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Narayanlal Bansilal Vs. Venkatrao Anant Pai - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Application Nos. 50, 53, 672, 1204 and 1732 of 1963
Judge
Reported in(1965)67BOMLR352; 1965MhLJ537
AppellantNarayanlal Bansilal
RespondentVenkatrao Anant Pai
Excerpt:
.....must give it reasonable and rational meaning and that it ought not to adopt a construction which renders it ineffective or redundant. chitale must, therefore, fail. he has referred us to the relevant portions of the judgment which give an impression that in the view of the appellate bench apportionment in a case like the present is the only method of determining the standard rent. clauses (a) to (e) of sub-section (1) of section 11 require the court to determine the standard rent if any one of the conditions mentioned therein is satisfied. it is good sense to say that if the standard rent of the whole building was a particular amount, standard rent of the part cannot exceed that amount. it is also good sense to say that standard rent of the whole building cannot be more than the total..........of the property, but subject to such cases the rent prevailing in respect of the premises on the basic date is the standard rent. no doubt in cases where it was let for the first time after the basic date the standard rent would be the rent at which it was so let. mr. chitale relies on clause (a) but then clause (c) enables the court in a case like the present to determine the standard rent as on september 1, 1940, the entire property was let and later on it was let in parcels. mr. chitale emphasized the article 'the' before the word 'premises' in clause (c) and contends that the use of this article must show that the legislature intended the identity of premises.5. the wording no doubt leaves much to be desired but, in our view, to accept the contention that unless there is identity.....
Judgment:

Patel, J.

1. [His Lordship after stating the facts, proceeded.] Mr. Chitale contends that (1) the Court below had no jurisdiction to fix the standard rent in the manner in which it has done having regard to the provisions of the Rent Act. (2) He contents that even if it had jurisdiction it has erred in exercising it in determining the case. (3) That it made out a new case for the defendant when it held that there was no appropriation of rent and allowed accounts, (4) that it wrongly disallowed insurance premia and restoration charges, and (5) that it was not entitled to determine the question of statutory-tenancy.

2. The first contention is that the Court had no jurisdiction to fix the standard rent as in this case the premises leased to the defendant were not leased prior to that date. It may be mentioned that the whole compound with all the structures was leased from January, 1940, to the National Studio at a rental of Rs. 1,700 per month.

3. Section 5, Sub-section (8) defines 'premises' to mean (1) land... or (b) any building or part of a building let separately... including... Sub-section. (10) defines 'standard' rent in respect of any premises where it is not fixed by the Court or the Controller under the Bombay Rent Restriction Act, 1939, or under the Act of 1944 to mean-(i) the rent at which the premises were let on the first day of September, 1940, or (ii) where they were not let on the first day of September, 1940, the rent at which they were last let before that day, or (iii) where they were first let after the first day of September 1940, the rent at which they were first let, or (iv) in any of the cases specified in Section 11, the rent fixed by the Court. Clause (i) of the sub-section makes the whole of it subject to Section 11. It is, therefore, argued that inasmuch as on September 1, 1940, the premises that were let were the whole compound with all buildings and now the premises let are only a portion of the same there can be no question of Clause (i)(i) of Sub-section (10) of Section 5 applying. Only Clause (b)(in) applies and, if so, the rent charged for these premises by the leases in question became the standard rent and the Court has no jurisdiction to determine the standard rent unless the tenant proves that the rent charged is excessive. This argument cannot be accepted in view of Section 11 to which the definition is subject. It gives power to the Court by Sub-section (7) to fix the standard rent under any of the eventualities mentioned in Clauses (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) and requires the Court to fix such rent as the standard rent as it deems just having regard to the provisions of the Act and the circumstances of the case. Three of the reasons for which the standard rent may be fixed amongst others are: (a) where any premises are first let after the first day of September 1940, and the rent at which they are so let is in the opinion of the Court excessive; or (c) where at one time the premises were let as a whole or in parts and at another time in parts or as a whole, or for any other reason where the difficulty arises in giving effect to this part and (e) where there is a dispute between the landlord and the tenant regarding the amount of the standard rent.

4. Considering the question, apart from authorities it would seem that the standard rent which is defined under Section 5 is the presumptive standard rent inasmuch as it is made subject to Section 11, the basic line being the rent as on September 1, 1940, fetched by the premises. We say it is presumptive, for the obvious reason that even though on September 1, 1940, the premises may have been let and were fetching rent there may yet be a dispute between the landlord and the tenant in respect of the standard rent as the rent charged may not be the economical rent of the property, but subject to such cases the rent prevailing in respect of the premises on the basic date is the standard rent. No doubt in cases where it was let for the first time after the basic date the standard rent would be the rent at which it was so let. Mr. Chitale relies on Clause (a) but then Clause (c) enables the Court in a case like the present to determine the standard rent as on September 1, 1940, the entire property was let and later on it was let in parcels. Mr. Chitale emphasized the article 'the' before the word 'premises' in Clause (c) and contends that the use of this article must show that the Legislature intended the identity of premises.

