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Rustomji Pestonji Pir Vs. Sorabji Dadabhoy Tata - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtMumbai
Decided On
Case NumberO.C.J. Appeal No. 7 of 1947 and Suit No. 881 of 1946
Judge
Reported in(1948)50BOMLR115
AppellantRustomji Pestonji Pir
RespondentSorabji Dadabhoy Tata
Excerpt:
bombay rents, hotel rates and lodging house bates (control) act (bom. vii of 1944), sections 13(b) and 4(4)9-(1) - 'and for any other reason, any difficulty arises'-interpretation-rent controller-jurisdiction to fix 'standard rent'-certificate of rent controller-transfer of property act (iv of 1882), section 105-rent reserved, what is.;under section 105 of the transfer of property act, 1882, the rent reserved may be in the form of cash only, or in the form partly in cash and partly in kind, or partly in cash and partly in services, or wholly in services.;the expression 'or for any other reason, any difficulty arises' in section 13(b) of the bombay rents, hotel rates and lodging house rates (control) act, 1944, must be construed ejusdem generis, and so construed, it does not cover a case.....coyajee, j.1. this is an appeal against the judgment and decree of mr. justice chagla in a suit filed by the respondents-plaintiffs for ejectment and for rent and compensation for use and occupation. the suit is filed on the ground that the defendant had made himself obnoxious by a series of acts which amounted to nuisance, and a certificate to that effect of the rent controller together with a certificate of the collector hearing on appeal therefrom have been annexed to the plaint. the controller, after hearing evidence, came to the conclusion that the standard rent of these premises was rs. 110 per month, although on the relevant date under the act the rent paid, according to the plaintiffs respondents, was rs. 40 per month plus services to be rendered by a relation of his, one mrs......
Judgment:

Coyajee, J.

1. This is an appeal against the judgment and decree of Mr. Justice Chagla in a suit filed by the respondents-plaintiffs for ejectment and for rent and compensation for use and occupation. The suit is filed on the ground that the defendant had made himself obnoxious by a series of acts which amounted to nuisance, and a certificate to that effect of the Rent Controller together with a certificate of the Collector hearing on appeal therefrom have been annexed to the plaint. The Controller, after hearing evidence, came to the conclusion that the standard rent of these premises was Rs. 110 per month, although on the relevant date under the Act the rent paid, according to the plaintiffs respondents, was Rs. 40 per month plus services to be rendered by a relation of his, one Mrs. Khambatta. The certificate states that the standard rent, according to the Controller, is Rs. 110 per month, and the Controller also comes to the conclusion that the defendant-appellant is guilty of creating nuisance sufficient in the eye of the Controller to entitle him to give possession of the premises to the plaintiffs.

2. At the hearing the Suit was fought out on one issue, namely, whether the Rent Controller and the Collector had jurisdiction to fix the standard rent for the purpose of issuing the certificate. This issue was raised on the contention of the defendant to the effect that the Rent Controller and the Collector did not have any jurisdiction either to fix the standard rent or to issue the certificate on which this suit is based, and this is founded, as stated by the trial Judge, on the submission of the appellants that the premises were let out by the plaintiffs to the sister of plaintiff No. 2 on May 1, 1940, at. a rent of Rs. 40 per month. The case for the plaintiffs is that the premises were let out at the sum of Rs. 40 per month as nominal rent but that the rent was a composite one in the form of Rs. 40 per month in cash and services to be rendered by the said tenant, Mrs. Khambatta, by looking after the house. It is clear, on a reading of Section 105 of the Transfer of Property Act, that the rent reserved may be in the form of cash only, or in the form partly in cash and partly in kind, or partly in cash and partly in services, or wholly in services. The defendant contends that in these circumstances, looking to the provisions of Bombay Act VII of 1944, Rs. 40 per month constituted the standard rent of the premises and therefore the Rent Controller had no jurisdiction either to fix the standard rent or to issue the certificate, inasmuch as the relevant Act, namely Act VII of 1944, only applies to premises the standard rent of which exceeds Rs. 80 per month.

