The Punjab Public Premises and Land (Eviction and Rent Recovery) Act,1973
Section 7. Power to recover [ rent or ” in Hr. only] damages in respect of public premises as arrears of land revenue
(1) Where any person is in arrears of rent payable in respect of any public premises, the Collector may by order, require that person to pay the same within such time and in such installments as may be specified in the order.
(2) Where any person is , or has at any time been in unauthorized occupation of any public premises the Collector may, having regard to such principles of assessment of damages as may be prescribed, assess the damages on account of the use and occupation of such premises and may, by order require that person to pay the damages within such time and in such installments as may be specified in the order.
(3) No order under sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be made against any person until after the issue of a notice in writing to the person calling upon him to show cause within such time as may be specified in the notice, why such order should be made any until his objections, if any, and any evidence he may produce in support of the same, have been considered by the Collector.
The word ” payable in this section means ” legally recoverable The section does not create any new rights. Thus if the recovery of an amount is barred by the law of limitation, it would not be possible for the authorities to collect such amount as it could not be said to be ” payable The pay ability of arrears of rent has to be determined in accordance with law and this section provides only a special procedure but does not constitute a source or foundation of a right to claim a debt which is otherwise time-barred. Sate of Orissa V Arun Kumar. AIR 1976 SC 1637.
Where the liability to arrears of rent in respect of occupation of public premises is outstanding on the date of demand and the claim is not time barred, the arrears of rent as also damages for unauthorized occupation can be recovered under this Act even though the premises were let prior to the commencement of this Act. Yash Pal Dhawan V Commissioner Ferozepore. 1982 Rev L.R. 442 = PLJ 466 = 1982 PLR 741 relying on State of UP v Anand Sarup. AIR 1974 SC 125. But time barred claims cannot be so recovered.
2. Limitation. In a case from Chandigarh where this Act is applicable it was said that the Estate Officer under this section could order payment of damages if the claim is otherwise not time barred. The law of limitation has to be taken notice of. If a suit would be barred on the date when an application under this section is made. Then the arrears become irrecoverable. But if the suit would be within time, then the claim cannot be denied merely because it is ought to be recovered under this section. In calculating limitation the period during which the stay obtained by the party remained operatives has to be excluded. Northern India Caterers v DJ, Chandigarh. 1983 PLR 457 (DB.)