Decided on April 24,1957

BADAN SINGH Respondents


- (1.) The petitioners, Shivdev Singh and Gurdarshan Singh, are biswedars of village Amlasinghwala, Tehsil Barnala. The respondents held agricultural lands under the petitioners as tenants-at-will from year to year. The petitioners applied to the Revenue Officer for issue of 29 separate notices under Section 45(1) of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 , hereinafter called the 1887 Act, for service on the various tenants. After prolonged proceedings the Financial Commissioner set aside the orders of ejectment passed against the respondents. The orders of the Financial Commissioner are of 31st of May, 1956. The landlords have filed these 29 separate writ petitions under Article 227 of the Constitution to get the orders of the Financial Commissioner set aside. As the facts leading to these petitions and the questions that require determination are common, it will be convenient to decide all these petitions by this one judgment.
(2.) The facts leading to these petitions are these. The landlords applied to the Tehsildar, Barnala, for service of notices of ejectment on the tenants under Section 43 read with Section 42(b) of the 1887 Act. They claimed this relief on the grounds that the tenants had not paid rent and had refused to execute kabuliyats. On 1st of November, 1954, the Tehsildar issued the required notices which were duly served on the tenants on 15th of November, 1954. It is common ground that these notices were served in accordance with the provisions laid down in sub-clause (1) Section 45 of the 1887 Act. The proceedings were then taken under Section 45 of that Act. The tenants filed suits before the Assistant Collector, Barnala, on 20th of December, 1954, contesting their liability to be ejected. These suits were filed within two months from the date of service of notices as laid down in Section 45. The landlords contested the suits and raised a preliminary objection that the plaints were not sufficiently stamped. The Assistant Collector framed an issue to this effect and then upholding the objection fixed a date by which the insufficient Court-fee was to be made good. The tenants, however, failed to do so and ultimately the Assistant Collector dismissed the suits on 29th of March, 1955. The tenants appealed to the Collector, Sangrur, who affirmed the finding of the trial Court regarding insufficiency of Court-fee but modified the orders by rejecting the plaints instead of dismissing the suits. Thereafter, the landlords applied on 10th of June, 1955, to the Tehsildar to enforce the notices of ejectment issued to the tenants by evicting them. The Tehsildar passed the required orders on 23rd of June, 1955. The tenants appealed and the Collector set aside the orders of the Tehsildar on the ground that the tenants could not be evicted after 15th of June, 1955. The landlords then appealed to the Commissioner who by his orders, dated 13th of March, 1956, remanded the cases to the Collector as he found the latter's orders to be vague and further directed him to decide other objections raised by the tenants against their eviction. The Collector over-ruled the tenants' objections and ordered their eviction between 1st of May and 15th of June, 1956. The tenants then applied to the Financial Commissioner to get the Commissioner's orders revised and reversed. The Financial Commissioner by his orders dated 31st of May, 1956, came to the conclusion that the tenants could be evicted only on the grounds laid down in Section 7 of the Patiala and East Punjab States Union Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1953 (President's Act No. 8 of 1953), hereinafter called the 1953 Act, and that the proceedings under Section 45 of the 1887 Act could not be taken against the tenants. Accordingly the Financial Commissioner set aside all the orders of the lower Courts. Hence these petitions by the landlords.
(3.) It is common ground that the 1887 Act applies to the area in question. This Act lays down the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants of agricultural land and also the procedure for enforcing these rights. The occupancy tenants and those for fixed terms are liable to ejectment on certain grounds specified in Sections 39 and 40 of this Act respectively. Section 41 lays down that a tenant from year to year may be ejected at the end of any agricultural year which commences on 16th of June. Therefore, under the 1887 Act the landlords can get tenants evicted without alleging or proving any ground for the same. Under this Act a tenant can be evicted only in execution of a decree for ejectment, but Section 42 has provided two exceptions to this Rule - (1) when a decree for arrears of rent remains unsatisfied and (2) when the tenant-at-will, i.e., from year to year. A tenant-at-will may be evicted by following the procedure laid down in Section 45 of the 1887 Act after getting a notice of eviction served on him. Thus a landlord, who wishes to evict a tenant, can either file a suit for ejectment under Section 77(3)(e) of the 1887 Act or proceed by notice under Section 43 and then follow the procedure laid down in Section 45 of this Act. The landlords in the present cases have chosen to follow the procedure laid down in Sections 43 and 45 of the Act.;

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