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Tajammul HusaIn Vs. Mir Khan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 3072 of 1968
Judge
Reported inAIR1974All234
ActsTransfer of Property Act, 1882 - Sections 76 and 111
AppellantTajammul Husain
RespondentMir Khan and ors.
Appellant AdvocateYougesh Agrawal, ;Chand Kishore, ;J.N. Chatterji and ;S.A. Kazmi, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateS.K. Tewari, G.P. Bhargava, A.N. Bhargava and S.I. Jafari
Excerpt:
.....could transfer a title better than what he possessed, therefore, any transfer or alienation of the property mortgaged, by the mortgagee must cease on the redemption of mortgage. it cannot be disputed that no person can confer a better title than what he possesses. the exception is that if during the subsistence of the mortgage, the mortgagee, like an ordinary prudent man lets out the mortgaged pre-nises and enters into a bona fide transaction in connection therewith, in that event the rights of such a person admitted to tenancy would not get automatically extinguished on redemption of the mortgage. the principle, behind section 76(a) of the transfer of property act, appears to be based on the hypothesis that in case a mortgage had not been executed and the mortgagor as owner had remained..........could transfer a title better than what he possessed, therefore, any transfer or alienation of the property mortgaged, by the mortgagee must cease on the redemption of mortgage. it was, accordingly urged that a mortgagee in possession could let out a premises on tenancy only for the period so long as mortgage in his favour is subsisting. but after redemption of the mort-gage, the person who was holding as a tenant on lease from a mortgagee, would have no right to continue in possession as he would not be a tenant of the mortgagor. there would be no relationship of landlord and tenant between him and the mortgagor who would subsequently come upon the scene as a result of redemption. his status would only be that of a trespasser liable to eviction in the suit of the mortgagor. he invited.....
Judgment:

K.C. Agrawal, J.

1. This Full Bench has been constituted to consider the correctness of the Division Bench decision in Habib Seth v. Kashi Nath, (1968) All LJ 446 because of the subsequent pronouncements of the Supreme Court in the All India Film Corporation Ltd. v. Sri Raja Gyan Nath, (1969) 3 SCC 79 = (AIR 1969 NSC 185) and Sachalmal Parasram v. Ratnabai, AIR 1972 SC 637. The brief facts, necessary for understanding the background which necessitated the reference to the Full Bench are as follows:--

2. A house, situate within the limits of Aliganj Town Area, District Etah, belonged to one Tajamul Hussain. He mortgaged it with Sultan Ali, Abdul Razzaq and Abdul Gaffar. The mortgagees were put in possession under the terms of the mortgage. The mortgagees, thereafter, let out the premises to Mir Khan, after taking rent deed from him, mentioning the rent at the rate ofRs. 3/8/- p. m. In the year 1963 Tajammal Hussain filed a Suit No. 163 of 1963 for redemption of mortgage against the mortgagees. The suit was ultimately decreed. Tajammal Hussain could get only symbolic possession of the premises. He, thereafter, filed the suit giving rise to the present appeal for possession against Mir Khan and a few others, who were carrying on business in partnership with him, on the ground that after the redemption of mortgage, the status of Mir Khan was simply that of a trespasser and he was liable to be ejected from the premises in question.

3. The suit was contested by Mir Khan and it was alleged that he, even after the redemption of the mortgage, continued to be the tenant and was not a trespasser, therefore, he was not liable to be evicted and the suit, which was filed on the ground that he was a trespasser, was thus liable to be dismissed.

4. The trial Court decreed the suit holding that the defendant Mir Khan was only a trespasser and thus could be dispossessed. Aggrieved against the aforesaid decision of the trial Court, an appeal was filed in the Lower Appellate Court which was allowed and the suit of the plaintiff Tajammal Hussain was dismissed with a finding that Mir Khan was not a trespasser. The Lower Appellate Court further found that mortgagees of the disputed premises were within their rights, in the ordinary course of management, to have let out the same to Mir Khan. The Lower Appellate Court had mainly relied on the decision reported in Habib Seth's case 1968 All LJ 446 (supra) and had found on the basis of the same that Tajammul Hussain, the plaintiff, was not entitled to get any decree of possession in the present suit.