3. This question has been argued before us at considerable length, and for the purpose one must first go to the Act covering the case, which is the Bombay Rents, Hotel Rates and Lodging House Rates (Control) Act, 1944, being Act VII of 1944. The relevant sections to be considered for the purpose of appreciating the Act are as follows : Section 3 refers to the application of the Act to premises the standard rent of which exceeds Rs. 80 per month, and the definitions are contained in Section 4. Section 4(4) defines standard rent and is under four subheads. Clauses (a), (b) and (c) prescribe standard rent where premises are occupied at particular dates for the purpose of ascertaining the standard rent. Thereafter Clause (d) says, 'in any of the cases specified in Section 13' the rent fixed by the Controller shall also be standard rent. The next section, therefore, to refer to is Section 13, and that is the most important and relevant section discussed before us. It commences by saying

In any of the following eases the Controller may fix the standard rent at such amount as having regard to the provisions of this Part, and the circumstances of the case, he deems just.

Then the section is divided into Sub-sections (a), (b) and.(c). At the outset I may point out that each of these heads (a), (b) and (c), taken by itself, refers to a particular class or category. The first, (a), says

Where, any premises are first let after the first day of September 1940 and the rent at which they are first let is in the opinion of the Controller excessive.

In other words, it refers to all cases where the first letting is after September 1, 1940, and where on the Controller being approached he decides that the rent is excessive. Thereafter, I shall deliberately refer to Clause (c). It refers to a class of cases where the premises are let furnished and where it is necessary to distinguish, for the purpose of giving effect to this Part of the Act, on the one hand the amount payable as rent and on the other, the amount payable as hire of furniture.

4. Now, I come to the other clause, namely Clause (b), which is the most discussed and contested part of this section. This also refers to a particular class or particular classes of tenements. It says

Where, by reason of any premises having been let at one time as a whole and at another time in parts, or by reason of a tenant having sub-let a part of any premises let to him, or for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Part

The question before the Court is whether, in the circumstances, namely, where the case falls within a particular class, namely, where the rent reserved is paid partly in cash and partly in the form of services, whether that class of cases falls within Section 18(b). Speaking for myself this particular category of cases, namely, where rent is paid either in kind, or partly in cash and partly in services, is not provided for under Section 13. The words, namely, 'for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Part' must necessarily be construed ejusdem generis with the words preceding, namely, where the premises are of such a nature or they have been dealt with in such a manner that the identity of the premises is in question and the apportionment of the rent, therefore, also is in question, and where similar difficulty arises as regards either the apportionment of the premises or the manner in which the landlord has dealt with them, or the tenant has sub-let them, or in such similar cases the Controller is given power under the second part of Sub-section (b) to fix the standard rent.

5. This question, to my mind, had to be dealt with by, first of all, on a simple construction of Section 13(b) as it stands, giving the words their proper effect and giving the words the meaning they necessarily have by the association of the words in the sub-section together with the juxtaposition of the words. On proper canons of construction being applied, apart from any other consideration, I am of the opinion that the words must be applied ejusdem generis, and applied in that manner, they would not cover the case made out by the plaintiffs, namely, where the rent is to be paid partly in cash and partly in the form of services.

6. Apart from that, the Court is entitled to see and compare this section with any other section in any previous enactment which is in pari materia and which is Bombay Act XVI of 1939. Now, Bombay Act XVI of 1939, Section 2, says this Act applies to cases where the standard rent of premises does not exceed Rs. 80 per month. Section 4 (4) defines the expression 'tenant' as 'any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable for any premises, and includes every person from time to time deriving title under a tenant.' In the definition given in Sub-section (3) of Section 4, the expression 'standard rent' is divided into four heads, namely, (a), (b), (c) and lastly, as in Section 4 of the Act under consideration, there is the Clause (d), which provides, that the standard determined in the manner specified in Section 15, and the rent fixed by the Court. Referring to Section 15 of that Act, it appears that Sub-sections (a) and (b) thereof are on similar lines and adopt the same wording as of a. 13, Sub-sections (a) and (b) of the Act under consideration. But thereafter there is a further clause which includes cases:

Where any premises have been let rent-free or at a nominal rent or for some consideration in addition to rent..

