1. This revision petition involves the interpretation of the definition of the word 'tenant' in S. 2 (ix) of the A. P. Buildings ( Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1960 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The question is whether a person who has been living with the tenant at the time of the tenant's death can be said to be a member of the tenant's family falling within the scope of the definition of the 'tenant' in the Act.
2. The facts giving rise to this revision petition are these:- One N. V. Krishnamachari originally took the building in question of lease from one Srinivasa Karwankar the predecessor-in title of the respondents herein in the year 1935, He died unmarried on 14-3-1974. He was survived by his brothers Venkatachari father of the first petitioner, Seethapathi father of petitioners 2 to 4 and others. It is this case of the petitioners that they were living in the house in question along with their uncle Krishnamachari till his death as members of a joint Hindu family and therefore they had become the statutory tenants of the building after the death of Krishnamachari.
3. After the death of Krishnamachari the petitioners tendered rent due for Feb.1974 but the respondents refused to receive the same. Thereafter the rent was sent by money order. The money order was also refused. Once again rents due for the months of Feb. and March, 1977 were remitted in April 1974 by money order. It was also refused. The petitioners issued a registered notice on 22-4-1974 calling upon the respondents to specify the Bank with his account number in which the rents could be deposited by them. The petitioners received no reply. Therefore the petitioners filed an application before the Principal Rent Controller, Hyderabad under S. 3 (5) of the Act requesting the court to permit them to deposit rents accrued and also future rents in the court.
4. The application was resisted by the respondents contending that there was no relationship of landlord and tenant between the petitioners and the respondents either by agreement or by operation of law and that the petitioners were not tenants within the meaning of Section 3 (ix) of the Act after the death of their uncle Krishnamachari. The Rent Controller on an effective evaluation of the entire evidence adduced in the case held that the late Krishnamachari did not take the suit premises for the purpose of residence on behalf of the joint family consisting of himself and his brothers and that Krishnamachari died as a statutory tenant. He also held that the petitioners were living with their uncle in the building at the time of the death of their uncle Krishnamachari. He however held that the mere fact that the petitioners were living in the building along with their uncle Krishnamachari till his death was not sufficient to hold that they become statutory tenants with the meaning of S. 2 (ix) of the Act. Consequently the petition was dismissed. On appeal preferred by the petitioners the Chief Judge, City Small Causes Court, Hyderabad confirmed the finding of the Rent Controller that the petitioners were residing in the suit house by the date of death of Krishnamachari. He also agreed with the Rent Controller that that circumstance was not sufficient to hold that the petitioners were statutory tenants within the meaning of Section 2 (ix) of the Act. That in brief is the genesis of this revision petition.
5. It is the concurrent finding of both the authorities below that the petitioners were residing in the suit house by the date of death of the statutory tenant Krishnamachari their uncle. Therefore the only question that arises is whether such persons are tenants within the meaning of S. 2 (ix) of the Act, Section 2 (ix) of the Act reads:-
' ' tenant' means any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable for a building and includes the surviving spouse, or any son or daughter, of a deceased tenant who had been living with the tenant in the building as a member of the tenant's family up to the death of the tenant and a person continuing in possession after the termination of the tenancy in his favour, but does not include a person placed in occupation of a building, by its tenant or a person to whom the collection of rents or fees in public market, cart-stand or slaughter house or of rents of shops has been framed out or leased by a local authority.'
It is the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the definition of 'tenant' is an inclusive definition , that the definition, which includes the surviving spouse or daughter of the deceased tenant is only illustrative and not exhaustive and that the person who has been living with the deceased tenant in the building at the time of death must also be held to be a member of tenant's family. It is neither possible or advisable to attempt to know the exact meaning of the expression 'member of the tenant's family' in the definition. However, it is necessary to determine the limitation of these words. The word 'family' should be given the popular meaning as understood in common parlance. Do they embrace a member of the house-hold and any friend of the late tenant or are they limited to mean only the spouse, son or daughter or other blood relations? The definition which extends the tenancy which is otherwise extinguished on death includes only three classes of persons Viz. surviving Spouse, son or daughter. Even for these three classes of persons, further limitation is placed for their becoming a statutory tenant. It is that they should be living with the tenant as members of his family at the time of his death. So a member living in the building along with the statutory tenant cannot be held to be a tenant within the meaning of the definition of 'tenant' In Gammans v. Ekins, ((1950) , 2 KB 328), Lord Asquith observed:
'Material decisions limit membership of such family to three relationships - first that of children; secondly those that constitute by way of legitimate marriage between husband and wife; and thirdly relationship whereby one person becomes loco parentis to another beyond that point of the law has not gone.' Accordingly the Law Lord rejecting the reputed husband of the deceased statutory tenant to be a member of her family said:
'To say of two people masquerading, as these two were husband and wife there being on children to complicate the picture that they were the members of the family is the abuse of the English language'.
A fortiori rule applies to a person who has been merely residing with the tenant at the time of his death.
6. It is now well established that the statutory tenancy is extinguished by the death of the tenant. It devolves on his death only in the manner provided by the statute - Vide Anand Nivas Private Ltd v. Anandji Kalyani Pedhi, : 4SCR892 . There is no dispute in this case that Krishnamachari was only a statutory tenant by the date of his death. So under S. 2 (ix) of the Act only a surviving spouse or any son or daughter of the deceased tenant who had been living as member of the tenant's family up to his death becomes tenant and none else. The petitioners do not fall under any one of these three categories mentioned in the section. Therefore they cannot claim any rights under the Act. The right conferred under S. 8 (5) of the Act to deposit rents before such authority as may be prescribed by the Rent Controller when the landlord refused to receive rent remitted by money order under Sub-sec (4) of S. 8 of the Act is one conferred on the tenant. Unless jural relationship of landlord and tenant is established an application under S. 8 (5) of the Act cannot be maintained. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that it was not necessary to determine the relationship of landlord and tenant in an application under S. 8 (5) of the Act is ill-conceived. Unless it is established that one is a tenant, he cannot be directed to deposit rent by the Rent Controller before any authority.
7. For the reasons recorded above, the revision petition must fail. It is accordingly dismissed with costs.
8. Revision dismissed.