5. It is against this judgment and decree of the Lower Appellate Court that the present Second Appeal was filed in this Court, It was argued before the learned single Judge as well as the Division Bench, where the matter had gone on a reference made by the learned single Judge, that the decision given by the Division Bench in Habib Seth's case, 1968 All LJ 446 stands overruled impliedly because of the contrary decision given by the Supreme Court in All India Film Corporation Ltd., (1969) 3 SCC 79 = (AIR 1969 NSC 185) (supra). As some prima facie doubt on the correctness of the aforesaid judgment in Habib Seth's case appeared, so the present reference was made.

6. The main submission of Sri Chand Kishore, learned Counsel for the plaintiff, was that no person could transfer a title better than what he possessed, therefore, any transfer or alienation of the property mortgaged, by the mortgagee must cease on the redemption of mortgage. It was, accordingly urged that a mortgagee in possession could let out a premises on tenancy only for the period so long as mortgage in his favour is subsisting. But after redemption of the mort-gage, the person who was holding as a tenant on lease from a mortgagee, would have no right to continue in possession as he would not be a tenant of the mortgagor. There would be no relationship of landlord and tenant between him and the mortgagor who would subsequently come upon the scene as a result of redemption. His status would only be that of a trespasser liable to eviction in the suit of the mortgagor. He invited our attention to Section 111(c) of the Transfer of Property Act, and urged that this was a special provision in respect of leases created by those having limited powers. On account of this provision in the Transfer of Property Act the rights of a lessee holding from a mortgagee in possession would get automatically extinguished on the redemption of the mortgage. He thus submitted that the status of a person, admitted to tenancy on redemption of mortgage, would be that of a trespasser. He relied on the judgments of the Supreme Court in All India Film Corporation Ltd, (1969) 3 SCC 79 = (AIR 1969 NSC 185) (Supra) and Sachalmal Parasram (supra) in support of these propositions. He submitted, as a matter of fact, the law laid down in these two cases was not different from what the Supreme Court said in its first case reported in Mahabir Gope v. Harbans Narain Singh (AIR 1952 SC 205). The submission made by the learned counsel, was that the Division Bench in Habib Seth's case, 1968 All LJ 446 did not correctly appreciate the law laid down in Mahabir Cope's case and it was on account of mis-appreciation of the same that a wrong law was laid down therein. It accordingly deserved to be overruled by the Full Bench.

7. We have given our careful consideration to the argument advanced by the learned counsel for the appellant and find ourselves unable to accept his submission. It cannot be disputed that no person can confer a better title than what he possesses. The general rule, therefore, is that a lease executed by a mortgagee in possession would come o an end and the rights of the person holding under the same would get extinguished on the redemption of the mortgage. This rule is, however, subject to one exception which is incorporated in Section 76(a) of he Transfer of Property Act. The exception is that if during the subsistence of the mortgage, the mortgagee, like an ordinary prudent man lets out the mortgaged pre-nises and enters into a bona fide transaction in connection therewith, in that event the rights of such a person admitted to tenancy would not get automatically extinguished on redemption of the mortgage. The person, so let in, would be entitled to continue in occupation of the premises as a tenant of the mortgagor after redemption. The principle, behind Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act, appears to be based on the hypothesis that in case a mortgage had not been executed and the mortgagor as owner had remained in possession,he would have also similarly let out the premises and, therefore, if instead of the mortgagor, the mortgagee, who came in his place, did the same, it would be considered as binding on the mortgagor as well. The rights acquired by a tenant as a result of such letting to continue in possession would not lapse with the redemption of the mortgage.

