THE  PUNJAB LAND REFORMS ACT, 1972

Punjab Act No. 10 of 1973

 

Contents

Section

Subject

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF ACT 10 OF 1973

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF ACT 40 OF 1973

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF ACT 22 OF 1976

CHAPTER   I

Preliminary

  1.  

Short title, extent and commencement

  1.  

Declaration as to giving effect to certain directive principles

  1.  

Definitions

CHAPTER II

Ceiling on Land

  1.  

Permissible area

  1.  

Selection of permissible area and furnishing of declaration by certain persons

  1.  

Collection of information in case declaration is not furnished

  1.  

Determination of permissible and surplus area

  1.  

Vesting of unutilized surplus area in the State Government Determination of permissible and surplus areas

  1.  

Power to take possession of surplus area

  1.  

Amount Payable for the surplus area

  1.  

Disposal of surplus area

  1.  

Bar on future acquisition of land in excess of permissible area

  1.  

Power to separate share of landowners in joint lands

  1.  

Exemption of lands belonging to religious of charitable institutions

CHAPTER III

Miscellaneous

  1.  

Saving of certain rights of tenants to purchase land

  1.  

Summary eviction and fine

  1.  

Abrogation of pending degrees, order and notices

  1.  

Appeal, review and revision

  1.  

Correction of clerical errors

  1.  

Court fees

  1.  

Bar of jurisdiction

  1.  

Indemnity

  1.  

Penalty for making false statements

  1.  

Mode of recovery

  1.  

Power to make difficulties

  1.  

Power to make rules

  1.  

Exemption of certain lands from the operation of the Act

  1.  

Repeal and Saving

 

 

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF ACT 10 OF 1973

 

            Two enactments, namely, the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 and the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1955, are in force in the State of Punjab While the former Act applies to those parts of the state which were comprised in the State of Punjab immediately before the Ist November, 1965, the latter applies to those territories of the erstwhile State of Pepsu Which now form part of the State of Punjab. It was considered necessary that a single unified law should be applicable to the entire State in so far as provisions relating to imposition of land ceiling acquisition of proprietary rights by tenants and ancillary matters are concerned. The aforesaid two enactments will remain in force in regard to matter not covered by this Bill.

 

            After giving careful consideration to the various aspects of land reform measures, which are necessary in the interest of social justice as also agricultural production, it has been decided that the ceiling limits be suitably reduced; that the entire surplus area should vest in the State Government and that the criteria of eligibility for allotment of such areas should be made broad-based. It has been considered necessary to withdraw pertain exemptions which were allowed under the tow existing measures.

 

            This Bill is being enacted to achieve the above objective.

 

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF ACT 40 OF 1973

           

            The bill is designed to replace the Punjab Land Reforms (Amendment) Ordinance, 1973, which was issued with a view to carrying out certain suggestions/amendments considered necessary by the Government of India and the State Government.

 

 

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS OF ACT 22 OF 1976

 

            The existing provision of punishment in Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, is not considered deterrent enough to deal with the land owner who don not furnish any declaration regarding their land or file declarations which are false. It is proposed to enhance the existing punishment. Hence this Bill.

 

            Received the assent of the President of India on the 28th March, 1973 and holdings, first published for general information in the Punjab Government Gazette (Extraordinary) dated, the 2nd April, 1973.

 

            An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to ceiling on land holdings, acquisition of proprietary rights by tenants and other ancillary matters in the State of Punjab.

           

            An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to ceiling on land holdings, acquisition of proprietary right by tenants and other ancillary matter in the State of Punjab.

 

CHAPTER I

Preliminary

 

1.                             Short title, extent and commencement — (1) This Act may be called the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972.

2.                             It extends to the whole of the State of Punjab.

3.                             It shall come into force at once.

 

2.         Declaration as to giving effect to certain directive principles -  It is hereby declared that this Act is for giving effect to the policy of the State towards securing the principles specified in clauses (b) and (c) of Articles 39 of the Constitution of India.

 

COMMENTS

 

Definition of the word “land--” We are unable to agree that the Act deals only with the land and not the buildings or other super-structures on such land. The definition of the word “land” extracted above would show that it includes “ sites of buildings, and other structures of such land”. In the context in which clause (a) appears in section 2(5) and in view of the fact that there is a comma after the words “sites of buildings” we are of the view that the words “sites” in clause (a) does not qualify the words “other structures on such land” It should be interpreted as including other structures on such land as also sites of buildings. Bal Raj Ahuja vs State of Punjab and another, 1988 PLJ 423.

