of Punjab & Ors Vs. Sadhu Ram  INSC
857 (25 July 1996)
K.Ramaswamy, K.G.B. Pattanaik (J)
JT 1996 (7) 118 1996 SCALE (5)577
25TH DAY OF JULY,1996 Present:
Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy Hon'ble Mr. Justice G.B. Pattanaik Manoj Swarup, Adv.
for the appellants. Shashi Bhushan,(Pramod Dayal,) Adv.(NP) for the Respondent
O R D
following Order of the Court was delivered: State of Punjab & Ors. V. Sadhu
O R D
appeal by special leave arises from the judgment and decree of the High Court
of the Punjab & Haryana made on October 10, 1983 in Regular Second Appeal
No.28 of 1983, reversing the judgments of the appellate Court and trial Court
and decreeing the suit with prayer that the respondent is an equitable owner of
the lands and directing the appellant to deliver possession of the lands to the
undisputed facts are that on 25.5.1951 notification under Section 4(1) of the
Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894) (for short, the "Act") was
published. Thereafter, an award came to be passed and compensation was paid to
the erstwhile owners. The land was acquired for the purpose of digging the
earth and completion of the bridge. The bridge came to be completed in the year
1954. Thereafter, when the land was in pits the respondent came to be in
possession as a lessee in the year 1965. He paid the premium till the year
1974-75. The total extent of the land is about 70 acres.
it would appear that the respondent had purchased the lands from the erstwhile
owners. by registered sale deeds and filed the civil suits in 1976 for
declaration that he is an equitable owner of the land and alternatively for a
direction to surrender the land to the erstwhile owners.
learned Judge having noticed the procedure prescribed in disposal of the land
acquired by the Government for public purposes, has held that the said
procedure was not followed for surrendering the land to the erstwhile owner.
The respondent having purchased the land had improved upon the land and is,
therefore, entitled to be an equitable owner of the land. We wholly fail to
appreciate the view taken by the High Court. The learned Judge had not referred
to the relevant provisions of the Act and law. It is an undisputed fact that
consequent upon the passing of the award under Section 11 and possession taken
of the land, by operation of Section 16 of the Act, the right, title and
interest of the erstwhile owner stood extinguished and the Government became
absolute owner of the property free from all encumbrances. Thereby, no one has
nor claimed any rights title and interest in respect of the acquired land.
Before the possession could be taken, the Government have power under Section
48(1) of the Act to denotify the land. In that event, land is required to be
surrendered to the erstwhile owners. That is not the case on the facts of this
these circumstances, the Government having become the absolute owner or the
property free from all encumbrances, unless the title is conferred on any
person in accordance with a procedure known to law, no one can claim any title
much less equitable title by remaining in possession. The trial Court as well
as the appellant Court negatived the plea of the respondent that he was
inducted into possession as a lessee for a period of 20 years. On the other
hand, the finding was that he was in possession as lessee on yearly basis. Having
lawfully come into possession as a lessee of the Government. Section 116 of
Evidence Act estops him from denying title of the Government and set it up in
third party. By disclaiming Government title he forfeited even the annual
lease. Under these circumstances, having come into possession as a lessee;
after expiry and forfeiture of the lease, he has no right. Illegal and unlawful
possession of the land entails payment of damages to the Government.
entries in the revenue records came to be relied upon by the High Court.
Thereby, he trapped himself in the paradise of the; patwari who freely fabricated
the entries in revenue records. Can an Executive Engineer has any power on
behalf of the Government to confer title on the erstwhile owner by surrender? If
so, under what provisions? It is not the case that as per procedure in
financial code the land was reallotted to him or erstwhile owner. Do the
entries confer any title on him? It would be obvious that all the entries were
got recorded in collusion with the appropriate authorities. Therefore, the
Government is not bound by such entries made. Under these circumstances, the
learned Judge blissfully omitted to consider the relevant provisions of law and
devoted 33 pages judgment on weed and has committed the gravest error of law in
reversing the judgment and decrees of the first appellate and the trial Court
and decreeing the suit.
appeal is accordingly allowed. The judgment and decree of the High Court is set
aside and that of the trial Court is confirmed with costs throughout.