1. This is a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India seeking to revise the orders of the Tahsildar and the Revenue Divisional Officer, Tenali, made under Section 13 of the Andhra Tenancy Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) refusing to evict the respondent as the cultivating tenant of the petitioner.
2. The petitioner is Sri Venugopalaswami Vari temple, Tenali represented by the Managing Trustee. The said temple leased out some of its lands to the respondent Kakamanu Anjaneyulu with a stipulation of annual rent of 13 bags of paddy. The respondent had his own lands acres 50 in extent around this leased land, which he is in possession of ever since 1922. The case of the petitioner is that the 1st Respondent having disposed of his own lands to others, had sub-leased the temple land to Adusumalli Anjayya for higher rent. Besides he committed default in timely payment of rent for the year 1959-60 and paid the same on 15-2-1960 long after the expiry of the due date. The petitioner sought on these grounds termination of his tenancy and his eviction from the leased lands by making an application under Section 13 of the Act to the Tahsildar. He made Anjayya, the sub-lessee a party respondent who denied that he ever sub-leased the land or committed default in payment of rent. His contention was that ever since the present Managing Trustee took charge, he was demanding higher rent and on his refusal he made attempts to sell the lease-hold rights in the lands by public auction. As he failed to gain his object by reason of timely intervention of the 1st respondent he now conceived the idea of eviction by filling an application under Section 13. The 2nd Respondent denied that he was a sub-lessee.
3. The Tahsildar on the material brought on record which consisted of evidence both oral and documentary found that the grounds on which eviction was sought are ill-founded, that the lands were being cultivated under the supervision of the lessee, that the allegation of sub-lease is untrue, and the oral evidence in support thereof is unworthy of credence and that the petitioner has failed to establish default on part of the lessee in payment of rent. He was of the view that the stipulation as to the date of payment is not at all proved, that the receipt Ext. R-1 in relation to rent payable for the year 1959-60 which shows that the rent was accepted under protest without prejudice to the temple's contention for fixation of higher rent does not show that the rent was paid after the due date. The Tahsildar having thus found that the petitioner had failed to establish both the sub-lease and default as alleged by him dismissed his petition. On appeal, the Revenue Divisional Officer, was inclined to the view that the lease was a permanent lease, l that the alleged sub-lease has not been established inasmuch as P. Ws. 4 and 5 denied all knowledge about it and there was conflict between the testimony of P. W. 1 on one hand and P. Ws. 2 and 3 on the other, in relation to the term of sub-lease and that the default in payment has not been proved. He found that the usual date of payment of rent in that area was Magha Bahula Amavasya that the rent for the year 1959-60 was paid earlier on 15-2-1960 itself and that according to P. W. 5 this rent was to be paid by Radhotsavam which fell on 13-3-1960, and further the previous years' receipts of 15-4-1954 and 17-4-1935 (sic) showed that the amount used to be paid as per the arrangements in the months of April from time to time, and that as against this, the petitioner did not produce the accounts of the temple to rebut the stand taken by the first respondent. In this view he upheld the order of the Tahsildar.
4. Aggrieved by these orders, the petitioner has come to this Court involving supervisory jurisdiction of this Court.
5. Mr. T. Veera Bhadrayya, learned counsel for petitioner contends that both the Tahsildar and the Revenue Divisional Officer failed to correctly appreciate the evidence in relation to sub-lease that the Revenue Divisional Officer, failed to take into account the 1st respondent's personal inability to carry on cultivation while considering the probabilities of sub-lease, that both the tribunals have failed to appreciate that the due date of payment of rent was much earlier than the date of receipts on which reliance has been placed, that Ext. P-1 itself shows that it was late payment, that the other receipts referred to by the Revenue Divisional Officer related to arrears of rent paid is one lump sum, and that both the tribunals have failed to appreciate the true impact error of law apparent on the face of the record and this Court should therefore quash the said orders in exercise of its powers under Art. 227 of the Constitution.
6. It is indisputable that the supervisory jurisdiction of this Court extends over all the tribunals constituted under the Act but this extraordinary jurisdiction has to be exercised sparingly and only in cases where there is manifest error of law which has resulted in injustice or where the tribunals have acted without or in excess of their jurisdiction or acted with such material irregularity in exercise of their jurisdiction as to render their orders invalid in law. It is obvious in the instant case that the onus of proving grounds justifying termination of tenancy and eviction of the cultivating tenant was on the petitioner and it admits of little doubt that if he can establish any of the grounds in Clauses (a) to (f) of Sec. 13 of the Act. against his cultivating tenant, he will be necessarily entitled to an order in his favour. IN that event, considerations of hardship or expediency or any other equitable consideration will not at all stand in his way. Nor can the right conferred on him under the specific provisions of Sec. 13 in any way be whittled down or adversely affected by the application of any principles of general law. Provision of Sec. 13, it may be noted, is mandatory, and has to be obeyed in full. Of course it must be strictly construed and rights granted thereunder will be fully enforced. That has been the consistent view of this Court. In Veerabhadrayya v. Tahsildar, 1960 Andh LT 227 at p. 229, Seshachelapati J., observed in relation to the Act at p. 229 thus:
'.........The provisions of this Act are mandatory. While conferring certain rights on the tenants, they, to a large extent, abridge the rights of the landlord. In such a case rights and liabilities of the landlords and tenants alike must be strictly construed. Section 13(a) gives the landlord a right to ask for the eviction of a tenant, who defaulted in the payment of the rent due' Jaganmohan Reddy J., (as he then was ) cited this dictum with approval in Majji Parasuramulu v. Simhadri Suryanarayanamurthy, (1961) 2 Andh WR 312 at p. 315, while deciding the question whether acceptance of rent even after the grace period has expired can be of any avail to the tenant and whether he can invoke the doctrine of estoppel or waiver against the landlord on account of the same to defeat his right under Sec. 13 the learned Judge observed thus: 'It (Section 13) only permits eviction subject to the conditions prescribed for eviction in Sec. 13, one of which is the failure to pay rent due by the tenant within a period of one month from the date on which the rent is due according to the usage of the locality. There is , therefore, sufficient indication in the Act itself which will show that the provisions of any existing law are not applicable to the conditions prescribed for eviction in Section 13. Acceptance of rent even after the grace period has expired, therefore, can be of no avail to the tenant and it will not be open to him to say that the landlord is estopped because he has accepted rent.'
