S.S. Dhavan, J.
1. This is a tenant's second appeal from the decree of the Civil fudge, Meerut, allowing the landlords' claim for arrears of rent at a rate higher than that allowed by the trial Court, The appellant Dr. Kundan Lal was a tenant of a shop of which Shamshad Ahmad and others were the landlords. It is common ground that a portion of the shop was demolished by the Municipal Board in September 1956 and the rest of it demolished in September 1958, with the result that between September 1956 and September 1958 the tenant was deprived of the use of a portion of the shop and after September 1958 totally deprived. It is also common ground that he did not exercise his option under Section 108(e) of Transfer of Property Act of treating the lease as void after the shop had been demolished.
2. The landlords filed a suit for the ejection of the appellant and for arrears of rent and claimed the rent also for the period when the shop had been partially and later totally demolished. The appellant resisted the suit for ejectment as well as arrears of rent and contended that no rent was due from him after the shop had been completely demolished by the Municipal Board. He also claimed a proportionate reduction of the rent during the period when the shop stood half demolished. During the trial the appellant made a statement before the Court that he was no longer in possession and the landlord did not press for ejectment. As regards rent, the trial Court held that the appellant was entitled to a proportionate reduction after partial demolition and a total suspension of the rent after the complete demolition of the shop. Accordingly it reduced the claim for rent to Rs. 46-5-0. On appeal by the landlords the learned Civil Judge took the view that the appellant not having exercised his option to void the lease under Section 108(e) of the Transfer of Property Act could not claim any reduction or suspension of rent. Accordingly he allowed the appeal in part and decreed the landlords' claim for rent to Rs. 255. The tenant has now come to this Court in second appeal.
3. Learned counsel for the appellant argued that a tenant must be deemed to have been ousted whenever the accommodation is totally destroyed. T cannot agree. No authority was cited by learned counsel in support of his contention. If the total destruction or demolition of an accommodation automatically results in the ouster of the tenant, there was no need for enacting Clause (e) of Section 108 of the Transfer of Property Act. It runs thus:
'(e) If by fire, tempest or flood, or violence of an army or of a mob or other irresistible force, any material part of the property be wholly destroyed or rendered substantially and permanently unfit for the purposes for which it was let, the lease shall, at the option of the lessee, be void.'
This clause is based on the principle of frustration of contract, and was enacted to safeguard the rights of the tenant in case of the total destruction of the property leased to him. It gives him the right to escape his liability as a tenant by declaring the lease void. It follows that if the tenant does not exercise the option under Clause (e) that is, does not invoke the doctrine of frustration the lease shall continue for the benefit of both the parties. There appears to be no other provision under the Transfer of Property Act--and none was cited at the bar--providing for a reduction of rent in case of partial destruction of the leased property or for total suspension in case of its complete destruction. The position under the English law is the same.
'The destruction of the premises by fire does not, in the absence of express stipulation, suspend the liability of the tenant to pay rent, and even though the landlord has received the money and refuses to rebuild the rent continues to be payable throughout the residue of the term'.
Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd Edition, Volume 23, Landlord and Tenant, p. 553, Then again.
'Unless the lease contains express provision to the contrary, and with certain statutory exceptions, the tenant takes the demised premises subject to any defects existing in them at the time of the letting, and to any events which subsequently affect their value. Hence, it is the general rule that the rent continues to be payable notwithstanding that, in the case of a dwelling-house or flat, it is at the time of letting, or subsequently becomes, unfit for habitation; or in the case of land near the seashore, that it is of no value; or in the case of agricultural land, that it is unsuitable for the intended use; or that the premises are subsequently destroyed by fire, or carried away by a flood, or inundated by fresh water; or destroyed by enemy action; or that, by the landlord's neglect of an obligation to repair, the premises have become useless to the tenant.' Ibid p. 554.
4. It would thus appear that in case of the destruction of the leased accommodation through no fault of the landlord, the tenant can avoid payment of rent only if he declares the lease void under Section 108(e) of the Transfer of Property Act, but if he fails to do so, the lease will subsist for the benefit of both parties and the landlord is entitled to claim rent. The tenant may have his other remedies, if any, such as damages for breach of covenant to repair. But he cannot claim that the destruction of the building has deprived him of its possession and withhold rent from the landlord.
This appeal is dismissed with costs.