Basant Ram Vs. Union of India  INSC
20 (24 January 1962)
24/01/1962 WANCHOO, K.N.
CITATION: 1962 AIR 994 1962 SCR Supl. (2) 733
F 1983 SC 259 (22) RF 1984 SC 463 (9)
Evacuee Property-Inclusion in compensation
pool-Effect-Power of Central Government- Administration of Evacuee Property
(Central) Rules, r. 14 (6)-Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950-The
displace persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, (XLIV of 1954), ss. 12,
14, 16 and 19.
The appellants migrated to India in 1947 from
West Pakistan. To begin with, they were given temporary allotment of land in
two villages. In 1949, land was allotted to them on quasi-permanent basis, and
they have remained in possession of the same eversince. Originally, land was
classified into two kinds: urban and agricultural land. Later on, a third
classification was introduced, known as sub-urban land. The two villages in
which land was allotted to the appellants were not included in the notification
with respect to sub-urban land. In February, 1952, the Director of
Rehabilitation passed and order declaring those villages as 734 sub-urban land.
The result of the order was that the allotment made to the appellants was to be
reduced. The appellants went in revision to the Custodian General, and their
revision petitions were dismissed on the ground that the view of Rule
14(6)(iii)(d) of the Rule it was open to the Central Government by a special
order to direct cancellation or variation of the allotment made in favour of
the appellants, and the Central Government has on the representation of the
Punjab Government agreed to declare the two villages in question as sub-urban
by its order dated October 11, 1955. The appellants filed a writ petition in
the High Court but that was dismissed summarily.
The have come in appeal to this Court by
^ Held, that when the notification of March
24, 1955, was made under s. 12 of the placed Persons (Compensation and
Rehabilitation) Act, 1954, the evacuee property in those villages ceased to be
evacuee property and became a part of the compensation pool. That property
could only be dealt with under the Act of 1954. If any variation or
cancellation of allotment was to he made that could be done only under the
provisions of s. 19 of Act of 1954. There was no power left in the Central
Government to act under Rule 14(6)(iii)(d) of the Rules framed under the Administration
of Evacuee Property Act, 1950 with respect to that land after the notification
of March 24, 1955.
Balmukand v. The State of Punjab, I.L.R. 1957
Punjab 712 and Major Gopal Singh v. Custodian of Evacuee Property, A.I.R. 1961
S.C. 1320, followed.
CIVIL, APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 766 of 1957.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated January 31, 1966, of the, Punjab High Court in Civil Writ Petition
No. 30 of 1956.
R. S. Narula, for the appellants.
B. K. Khanna and P. D. Menon, for the
S. L. Pandhi, for the interveners.
1962. January 24. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by WANCHOO, J.-This is an appeal by special leave against the
order of the Punjab High Court 735 summarily rejecting a petition filed by the
appellants. under Art. 226 of the Constitution.
The brief facts necessary for present
purposes are there. The appellants migrated in 1947 from what is now West
Pakistan and settled in two villages, viz., Sheikhapind and Kotla. They were
given temporary allotment of agricultural land in the two villages under the
East Punjab Evacuees' (Administration of Property) Act, (No.XIV of 1947) then
in force. Thereafter a scheme was formulated in 1948 for quasi-permanent
allotment of agricultural land to owners of land in West Pakistan after the
East Punjab Refugees (Registration of Claims) Act, (No.VIII of 1948) was
enacted. In July 1949, a notification was issued stating the condition under which
allotment of agricultural land would be made to displaced person from West
Pakistan. This allotment was quasi-permanent in the sense that it was to remain
in force so long as the land was to remain vested in the Custodian of Evacuee
Property. In pursuance of this notification, land was allotted in the two
villages to the appellants on quasi-permanent basis in 1949 and the appellants
have remained in possession thereof eversince. Originally land was classified
into two kinds, namely, (i) urban and (ii) agricultural land. Later in 1949,
however, a third Classification, namely sub-urban was also introduced in
practice with respect to agricultural land in the neighborhood of certain towns
and a notification seems to have been issued with respect to that specifying
the villages land in which was considered to be a sub-urban (vide Chap. V of
Land Settlement Manual by Tarlok Singh). But the two villages in which land was
allotted to the appellants were not included in the notification with respect
to sub-urban land.
