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Asa Singh Vs. B.D. Sanwal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpl. Appeal No. 257 of 1966
Judge
Reported inAIR1969All474
ActsUttar Pradesh (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947 - Sections 3
AppellantAsa Singh
RespondentB.D. Sanwal and ors.
Advocates:Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Adv.
Excerpt:
.....of rent and eviction act, 1947 - while granting application of landlord under section 3 is the district magistrate bound to consider the need of tenant for accommodation - held, affirmative if such a case is setup by tenant. - - 1771: therefore, we are satisfied that the jurisdiction conferred on the district magistrate to deal with the rights of the parties is of such character that principles of natural justice cannot be excluded from the proceedings before him. he has to hear the landlord as well as the tenant. it necessarily follows that he has to consider the application of the landlord as well as the version of the tenant. ram chand, air 1965 sc 1767. and, i would like to clarify that we are doing nothing more here. for example, the landlord may seek permission on the ground..........permission under section 3 of the u. p. (temporary) control of rent and eviction act is the district magistrate bound to consider the need of the tenant for the accommodation?'2. the decision in parmeshwar dayal v. additional commissioner, lucknow, 1963 all lj 296 = (air 1964 all 7) is by a full bench. the above question was also considered by the full bench. sri chief justice desai and sri justice s. d. singh took the view that the district magistrate is not bound to consider the need of the tenant. sri justice oak did not agree with their view. the majority of the full bench answered the above question in the negative.3. the division bench, while hearing the special appeal, felt that the question required reconsideration in the light of the decision of the supreme court in lala.....
Judgment:

Dwivedi, J.

1. A Division Bench has referred a question for opinion to the Pull Bench. After hearing counsel for the parties we have made some amendment in the form of the question. The question, as modified by us, is:

'While granting permission under Section 3 of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act is the District Magistrate bound to consider the need of the tenant for the accommodation?'

2. The decision in Parmeshwar Dayal v. Additional Commissioner, Lucknow, 1963 All LJ 296 = (AIR 1964 All 7) is by a Full Bench. The above question was also considered by the Full Bench. Sri Chief Justice Desai and Sri Justice S. D. Singh took the view that the District Magistrate is not bound to consider the need of the tenant. Sri Justice Oak did not agree with their view. The majority of the Full Bench answered the above question in the negative.

3. The Division Bench, while hearing the special appeal, felt that the question required reconsideration in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in Lala Sri Bhagwan v. Ram Chand, AIR 1965 SC 1767. It has been urged before us that our Full Bench decision is impliedly overruled by the Supreme Court decision.

4. Four reasons are mentioned in the opinions of Sri Chief Justice Desai and Sri Justice S. D, Singh in support of their view. Those reasons are:

(1) There Is no express or implied provision in the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Kent and Eviction Act (hereinafter called the Act) requiring the District Magistrate to consider the need of the tenant:

(2) The District Magistrate, while considering the landlord's application, acts in an administrative capacity and not as a quasi-Judicial authority. He is not bound to hear the parties. He is also not bound to give reasons In support of his order:

(3) The landlord is the owner of the accommodation. Section 3 neither confers any right nor any immunity on the tenant: and

(4) The District Magistrate has got absolute discretion is the matter. He may or may not grant permission to the landlord.

5. All these reasons have lost their vitality on account of the Supreme Court judgment. In Sri Bhagwan's case, AIR 1965 SC 1767 the direct question for consideration was whether the State Government acts as a quasi-judicial authority while making an order under Section 7-F of the Act in a proceeding arising under Section 3(1) of the Act. The Supreme Court held in the affirmative. While discussing the question, the Supreme Court also examined the provisions of Section 3. As regards the nature of the District Magistrate's power under Section 3 the Supreme Court said at p. 1771:

'Therefore, we are satisfied that the jurisdiction conferred on the District Magistrate to deal with the rights of the parties is of such character that principles of natural justice cannot be excluded from the proceedings before him.'

At p. 1772 the Supreme Court said:

'In our opinion, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that these provisions unambiguously suggest that the proceedings before the District Magistrate .... and quasi-judicial in character.'

6. The Supreme Court also held that Section 3 confers a right on the tenant. At p. 1771 the Supreme Court said:

'It is plain that the order which the District Magistrate passes under Section 3(2) affects the statutory rights of the tenants.'

At p. 1772 the Supreme Court said:

'The right conferred on the tenants net to be evicted, except on the specified grounds enumerated by Clauses (a) to (g) of Section 3(1), is a statutory right of great significance, and it is this statutory right of which the tenants would be deprived when the landlord obtains the sanction of the District Magistrate.'

