1. This is a writ petition filed by the judgment-debtor whose contention that the compromise Decree passed against him for possession was not executable against him on account of various reason, has been negatived by both the courts below.
For the reasons which are somewhat peculiar to the case before me I am required to allow this petition by accepting at least one of the contentions urged on behalf of the petitioner-judgment-debtor.
2. The facts of the case which are not in dispute are as follows:-
(A) The suit premises consist of a shop situate in village choti, Taluka lgatpuri , District Nashik. There is no dispute that Rent Act is applicable to the premises situate in this village. Admittedly the present petitioner (referred to hereafter as 'the defendant') was a tenant in respect of the premises which belong to the plaintiff. In the year 1969, the plaintiff filed Regular Civil suit No.119 of 1969 for recovery of ;possession of the suit premises on the ground that he required the said premises for his bona fide occupation. It is not disputed that the suit was resisted by the defendant but that even before the framing of the issues meaning thereby that even before the court had any occasion to apply its mind to the respective rights of the parties, a consent decree came to be passed on 10-8-1970. Its intendment and its legal consequence in the light of the subsequent conduct of the parties are the questions falling for determination in this petition.
(B) The consent decree starts with a statement that there was a settlement arrived at between the parties and that as per the settlement the plaintiff was to recover the possession of the suit premises on 10-8-1977, that is to say, after the expiry of 7 years from the date of the compromise. By the said compromise standard rent of other premises was fixed a Rs.58.42. Reference is made to the fact that the defendant had filed a criminal case against the plaintiff under section 24 of the Rent Act complaining about the unlawful cutting of the water supply. By the compromise it was agreed that the plaintiff should resume the water supply. Reference was made to the application for fixation of standard rent filed by the tenant (Application No.16 of 1969) but the standard rent was fixed by the compromise itself at the rate of Rs.58.42 mentioned above.
(C) There was no default clause in the said compromise term, nor did the compromise terms specifically provide that in case possession was not delivered by the tenant to the plaintiff on the expiry of the period of 7 years,the possession was to be recovered by the plaintiff by execution of the compromise decree.
(D) Upon the settlement between the parties the compromise decree came to be passed by the Court on 10-8-1970. The compromise decree, however, provided separately that if the possession was not; handed over by the defendant to the plaintiff on 10-8-1977 the same should be given to him by the court.
(C) It is common ground that till about the year 1971 the defendant did pay the monthly dues payable as per the compromise decree. In 1971 or around there started a dispute between the parties. The nature of the dispute was that the defendant was offering rent to the plaintiff but insisted upon a receipt. The plaintiff was agreeable to give a receipt only by mentioning the amount be received as mesne profits. The tenant refused to pay rent as such. The result was that on 28-2-1972 the plaintiff gave to the defendant a notice. In the said notice it was mentioned that what was payable by the defendant was by way of mean profits. It may he mentioned have that in the notice the means profits were computed on the basis of the standard rent. The notice stated that even assuming that the defendant was a statutory tenancy still he was liable to pay means profits as per the compromise decree and he was called upon to pay the amount of mesne profits as per the compromise decree. There was another mention in the notice, namely, that the defendant has inducted some other person in the suit premises and that this was a breach of the provisions of the compromises decree. On these grounds the defendant was called upon to hand over the possession of the suit premises to the plaintiff. Finding that the defendant would not oblige the plaintiff filed a second suit against the defendant in spite of the decree already obtained by him on 10-8-1970 for recovery of the possession of the suit premises from the defendant. The said suit was Regular Civil Suit No. 52 of 1942. The relevant averments may be elaborated as follows:
In para 3 of the plaint it was specifically mentioned by the plaintiff that the defendant was his statutory tenant with effect from 10-8-1970.
In para 5 of the plaint it was no doubt mentioned that the defendant was entitled to occupy the suit premises till: 10-8-1977 as a matter of concession, but this statement was made in the context of the further grievance that the defendant had inducted another person (defendant No. 2 in that suit) on the of the shop with a view to profiteering by taking monthly payments from him.
In para 6 of the plaint it was stated that the cause of action for the suit for possession accrued to him on the expiry of the period mentioned in the notice dated 28-2-1972, that is to say on 31-2-1972.
