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Raojibhai Vaghjibhai Patel Vs. Karsanbhai Ratnabhai Patel - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Civil Application No. 901 of 1959
Judge
Reported in(1960)62BOMLR461
AppellantRaojibhai Vaghjibhai Patel
RespondentKarsanbhai Ratnabhai Patel
Excerpt:
.....section 14(1)-notice to terminate tenancy for default in payment of rent-notice stating 'your tenancy is terminated' followed by words that possession to be handed over 'after three months of receipt of this notice'-whether notice in accordance with proviso to section 14(1).; the landlords of certain lands, which were in occupation of their tenant and for which rent was payable in the form of share of crops, gave a notice to the tenant on january 17, 1956, in which they stated: 'we give you this notice that as you failed to give us our share as the owner, your tenancy is terminated. you should hand over possession of our land after three months of the receipt of this notice.' on the question whether the notice was in accordance with the requirements of the proviso to section 14 of..........be terminated on any of the grounds mentioned in this sub-section, unless the landlord gives three months' notice in writing informing the tenant of his decision to terminate the tenancy and the ground for such termination.the rule contained in the proviso has been subsequently amended, but we are not concerned with that amendment and it is unnecessary to refer to the same.5. the argument on behalf of the petitioner is that in interpreting a notice, the court should have more regard to the substance than to the form of it. it is said that the words 'your tenancy is terminated' in the notice should be read along with the next sentence in which the petitioner had in terms stated that possession should be handed over after three months of the receipt of the notice by the tenant. the.....
Judgment:

S.T. Desai, J.

1. This is a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution by the landlord of certain lands admeasuring 42 acres 29 gunthas situate atBoroi in Sabarkantha District. Respondent No. 1 is the tenant in occupation of those lands, rent for which was payable in the form of share of crops. The case of the petitioner was that respondent No. 1 had committed default in the payment of rent for the agricultural years 1953-54, 1954-55 and 1955-56 and, in consequence of the same, he became entitled to terminate the tenancy of respondent No. 1. He gave notice to respondent No. 1 on January 17, 1956, giving intimation that respondent No. 1 had committed two defaults in respect of the agricultural years 1953-54 and 1954-55. It will be necessary to set out the material part of the contents of that notice a little later in our judgment. Correspondence ensued between the parties and the petitioner served another notice on respondent No. 1 on March 16, 1956. In that notice the petitioner stated in effect that he was keeping the first notice alive. On July 18, 1956, the petitioner filed the Tenancy case in the Court of the Mamlatdar. The Mamlatdar held that there were two defaults. He also held that the notice dated January 17, 1956, was not valid since it had been waived by the subsequent notice dated March 16, 1956. He also held that there was no default in respect of the rent for the year 1955-56. Being of that view he rejected the petitioner's application.

2. In appeal, the Assistant Collector held that there was no waiver of the notice of January 17, 1956. He also held that there were two defaults committed by respondent No. 1. He set aside the order of the Mamlatdar and called upon respondent No. 1 to pay up the arrears of rent for the years 1953-54 and 1954-55 within three months from the date of the receipt of intimation of that order by respondent No. 1.

3. The petitioner carried the matter in revision to the Bombay Revenue Tribunal. The Tribunal held that there were three defaults. It, however, took the view that the notice dated January 17 1956, was not in accordance with the provisions of law and on that ground alone it dismissed the revision application. The petitioner has now come to this Court on this petition.

4. It has been argued before us by Mr. R. B. Kotwal, learned Counsel for the petitioner, that the Tribunal was in error in holding that the notice dated January 17, 1956, was not in accordance with law. The relevant part of the notice was as under:

We waited for you uptil now but no change appears to have been made in your mind and after getting ourselves tired, we give you this notice that as you failed to give us our share as the owner your tenancy is terminated. You should hand over possession of our land after threemonths of the receipt of this notice. If you fail to do so, we shall proceed further to recover the possession and the income of these years at your risk as to costs and consequences.

