IN THE COURT OF MRS. SHYAMA MANN, IAS, FINANCIAL COMMISSIONER REVENUE, PUNJAB, CHANDIGARH EXERCISING THE POWERS OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT U/S 33 OF THE DISPLACED PERSONS (COMPENSATION & REHABILITATION) ACT, 1954.
Mehnga Singh son of Sh. Narain Singh, successor-in-interest of Sh. Lachhman Shukal son of Jiwan Singh, resident of village Dhariwal Kalan, Tehsil & District Gurdaspur (Punjab).
All residents of village Kamalpur, Tehsil Balachaur, District Hoshiarpur.
8. Jasbir Kaur d/o Chanan Singh;
(L.Rs of deceased Chanan Singh son of Teja Singh)
Resident of Gilmanj, Tehsil & District Gurdaspur.
Present: Sh. S.N. Saini, Advocate, counsel for the petitioner.
Sh. G.S. Nagra, Advocate counsel for the respondents.
This revision petition u/s 33 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation)Act, 1954 has been brought by Mehnga Singh son of Narain Singh against the order dated 14.7.98 passed by the Chief Settlement Commissioner, Punjab, Chandigarh and the order dated 6.5.91 passed by the Settlement Commissioner whereby an appeal filed against the order dated 8.12.89 passed by the Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer, Chandigarh was dismissed.
2. The petitioner claims himself to be successor-in-interest of Lachhman Sukai s/o Jiwan Singh of village Dhariwal Kalan District Gurdaspur.
3. Briefly stated the facts of the case are that Smt. Rukmani Devi wd/o Jiwan Singh was a displaced person and was allotted land measuring 3 St. Acres 12-¾ units in village Kamalpur District Hoshiarpur. This allotment was cancelled in the year 1952 with the order of Director General Rehabilitation. Subsequently allotment was made in Village Dhariwal Kalan in the year 1953 and proprietary rights were conferred upon the allottee in the year 1955. The allotment of land in village Kamalpur also somehow remained intact in the name of Smt. Rukmani Devi and the same was sold by the General Attorney of the allottee in favour of Baldev Singh etc. through Registered sale deed dated 27.4.1967. During the course of preparation of Directory it was detected that Rukmani Devi was holding double allotment in village Kamalpur and Dhariwal Kalan. The Managing Officer again cancelled the allotment of land of village Kamalpur vide his order dated 9.5.67. This order was challenged by the vendees in appeal, which was accepted by the Settlement Commissioner and the case was remanded vide order dated 31.8.1967 to the Managing Officer for deciding it afresh. On a suo-motu reference made by Managing Officer to the Chief Settlement Commissioner for the cancellation of permanent allotment of land in village Dhariwal Kalan, the same was cancelled on 27.1.1968 by the Chief Settlement Commissioner. The controversy regarding allotment persisted and eventually the Settlement Commissioner vide order dated 28.8.1980 remanded the case to the Managing Officer with the direction that matter be decided after affording an opportunity to all the concerned. The Managing Officer passed the order dated 22.8.1986 wherein he concluded that the area allotted in village Kamalpur was cancelled by the Director General, Rehabilitation in 1952 and only thereafter the land in village Dhariwal Kalan District Gurdaspur was allotted. The area in village Kamalpur was ordered to be cancelled on account of bogus allotment vide order dated 22.8.1986. The said order was challenged in appeal by Hardev Singh etc. who claimed to be vendees of the land allotted in village Kamalpur. In appeal the case was remanded by Settlement Commissioner vide order dated 14.12.1987 to Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer, Chandigarh on the ground that Sh. Chanan Singh cited as respondent was not heard before passing the impugned order. The Tehsildar-cum-Managing Officer passed an order dated 8.12.1989 in which he held that the allotment of village Dhariwal Kalan had already been cancelled and the land had been further allotted to Chanan Singh; And Lachhman was not a genuine claimant. This order was again challenged by Lachhman in appeal befit the Settlement Commissioner but the same was dismissed vide order dated 6.5.1991 on the ground that the Managing Officer had no power to alter the order of Chief Settlement Commissioner dated 27.1.1968 vide his order dated 22.8.1986. He further observed that the land had been allotted to Chanan Singh in pursuance of the order dated 27.1.1968. He further observed that Smt. Rukmani Devi wd/o Jiwan Singh had been allotted land in two villages by mistake and if her heir or attorney of heir sold the land rightly or wrongly to other persons, it became a different aspect which had no concern with the allotment. Accordingly he dismissed the appeal vide order dated 6.5.1991.