The suit was specifically filed under the Bombay Rent Act and an averment to that effect was made in para 7 of the plaint by stating that the suit was filed for possessor as per the provisions of the Rent Act and also for recovery of means profits.
Para 8 of the plaint discloses that the suit was filed on the basis that the some was against a tenant, whose tenancy had expired, and not against a trespasser.
(F) in that suit issues were framed, Issues No. 1 which was evidently invited by the plaintiff himself runs as follows:
'1. Does the plaintiff prove that the defendant No. 1 has become a statutory tenant up to 10-8-1877 under the compromise decree in R. G. S. No. 119/1969 ?'Issue No. 3 runs as follows :-
'3. Does he further prove that the defendant No. 1 has sublet the suit property to defendant No. 2?'
In the said suit the defendant had taken the plea that the rent charged against the defendant was excessive. Hence issue No. 5 was termed as follows:-
'5. Does he further prove that the rent of the suit property as agreed in the decree in Issue No. 6 runs as follows:-
'6. If yes, what is the standard rent of the suit property?'
(G) It may be mentioned here that according to the defendant he was not a statutory team but a contractual tenant and that was the reason why issue No. 1 was framed as set out above. The trial Court recorded its finding on issue No. 1 against the plaintiff meaning thereby that the plaintiff's contention that the defendant was only a statutory tenant of the premises was held to be legally invalid. The trial Court recorded a finding on issue. No. 3 that the defendant had not sublet the suit premises. So far as issues 5 and 6 are concerned it was held that in view of the standard rent having been fixed by the compromise decree in the previous suit, Issue No. 8 did not arise. On issue No. 2 the finding was that the rent was not excessive.
(H) The plaintiff filed an appeal to the District Court. The District Court also seems to have taken the view that the plaintiff had no right to recover possession of the suit premises from the defendant at least for the said period of years, having regard to the provisions of the compromise decree. The District Court was, however, inclined to observe that the contentions of both the parties were kept open to be agitated in the proceedings for execution of the compromise decree which would arise only after the expiry of the said period of 7 years. With these observations the appeal filed by the plaintiff was dismissed by the District Court.
(I) The order of dismissal of the appeal was passed on 16th Jan., 1978. By this time the period provided by the compromise decree had already expired. Hence the plaintiff filed a Darkhast for the execution of the compromise decree for the recovery of the suit premises from the defendant. The defendant raised objections to the execution. Firstly, it was contended that compromise decree in fact brought about a new contractual relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties with effect from 10-8-1970 and having regard to the provisions of Sections 12 and 19 of the Bombay Rent Act, the decree had become non-executable. Secondly, it was contended that the compromise decree which was passed in Suit No. 119/1969 was without jurisdiction inasmuch as the Court had no jurisdiction to pass a decree against a tenant just by compromise of the parties within satisfying itself that the conditions for a decree mentioned in Ss. 12 and 13 of the Rent Act were existent.
These contentions taken by the defendant were rejected by the trial Court and the appeal filed by the defendant in the District Court met with the same fate. The present petition is directed against the view taken by both the Courts below.
5. At the time of the hearing of this petition it was argued by Shri Kapasi, the learned Advocate for the petitioner, that the decree was not just executable having regard to the law declared by the Supreme Court in the case of K. K. Chari V. R. M. Seshadri, : 3SCR691 , and in the other cases of the Supreme Court inasmuch as the Civil court did not have jurisdiction to pass decree against a tenant governed by the Bombay Rent Act merely by compromise of the parties without satisfying itself that the conditions mentioned in Sections 12 and 14 of the Rent Act for a tenant's eviction existed on the date of the suit, or at any other relevant time. He secondly contended that a careful examination of the compromise decree would show that a new contract of tenancy was in fact brought about between the parties with effect from 10-8-1970 of virtue of the settlement arrived at on that date.
4. To my mind, it is unnecessary to examine both the above contentions urged by Shri Kapasi in view of the fact that the partition must succeed on a third point which was somewhat casually suggested by Shri Kapasi himself. The point is that on the plaintiff's own showing the defendant was at least a statutory tenant with effect from 10-8-1970 it not a contractual tenant. The legal significance of this position is that the defendant is entitled to take all the protection afforded to a statutory tenant under the Bombay Rent Act and if that is so that instant compromise decree for possession cannot be of any legal consequence whatsoever.
