R.A. Jahagirdar J.
1. The petitioner is a tenant of the landlord who filed a suit, being Regular Civil Suit No. 349 of 1973, in the Court of the Civil Judge, (Senior Division), at Ahmednagar for possession of the premises tenanted by the petitioner. The group urged in support of the prayer for possession was among others, the failure of the petitioner to pay arrears of rent within one month from the service of the notice under section 12(2) of the Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Bombay Rent Act') The said notice is dated 6th of September, 1972 and was served upon the petitioner. In that notice, as in the plaint in the trial Court, several grounds were mentioned for seeking possession of the premises tenanted by the petitioner. Since the trial Court has negatived two grounds and since the Appeal Court below did not touch the trial Court's findings on the same, it is not necessary for me to refer to those grounds.
2. On 6th of October, 1972, which would be within thirty days after the receipt of the notice under section 12(2) of the Bombay Rent Act, the petitioner filed an application under section 11(3) of the Bombay Rent Act for fixation of the standard rent of the suit premises. The petitioner also made an application for a direction for the payment of interim rent. Unfortunately, no orders were passed by the trial Court for the payment of the interim rent. The application for fixation of the standard rent is numbered as Miscellaneous Application No. 371 of 1972.
3. On 15th of December, 1976, the trial Court passed an order in proceedings which comprised both he suit and the miscellaneous application for the fixation of the standard rent, that the petitioner should deposit all arrears of rent and further that he should go on depositing Rs. 12 per month before the 5th of every month. This order was undoubtedly complied with by the petitioner with the result that on 28th of December, 1977 the respondent's suit was dismissed.
4. The respondent thereafter preferred an appeal, being Civil Appeal No. 230 of 1977. During the pendency of the appeal, no specific order has been passed by the appeal Court regarding the payment of rent in the Court by the petitioner. One should not forget the fact that the appeal was by the landlord who had filed in the trial Court. Nevertheless, the petitioner by making an application to the Appeal Court deposited a sum of Rs. 1086 on 21st of July, 1979. The learned Appellate Judge, however, relying upon a judgment of a single Judge of this Court in Syed Umar Syed Ahmed v. Dadamiya Husenbhai & others 1977 Mh.L.J. 261, held that there was no compliance on the apart of the petitioner with the requirements contained in section 12(3)(b) of the Bombay Rent Act because, according to the learned Appellate Judge, the petitioner has not made the payment regularly. He was not inclined to take into favourable account the fact that for nearly four years the trial Court itself had not fixed the interim rent nor had it given any direction regarding the payment of rent in future till the disposal of the suit. Thus holding that the mandatory requirements of section 12(3)(b) were not complied with by the petitioner, the learned Appellate Judge allowed the appeal and decreed the suit of the respondent. It may also be added at this stage that both the courts below have held that the standard rent of the suit premises is Rs. 15 per month and not Rs. 25 per month, which being the agreed rent was demanded by the respondent-landlord. It is against this decree of the Appellate Court that the petitioner has approached this court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.
5. Mr. Lalit, the learned Advocate, appearing in support of the petition, has naturally drawn my attention to the judgment of this Court Mohanlal v. Khimraj 80 Bom.L.R. 378, wherein it has been pointed out that the judgment in Syed Umar's case is not correct. In Mohanlal's case it has been held as follows :---
'The section does not presuppose an inflexible schedule of payments which cannot be altered by the Court. The emphasis is on regular payment of rent and permitted increases as ordered by the Court and not consolidated payment, just before the delivery of the judgment. But it does not follow that a consolidated payment cannot be made at all if the Court so desires or so directs or so allows. If the Court allows explicitly or by necessary implication the payment of rent on dates other than the first date of hearing and the tenant makes payments as per its order, it would be compliance with the provisions contained in section 12(3)(b) of the Rent Act. There is no prohibition against the Court allowing the tenant from making payments on dates other than the first day of hearing. If the payments are made even after the date fixed for the payment and the Court accepts the same without treating them as defaults, it cannot be said that there is no compliance with the provision of section 12(3)(b) because ultimately all the payments are made into the Court and are accepted by the orders of the Court.'