In such a case also the standard rent is to be determined by the Court. I am referring to that for this purpose, that this is a clear indication that the Legislature considered the ambit of Sub-section (a) of Section 15 as particularly limited to a class of cases which would not embrace the class of cases indicated in Sub-section (c). Further, comparing Section 15 (a) of that Act with Section 13 (b) of the Act under consideration, the words used in Section 15 (a) are '...or where for any reason any difficulty arises' whilst in Section 13 (b) the words used are '.or for any other reason any difficulty arises,' It appears clear that in reproducing Section 13 in the form of Section 15 the Legislature has omitted Clause (c). It is not for the Court to enquire whether it was done deliberately or otherwise or what were the reasons that prompted the Legislature to do so. The position, however, is clear, that inasmuch as Sub-section (c) has not been repeated in Section 13 of the Act under consideration, that if there is a class of cases which fall under this particular definition of Section 15 (c) they cannot be embraced within the words 'for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this part,' of Section 13 (b) of the Act under consideration. Furthermore it may be observed that it is clear that if there is any such lacuna arising on the construction set out above, then, in my opinion, the Controller has no jurisdiction to deal with a case arising in those circumstances, and that is so for the following reason

7. The Act of 1939 refers to the Court and all the provisions of that Act were to be enforced by a Court of law. Thereafter it appears that the new Act was passed, namely Act VII of 1944, The Controller was created under the statute for the purpose of administering some of the provisions of this latter Act. The Controller is a creature of the statute and has powers expressly limited and circumscribed by certain sections of that Act. It was argued-and persistently argued-before us by Mr. Mistree that the scheme of the Act is such that standard rent can only be fixed by the Controller and that the Court has no jurisdiction to fix standard rent inasmuch as this power under the Act is assigned to the Controller. We do not accept that contention at all. The Court does not look to a specific Act for assuming jurisdiction. We have inherent jurisdiction and jurisdiction prescribed by the Charter, and the Court has the right to enforce the rights of parties under this Act, except in so far as the powers of the Court are expressly curtailed by any special enactment. In these circumstances, it is clear that where a part of this Act to be enforced is outside the jurisdiction of the Controller-as we hold this case to be outside the jurisdiction of the Controller-then the only remedy a party has is to go to the Court and the Court must in those circumstances assess the standard rent looking at the provisions of the Act and giving a proper meaning and putting a proper construction on Section 4 (4) of this Act.

8. It has been argued that the Court should really give effect to an Act so as to facilitate the object of the Act and not construe it so that the construction would necessarily impose great hardship on any party. That may be, but as pointed out in Davies v. Warwick [1943] 1 K.B. 329 the hardship, which was of a very grave nature in that particular class of cases, could not be allowed to override the plain meaning of the provisions of any Act.

