28 September 1970
Supreme Court







DATE OF JUDGMENT: 28/09/1970


ACT:  Punjab  Security  of Land Tenures Act of 1953 ss.  14A  18- Applications for ejectment by landlord, and for purchase  of land by tenant-If tenant’s application can be ordered.

HEADNOTE: The appellant instituted a proceeding in ejectment under  s. 14A  of  the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act,  1953  but before  orders  were passed on the application,  the  tenant initiated  a proceeding under s. 18 exercising his right  to purchase  the  land.  The two proceedings  ended  in  orders dismissing the ejection application and declaring the tenant entitled to purchase the land.  On the question whether  the tenant’s application could be granted. HELD  : Under s. 18 of the Act if a tenant had  remained  in continuous  occupation of the land for a minimum  period  of six years he is entitled to purchase the land on payment  of the  compensation determined.  Under s. 14A,  the  landowner may  obtain  possession of the land on the  ground  of  non- payment  of rent by a proceeding filed before the  Assistant Collector.   If the tenant, after notice, fails to  pay  the rent or give proof of payment. the Assistant Collector shall after  a  summary  inquiry, eject the  tenant  and  put  the landowner  in  possession.   But so long  as  the  Assistant Collector  has not passed the ejectment order, the  tenant’s right  is not extinguished; he continues to be a tenant  and being  a  tenant  is  entitled  to  exercise  his  right  of purchase. [501 C-G] In  the present case, before the Assistant Collector  passed an  order  in ejectment, the tenant exercised his  right  to purchase  the  land, and that right would  not  be  defeated merely because, on a subsequent date, an order of  ejectment was passed against him.  He is entitled to purchase the land on  payment of the amount of compensation together with  the amount of rent due by him. [501 G-H; 502 E] Har Sarup v. Financial Commissioner, Revenue, Punjab, (1965) 44 Lah.  L.T. 157, approved.

JUDGMENT: CIVIL  APPELLATE  JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal  No.  1338  of 1967. Appeal  by special leave from the order dated March 7,  1967 of  the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Civil Writ No.  326 of 1967.



B.   R. L.  Iyengar, R. L.  Kohli and J. C. Talwar, for  the appellant. S.   C.   Manchanda, M. L. Aggarwal and N. K. Aggarwal,  for respondent No. 3. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Shah, J. Bhajan  Lal was the owner of land measuring 21 498 bighas 2 biswas and bearing Khasra Nos. 11/12, 18, 20 and 43 in  village Sukhchen.  Shadi was the tenant of the land  for agricultural use.  Alleging that Shadi had failed to pay the rent  due by him for the period Kharif Season 1957  to  Rabi Season 1960, Bhajan Lal applied under S. 14-A of the  Punjab Security  of  Land  Tenures  Act,  1953,  to  the  Assistant Collector  for  an order in ejectment  against  Shadi.   The application  was  dismissed by the Assistant  Collector  and that  order was confirmed in appeal by the  Collector.   The Financial Commissioner set aside the order and remanded  the case for a fresh decision by order dated January 8, 1962. There  was yet another proceeding regarding the same  lands. On  February  20,  1961  Shadi  applied  to  the   Assistant Collector  to purchase the lands under S. 18 of  the  Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953.  The Assistant Collector rejected  the  application.  The  Collector  confirmed  that order.   By  order  dated October  5,  1962,  the  Financial Commissioner  remanded  the case for determining  whether Shadi  was in occupation of the lands for six  years  before the date of the petition. The Assistant Collector held that Shadi could claim to  pur- chase  the lands under s. 18 of the Punjab Security of  Land Tenures Act, 1953 on paying Rs. 8,409/- in ten equal instal- ments  to Bhajan Lal.  The Assistant Collector held  in  the proceeding  for  ejectment started by Bhajan  Lal  that  the tenant Shadi had without sufficient cause committed  default in  paying  rent and ordered that he be  evicted.   The  two orders  were  passed  on April 30,  1964.   Whereas  in  the proceeding  started  by Bhajan Lal he held  that  Shadi  was liable  to be evicted from the lands because he had  without sufficient  cause committed default in paying rent,  in  the proceeding  filed by Shadi the Assistant Collector  declared that  Shadi was entitled to purchase the lands  from  Bhajan Lal.   The two orders were challenged respectively by  Shadi and  Bhajan  Lal in revision applications filed  before  the Additional  Commissioner.  The Additional  Commissioner  set aside  the  order  in  favour of  Shadi  and  dismissed  the application filed by Shadi.  In a revision application,  the Financial  Commissioner  set aside the  order  of  ejectment against  Shadi  and  restored the  order  of  the  Collector declaring him entitled to purchase the lands. Against  the  order whereby Shadi was declared  entitled  to purchase the lands, Bhajan Lal applied to the High Court  of Punjab for an order setting aside the order of the Financial Commissioner.   The  High Court dismissed  the  petition  in limine.  Bhajan Lal has appealed to this Court with  special Leave Section  9(1)  of the Punjab Security of Land  Tenures  Act, 1953 provides 499 .lm15 "Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time  being  in force, no landowner shall  be  competent  to eject a tenant except when such tenant- (i)  is a tenant on the area reserved under this Act or is a tenant of a small landowner; or (ii) fails  to pay rent regularly without sufficient  cause; or