In August 1950 after the quasi-permanent
allotment in favour of the appellants had been 736 made, the Revenue Assistant
(Rehabilitation) Jullundur proposed that these two villages should also be
classified as sub-urban, the consequence of which would have been to reduce the
area of land given to the allottees therein. The appellants objected before the
Director General of Rehabilitation to the villages being graded as sub-urban
The Director General called for a report from the Revenue Assistant (Rehabilitation)
and eventually passed an order on January 12, 1951 that it was not desirable at
that stage to cause any disturbance to the allotments made in these two
villages by declaring them sub-urban and that the status quo should continue.
This however did not end the matter and in February, 1952 the Director of
Rehabilitation passed an order in effect declaring these villages as sub-urban
with the result that the allotment made to the appellants would have to be
reduced. It also appears that some order was passed in April, 1952 on paper
allotting the extra land which would be released from the allotment of the
appellants to other persons who have appeared as interveners in this appeals.
But this order remained merely on paper and has not been carried out so far.
When the appellants came to know of the order of February 29, 1952, they filed
a revision before the Custodian General for setting aside that order. The
revision came up before the Deputy Custodian General for hearing in January
1956. By then however certain changes in the law and the Rules had been made.
Firstly, there was an amendment in r. 14 (8) of the Administration of Evacuee
property (Central) Rules framed under the Administration of Evacuee property
Act, (Central Act XXXI of 1950). Further, the Displaced persons (Compensation
and Rehabilitation) Act, Central Act XLIV of 1954, (hereinafter referred to as
the Act) had been passed. Under the amendment to r. 14 power was given for
cancellation or variation of any 737 allotment of rural evacuee property on a
quasi- permanent basis, where the allotment was to be cancelled or varied in
accordance with the general or special order of the Central Government. It
appears that in the meantime correspondence passed between the Punjab
Government and the Central Government and an order under the amended r. 14 (6)
(iii) (d) was obtained on October 11,1955.
Therefore, when the revision came up before
the Deputy Custodian General he held that in view of r. 14 (6) (iii) (d) of the
Rules it was open to the Central Government by special order to direct
cancellation or variation of the allotment made in this case in favour of the
appellants and that the Central Government had on the representation of the
Punjab Government agreed to declare these two villages as sub-urban by its
order dated October 11, 1955; therefore he held that whatever was being done
after October 11, 1955 was in pursuance of the order of the Central Government.
He therefore held that the impugned order of February 29, 1952, even if it was
revisable, no longer held the field and action was to be taken in future under
the order of the Central Government passed on October 11, 1955. Therefore, the
revisions had become infructuous and he dismissed them.
Then followed the writ petition by the
appellants in the Punjab High Court, which was dismissed summarily. As leave
was refused by the High Court, the appellants applied for special leave to this
Court, which was granted; and that is how the matter has come up before us.
The main contention on behalf of the
appellants before us is that after the coming into force of the Act and the
notification made there under on March 24, 1955 under s. 12, the land allotted
to the appellants in the two villages ceased to because property and became
part of the compensation pool created there under and therefore the Central 738
Government had no power left to act under the Central Act XXXI of 1950 and the
Rules framed there under. In consequence the order passed, by the Central
Government on October 11, 1955 on the basis of which the Deputy Custodian
General rejected the revision petitions filed on behalf of the appellants was
not within the competence of the Central Government and no action could be
taken by virtue of that order declaring the two villages as sub-urban. Therefore
it was not open to the authorities under the Central Act XXXI of 1950 to take
any action under that order with the object of varying the allotment made in
favour of the appellants by reducing the area allotted to them. It is further
urged that whether further action has to be taken after the notification dated
March 24, 1955-can only be taken under the Act and that no such action has in
fact been taken, We are of opinion that there is force in this contention of
the appellants and it must prevail.