 

3                    Definitions - In this Act’ unless the context otherwise requires—

 

(1)                                     “appointed day” means the twenty-fourth day of January, 1971;

(2)                                     “banjar land” means land which has remained uncultivated for a continuous period of not less than four years immediately preceding the date on which the question whether such land is banjar or not arises;

(3)                                      “Collector” means the Collector of the district or any other officer not below the rank of Assistant Collector of the first grade empowered in this behalf by the State Government;

(4)                                     “family” in relation to a person means the person, the wife or husband, as the case may be, of such person and his or her minor children other than a married minor daughter;

(5)                                     “land” means land which is not occupied as the site of any building in a town or village and is occupied or has been let for agricultural purposes or for purposes sub-servient to agriculture, or for pasture, and includes:-

 

(a)                                                      the sites of buildings, and other structures on such land; and

(b)                                                      banjar land;

 

(6)   “landowner” shall have the meaning assigned to it in Punjab Land Revenue Act,  1887, (Punjab Act XVII of 1887);

 

 (7) “minor” means a person who has not completed the age of eighteen years;

 

(8)   “orchard” means a  compact area of land having fruit bearing trees grown there- on in such number that they preclude, or when fully grown would preclude, a substantial part of such land from being used for any other agricultural purpose but shall not include under banana or guava trees or land comprised in vineyard;

 

(9)       “Pepsu Law”  means the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1955

 

(10)      “person” includes a company, family association or other body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, and any institution capable of holding property;

 

(11)      “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

(12)      “Punjab Law”  means the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953;

 

[(13)    “self-cultivation” means cultivation by a landowner either personally or through any member of his family or through his brother, or through a servant or hired labour under the personal supervision of the landowner or supervision of a member of his family, subject to the condition that the servant or hired labour is paid wages in cash or in kind or partly in cash and party in kind but not as a share of the produce;]

(14) [----]

 

(15)           ”surplus area” means the area in excess of the permissible area;

 

(16)   “tenant” has the meaning assigned to it in the Punjab Tenacy Act, 1887 (Act XVI of 1887) and includes a sub-tenant and self-cultivating lessee, but shall not include a present holder as defined in clause (f) of section 2 of the East Punjab Displaced Persons (Land Resettlement) Act, 1949;

 

(17)   all other words and expressions used herein and not defined but defined in the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 (Punjab Act XVI of 1887), or the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887 (Punjab Act XVII of 1887) shall have the meaning assigned to them in either of those Acts.

 

COMMENTS

 

Tenant on appointed day – if the petitioner was a tenant on the appointed day and had continued to be a tenant continuously it would be manifestly unfair to deprive him of tenants permissible area merely because he subsequently purchased a part of the tenancy. Whether he in fact was entitled to tenants permissible area, is a matter to be examined by the Collector. Raja Ram vs. State of Punjab, 1992 LLT 26 (F.C. Punjab)

 

Definition of landowner: -   It is admitted case of the petitioner that he is in possession of the land of Smt. Angoori Devi and that litigation is pending is pending in civil Court. The claim of the petitioner on the basis of a Will of Jai Singh, original owner, stands negatived by the Civil Court and now the matter is stated to be pending in the High Court in appeal. If the appeal is decided in favour of the petitioner he would be owner of the land and, thus, a landowner. That being the position, this piece of land could be included for determination of the surplus area as belonging to the petitioner. Even if he fails in the civil suit, his case is covered in the definition of land owner as reproduced above. He is in possession of the land and enjoying its profits. The authorities were,  thus, justified, though on different grounds, in including this piece of land in the area of the petitioner for determination of the surplus area in his hand. Shri Jasmer Singh Bhatti Vs Punjab State and others, 1989 PLJ 288.

 

Tenants on the appointed day --  The Senior State Counsel, on the other hand, advanced the same arguments as have been set forth in the impugned order of the Commissioner that Smt. Kaushalya  Devi being a real sister of big landowner, is residing with them and, therefore, she is not entitled to tenants permissible area. So far as Ramesh Kumar and Raj Kumar Petitioners No. 2 and 3 are concerned, they have been shown as tenants on the appointed day under the order f Civil Court and such an order is to be ignored in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Act. Kaushalaya Devi vs State of Punjab, 1992 LLT 36 (F.C. Punjab).