9. The learned Judge in his judgment has said that the scheme of the Act seems to be that if m fixing the standard rent under any of the Sub-sections. (a), (b) and (c) a difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of the Act, then the case falls under Sub-section (d) of Section 4 (4) and the Rent Controller is vested with jurisdiction to determine the standard rent otherwise than on the basis laid down in Sub-sections(a), (b) and (c), and the learned Judge thereafter says that inasmuch as the rent fixed is Rs. 40 in cash plus services of the tenant to be rendered to the property, therefore, a difficulty arises and that it undoubtedly gives rise to a difficulty in giving effect to the Act and therefore it attracts the application of Sub-clause (d) of Section 4, Sub-section (4), and also Sub-clause (b) of Section 13 In our opinion, that is not the correct appreciation of the position, for the simple reason that there is no doubt a difficulty arising in the peculiar circumstances of this ease, namely, where the rent reserved is payable partly m cash and partly in services to be rendered, but in our view that is a class of cases not provided for under Section 13 (b) of the Act. As pointed out by me above, Section 13 expressly refers to certain classes, and unless the class of cases to which this case belongs can be included under Clause (b) on a proper construction on the principle of ejusdem generis there is no provision in this Act for this class of cases to be dealt with by the Controller, and as indicated by me above, if in these circumstances the Controller cannot deal (and he has no right to deal) with this class of cases, the proper remedy of the party in such a ease would be to approach the Court for fixing the standard rent. It is true, as set out above, that it is a hardship on a party, but that is not a hardship without a remedy, and the question before us is whether the party applied for the proper remedy and to the proper forum.

10. I may, in conclusion, point out that if the Legislature intended to give this extended meaning to the word 'difficulty' and if the Controller was to be vested with powers to determine the standard rent in all cases raising any difficulty of the nature indicated, then the Legislature would have, in the normal course, as in other Acts, set out specific classes of cases under Section 13, as they have done, and thereafter would have added a further clause which might be described as a residuary clause enabling the Controller to deal with all remaining cases raising any difficulty arising in giving effect to this part of the Act.

11. The learned Judge has also referred to Section 13(b) as a safety valve. It is certainly a safety valve but to a limited extent as indicated by the Legislature itself by re-erring to the different classes of cases within its ambit; speaking for myself, if the larger definition is to be imported and a broad construction given to the words in this particular sub-section, it gives the Controller unprecedented power, because t comes to this that immediately the Controller describes a particular case before him. as raising a difficulty as regards giving effect to this Part of the Act, then he can assume jurisdiction, and there can be no conceivable case where the matter would not be beyond his jurisdiction, although, as set out by me above, his powers and jurisdiction are set out within the four corners of this Act and definitely circumscribed by the Legislature as set out in this Act. It is only where the Controller acts within his jurisdiction that his finding of fact as regards assessment, or his finding of fact as regards any other matter, cannot be questioned in a Court of law, however wrong the Controller may be both in his reasoning and in his conclusion, but inasmuch as we have come to the conclusion that the Controller had no jurisdiction to entertain this particular case, namely, assessment of standard rent and fixing the standard rent, the answer as regards that particular issue must be in the negative, and we hold that issue No. 1 must be answered in the negative.

Tendolkar, J.

12. This is an appeal against a judgment and decree of Chagla J. decreeing an ejectment suit and making an order for payment of compensation for the use and occupation of the premises in suit. The few facts that are necessary for the determination of this appeal are all admitted. The plaintiffs purchased the property called 'Hormuzd Villa' sometime in 1940; and on May 1, 1940, they let out a portion of that property to one of their relatives, Bachubai Khambatta, as a tenant on a cash rent of Its. 40 and, it is alleged, in consideration of certain services rendered by her, to which I will refer later. These very premises were let out in the year 1943 to the defendant; but no agreement was arrived at between the plaintiffs and the defendant as to the rent payable in respect thereof, the defendant also being a relative of the plaintiffs. Subsequently, disputes arose between the plaintiffs and the defendant as to the rent payable, with the result that on October 22, 1945, the plaintiffs terminated the tenancy by a notice to quit. Thereafter they applied to the Rent Controller for fixing the standard rent; and on January 2, 1946, the Rent Controller fixed Rs. 110 as the standard rent of the premises occupied by the defendant. Against this order of the Rent Controller the defendant unsuccessfully appealed to the Collector, and against the order of the Collector the defendant further went in revision, but the application for revision was also rejected, with the result that the Rent Controller's order fixing the standard rent at Rs. 110 is effective, provided he had jurisdiction to make that order. Thereafter, on March 14, 1946, the Rent Controller issued a certificate under Section 9(1) of the Bombay Rents, Hotel Rates and Lodging House Rates (Control) Act of 1944, being Act VII of 1944, which I shall hereafter refer to as the Act of 1944, certifying that the defendant was a nuisance or annoyance to the adjoining or neigh-bouring occupiers. It is on the basis of this certificate of the Controller that the present ejectment suit was filed.

