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Avtar Singh, Rachhpal Singh Vs Bhagat Singh.

IN THE COURT OF MRS. SHY AMA MANN, IAS, FINANCIAL COMMISSIONER REVENUE, PUNJAB, CHANDIGARH

M.R.No. 24 of 1998

Avtar Singh, Rachhpal Singh ss/o Santa Singh ( on behalf of deceased Santa Singh son of Karanl Singh), allottee of village Mutton, Tehsil Balachaur, District Nawanshahar and R/O village Rohati, Tehsil and District Kurukshetar(Haryana) through their General Attorney Balvir Singh son of Avtar Singh son of Santa Singh.

…Petitioners.

Versus

Bhagat Singh son of Hari Singh Village Mutton, Tehsil Balachaur, District Nawan Shahar.

…Respondent.

Present : During argmnents on 30/5/2000;

Sh. T.R.Vij, Advocate counsel for the petitioners.

Sh. C.M.Munjal, Advocate counsel for the respondent.

Present: During arguments on 12/7/2000;

Sh. T.R.Vij, Advocate counsel for the petitioners.

Sh. C.M.Munjal, Advocate counsel for the respondent.

M.R.No. 15 of 1999

1. Kuljinder Singh

2. Harjinder Singh

3. Kulwant Singh

sons of Gurnam Singh resident of House No.1181,Sector 13, Karnal.

4. Gurdial Singh s/o Bhagwan Singh, resident of House No.609, Sector 8, Karnal.

5. Jaswinder Singh s/o Tara Singh of Village Aur, Tehsil and District Nawanshahr

through Harpartap Singh s/o Ishar Singh, General attorney.

…Petitioners.

Versus

1. Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chief Settlement Commissioner, Nawanshahr.

2. State of Punjab through Settlement Commissioner Balachaur,District Nawanshahr.

3. Bhagat Singh slo Hari Singh resident of Village Mutton, Tehsil Balachaur, District Nawanshahr.

4. Avtar Singh

5. Rachhpal Singh

Sons of Santa Singh residents of village Rohti, Tehsil & District Kurukshetra.

  1. Manjit Singh s/o Mann Singh resident of village Uppli, Tehsil and District Karnal.
  2. Tehsildar(Sales)-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur, Tehsil Balachaur, District Nawanshahr. …Respondents
Present : During arguments on 30/5/2000
  1. Sh.P .C.Mehta,Sr.Advocate, counsel for the petitioners.
  2. Sh. C.M.Munjal, Advocate counsel for respondent No.3.
  3. Sh. T.R.Vij, Advocate, counsel for respondents No. 4 and 5.
  4. Sh. M.L.Saini, Advocate counsel for respondent No. 6.
Present : During arguments on 12/7/2000
  1. Sh.P .C.Mehta,Sr.Advocate, counsel for the petitioners.
  2. Sh. C.M.Munjal, Advocate counsel for respondent No.3.
  3. Sh. T.R.Vij and Sh. P.N.Aggarwal, Advocates, counsel for respondents Nos. 4 and 5.
  4. Sh. M.L.Saini, Advocate counsel for respondent No. 6.
ORDER

Both the revision petitions are directed against a common order of the Deputy Commissioner Nawanshahr dated 24.2.1998. Therefore, they are being disposed of by a single order, a copy of which shall be placed on each of the files. Arguments in this case were heard on 30.5.2000 and 12.7.2000 and orders were ultimately reserved for today.

2. The dispute relates to land measuring 217 Kanals-17 Marlas comprised in KhasraNo.38//15/ 2(2-9),45//11(8-0), 12(8-0), 53//3/1(1-0),4(7-11), 5(7-11), 13/2 (1-5), 54/fl(7-11),2(7-11),3(7-11),4(7- 11),5(7-11), 6(8-0),7(8-0),9(8-0),10(8-0), 13(8-0),14/1(1-4). 14/2(1-4),14/3(5-12),15(8-0), 16(8- 0), 17(8-0), 18(8-0),23/2(1-0),24(8-0),25(8-0); 55//18(7-4), 19(8-0),20(8-0),21(8-0),22(6-18), 23(1-4) situated in village Mutton Tehsil Balachaur district Nawanshahr.

The facts of the case are that evacuee land measuring 217 kana1s 17 marlas was allotted to Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh alleged sons of Santa Singh, (who are petitioners in M.R.No.24 of 1997-98 and respondents No. 4 and 5 in M.R.No. 15o f 1999) in the revenue Estate of village Mutton, Tehsi1 Balachaur (presently district Nawanshehar) by Tehsildar (Sales)-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur vide his order dated 6.12.1996, through their General Attorney, Manjit Singh,(Respondent No.6 in M.R.No.15 of 1999) in lieu of the land abandoned by Santa Singh in West Pakistan. The Tehsildar (Sales)-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur issued 'parchi' allotment No.H-4/441/1 to the allottees. As per records of Tehsildar (Sales )-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur the possession of the said land was delivered to Manjit Singh, General Attorney of the allottees on 13.12.1996 and 'rapat' to this effect was entered in the Roznamcha wakiati on the same date.