 

            The stand of respondent no. 1 is that the contents of sub-para (iv) are not admitted as the case was decided on merits by the lower Court after giving full weightage to the evidence produced by the petitioners. Respondent No. 2 has also given an evasive reply and has stated that there were no other tenants on the land of the petitioners on the appointed day, except Net Ram, who had been allowed his tenants’ permissible area. It is, therefore, apparent to me that this aspect of the matter has not been adequately dealt with the authorities and the assertions made in the writ petition have not been emphatically denied. I am, therefore, of the view that as far as determination of the tenants’ permissible area is concerned, the matter needs to be gone into once again.  The petition is allowed on the limited ground mentioned above, and the orders Annexures P-2 and P-4 are accordingly quashed. A directions is issued to the Collector having jurisdiction in the matter to re-determine the tenants’ permissible  area and thereafter re-assess the surplus area in the hands of the landowner. Sahi Ram vs State of Punjab through Collector, Ferozepure, 1992 (1) SLJ 928

 

Declaring the land surplus—While declaring the land surplus in his hand the land prossessed by him which was owned by Smt. Angur Devi was also taken into consideration. It has been held by the Court that Smt. Anguri Devi ws the sole owner of the suit land, the same could not be taken into consideration while declaring the land surplus in the hands of Jasmer Singh. He further submitted that the said land was also considered while declaring surplus area in the hands of Smt. Anguri Devi as well. Learned Singh Judge has discussed the entire matter in detail. The definition of  `landowner’ as given in Punjab Land Reforms Act is the same as defined in Section 3(2) of the Punjab Land Revenue Act. Jasmer Singh vs. State of Punjab and others, 1990 PLJ 595

 

CHAPTER II

Ceiling on Land

4.                             Permissible area – (1) Subject to the provisions of section 5, no person shall own or hold as landowner or mortgagee with the possession or tenant or partly in one capacity and partly in another in excess of the permissible area].

 

(2) `Permissible area’ shall mean in respect of –

 

(a)                                           land under assured irrigation and capable of yielding at least two crops in ayear (hereinafter in this Act referred to as `the first quality land’) seven hectares; or

(b)                                           land under assured irrigation for only one crop in a year, eleven hectares; or

(c)                                           barani land, 20.5 hectares; or

(d)                                           land of other classes including banjar land, and area to be determined accordingly to the prescribed scale with reference to the intensity of irrigation, productivity and soil classification of such classes having regard to the respective valuation and the permissible area of the classes of land mentioned at (a), (b) and (c), above [subject to the condition that the area so determined shall not exceed 21.8 hectares].

 

Provided that—

(i)        where land consists of two or more classes, the permissible area shall be determined on the basis of relative valuation of sub clases of land, subject to the condition that it does not exceed 21.8 hectares;

 

(ii)       where the number of member of a family exceeds five, the permissible area shall be increased by one-fifth of the permissible area for each member in excess of five, subject to the condition that additional land shall be allowed for not more than three such members.

 

(3)               Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (2), where any land is comprised in an orchard [on the appointed day], such land shall, for the purpose of determining the permissible area, be treated as barani land.

 

[(4)(a)  Where a person is a member of a registered co-operative farming society, his share in the land held by such society together with his other land, if any, or if such person is a member of afamily, together wit the land held by every member of the family shall be taken int account for determining the permissible area;

 

(b)              Where a person is a member of a family, the land held by such person together with the land held by every other member of the family, whether individually or jointly, shall be taken into account for determining the permissible area].

 

(5)       In determining the permissible area any land which was transferred by sale, gift or otherwise, other than a bona fide sale or transfer, after the appointed day but before the commencement of this Act, shall be taken into account as if such land had not  been transferred and the onus of proving the transfer as bona fide shall be on the transfor.

 

(6)       For the purpose of valuation of land one and quarter hectares of banjar land shall be treated as equivalent in value  to one hectare of barani land.

 

(7)       For avaluating the land of any person at any time under this Act, the land owned by him immediately before the commencement of this Act as well as the land acquired by him after such commencement by inheritance, bequest or gift from aperson to whom he is an heir shall be evaluated as if the evaluation was being made on the appointed day and the land acquired by him after such commencement in any other manner shall be evaluated as if the evaluation was being mad on the date of such acquisition.