4. This order was challenged by Lachman Shukal through his attorney Mehnga Singh (petitioner herein) by filing a revision petition before the Chief Settlement Commissioner which was dismissed vide order dated 28.6.1993. He found that Mehnga Singh, General Attorney could not produce Sh. Lachman Shukal in the proceedings before the Court inspite of the order dated 25.11.1991 and 7.6.1993 nor could he produce any evidence to prove that Lachman Shukal was the legal heir of Smt. Rukmani Devi. He also took cognizance of the fact that the land in dispute had been sold in favour of Kashmir Singh etc. and that the alleged attorney had not placed the original power of attorney on the record and had submitted unattested photocopy dated 18.2.1986 which did not deserve reliance. He concluded that the allotment of land made in favour of Chanan Singh s/o Teja Singh in village Dhariwal Kalan was valid and P. Rights and had rightly been conferred upon him. According to him the only remedy available to the petitioner was to approach the Civil Court against the legal heir of Rukmani Devi who had sold the land allotted to her in village Kamalpur to Baldev Singh, Hari Singh and Swaran Kaur. While further observing that the property having gone out of the “compensation pool” and the Rehabilitation Department had no jurisdiction to deal with the same, he dismissed the revision petition as also the petition filed against the order dated 27.1.1968 of the Chief Settlement Commissioner.
5. The aforesaid order dated 28.6.1992 was challenged before the then Financial Commissioner Revenue by filing a revision petition u/s 33 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954. The revision petition was dismissed vide order dated 14.11.95 on the ground that Lachman Shukal had not appeared in person before the Court inspite of specific directions given vide order dated 18.7.95, 8.8.95 and 14.11.1995. It was also found that Lachman Shukal is not the legal heir of Rukmani Devi allottee and Mehnga Singh alleged attorney had placed on record merely an unattested photo copy of the attorney dated 18.2.1986. An application for review of the order dated 14.11.1995 was also dismissed on 19.12.1995.
6. Aggrieved by this order of my Learned predecessor, the petitioner challenged the same before the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court in C.W.P. No. 1297 of 1996 which was dismissed vide order dated 5.11.1996 with the following observations: -
“After having heard the learned counsel for the parties and perusing the paper book, we are convinced that the conduct of the petitioner is not free from doubt. The petitioner was asked to produce the person who had given power of attorney in his favour. Had the person who had given his power of attorney been alive, the petitioner would not have hesitated to produce him. It appears that the said person had died. It also emerges from the facts of this case that had the person who had given power of attorney been produced, he would not have admitted the genuineness of the power of attorney.
There is another snag in the petitioner’s case. It is not disputed that the petitioner had been pursuing earlier litigation before the Managing Officer, Settlement Commissioner, Chief Settlement Commissioner and the Financial Commissioner Revenue, Punjab, Chandigarh as General Power of Attorney of Lachman Shukal. Objection was raised by the respondents that Lachman Shukal was no more and that the litigation was being pursued by Mehnga Singh petitioner unnecessarily. Therefore, this writ petition filed by the petitioner in his own name is not maintainable.
For the foregoing reasons, this writ petition is dismissed.
It has been brought to the notice of this court that the petitioner has been applied for the grant of succession certificate. Nothing observed above shall, however, prejudice the case of the petitioner for the grant of Succession-Certificate.
M.L. Singhal, Judge.”
