10 October 1996
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 1920 of 1980






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       10/10/1996




JUDGMENT:                THE 10TH DAY OF OCTOBER, 1996 Present:               Hon’ble Mr. Justice K.Ramaswamy               Hon’ble Mr. Justice G.B.Pattanaik      Ujagar Singh,  Sr.Adv., Davender  Verma, Girish Sharma, Naresh Bakshi, Advs. with him for the appellants.      A.B.Rohtagi, Sr.Adv.  and Uma  Datta, Adv. with him for the Respondents.                          O R D E R      The following Order of the Court was delivered:      This appeal  by special  leave arises from the judgment of the  Punjab and  Haryana High  Court dated  March 5, 1980 made in Civil Writ Petition No.1592 of 1967.      The admitted facts are that the appellants/tenants were in possession  of the  land bearing  specified Khasra number mentioned in  the appellate  order [the details of which are not in dispute], admeasuring 190 kanals, 6 marlas in Village Kotrani in  Kapurthala District  of Punjab.  His application made under  Section 22  of the  Pepsu  Tenancy  Agricultural Lands Act, 1955 [for short, the ‘Act’] was rejected by order dated April  25, 1960  on the  ground that they did not have possession for  12 years  which was  confirmed  by  all  the authorities including the High Court in the Writ Petition on September  7,   1964.   Subsequently,   they   made   second application on  March 26,  1965 for  conferment of ownership rights based on tenancy from the respondents. Similarly, the landlord filed  an application  for reservation  of the land for personal cultivation. The authorities have dismissed the application of  the landlord  for reservation of the land by all others and the High Court which order became final,. The application of  the appellants  was allowed  on December 15, 1965. On  appeal, it  was confirmed  on June  22,  1966.  In revision, the Financial Commissioner by order dated June 15, 1967 confirmed  the same.  In  the  writ  petition,  by  the impugned judgment  the Division Bench set aside the order of the authorities on the sole ground that the orders passed on the  earlier   occasion  culminated  as  res  judicata  and, therefore the  second application  under Section  22 is  not maintainable.      Shri Ujagar  Singh,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the



appellants contended  that the  view taken by the High Court is not  correct in  law. Since  the proceedings  before  the authorities is  of  summary  nature,  the  doctrine  of  res judicata has  no application. The act does not prescribe any principle of  res judicata  as such.  The proceedings before the authorities  are of  summary nature.  It  would  not  be correct to  apply the  principle of  res judicata.  We  find force in the contention. It is not in dispute that the order passed by  the authorities  is without  any elaborate  trial like in  a suit  but in a summary manner. It is well settled law that  the doctrine  of res judicata envisaged in Section 11 of  C.P.C. has  no  application  to  summary  proceedings unless the  statute expressly  applies to  such orders.  The authorities are  not civil  court nor the petition a plaint. No issues  are framed nor tried as a civil suit. Under these circumstances, the  Division Bench  of the  High  Court  was clearly in  error to  conclude that  the earlier proceedings operate as res judicata.      It is  then contended  by Shri  Sehgal, learned  Senior counsel for  the  respondents  that  unless  the  appellants satisfy the  requirements of Section 7A(2) read with Section 22, they are not entitled to claim proprietary rights to the land or  the interest held from the landlord. Therefore, the application is  not maintainable. Though this contention was not raised  before any  of the  fora, since it trenches upon jurisdiction, we  permitted the learned counsel to argue the case on this aspect of the matter. In this behalf, he sought to place reliance on the Division Bench judgment of the High Court in  Jaisi  Ram  v.  Financial  Commissioner,  Revenue, Punjab & Ors, [AIR 1972 Punjab and Haryana 72]. The question is: whether  the appellants  are entitled  to avail  of  the benefit of  Section 22,  or ordered by the authorities under the Act?  Section 2  (k) defines  "tenant" to  mean a tenant defined in  the Punjab  Tenancy Act,  1887. The exclusionary clause is  not relevant  for the purpose of this case; hence omitted.  The  "President’s  Act"  has  been  defined  under Section 2(1)  to mean Patiala Punjab State Union Tenancy and Agricultural Lands  Act, 1953,  President  Act  8  of  1953, Section 7A  deals with  the right  to additional grounds for termination  of  tenancy  in  certain  cases  which  are  in addition to grounds specified in Section 7. It is brought by way of Amendment Act 15 of 1956 which envisages as under:      "7A.   Additional    grounds    for      termination of  tenancy in  certain      cases.  -   (1)  Subject   to   the      provisions of  sub-sections (2) and      (3), a  tenancy subsisting  at  the      commencement of  the Pepsu  Tenancy      and  Agricultural   Lands   (Second      Amendment)   Act,   1956   may   be      terminated on the following grounds      in  additional   to   the   grounds      specified in section 7, namely:-      (a) that  the land  comprising  the      tenancy has  been reserved  by  the      landowner    for    his    personal      cultivation in  accordance with the      provisions of Chapter II;      (b) That  the landowner owns thirty      standard acres  or less of land and      the   land    falls   within    his      permissible limit:      Provided that no tenant (other than      a tenant  of  a  landowner  who  is      member of  the Armed  forces of the