3. Aggrieved by this order of allotment dated 6.12.1996 of Tehsildar (Sales)cum-M.O., Balachaur, Bhagat Singh s/o Hari Singh (respondent in M.R.No.24 and respondent No.3 in M.R.No.15 of 1999) of village Mutton filed an appeal before S.D.M.- cum-Settlement Commissioner, Balachaur challenging the aforesaid order on the ground that on land measuring 199 kanals 5 marlas out of the land allotted to Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, he, Bhagat Singh, was in continuous and uninterrupted cultivating possession since 1967-68 and thus the said land was not available for allotment to unsatisfied land claim holders under the provisions of Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 and rules framed thereunder. Sh. Bhagat Singh staked his claim for the transfer of the said land in his favour on the basis of his continuous cultivating possession in accordance with the latest policy of the State Government under the provisions of the Punjab Package Deal Properties (Disposal) Act, 1976. The Settlement Commissioner passed interim order dated 30.12.1996 staying the operation of the allotment order passed by the Tehsildar (Sales)-cum-M.O., Balachaur. During the pendency of the appeaJ of Bhagat Singh, Manjit Singh, acting as General Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh allottees executed sale deed dated 14.1.1997 in favour of Kuljinder Singh etc. (petitioners in M.R.No.15) thereby transferring 2i3 of the land. Thereafter, Kuljinder Singh etc. vendees submitted an application dated 19.3.1997 before the Settlement Commissioner, Balachaur in the aforementioned appeal praying for being impleaded, being bonafide purchasers of apart of the allotted land. This application was rejected by the Settlement Commissioner vide his order of even date.

While dismissing the appeal of Bhagat Singh vide his order dated 17.4.1997 , the S.D.M-cum- Settlement Commissioner observed that since no application of Bhagat Singh was pending before the Tehsildar (Sales)-cum-Managing Officer for transfer of land in his favour, on the basis of his possession , the claim of Bhagat Singh was not maintainable. He further observed that Avtar Singh, Rachhpal Singh allottees, were kept in the dark by their General Attorney Manjit Singh regarding the allotment and he (Manjit Singh) had transferred the same vide sale deed dated 14.1.1997 without taking them into confidence. He further observed that sale deed was executed by Manjit Singh for his personal gain despite the stay order dated 30.12,1996. Consequently, the Settlement Commissioner cancelled allotment dated 6.12.96 of the entire land made by the (Managing Officer) and directed the Tehsildar (Sales)-cum-Managing Officer vide his order dated 17.4.97 to make fresh allotment in favour of actual beneficiaries, i.e., Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. Incompliance with this order, fresh allot made by the Managing Officer in the name of Santa Singh through his sons Avtar Singh and Singh vide his order-dated 20.5.1997.

4. Aggrieved by the said order dated 17.4.1997 of the Settlement Commissioner, three separate revision petitions were filed by (i) Bhagat Singh (ii) Manjit Singh and (iii) Kuljinder Singh etc. on 28/5/1997, 18/6/1997 and 4/6/1997 respectively before the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chief Settlement Commissioner, Nawanshahar.

The Chief Settlement Commissioner while passing the impugned order dated 24/3/1998 accepted the appeal of Bhagat Singh and set aside the order of allotment dated 6.12.1996, as also the order dated 17.4.1997 passed by the Settlement Commissioner, Balachaur. He observed that Bhagat Singh was in possession of the land in dispute for the last nearly 30 years and the Tehsildar Sales-cum-M.O. gravely erred in not summoning or hearing him before passing the allotment by his order dated 6. 12.1996 and thus the transfer of the disputed land made by Tehsildar Sales-cum- Managing Officer by his order dated 6.12.1996 in favour of Avtar Singh, Rachhpal Singh which was further affirmed by Settlement Commissioner was against law since the land having gone out of the compensation Pool was not available for allotment under the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act,1954. He further observed that the Settlement Commissioner had passed conflicting orders as on the one hand he cancelled the allotment made in the name of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh and on the other hand at the same time he gave directions to Tehsildar Sales-cum-Managing Officer for re-allotting the land to them.

By the same order the revision petitions filed by Kuljinder Singh etc. and Manjit Singh were dismissed being devoid of any merit on the ground that despite the stay order dated 30.12.1996 issued by the Settlement Commissioner, Manjit Singh did not wait till the disposal of the appeal filed by Bhagat Singh before the Settlement Commissioner and instead alienated the property by executing the sale deed dated 14.1.1997 by ignoring, the stay order and misusing his position as General Attorney solely for his personal gain. The Deputy Commissioner further observed that he was convinced that the benefit of allotment had not reached the real allottees as Manjit Singh alone had received the entire benefit. The plea of Kuljinder Singh etc.(vendees) was repelled on the ground that the vendee should be cautious over any fraud that may be committed with them by the vendors in sale transactions to extract money from them. He went on to observe that the vendees too appeared to have joined hands with Manjit Singh and pre-planned to get the sale deeds executed immediately after the allotment despite the fact that the operation of the allotment order stood stayed by the Settlement Commissioner. With the same reasoning they were held not entitled to the protection envisaged under section 41 of the transfer of the Property Act, 1882.

The aforesaid order dated 24/3/1998 of Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chief Settlement Commissioner, Nawanshahar has been impugned in the present two separate revision petitions by (i) Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh who are pursuing their claim for allotment as the sons and sole legal heirs of Santa Singh and (ii) Kuljinder Singh and others, who are vendees from Manjit Singh holder of General Power of Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh.