13. Before the learned Judge the defendant contended that the Rent Controller had no jurisdiction either to fix the standard rent or to issue the certificate under Section 9(1) of the Act of 1944, and that, therefore, the suit must fail. The Act of 1944. is applicable to premises the standard rent of which exceeds Rs. 80 per mense as provided in Section 3(a) of that Act; and the contention of the defendant is that the standard rent of the premises occupied by him does not exceed Rs. 80 and therefore the Rent Controller had no jurisdiction to issue either of the certificates that were issued by him in this case.

14. Before us the Advocate General for the appellant, original defendant, has contended that the plaintiffs should have applied for fixing the standard rent or taken any proceedings that he wished to in relation thereto not under the Act of 1944 at all, but under the Bombay Rent Restriction Act, 1939, which I shall hereafter refer to as the Act of 1939. That Act is applicable to premises the standard rent of which does not exceed Rs. 80. These two Acts raise the question as to which is the proper forum for determining the standard rent where the rent is disputed. To provide that the Rent Controller shall in certain cases be entitled to fix the standard rent in respect of premise of which the standard rent exceeds Rs. 80 and to provide, that in other similar cases the Court shall be entitled to fix the standard rent in respect of premises the standard rent of which is Rs. 80 or under, is really putting the cart before the horse, because where what is sought to be done is to fix the standard rent itself, a party who desires to have that rent fixed does not know which forum to resort to. The Advocate General had therefore contended that for the purpose of initial jurisdiction one should look to what he described as the 'ostensible rent' of the premises, and if the ostensible rent is Rs. 80 or under, the matter should be proceeded with under the Act of 1939, and if the ostensible rent is above Rs 80 it should be proceeded with under the Act of 1944. I see no warrant in the two Acts for this submission. Jurisdiction is conferred on the basis of the standard rent and not on the basis of 'ostensible rent' at all, a term in itself not easy to define, and therefore it seems to me that a party who is interested in having the standard rent determined may resort either to the provisions of the Act of 1939 or to those of the Act of 1944. If he resorts to the provisions of the Act of 1939 and it is discovered that the standard rent exceeds Rs. 80, at that stage the Act of 1939 will cease to have any application. Similarly, if he resorts to the provisions of the Act of 1944 and the Rent Controller comes to the conclusion that the rent is Rs. 80 or under, at that stage the Rent Controller shall cease to have jurisdiction under the Act of 1944. To my mind it is perfectly open to a party to choose whichever forum he likes in the first instance and take the risk of its being discovered later that he had resorted to the wrong forum. In this case the plaintiffs chose the forum given to them under the Act of 1944; and we have therefore got to determine whether the Rent Controller had jurisdiction to determine the standard rent in the present case. In his order the Rent Controller states that although a sum of Rs. 40 only was paid per month, that was nominal rent and there was a clear understanding with Bachubai that ,. she was to look after the property. In other words, having regard to the definition of 'rent' in Section 105 of the Transfer of Property Act, the rent in fact payable by Bachubai was Rs. 40 in cash plus the services rendered by her in looking after the property. However, when the matter went up before the Collector in appeal, the Collector held that Bachubai was paying a nominal or concessional rent and it was charged to her having regard to the near relationship between her and the plaintiffs and her poor financial condition. In the view that I take of the powers of the Rent Controller, it makes no difference whether in fact she was to render any services to the plaintiffs in part consideration of the premises which she occupied as a tenant, because in either event, in the view that. I take of the matter, the Rent Controller would have no jurisdiction to determine what the standard rent was. Now 'standard rent' under the Act of 1944 had been defined by Section 4, Sub-Section (4). That section, under Clauses (a), (b) and (c) thereof determines the rent in relation to the first letting of the premises on, before or after September 1, 1940, and Sub-clause (d) thereof provides, 'in any of the cases specified in Section 13, the rent fixed by the Controller. 'It is apparent that the only jurisdiction that the Rent Controller has to fix the standard rent is that conferred upon him by Section 13; and the extent of that jurisdiction depends upon the interpretation we put upon that section. It is in these terms:

In any of the following cases the Controller may fix the standard rent at such amount as I moving regard to the provisions of this Part, and the circumstances of the case, he deems just

(a) where, any premises are first let after the first day of September 1940 and the rent at which they are first let is in the opinion of the Controller excessive

(b) where, by reason of any premises having been let at one time as a whole and at another time in parts, or by reason of a tenant having sub-let a part of any premises let to him, or for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Part; or

(c) where, in the case of any premises let furnished, it is necessary to distinguish, for the purpose of giving effect to this Part, the amount payable as rent from the amount payable as hire of furniture.

Now. Sub-clause (a) deals with cases where, in the opinion of the Controller, the rent is excessive and the premises were first let after September 1, 1940. That is a separate clause by itself and has no relation to the subsequent sub-clauses. Sub-clause (b) is the material clause under which the Rent Controller purported to act in this case, and I will revert to it later, because it is really the interpretation of this sub-clause that disposes of this appeal. Sub-clause (c) relates to cases where the premises were let at one time furnished and at another time unfurnished, and it becomes necessary to distinguish the rent of premises from the amount payable as hire of furniture. It is clear at the outset that Sub-clause (a), (b) and (c) deal with three different contingencies, none of which are over-lapping. Sub-clause (b) deals with a separate category of cases in which the Rent Controller is entitled to fix the standard rent. In that separate category, particular instances have been specifically mentioned. Those are, firstly, where the premises were at one time let as a whole and at another time in parts; and, secondly, where a tenant has sub-let any portion of his premises. Both these particular instances are instances in which the identity of the premises had in some manner become different, and therefore the definition of standard rent given in Section 4 (4), Clause (a), (b) and (c) may not be strictly applicable. We then come to the most important part of Sub-clause (b) of Section 13, which says, 'for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Part; 'The question before us is whether this sub-clause should be read ejusdem generis or whether it should be given the wide and unrestricted meaning that the words, apart from their context, would normally have. Now, it is a well known canon of construction that where you have general words following particular and specific words of the same nature, the general words will be prima facie construed ejusdem generis and not in their unrestricted and absolute meaning, unless there is anything in the context to suggest that they were intended to be used in their unrestricted meaning. I find nothing in Section 13 to indicate that these words were intended to be used in their unrestricted meaning at all. On the other hand, there is, to my mind, sufficient indication in the section to induce me to hold that they were used ejusdem generis only. Firstly, there are three different Sub-Clause (a), (b) and (c) of Section 13; and the general words appear at the end of one of these sub-clauses only, and normally would refer to the class of cases previously referred to in that sub-clause only and not to the other sub-clauses at all. Secondly, if it was intended that these words should, by themselves, confer unrestricted jurisdiction on the Rent Controller to fix the standard rent wherever any difficulty arises in giving effect to that Part, I would have expected these words to appear in a separate clause as a residuary clause rather than at the end of one of the three sub-clauses in Section 13. Thirdly, if these words are to be given the wide meaning that they would normally have had, they would, in my opinion, have also covered the. case contemplated in Sub-clause (a), namely, the case of excessive rent, and it would have been wholly unnecessary to make a special provision for a case where the rent was excessive. On a plain reading, therefore, of Section 13, I am of opinion that the words, 'for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Part;' must be construed ejusdem generis. I am strengthened in this opinion by a reference to the Act of 1939, which is in pari materia with the Act of 1944 and from which Section 13 seems to have been substantially reproduced. The definition of 'standard rent' given under that Act is in Section 4 (3); and the first three Sub-clause (a), (b) and (c) of the Act of 1939 correspond with the first three Sub-clauses of Section 4(4) of the Act of 1944, with this difference that the period of time in relation to which the rent is fixed is under the Act of 1939 January 1, 1939, while under the Act of 1944 it is September 1, 1940. Sub-clause (d) of that sub-section in the 1939 Act corresponds with Sub-clause (d) of Section 4(4) of the Act of 1944. We then have Section 15 of the Act of 1939 which confers upon the Court powers to determine standard rent in certain cases; and that sub-section corresponds with Section 13 of the Act of 1944. Sub-clause (a) of that section is in terms the same as Sub-clause (b) of Section 13 of the Act of 1944, with this difference only that in the Act of 1944 the words 'any other reason' appear instead of the words 'any reason' only in the Act of 1939. Sub-clause (b) of the Act of 1939 corresponds with Sub-clause (c) of the Act of 1944. We have no sub-clause in the Act of 1939 which corresponds with Sub-clause (a) in the Act of 1944; but we have an important Sub-clause (c) in the Act of 1939, Section 15 (1), which is in these terms:

Where any premises have been or are let rent-free or at a nominal rent or for some consideration in addition to rent.

It is, to my mind, very significant that this sub-clause has been omitted in enacting Section 13 of the Act of 1944. I must assume that the Legislature was aware of the existence of the Act of 1939 and all its provisions; and indeed the Act of 1939 is specifically referred to in the Act of 1944 in Section 3 thereof. Having, therefore, the provisions of Section 15 before it, the Legislature has thought fit not to re-enact Sub-clause (c) of Section 15(1) of the Act of 1939 in Section 13 of the Act of 1944 at all. That strengthens me in the belief that the Legislature could not have intended to confer upon the Rent Controller jurisdiction to fix standard rent where the premises have been let rent-free or for a nominal rent or for some consideration in addition to rent. Moreover, the relevant words 'where for any reason any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Act', appear in Section 15 (2)(a) of the Act of 1939; and if they were sufficient to include other eases of difficulty including cases where a nominal rent or a rent in addition to services rendered has been charged, there would have been no reason for the Legislature to include Sub-clause (c) in Section 15 (1) at all. There is no doubt, therefore, that the Legislature intended that the words in Section 15 (1)(a) 'where for any reason any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Act' are to be construed ejusdem generis; and when the same words have been reproduced in Sub-clause (b) of Section 13 of the Act of 1944, I am of the opinion that they must be similarly construed ejusdem generis. The result, therefore, is that the Controller had no jurisdiction under Section 13 of the Act of 1944 to determine the rent in this case at all. If the plaintiffs are correct, and if Bachubai paid them Rs. 40 in addition to services rendered, then no doubt, the standard rent would not only be Rs. 40 but that amount plus the value in money of such services as may have been rendered by the lady, but those services cannot be evaluated by the Rent Controller who had no jurisdiction to do so. The Court trying this case would have jurisdiction to deter-mine whether in fact the standard rent of the premises occupied by the defendant was or was not in excess of Rs. 80, and the determination of that question becomes material for the purpose of determining whether the certificate issued by the Rent Controller under Section 9(1) of the Act of 1944 is with jurisdiction. If the Court comes to the conclusion that the standard rent was above Rs. 80; then although the certificate issued by the Controller in respect of the standard rent may be bad, still the certificate issued under Section 9 (1) of the Act of 1944 would be good, and the plaintiffs would be entitled to succeed in the ejectment suit. If, on the other hand, the plaintiffs do not succeed in proving that the standard rent was in excess of Rs. 80, the certificate is a mere nullity and cannot enable them to obtain a decree for ejectment in this suit.