    Union) shall  be ejected under this      sub-section.      (i) from  any area  of land  if the      area under the personal cultivation      of the  tenant does not exceed five      standard acres, or      (ii) from  an area of five standard      acres,  if   the  area   under  the      personal cultivation  of the tenant      exceeds five  standard acres, until      he  is   allotted  by   the   State      Government  alternative   land   of      equivalent value in standard acres.      (2)  No   tenant,  who  immediately      preceding the  commencement of  the      President’s Act  has held  any land      continuously for a period of twelve      years  or   more  under   the  same      landowner  or  his  predecessor  in      title,  shall  be  ejected  on  the      grounds  specified  in  sub-section      (1) -      (a) from  any area  of land, if the      area under the personal cultivation      of  the   tenant  does  not  exceed      fifteen standard acres, or      (b)  from   an  area   of   fifteen      standard acres,  if the  area under      the  personal  cultivation  of  the      tenant  exceeds   fifteen  standard      acres:      Provided that  nothing in this sub-      section shall  apply to  the tenant      of a  landowner who,  both, at  the      commencement of the tenancy and the      commencement  of   the  President’s      Act,  was  a  widow,  a  minor,  an      unmarried woman,  a member  of  the      Armed Forces  of  the  Union  or  a      person  incapable   of  cultivating      land  by   reason  of  physical  or      mental infirmity,      Explanation  -   In  computing  the      period of  twelve years, the period      during which any land has been held      under   same   landowner   or   his      predecessor in title by the father,      brother or  son of the tenant shall      be included.      (3) For  the purpose  of  computing      under sub-sections  (1) and (2) the      area of  land  under  the  personal      cultivation of  a tenant,  any area      of land  owned by  the  tenant  and      under  his   personal   cultivation      shall be included."      Section 20  was brought by the same      Amendment Act; it reads as under:      "20. Definition  of  tenant.  -  In      this   Chapter,    the   expression      "tenant" means  a tenant as defined      in clause  (k) of section 2, who is      not liable to be ejected -      (a) under  clause (a)  and  (b)  of      sub-section (1) of Section 7-A; or



