H.K. Choudhury, Regional Settlement Commissioner
Vs. Shri Issardas Kundanmal Motiani & Ors  INSC 35 (15 February 1965)
15/02/1965 SIKRI, S.M.
GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B. (CJ) HIDAYATULLAH, M.
CITATION: 1965 AIR 1647 1965 SCR (3) 78
Displaced Persons (Compensation and
Rehabilitation) Rules,1955, r.19--If applies to agricultural property.
The respondent who had a "verified
claim" applied for compensation under the Displaced Persons (Compensation
and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954. He alleged that he was a co- sharer along with
his brothers in agricultural property in West Pakistan and claimed his share of
the compensation. The Assistant Settlement Officer held that the alleged co-
sharers were members of a joint Hindu family and that the agricultural property
was joint property. He then calculated the compensation on the joint property
as per rr. 51 and 56 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation)
Rules 1955. The respondent thereupon filed a petition in the High Court under
Arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution contending that on the finding that the
respondent and his brothers constituted a joint family, the unit for assessment
of compensation should first be determined according to r. 19, which makes
special provision for payment of compensation to joint families, before
compensation was calculated. The High Court allowed the petition.
In the appeal to this Court it was contended
that r. 19 was inapplicable as that rule does not apply to agricultural land.
HELD: The High Court was right in holding
that the rule applied to the claim of the respondent in respect of the
Chapter IV of the Rules in which r.19 occurs
contains some rules which apply to applications for compensation in respect of
agricultural lands also. Therefore it cannot be said that the Chapter does not
deal with agricultural lands at all. Each rule must be considered to see
whether it has application to a claim for compensation in respect of
agricultural land. So considered, there is no principle of construction by
which the scope of the general words in r.
19 could be limited, so as not to apply to
agricultural land. Chapter VIII of the Rules provides for compensation in
respect of verified claims for agricultural lands in rural areas and only deals
with how a unit that has been determined is to be compensated. There is nothing
in that Chapter which modifies or overrides r.19 which enables the authorities
to determine the unit for assessment of compensation in the case of joint
families. [83 D-E; 85 A-F]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals
Nos. 89--93 of 1964.
Appeals by special leave from the judgment
and orders dated August 30, 1961 and June 13, 1961 in Special Civil Application
Nos. 440, 441,509, 510 and 7 of 1961.
K.S. Chawla and R.S. Sachthey, for the
appellant (in C. As. Nos. 89/91 of 1964).
79 C.K. Daphtary, Attorney-General, K.S.
Chawla and R.N.
Sachthey, for the appellant (in C.A. NO.
N.N. Keshwani, for the respondents in all the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Sikri, J. These five appeals by special leave raise a common question of
interpretation of r. 19 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation &
Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules). It is
common ground that nothing turns on any dissimilarity in the facts of each
appeal. It will accordingly suffice if facts in Civil Appeal No. 93 of 1964 are
The respondent, Lachman Hotchand Kriplani, is
a displaced person from West Pakistan. He has three brothers.
They owned 731 acres of agricultural land in
District Nawabshah, Taluka Nawab Shah, Sind--now in Pakistan. The respondent
submitted a claim under the Displaced Persons (Claims) Act, 1950 (XLIV of
1950)--hereinafter referred to as the Claims Act. The word 'claim' was defined
to mean "assertion of a right to the ownership of, or to any interest in
(i) any immovable property in West Pakistan which is situated within an urban
area, or (,ii) such class of property in any part of West Pakistan, other than
an urban area as may be notified by the Central Government in this behalf in
the official gazette". It is common ground that agricultural land in Sind
was so notified. The respondent's claim was that he owned 1/4 share of 731
acres and 14 ghuntas standing in the name, of Fatehehand. The Claim Officer, by
order dated October 7, 1952, accepted the claim and assessed his claim as 94-3
On July 2, 1955, the respondent applied for
compensation under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act
(XLIV Of 1954)--hereinafter referred to as the Compensation Act. In the
application he stated that he was not a member of a Joint Hindu Family in
Pakistan, but his claim was as a co-sharer along with three others, who had
filed separate claims. The Assistant Settlement Commissioner was, however, not
satisfied with this assertion and after holding an enquiry, by order dated
March 3, 1960, he held that the four alleged co-sharers were members of a Joint
Hindu Family, and the whole agricultural land claim was to be treated as joint
property. On August 29, 1960, a statement of account was issued to the
respondent. This statement showed that his claim was assessed as Rs. 10,701/-
gross compensation. This figure was arrived at, as stated in the affidavit of
the Assistant Settlement Commissioner, thus:
"The claim was assessed for 376 standard
acres and 12 units out of which the petitioner had 1/4th share. The
compensation on 376 Standard Acres and 12 Units works out to 108 Standard Acres
0-3/10 Units as per 80 scale indicated in Rule 51. This converted in terms of
money as per Rule 56 comes to Rs. 42,806/- The petitioner's 1/4th share would
be Rs. 10,701/-".