5. I have carefully gone through the records of the case and have heard the counsel for the parties. At the outset I would like to take up the revision petition filed by Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh sons of Santa Singh (allottees ), against Bhagat Singh (who claimed the transfer of land on the basis of possession). According to the petitioners, originally the allotment had been made in District Sangrur but the same had been cancelled due to the allottee having not taken possession of the land. They allege that being the only legal heirs of Santa Singh ( deceased) who died in 1957, they had been agitating their claim for allotment of land and ultimately allotment was made by Tehsildar Balachaur. They further pleaded that since they were living in village Rohti, Tehsil Thanes, District Kurukshetra, they had appointed Manjit Singh as their attorney (who they admits is their relative) for getting the case of allotment finalized with the Rehabilitation authorities. The General Attorney Manjit Singh did not inform them regarding the Iallotment of land measuring 217 kanals-17 marIas in village Mutton, Tehsil Balachaur, District Nawanshehar. They came to know regarding allotment only when they were summoned in two appeals filed in the Court of Settlement Commissioner, Balachaur by the occupants of the land, which had been allotted in favour of Santa Singh father of petitioners. They alleged that Sh. Manjit Singh, General Attorney sold 2/3 share of allotted land in favour of Kuljinder Singh etc. by sale deed dated 14.1.1997 without their knowledge and consent. The appeal filed by the occupant of the land was dismissed vide order dated 17.4.1997 by the Settlement Commissioner on the ground that the occupant could not show his eligibility for transfer of land on the basis of possession as no application for allotment on the basis of possession was pending at the time of allotment. The petitioners further alleged that Bhagat Singh, respondent was owner of about 17 acres of land in the same village and thus he was not eligible for allotment of the land in dispute on the basis of possession as per provisions of Punjab Package Deal Act, 1976. Simply to show his land holding as small he had executed 4 sale deeds in favour of his own sons on 30/4/1997,2/5/1997,8/5/1997 and 16/5/1997 for the transfer of his land measuring 126K-9M, after he found that the huge tract of land measuring nearly 200 kanals under his unauthorized possession had been allotted to some one else.

In reply to these contentions Sh. Munjal, the learned counsel for the respondent Bhagat Singh argued that Bhagat Singh had been in continuous possession for the last 30 years from 1968 onwards and thus he could not be thrown out of the land unceremoniously without considering his eligibility for transfer on the basis of his possession in accordance with the policy of the Govt. favouring the occupants of land.

6. Now, coming to the petition filed by Kuljinder Singh and others, their counsel Sh. P.C.Mehta vehemently argued that the possession of land allotted in favour of Santa Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh who clain1 to be his sons, was delivered to Manjit Singh as their General Attorney. Thus according to Sh. Mehta the land had been validly transferred by Manjit Singh in favour of Kuljinder Singh and others during the subsistence of Power of Attorney of Avtar Singh & Rachhpal Singh in favour of Manjit Singh, and thus it does not lie in the mouth of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh to say, that they had not consented to the sale and the same was effected without their knowledge. He further argued that this position was further fortified by the fact that the land was subsequently allotted in the name of Santa Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh by excluding Manjit Singh and thus Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh could not legally challenge the validity of sale. He further argued that the principle of lis Dendens is not attracted in this case as the alienation of land had not been specifically stayed by the Settlement Commissioner, and the petitioners had not challenged the legality of the sale even subsequently, nor had they questioned the bonafides of Manjit Singh by hauling him up in civil proceedings.

Sh. M.L.Saini, the learned counsel for Manjit Singh (Respondent No.6 in M.R.No. 15 of 1999) attorney for Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh argued that the Power of Attorney executed by them in favour of Manjit Singh authorised him to alienate the property in any manner he liked. Thus, the alienation made by him in favour of Kuljinder Singh etc. could not be challenged. He further argued that the allottees could at best file a civil suit for recovery of sale proceeds from Manjit Singh who sold the land in exercise of his power as the General Attorney.

7. In the light of this analytical background it may be stated that the controversy in these petitions is between (i) Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh who claim to be the sons of allottee Santa Singh; (ii) the vendees Kuljinder Singh etc.; and (iii) Bhagat Singh who claims transfer of major portion of the land in dispute on the basis of possession; In nutt-shell, the following points arise for adjudication:-

(1) Whether the allotment made in favour of Santa Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, who claim to be his sons, as also through Manjit Singh the General Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh is legally sustainable?

(2) Whether Kuljinder Singh etc. who had purchased the land ftorn Manjit Singh acting as Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh can seek protection as bonafide purchasers for consideration and without notice?

(3) Whether Bhagat Singh, petitioner is entitled to transfer of land on the basis of possession?

Point No. (1)