    (b) under  clauses (a)  and (b)  of      sub-section (2) of Section 7-A:      Provided that this definition shall      not apply  to a tenant who is to be      allotted by  the  State  Government      land  under  the  proviso  to  sub-      section (1) of Section 7-A."      Section 20 defines "tenant". For the purpose of Chapter IV, the  expression "tenant"  means a  tenant as  defined in Clause (k) of Section 2. In other words, he must be a tenant defined under the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887. The exclusionary clause contained  in Section  2(k) has no application to the facts in  this case.  Such a  tenant is  not  liable  to  be ejected (a)  either under clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (1) of  Section 7-A or (b) under clauses (a) and (b) of sub- section (2)  of Section  7-A. Section 20 again excludes from the definition  of tenant,  for the purpose of Section 20, a tenant who  is to  be allotted  by the State Government land under the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 7-A.      Such a  tenant, by  operation of  Section  22  acquires right to  purchase preparatory  rights of the landlord, Sub- section (1)  thereof postulates  that subject  to the  other provisions contained  in the  Act, a  tenant  defined  under Section 20, shall be entitled to acquire from his landowner, the proprietary rights in respect of the land held by him as a tenant  in  the  manner  and  subject  to  the  conditions hereinafter provided.  The manner  and the  conditions  have been enumerated  in sub-section  (2) thereof.  Such a tenant shall make  an application  in  writing  to  the  prescribed authority  in   the   prescribed   manner   containing   the particulars mentioned  in clauses  (a) to (c) of sub-section (2) of Section 22. Under clause (a), the tenant must specify the area  and location  of the  land in respect of which the application was  made; under  clause (b),  the name  of  the landowner from  whom proprietary  rights are to be acquired; under  clause   (c),  he   is  required   to  specify  other particulars prescribed  in the  rules, Sub-section (3) deals with and  confers similar  right to  a  sub-tenant  to  whom tenant had  leased the land. By operation of sub-section (3) in respect  of the  land held by the subtenant, the right of the tenant  to acquire  proprietary rights  stood  extended. Sub-tenant also  became entitled to purchase the proprietary right of  the landowner  as if  he is  a  tenant  under  the landlord. This  is the  necessary corrollary  of sub-section (3) of Section 22.      Since Section  20 and Section 22 envisage that a tenant is not  liable  to  ejectment  and  the  right  to  purchase proprietary rights  of a  land holder  by such  a tenant  is subject to  the other  provisions of the Act, as a necessary corollary, we  have to  took as  to what  are the  disabling provisions to  which a  tenant would  be subjected to before acquiring proprietary  rights, i.e. right, title or interest in the  land of the landowner from whom he holds the land as a tenant. The material provisions in that behalf are Section 7 and  Section 7A.  Section 7 speaks of the grounds on which the landlord  is entitled  to terminate  the  tenancy  of  a tenant. Sub-section  (1) thereof,  with  negative  language, emphasise that  no tenancy  should be  terminated except  in accordance with  the provisions  of the Act or except on any of the grounds specified therein.      Clause (a)  of sub-section (1) was omitted by Act 15 of 1956. Therefore,  it is  not necessary to refer to the same. Clauses (b)  to (f)  deal with  the  grounds  on  which  the tenancy of  a tenant  may be terminated by the landlord with which we  are not concerned and hence it is not necessary to



elaborate the  same in this judgment. Section 7A is relevant for the  purpose of  this case  and it is already reproduced above. It  provides additional  grounds for  termination  of tenancy in  certain cases.  The operation of sub-section (1) of Section  7A is  subject to  the operation of sub-sections (2) and  (3). By  operation of  sub-section (1), the tenancy must be  subsisting at the commencement of the Pepsu Tenancy and Agricultural  Land (Second  Amendment) Act, 1956. Such a subsisting  tenancy   may  be   terminated  on  the  grounds mentioned in clauses (a) & (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 7A. Those  are the grounds for determination of the tenancy, in addition  to the  grounds specified  in Section 7. Clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 7A provides the ground for termination of the tenancy, namely, that the land comprising the tenancy,  if has  been reserved  by the landlord for his personal cultivation,  in  accordance  with  the  provisions contained in  Chapter II, the tenant is liable to be ejected on this  ground. Therefore, it is a condition precedent that the landlord,  in accordance  with Chapter  II of  the  Act, should reserve the land held by the tenant, for his personal cultivation. It  is seen  that the  respondent-landlord  had already attempted  though unsuccessfully,  to have  the land held by  the appellants  as tenants  reserved for landlord’s personal cultivation  but his  application was  rejected and became final  and conclusive  between the  appellant and the respondent-landlord. Therefore,  clause (a)  of  sub-section (1) of  Section 7A  stood excluded as against the appellant. Thereby, they  are not liable to ejectment by termination of tenancy held  by the  appellants by  the respondent-landlord under Section  7A(1)(a).  The  disabling  provision  thereby stands excluded,  In other  words, the  appellants  acquired right to  purchase the proprietary rights of the respondent- landlord in  respect of  the lands held by the appellants as tenants,      Clause (b)  of sub-section (1) of Section 7a is another ground on  which  the  landlord  may  be  entitled  to  seek ejectment of  the tenant  by terminating  the tenancy  under section 7A.  It envisages  that  if  the  landlord  owns  30 standard acres or less of land and the land falls within his permissible limits,  the landlord  is entitled to the extent of or  to make  up the  permissible limits, to terminate the tenancy of  the tenant as an additional ground under section 7A(1)(b). In this case, the finding recorded by the tribunal and not disputed in the High Court or before us was that the respondent was in excess of 30 standard acres of land, i.e., 68 standard  acres and  that, therefore,  the appellants are not liable  to ejectment  from the  lands held  by  them  as tenants under  clause (b)  of sub-section (1) of Section 7A. The  proviso   to  sub-section   (1)  of  Section  7A  gives protection to  a tenant  even if  clauses (a)  and (b) stand attracted, namely,  "provided that  no tenant  other than  a tenant by a landowner who is a member of the armed forces of the Union  etc, shall  be ejected under sub-section (1) from any area  of  the  land  if  the  area  under  the  personal cultivation of  the tenant does not exceed 5 standard acres. In other  words, even  if the landlord has reserved the land for personal  cultivation in  accordance with the provisions of Chapter II and even if he holds 30 standard acres or less and  the   land  falls   within  the   permissible   limits, nonetheless the  tenant shall  not  be  ejected  under  sub- section (1)  provided (i)  that the  tenant  has  under  his personal cultivation  the land  not exceeds 5 standard acres or (ii) if the area under personal cultivation of the tenant exceeding 5 standard acres until he is allotted by the State Government alternative  land of equivalent value in standard