15. It was argued before us that if we interpret the words 'where for any reason any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Act' ejusdem generis, it might give rise to several hardships. Normally, it is not the function of the Court to consider the hardship involved in a proper interpretation of any particular piece of legislation. If the statute is capable of more than one meaning, or it there is any ambiguity about its interpretation, the question of hardship may be considered; but otherwise any conceivable hardship is a matter of no consequence at all. That was the view taken by the King's Bench Division in the case of Davies v. Warwick [1943] 1 K.B. 329 . It was a case arising under the Increase or Rent and Mortgage Interest (Restriction) Act of 1920 in England. MacKinnon L. J. in his judgment said (p. 333):

If the landlord proves that the rent the tenant agreed to pay is perfectly fair, and is, in fact, ower than the rent being paid by every other tenant of identical houses, the Judge is not allowed to consider that. If the landlord proves that the previous letting years ago was an act of charity at a nominal rent by the then owner to his aged relative, or at a low or nominal rent to a servant, the Judge cannot take either of these facts into account.

And Goddard L.J. said (p. 335):

It is said that to give the plain meaning to the words will work hardship on the defendant. Of course it will, but that does not entitle the Court to read into the Act words which are not there, or to give to the words that are clear a meaning other than that which they bear. 'But, of course, in this case I do not think any hardship arises from the interpretation which we think is the proper interpretation to be put on Section 13. It is open to the plaintiffs, if they so choose, to prove that the standard rent was, as they allege, above Rs. 80. The rent will have to be determined according to the definition in Section 4(4) of the Act of 1944, and if it is above Rs. 80, the plaintiff can still lake advantage of the certificate issued under Section 9(1).

16. The learned trial Judge was inclined to take the view that the words, 'where for any reason any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Act', were the safety valve intended by the Legislature to be handy in every case in which the Rent Controller felt that some difficulty had arisen. With very great respect to the learned Judge, I am not prepared to hold that this was the intention of the Legislature. That will be conferring upon the Rent Controller very wide powers indeed of determining the standand rent. In coming to that decision the learned Judge' relied on a judgment of a division bench of this Court which he himself had delivered in the case of Khurshed Mody v. Bent Controller, Bombay : AIR1947Bom46 . In that case the rent agreed upon was Rs. 250 per month, but it appears that a gas cooker and some electric contrivances had been put into the flat and the Rent Controller fixed the rent at Rs. 270. On an application for a writ of certiorari a division bench of this Court, sitting in appeal, held that it was competent to the Rent Controller to fix the rent, as he did at Rs. 270, On the facts of that case, the judgment was, if I may say so with respect, quite obviously right, because if the premises were let without the gas cooker or the electric appliances at one time and at another time with those appliances, then jurisdiction could be invoked under Sub-clause (c) of Section 18 because premises let out with a gas cooker and electric appliances would be said to be let out furnished. I do not read that judgment as laying down the proposition that the words 'for any other reason, any difficulty arises in giving effect to this Part' are to be construed in their wide and. natural meaning and not ejusdem generis with what precedes those words in Sub-clause (b).

17. I therefore agree that so far as issue No. 1 is concerned, we must answer the first part of the issue in so far as it relates to standard rent in the negative. The Rent Controller and Collector had no jurisdiction to fix the standard rent. The decision on the latter part of that issue would depend upon the decision on issue No. 2 which was not answered by the learned trial Judge because he held that it did not arise. Indeed, there is no evidence on record to determine that issue at all.

Coyajee, J.

18. Mr. Mistree at this stage indicates to the Court that in the light of the decision of the Court on the first part of issue No. 1, the respondents apply that they may be allowed to lead evidence for the purpose of answering issues Nos. 2 and 3. The Advocate General on behalf of the appellant does not object to the matter being remanded for trial of the other issues and for disposal of the suit according to law.

19. The decree of the learned trial Judge is set aside and the case remanded for hearing and disposal as indicated above. The respondents to pay the appellant's costs of this appeal, inclusive of the costs of the trial of the issue before the trial Court. No order as regards the second part of the notice of motion before the Appeal Court.


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