The respondent then on October 28, 1960,
served a notice on the Regional Settlement Commissioner calling upon him to
rectify the statement of account, failing which he will be constrained to move
the High Court under arts. 226 and 227 of the Constitution. In this notice he
claimed that r. 20 applied to his case; in the alternative he asserted that at
least r. 19 should be applied to him. In reply, the Assistant Settlement
Commissioner informed him that the calculation had been done correctly.
Thereupon, he filed a petition under arts. 226 and 227, in the Bombay High
The High Court allowed the petition and set
aside the statement of account furnished to the petitioner on August 29, 1960,
and directed that the respondent shall give the benefit of r. 19 and determine
the amount of compensation payable to him in accordance with the provisions of
rr. 19, 51 and 56 and other rules of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and
Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955.
The appellant having obtained special leave,
the appeals are now before us. We may mention at the outset that in the High
Court the respondent's counsel did not challenge the finding of the Assistant
Settlement Commissioner that the respondent and his brothers were members of a
The High Court came to the conclusion that r.
19 applied to agricultural land. It found nothing in the scheme of the Rules,
or in the language of r. 19, to support the claim of the Department that r. 19
applied only to nonagricultural land.
The learned Attorney-General, on behalf of
the appellant, challenges the conclusion of the High Court. He has taken us
through various sections of the Compensation Act of 1954 and various rules to
substantiate his contention. Let us then look at the Compensation Act and the
Rules. The Compensation Act was enacted to provide for payment of compensation
and rehabilitation grant to displaced persons and for matters connected
'Verified claim" is defined to mean,
inter alia, a claim registered under the Displaced Persons (Claims) Act (XLIV
of 1950). It is not disputed that the claim of the respondent verified by order
dated October 7, 1952, is a verified claim.
Section 4 provides for an application for the
payment of compensation in the prescribed form to be made by a displaced person
having a verified claim within a certain period. Section 5 provides that on
receipt of an application under s. 4, the Settlement Officer shall determine
the amount of public dues, if any, recoverable from the applicant and shall
forward the application and the record to the Settlement Commissioner. It will
be noticed that a verified claim registered under the Claim Act, 1950, includes
claims to urban as well as certain agricultural land. Therefore, both ss. 4 and
81 5 apply to such agricultural land as has been made the subject matter of
claim and verification under the Claims Act of 1950. Section 6 was referred to
by the learned Attorney- General but we have not been able to appreciate how it
advances his case. Section 6 gives relief to certain banking companies in this
way. If a banking company held a mortgage of an immovable property belonging to
a displaced person in west Pakistan, and that mortgage was subsisting at the
date when the claim of the banking company was registered under the Claim Act,
1950, and the displaced person is entitled to receive compensation in respect
of any such property, the banking company was entitled to various reliefs, the
appropriate relief depending on whether the compensation to the displaced
person is payable (1) in cash or (2) in the form of transfer of any property,
or (3) in any other form. In this section immovable property would include
agricultural land and it cannot be denied that the respondent is entitled to
compensation at least in one of the three forms mentioned in sub. s. (2).
Section 7(1).directs the Settlement
Commissioner on receipt of the application trader s. 5 to ascertain the amount
of compensation having due regard to the nature of the verified claim and other
circumstances of the case.
Section 7(2) provides for the deduction of
certain dues and the Settlement Commissioner then makes an order under s.
7(3) ascertaining the net amount of
compensation. Section 8 provides the form and manner of payment of compensation
of the net compensation determined under s. 7(3) as being payable to a
displaced person. Subject to any rules that may be made, the net compensation
is payable in cash, in government bonds, or by sale to the displaced person of
any property from the compensation pool and setting off the purchase money
against the compensation payable to him, etc.
Section 8(2) enables rules to be made by the
Central Government on various matters, inter alia, the scales according to
which, the form and the manner in which and the installments by which
compensation may be paid to different classes of displaced persons. Section 40
enables rules to be made to carry out by the purposes of the Compensation Act.
It is not necessary to refer to other sections of the Compensation Act.
