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Jaswant Singh & Others v/s Additional Director, Consolidation of Holdings Punjab & Others

    Civil Writ Petition No.209 of 1991

    Decided On, 08 August 2011

    At, High Court of Punjab and Haryana

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE RANJIT SINGH

    For the Petitioner: Jai Bhagwan, Advocate. For the Applicant-Respondent: R7, R10 & R25: Vikram Bali, Advocate.



Judgment Text

Ranjit Singh, J.

The petitioners have filed this writ petition for quashing order dated 24.04.1990 (Annexure P-4) passed by the Additional Director Consolidation, Punjab, who has remanded the case to the prescribed authority to examine whether the petitioners had suffered a loss of land and if so to what extent. The case of the petitioners has, accordingly, been remanded to the CO with the direction to determine the area to be transferred to the petitioners.

2. The petitioners and respondents No. 3 to 26 are right holders and residents of revenue estate Haveli Kalan, Tehsil and District Ropar. The consolidation proceedings were initiated in village in the year 1951 and were completed in the year 1952. The land settlement was undertaken in the year 1961-62. After hearing the objections of the right-holders, their rights were settled on their respective holdings. Possession was transferred and, thereafter, handed over. The record of proceedings was then consigned. There was no appeal or objection made for almost 40 years by anyone.

3. After expiry of nearly 40 years, respondents No. 3 to 26 have filed an application before respondent No. 1 on 08.01.1990 alleging that the petitioners owned 102 bighas and 15 biswas as their own holding. They, however, added 80 bighas 17 biswas of shamlat land in their total holding. The land, accordingly, allotted to them in lieu of their holding was excess. It was alleged that due to this, the petitioners were allotted more area and joint holding of the respondents thereby had decreased. The respondents, therefore, raised a plea that this excess area be taken from the petitioners and entered in Shamlat deh Hasab Rasab Raqba Khewat. Copy of the petition so moved is annexed with the petition as Annexure P-1.

4. This petition was filed under Section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as an 'Act'). The petitioner appeared and filed reply. All the allegations made were refuted. The petitioner also raised objections that the application is time barred and there is no explanation for this delayed approach. Besides the petitioners raised objection about the locus of the respondents to file this petition alleging that many signatures were forged and some of the applicants were neither residing in the village nor had earlier challenged the consolidation proceedings.

5. On merits it was pleaded that according to the Hag Dar Bar, the petitioners were entitled to Rs. 72-14 annas and the valuation of this land was negligible and within the framework of the scheme and, thus, respondents No. 3 to 26 have not made out any case for their excess allotment, which required any interference. The petitioners have also averred that they hold 208 bighas 7 biswas land as their share and have denied that the land measuring 18 bighas 17 biswas from the shamlat deh was ever given to them as alleged in the petition filed under Section 42 of the Act. In short, the petitioners have denied allotment of any excess land to them.

6. Respondent No. 2, however, after considering and hearing the parties remanded the case back to the Consolidation Officer for reconsideration after deep scrutiny. Against this, the petitioners have, therefore, filed the present writ petition.

7. The writ petition was admitted and operation of the impugned order was stayed. The respondents have filed reply and it is stated that the petitioners had got added valuation of 81 bighas 6 Biswas out of shamlat deh land though they originally owned only 8 bighas 17 biswas land, as per the respondents. This was done by showing that the shamlat land area had been partitioned during that consolidation process, which was reserved for the entire village community. It is, accordingly, stated that the petitioners have got excess allotment, which should be reconsidered and re-claimed from the petitioners. The respondents being co-sharer in shamlat, thus, would be entitled to claim this land and would have locus to maintain the plea.

8. Counsel for the petitioners has made reference in detail to the documents on records showing holding of the petitioners. Counsel has referred to Annexure P-3 annexed with the petition. As per the counsel, the total land held by the petitioners prior to the consolidation was 208 bighas 7 biswas which was converted to 247 kanal 5 marlas and in lieu of this land, the petitioners were allotted 311 kanals 11 marlas. The value of which was Rs. 72-15-9 paise. To show that the petitioners were entitled to this land in lieu of their holding reference is made to copy of Haqdarbar of village (Annexure P-5) and Khatoni Pemaish (Annexure P-6).

9. Counsel for the respondents, on the other hand, has made reference to some entries showing land having graded value of one Anna containing entry of Bugrai shamlet, to contend that the petitioners have claimed excess land which actually belong to shamlat deh. The counsel for the petitioners in turns submits that the respondents have taken so long to realize the mistake, if any, and so the settled position cannot be changed at this stage when the respondents have no loss to show. Of course as per the counsel, there is no such mistake which needs correction. Counsel for the petitioners would also highlight that there was or is no loss suffered by the respondents as such and it is only because of spite that they have filed this petition after 40 years seeking direction to take trouble the petitioners.

10. In support of his stand, counsel has referred to law laid down by this Court where the Court had declined to interfere in such like matter only on account of long delay in making the approach. Reference is made to Fauja Singh v. State of Punjab and others (2009-2)154 PLR 230. The Court has clearly viewed that even though there is no limitation prescribed to present application yet the aggrieved party can file an application within reasonable time and not with inordinate delay. While taking this view, number of other judgments have been relied upon.

11. Counsel for the respondents had not been able to make any meaningful submission to explain this inordinate delay of 40 years in making the present approach. If any excess land was claimed by the petitioners that was done in the year 1950-51 . The petitioners have continued and enjoyed the fruits of the consolidation and the land given to them. The petitioners have taken far too long to realize that there is a mistake and excess land was allotted to the petitioners. There are number of precedents, where this Court has declined to interfere in such like matters due to delay though Section 42 does not provide any period of limitation and the application can be filed at any stage. Delayed approach to re-open the settled issues has not found approval of this Court and other courts in number of judgments while considering the scope of Section 18 (6) of Haryana Common Land Act which is giving almost identical power of suo motu revision to the Financial Commissioner. Delay in itself has been held to be a good ground to decline interference. Reference can be made to Gram Panchayat Kakran v. Addl. Director of Consolidation and another 1997(4) R.C.R.(Civil) 498 : (1997) 8 Supreme Court Cases 484, Gram Panchayat, Bhattian Bet v. Additional Director, Con

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solidation, Punjab and others (2005-2)140 PLR 273, and Joginder Nath alias Joginder Pal v. Sat Pal and others 2010(2) R.C.R.(Civil) 217 : (2010-2)158 PLR 447. 12. Coupled with this is the fact that the respondents have not shown any direct loss and are claiming interest in the land being share holder in shamlat land which in any case is too remote and of doubtful nature in view of the subsequent development. 13. Thus, without going into merits, I am not inclined to interfere at this stage in exercise of writ jurisdiction on the ground that the respondents had made delayed approach to invoke the remedy of Section 42 of the Act. 14. The writ petition is, accordingly, allowed. The impugned order, Annexure P-4 is quashed. There shall be no order as to costs. Petition allowed.
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