7. At p. 1771 the Supreme Court has Indicated that the District Magistrate should indicate his reasons why he makes a particular order under Section 3(2). The Court has also indicated as to how the District Magistrate should deal with the case. The Court said:

'Thus, the provision for a revisional application to the Commissioner also indicates that the District Magistrate has to 'weigh the pros and cons of the matter' and come to a certain conclusion before he makes the order. The rule naturally imports the requirement that the parties should be allowed to put their versions before him. The District Magistrate cannot reasonably weigh the pros and cons unless both the landlord and the tenant are given an opportunity to place theirversions before him'. (Emphasis there into (' ') ours).

8. It is clear from this passage that the District Magistrate, while considering the landlord's application, has to weigh the pros and cons of it. He has to hear the landlord as well as the tenant. It necessarily follows that he has to consider the application of the landlord as well as the version of the tenant. Naturally, if the tenant's case is that he needs the accommodation, the District Magistrate has to consider that case too. So the Act impliedly casts a duty on the District Magistrate to give consideration to the cases of both the landlord and the tenant.

9. It will also follow from the decision of the Supreme Court that the District Magistrate does not exercise an arbitrary power in granting or refusing permission to the landlord for instituting a suit for the tenant's ejectment. If he does not hear the landlord or the tenant or does not apply his mind to the cases of both of them, his order will not be valid.

10. In view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Sri Bhagwan's case, AIR 1965 SC 1767 our reply to the question formulated at the beginning of our judgment is:

'The District Magistrate is bound to consider also the need of the tenant for the accommodation, if such a case is set up by him.'

11. The record of the appeal will now go back to the Special Appeal Bench for decision of the appeal on merits.

Gangeshwar Prasad, J.

12. I agree with the opinion of Dwivedi, J.

M.H. Beg, J.

13. I respectfully concur with the opinion of my learned brother Dwivedi, J. I may point out that our answer is given on the assumption that the case in which the tenant's need has to be considered is one in which it has been actually advanced as a reason for refusing the landlord permission to sue. It is difficult for us to lay down a general rule applicable to all cases without incurring the risk of performing a legislative function which is not strictly within our domain. A rule which must apply in every case should, properly speaking, be laid down by the legislative organs. When we import into statutory provisions rules of natural justice as conditions for the performance of quasi-judicial functions of authorities created by statutes, we purport to do no more than interpret and explain the legislative intent and purpose. This is exactly what their Lordships of the Supreme Court did in L. Shree Bhagwan V. Ram Chand, AIR 1965 SC 1767. And, I would like to clarify that we are doing nothing more here.

14. The Supreme Court had, in L. Shree Bhagwan's case, AIR 1965 SC 1767 (supra) overruled the view, expressed byDesai C. J. in Parmeshwar Dayal v. Addl. Commissioner, Lucknow, AIR 1964 All 7 = 1963 All LJ 296 (FB) that the District Magistrate, in granting the landlord permission to sue his tenant for ejectment did not deal with any right of the tenant. The Supreme Court made it clear that the lifting of the bar against eviction of tenants imposed by the statute in all cases covered by the Act, except those found in Clauses (a) to (g) of Section 3(1) of the Act, meant that the tenant was being deprived of 'a statutory right of great significance'. Hence, this could any be done quasi-judicially and on relevant and justifiable grounds. Their Lordshios of the Supreme Court referred to the provisions and purposes of the U. P. Control of Rent and Eviction Act to support this view.

They held that where a valuable statutory protection was being removed it could not be said that the District Magistrate or the Commissioner or the State Government, in dealing with the statutory right or protection of the tenant, was meant to operate purely on the administrative plane without weighing and judicially considering the pros and cons of the questions involving conflicting individual interests raised by the two sides. The needs of the tenant were not specifically mentioned by the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, as the tenant was entitled to be heard and to place his case against deprivation of the protection by the authority concerned, it could be assumed that the tenant would naturally and ordinarily put forward his needs before the authorities. It would be incumbent upon the authorities to consider the needs of the tenant whenever these are put forward as a defence against the case of the landlord seeking permission to sue for eviction on grounds outside Clauses (a) to (g) of Section 3(1), of the Act because they are relevant.

14-a. There may be cases in which the tenant's need may be quite an unimportant consideration for deciding the question whether the landlord should be permitted to evict him. For example, the landlord may seek permission on the ground that the accommodation in the occupation of a tenant is of such a character that it could be utilised much better by demolishing the construction on it and putting up another building which will meet the needs of a number of tenants. In such a case, the landlord would be asking for permission to render a social service which will obviously outweigh the needs of an individual tenant. Or, the accommodation in the possession of a tenant may be unsafe for residence and permission may be required so that it is reconstructed. In such a case, the need for safety, including that of the tenant himself, may outweigh the tenant's need for the accommodation. Again, in one locality there may be sufficient accommodation available for letting to enable an authority to give the landlord permission to sue much more readily than in another area where alternative accommodation is very scarce. As between two equally pressing claims equity may lean in favour of the landlord.

