the annexation of the Punjab they
(CisSutlej jagirdars) were deprived of vestiges of sovereignty that still
remained in them and they were transformed and given the status of jagirdars,
but their possessions, holding and dominions whether in land or other
properties like forts and buildings were not in any way disturbed or taken
away. They held them in the same status and position as before." The
dispute in that appeal related to properties of the kind mentioned above and
not to land revenue, and we are unable to regard the observations relied on for
the jagirdars as authority for the position that no grant in respect of the
assignments of the land revenue could be implied in their favour.
In the result was must hold that the jagirs
which are subject matter of these proceedings fall within s. 2(1)(a) of the
It is next contended that even if an
assignment of land revenue could be. implied in favour of the jagirdars, that
could only be held to hive, been made by the British Government and not by the
State Government as required by s.
2(1)(a), and that, in consequence, the
respondent had no right to resume the jagirs in question under the provisions
of the Act. Whatever force there might have been in this contention, if I he question
had to be decided only on the. terms of s.2(1)(a), we have in s. 2(5) a
definition or' State Government which 365 is decisive of the question.
According to that definition, "State Government" includes "the
Government of the State of Punjab, and all predecessor Governments thereof, by
whatever name called, the Governor-General or the Governor General in-Council
as the case may be." It is not disputed that these words are wide enough
to include the British Government which made the grant, but it is contended
that this definition was not in the Act as originally enacted and was inserted
by the Punjab Resumption of Jagirs (Amendment) Act, 1959, and that the rights
of the parties should be determined in accordance with the law as it stood
prior to the amendment. There is no force in this contention, because under s.
1(2) of the Amendment Act, retrospective operation is given to it as from
November 14, 1957.
But then it is urged that the amendment was
not within the legislative competence of the Legislature of the State of Punjab
and is null and void. The grounds therefor are thus stated in Petition No. 82
of 1960 : "This is nothing but a colourable legislation.
The State legislature has no authority to
convert Central Government into State Government and legislate on Central
The so-called jagir being not a grant by the
State Government, the impugned Act has no application and the amended
definition of State Government is a fraud on the Constitution." (para 17).
There is no substance in the contention that
the Amendment Act is colourable and incompetent. The subject-matter of the
legislation is resumption of jagirs. Though the contention was raised. in the
petitions that this was not a topic within the competence of the State
Legislature, as there was no such entry in List II to the Seventh Schedule, no
366 argument was advanced in support, of it. And clearly it could not be, as
legislation on resumption of jagirs in one relating to lands, and land revenue
and would clearly fall under entries 18 and 45 of List II, which are as follows
Entry 18 , -,'Land, that is to say, rights in
or over land, land tenure including the relation of landlord and tenant, and
the collection of rents transfer and alienation of agricultural lands; land
improvement and agricultural loans; colonization." Entry 45 :"Land
revenue., including the assessment and collection of revenue,the maintenance of
lands records, survey for revenue purposes and records of rights, and
alienation of revenue." If the principal legislation is intra vires, it is
difficult to see how an amendment thereof with respect to matters properly
pertaining to the subject-matter covered by it could be ultra vires. It is
immaterial for the purpose of resumption, whether the lands sought to be
resumed were granted by the State of Punjab as it is now constituted or by any
Government which preceded it. So long as the lands are within the, State of
Punjab, the legislature has full competence to enact a law providing for their
resumption under entries 18 and 45. Indeed if the words "made by or on
behalf of the State Government" in 3. 2 (1)(a) had been omitted in the,
principal Act and jagir defined simply as "any assignment of land
revenue" the legislation would have been intra vires, and in that case the
State could have resumed the jagirs by whomsoever they might have been granted.
But it chose to add the words "made by or on behalf of the State
Government", and that gave occasion for the contention that the
legislation did not in fact reach jagirs granted by the British Government. Then,
with a view to clarify the position, 367 and set the controversy at rest,, the
legislature intervened and enacted the Amendment Act of 1959, inserting the
impugned definition of "State Government". We are unable to see what
the lack of vires is under which this amendment suffers. We must reject this
This disposes of all the points raised on the
merits in the Writ Petitions and Civil Appeals. In Civil Appeal No. 453 of 1961
preferred by one of the jagirdars, Umrao Singh, his son Satinder Singh intervened,
and he asks that suitable directions might be given for protecting his
the compensation amount which is payable to
the appellant Under the Act. He states that under the law the Cis-Sutlej
jagirdar is not an absolute owner of the jagir, that he has only a right to
enjoy it without any power of alienation and that after his life time the next
lineal descendant would take it free from all encumbrances created by the
previous owner, that the rights of the jagirdar over the compensation amount
due on resumption under the Act could only be the same as over the jagir, and
that if that is paid to him, his reversionary rights would be Jeopardised and
that therefore adequate provision should be made for protecting them. Our
attention has been invited to the decision of this Courtin Satinder Singh v.
Umrao Singh(1), where compensation awarded on the acquisition of jagir lands
was apportioned equally between the jagirdar and his son. But there the lands
had been acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which contains
provisions for deciding who is entitled to the compensation amount. But here we
are hearing an appeal against an order dismissing a Writ retention under Art.
226, challenging ire vires and applicability of the Punjab Resumption of Jagirs
Act, 1957, and adjudication of rival claims to the compensation amount will be
wholly foreign to its scope.
(1) A. I. R. .961) S. C. 908 368 But it is
pointed out for the intervener that on his application this Court has ordered
stay of payment of a part of the compensation amount to the appellant pending
the disposal of the, appeal, and that a similar direction might now be made in
the Judgment, staying payment of a part of the amount for a specified period,
so as to enable him to take steps to protect his rights. But that was an
interim order made pending the appeal, and no such order could be passed in the
appeal unless it follows on a decision of the rights of the parties, which is,
an already stated, outside the scope of the present proceedings, vide the state
of Orissa v. Madan Gopal Rungta 0). We do not therefore propose to say anything
on the rights of the intervener or give any directions with reference to the
payment of the compensation amount. It is open to the intervener to take other
and appropriate proceedings to vindicate his rights.
Before concluding, it has to be noted that in
Writ Petition No. 148 of 1961 there, are as many as 72 Petitioners. some of
whom are stated not to belong to the category of Cissutlej jagirdars. Their joinder
is clearly improper. 'It is also said that three of them, Petitioners Nos. 66,
68 and 69, had filed Writ Petitions under Art. 226 of the Constitution in the
Punjab High Court, raising the same contentions as in the present, that the
said petitions had been dismissed on the merits, and no appeal had been
preferred against the Orders of dismissal, and in consequence, the concerned
petitioners cannot, on the decisions of this Court, maintain this petition. But
as we are dismissing these petitions on the merits, no further notice need be
taken of these points. In the result, the petitions are dismissed with costs,
one hearing fee, and the appeals are dismissed with costs one set.
Petitions and appeals dismissed.
(1)  S.C.R. 28