(1.)THESE are 10 Special appeals directed against orders passed by learned Single Judge of this court, allowing ten similar writ petitions and writ petition referred by a learned Single Judge to the Division Bench. As all these appeals involve common questions of law and arise in similar circumstances, they are being disposed of together by a common order. The writ petitioners in each one of these cases are displaced persons, having migrated to India from territories which now form part of West Pakistan and each one of them had a verified claim for compensation in respect of agricultural lands held by him in. West Pakistan, before migrating from those territories.
(2.)IT is common ground between the parties that the lands in dispute were formerly in the occupation of Muslim tenants and mostly those lands were situated in the Jagir of Chhatargarh which formed part, of the erstwhile State of Bikaner. It appears that some of the Muslim tenants left their agricultural lands oh account of communal disturbances or fear of s(sic) disturbances or on account of the setting up of the separate State of Pakistan. Lands in dispute in these cases were admittedly under the occupation of Muslim tenants before they left their respective village and migrated to places out side the former State of Bikaner or went away to those terriotries which now form part of Pakistan. In the year 1948, the Ruler of the erstwhile State of Bikaner, in order to preserve and manage the properties left by such persons who became evacuees, issued an order known as the Bikaner State Evacuee (Administration of Property) Order, 1948 (hereinafter referred to as 'the 1948 Order') The order was issued on December 20, 1948 and was published in the Bikaner State Rajpatra dated December 21, 1948. in accordance with the provisions of the 1948 order, all evacuee properties situated within the former State of Bikaner vested in the Custodian Of Evacuee Property and continued to remain so vested in him until otherwise directed. 'Evacuee Property' has been defined, in clause (2) of the 1984 Order as including all properties in which an evacuee had any right or interest. After the merger of the former State of Bikaner to form the United State of Rajasthan, the evacuee properties which were vested in the Custodian in the erstwhile State of Bikaner came under the control and management of the Custodian appointed under the provisions of the Administration of Evacuee Property Act, 1950 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Central Act'). The Government of India later issued a notification under the provisions of Section 12 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), declaring that evacuee agricultural lands situated in various village in Rajasthan would stand acquired by the Central Government and shall form part of the compensation pool. After the notification was issued under Section 12 of the Act, the lands in dispute came to be vested in the Central Government and then formed part of the compensation pool. The Managing Officer, Shri Ganganagar thereafter passed orders allotting the lands in dispute to the writ -petitioners, under the provisions of Section 20(sic)(c) of the Act The writ petitioners subsequently requested the Tehsildar Anopgarh, District Sri Ganganagar to give over possession of the lands in dispute to the respective allottees thereof. But as the Tehsildar failed to deliver possession over the disputed lands to the writ petitioners, in accordance with the orders of the Managing Officer, the petitioners approached this Court by means of writ petitions. The writ petitions came up before the learned Single Judge of this Court. The grievance of the writ -petitioners was that the Tehsildar did not comply with the orders of allotment passed by the Managing Officer and possession of the lands in dispute was not transferred by him to the writ petitioners. All the ten writ petitions were allowed by the learned Single Judge of this Court by different orders and directions have been issued in each writ petition to the respondents to comply with the orders passed by the Managing Officer, Sri Ganganagar and the Tehsildar has been directed in each case to hand over possession of the lands in dispute to the allottee thereof. In some cases, proceedings under Section 91 of the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act, 1956 had been taken against the writ petitioners by the concerned Tehsildars, and in those cases, the proceedings under Section 91 of the Rajasthan Land Revenue Act have been quashed by this Court. In Writ Petition No. 1052 0f 1974, filed by Sohanlal, a learned Single Judge referred the writ petition to the Division Bench, so that the same could be heard and disposed of along with the special appeals arising out of the writ petitions decided earlier.
According to the writ petitioners, the Muslim Khatedar tenants migrated to territories which now form part of Pakistan, on account of civil disturbances after March 1947 or fear of such disturbances or on account of the partition of the country and, thus, they became evacuees. The respondents have denied this allegation and have asserted that the Muslim tenants did not become evacuee as they did rot migrate to Pakistan but they continued to reside in other parts of Rajasthan, and as such the lands in dispute also did not become evacuee properties. The respondents have not disclosed the place or places to which the former Muslim tenants of the disputed lands have migrated. It is not the case of the respondents that the former Muslim tenants of the disputed lands or their legal representatives even returned to claim Khatedari or tenancy rights in the lands in dispute. It maybe pointed out that in the 1948 Order, 'evacuee' was defined in clause 2(b) as under:
2(b) 'Evacuee' means a person ordinarily resident or owning property or carrying on business within the territories comprised in the Bikaner State, who on account of civil disturbance, or the fear of such disturbance or the partition of the country. (i) leaves, or has since the first day of March 1947 left the said territories for a place outside the State of Bikaner, or (ii) cannot personally occupy or supervise his property or carry on his business or watch his interests or enforce his rights.
(3.)THUS , so far as the law prevalent in the former State of Bikaner is concerned, if a person left the territories of the erstwhile State of Bikaner for a place outside that State, on accounts civil disturbance or for fear of such disturbances or on account of the partition of the country, then such person would fall within the definition of an 'evacuee', as contained in clause 2(b)of the 1948 Order. At the same time, the property, in which such a person had any right or interest would be evacuee property. According to the provisions of clause 4 the 1948 Order, all evacuee automatically vested in the coustodian of the former State of Bikaner automatically vested in the Custodian of Evacuee Property. After the repeal of the 1948 Order, such evacuee properties came to be vested in the Custodian appointed under the Central Act and the same continued to remain so vested in him until they were vested in the entral Government and thereafter formed part of the compensation pool, by virtue of the notification issued under Section 12 of the Act. As it is not in dispute that the Muslim agriculturists, who were earlier Khatedar tenats of the lands in dispute, had left their respective villages and had migrated to places out side the former State of Bikaner, such Muslim tenants became evacuees and it is not of much consequence as to whether they migrated at that time to other parts of Rajasthan or they left for Pakistan at that very time. It is also not in dispute that neither those Muslim Khatedar tenants nor their legal representatives at any time claimed possession of the lands in dispute, which fact supports the con(sic)tion of the writ petitioners that the Muslim occupants of such lands became evacuees. As soon as the Muslim Khatedar tenants became evacuee their right or interest in the agricultural lands in dispute became evacuee property. It may be observed that according to the 1948 Order, which was was prevalent in the former State of Bikaner at the relevant time, no declaration of the Property of such evacuees as evacuee property was necessary. The properties belonging to the evacuees or their right or interest in such properties became evacuee property as soon as they left their respective villages for places out side the fomer State of Bikaner, on account of civil disturbances or fear of such disturbances or on account of the partition of the country. once of the rights of the Muslims tenants became evacuee property their right or interest in the lands in dispute automatically became vested in the Custodian of Evacuee Property. It may be observed that the lands in dispute belonged to the Jagirdar of Chhatargarh at the relevant time and Muslim occupants there of possessed merely tenancy rights in such lands. The title or ownership in such lands continued to vest in the Jagirdar while only the tenancy rights in those lands became evacuee property and became vested in the Custodian. Thereafter, the tenancy right in such lands were acquired by the Central Government by a notification issued under Section 12 of the Act on April 6, 1955 and, thus, the tenancy right became part of the compensation pool. The Managing Officer was therefore, justified in allotting the tenancy rights in such lands, which then formed part of the compensation pool, to the displaced persons against their verified claims in respect of agricultural lands left by them in those territories which now form part of Pakistan.