8. The record shows that the original allottee Santa Singh having died, his widow Smt. Balwant Kaur made an application on 11.7.1957 through one Pala Singh (said to be brother of Santa Singh) to Tehsildar Sunam stating that her husband Santa Singh (deceased) had been allotted land in villages Sunam and Akalgarh and she was having land in village Rohti District Karnal. She requested that the land may be cancelled in those villages. On 11.9.1957 Smt. Balwant Kaur swore an affidavit that.her near relatives settled in village Mandiv and, therefore, she had applied for cancellation of land falling in villages Sunam and Akalgarh. She declared that she had two minor sons ‘Avtar Singh’ and 'Yashpal Singh’ (in the present petition his name is Rachhpal Singh) and she wanted to settle in village Mandiv by cancellation of land in villages Sunam and Akalgarh. On 18.10.1957, the Deputy Registrar Land Claims addressed the Tehsildar Sunam asking him to intimate if Santa Singh s/o Karam Singh had acquired proprietary rights of his allotment in villages Sunam and Akalgarh. On the back of this letter there are reports of Patwari Halqa Sunam and Akalgarh dated 25.10.1957 that 'Neem Mustakil' allotment of and had been made to Santa Singh in the said villages. According to Deputy Registrar, Land Claims, Jalandhar an area measuring 289 Bighas 19 Biswas had been reserved for allotment to Sant Singh in Village Rattakhera. In compliance with the letter of the Deputy Registrar Land Claims directing the issuance of the reservation letter, exchange of land between the area located in villages Sunam and Akalgarh was allowed for the land situated in village Rattakhera vide order dated 15.3.1958 of Deputy Registrar-cum-Managing Officer. Vide communication dated 21.3.1958 of the Deputy Registrar-cum-M.O. Jalandhar endorsed to Deputy Commissioner Sangrur, he was informed that Balwant Kaur had sought cancellation of allotment in villages Sunam and Akalgarh for consolidation of her land with her relatives in village Rattakhera, Tehsil and District Sangrur. He was asked to ensure that the allottee had not received proprietary rights in the villages Sunan1 and Akalgarh. There is nothing to show that somebody verified this aspect.

9. After a gap of about 30 years the file was transferred to Tehsil Balachaur vide letter dated 1.2.1987 by Deputy Secretary to Govt. Punjab, Rehabilitation Department, Punjab, Chandigarh. Thereafter vide letter dated 26/5/1987, Tehsildar-cum-M.O. Rehabilitation Department, Punjab Chandigarh asked the Tehsildar, Sangrur to verify and intimate whether the land in the name of Sant Singh had been retrieved after cancellation in villages Sunam and Akalgarh and also if any allotment in village Rattakhera and Mandiv or any other village had been made to the claimant. There are no replies to these questions either. Replies to these questions should have figured on the file prior to the Deputy Secretary taking a decision to transfer the case to Tehsildar Balachaur, but the file was transferred in great haste and questions were posed later.

10. It is somewhat surprising that after 1957 the matter went into oblivion and remained buried dead for almost 30 years, when Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, claiming to be the sons of Sant Singh made an application dated 2.7.1987 to Naib Tehsildar, Lehragaga, District Sangrur requesting him for ascertaining from Patwari Rattakhera whether "Sant" was allotted land after 1958 in village Rattakhera and whether it had since been cancelled or not. On the reverse of this application a report dated 29.7.1987 was made by the Patwari that he had consulted the record from 1960-61 to 8.4.1981 and found that there was no allottee with the name of Sant Singh son of Karam Singh in that village. The Patwari made no mention regarding the record containing allotment during the crucial period from 1958 to 1960. This mischief was further perpetuated when the officers before transferring the claim to Balachaur on 11.2.1987 did not make any attempt to find out as to what action was taken during the intervening period of 30 years to satisfy the claim of Sant Singh.

11. It is evident on the face of record that even after the transfer of claim to Balachaur on 11.2.1987, the concerned functionaries of Rehabilitation Department were neither sure nor did they make any effort to verify as to whether the claim of Santa Singh had since been satisfied and whether the cancellation of land allotted in any of the villages in district Sangrur had taken place, and whether the area so cancelled had since been retrieved. If they were sure of this aspect of the matter, there was no occasion for addressing the letter dated 26.5.1987 to Tehsildar Sangrur.

12. The hollowness of the claim of Avtat Singh and Rachhpal Singh claiming to be the sons of Sant Singh is further exploded by a host of suspicious circumstances surrounding the transfer of the claim for allotment from District Sangrur to Tehsil Balachaur on 11.2.1987. A photo copy of the Power of Attorney dated 3.2.1987 registered at Jalandhar shows that it was purportedly executed by Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh in favour of Gurpartap Singh son of Ishar Singh resident of 27 BVR, New Baradari Jalandhar and Gurcharan Singh son of Gurmukh Singh. It is admitted by Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh that Gurpartap Singh is none else than the real brother of Harpartap Singh Mujhail who was a Tehsildar with the Revenue Department and during the relevant period was posted in and around Jalandhar as Sub-Registrar. The transfer of allotment file from Sangrur to Balachaur took place in less than ten days after the execution of this Power of Attorney. As already stated the file was incomplete in many respects but the Deputy Secretary Rehabilitation found nothing wrong with sending it from Sangrur to Balachaur after nearly 30 years without asking any questions. Subsequently, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh wrote to say that the aforesaid Power of Attorney had been cancelled vide cancellation deed dated 16.4.1991 alleging that the earlier Power of Attorney in favour of Gurpartap Singh had been executed by committing a fraud. Thereafter, they gave a notice to Gurpartap Singh, Gurcharan Singh Sub-Registrar, Jalandhar and Tehsildar Sales, Balachaur regarding the cancellation of the Power of Attorney.

13. Later on, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh executed a registered General Power of Attorney dated 7.11.94 in favour of Manjit Singh shown as resident of village Uppli district Karnal. Thereafter, allotment of land measuring 217K -17M was made in the name of Sant Singh claimant through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh who represented themselves to be his sons, vide 'parchi ' allotment dated 6/12/1996. This allotment was, however, obtained by Manjit Singh as General Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh.