 

COMMENTS

            Vendees of the land in the year 1979 i.e. after the appointed day– As far the Revenue Officer Revision No.795 of 1985-86 is concerned, appeal has been rightly rejected by the Commissioner as the petitioners were vendees of the land in the year 1979 i.e. after the appointed day and no benefit could be given to them under the provisions of Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972. Admittedly they had purchased the surplus area after the enforcement of th Act and no benefit could be given to them and land purchased by them had already been declared suprlus by the order of the Collecor. Gurdarshan Singh alias Darshan Singh vs. State of Punjab etc., 1990 PLJ 311

 

Tenant on the appointed day – If the petitioner was a tenant on the appointed day and had continued  to be a tenant continuously it would be maifestly unfair to deprive him of tenants permissible area merely  because he subsequently purchased a part of the tenancy. Whether he in fact was entitled to tenants permissble area, is a matter to be examined by the Collector. Raja Ram vs. State of Punjab, 1992 LLT 26 (F.C.Punjab)

 

            If the petitioner was tenant on the appointed day and had continued to be a tenant continuously, it would be menifestly unfair to deprive him of tenants permissible area merely because he subsequently purchased a part of the tenancy. Raja Ram vs. State of Punjab, 1988 PLJ 87

 

Surplus area—It is clear that the possession of the area declared surplus under the old Act continues to be with the landowner i.e. the petitioner till today. It implies that the surplus area has not been utilised. That being so, the Collector was to re-determine the area under the new Act afresh in terms of the authorities cited by the petitioner. Behari Lal vs. State, 1992 LLT 38 (F.C.Punjab)

 

            It shall, however, be open to the authorities to re-assess the land in the hands of Surinder Kaur, who as referred above is daughter-in-law of Ajmer Singh, under the provisions of Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972. It is, therefore, made clear that if any such exercise is done, the vendees from Ajmer Singh shall also be heard. Ajmer Singh(died) vs. State of Punjab PLJ 583

 

No proof of the date of birth – It would be ssen that at the time when the order Annexure P-1 was passed, no proof had been furnished by petitioner No.1 by Lekh Ram himself (though he was present in Court) which could show that he was an adult on the appointed day. When the matter was taken up by the Special Collector after remand , yet again no evidence was produced with regard to the date of birth of Lekh Ram. The Commissioner while recording the order Annexure P-3 found once again that there was no proof of date of birth of Lekh Ram on the file. Before the Financial Commissioner, however, the petitioners sought to produce some additional evidence in the shape of certificate showing the date of marriage of Lekh Ram as 16th February, 1970 and the Voters List of 1984 showing Lekh Ram as being 33 years of age. The learned Financial Commissioner, however, found that the date of marriage could not prove the date of birth of Lekh Ram and the voters list obviously was an after though and was thus required to be ignored. The learned Financial Commissioner also relied on a certificate produced from the Govt. Primary School Daulatpur by Hari Chand respondent No.2 which showed lekh Ram’s  date of birth as 24th December, 1956 which did not confer adulthood on him on the appointed day. After considering the arguments, I am of the view that on the facts as pleaded and proved, it is difficult to take on opinion different from the one taken by the authorities below.  The matter with regard to the date of birth of Lekh Ram has been gone into on a number of occasions and the findings have been found against him. The evidence sought to be produced before the Financial Commissioner has obviously been created later as it was not produced before the Collector or the Commissioner and as such I find no reason whatsoever to disagree with the findings of the authorities below. Sahi Ram vs State of Punjab through Collector, Ferozepur, 1992(1) SLJ 928=1992 PLJ 313.

 

Cause of action --  On behalf of the appellants, it was stated that the land, which was declared surplus, remained in the possession of Inder Singh the landowner till his death, which took place on the 26th November, 1983. After his death the appellants land had not been utilized by the State Government, with the result that the appelants had not been divested of its possession. After the death of the father of the appellants, a fresh cause of action again accrued to them and their rights are protected in view of the Full Bench judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court reported in 1980 PLJ 354. Since Inder Singh and three adult sons, on the appointed day, they are entitled to take benefit of Section 11(5) and (7) of the Punjab Land Reforms Act. In pursuance of the remand order of the High Court, the father of the appellants filed objections which were accepted by the Collector (Agrarian) by his order dated the 9th November, 1983 and the notice was withdrawn. The appeal filed by the State before the Commissioner had been accepted erroneously and the case remanded to the Collector with the direction that the case should be kept pending till decision of the Supreme Court in Ranjit Ram’s case. The order of the Commissioner in any case deserved to be set aside as no surplus land remained in the hands of the legal heirs of Inder Singh. Gurdev Singh and others vs State of Punjab and another 1988 PLJ 317.