Before we deal with the 1955 Rules, it is
apparent that ss. 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 do not in any manner distinguish between
urban land and agricultural land as long as the agricultural land is the
subject-matter of a verified claim.
If a person holding a verified claim in respect
of agricultural land owes public dues--and "public dues" is defined
very widely in s. 2(d) to include all kind of loans not only from the Central
Government but from a State Government also-this has to be deducted under s.
7(3). It is suggested that the expression "net amount of
compensation" in s. 7(3) means only cash compensation but we are unable to
limit the expression thus in view of the scheme of ss. 4 to 8.
82 The Central Government in exercise of the
power conferred by s. 40 of the Compensation Act made the Displaced Persons
(Compensation and Rehabilitation) Rules, 1955. Chapter I contains various
definitions; Chapter II deals with procedure for submission of compensation
application and determination of public dues. Rule 3 enables a displaced person
having a verified claim to make an application for compensation. Rule 4 deals
with the form of application and Appendix I is the form prescribed, and
Appendix II is the questionnaire which has to be answered.
One question is important for our purpose.
Under the heading "11. Particulars of claims under Displaced Persons
Claims Act, 1950" is mentioned: "(a) agricultural land, index no;
Village/Tehsil/District; value assessed in
cosharers in each property with respective
shares; if any property is mortgaged state mortgage money and name of the
mortgagees". The rest of the rules, upto r. 9, in this Chapter deal with
the scrutiny of the application and the determination of public dues. It is
only necessary to notice r. 6(2) which requires a Settlement Officer to send a
duplicate copy of the application to the Office of the Chief Settlement
Commissioner for verification of the assessed value of the claim in respect of
which the application has been made. Under r. 10 the Settlement Officer is
required to pass an order and send a copy of the order and the original
application along with the records of the case to the Regional Settlement
Commissioner. It will be seen that Chapter II does not distinguish between
verified claims relating to urban property and rural property.
Then we come to Chapter III which contains r.
11. Under this rule the settlement Commissioner deals with the duplicate copy
sent to him under r. 6(2). He verities the assessed value of the claim, as
stated in the application, with the final order in respect thereof, in the
claims record and returns the duplicate copy to the Regional Settlement
Commissioner with such remarks as may be relevant for the determination of the
amount of compensation.
Chapter IV deals with determination of
compensation. It will be remembered that s. 5 of the Compensation Act requires
the Settlement Officer to determine the amount of public dues and forward the
application and the record of the case to the Settlement Commissioner, and r.
11, which we have just noticed, requires the Settlement Commissioner
(Headquarters) to send the duplicate copy to the Regional Settlement
Commissioner. Rule 12 directs the Regional Settlement Commissioner to
consolidate all these papers.
Rule 12 obviously applies to application in
respect of verified claims to agricultural land. As we have already said, s. 5
and r. 11 applied to such verified claims. Rule 13 deals with determination of
certain dues to banking companies under s. 6 and any unsecured debt payable by
an applicant in respect of which a communication has been received from any
Tribunal under s. 52 of the Displaced Persons (Debt Adjustment) Act, 1951 (LXX
of 1951). Rule 14 directs that the public dues and the amounts referred to in
Rule 13 83 shall be deducted from the amount of compensation in a certain order
of priority. Rule 15 reads as follows:
"Determination of net compensation;
After deducting the amount referred to in
rule 14, the Regional Settlement Commissioner or an Assistant Settlement
Commissioner or a Settlement Officer, or an Assistant Settlement Officer,
having jurisdiction and duly authorised by the Regional Settlement
Commissioner, shall pass an order determining the net amount of compensation
payable to the applicant in respect of his verified claim and shall prepare a
summary in the form specified in Appendix VII (Abstract of particulars).
It is significant that Appendix Vii has a
column for agricultural land and a column for remarks regarding application of
Pausing here, it is difficult to hold that
rr. 12, 13 and 14 do not apply to applications for compensation in respect of
agricultural lands which are the subject-matter of a verified claim. There fore,
we must reject the contention that Chapter IV, in which r. 19 occurs, does not
deal with agricultural lands at all. It may be conceded that r. 16 does not
apply to agricultural lands. The scale compensation in respect of agricultural
lands which are the subject-matter of a verified claim is expressly dealt with
else where. Rule 51 which provides that the scale of allotment of land as
compensation in respect of a verified claim for agricultural land shall be the
same as in quasi-permanent land allotment scheme in the State of Punjab and
Patiala, and the East Punjab States Union, as set out in Appendix XIV. The
explanation further provides that if any public dues are recoverable the
allocable area shall be reduced correspondingly. Rule 49 read with r. 56
enables the compensation due on the verified claim for agricultural land to be
converted into cash if a person wishes to have his claim satisfied against
property other than agricultural land. Rule 18 expressly excludes agricultural
land from its purview. What emerges from a consideration of these rules in
Chapter IV is that we must consider each rule and see whether it has
application to a claim for compensation in respect of agricultural land.