8. We may now advert to some of the cases which were cited before us by the learned Counsel for the appellant, in support of his proposition, that the rights of a lessee admitted by a mortgagee in possession came to an end on the redemption of the mortgage. The first decision relied on is in Mahabir Cope's case AIR 1952 SC 205. The passage on which reliance was placed by the counsel for the appellant is quoted below:--

'The general rule is that a person cannot by transfer or otherwise confer a better title on another than he himself has. A mortgagee cannot, therefore, create an interest in the mortgaged property which will enure beyond the termination of his interest as mortgagee. Further, the mortgagee, who takes possession of the mortgaged property, must manage it as a person of ordinary prudence would manage it if it were his own; and he must not commit any act which is destructive or permanently injurious to the property; see Section 76. Sub-clauses (a) and (e) of the Transfer of Property Act. It follows that he may grant leases not extending beyond the period of the mortgage; any leases granted by him must come to an end at redemption. A mortgagee cannot during the subsistence of the mortgage act in a manner detrimental to the mortgagor's interests such as by giving a lease which may enable the tenant to acquire permanent or occupancy rights in the land thereby defeating the mortgagor's right to 'khas' possession; it would be an act which would fall within the provisions of Section 76, Sub-clause (e) of the Transfer of Property Act.'

It was submitted on the basis of the above observations of the Supreme Court that a mortgagee, who takes possession of the mortgage property, cannot commit any act, which is destructive of or injurious to the property and as letting of the premises to a tenant would amount to causing permanent injury to the interest of the mortgagor, such a transaction should be held not binding on him. The learned Counsel at this place also emphasised that a mortgagee in possession could make arrangement with regard to a property only for the period his mortgage were subsisting. He could not in the course of management act in a manner so as to prejudice the right of the mortgagor to get back possession from the person inducted in possession. He further submitted that, in case, during the period of possession of a tenant while the mortgage was subsisting, some competent legislation was passed conferring any right on such a person inducted in possession, in that event the person so inducted would be entitled to receive the benefits of the same. But in the absence of any such legislation conferring any right on the tenant of the mortgagee, the tenant would simply be a trespasser liable to eviction irrespective of the fact that such letting might have been a prudent act within the meaning of Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act. The effect of Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act, according to his submission, is only this that a mortgagee in possession is permitted to let out the premises for the period of the mortgage. It does not, according to him, confer any suck power of management on the mortgagee that a tenant inducted by him acquires a right to continue in possession even after the redemption of the mortgage. This argument of the learned Counsel appears to be wholly untenable. Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act is an exception to the general rule, namely, that no mortgagee can create a right which may enure even after due redemption. Once it is held that Section 76(a) of the Act is an exception to this rule, it will necessarily follow that a person inducted in possession by a mortgagee during the subsistence of the mortgage will be entitled to continue in possession even after redemption. There will be no change from his status of a tenant to that of a trespasser. We may here quote a passage from Mahabir Gope's case which fully supports the view which we are taking:

'A permissible settlement by a mortgagee in possession with a tenant in the course of prudent management and the springing up of rights in the tenant conferred or created by statute based on the nature of the land and possession for the requisite period is a different matter altogether. It is an exception to the general rule. The tenant cannot be ejected by the mortgagor even after the redemption of the mortgage. He may become an occupancy 'raiyat' in some cases and a non-occupancy 'raiyat' in other cases. But the settlement of the tenant by the mortgagee must have been a bona fide one. This exception will not apply in a case where the terms of the mortgage prohibit the mortgagee from making any settlement of tenants on the land either expressly or by necessary implication.'

9. In Mahabir Gope's case the Patna High Court, while deciding the appeal, had found that the mortgage deed of that cast did not entitle the mortgagee to settle the land with the tenants. Rather it contained a prohibition clearly providing that the mortgagee would keep the land in his possession alone. In view of this term in the mortgage, the High Court was of the opinion that the transaction of letting by the mortgagee was not bona fide. This finding was affirmed by the Supreme Court. In this view of the matter the Supreme Court refused to accept that the tenants inducted in possession had any right to continue in possession even after redemption. Despite the above finding the Supreme Court held that it was not correct that in every case the rights of a lessee admitted in tenancy would get extinguishedwith the redemption of the mortgage. This was the normal feature in a case of fetting by the mortgagee. But there was an exception to this general rule which, according to it, was contained in Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act. Accordingly the Supreme Court held that when letting would be bona fide and during the course of prudent management, the tenant or lessee could not be considered as a trespasser on redemption.