 

Benefit of Section :-   The Collector(Agrarian) was not justified in rejecting the the application of Harinder Rai  petitioner for giving him the benefit of Section 5 of the Punjab Land Reforms Act on the ground that his appeal having been dismissed by the Commissioner and the case having been taken up in pursuance of the remand order of the Commissioner in the case of Saroj Rani etc., Harinder Rai petitioner could not be permitted to raise the plea of adult son etc. However, in view of the law laid down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the judgement reported in 1984 PLJ 385 such a objection could be raised before the Financial Commissioner even if it had not been raised before the Collector. The Collector should have given an opportunity to Harinder Rai to lead evidence on this point. Moreover, as per judgement reported in 1983 PLJ 319, the case of Harinder Rai Petitioner could not have been decided under the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 after the coming into force of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972 with effect from 24.3.1973. The surplus area had to be re-determined under the new Act. Besides, the surplus area having not been utilised prior to the coming into force of th Punjab Land Reforms Act, it had to be re-determined under the new Act. The utilisation made during the pendency of the litigation would not in any way affect the interest of the petitioners. On this point, I am supported by the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court reported in 1982 PLJ 223. After the coming into force of the new Act of 1972, the petitioner was entitled to  reserve the land for his adult son and other members of his family, as per the law laid down by the Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Ranjit Ram’s case (1981 PLJ 259). The aforesaid judgement also lays down that where surplus area declared under the old Act had not been utilised before the coming into force of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972 it has to be re-determined in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 1972. Under Section 5(1) of the Act of 1972, each son of a landowner who was adult on 24.1.1971 had to be allowed a separate unit of 7 hectares while determining the surplus area, if any. Harinder Rai Ahuja vs. State and others, 1989 PLJ 612

 

Petitioner was adult on the appointed day – The Commissioner has rejected the plea of petitioner Om Parkash that he be given tenants’s permissible area on the ground that Om Parkash is the adopted son of the landowner Mohari Ram and, therefore, cultivation by Om Parkash becomes self-cultivation by the landowner, in that view of the matter it was incumbent on the Commissioner to determine the claim that the petitioner was adult on the appointed day, therefore, entitled to a separate permissible unit. Om parkash vs. State of Punjab, 1992 LLT 22(F.C.Punjab)

 

            The eldest son of the lanowner Manmohan Singh was major on the appointed date. But he was gramted citizenship of Australia on 8.6.1973. Certificate is on the file of the Collector on the date of decision of the case by the Collector(Agr.) in the year 1976. Manmohan Singh was not a citizen of India and as such, no benefit of additional unit being son of the landowner be given to him. The landowner had sold approximately 19 acres of land in village Sadhowal in the year 1973-74. As the sale was made after appointed date so this is to be ignored and the land will be counted in the hands of  the big landowner. Similarly any land subsequently acquired by the landowner will also be counted towards his total holding. The Collector(Agr.) has given benefit of adult son to Harpreet Singh, who attained majority in the year 1979. This is wrong as the benefit of adult son is to be counted as on 24.1.1971 and not afterwards. As mentioned in the order of Collector(Agr.), Garhshankar dated 30.1.1980 the landowner has concealed material facts in his affidavit dated 19.2.1976 filed in connection with the proceedings before the Collector(Agr.) under the Land Reforms Act. This may be looked into all the land standing in the name of his son should be counted and appropriate action be taken under Section 23 of the Land Reforms Act, 1972. This is a fit case to impose a cut of two hectares as envisaged in the Act. Gurbachan Singh Vs. Harbans Singh & others, 1991 PLJ 226.

 

Remand – The matter is remitted to the Commissioner for fresh decision in accordance with law. It shall be open to the parties to take all arguments on facts and law before the Commissioner, who shall dispose of the matter within a period of two months from the date he takes it up. Jagat Singh vs. Punjab State, 1992(2) LLR458= 1992(1) CLJ 631

 

Absence of notice – The order of the Special Collector, Annexure P-6, as well as of the Appellant authority, Annexure P-7 and that of the Provisional Authority confirming the order Annexure-P6, deserve to be quashed being void ab initio due to  non-giving of notice to the present petitioner and it is a case which do call for fresh determination of the surplus by the requisite Authority after giving notice to the petitioners, but in the present case this exercise will be in futile nature as under the Provisions of Section 4 and 5 of Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, the petitioner being the adult sons of Sarwan Singh, respondent No.2 shall also be entitled to get their permissible area of land, as admittedly the possession of the land declared surplus had not been taken over by the State till now. Moreover, the ownership of the surplus area of land would vest in the State only after its possession has been taken over from the owner under Section 32-E of the Pepsu Act. Charanjit Singh and others vs. State of Punajb and others, 1990 PLJ 8

 

Bona-fide vendee – The petitioner purchased the land from the big landowner in the year 1974 during the pendency of the proceedings and the surplus area case was decided on 26.3.1975. So far as notice to the petitioner is concerned at the time of declaration of surplus area the petitioner was not a bona fide vendee and was not required to be heard and the sale being not covered by Section 4(5) of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972 was rightly ignored. The petitioner acquired the land eyes open and subject to all liablities and defects from which it suffered in the hands of the big landowner. Kashmira Singh vs. State of Punjab and another, 1991 PLJ 89.