The learned Judge, in support of this view referred to two cases decided by the Calcutta High Court in Jetha Bulchand v. F. C. Grace, AIR 1923 Cal 227 and Kanto M. Mullick v. Jyotish Ch. Mukherjee, AIR 1949 Cal 571. Again in a Divisional Bench case in Anisetti Ramachandra Rao v. Addepalli Venkata Lakshminarayana Sastri, (1963) w Andh WR 235 at p. 238, the same learned Judge speaking for the Court referring to case law on the point observed thus:-
'..........having regard to the specific provisions of the section which confers a right upon the landlord to get the tenant evicted if the tenant fails to pay the rent within the time specified in Section 13(a). the acceptance of rent after the rime specified in Section 13(a) does neither make the acceptance a payment within the meaning of Section 13(a), not can that by itself be construed as a waiver entitling the tenant to continue in possession. Even in cases where default is committed which furnishes a ground for the landlord to get the tenant evicted, the right to recover rent from the tenant would entitle the landlord to take proceedings against the tenant notwithstanding the fact that he had already been evicted due to omission to pay the amount in time. The tenant's obligation to pay the rent being a subsisting one, the acceptance by the landlord of the rent after the default in payment within the time specified in Section 13(a) does not by itself amount to a waiver. It may be that the period of limitation is running out and the landlord is obliged to accept it. The payment of rent by the tenant and its acceptance by the landlord even after the date stipulated may be saved the costs of litigation. Whatever may be the considerations for accepting the payments of rent after the default, it cannot by itself justify a conclusion that it amounts to a waiver and estops the landlord from taking steps to evict the tenant.'
The learned Judges held that the Tahsildar has no discretion to refuse to evict the tenant if the conditions specified in S. 13(a) to (f) have been established. Thus it would be seen that the Statute has given the right to eviction to the landlord during the currency of the lease in case certain grounds specified in Sec. 13 have fulfilled. These grounds must be strictly construed and clearly established to entail the penalty of termination of tenancy and eviction. The legislature in its wisdom has thought that mere failure to pay the rent within the period of one month form the date stipulated inthe lease deed or in the absence of such stipulation within a period of one month from the date on which the rent is due according to the usage of the locality and in case the rent is payable in the form of al share in the produce, failure to deliver the produce at the time of harvest, would entail the penalty of eviction. The same would be the consequence if the lessee has sub-leased the land. Default in payment of rent, whether willful or not, is sure to entail that penalty. So also the sub-lease on any grounds whatsoever. The landlord gets the right as soon as the ground is made out and the tenancy tribunal has no choice but to grant the relief. The question therefore is whether any of the prescribed authorities under the Act have overlooked these mandatory provisions of S. 13. AS already observed, default or sub-lease has to be satisfactorily established by the material on record. It is not the case of the parties that the rent was payable in the form of a share in the produce. OF course, the rent may be in kind but certainly not as a particular share in the produce and admittedly the lessee has been paying not in kind but in cash, after the grains are sold in the market. The due date of payment as stipulated has not been established by the material on record. The respondent's contention was that rent was to be paid on the Radhotsavam day which falls in the month of March. P. W. 5 admitted that the lease amount was intended for the Radhotsavam. That must support the case of the lessee. Even otherwise if it cannot be established that there was any stipulation as to the due date of payment of rent the provision says that it should be paid within a period of one month according to the usage in the locality. The onus of proving default was on the petitioner. Obviously he has failed to discharge that onus. Reliance on Ext. P-1 is of no avail when it does not categorically state the due date of payment. The endorsement on the same also does not advance his case. Acceptance of rent, as the endorsement shows, was only without prejudice to his right to apply for determination of higher rate of rent. There is nothing to suggest that the endorsement referred to the right of eviction which it would have if the payment was out of time or was not prior to the due date. The petitioner would have been entitled to the relief of eviction. if he could establish that the rent was paid after due date. That he has failed to prove. Similarly the case of sub-lease as held by the Tribunals has not been made out by the evidence on record. The finding is one of fact based on appreciation of evidence and cannot merit interference in exercise of supervisory jurisdiction of this Court. In this state of record, it is not possible to hold that the tribunals have committed any error of law on the face of the record or that the orders of the said tribunals merit interference. The petition, therefore, fails and is dismissed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.
7. This case coming on for being mentioned this day upon the letter of the Advocate for the petitioner dated 27-4-1967 and upon hearing the further arguments, the Court made the following:-