(iii)     is in arrears of rent at the commencement of  this Act; or (iv) has  failed,  or fails, without  sufficient  cause,  to cultivate  the land comprised in his tenancy in, the  manner or to the extent customary in the locality in which the land is situate; or (v)  has used, or uses the land comprised in his. tenancy in a  manner  which has rendered, or renders it unfit  for  the purpose for which he holds it; or (vi) has sublet the tenancy or a part thereof; provided that where only a part of the tenancy has been sublet, the tenant shall be liable to be. ejected only from such part; or (vii)     refuses to execute a Qabuliyat or a Patta, in  the form prescribed, in respect of his tenancy on, being  called upon to do so by an Assistant Collector on an application to him for this purpose by the landowner. Explanation.-For the purpose of clause (iii), a tenant shall be  deemed to be in arrears of rent at the  commencement  of this Act, only if the payment of arrears is not made by  the tenant within a period of two months from the date of notice of  the execution of decree or order, directing him  to  pay such arrears of rent." Section 14-A of the Act insofar as it is relevant provides "Notwithstanding  anything to the contrary contained in  any other  law for the time being in force, and subject  to  the provisions of section 9-A,- (i)  a land-owner desiring to eject a tenant under this  Act shall  apply  in writing to the Assistant  Collector,  First Grade, having jurisdiction, who shall thereafter proceed  as provided for in sub- 500 section  (2) of, Section 10 of this Act, and the  provisions of  sub-section (3) of the said section shall also apply  in relation to such application, (ii) a land-owner desiring to recover arrears of rent from a tenant  shall apply in writing to the  Assistant  Collector, Second Grade, having jurisdiction, who shall thereupon  send a  notice, in the form prescribed, to the tenant  either  to deposit  the rent or value thereof, if payable in  kind,  or give  proof of having paid it or of the fact that he is  not liable to pay the whole or part of the rent, or of the  fact of  the landlord’s refusal to receive the same or to give  a receipt, within the period specified in the notice. Section 18 of the Act, insofar as it is relevant provides "(1)  Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained  in any  law, usage or contract, a tenant of a land-owner  other than a small land-owner- (i)  who  has  been  in continuous occupation  of  the  land comprised in his tenancy for a minimum period of six  years, or (ii) who  has  been  restored  to  his  tenancy  under   the provisions  of  this  Act and whose  periods  of  continuous occupation of the land comprised in his tenancy  immediately before  ejectment and immediately after restoration  of  his tenancy together amounts to six years or more, or (iii) * shall  be entitled to purchase from the land-owner the  land so held by him but not included in the reserved area of  the landowner,  in the case of a’ tenant falling  within  clause (i) or clause (ii) at any time, and in the case of a  tenant falling within clause (iii) within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act By virtue of S. 14-A the land-owner may obtain possession of the  land  on  the  ground  of  non-payment  of  rent  by  a proceeding