15. The view expressed in Parmeshwar Dayal's case, AIR 1964 All 7 (FB) (supra) and in Ram Gopal v. Ram Kumar, 1962 All LJ 533, that all the circumstances under which the District Magistrate could be expected to act under Section 3(1) of the Act cannot be exhaustively enumerated, is not affected by any decision of Supreme Court. And, it must be clearly understood that we are not only not departing from this view but respectfully accept it as correct.

16. The result, therefore, is that no hard and fast rule can be laid down about the weight to be given to the need of the tenant. Indeed, there may be cases in which the tenant himself may not consider it worthwhile to set up his own need as a defence but may only challenge the genuineness of the ground put forward by the landlord for seeking permission to sue. The fact that permission is sought by the landlord to sue shows that the tenant is unwilling to vacate and that the landlord is setting up a ground which will be resisted by the tenant. Prima facie, there is a lis. But, the tenant may realise that his case on the basis of his need is not so good as to be set up and that it is a better defence to try to expose the hollowness of the ground advanced by the landlord. The necessity to consider the need of the tenant cannot, in my opinion, be placed on a higher footing than the need to consider the case actually set up by a party in ordinary litigation governed by the law of pleadings.

In other words, the duty to consider the needs of the tenant depends for its performance on the fact that the need should have been urged by the tenant himself as a defence. And, our answer that the tenant's need must be considered whenever set up does not lay down what weight it should be given in a particular case. The weight to be attached to the need of the tenant in a particular case must naturally depend upon the particular facts and circumstances of that case. We only hold that the need of the tenant is a very relevant circumstance. And, the duty to take into account is only a part of the duty to consider all relevant facts and circumstances.

17. Another respect in which the Supreme Court, in L. Shree Bhagwan's case, AIR 1965 SC 1767 (supra), overrides the view taken by Desai, C.J. in Parmeshwar Dayal's case, AIR 1964 SC 7 (FB),(supra) is that the power to grant permission to sue was held by the Supreme Court to be not untrammeled. It was exercisable only in a manner which indicated that it had been exercised on justifiable grounds. It followed from the Supreme Court's view that reasons should be indicated by the authority acting under either Section 3(1) or Section 3(3) or 7-F of the Act. And, this is precisely the view taken by another recent Full Bench of this Court in Smt. Saraswati Devi v. State of U. P., Civil Misc. Writ No. 179 of 1966 connected with Civil Misc. Writ No. 4644 of 1966, decided on 14-5-1968 (All). On the other hand, the view taken by Desai, C. J. in Parmeshwar Dayal's case, AIR 1964 All 7 (FB) (supra), was that Section 3(1) of the Act gave 'unfettered and unguided powers,' because it did not contain any indication of the grounds upon which the power was to be exercised. It naturally followed from the view taken by Desai, C. J. that no reasons need be given by the authority which exercises the power to grant or to refuse the landlord's application for permission to sue.

18. With very great respect, I may observe that the view taken by Desai, C. J. widened the scope of the power conferred by Section 3(1) of the Act so much that its constitutionality could be questioned. If a power is so wide that it can be used to discriminate between citizen and citizen, placed in identical positions, without any effective means of checking possible abuse of that power, the provision conferring the power may be unconstitutional. There is, however, a presumption that the legislature does not intend to violate the Constitution. The presumption of constitutionality is strong enough to enable courts to look outside the provision conferring the power for possible checks on the exercise of power which may have been intended by the legislature. The Supreme Court found these checks in the very nature of the function to be performed under Section 3(1) and in the purpose and policy of the Act and referred to the preamble for this reason. It subjected the power conferred upon the authority which could grant permission to sue to the rules of natural justice and reason in the light of the purposes of the enactment. The Supreme Court's view thus saves the provisions of Section 3(1) of the Act from the vice of unconstitutionality.

19. The view taken by Desai, C. J., and S. D, Singh, J. was based upon the assumption that the authorities entrusted with the power of granting permission to sue would act reasonably even though the power was 'unfettered and unguided'. It was based on the presumption that the authorities invested with wide discretion will not abuse it. However, the Supreme Court having interpreted thescope and nature of powers under Section 3(1) of the Act has made it clear now that the power contained therein was not unbridled in law. It was a Dower to be exercised quasi-judicially and on relevant facts and circumstances disclosed by reasoned orders. It follows that every relevant circumstance placed before the authorities must be considered by them, and, in order to be able to do so, they must afford a reasonable opportunity to each side to place its case. Our answer that the authorities are bound to consider the need of the tenant rests on the assumption that the tenant will put forward his need for consideration before these authorities when he is given an opportunity to be heard.

20. I find myself in complete agreement with my learned brother.

BY THE COURT

21. Our answer to the question is:

'The District Magistrate is bound to consider also the need of the tenant for the accommodation, if such a case is set up by him.'

The record of the case will now go back to the Special Appeal Bench for decision of the appeal on merits.


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