1. The above First Appeals involve an important common question, about the rateable value of the lands, which were acquired for the appellants M/s. Tata Hydro Electric Power Supply Co. Ltd. for erecting the towers for connecting wire lines carrying the electric energy to the City of Bombay; but wherein, according to the appellants, some trespassers built hutments; and the Municipal Corporation has levied the property tax, on the basis of the rateable value, not only of the land, but also of the hutments on the basis of their rental value,
2. The appellants carried the appeals under Section 217 of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, before the Chief Judge, Small Causes Court at Bombay. The appeals were dismissed on the ground that under Section 146 (2) (c) of the Act, the Municipal Corporation was entitled to fix the rateable value not only of the land, which was admittedly vested in the company, but also of the structures, which were built on the lands, as the appellants had a right to let those lands for the purpose of building structures.
3. The learned Additional Chief Judge, who decided the matter, relied on the decisions in National Grindlays Bank Ltd, v. The Municipal Corporation for Greater Bombay, : 3SCR565 and Ramji Keshavji v. The Municipal Commissioner of Greater Bombay : (1954)56BOMLR1132 .
4. The decision of the learned Additional Chief Judge is challenged by Mr. Koranne the learned counsel appearing for the appellants, on the ground that the structures do not belong to the appellants; and therefore the appellants had no right to let the structures, and hence Section 146 (2) (c) of the Act had no application.
5. The argument must be rejected firstly because Section 146 (2) (c) lays down:
'(2) Otherwise the said taxes shall be primarily leviable as follows, namely:--
(c) if the premises are unlet, from the person in whom the right to let the same vests.'
6. The word 'premises' is defined in. Section 3 (gg) of the Act as including messuages, buildings and lands of any tenure, whether open or enclosed, whether built on or not and whether public or private. In the circumstances, for the purposes of determining the rateable value, the fact that the lands are acquired for the appellants M/s. Tata Hydro Electric Power Supply Co. Ltd. for erecting the electric poles and the tenure restricted the use of the land, is irrelevant; and as the land could be let only by the appellants, they must be held to have a hypothetical 'right to let' the structures thereon, within the meaning of Section 146 (2) (c) of the Act.
7. The interpretation is consistent with the well settled principle of rating as stated in Ryde on Rating, Thirteenth Edition, 1976. In Ryde on Rating it is said at pages 420-421)
'Who may be the hypothetical tenant:-- The statute requires the assumption that the property to be valued is to be let and therefore the fact that it is occupied by the owner is immaterial. All possible occupiers, including the actual occupier, must be taken into account as possible tenants from year to year.'
8. At page 422, the effect of the decision of the House of Lords in London County Council v.East and West Ham (1893) A. C. 562, was stated as follows :--
'The effect of this decision of the House of Lords is that, even though it may be impossible in fact, and forbidden by law, that the actual occupier should be a yearly tenant of the hereditament to be rated, still for the purpose of valuing that hereditament it must be supposed that the actual occupier is among the possible yearly tenants; and unless the supposition be made, most absurd anomalies result.'
9. It is true, that Mr. Koranne to quite right in his submission that the aforesaid decisions of the Supreme Court and this Court were cases, where the lands were actually let for constructing the buildings. Nevertheless, even though the trespassers have constructed the structures, having regard to the consistent practice of rating, as stated by Ryde on Rating, the structures built by the trespassers must also be included, when determining the liability of the appellants, who had the right to let.
10. In my opinoin, therefore, the decisions of the learned Additional Chief Judge were consistent with the well etsablished law regarding rateable valuation practice in respect of such hypothetical tenants, which are contemplated under Section 146 (2) (c) of the Act.
11. All the four appeals are, therefore, dismised. As nobody appeared before me on behalf of the Municipal Corporation,there will be no order as to costs.
12. Appeals dismissed.