5. I will first refer to the various circumstances showing that as per the intendment and contemplation of the parties evidenced by the compromise decree itself as also be the subsequent assertions and conduct of the parties. The defendant was at least a statutory tenant of the suit premises. After pointing out this position which emerges from the peculiar facts of the present case, I will refer to the various statutory provisions which into the inevitable legal position that the decree for possession against the defendant cannot be executable at all.
6. I will first examine the compromise decree. The substance of the compromise decree is already set out. From the mandate of the decree it is clear that a very long period was given by the plaintiff to the defendant a period of 7 years. For staying in the suit premises. During that period the defendant was supposed to pay standard rent. The standard rent was fixed by the compromise decree itself. If the defendant was not to be made a tenant but was to occupy the premises only by concession, the provisions pertaining to the fixation of standard rent would be wholly irrelevant. But the compromise decree has taken care to fix the standard rent and what is made payable by the defendant per month for the further period of 7 years is the standard rent determined by the compromise decree on 10-8-1980 itself. Further, by the compromise decree, the plaintiff was to resume the water supply and the defendant was to withdraw the complaint filed by him under Section 24 of the Rent Act. There was, however, no definite clause whatsoever in the compromise.
It could be seen that every right that is given to a statutory tenant was given by the compromise terms by the plaintiff to the defendant. But that was not all. If the compromise decree stood all by itself. The question would have been somewhat arguable at least that the intention of the parties was somewhat equivocal on the question as to whether the rights available to a tenant under the provisions of the Rent Act was or was no intended to be made available to the defendant. But if there were any doubts about this position those doubts had completely been dispelled by the plaintiff own contention. I have already referred to various averments made by the plaintiff in the Second Suit No. 52/1972. In the said suit plaintiff stated in so may unmincing words that the defendant was his statutory tenant with effect from 10-8-1970. The suit was filed against the defendant on the basis that he was a tenant. Cause of action was stated to have arisen in favour of the plaintiff in that suit because the tenant's tenancy was terminated by virtue of notice dated 28-2-1972. Para 6 relating to the statement of cause of action mentions in so many words that the cause of action in that suit arose after the expiry of the period mentioned in the notice. If follows that according to the plaintiff that the defendant was at least a statutory tenant of the suit premises. The court-fee paid for the purpose of the suit firmer makes it clear that the plaintiff treated the defendant as a tenant within the contemplation of the Rent Act at the time of that suit. In addition to the above, an issue was specifically get framed on the question as to whether the defendant was a statutory tenant.
Allegations were made against the defendant, in effect, that the defendant had sublet the suit premises to defendant No. 2 in that suit. This definitely postulated that the defendant was a tenant, though only a statutory tenant as specifically alleged. The contention of the plaintiff was that during the said period of 7 years the defendant was entitled to all the rights of a statutory tenant and was also subject to all the liabilities and obligations of statutory tenant.
If all these facts are taken in conjunction with each other, it is impossible to hold that if was not the intention of the plaintiff, when it was not the compromise on 10-8-1970. Not to confer upon the defendant all the rights that are available to a statutory tenant under the Bombay Rent Act. If this was so, the only question that requires to be considered by the Executing Court is as to whether the Stature left any a scope for the Court to disregard the provisions of the Rent Act and to execute the compromise decree by ignoring the specific inhibitions contained in the Act.
7.This brings me to the question of analysis of the various relevant provisions of the Rent Act which, to my mind, put a complete embargo upon the power of the Executing Court to allow the execution to proceed so as to dispossess the tenant of the suit premises.
The first relevant provision is Section 3, sub-section (11) of the Bombay Rent Act which defines the word 'tenant' The said sub-section (ii) duties 'tenant as follows:-
(11) 'tenant' means any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable for any premises and includes -
(a) xx xx
(b) any person remaining, after the determination of the lease, in possession, with of without the assent of the landlord of the premises leased to such person * * * It is well-known that the person whose contractual tenancy has been terminated but continues to be in possession as a tenant as per the above mentioned provision is know by the words 'statutory tenant' in the legal parlance.
Under the Rent Act a landlord becomes entitled to the possession of the suit premises either from a statutory tenant of a contractual tenant only under two section viz., Ss. 12 and 13 of the Rent Act. Section 12(1) provides.
'12 (1) A landlord shall not be entitled to the recovery of possession of any premises so long as the tenant pays, or is ready and willing to pay, the amount of the standard rent and permitted increase, if any, and observes and performs the other conditions of the tenancy, in so far as they are consistent with the provisions of this Act'
The said section thereafter goes to make provisions for notice, in respect of arrears of rent, to be given by the landlord to the tenant and a decree to be passed by the Court in the event of any default by the tenant in the matter of payment of rent. But what is to be notes is that Section 12 retires essentially both to contractual as well as statutory tenant, meaning thereby that the protection envisaged by the said section is available both to the contractual as well as to the statutory tenant
Coming to Section 13 of the Act it is clear that unless conditions mentioned in Sec 13 existed in favour of the landlord, the landlord is not entitled to recover possession from the tenant irrespective of the question as to whether a tenant was a contractual of a statutory tenant.
Reading these two Section 12 and 13 together with the other provisions of the Act. It is clear that between the two provisions, the circumstances in which the landlord is entitled to dispossess a statutory tenant of possession of the premise sin the occupation as a statutory tenant are exhausted. This means that even when a person becomes the statutory tenant, the Court cannot pass a decree of eviction even against him unless the conditions mentioned in the said ss. 12 and 13 are found to be existent.
8. The question thus arises as to whether the decree passed against the defendant on 10-8-1970 at the time when the defendant was already a statutory tenant had any legal consequence or not. The contention before me is that once the decree is passed the provisions of the Rent Act are to be ignored and the rights of the parties are to be ascertained from the decree alone. In support of this contention reliance was placed upon the judgment of the Supreme Court in Bai Chanchal v. Syed Jalaluddin, : 2SCR171 of the judgment runs as follows:
'6. The second point urged by learned counsel was that by the consent decree itself, a new tenancy was created which was to continue for five years and in the meantime, the Bombay Rents Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control act. 1947 came into force and the appellants were protected from ejectment under provisions of that Act. The consent decree does not state the a new tenancy is being created. The argument was that the terms of that consent decree should be interpreted as indicating an intention to create new tenancy. We are unable to find any such terms. On the face of if all that the consent decree envisaged was that, though the judgment-debtors were liable to immediate eviction, the decree-holders agreed to let them continue in possession for period of five years. Since this concession was being granted as a special case, the decree-holder insisted that mesne profits should be paid at a much higher rate so much so that between all the defendants, governed by the two decrees of 8th July, 1946 and 28thJanuary, 1949, the amount payable as mesne profit became Rs.7,314-8-0 per annum which has no relation with the original rent of Rs.199/- per annum for the entire land fixed by the lease of 1985. In fact, the decree-holders sought further protection by requiring the judgment-debtors to pay the mesne profits in monthly installments, and the installments were so fixed that the mense profits due for five were to be paid within a period of three years. There was the further clause that, in case of default of payment of the mesne profits, the defaulting judgment-debtors could be immediately called upon to deliver possession. These terms can, into way, be interpreted as creating a new tenancy constituting the decree-holders as landlords and the judgment-debtors as their tenants. The terms of the consent decree neither constituted a tenancy nor a license. All that the decree-holders did was to allow the judgment-debtors to continue in possession for five years on payment of mesne profits as a concession for entering into a compromise. The argument advanced must, therefore, be rejected.'