501 filed before the Assistant Collector, during the subsistence of  the tenancy.  If the tenant has remained  in  continuous occupation of the land for a minimum period of six years  he is entitled to purchase the land under S. 18 of the Act. It  was urged that since S. 18 commence with a non  obstante clause,  viz.   "Notwithstanding anything  to  the  contrary contained in any law, usage or contract", if a proceeding in ejectment  is lodged against the tenant which ultimately  is allowed, the tenant cannot make a claim during the  pendency of the proceeding to purchase the land.  To hold otherwise, it was urged, would enable a tenant in default to defeat the claim in a suit in ejectment by commencing a proceeding  for purchasing  the land.  We do not think that  the  expression "Notwithstanding  anything to the contrary contained in  any law,  usage  or  contract" whittles down the  right  of  the tenant  at  the date when he makes a claim to  purchase  the land  merely because the tenancy is liable to be  terminated in a proceeding then pending for an order in ejectment under s. 14-A, at the instance of the land-owner.  Under the  Act, the  tenancy  does  not stand terminated  merely  because  a proceeding  in  ejectment  is instituted.   The  tenancy  is determined  ’only in the conditions, prescribed by s. 9  and in  the  manner  provided by s. 14-A.  If  a  tenant  is  in default  in  payment  of rent  the  land-owner  desiring  to recover  rent due by the tenant may apply in writing to  the Assistant Collector who shall thereupon send a notice to the tenant to deposit the rent due or give proof of having  paid it.   If the tenant fails to pay the rent or give  proof  of payment,  the  Assistant Collector shall,  after  a  summary inquiry,  if he is of the view that the tenant has not  paid or  deposited-the rent, eject the tenant summarily  and  put the land-owner in possession of the land concerned.  But  so long  as  the Assistant Collector has not passed  the  order ,ejecting  the  tenant  the  right  of  the  tenant  is  not extinguished  : he continues to remain a tenant and being  a tenant he is entitled to exercise his right to purchase  the land. Shadi  was a tenant prior to the date of the institution  by Bhajan  Lal of the proceeding in ejectment and he  continued to remain a tenant till an order was passed by the Assistant Collector on April 30, 1964.  But before that date Shadi had exercised  his right to purchase the land and that right  to purchase the land would not be defeated merely because on  a date  subsequent  thereto an order in ejectment  was  passed against  him.   Shadi, had therefore, at the  date  when  he initiated proceeding under s. 18 right to purchase the land. By  the subsequent order in ejectment made against  him  the statutory right of Shadi was not prejudicially affected. -L436 Sup.CI/71 50 2 We agree with the observations of Mahajan, J., in Har  Sarup and Anr. v. The Financial Commissioner, Revenue Punjab(1) at p. 15 9 :               "But, at the time when section 18  application               was  filed,  no order for  eviction  had  been               passed.    Therefore,   at  that   time,   the               relationship of landlord and tenant did exist.               Mr.  Daulta has not been able to point  to  me               any  provision  of law which  would  make  the               eviction  decree. operative from the  date  of               the eviction application.  The mere fact  that               the  tenants  had incurred the  liability  for               eviction  by  reason of  non-payment  of  rent               would not put an end to the admitted relation-



             ship  of  landlord  and  tenant  between   the               parties.   This liability only puts an end  to               the  aforesaid relationship when the  eviction               decree  is  passed.  The eviction  decree  was               passed long after the section 18  application.               Therefore, the present petition is liable  to,               succeed  only  to have extent  of  section  18               application,  that  is, the tenants  would  be               entitled to purchase the land. * * * *" But a slight modification needs to be made in the order.   A proceeding for recovery of rent was commenced against Shadi. It   is  not  clear  whether  the  amount  of   compensation determined  by the Assistant Collector as payable  by  Shadi for  purchasing the land includes the rent in  arrears.   We declare that Shadi will be entitled to purchase the land  on payment  of  the amount of compensation  together  with  the amount  of  rent due by him.  The Assistant  Collector  will pass  appropriate  order  in that  behalf  and  direct  that payment  be made in appropriate instalments under s. 18  (4) (a). Subject  to  that  modification, the  appeal  fails  and  is dismissed with costs. V.P.S.                       Appeal dismissed. (1) (1965) 44 Lah.  Law Times 157 50 3