1. This reference by the learned single Judge of this Court arises because in his view, the interpretation put on the word 'site' in Notification No. 659-66-11 dt. 6th Feb. 1952, in M. Sen Sharma v. Ambika Prasad Sharma, 1983 Mah LJ 415 requires reconsideration as the learned single Judge in that case took the view that the site above the ground floor must be deemed as a vacant site
for the purposes of the notification:
2. Facts, so far as they are material are these -- One Chitnis purchased a single storeyed house on 30th May 1950 and after making some changes, he sold it on 23rd April 1962 to the petitioner. Sometime after 1967, the petitioner added first floor to this house and gave it for residential purposes to two persons. The House Allotment Officer, Nagpur upon an anonymous complaint, issued a notice to the petitioner, in reply to which the petitioner contended, firstly, that the newly constructed first floor was exempted from the provisions of the C.P. and Berar Letting of Houses and Rent Control Order, 1949 ('The Rent Control Order' for short) and secondly, that the occupants were not tenants but were merely licensees. The second respondent rejected both the contentions and issued notices to the petitioner and newly inducted persons to show cause why they should not be held liable for prosecution under Clause 28 of the Rent Control Order and the occupants should not be evicted. The second respondent after considering the reply, rejected the contentions and the petitioner, therefore, filed the present petition.
3. It was not disputed before us that the new construction was made by the petitioner after 1st Jan. 1951 on a portion open to the sky. Notification No. 659-66-11 dt. 6th Feb. 1952 reads as follows :
'In pursuance of Clause 30 of the Central Provinces and Berar Letting of Houses and Rent Control Order, 1949, the State Government are pleased to exempt from the operation of all the provisions of the said order any house used for residential purposes if the house is constructed on a site lying vacant on 1st Jan. 1951 or on a site made vacant on or after that date by demolition of any structure standing on such site.'
On behalf of the petitioner, it was contended that the use of the term 'site' instead of the word 'land' must mean that even a terrace open to the sky above the ground floor or all the higher floors would come within the meaning of the term 'site' and the Notification would, therefore, exclude all these higher structures from the purview of the Rent Control Order. This contention found favour with the learned single Judge in M. Sen Sharma's case 1983 Mah LJ 415 (cited supra). Before considering the reported rulings on the point, it is necessary to look to the meaning of the term 'house' in the Rent Control Order. Under Clause 2(3) of the Rent Control Order 'house' means a building or part of a building, whether residential or non-residential, and includes --
(a) the garden, grounds and out-houses (if any) appurtenant to such building or part of a building, and
(b) any furniture supplied by the landlord for use in such building or part of a building. The terms 'site' and 'land' have not been defined in the Rent Control Order. According to Shri Moharir, the learned counsel for the petitioner, the meaning ascribed to the word 'site' in new Webster's Dictionary lends support to his contention that the term 'site' is not used in any narrow sense in the concerned Notification. There 'site' means a place where anything is constructed or planned; as, the site of the new bank; the scene of an event; as the site of the explosion. In Oxford English Dictionary 'site' amongst other things, means the ground or area upon which a building, town etc. has been built, or which is set apart for some purposes; also, in modern use, a plot, or number of plots, of land intended or suitable for building purposes. One of the rules of construction is that exact meaning should be preferred to loose meaning as there is a presumption that words are used in an Act of Parliament correctly and exactly and not loosely and inexactly. The preamble of the Central Provinces and Berar Regulation of Letting of Accommodation Act, 1946 is as follows :
'An Act to provide for regulating the letting and subletting of accommodation in the Central Provinces and Berar.
Whereas it is expedient to make provision for regulating the letting and subletting of accommodation and other ancillary matters hereunder specified :
It is hereby enacted as follows.'