7. The petitioner then filed S.L.P. No. 3048 of 1997 in the Hon’ble Supreme Court which also met with the same fate vide following orders dated 14.12.1997 : -
“We have asked Learned counsel for the petitioner whether he is claiming to represent Lachman on the basis of the power of attorney alleged to have been given by the Lachman in his favour or upon the basis of the Will alleged to have been made by Lachman. Learned counsel states that the petitioner does not know either Lachman is alive or dead. The S.L.P. is dismissed.”
8. Now let us revert to the order dated 5.11.1996 of the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab & Haryana which has been reproduced above. It is noticed that in the concluding lines it was observed that the order shall not prejudice the case of the petitioner for grant of succession certificate.
9. Meanwhile the petitioner applied for the grant of succession certificate in respect of an amount of Rs. 10,202/- (with interest) lying in the saving bank account No. 45352 in the State Bank of India, Amritsar branch standing in the name of Lachman alias Shukal. The Court of Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Gurdaspur, passed an order dated 30.8.1997 thereby granting succession certificate in favour of Mehnga Singh on the ground that Lachman alias Shukal had executed a registered Will in favour of Mehnga Singh.
10. The ghost of Lachman Shukal continued to haunt Mehnga Singh, petitioner. After obtaining orders regarding grant of succession certificate, he filed a fresh revision petition before the Chief Settlement Commissioner, Chandigarh agitating his claim against the order dated 6.5.1991 of the Settlement Commissioner. This petition was dismissed by the impugned order dated 14.7.1998 on the ground that the order of Settlement Commissioner had attained finality and therefore, the revision petition was not maintainable. Being dissatisfied with the said order dated 14.7.1998, Mehnga Singh filed the present revision petition U/s 33 of the Displaced Persons (C&R) Act, 1954. I have carefully examined the record of the case and heard the arguments of the Learned counsel of both parties. In my opinion this petition is liable to be dismissed.
11. On scanning the chronology of litigation recapitulated above, it is revealed that the petitioner had lost his battle upto the Apex Court. The controversy which had been finally settled by the Hon’ble Supreme Court while dismissing the S.L.P. No. 3048 of 1997 vide order dated 14.2.1997, is being raked up afresh by the petitioner without any visible justification. The sheet-anchor for the present bout of litigation is traceable to the concluding lines of the order dated 5.11.1996 of the Hon’ble Punjab & Haryana High Court reproduced above, wherein it was observed that the observations contained in the earlier part of that order shall not prejudice the case of petitioner. These observations were inevitably aimed at saving the petitioner from the probable prejudice which may have been occasioned to him as a result of lower court being influenced by the adverse observations of the Hon’ble High Court, culminating in the dismissal of the claim of the petitioner regarding the land of Rukkmani Devi. Therefore, the mere fact that Mehnga Singh, petitioner had succeeded in obtaining succession certificate in respect of a paltry amount of Rs. 10202/- alongwith interest, lying in the State Bank of India account of Lachman alias Shukal does not entitled him to get the land allotted of Rukmani in his favour. The proceedings before the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) Gurdaspur were restricted to an enquiry into the title of Mehnga Singh for the grant of succession certificate in respect of aforesaid amount and there was no occasion for him to go into the question regarding title to the land of Rukmani. This aspect never came up for consideration before the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division). In this connection it would be pertinent to make a point reference to the observations contained in para 17of the order dated 30.8.1997 of the Court of Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) which reads as follows: -
“Regarding the second contention of the respondents, that Lachman alias Shukal was not the son of Jiwan Singh and as such was not a legal heir of Smt. Rukmani Devi is concerned. It is not the subject matter of this petition. In this petition, there is dispute about the succession of Lachman alias Shukal and not of Smt. Rukmani Devi. As such, this contention is irrelevant for the purposes of deciding this application.”
12. A plain reading of these observations leave no manner of doubt that the court of Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) was not called upon to adjudicated upon the controversy regarding the succession of land of Rukmani.