acres. In  other words,  even if  he is  in possession of an area of  5 standard  acres and  if the landlord fulfills the conditions enumerated  in clauses  (a) and (b) and is sought to be ejected on those grounds, still the tenant is entitled to resist  termination of tenancy of his 5 standard acres of land until  the State  Government allots to him and puts him in possession of the alternative land of equivalent value in standard acres. Thus, allotment of and putting in possession of the  alternative land  of equivalent  value  in  standard acres which  is sought  to be  taken possession  of  by  the landlord from  the tenant  for ejectment  on the  additional grounds mentioned  in sub-section  (1) of  Section 7A  is  a condition precedent before eviction of a tenant.      Similarly, no tenant by operation of sub-section (2) of Section 7A  shall  be  ejected  on  additional  grounds  who immediately preceding  the commencement  of the  President’s Act had  held any land continuously for a period of 12 years or more under the same landlord or its predecessor in title. he shall  not be  ejected on  the grounds  specified in sub- section (1)  from any  area of  land if  the area  under the personal cultivation  of  the  tenant  does  not  exceed  15 standard acres.      In other  words, the  tenant in  possession of the land immediately preceding  the commencement  of the  President’s Act remained  in possession  of a period of 12 years or more under the same landowner or his predecessor in title or both put together;  if he  is in  possession of  an area  of land under his  personal cultivation  to  exceeding  15  standard acres, he  shall not  be ejected  on the  additional grounds mentioned  in  Section  7A.  It  is  not  the  case  of  the respondents that  the appellants  were in  possession of any area of  land under  their personal cultivation exceeding 15 standard acres.  Therefore, clause (a) of sub-section (2) of Section 7A  does not apply to the facts of this case. Clause (b) equally  does not  apply since it is not the case of the respondents that  the appellants are in personal cultivation of the  land exceeding  15 standard  acres belonging  to the respondent-landlord. Under the provision to sub-section (2), it further  envisages that nothing in this sub-section shall apply  to  the  tenant  of  a  landlord  who  both,  at  the commencement of  the  tenancy  and  the  commencing  of  the President’s Act  was a widow, a minor, an unmarried woman, a member of  the  armed  forces  of  the  Union  or  a  person incapable of  cultivating the  land by region....., physical or mental infirmity. The proviso gives benefit to a disabled tenant with  which we are not concerned on the facts in this case. The  explanation to  sub-section (ii) provides that in computing the  period of  12 years,  the period during which any land  has been  held under  the same  landowner  or  his predecessor in  title by  the father,  brother or  son of  a tenant shall  be included.  This would  further indicate the beneficial intendment  of conferment  of title to the tiller of the  land to  tag on the 12 years’ period for the benefit of acquiring proprietary interest of a landowner. The period during which the father, brother or son of a tenant had held the land  under the  same landowner  or predecessor in title should also  be included.  Sub-section (3) further envisages that for  the purpose of computing under sub-section (i) and (ii), the  area of  land under  personal cultivation  of the tenant, any  area of  land owned by the tenant and under his personal cultivation,  shall be included. In other words, it would indicate  that a tenant also shall not be in excess of the permissible standard acres. The land owned by the tenant and land  personally cultivated  by the  tenant either under the same  landlord or  some  other  landlord  shall  all  be