10. The next decision of the Supreme Court which may be noticed in Harihar Pra-sad Singh v. Deo Narain Prasad, AIR 1956 SC 305. The law laid down by the Supreme Court in this regard is to be found in paragraph 13 of the said judgment, which is reproduced below:

'The law is that a person cannot confer on another any right higher than what he himself possesses, and therefore, a lease created by a usufructuary mortgagee would normally terminate on the redemption of the mortgage. Section 76(a) enacts an exception of this rule. If the lease is one which could have been made by the owner in the course of prudent management, it would be binding on the mortgagors, notwithstanding that the mortgage has been re-deemed. Even in such a case, the operation of the lease cannot extend beyond the period for which it was granted.'

11. These observations of the Supreme Court in Hari Har Prasad's case AIR 1956 SC 305 leave no room for doubt that a tenancy which had been created during the continuance of a valid mortgage could enure even after its redemption if the same had been contracted in the course of prudent management. In this regard, we respectfully agree with the following observations made by the Division Bench in Habib Seth's case 1968 All LJ 446:--

'Whatever doubts may have arisen regarding the status of a tenant of the mortgagee after redemption of the mortgage from the decision in Mahabir Gope's case, AIR 1952 SC 205, this observation (quoted by us in this judgment above in Hari Har Prasad's case AIR 1956 SC 305) clearly supports the view that where the mortgagee has let out ia the course of the prudent management, the tenancy would enure after redemption of the mortgage, and that it would bind, the mortgagor.'

12. The next case to which a reference may now be made is reported in Asa Ram v. Mst. Ram Kali, AIR 1958 SC 183. In this case Ram Prasad and Udai Raj were the original owners. They executed a usufructuary mortgage in favour of Dwarika Prasad, Naubat Singh and Munshi Lal. In 1941 Ram Prasad, the surviving mortgagor, filed a suit for redemption. The suit was ultimately decreed, and the mortgage was redeemed. When the mortgagor, Ram Prasad sought, to take possession, he was obstructed by Govind Sahai and Bhagwan Sahai. Thereafter a suit under Section 180 of theU. P. Tenancy Act was filed for ejectment of Govind Sahai and Bhagwan Sahai. They defended the suit on the plea that they were not trespassers but were hereditary tenants and could not be ejected. The matter ultimately came to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, while dealing with the rights of the mortgagee in possession to let out the land, declared-

'The law undoubtedly is that no person can transfer property so as to confer on transferee a title better than what he possesses. Therefore, any transfer of any property mortgaged, by the mortgagee must cease, when the* mortgage is redeemed. Now, Section 76(a) provides that a mortgagee in possession must manage the property as a person of ordinary prudence would manage if it were his own. Though this is an obligation caused on the mortgagee, the authorities have held that an agricultural lease created by him would be binding on the mortgagor even though the mortgage has been redeemed, provided it is of such a character that a prudent owner of property would enter into it in the usual course of management. This being in the nature of an exception, it is for the person who claims the benefit thereof, to strictly establish it.'

13. If we may say so respectfully these observations of the Supreme Court have made the position abundantly clear and it is not possible to argue in the face of the law laid down by the Supreme Court that a lessee admitted in possession by the mortgagee in a prudent manner would not be entitled to continue in possession after redemption of the mortgage. The Supreme Court in the case cited had found that the mortgagee did not act prudently in letting out the land and it was on this finding that it refused to confer the benefits of the tenancy law which were being claimed by the tenant inducted in possession.

14. The next case is reported in Prabhu v. Ram Deo (AIR 1966 SC 1721). In that case a usufructuary mortgage of the land had been executed by the father of the appellant. During the continuance of the said mortgage the respondents were admitted as tenants. The mortgage was eventually redeemed and in spite of the redemption decree the respondents continued in possession. On these facts the question which arose for decision before the Supreme Court was whether the respondents, who had been inducted into the land as tenants by the usufructuary mortgagee, could be ejected by the appellant on the ground that the mortgage in question had been redeemed. The respondents claimed immunity from eviction on the basis that by virtue of Section 15 of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act 1955, possession of the respondents was unassailable.