The principal object of the Rent Control legislation is to afford protection to the tenants in view of the increasing shortage of housing accommodation in Urban areas and evidently whenever an exemption is permitted, the exemption would be by way of an exception and would, therefore, have to be strictly construed. From the definition of the term 'house' which we have extracted above, it would be clear that even the terrace and the roof of the ground floor of the house which may be open to the sky would be a part of the building and would, therefore, be covered by the expression 'house'. From Sub-clause (3)(a) of Clause 2, it would be clear that the word 'ground' is not used as synonymous with the word 'site'. The expression 'site' is used only in the Notification granting exemption which also has reference to a house used for residential purposes. The exemption would be available only to a house which is constructed on a site lying vacant on 1st Jan. 1951 or a site made vacant on or after that date by demolition of a structure standing on such site. Though the expressions 'house' and 'site' may be capable of different meanings, when it comes to ascertaining its meaning for the purpose of interpreting statutory provisions, as observed by Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, Twelfth Edition at page 58, individual words are not considered in isolation, but may have their meaning determined by other words in the section in which they occur. From the Notification dt. 6th Feb. 1952 it is clear that exemption was in respect of a house used for residential purposes on a site lying vacant and the only meaning which can be attributed to the expression 'site' in the context in which it has been used, would be a ground or a land which was vacant or made vacant. To read the expression 'site' so as to include within its sweep also a terrace open to the sky on the ground floor of the house, would be to ignore the definition of the word 'house' which includes a building or part of a building and would, therefore, also include a terrace which is open to the sky. Surely the expression 'site' cannot have been used in such a sense.
4. We are supported in the view that we are taking by the observations in Bholaram Barelal v. S.S. Shukre, 1955 Nag LJ 144 to the effect that 'the Notification exempts from the operation of the provisions of the Rent Control Order any house used for residential purposes if the house is constructed on a site lying vacant on the 1st Jan. 1951 has reference to the site having not been covered with buildings.' There the learned Judges observed that 'merely digging a foundation is not tantamount to construction but is only preparatory to starting the construction.' The observations of the learned single Judge in M. Sen Sharma's case do not go beyond merely stating that the site above the ground floor must be deemed to be a vacant site because it is open to the sky when only the ground floor was standing as a structure on the open land. The other aspects of the Rent Control Order and the Notification to which we have adverted do not seem to have been placed before the learned single Judge.
5. Shri Moharir for the petitioner referred to the observations of a learned single Judge of the Madras High Court in S. Athimoola Chetty's Charities v. Sadhana Aushadhalaya, ILR (1969) 1 Mad 184 to the effect that 'site means the general locale upon which the house is built. The modern concept of a house or tenement has acquired a secondary significance. It includes also a flat. So, where there is a building which has two or more storeys, each flat or a storey is a building. The word 'site' does not necessarily mean only the ground but could also include in certain circumstances an artificial base on which a new erection is to be superimposed.' There the learned single Judge was considering the term 'site' as used in Section 4 of Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960 which deals with fixation of fair rent. The question that arose there was whether in calculating the market value of either a flat or first or second floor, the market value of the site on which the part of the building is constructed can be included or not and it was held that the value of the site has to be apportioned in accordance with the number of storeys and will have to be distributed proportionately among all the independent units and, therefore, the term 'site' would include even a terrace or a portion in which said terrace above the ground floor stands. We find that the same extended meaning cannot be given to the expression 'site' used in the concerned Notification, shorn of its context. Here we would have to prefer the exact meaning of the word 'site', which is in consonance with the provisions of the Rent Control Order, to any of the several loose meanings which that expression is susceptible of as the expression has been used in the notification for a specific purpose.
6. Disagreeing, therefore, with the view taken by the learned single Judge in M. Sen, Sharma's case 1983 Mah LJ 415, we hold that the expression 'site' is used in the Notification as synonymous with the ground or the land on which the house stands and would not include a terrace or other open portion of the building on which an additional construction is made, because such a portion will be a building or part of the building which would be included in the definition of the word 'house' in Clause 2(3) of the Rent Control Order.
7. Since no other point has been argued before us, we would discharge the rule but without any order as to costs.