1. This petition, by the tenant, is to revise an order of the First Additional Munsiff, Dharwar, made under S. 43 of the Karnataka Rent Control Act, 1961, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act').
2. The petitioner and respondent 1 are occupying the adjoining buildings owned by respondent 1. The complaint of the petitioner was that the owner, with an evil design to harass him and make him to vacate the premises, instigated respondent 1 to close the only window of his kitchen as a result of which the kitchen has been rendered unfit for use since no light and air get into the kitchen and no smoke gets out there from. The kitchen room, according to the petitioner, has become a dark room without any use to the petitioner.
With these allegations, he prayed for an order against the respondents to reopen the window.
The respondents raised a preliminary objection regarding the maintainability of the application. Their primary contention was that the supply of light and air did not fall within the expression 'essential supply or service', as provided under S. 43 of the Act and, therefore, the grievance of the petitioner cannot be enquired into. The learned Munsiff accepted the objection and rejected the application.
In this petition, the validity of that objection is called into question.
3. For the purpose of considering the question, it is necessary to have in mind the scope and effect of S. 43 of the Act.
Section 43 of the Act, so far as it is relevant, provides:
'43. Landlord not to cut off or withhold essential supply or service-
(1) No landlord either himself or through any person acting or purporting to act on his behalf, shall, without just or sufficient cause cut off or withhold any essential supply or service enjoyed by the tenant in respect of the building let to him.
(2) A tenant in occupation of the building may, if the landlord has contravened the provisions of sub-sec.(1) made an application to the Court for a direction to restore such supply or service.
(3) If the Court on perusal of the application and affidavits, if any, filed by the tenant after making such examination of the applicant as it thinks fit, is prima facie satisfied that the essential supply or service was cut off or withheld without sufficient cause, the Court may pass an interim order directing the landlord to restore the amenities immediately, pending the inquiry referred to in sub-section (4).
Explanation: An interim order may be passed under this sub-section without giving notice to the landlord.
(4) If the Court on inquiry finds that the essential supply or service enjoyed by the tenant in respect of the building was cut off, or withheld by the landlord without just or sufficient cause, it shall make an order directing the landlord to restore such supply or service.'
Explanation 1 to S. 43 of the Act reads as follows:
'In this section essential supply or service includes supply of water, electricity, lights in passages and on staircases, lifts and conservancy or sanitary services.'
4. The intention and effect of the provisions of S. 43 of the Act, in my opinion, are beyond controversy although much argument was devoted, before me, to the scope of the words 'essential supply or service'.
The intent of the Legislature, as I see it, is that the tenant should be given immediate relief when he is deprived of his legitimate rights and should not be driven to a long drawn civil litigation. With that end in view, the Legislature has issued an injunction against the landlord not to cut off or withhold essential supply or service, which the tenant is entitled to. Therefore, one must take a sensible and broad view of the words 'essential supply or service' and must have regard to all those matters, which are reasonably necessary to make use of the building. Any attempt to narrow down the scope of those words 'essential supply or service' may defeat the very purpose of the legislation.
Explanation 1 to S. 43 of the Act gives us some indication of the scope of those words; but, in the very nature of the explanation, it is not exhaustive. According to the said explanation 'essential supply or service' includes supply of water, electricity, lights in passages and on staircases, lifts and conservancy or sanitary services. But, there are other matters which are not obscure, but so obvious and so essential without which the demised premises cannot be occupied or used; say, for example, entrances, landings, staircases of the premises, passages, service access ways, doors, drains, ventilators and so on, which are intended for use in common by the occupiers of the premises.
5. Turning to the facts of the present case, the tenant has alleged that his kitchen has been completely cut off from light and air and the only window therein, has been closed as a result of which the kitchen has become a dark room and the smoke which used to pass through the said window would be spreading all through the house, rendering the living space also unfit for habitation. If there was a window or ventilator which has been surreptitiously closed by the landlord or by others, at his instigation, I fail to see why the aggrieved tenant cannot move the Court under S. 43 of the Act, with a complaint that the supply of air and light has been completely cut off or the only outlet for the smoke to pass through has been closed with an evil design. In my opinion, the Court has to make an enquiry on the complaint of the petitioner and he cannot be thrown out at the threshold itself.
6. It is, however, necessary to notice the contention urged for the respondents. It was urged that S. 43 of the Act could be invoked only by the tenant against his landlord and the dispute between the co-tenants cannot be the subject-matter of investigation there under.
7. There cannot be any dispute on this contention; but, the facts of the present case are otherwise. The petitioner's application is not only against the co- tenant, but also against his landlord. Therefore, the grievance of the petitioner requires to be investigated by the Court.
8. In the result, this revision petition is allowed. The impugned order is set aside. The matter stands remitted to the Court below for disposal of the application in accordance with law.
In the circumstances, I make no order as to costs.
9. Revision allowed.