It has been urged that the Tribunal has taken an unduly strict and impermissible view of the meaning and effect of the proviso to Section 14 as it stood at the material time. That provision relating to termination of tenancy was as under:

14. (1) Notwithstanding any law, agreement or usage, or the decree or order of a Court, the tenancy of any land shall not be terminated-

(a) unless the tenant-

(i) has failed to pay the rent for any revenue year before the 31st day of May thereof:...

Provided that no tenancy of any land held by a tenant shall be terminated on any of the grounds mentioned in this Sub-section, unless the landlord gives three months' notice in writing informing the tenant of his decision to terminate the tenancy and the ground for such termination.

The rule contained in the proviso has been subsequently amended, but we are not concerned with that amendment and it is unnecessary to refer to the same.

5. The argument on behalf of the petitioner is that in interpreting a notice, the Court should have more regard to the substance than to the form of it. It is said that the words 'your tenancy is terminated' in the notice should be read along with the next sentence in which the petitioner had in terms stated that possession should be handed over after three months of the receipt of the notice by the tenant. The argument has proceeded that all the material words should be read together without laying undue emphasis on any part of the same. In our judgment, there is force in this contention.

6. It has been argued, on the other hand, by Mr. S. N. Patel, learned Counsel for respondent No. 1, that there is in this notice the clearest expression of the landlord's decision to terminate the tenancy of respondent No. 1. It has also been urged that the notice must be strictly construed, and if that be done, the conclusion must be that the petitioner had failed to give a notice in accordance with the requirements of the proviso to Section 14(1) of the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948. Mr. Patel has also drawn our attention to two unreported decisions and one reported decision of this Court. Before we turn to those decisions, we would like to make a few general observations.

7. It is incumbent on a lanlord to see that the notice terminating tenancy satisfies the requirements of the statute. The notice must be explicit and effectual. It must not be vague or ambiguous. What is required is that there must be an unambiguous intention in writing giving intimation to the tenant that the landlord has decided to terminate the tenancy. It must be a 'three months' notice'. It must contain the grounds for the termination of the tenancy. All this must be done with certainty. It does not, however, follow that the Court will put too strict a construction on the notice and defeat it by inaccuracies, which could not have misled the tenant as to the intention of the landlord. There is nothing sacrosanct about the notice. What is required is that it must be effectual and sufficient. It is a settled rule that a notice to quit, though it may not be strictly accurate or consistent in the statements embodied in it, the test of sufficiency will be satisfied if the tenant, who would presumably be conversant with the facts and circumstances existing at the time, would reasonably be expected to understand it as an unequivocal intimation of the landlord's decision to terminate the tenancy under the provisions of the statute. The Court will construe the notice required by the statute, as it construes other notices to quit, not with a view to finding faults in it, which would render it defective, but ut res magis valeat, quam pereat. Considered in the light of these observations, it seems difficult to us to accede to the contention that the notice given by the landlord was insufficient or that it was not in accordance with the requirements of the proviso to s.14. No doubt, the words 'your tenancy is terminated' if read in isolation would convey the sense that the tenancy was being terminated forthwith. But the words must be read in their proper context and along with and not divorced from what follows them. In the words immediately following, the landlord has in terms express and explicit called upon the tenant to hand over possession of the land after three months of the receipt of the notice. In our judgment, it would be taking too rigid a view of the language of the section to read in the words of this notice something which has failed to carry out the requirements of the law.

8. When we turn to the authorities to which our attention has been drawn by Mr. Patel, we find that the question in its present form does not appear to have directly arisen for the determination of this Court. In the earliest of the cases relied on by Mr. Patel in Shripad Govind Kulkarni v. Subrao Mahadu Pawar (1956) Special Civil Application No. 506 of 1956, decided by Shah and Vyas JJ. on July 24, 1956 (Unrep.), the notice was worded as follows:. You have not paid at all the rent due for the years 1950-51, 1951-52 and 1952-53, Therefore we have terminated your tenancy right in accordance with the Bombay Tenancy Act by thisnotice....