The above decision really turned upon the words obtaining in the relevant compromise decree. The compromise decree read as a whole is entirely different in the instant case. Moreover, if there was any ambiguity about the parties intention it is wholly resolved by the plaintiff's own subsequent conduct. The ratio the above judgment might, perhaps, have been helpful for the plaintiff if on the plaintiff's own showing he had not continued to treat the defendant as his statutory tenant for the period from 10-8-1970. What we find in the usual compromise decree is that decree shapes the relationship of tenant and landlord between the parties with effect from the compromise decree and even if the judgment-debtor continues to be in possession after the compromise decree, he is not in possession of the same as a contractual tenant or as a statutory tenant. A compromise decree of the normal type intends to deny the judgment-debtor any protection of the statute. The instant compromise decree on the other hand purported to give every protection to the defendant. It is clear from the established facts that
(a) the amount to be paid by the defendant to the plaintiff from 10-8-1970 per month is the standard rent and for the purpose of the measurement of the dues in fact standard rent has been got fixed by compromise;
(b) there is no default clause whatsoever;
(c) the compromise decree does not even mention that the relationship of landlord and tenant has been put an end to;
(d) a provision that usually obtains in a lease for imposition of the obligation upon the tenant to hand over possession to the landlord after the expiry of the period of lease is incorporated in the instant compromise decree, hence from the compromise decree it is not all difficult to infer or spell out an ordinary monthly lease for specific period of seven years.
As a matter of fact that compromise as a whole could be legitimately constructed as a new contract of lease; but since the plaintiff has never stated that the defendant was granted a new lease by him, that aspect of the question becomes controversial. But so far as the statutory tenancy is concerned. In fact, the plaintiff himself has been crying from house tops that the defendant continued to be a statutory tenant with effect from 10-8-1970 for a period of 7 years. If that was so, it is futile on the plaintiff's part to contend that the defendant would in no way be entitled to the protection ensured by the Rent Act.
A normal compromise decree (as distinct from the instant compromise decree) shapes the relationship of landlord and tenant, whether contractual or statutory, between the parties with effect from the date of the decree and from that date the tenant is not expected to get any protection under the Rent Act as such. In the instant case both, the terms of the compromise decree as well as the subsequent conduct of the parties, clearly indicate the complete absence of snapping of the relationship. In fact the relationship of landlord and tenant, may be that of a statutory tenant, is very much retained by the compromise decree. The fact that during the relevant period suit was filed on the bias of tenancy shows that he was not only intended to be retained as a tenant but was in fact regarded and treated as a tenant within the meaning of the Rent Act. If that was so, it is futile on the part of the plaintiff to contend that the defendant was not entitled to the protection of the provisions of the Rent Act.
9. At the very outset In this judgment, I have stated that this conclusion has been arrived at by me in view of the peculiar facts of this case. The peculiarity that I have in mind is in the context of the judgment of a Division Bench of this court in the case of Ramjibhai virpal v.Govardhandas, : AIR1954Bom370 . In that case the court was called upon to examine the effect of a compromise decree in a suit between the landlord and the tenant. After examining the effect of the compromise embodied in the decree, the court had, in effect, found that the intendment of the parties was to snap the relationship of landlord and tenant. The court did not state as to what exact nomenclature could be or should be used for the relationship between the parties as from that date, but they could see the negative intendment for certain, viz. Not to keep alive the relationship of landlord and tenant. They no doubt stated the law by emphasizing that the question was one of the intention of the parties. But the same thing could be stated also in other words, viz. That if the compromise decree did not intend to snap the erstwhile relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties, but either same previous relationship was continued or a new contract of tenancy was brought about, the provision of section 12 and 13 of the provision of section 12 and 13 of the Rent Act will spring back into operation and hence the decree for possession shall become inexecutable.
As pointed out above, sections 12 and 13 of the Rent Act put an embargo upon the powers of the court to hand over possession of the premise by the tenant to the landlord without satisfying itself that the conditions mentioned in the said section 12 and 13 of the Rent Act existed. To my mind, therefore, the view taken by the courts below cannot be sustained.
10. In view of this above finding it is really unnecessary for me to examine the question raised by shri kapasi as to whether the court had power to pass a decree of eviction by compromise. Shri kapasi has argued that in the instant case the compromise decree was passed even before any issue was framed and, according to him, this fact clearly brings the case within the ambit of the dictum pronounced by the supreme court in the case of K.K.Chari v. R.M. seshadri, : 3SCR691 . I may state here that the contention urged by shri kapasi is not without substance. However, I did not call upon shri kankaria, the learned Advocate for the respondents, to answer this question because to my mind, the petition is capable of being disposed on the first point mentioned above.
11. In the result, the petition succeeds. The rule earlier issued is made absolute. However, in the circumstances of the case there will be no order as to costs.
12. Petition allowed.