Rule 19 reads thus:
"Special Provision for payment of
compensation to Joint families--Where a claim relates to properties left by the
members of an undivided Hindu family in West Pakistan thereinafter referred to
as the joint family) compensation shall be computed in the manner hereinafter
provided in this rule.
(2) where on the 26th Sept. 1955 (hereinafter
referred to as the relevant date) the joint family consisted of:-- (a) two or
three members entitled to claim partition, 84 the compensation payable to such
family shall be computed by dividing the verified claim into two equal shares
and calculating the compensation separately on each such share, (b) four or
more members entitled to claim partition, the compensation payable to such
family shall be computed by dividing the verified claim into three equal shares
and calculating the compensation separately on each such share.
(3) For the purpose of calculating the number
of the member of a joint family under sub-rule (2), a person who on the
relevant date:-- (a) was less than 18 years of age, (b) was a lenial descendant
in the main line of another living member of joint Hindu family entitled to
claim partition shall be excluded:
Provided that where a member of a joint
family has died during the period commencing on the 14th August 1947 and ending
on the relevant date leaving behind on the relevant date all or any of the
following heirs namely:-- (a) a widow or widows, (b) a son or sons (whatever
the age of such son or sons) but no lenial ascendant in the main line, then all
such heirs shall, notwithstanding anything contained in this rule, be reckoned
as one member of the joint Hindu family.
Explanation--For the purpose of this rule,
the question whether a family is joint or separate shall be determined with
reference to the status of the family on the 14th day of August, 1947 and every
member of a joint family shall be deemed to be joint notwithstanding the fact
that he had separated from the family after the date".
The heading "Special Provision for
payment of compensation to joint families" is general. So is sub-rule (1).
The word properties' is general and would include agricultural land. That this
is the meaning is also borne out if we consider the word "claim". The
word "claim" must have reference to the claim in the application to
be made under s. 4 read with rr. 3 and 4, and as we have already noticed, the
application would include a claim in respect of agricultural land if it is the
subject-matter of a verified claim.
The learned Attorney-General has not been
able to point to any principle of construction which would enable us to limit
the scope of the general words in r. 19(1). His main argument that no rule in
Chapter IV applies to claims in respect of agricultural land we have already
85 The learned Attorney-General then urges
that the scheme of the Rules is to provide in separate chapters for
compensation in respect of various classes of properties, and he says that
Chapter VIII provides for compensation in respect of verified claim for
agricultural land situated in rural area and the rules contained in the chapter
are the only rules that govern the grant of compensation. But none of the rules
in this chapter deals with what is t9 happen if the agricultural land was held
by a joint family in West Pakistan or if the agricultural land was held by
co-owners in West Pakistan. Even if a Joint Hindu Family is treated as a unit
for some purposes in some laws, co-owners are very rarely treated as a unit and
it would require express language to treat co-owners as a unit and award
compensation to them as a unit. However, r. 20 recognises the general rule and
provides that where a claim relates to property left in West Pakistan, which is
owned by more than one claimant as co-owners, the unit for the assessment of
compensation shall be the share of each co-owner and the compensation shall be
payable in respect of each such share as if a claim in respect thereof has been
filed and verified separately. The learned Attorney-General, when asked, said
that even r. 20' would not apply to a claim in respect of agricultural land,
but we are unable to accede to this contention. It would be the height of'
inequity to hold this. In other words, rr. 19 and 20 enable the authorities to
determine the unit for assessment of compensation. This subject is not dealt
with in Chapter VIII, which deals with how the unit, be it an individual, a
member of Joint Hindu Family or a co-owner, is to be compensated. There is
nothing in Chapter VIII which modifies or overrides rr. 19 and 20.
Accordingly, in agreement with the High
Court, we hold that r. 19 will apply to the claim of the respondent in respect
of agricultural land left by him as a member of the Joint Hindu Family.
In the result, the appeal fails and is
dismissed with costs.
As stated in the beginning, it is common
ground that if this appeal fails the other appeals must also fail. They are
accordingly dismissed with costs. There will be one hearing fee in them.