13. The petitioner is guilty of suppression of material facts. The Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) Gurdaspur pronounced the order on 30.8.1997 whereas the S.L.P. had been dismissed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court much earlier vide order dated 14.2.1997. The said order was never brought to the notice of the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) Gurdaspur by Mehnga Singh for obvious reasons. It is somewhat intriguing to note that in the application for grant of succession certificate which was filed on 6.2.1996, the petitioner Mehnga Singh projected Lachman alias Shukal as deceased, but while appearing in the Hon’ble Supreme Court a year later his counsel pleaded ignorance whether Lachman alias Shukal was dead or alive. This material contradiction eludes reconciliation and goes to the root of his claim. If the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme court had been brought to the notice of Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) Gurdaspur, he would have certainly stayed his hand in the matter of grant of succession certificate.
14. The land in dispute was not in issue in any manner in the summary proceedings u/s 372 of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 before the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division). Moreover, the State was never impleaded as a party in those proceedings. Since these proceedings were continued in the grant of succession certificate for an amount standing the name of Lachman alias Shukal. The State had nothing at stake and there was no occasion for it to be impleaded in those proceedings. It is well settled that inquiry in the proceedings for the grant of succession certificate are characteristically summary and a succession certificate is not a final adjudication as to who is the next heir and as such entitled to the estate of deceased. The grant of succession certificate merely clothes the holder of the succession certificate with the authority to realise the debts of the deceased and to give valid discharge. He is, however, to dispose of the amount so realised in accordance with the rights of the persons who are entitled to it (First National Bank Ltd. Vs. Shiridevidayal AIR 1968 Punjab 292). Herein we are concerned with the claim of Mehnga Singh to the land of Rukmani Devi and thus the order of the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) is not relevant and has absolutely no bearing on the point of controversy involved in this revision petition.
15. The petitioner having lost his claim upto the final Court cannot be permitted to make a capital out of the concessional observations of the Hon’ble High Court regarding the grant of succession certificate in respect of the amount lying in the bank in the name of Lachman Shukal in reagitating his claim. Having exhausted all forums upto the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the issuance of succession certificate in his favour does not give rise to a fresh cause of action to file revision petition by invoking the provisions of Displaced Persons (C&R) Act, 1954, as the proceedings had earlier attained finality with the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in S.L.P. No. 3048 of 1997.
16. In the light of my foregoing discussion, I am of the opinion that the Ld. Chief Settlement Commissioner was fully justified in reaching the conclusion that the succession certificate in possession of Mehnga Singh had no relevance to the claim of the petitioner qua the land in dispute and that the revision petition was not maintainable. The same infirmity afflicts the present petition as well. In the result no error or irregularity is discernible in the approach of Ld. Chief Settlement Commissioner while passing the impugned order dated 14.7.1998. This petition is accordingly dismissed being devoid of any merits.
17. While parting with this order I cannot help observing that the death of Rukmani Devi having taken place in 1962 as alleged, there was no occasion for sale in 1967 of the land allotted to her in village Kamalpur. This is more so when Avtar Singh who was supposed to be her son and her successor is reported to have died in 1956 and a mutation of his succession is also reported to be existing to that effect. Therefore, there seems some substance in the allegation that the sale in village Kamalpur in the year 1967 was by a bogus person impersonating as Avtar Singh. This fact has found mention in the order of Managing Officer dated 22.8.1986 as also in the order of Settlement Commissioner dated 14.12.1987, yet no action was taken to probe the matter. This gives rise to the suspicion that the various orders canceling the allocation in village Dhaliwal and upholding the allocation in village Kamalpur were passed with the sole purpose of accommodating Baldev Singh etc. the alleged vendees of Rukmani Devi. Deputy Commissioner should have a detailed inquiry conducted into the subject and if it is proved that the sale was fraudulent then in the context of the fact that there is no successor of Rukmani Devi on the horizon, the land would be liable to be reverted back to the Compensation Pool. Action taken & result thereof be intimated to the Officer of the Financial Commissioner Revenue in the Rehabilitation Branch within a period of four months for which purpose a copy of this order be also endorsed to the said Branch.
Chandigarh, dated. (SHYAMA MANN)
the 14th Sept., 1999 Financial Commissioner Revenue,