 

Necessary parties--  The tenants were necessary parites before the declaration of the surplus area and that their grand-father Jhanda Singh was a tenant; over 86 Kanals 19 Marlas of land which had to be declared tenants permissible area. Now the concept of tenants’ permissible area was not specifically incorporated in the New Act, unlike the Old Act, but a Division Bench of this Court in Jagraj Singh and others vs. The State of Punjab and others, 1978 PLJ 59 spelled out such a concept and extended the concept to the New Act to conclude that tenant must be in occupation of land on the appointed day i.e. January 21, 1971, in order to claim a tenant’s permissible area. Bhag Singh and another vs. Financial Commissioner and others, 1989 PLJ 541

 

Notice – With the coming into force of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, it was incumbent on the Collector to have given due notice to the big landowner in whose hands surplus area had been assesseed under the old Act and to have condsidered the objections in the light of the provisions of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972. As Inder Singh had three adult sons on appointed day, he was competent to retain a separate unit for each of his adult sons. To that extent, surplus area which was declared under the old Act but had not been utilised upto the coming into force of the new Act would have to suffer reduction to the extent necessary. In this case, the Collector, Sangrur found that no surplus land remained with the lanowner after allowing separate permissible area to the adult sons. Gurdev Singh and others vs. State of Punjab and another, 1988 PLJ 317

 

S.5.      Selection of permissible area and furnishing of declaration by certain persons.—(1) Every person, who on the appointed day or at any time thereafter, owns or holds land as landowner or mortgagee with possession or tenant or partly in one capacity and partly in another in excess of the permissible area, shall select his permissible area and intimate his selection to the Collectors concerned, through a declaration to tbe furnished in such form and manner and within such period as may be prescribed and if such person had an adult son, out od the land owned or held by him, subject to the condition that the land so selected together with the land already owned or held by such son, shall not exceed the permissible area of each such son:

           

            Provided that where land is situate in more than one patwar circle, the declaration shall be supported by an affidavit in the prescribed form.

 

            (2) In making the selection, such a person shall include, firstly land mortgaged without possession and, secondly, land under self-cultivation on the date of commencement of the period prescribed for furnishing the declaration under sub-section (1), but shall not include area declared surplus under the Punjab law, the Pepsu law or this Act, other than the area which was exempt from utilization by the State Government immediately before such commencement.

 

COMMENTS

Consolidation proceedings—During the consolidation proceedings, which took place in the year 1964, they had been given the benefit of the aforesaid transfer of land and area measuring 486 Kanals 1 Marla had been allocated on their qurrah. It was alleged by them that the surplus area case of their father having been decided on their absence by the Collector(Agrarian) was ex parte qua them and thus liable to be reviewed. The Collector vide his order dated 13th February, 1975 rejected the aforesaid application on the ground that the earlier order of the Collector, Bhatinda dated the 9th January, 1961 whereby the surplus area case of the landowner was decided had been upheld both by the Financial Commissioner and the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the 26th April, 1963 and the 19th April, 1973 respectively. State of Punjab vs. Harbans Singh and others, 1989 PLJ 52

 

Reassessment – In Ranjit Ram’s case a Full bench of this Court has held that if a landowner whose land had been declared surplus dies before the land had been utilised the land ws to be reassessed in terms of Section (5)1) of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, in the hands of his adult sons. Sawaran Singh vs. State of Punjab and others, 1993 PLJ 329

 

            It is clear that the possession of the area declared surplus under the old Act continues to be with the landowner i.e. the petitioner till toda. It implies that the surplus area had not been utilised. That being so, the Collector was to re-determine the area under the new Act afresh in terms of the authorities cited by the petitioner. Behari Lal vs, State, 1992 LLT 38(F.C.Punajb)

 

            It shall however, be open to the authorities to re-assess the land in the hands of Surinder Kaur, who as referred above is daughter-in-law of Ajmer Singh, under the provisions of Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972. It is, therefore, made clear; that if any such exercise is done, the vendees from Ajmer Singh shall also be heard. Ajmer Singh vs. State of Punajb, 1992 PLJ 583

 