15. The Supreme Court referred to its earlier decisions given in Hari Har Prasad and Mahabir Gope's case AIR 1956 SC 305 and AIR 1952 SC 205 and held:

'It must be remembered that these observations were made by reference to the normal relationship between the mortgagor and the mortgagee and their respective rights and obligations as determined by relevant provisions of the Transfer of Property Act. Having made these observations, however, this Court has taken the precaution to point out that even in regard to tenants inducted into the land by a mortgagee cases may arise where the said tenants may acquire rights of special character by virtue of statutory provisions which may, in the meanwhile, come into operation. A permissible settlement by a mortgagee in possession with a tenant in the course of prudent management and the springing up of rights in the tenant conferred or created by statute based on the nature of the land and possession for the requisite period, it was observed, was a different matter altogether. Such a case is clearly an exception to the general rule prescribed by the Transfer of Property Act. It will thus be seen that while dealing with the normal position under the Transfer of Property Act, this Court specifically pointed out that the rights of the tenants inducted by the mortgagee may conceivably be improved by virtue of statutory provisions which may meanwhile come into operation. That is precisely what has happened in the present case. During the continuance of the mortgage Section 15 of the Act came into operation and that made the respondents Khatedars who are entitled to claim the benefit of Section 161 of the Act.'

16. In that case the Supreme Court accepted the finding of the High Court that the act of letting by the mortgagee in possession was a prudent act and having found so, held that the respondents of that appeal were not liable to eviction. The Supreme Court had occasion to deal with similar controversy again in All India Film Corporation Ltd., Case (1969) 3 SCC 79 = (AIR 1969 NSC 185) (Supra). Hidayatullah, C. J., referred to the decisions of the Supreme Court given in Mahabir Cope's case AIR 1952 SC 205 and Asa Ram's case AIR 1958 SC 183 (supra) and stated the law in these words:

'A general proposition of law is that no person can confer on another a better title than he himself has. A mortgage is a transfer of an interest in specific immovable property for the purpose of securing repayment of a loan. A mortgagee's interest lasts only as long as mortgage has not been paid off. Therefore, on redemption of the mortgage the title of the mortgagee comes to an end. A derivative title from him must ordinarily come to an end with the termination of the mortgagee's title. The mortgagee by creating a tenancy becomes a lessor of the property but his interest as lessor is conterminous with his mortgagee interest. Section 111(c) of the Transfer of Property Act provides that a lease of immovable property determines where the interest of the lessor in theproperty terminates on or his power to dispose of the same, extends only to the happening of any event -- by the happening of such event. The duration of the mortgagee's interest determines his position as the lessor. The relationship of lessor and lessee cannot subsist beyond the mortgagee interest unless the relationship is agreed to by the mortgagor and, or a fresh relationship, is recreated. The mortgagor or the persons succeeding to the mortgagor interest may elect to do. But if he does not, the lessee cannot claim any right beyond the terms of his original lessor interest. These propositions, are well understood and find support in two rulings of this court in AIR 1952 SC 205 and AIR 1958 SC 183.

To the above propositions there is, however, one exception that flows from Section 76(a) which lays down the liability of a mortgagee in possession. It is provided there that when during the continuance of the mortgage the mortgagee takes possession of the mortgage property, he must manage the property as a person of ordinary prudence would manage if it were his own. From this it is inferred that action done bona fide and prudently in the ordinary course of management, may bind even after the termination of the title of mortgagee in possession. This principle applies ordinarily to the management of agricultural lands and has seldom been extended to urban property so as to tie it in the hands of the lessees or to confer on them the rights under the special statutes. To this action there is an exception. The lease will continue to bind the mortgagor or the person deriving interest from him if the mortgagor had concurred to grant it.'

These observations of the Supreme Court in the above case lay down the same law as in the Division Bench of this Court in Habib Seth's case 1968 All LJ 446. We are unable to find anything in this decision which may be said to be contrary to the law laid down by our High Court in Habib Seth's case. The Supreme Court has again accepted the exception to the general rule which flows from Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act. It is a different thing that the Supreme Court did not find that the lessee admitted by the mortgagee was entitled to derive the benefit of Section 76(a) Transfer of Property Act as in its opinion the letting was not a prudent act.