The decision turned solely on the meaning and effect of the words 'we have terminated your tenancy right'. It will be seen that there was no reference whatever in that notice to the period of three months, which is a crucial and important requirement of the proviso. It was on those facts that the Court in that case treated the notice as invalid. We are in respectful agreement with the view taken by the learned Judges in that case.

9. The next case relied on by Mr. Patel is Vithoba Nivritti Nalavade v.Vithoba Rama Deokar (1957) Special Civil Application No. 2042 of 1957, decided by Dixit and Badkas JJ on October 28, 1957 (Unrep.), The relevant part of the notice was as under:

You have not paid the crop share of my client for the years 1951-52, 1952-53 and 1953-54 which you should deliver to my client and obtain his receipt. As you have committed default my client has terminated the rights of your tenancy. As your tenancy rights have been terminated you should deliver possession of land. If you fail to do so my client will be obliged to take legal steps against you for the costs and consequences of which you will be liable.

It will be noticed that here also there is no reference whatever to the period of three months and the decision turned on the effect of the words 'as you have committed default my client has terminated the rights of your tenancy'. There is nothing in this decision, which, in our opinion, can be said to lend support to the argument of Mr. Patel.

11. The third case relied on by Mr. Patel is a decision of a Division Bench of this Court, Satyanarayan v. Vithoba : (1959)61BOMLR159 . Mr. Patel has relied very strongly on certain observations of Mr. Justice Vyas in that judgment. In that case the Court had to consider the effect of the material part of Section 14 of the Act and also the provisions of Section 24 of the Act, and the observations relied on by Mr. Patel, if carefully scrutinised, appear to us to have been made in the background of Sections 14 and 24 of the Act. It is true that read by themselves the observations go to lend support to the argument strenuously urged before us on behalf of respondent No. 1. Those observations appear at page 163 and are as under:

There is another reason also why we must hold that the notice given by the landlord to the tenant on June 17, 1954, was an invalid notice. Under Section 14, a notice could only terminate the tenancy upon the expiry of three months from the date of service of the notice. A notice under Section 14 does not terminate a tenancy forthwith, that is to say, with effect from the date of receipt itself. This is clear enough from the language of the section itself and no more comments are necessary upon this point. If we turn to the notice given in this case, it did not intimate to the tenant-opponent No. 1 that his tenancy would be terminated after the expiry of three months from the date of service of the notice. It told him distinctly that by the notice itself his tenancy was terminated. This is, therefore, a case of 'termination forthwith' by the very act of giving a notice on June 17, 1954. Upon this ground also the notice given by the petitioner to opponent No. 1 was an invalid notice.

With respect, we are unable to agree with the view expressed in the passage quoted above, and as we have already mentioned, they were probably made in the background of Sections 14 and 24 of the Act. It is not necessary to repeat the reasons, which have led us to the conclusion, that the notice under consideration by us is not invalid.

11. It is next urged by Mr. Patel that even if we take the view that the Tribunal was in error in holding that the notice was invalid, the matter should not be remanded to the Tribunal but we should ourselves consider the merits of the case and accept the submission that this is a case in which relief should have been granted to his client against forfeiture.

12. Prima facie it would seem that there is force in the argument of Mr. Patel that in this case relief should be granted to the tenant against forfeiture. But we do not think it is necessary for us to decide on this petition that question, which must be a matter of exercise of discretion by the Court and we do not deem it incumbent on us to exercise our own discretion in the matter. In fairness to the petitioner, we must add that we have not heard Mr. Kotwal on this point and we do not deem it necessary to state in this judgment the various facts and aspects of the matter to which our attention has been drawn by Mr. Patel. Nor do we desire to express our opinion on the question whether relief should or should not be granted to the tenant in the present case. That will have to be determined by the Tribunal. We are in this petition deciding only one question and. that is the question relating to the validity or otherwise of the notice given by the petitioner to respondent No. 1. It will be open to the parties in this case to raise every other contention before the Revenue Tribunal provided of course that the contention could arise on the revision application,

13. In the result the petition succeeds and the rule will be made absolute. The matter will go back to the Revenue Tribunal to be disposed of according to law. There will be no order for costs.


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