            On behalf of the appellants, it was stated that the land, which was declared surplus, remained in the possession of Inder Singh, the landowner till his death, which took place on the 26th November, 1983. After his death the appellants who are his legal heirs have been in possession of the land as owners. The disputed land had not been utilized by the State Government, with the result that the appellants, a fresh divested of its possession. After the death of the father of the appellants, a fresh cause of action again accrued to them and their rights are protected in view of the Full Bench judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court reported in 1980 PLJ 354. Since Inder Singh and three adults sons on the appointed day, they are entitled to take benefit of Section 11(5) and (7) of the Punjab Land Reforms Act. In pursuance of the remand order of the High Court, the father of the appellants filed objections which were accepted by the Collector (Agrarian) by his order dated the 9th November, 1983 and the notice was withdrawn. The appeal filed by the State before the Commissioner had been accepted erroneously and the case remanded to the Collector with the direction that the case should be kept pending till decision of the Supreme Court in Ranit Ram’s case. The order of the Commissioner in any case deserved to be set aside as no surplus land remained in the hands of the legal heirs of Inder Singh. Gurdev Singh and others vs State of Punjab and another, 1988 PLJ 317.

           

            Since the plaintiffs are in continuous possession till today, the surplus area is to be re-determined under the new Act i.e. under the Punjab Land Reforms Act which was enforced on 2.4.1973.  In support of his  contention reference was made to Ranjit Ram vs. The Financial Commissioner, Revenue Punjab and others, 1981 PLJ  59. The Suit filed on 22.12. 1975 i.e. after coming into force of the above said Act. No such plea was taken in the plaint by the plaintiff. That being so, he could not be allowed to take such plea for the first time at the time of arguments. Moreover, if he is in continuous possession on account of the stay order passed by the Courts, that will not entitle the plaintiff to claim benefit of the provisions of the above said Act. Balbir Singh vs. State of Punjab and others, 1991 PLJ 395

 

Only sons are entitle for a separate unit and not grandsons—The two sons of the landowners have already been given benefit of two separate units and, as such, there is no force in this contention in the argument of counsel for the petitioner that grandson is also entitled. In the definition of family as given in Section 3 of sub-section (4) of Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972 it is mentioned that “family” in relation to a person means the person, the wife or husband, as the case may be of such person and his or her minor children other than a married daughter. In the definition on children of the landowner have been allowed but not grad children. Udham Kaur and others vs State of Punjab and others, 1990 PLJ 607.

 

Notice-Since the land had not been utilised upto the date notice under Section 9(1) was issued so it was incumbent upon the Collector to re-determine the are under the new Act, 1972, and benefit of adult sons be given to original landowner who had two adult sons in a family of 8 members on the appointed date. But there is no force in these arguments as the land had been declared surplus under the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 well before the commencement of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972. So the order of Collector Agarian declaring surplus are attained finality and the case cannot be re-opened in the guise of purchase by the present petitioners. Kuldip Singh and otehrs vs. The State of Punjab, 1993 PLJ 249.

 

Surplus area—The determination of surplus area has neither been challanged by the big landowner during his life time and nor by the his heirs at any time. Even after his death his heirs have not staked their claim for re-determination of surplus area. It is a common knowledge that heirs of a big landowner to ask for re-determination of surplus area after his death if they likely to gain on re-determination. However, where the heirs of a big landowner are already big landowners in their own right or have become big landowners after inheritance from a deceased landowner, they may not claim re-determination of surplus area. Hanuman vs. State of Punjab and others, 1993 PLJ 134

 

Res-judicata --  The appellant having been present in all these proceedings these orders were very much in his knowledge. After he failed to prefer an appeal/revision against the orders determining the surplus area within  the limitation prescribed under the Act., the petitioners have forefeited the right to challenge the same which operate as re judicata between the petitioners and the State Government. Paro Bai etc. vs. State, 1989 PLJ 46

 

Gift deed --  The Commissioner had not gone into the bona fide or otherwise of the gift made favour of Smt. Sukhwinder Kaur and has dismissed the appeal by merely standing that the gift having been made after the appointed day, was not be valid. He has urged that this was contrary to the provisions of Section 5 of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, whereby a bona fide trnasfer even if it be by way of a gift made after the appointed day was to be protected, I find force in the argument of the counsel for the petitioner. It is clear to me that the Commissioner has not given a finding in terms of Section 5 of the Act as it was incumbent on him to give a finding with regard to the bona fides or otherwise of the gift made in favour of Smt. Sukhwinder Kaur. Jagat Singh vs. Punjab State through  the Financial Commissioner and Secretary Revenue Punjab, Chandigarh, 1992(1) SLJ 1205 = 1992(1) PLR 677 = 1992(1) Rev.LR 308 = 1992 PLJ 281 = 1992(2) LLR 485

 

Determination of claim—The Commissioner has rejected the plea of petitioner Om Parkash that he be given tenants’ permissible area on the ground that Om Parkash is the adopted son of the landowner Mohari Ram and, therefore,, cultivation by Om Parkash becomes self-cultivation by the landowner, in that view of the matter it was incumbent on the Commissioner to determine the claim that the petitioner was adult on the appointed day and, therefore, entitled to a separate permissible unit. Om Parkash vs. State of  Punjab. 1992 LLT 22(F.C. Punjab)

 

Appointed day --  The eldest son of the landowner Manmohan Singh was major on the appointed date. But he was granted citizenship of Australia on 8.6.1973. Certificate is on the file of the Collector on the date of decision of the case by the Collector(Agr.) in the year 1976. Manmohan Singh was not a citizen of India and as such, no benefit of additonal unit being son of the landowner be given to him. The landowner had sold approximately 19 acres of land in village Sadhowal in the year 1973-74. As the sale was made after appointed  date so this is to be ignored and the land will be counted in the hands of the big landowner. Similarly any land susequently acquired by the landowner will also be counted towards his total holdings. The Collector(Agr.) has given benefit of adult son to Harpreet Singh, who attained majority in the year 1979. This is wrong as the benefit of adult son is to be counted as on 24.1.1971 and not afterwards. As mentioned in the order of the Collector(Agr.) Garhshankar dated 30.1.1980 the landowner had concealed material facts in his affidavit dated 19.2.1976 filed in connection with the proceedings before the Collector(Agr.) under the Land Reforms Act. This may be looked into and all the land standing in the names of his sons should be counted and appropriate action be taken under Section 23 of the Land Reforms Act, 1972. This is a fit case to impose a cut of 2 hectares as envisaged in the Act. Gurbachan Singh and another, 1991 PLJ 226

 

            With the coming into force of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972, it was incumbent on the Collector to have given due notice to the big landowner in whose hands surplus area had been assessed under the old Act and to have considered the objections in the light of provisions of the Punjab Land Reforms Act, 1972. As Inder Singh had three adult sons on appointed day, he was competent to retain a separate unit for each  of his adult sons. To that extent, surplus area which was declared under the old Act but had not been utilised upped the coming into force of the new Act would have to suffer reduction to the extent necessary. In this case, the Collector, Sangrur found that no surplus land remained with the landowner after allowing separate permissible area to the adult sons. Gurdev Singh and others vs. State of Punjab and another, 1988 PLJ 317

 

            The sole point for determination in this case is whether the date of birth as recordced in the municipal record could be accepted in preference to that recorded in the Matriculation certificate. Gurbachan Singh vs. State of Punjab and another, 1990 PLJ 309

 

            Tenant’s permissible area--  The stand of respondent No.1 is that the contents of sub-para (iv) are not admitted as the case was decided on merits by the lower Courts after giving full weightage to the evidence produced by the petitioners. Respondent No.2 has also given an evasive reply and has stated that there were no other tenants on the land of the petitioners on the appointed day, except Net Ram, who had been allowed his tenants’ permissible area. It is, therefore, apparent to me that this aspect of the matter has not been adequately dealt with the authorities and the assertions made in writ petition have not been emphatically denied. I am, therefore, of the view that as far as determination of the tenants’ permissible area is concerned, the matter needs to be gone into once again. The petition is allowed on the limited ground mentioned above, and the orders Annexures P-2 and P-4 are accordingly quashed. A direction is issued to the Collector having jurisdiction in the matter to re-determine the tenants’ permissible area and thereafter re-assess the surplus area in the hand os the landowner. Sahi Ram vs. State of Punjab through Collector, ferozepur, 1992(1) SLJ 928

 

            Benefit of own wrong—The surplus land was allotted to them but they could not take possession in view of the stay order granted by the authorities under the Pepsu Act and by the High Court when the order passed by the authorities under the Pepsu Act was challenged in a writ petition. The landowner cannot be allowed to take benefit of his own wrong. He approached the High Court, got a stay order and the allottees could not obtain possession because of the stay. Mr. Tiwari may be right to the extent that the possession could not delivered  to his clients because of the stay order granted by this Court. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the landowner was not divested of the ownership of the surplus land and in  view of the mandatory provisions of Section 4 read with section 5(1) of the Act, he is entitled to select permissible area for his family and for each of his adult son. Rajinder Singh and another vs. State of Punjab and others, 1989 PLJ 168

 

6.                 Collection of information in case declaration is not furnished --  If any person fails to furnish the declaration in accordance with the provisions of section 5, the Collector shall obtain the requisites information in the prescribed manner.

 

 

 

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