Section 12(1) of the Act provides that
"if the Central Government is of opinion that it is necessary to acquire
any evacuee property for a public purpose, being a purpose connected with the
relief and rehabilitation of displaced persons, including payment of
compensation to such persons, the Central Government may at any time acquire
such evacuee property by publishing in the Official Gazette a notification to
the effect that the Central Government has decided to a acquire such evacuee
property in pursuance of this section". Sub-section (2) then provides that
"on the publication of a notification under sub- section (1), the right,
title and interest of any evacuee in the evacuee property specified in the
notification shall........be extinguished and the evacuee property shall vest
absolutely in the Central government free from all encumbrances".
Sub-section (4) provides that all evacuee
property acquired under this section shall form part of the 739 compensation
pool. Section 14 provides for the constitution of a compensation pool. Section
16 gives powers to the Central Government for the management of the
compensation pool, including the appointment of such officers as it may deem
fit (referred to as managing officers) or constitution of such authority or corporation,
as it may deem fit (referred to as managing corporations).
Section 17 provides for functions of managing
officers and managing corporations. Section 19, which is important, provides
that "notwithstanding anything contained in any contract or any other law
for the time being in force but subject to any rules that may be made under
this Act, the managing officer or managing corporation may cancel any allotment
or terminate any leases or amend the terms of any lease or allotment under
which any evacuee property acquired under this Act is held of occupied by a
person, whether such allotment or leases was granted before or after the
commencement of this Act". Rules have been framed under the Act specifying
the circumstances under which a managing officer or a managing corporation may
cancel an allotment or terminate a lease or vary the terms of any such lease or
allotment (see r. 102). It is not in dispute that the evacuee property in these
two villages was notified under s.12 of the Act on March 24, 1955.
The consequence of that notification is that
all rights. title and interest of the evacuee in the property ceased with the
result that the property no longer remained evacuee property. Once therefore
the property ceased to be evacuee property it cannot be dealt with under the
Central Act No. XXXI of 1950 or the Rules framed there under. The property in
these two villages became part of the compensation pool after the notification
of March 24, 1955 and could be deal with under the provisions of the Act and
any variation or cancellation of any lease or allotment thereafter could only
be made under s.19 740 of the Act. This is the position which emerges on a
consideration section 12, 14, 16 and 19 of the Act after the notification under
s. 12(1) was made with respect to the evacuee property in these two villages on
March 24, 1955. This view has been taken by the Punjab High Court in Balmukand
v. The Punjab State. The same view has also been expressed by this Court in
Major Gopal Singh v. Custodian, Evacuee Property, where it was held that from
the date of the notification under s. 12, the Custodian by reasons of the
divesting of the property becomes functus officio with respect to it and cannot
rectify any error made by him in the past in the matter of cancellation of
allotment. It follows therefore that when the notification of March 24, 1955
was made and the evacuee property in these two villages ceased to be evacuee
property and became part of the compensation pool it could only be deal with
under the Act and if any variation or cancellation of allotment was to be made
it could only be done under the provisions of s. 19 of the Act and there was no
power left in the Central Government to act under r. 14(6)(iii)(d) of the Rules
framed under the Central Act XXXI of 1950 with respect to this land after the
notification of March 24, 1955.
The order of the Deputy Custodian General of
January 1956 shows that further proceedings with respect to this land are
contemplated under the order of October 11, 1955 passed by the Central
Government under r. 14(6)(iii)(d). As however that order was passed after March
24, 1955, when the power of the Central Government to act under the Central Act
XXXI of 1950 had ceased on the evacuee property in these two villages becoming
part of the compensation pool, that order must be set aside and no further
proceedings can be taken under that order. We order accordingly. The appellants
will get their costs.
741 We should however like to make it clear
that we express no opinion on the controversy between the appellants and the
interveners who are left to such remedies as may be available to them under the