17. In the latest decision reported in (AIR 1972 SC 637), the Supreme Court has simply reiterated its earlier view expressed in Mahabir Gope's case, AIR 1952 SC 205, Asa Ram's case, AIR 1958 SC 183 and All India Film Corporation's case, (1969) 3 SCC 79 = (AIR 1969 NSC 185).

18. We, accordingly, do not find any substance in the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that the decision given in Habib Seth's case stands overruled impliedly on account of the subsequent pronouncements of the Supreme Court in All IndiaCorporation's case and Sachalmal Parasram's case, AIR 1972 SC 637. We find that the law was correctly laid down by the Division Bench in Habib Seth's case 1968 All LJ 446 and we, respectfully, agree with the same.

19. The learned Counsel for the appellant drew our attention to the last paragraph of Sachalmal's case and pointed out that the Supreme Court had approved the decision of the Bombay High Court in Kamlakar and Co. v. Gulam Shafi Imam-bhai, AIR 1963 Bom 42 and Bhanshali Khu-shal Chand v. Shah Shamji Jivraj, AIR 1958 Bom 53. It was submitted that in these two cases the Bombay High Court had earlier found that the rights of a tenant inducted in possession by the mortgagee got extinguished with the redemption of the mortgage. Accordingly, it was submitted that the Supreme Court had laid down the same law by affrming these two decisions. It appears that in Sachalmal Parasram's case the Supreme Court had two points for consideration before it. The second point before it was as to whether a person who had been admitted in tenancy could be considered as a tenant for the purpose of conferring the benefit of the Rent Restriction Act. It was in this context that the Supreme Court found that the tenant of that case would not be a tenant covered by the definition of the Rent Restriction Act. Having so found it referred to the Bombay cases noticed above and approved what had been said in those cases with regard to the definitions of the words 'tenant' and 'landlord'. The Supreme Court, therefore, approved these two Bombay cases on the aforesaid limited point alone. The law laid down by the Supreme Court on the point, with which we are concerned in the present case, has already been discussed by us above.

20. The learned Counsel for the appellant at the end made a half hearted attempt to argue that the provisions of Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act were not applicable to urban properties, and for this purpose he relied on the following observations of Hidayatullah, C. J., made in the AH India Film Corporation case (1969) 3 SCC 79 = (AIR 1969 NSC 185) (supra):--

'..... this principle applies ordinarily to the management of agricultural lands and has seldom been extended to urban property so as to tie it up in the hands of the lessee or to confer on them rights under special statutes.'

21. These observations in our opinion do not help the appellant at all. In the latter part of this very judgment the learned Chief Justice clearly held that he was not going to decide as to whether the exception contained in Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act applied to urban properties or not, as he observed:--

'The case is thus not covered by the exception because we cannot hold that sucha long lease on such a small rent was an act of prudence, whether it was a bona fide act or not, and whether the exception can apply to urban property.'

Apart from the above, the learned Counsel for the appellant could not show us anything on the basis of which he could tenably argue that the provisions of Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act did not apply to urban properties. A property situate in an urban area is as much immovable property as an agricultural land. We, therefore, do not find any good reason to hold that Section 76(a) of the Transfer of Property Act does not apply to urban properties.

22. The learned Counsel for the appellant wanted to argue some other points on the merits of the appeal. We, however, did not allow him to do so as this Full Bench had been constituted only for the purpose of considering the correctness of the decision of the Division Bench given in Habib Seth's case, 1968 All LJ 446. The case will now go back to the learned single Judge and it will be open to the appellant before him to argue the appeal on merits.

23. We are accordingly of the opinion that the decision of the Division Bench in Habib Seth's case 1968 All LJ 446 lays down the law correctly and we agree with the same. It is with this opinion that we return the papers to the learned single Judge for deciding the appeal on merits.

M.N. Shukla, J.

I agree.


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