1. Opponents Nos. 1 to 3 are owners of a house bearing municipal number 20/3 situate in ward No. 2 of the Wardha Municipal Committee. One Namdeo Gujar was a tenant of these premises, and he died on August 26, 1955, leaving him surviving Parwatibai as his only heir. On September 22, 1955, opponents Nos. 1 to 3, i.e. the landlords, applied to the Kent Controller for permission to serve upon Parwatibai a notice to quit, and the application was based on two grounds. One of the grounds was that the tenant was in arrears in payment of the rent, and the other ground was that he was a habitual defaulter. The Rent Controller who heard the application refused the land-lords' application, and upon appeal by the landlords, their appeal was allowed and the permission sought was granted to them. It is the, correctness of this order which Mr. Badkas appearing for the applicant has challenged by this petition.
2. Mr. Badkas has raised an interesting question of law, and the question is whether, if Namdeo was in arrears and was a habitual defaulter, it can be said of Parwatibai that she too was also in arrears and was a habitual defaulter. Looking to the date of death of Namdeo, which was August 26, 1955, it was Namdeo and Namdeo alone who was liable for the payment of the rent until his death which occurred on August 26, 1955. Therefore, the ground of arrears as well as the ground of habitual defaulter is a ground applicable to Namdeo. Namdeo's widow, Parwatibai, inherited his property and under the general law, she becomes the tenant of these premises. The question which we have to consider is by reference to Clause 13(1)(a) of the C.P. and Berar Letting of Houses and Rent Control Order, 1949, which, so far as material, provides that:
No landlord shall, except with the previous written permission of the Controller, give notice to a tenant determining the lease or determine the lease if the lease is expressed to be determinable at his option.
What is urged on behalf of the applicant is that the landlord is required to give notice to a tenant, and Mr. Badkas' argument is that the expression 'tenant' as occurring in Clause 15(1)(a) must obviously mean Namdeo and not Parwatibai. Clause 13(2) provides, so far as material, thata landlord who seeks to obtain permission under Sub-clauses (1) shall apply in writing to the Controller in that behalf' and then Sub-clauses (3) of Clause 13 provides:
If after hearing the parties the Controller is satisfied-
(i) that on the date of filing the application the tenant was in arrears of rent for any aggregate period of three months and that he failed to deposit with the Controller the amount of arrears ordered to be deposited by the Controller within such time as may be fixed by him; or
(ii), that the tenant is habitually in arrears with rent; or,...
Now, it is obvious, having regard to Clause 13(3)(i) and (ii), that what the provisions contemplate is the case of a tenant, that is to say, the tenant must be in arrears of rent, and he must be habitually in arrears with the rent. In order to understand the expression 'tenant', one must refer to Clause 2(5), and there the expression 'tenant' is defined as meaning 'any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable for a house and includes a sub-tenant and a person continuing in possession after the term of his tenancy has expired.' It is apparent that the definition of the expression 'tenant' is expressed in wide language. It means that a tenant is any person by whom the rent is payable, or on whose account it is payable. The expression 'on whose account, rent is payable', suggests that it is referable to a person who may or may not be an actual tenant. This is not a case of a sub-tenant, or a person continuing in possession after the term of the tenancy has expired. We may, therefore, leave out of consideration that part of the definition of the expression 'tenant'. The real question is as to the meaning to be given to the expression 'tenant' as meaning 'any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable.
3. It is urged on behalf of the applicant by Mr. Badkas that the applicant, Parwatibai, is not a tenant within the meaning ofClauses 13(1)(a) and 13(3). He says that it may be that her husband, Namdeo, was in arrears and that Namdeo was a habitual defaulter. He further says that it cannot be said of Parwatibai that she was either in arrears, or that she was a habitual defaulter. One must concede that there is a good deal of force in this contention. At the same time, one has to bear in mind the wide language employed in the definition of the expression 'tenant'. Now, it is not in dispute that Parwatibai has succeeded to the tenancy given in favour of her husband, Namdeo. On the general principles, therefore, a man who acquires rights must also be assumed to be clothed with liabilities, and Mr. Badkas does not object to this principle. He says that it may well be that if Namdeo was in arrears, in that event it would be open to the landlords to file a suit against his legal representative, and it may be open to them upon a decree obtained in such a suit, to recover the arrears from the assets of the husband received by the widow, but he says that even if that is the legal position, it is not possible to accept the position that on that account Parwatibai can be said to be in arrears and that she is a habitual defaulter; and he has laid emphasisupon the expression 'tenant' occurring in Clauses 13(1)(a) and 13(3). But Mr. Badkas has overlooked one important consideration. Although Namdeo was a tenant during his life-time and Parwatibai has, after his death, acquired the tenancy rights, it is clear that the tenancy is the same; the two tenancies are not different, and, therefore, Namdeo was as much a tenant as Parwatibai is. This is obvious, having regard to the definition of the expression 'tenant' as meaning any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable. If one applies this definition to Namdeo and to Parwatibai, what is the result? The result is that so far as Namdeo is concerned, he was a tenant because he was a person by whom rent was payable, and he was also a tenant because it is on Namdeo's account that the rent is payable. In either view, therefore, Namdeo would be as much a tenant as would Parwatibai be. If that is the right construction of the expression 'tenant', meaning 'any, person by whom or on whose account rent is payable', it must follow that there is no difficulty in applying this definition to the expression 'tenant' occurring in Clauses 13(1)(a) and 13(3). In our view, therefore, Parwatibai is a tenant within the meaning of Clauses 13(1)(a) and 13(3) read with Clause 2(5). In this view of the matter, we must hold that the contention raised on behalf of the applicant must fall.
4. The petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs.