1. By consent of learned Counsel, this civil revision petition directed against order dt. 30th Aug. 1983 made on I.A. XI in O. S. No. 388 of 1977 (O. S. No, 1767 of 1980) by the Court of City Civil Judge, Bangalore City, refusing to stay further proceedings in that suit, is treated as having been posted for hearing, and I have heard them.
2. Whether the Court of City Civil Judge, Bangalore City, (trial Court) was justified in refusing to stay further proceedings in a suit for eviction pending against the defendants till the disposal of a fair rent application under the Karnataka Rent Control Act, 1961 (the Act), subsequently filed by the defendants before the Controller under the Act, seeking fixation of fair rent in respect of the nonresidential premises concerned in the suit, is the short question which arises for determination in this revision petition.
3. Undisputed facts of the case, which are material for determination of the question, are briefly these: Defendants in the suit who are petitioners here, were the tenants of a non-residential premises under the plaintiffs, on a monthly rental of Rs. 1,400/-. The plaintiffs determined the defendants tenancy of the said non-residential premises as required by the provisions of the T. P. Act and, on 15th June 1977, filed in the trial Court, a suit for eviction on the defendants there from, in that, the provisions in Part-IV of the Act giving protection to tenants against eviction did not apply to non-residential premises, the monthly rental of which exceeded Rs. 500/-. It appears that the progress of the suit was hampered as the trial Court had to decide many interlocutory applications filed therein from stage to stage. Long after the trial of the suit had commenced and about five years subsequent to the filing of the suit, the defendants are said to have filed before the Controller under the Act, a fair rent application seeking fixation of fair rent of the said nonresidential premises at Rs. 300/- per mensem as against Rs. 1,400/- per mensem which they had been paying. Thereafter, defendants have filed in the suit, an interlocutory application, I. A. XI, seeking stay of further proceedings in the suit, pending disposal of the fair rent application by the Controller. By its order dt. 30th Aug 1983, the trial Court has rejected that application holding, inter alia, that the decision of the Supreme Court in P. V. Shetty v. B. S. Giridhar, : AIR1982SC83 , on which sole reliance was placed by the defendants in support of their application for stay, was inapplicable to the facts of the case. Aggrieved by that order, the defendants have come up with the present revision petition, as stated at the outset.
4. Shri S. Shaker Shetty, learned Counsel for the petitioners, did not dispute the position that S. 10 of the Civil P.C. 1908, could not be invoked by the petitioners here, who were the defendants in the suit, to seek stay of further proceedings in the suit, pending disposal of their fair rent application before the Controller under the Act, as held by the trial Court. However, it was submitted by him that the trial Court was in error in concluding that the decision of the Supreme Court in P. V. Shetty's case (supra) was inapplicable to the facts of the present case and did not warrant grant of relief of stay of further proceedings in the suit sought for by the defendants in the interlocutory application, I. A. XI. According to him, the trial Court should have found that the just and fair approach test laid by the Supreme Court in P. V. Shetty's case (supra) in deciding an application for stay filed in the suit with which it was concerned, was equally applicable in deciding the defendants' interlocutory application I. A. XI, for stay filed in the suit concerned here.
5. Facts in P. V. Shetty's case : AIR1982SC83 (supra) were : A tenant of a nonresidential premises, the monthly rent of which was Rs. 650/-, had filed an application before the Controller seeking fixation of fair rent under the Act. It was undisputed that if fair rent had to be fixed at Rs. 500/- or below per mensem respecting that non-residential premises, protection from eviction available to a tenant under the Act, would have become available to him. The landlord of that non-residential premises, however, subsequent to the filing of the fair rent application by the tenant, determined the tenancy of the tenant of the non-residential premises and filed a suit for eviction in a Civil Court. In that suit, an application was made by the tenant seeking stay of further proceedings. But, that application was dismissed by the trial Court and the order dismissing that application was not interfered with by the High Court. When the tenant took up the matter before the Supreme Court, the order of the trial Court as also that of the High Court were reversed by holding thus (Para 2):
'The very narration of facts in this case would show what should be the correct approach in this matter. If the stay of further proceedings in the suit, as prayed for by the appellant, is not granted and the suit proceeds and results in eviction, the application for fixation of fair rent becomes infructuous. On the other hand, if the application for fixation of fair rent is allowed holding that the appellant is a tenant as understood under the Rent Act, and the fair rent is Rs. 500/- or less per month he would be entitled to the protection of the Rent Act which determination will have impact on the suit, subject, of course, to other contentions that may be raised in the suit. Now it is an admitted position that the application for fixation of fair rent proceed the filing of this suit. Obviously, therefore, the just and fair approach, balancing the equities would be to stay further hearing of the suit till the application for fixation of fair rent is decided.'
6. The ratio of the above decision, as emanates from a reading of the material portion of that decision, as excerpted above, it was strenuously urged, was that irrespective of the fact, whether a fair rent application in respect of a non-residential premises was filed under the Act prior or subsequent to the filing of the suit, proceedings in the suit should be stayed awaiting the result of the fair rent application. I find it extremely difficult to accede to this argument.
7. The Supreme Court, as seen from the excerpted portion of its decision, had laid a just and fair approach test in dealing with an application for stay of the suit founded on balance of equities. No equity in favour of a defendant in a suit pending against him for eviction, could arise when, after the filing of such suit, he makes an application for fixation of fair rent before the Controller under the Act and then makes a further application for stay of further proceedings in the suit, pending decision on such application. In the case before the Supreme Court, balance of equities has been struck in favour of the defendant as he had filed the application for fixation of fair rent of a non-residential premises, respecting which a suit for eviction had been filed, prior to the filing of such suit. It is in that context that the Supreme Court has held in unequivocal terms that having regard to the admitted position that the application for fixation of fair rent preceded the filing of the suit, the just and fair approach balancing the equities would be to stay further hearing of the suit till the application for fixation of fair rent is decided. From this it follows that the balance of equities in staying further proceedings in a suit, will not favour a defendant, who had not filed an application for fixation of fair rent before the filing of the suit for eviction, but files such application only after the filing of the suit and then files a further application in the suit, for stay of further proceedings in that suit, thereby giving room for drawing an inference that the application for fixation of fair rent was filed with the sole intention of delaying the proceedings in the suit and, at any rate, not actuated by bona fides. Hence, I answer the question raised at the outset, in the affirmative.
8. In the result, this civil revision petition is dismissed, however, without costs.
9. Petition dismissed.