14. Now, the stage is set for considering the genuineness or otherwise of the claim set up by Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh and role of various revenue officers in promoting their claim. The chronology of events narrated in the earlier part of this order goes a long way in demolishing the claim of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh for obtaining allotment in respect of the land of Santa Singh. Balwant Kaur came on the scene for the first time somewhere in 1957, when claiming to be the widow of Santa Singh, she made an application dated 11/7/1957 through Pala Singh for the change of alloment from village Akalgarh to Sunam. She presented an affidavit sworn on 11/9/1957 affirming that she had two minor sons Avtar Singh and “Yash Pal Singh”. In the revocation deed dated 16/4/1991, whereby the General Power of Attorney in favour of Gurpartap Singh Mujhail and Gurcharan Singh was cancelled by Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, they described their ages as 75 years and 49 years respectively, and in the Power of Attorney dated 7/11/1994 Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh have give their ages as 77 years and 51 years respectively. It follows that Avtar Singh, who is claiming to be an heir of Santa Singh was 40 years at the time of filing of aforesaid affidavit by Balwant Kaur. In the affidavit dated 11/9/1957 Balwant Kaur had sworn that both her sons were minor. Thus, the statement of Balwant Kaur in her sworn affidavit does not support the age of Avtar Singh, and hence his identity. Secondly, she mentioned the name of other son in the affidavit as Yashpal Singh whereas the present petitioner is Rachhpal Singh. All this creates a serious doubt regarding the petitioners Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh being sons of Santa Singh, the original allottee. Nobody was bothered to produce on the record an authentic pedigree table of Santa Singh to depict his legal heirs for tracing the relationship of Avtar Sngh and Rachhpal Singh. On the contrary, Jamabandi of village Rohti, District Kurukshetra for 1975-76 was produced alongwith an application dated 25/7/2000 (i.e. well after the arguments were over) signed by Balbir Singh son of Avtar Singh and his counsel Sh. T.R.Vij admitting that the land standing in the name of Balwant Kaur in that village was inherited by her from the side of her father. A Shajra Nasab of village Rohti pertaining to year 1995-96 has been produced to link Avtar Singh etc. to Santa Singh but no Shajra Nasab of any earlier date, nor a mutation of inheritance of Santa Singh or any authentic documentary evidence to prove their contention that they are heirs of Santa Singh who expired in 1957 has been produced. The copies of Mutation No. 3075 and 3076 relating to village Mutton in Balachaur regarding the inheritance of Santa (showing the date of death as 25/4/1957) and Balwant Kaur (showing the date of death as 1979) respectively which were sanctioned on 16/6/1997 reveal that these were entered and sanctioned on the verification of Jagira, Lambardar of village Rohti, Tehsil Thanesar District Kurukshetra. In fact, the verification should have been obtained from the Lambardar of Village Mutton, Tehsil Balachaur; No local man is shown present on the occasion. Both these mutations were entered and sanctioned synchronously on 16/6/1997, whereas Avtar Singh Rachhpal through their attorney Manjit Singh sold 2/3rd of the land allotted in the name of Santa Singh on 14/1/1997 that is before the mutations were sanctioned in their names.

15. There is yet another circumstance to afflict the claim ofAvtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. Their conduct speaks volumes against the genuineness of their claim. Initially, they executed a Power of Attorney dated 3.2.1987 in favour of Gurpartap Singh and Gurcharan Singh. Eight days after executing this Power of Attorney, the applicants succeeded in getting the file transferred to Tehsil Balachaur without any papers justifying the transfer, or even the claim after a long unexplained gap of 30 years. Then they got the aforesaid Power of Attorney cancelled vide cancellation deed dated 16.4.1991 and simultaneously sent a notice to Gurpartap Singh and Gurcharan Singh (General Power of Attorney holder) stating that the Power of Attorney had been manipulated by presenting bogus persons. Incidentally, it may be pertinent to point out that Gurpartap Singh is the brother of Harpartap Singh, who was posted as a Tehsildar nearby. On the file there is another application dated 30.10.1991 of one Tara Singh son of Chuhar Singh alleging that he had purchased all rights of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh and further alleging that he had obtained stay order from the court. Later on, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh executed a General power of Attorney dated 7.11.1994 in favour of Manjit Singh, a close relation of one of them. Manjit Singh as General Power of Attorney holder of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh sold 2/3rd of land in favour of Kuljinder Singh etc. (who are also reported to be related to Manjit Singh) vide sale deed dated 14.1.1997. Synchronously Manjit Singh scribed another sale deed for the sale of 1/3rd share of the land measuring 217K -17M. It appears that this sale deed was not got registered and Kuljinder Singh and others in whose favour the sale deed was scribed filed a Civil Suit for execution of the sale deed in their favour; they have impleaded Avtar Singh, Rachhpal Singh and Manjit Singh. The said suit has been filed by Harpartap Singh as General Attorney of Jaswinder Singh son of Tara Singh joined by Gurdial Singh, Kulwant Singh, Haljinder Singh, Kuljinder Singh sons of Gurdial Singh. Their claim is that Manjit Singh as attorney of Avtar Singhand Rachhpal Singh had got scribed the sale deed in their favour on 14.1.1997 but the sale deed could not be got registered on said date due to the non- availability of witnesses. This suit has been filed in the Court of Sh.R.S.Rai, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, Balachaur for specific performance of agreement dated 14.1.1997 by completion of the said deed. The fate of this suit is not known.

16. Later on, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh executed a General power of Attorney in favour of Balbir Singh son of Avtar Singh on 15.5.1997 but the Power of Attorney in favour of Manjit Singh was apparently not got cancelled.