5. The wording no doubt leaves much to be desired but, in our view, to accept the contention that unless there is identity of premises separately let the Court has-no jurisdiction to determine the standard rent cannot be accepted. It is well settled that a Court construing a document as also a statute must give it reasonable and rational meaning and that it ought not to adopt a construction which renders it ineffective or redundant. To accept the construction suggested by Mr. Chitale would render the clause meaningless. Take the case of a large house let in separate parts on the basic date and then let as a whole. The standard rent cannot be determined as there is no identity. Similarly, in the converse case where on the basic date this house is let as a whole and then in parts also the standard rent cannot be determined. Then one must ask why the provisions has been made as it has been. Though the word 'premises' is defined in Section 5 the meaning is subject to its being consistent with the context. The word 'premises' in Section 11 having regard to its context in which it is used is used in the wider sense meaning the whole building of which part was let then or now. In other words the qualifying word 'separately let' was not intended to apply, though the definite article 'the' is used in Section 11.

6. The question was raised before Chagda C.J. in Manekji Jivraj Bhatena V. Basantilal M. Sharma (1962) Civil Revision Application No. 1527 of 1951, decided by Chagla C.J., on November 10, 1952 (Unrep.). The Small Causes Court had taken the above view. The learned Chief Justice was inclined to take the view that Clause (c) should only be requisitioned when there was difficulty in giving effect to that part of the Act as the later words of the clause indicated. The learned Chief Justice himself recognized the difficulty of doing so. Having regard to the above discussion we prefer with respect the view which we have formulated. This contention of Mr. Chitale must, therefore, fail.

7. The second contention of Mr. Chitale is that in any event the lower Court has erred in the exercise of its jurisdiction while determining the standard rent by following principles alien to the Rent Act. He has referred us to the relevant portions of the judgment which give an impression that in the view of the Appellate Bench apportionment in a case like the present is the only method of determining the standard rent. He relies in support of his argument upon two decisions, one of this Court in Dhanrajgirji v. Ward (1924) 27 Bom. L.R. 877 and the other of the Calcutta High Court in Bata Shoe & Co. v. Narayan Das [1953] A.I.R. 234. In the course of his judgment in the first ease the learned Judge observed (p. 879):.Again, if the head lease instead of being as here the lease of one building consisting of flats had been a lease of a large number of buildings constituting a large estate, it would be almost impossible to make a correct apportionment of the rent. I do not think it was the intention of the Rent Act that landlords and tenants should be driven to do a difficult and expensive process of valuation and calculation before their rent could be ascertained.

In the second ease it was held:

That the basic rent of the premises cannot be determined on the footing of the rent which was payable for the two different portions of the said premises which were in the occupation of different tenants on that date. The Court has got to determine what rent was properly payable for the premises the rent whereof was sought to be standardised, on. the material date namely 1-12-1941.

8. The view of the Appellate Bench cannot, however, be wholly justified. Clauses (a) to (e) of Sub-section (1) of Section 11 require the Court to determine the standard rent if any one of the conditions mentioned therein is satisfied. Once however the question-falls to be decided, the Court has to fix the standard rent which appears to it to be just having regard to the provisions of the Act and the circumstances of the case. The Court, therefore, is bound to take into account all the circumstances and fix the standard rent consistent with the provisions of the Rent Act. The theory of fixing the standard rent only by apportionment adopted by the learned Judges apparently seems to have been based on the decision of the House of Lords in Capital & Provencal Property Trust Ld. v. Rex [1952] A.C. 142. Under the English Law the provisions are contained in several statutes. Section 5 of the Act of 1938, provides that in a case of the type with which we are dealing, the standard rent shall be a standard rent ascertained by apportioning the standard rent of the dwelling house of which the premises in question form a part. In England apportionment is made because of the statutory provision.

9. This, however, does not mean that the prior rent of a part of the whole of the building cannot or ought not to be taken into account. It is good sense to say that if the standard rent of the whole building was a particular amount, standard rent of the part cannot exceed that amount. It is also good sense to say that standard rent of the whole building cannot be more than the total of the standard rents of the different parts. Of course if in the meantime any investments have been made by the landlord they must be considered and a fair return on such investments should be given to the landlord. It is true that if the property is wholly changed then apportionment of rent for different portions becomes a difficult problem. If it has not so changed the Court considers such apportioned rent and all such other circumstances as are brought to the notice of the Court. If no other circumstances are proved before the Court then such apportioned rent is the standard rent. In 'Manekji's case referred to above Chagla C.J. has taken this view and we agree, with respect, with the same.

10. The decision in Bata Shoe & Co. Ltd. negatives apportionment because of the particular provisions of the Act which direct that the standard rent should be fixed at an amount which would have been reasonably payable for the premises if let on December 1, 1941, as base rent as prescribed by the schedule. It is obvious that under this provision there is no choice for the Court except to fix the rent as provided. For this reason it would seem other considerations were ruled out. Dhanrajgirji's case arose out of the provisions of the Bombay Rent ('War Restrictions) Act of 1918 in respect of a flat in a building whole of which was let to one Dr. Billimoria. Dr. Billimoria was paying a total rent of Rs. 4,479 for it on the basic date and he had let out flats to different tenants. The defendant as a tenant of the flat was paying Rs. 75 on the basic date. Section 13(a) of the Act required the standard rent to be fixed by apportionment which the defendant relied upon. His contention was rejected in view of the fact that the flat itself i.e. the identical premises were also let on the basic date and therefore that was the standard rent and apportionment was out of the question. The observations referred to above were made in this context and can have no application to the present case.

11. [The rest of the judgment is not material to this report.]


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