included in  computing the  permissible limit  so  that  the tenant also  shall not be in excess of the permissible limit so that  the tenant  also shall  not be  in  excess  of  the permissible limit  while tagging  to his ownership the lands held under  tenancy with one or more than one land owners by exercising the  right to  purchase  the  proprietary  rights under Section 22 of the Act.      The contention raised is that a tenant who had remained in  continuous   possession  of   12  years   prior  to  the President’s Act  8 of  1953 had  come  into  force,  namely, December 3,  1953, alone  is entitled to avail the remedy of Section 22;  otherwise he  is liable  to  ejectment  by  the landlord under sub-section (2) of Section 7A. Therefore, the benefit to purchase the proprietary right give under Section 22 is  not available  to the respondent. We find no force in the contention.  The object  appears to  be  that  a  tenant immediately preceding  the commencement of the President Act 8 of  1953 shall continue to remain for a period of 12 years either under one landlord or his predecessor so as to tag on the continuous  12 years’  period. It  does not appear to be that he  should have remained in possession continuously for 12 years  preceding the  commencement of  President Act 8 of 1953. What  is required  to be  satisfied is that the tenant must be a "tenant" defined under Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 be in possession of the land in his character as a tenant prior to the President’s Act 8 of 1953 had come into force. Such a tenant is  not liable to be ejected under clause (a) and (b) of sub-section  (1) of  Section 7A.  He must have continuous possession  for  12  years  either  under  one  landlord  or predecessor in  title or  intended in the land leased out to the tenant  to exercise the right under section 22. No doubt it is  true that learned Judges of the Division Bench of the High Court  had interpreted  the section  in the  manner  in which the  learned counsel  has placed  construction on sub- section  (2)  of  section  7-A,  i.e.,  12  years  prior  to President Act  8 of  1953 had  come into force. But with due respect, we  find that  such interpretation would defeat the very object of conferment of proprietary right on the tenant in occupation  of the  land which was in his possession. The object of  the Act  is to  confer proprietary  title on  the tenant in  occupation of  the agricultural  land so that the tiller of  the soil  should get  proprietary right  over the land in  his possession  as tenant, despite the fact that he came into possession as a tenant at that the commencement of Act 8  of 1953.  Three conditions to be satisfied, as stated already are  - (1)  he must  be a  tenant defined  under the Punjab Tenancy  Act; (2) he was in possession of the land as on December  3, 1953;  and (3)  he was  a tenant  under  the landowner or  processor in title. He must have continuous 12 years before  exercising the  right to  purchase proprietory right. The interpretation put up by the learned Judges, with due respect, would defeat the object of the provision of the Act. Thus  considered  we  hold  that  the  appellants  have satisfied the requirements mentioned in Section 22. They are not liable to ejectment either under sub-section (1) or sub- section (2) of Section 7A, as the case may be.      They were  in possession  for 12 years. The are tenants under the  Punjab Tenancy Act. They were in possession prior to December  3, 1953.  They, thereby,  acquired the right to purchase the  proprietary interest  of the land held by them as  a   tenant.  The   appellants  had   satisfied  all  the requirements.  We   are  informed   that  the   compensation determined by the authorities has already been deposited.      Under these  circumstances, we  allow the  appeal,  set aside the judgment of the High Court and restore that of the



authorities  under   the  Act.   The  writ  petition  stands dismissed but, in the circumstances, there is no order as to costs.