17. The narration of events as afore stated leads to an inescapable conclusion that Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh were not interested in the corpus of the allotment and they continued fiddling with the land by executing different General power of Attorneys in favour of different persons.

18. Initially, the application for change of land was made by Balwant Kaur claiming to be the widow of Sant Singh in 1957. Thereafter, the claim of Santa Singh was allowed to lie in a quiet burial for 30 long years when one fine morning Avtar Singh woke up in 1986 to agitate their claim for allotment. Balwant Kaur is stated to have died in 1979. She did not pursue her claim for allotment for 22 years for unknown reasons. Nobody is coming forward to explain this long delay of 30 years. As is apparent on the face of record Avtar Singh was aged 40 years even in 1957. It does not appeal to the-logic of a prudent mind that a person would go on waiting for 30 years to resurrect his claim. It is unfortunate that the concerned functionaries of Rehabilitation Department were unconscionably pliable in conceding the claim of Avtar Singh arid Rachhpal Singh without bothering to satisfy themselves regarding the slumber of the claimants extending over a long period of30 years. The fact that the initial choice of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh fell on Gurpartap Singh brother of a senior Revenue Officer posted at Jalandhar who managed to get the allotment file transferred from Sangrur to Tehsil Balachaur within eight days without any questions being asked rather shows that the scheme was master-minded by the revenue officials. Subsequent events corroborate it further.

19. The subsequent conduct of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh in dealing with the situation re- affims the conclusion that they are bogus claimants and they were not at all interested in getting the possession of the land when they chose to operate through their General Attorney. In fact, Manjit Singh being closely related to them and being authorised to deal with the land in any manner they cannot be heard to say that Manjit Singh had entered into the transactions of sale of the entire land without their knowledge or consent. When such a huge area of land is involved it is not possible to, believe in ordinary course of nature that they would continue to trust their General Attorney without keeping a track of the progress of allotment and fate of their claim. Such a callous lack of diligence and lackadaisical approach on the part of allottees is unknown to natural human conduct and cannot in any manner be countenanced by Courts of Law, who are charged with the pious and onerous duty of doing justice after sifting the true facts, more so, when such a huge area of land is involved.

20. It deserves a pointed and pertinent notice that during the subsistence of the Power of Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh in favour of Manjit Singh, the land was allotted by Tehsildar (Sales)cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur in village Mutton in favour of Santa Singh vide order dated 6/12/1996 through his sons Avtar Singh Rachhpal Singh. Two-third share in the said land was sold by Manjit Singh as General Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh vide deed dated 14/1/1997 and the other sale deed for the remaining 1/3rd land was executed on the same date but the same was not got registered on the ground of non-availability of witnesses (which though makes a rather unconvincing story). Therefore, the Learned Settlement Commissioner was not legally justified in cancelling the allotment and directing fresh allotment in the name of Santa Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. Unfortunately, neither the Settlement Commissioner nor the Chief Settlement Commissioner took pains to make a deep probe into the credentials and antecedents of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, who claim to be the sons and the only legal heirs of Sant Singh. It is also interesting to note that at no stage of time had Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh taken out civil or criminal proceedings against Manjit Singh for allegedly abusing his authority granted under the General Power of Attorney, in obtaining allotment and transferring the land belonging to them without their knowledge and consent. Their inaction in this direction leaves no manner of doubt that they had acquiesced in the alienation made by Manjit Singh which was even otherwise authorised by the General Power of Attorney executed by Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh in his favour. Once the allotment had been made to Santa Singh through his sons Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, it was beyond the competence of the Settlement Commissioner to cancel the same on the technical ground that the land allotted to Sant Singh had been sold by Manjit Singh as General Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. He should have rather gone behind the very foundation of their claim. The learned Chief Settlement Commissioner also did not lag behind in perpetuating the same error as he also took the genuineness of the claim on its face value and did not make any further probe; Rather he proceeded to deal with the matter on the premise that there was no infirmity in the genuineness of the claim. If the lower courts had properly scrutinized the relevant records, they would have felt no difficult in returning the finding that the claim of Sant Singh was bogus in the wake of facts and circumstances brought to light above.

21. In view of my above discussion I have no hesitation in corning to the conclusion that the allotment made in favour of Sant Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, who claimed to be his sons, is not legally sustainable.

Point No.(2)

22. Sh. Kuljinder Singh etc. (vendees) have claimed to be the bonafide purchasers of 2/3rd share of the disputed land for consideration. According to Sh.P .C.Mehta, the learned counsel for these petitioners the land was originally allotted to Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh through their General Attorney Manjit Singh but subsequently the said allotment was cancelled and fresh allotment was made in the name of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. According to him as Manjit Singh enjoyed the authority of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh at the time-of sale, the sale was valid and could not be questioned. In the alternative he argued that since later on the allotment was made in favour of Sant Singh, through his sons Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh, they are bound by the sale deed which had earlier been executed by Manjit Singh as their attorney.

23. In my opinion these arguments are devoid of any force. In the present case the land was allotted to Sant Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh who claimed to be the sons of Sant Singh. The inheritance of Sant Singh was never sanctioned by a mutation in the name of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. There is nothing on the record to show that, if at all, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh are the only legal heirs of Sant Singh. In fact they have not placed on record a copy of the mutation regarding the inheritance to the estate of Sant Singh after his death in 1957. There is no pedigree table to trace their relationship with Sant Singh. As pointed out above a copy of Jamabandi of 1975-76 of village Rohti, District Kurukshetra has been produced with simultaneous written admission that the land standing in the name of one Balwant Kaur was inherited by her from the side of her father.