On page 382 of the report, Syed Umar's case was noticed and it was pointed out that the observation to the effect that the authority of Kalidas Bhavan's case was considerably shaken in Abbasbhal's case was not correct. After examination of all the relevant judgments in the field at that time it was observed in Mohanlal's case that there should be compliance with the requirements of section 12(3)(b) but such compliance does not mean that the Court cannot accept the payment made by the tenant from time to time though they are not regular in the strict sense of the term.
6. In Indravan Trivedi v. Mrs. Ambaben Mohanlal Soni, (Writ Petition No. 1898 of 1979, decreed by Chandurkar, Acting C.J., on 15th September, 1983), the learned Chief Justice was dealing with a case under section 12(3)(b) of the Bombay Rent Act. After examining the contentions of the landlord in the case before him, the learned Chief Justice held that the case fell under section 12(3)(b). After noticing the law laid down by a Division Bench (of which the learned Chief Justice was a member) in Anant Purushottam Athavale v. Damodar Dattatraya Bedekar and others, : AIR1980Bom257 , the learned Chief Justice observed as follows :---
'This is not, therefore, a case in which it can be said that the tenant should be denied the protection under section 12(3)(b) of the Bombay Rent Act. The ratio of Anant's case does not therefore apply in this case. It is not as if there is no power in the Court to condone delay in making deposits which are contemplated by the Explanation to section 12.' (Emphasis provided)
The Explanation, to which a reference is made in the above judgment, requires the tenant, in order to prove that he is ready and willing to pay the rent, to make an application under section 11(3) and thereafter to pay or tender the rent and the permitted increases specified in the order made by the Court. With great respect, this view is consistent with the view taken by this Court in Mohanlal's case.
7. Mr. Naik, the learned Advocate appearing for the respondent-landlord, however, contends that the payments made by the petitioner in the instant set are not regular payments as explained by the Supreme Court in Mranalini B. Shah v. B.M. Shah, : AIR1980SC954 . The aforesaid judgment is an authority for the proposition that the provisions of section 12(3)(b) of the Bombay Rent Act are mandatory and not regulatory and, therefore, there should be strict compliance with the same. The said judgment also lays down that regularity in the payment means 'a payment or tender characterised by reasonable punctuality, that is to say, one made at regular times or intervals.' Proceeding further, the Supreme Court held: 'The regularity contemplated may not be a punctuality, of clock like precision and exactitude, but it must reasonably conform with substantial proximity to the sequence of times or intervals at which the rent falls due.' In my opinion, this judgment does not lay down that where there is irregularity to some extent the Court has no power to accept the payment or to condone the delay in the payment. The danger involved in an interpretation which would preclude the Court from accepting the payments which are made otherwise than in strict regularity was noticed in Mohanlal's case as follows :---
'Indeed, it would be unfortunate if one holds that the Court will be completely helpless if after it fixes the schedule of payments or an order for any payment, the tenant is, for unforeseen or accidental reasons unable to obey and that the Court is rendered helpless in giving relief warranted by any alternation in the circumstances. That could not be the intention of the legislature viz. to tie down the hands of the Court after it makes an initial order for the payments of the rent.
8. The aforesaid observation can be held to apply to the payments which are to be made regularly under section 12(3)(b) of the Rent Act as well as under Explanation 1 to section 12. This is the view which the learned Chief Justice has also taken even after the decision of the Supreme Court in Mohanlal's case. I am respectfully in full agreement with the same.
9. Mr. Naik, however, wishes to point out that even during the pendency of this petition the petitioner has not made the payments regularly month by month. To this Mr. Lalit has replied after showing me receipts of some of the payments made, that the payments have been made in advance to cover even the rent to future months. Thus there is no merit in the contention of Mr. Naik that there is default on the part of the petitioner even during the pendency of this petition.
10. In the result, the petition succeeds. The decree passed by the learned District Judge of Ahmednagar in Regular Civil Appeal No. 230 of 1977 is set aside and the decree passed by the learned Civil Judge, (Senior Division) of Ahmednagar in Regular Civil Suit No. 349 of 1973 is restored.
There will, however, be no order as to costs in this petition.