24. It is further noticed that the allotment of land was made on 6.12.1996 in the name of Sant Singh, ( deceased) son of Karam Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh who claimed to be the sons of the allottee. At that time Manjit Singh of Karnal was holding the Power of Attorney of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh of Kurukshetra. He did not waste any time to sell 2/3rd share of that land in favour of Kuljinder Singh etc. by sale deed dated 14.1.1997 and scribed another sale deed on the same day in respect of the 1/3rd portion of the land in favour of Gurpartap Singh Majhail and others. The possession of the land had been taken on 13.12.1996 by Manjit Singh and compensation for the crops was paid to Bhagat Singh etc. by Manjit Singh resident of Uppli, Tehsil and district Karnal who happens to be a close relation of Avtar Singh resident of Rohti, tehsil and district Kurukshetra and evidently enjoyed complete trust of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. Kuljinder Singh and other vendees also hailing from Karna1 are also close relations of Avtar Singh, Rachhpal Singh and Manjit Singh. Therefore, it cannot be imagined that the vendees were not aware regarding the bogus allotment in the name of Santa Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. Moreover, they were fully aware that the land in dispute was the subject matter of proceedings before the Court of S.D.O.- cum-Sett1ement Commissioner. Balachaur and he had stayed the proceedings. Therefore, they were fully conscious of the cloud, which had been cast on the title of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh regarding the land in dispute. In view of all this I am of the considered opinion that Kuljinder Singh etc. cannot be said to be bonafide purchasers for consideration and without notice.

Point No.(3)

25. As regards the maintainability of the claim of Bhagat Singh, it is noticed that the learned Chief Settlement Commissioner while passing the impugned order dated 24.3.1998, had accepted the appeal of Bhagat Singh on the ground that he was in possession of the land for the last 30 years and the Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer had gravely erred in not summoning him before making allotment order dated 6/12/96 and thus the transfer of the disputed land made by Tehsildar in favour of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh which was further affirmed by the Settlement Commissioner was against law since the land having gone out of the Compensation Pool was not available for allotment under Displaced Persons (C&R) Act, 1954. There is no doubt that the Chief Settlement Commissioner was justified in taking the view, though on different reasoning, that the allotment in the name of Sant Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh is not sustainable. But at the same time the learned Chief Settlement Commissioner fell in serious error in taking a favourable view in support of the claim of Bhagat Singh on the ground that he was in possession of the land for the last 30 years and deserved consideration for transfer on the basis of possession. He was absolutely unjustified in directing the Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur to consider the application of Bhagat Singh for transfer of land.

26. To fortify the above observation it may be stated that Bhagat Singh had never made any application for the transfer of land on the basis of his continuous possession under the Package Deal Properties (Disposal) Act, 1976.

27. It is significant to note that Bhagat Singh filed a civil suit in the Court of Sub Judge, Ist Class. Balachaur on 29/5/1992 which, was decided on 31/3/1995. In that suit he had sought declaration that he was entitled to transfer of land measuring 215K-15M on the reserve price on the basis of recorded peaceful and continuous possession over the said land as tenant-at-will since 1970, with a consequential relief for permanent injunction restraining the defendants (Punjab state and Tehsildar (Sales) Balachaur) from putting the said land in open auction and from hid dispossession except in due course of law. The suit was only partly decreed for permanent injunction restraining the defendants from dispossessing the plaintiff. No further relief was granted to the plaintiff and the claim was dismissed. An appeal filed before the District Judge, Hoshiarpur against the said judgement and decree dated 31/3/1995 passed by Sh. K.K.Lomas, Sub Judge, Ist Class, Balachaur which was dismissed as withdrawn vide order dated 8.12.1996. .All this shows that Bhagat Singh had not spared any effort to perpetuate ills false claim for the transfer of land in dispute on the basis of ills continuous possession. The Civil Court in its judgement dated 31.3.1995 had specifically returned the finding whilee deciding issue No.2 that Bhagat Singh was not entitled to purchase the “Suit Land" on reserve price on the basis of his continuous possession and accordingly his claim for declaration to the effect that he was entitled to purchase the land on reserve price was declined. The weakness of his claim in further affirmed by the fact that an appeal against the said judgement and decree dated 31.3.1995 of the Court of Sub Judge Ist class, Balachaur was dismissed as withdrawn by the District Judge, Hoshiarpur. In this situation it is evident that the Learned Chief Settlement Commissioner, Nawanshehar had fallen into serious error in giving credit to Bhagat Singh for his long continuous possession over the land in dispute. Since Bhagat Singh had not made any application for transfer of the land on the basis of possession in pursuance of the instructions of the Punjab Govt. under the Packa1tie Deal Property ( Disposal) Act, 1976, the question of considering his claim for transfer of the land by the Managing Officer or the Settlement Commissioner did not arise. I have no hesitation to say that the learned Chief Settlement Commissioner gave undue and umnerited importance to the claim of Bhagat Sirigh without appreciating the correct legal position.

28. There is yet another serious infIm1ity to demolish the claim of Bhagat Singh. The petitioners Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh have alleged in para 20(iii) of the present petition that Bhagat Singh had transferred land measuring 126K-9M belonging to him in favour of his own sons vide sale deeds dated 30.4.1997,2,5.1997,8.5.1997 and 16.5.1997. Copies of sale deeds have also been submitted in proof thereof. This allegation has not been controverted by Bhagat Singh. Thus, it is evident that Bhagat Singh had mischievously executed the transactions of sale with the object of substantiating his claim for transfer of land on the basis of his possession by projecting himself to be a small land owner with holding of less than 5 ordinary acres as envisioned in rule 3 of the Punjab Package Deal Property (Disposal) Rules, 1976. Strangely enough, the learned Chief Settlement Commissioner lost sight of these material facts which go a long way in detracting from the maintainability of the claim of Bhagat Singh for transfer of land on the basis of his possession.

29. Before parting with this order I would like to add a few lines on the perfidious role played by Sh.Raghbir Singh, Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur, which cannot escape critical notice and deserves to be high-lighted. Firstly he allotted such a large tract of prime land in favour of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh on 6.12.96 without making proper verifications regarding succession of Sant Singh and without satisfaction regarding the unanswered questions. Again, he managed to hand over possession to Manjit Singh their Power of Attorney in a record period of one week by taking over the land from Bhagat Singh who (though unauthorisedly) was in possession thereof for more than 20 years. Interestingly, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh's Power of Attorney in favour of Manjit Singh is executed at Balachaur itself before the Sub-Registrar. Again, it is as if Raghbir Singh, was only waiting for the order for fresh allotment of land to Sant Singh through Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. On receiv1.ng the order dated 17.5.1997 , for fresh allotment, he made allotment in the name of Santa Singh through his sons Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh vide his order dated 20.5.1997. Physical possession was once again given on 25.5.1997. In the meanwhile, Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh had executed a fresh Power of attorney dated 16.4.97 in favour of Balbir Singh son of Avtar Singh, without cancelling their Power of Attorney in favour of Manjit Singh. Sh.Raghbir Singh, being Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer, Balachaur himself manipulated and registered two sale deeds on 4/5.6.1997 which were executed by Balbir Singh as Attorney of Avtar Singh arid Rachhpal Singh in favour of Smt. Ranjit Kaur who is none else than mother-in-law (Saas) of son of Raghbir Singh, almost within a fortnight of this second allotment. The subject-matter of these sale deeds is 49K- 17M of land which forms a part of the land in dispute which was allotted by Raghbir Singh to Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. As a Revenue Officer, before registering the sale deeds, it was the onerous duty of Raghbir Singh to satisfy himself that Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh were competent to transfer the land through their Attorney Balbir Singh as the only legal heirs of Santa Singh. In fact, they did not enjoy such character as the mutation regarding inheritance of Santa Singh had not as yet been entered or sanctioned in favour of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh. The mischief is further aggravated by the intriguing role of Sh.Raghbir Singh, who evidently in collusion with Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh got the mutation of inheritance of Sant Singh entered from the Patwari on 16.6.1997 (subsequent to sale by the prospective inheritors) and got its comparison done on the san1e date from the Kanungo and sanctioned the mutation the same very day. This unprecedentedly hasty action of Raghbir Singh was obviously aimed at sanctifying the bogus allotment of Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh and consequential ratification of the aforesaid two sale deeds exec.uted by Balbir Singh in favour of the mother-in-law of the son of Raghbir Singh. He joined strong hands with Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh in sharing a part of bount which had been generousJy lavished on them by different functionaries of the Rehabilitation Department at all stages by their failure to properly investigate their claim for allotment. It may be mentioned here that a crirninal case stands registered against Sh. Raghbir Singh Tehsildar by Police Station Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar Range vide F.I.R.No.62 of 25. 7.1997 U/S 420 IPC, 120-B IPC, Section 13(1 )( c )( d) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act emanating from the abuse of official position by Raghbir Singh while dealing with the allotment of this land.

For the aforestated reasons there is no merit in these revision petitions and the same are dimissed.

30. It follows that Avtar Singh and Rachhpal Singh claiming to be the sons of Sant Singh Allottee have failed to substantiate the genuineness and maintainability of their claim. In the sequel Kuljinder Singh and others, who claim to be the bonafide purchasers from Manjit Singh also become disentitled to derive any benefits from the sale deed dated 14/1/1997 executed in their favour for sale of 2/3rd share in the disputed land by Manjit Singh who have filed a civil suit No. 28 of 1997, in the Court of Addl. Civil Judge (Sr. Div.) Balachaur for completion of the sale deed 12M being 1/3rd share of the disputed land measuring 217K-17M also become disentitled to prosecute their claim in the Civil Court of the said suit has gone out The sale deeds dated 4.6.19 Attorney of Avtar Singh and Kaur, mother-in-law of the proceedings, also meet the same fate and become null and void. The claim of Bhagat Singh also stands completely thrown out In the result the land in dispute which has remained the' subject matter of protracted litigation between different contesting parties before different forums must revert to the State. Accordingly, the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chief Settlement Commissioner, Nawanshehar is directed to take possession of the disputed land forthwith. Effective steps be also taken by him for recovery of rent falling .due from the unauthorised occupants relateable to the period of possession.

Chandigarh, dated                                                                  SHYAMA MANN

The 8th August, 2000.                                                Financial Commissioner, Revenue

Punjab

Hon'ble Revenue Minister

Hon'ble Minister-In-Charge
Shri. Gurpreet Singh Kangar

 


 

Special Chief Secretary, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Mangement
Shri. Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, IAS

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