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Shyam Sunder Lal Vs. Lakshmi NaraIn Mathur - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy;Civil
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSection 25 Appln. No. 90 of 1955
Judge
Reported inAIR1961All347
ActsUttar Pradesh (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947 - Sections 7, 7A and 17; Uttar Pradesh (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Rules - Rule 4; Contract Act, 1872 - Sections 23 and 65; Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887 - Sections 25
AppellantShyam Sunder Lal
RespondentLakshmi NaraIn Mathur
Appellant AdvocateSri Ramjee, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateG.B. Lal and ;K.S. Verma, Advs.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Excerpt:
(i)tenancy - rights and powers of landlord - proviso to section 7-a of u. p. (temporary) control of rent and eviction act, 1947 - landlord has no right to let accommodation to any person he likes if nature of accommodation is such that provisions of act applies to it - if there is any undue delay or district magistrate otherwise considers it inexpedient he may not evict unauthorized occupant - but occupation and agreement between landlord and tenant does not become valid in law. (ii) contract - void agreement - section 7 (2) of u. p. (temporary) control of rent and eviction act, 1947 and section 65 of contract act, 1872 - agreement to let accommodation - entered in contravention of section 7 (2) - agreement is void - defeats the very purpose of u. p. act - section 65 of contract act.....b.n. nigam, j. 1. shyam sunder lal filed suit no. 139 of 1954 in the court of munsif unnao south, exercising jurisdiction of judge small causes, claiming a decree for rs. 240/- from lakshmi narain on account of rent from 1st of december, 1952 to 31st july, 1954. the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was his tenant at rs. 12/- per mensem and had not paid the amount despite demand. the defence was that the rent up to february, 1954 had been paid up. it was further pleaded that the agreement regarding payment of rent was itself void and the plaintiff could not recover the amount. the reason for the agreement being void was that it was entered into in contravention of the express provisions of the u. p. (temporary) control of rent and eviction act (u. p. act iii of 1947). the plaintiff.....
Judgment:

B.N. Nigam, J.

1. Shyam Sunder Lal filed suit No. 139 of 1954 in the court of Munsif Unnao South, exercising jurisdiction of Judge Small Causes, claiming a decree for Rs. 240/- from Lakshmi Narain on account of rent from 1st of December, 1952 to 31st July, 1954. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was his tenant at Rs. 12/- per mensem and had not paid the amount despite demand. The defence was that the rent up to February, 1954 had been paid up.

It was further pleaded that the agreement regarding payment of rent was itself void and the plaintiff could not recover the amount. The reason for the agreement being void was that it was entered into in contravention of the express provisions of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act (U. P. Act III of 1947). The plaintiff refuted the suggestion that U. P. Act III of 1947 was applicable to the building and pleaded that the building had been constructed in January, 1951. The learned trial Judge thereupon framed the following issues:

1. Whether rent from 1st of December, 1952 to the end of February 1954 is due to the plaintiff or it has been paid off by the defendant as alleged?

2. Whether the contract of tenancy is void and unenforceable as alleged in para 9 of the written statement and the oral pleas?

3. To what relief, if any, is the plaintiff entitled?

The learned trial Judge decided issue No. 1 in favour of the defendant and issue No. 2 against the plaintiff. He also held that the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act was applicable to the building in question. He accordingly dismissed the plaintiff's suit with costs. Against that judgment and decree, Shyam Sunder Lal plaintiff has filed this revision application under Section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act.

The revision came up before a learned Single Judge and has been referred to a Bench as the learned Single Judge was of opinion that the question raised was one of general importance and may also require consideration of the constitutional right of the person to dispose of the property. That is how this revision application has been listed before us. In this revision application we have heard the learned counsel for the applicant and the learned counsel for the opposite party.

2. No question of the validity of U. P. Act III of 1947 has been raised before us, nor was it at! any time raised in the trial court or even in the grounds of revision. We have, therefore, to confine ourselves to the interpretation of the provisions of U. P. Act III of 1947 and to determination whether letting had been forbidden by the District Magistrate under Section 7 (2) of U. P. Act III of 1947 and whether an agreement as regards letting out on rent is void and unenforceable in courts of law.

3. The first contention of the learned counsel for the applicant is that there is no absolute prohibition On letting. The contention of the learned counsel is that the whole intention of the Act was to control the process of letting and not to deprive the owner of the building of the right to let it out to any one of his choice. The argument goes on to state that all the power that has been conferred on the District Magistrate or his delegate amounts to only a choice of the person to whom the accommodation must be let

The learned counsel's argument thus is that the purpose of the Act and the correct interpretation of its provisions is that a landlord has still the right and the power to let out accommodation but the choice of the person in whose favour this contract must be made has been limited by law and the power to choose a person to whom the accommodation must he given is now vested in the District Magistrate. The learned counsel draws our attention to the provisions of Section 7 of U. P. Act III of 1947. The section so far as it is relevant for our discussion reads:

'7. (1) (a) Every landlord shall.......give notice of the vacancy in writing to the District Magistrate.

(b) .............

(c) ............

(2) The District Magistrate may by general or special order require a landlord to let or not to let to any person any accommodation which is or has fallen vacant or is about to fall vacant.

(3) .............

(4) ............. '

It is agreed that a general notice under Section 7 (2) requiring landlords not to let out accommodation falling vacant to any person other than the person in whose favour an allotment has been made either by the District Magistrate or by the Rent Control and Eviction Officer has been issued and is applicable to the premises in question. We would like to point out that the finding as regards the date of the construction has not been challenged before us.

4. The learned counsel, however, points out that the proviso to Section 7-A (1) provides that no order 'under this section shall be passed if the District Magistrate is satisfied that there has been undue delay or it is otherwise inexpedient to do so. The contention of the learned counsel is that if an unauthorised tenant occupies the accommodation or a person in whose favour no allotment order has been passed is permitted to occupy the accommodation, the District Magistrate is not in every case bound to take action under Section 7-A of U. P. Act III of 1947; but may, in case of undue delay or if he considers such action otherwise inexpedient, permit the unauthorised person or the person in whose favour no allotment order has been passed to continue in occupation of the accommodation.

We are unable to agree with the learned counsel. Proviso to Section 7A does not affect or touch upon the rights of the landlord to let out the accommodation. These are, in our view, two separate tilings. The right of the landlord to let has been absolutely restricted. He has no right to let out the accommodation to any person he likes if the accommodation is such that the provisions of this Act apply to it. The District Magistrate has an independent and separate right under Section 7A and it is to the effect that he may evict the unauthorised occupant

The proviso relied upon by the learned counsel relates only to this further power and if there has been some undue delay or the District Magistrate otherwise considers it inexpedient to take such action, he may not evict that person who is not in authorised occupation of the premises. That, however, does not make either the occupation or the agreement between the landlord and this person valid in law.

5. Again, the learned counsel has referred to the provisions of Rule 4 of the rules framed under Section 17 of the U. P. Act III of 1947, This rule relates to the landlord's right to let and reads:

'If the landlord receives no notice from the District Magistrate within SO days of the receipt by District Magistrate of the intimation given by the landlord under Section 7 (1) (a) the landlord may nominate a tenant and the District Magistrate shall allot the accommodation to his nominee, unless, for reasons to be recorded in writing, he forthwith allots the accommodation to any other person'.

In our opinion this rule does not restore the power to enter into an agreement to the landlord. This is only a safeguard of rents in favour of the landlord. He is not to be made to suffer for the neglect of the District Magistrate or the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and is not to lose his rents beyond a period of one month.

If, within that period of 30 days of the notification of the vacancy by the landlord, the District Magistrate does not allot the accommodation to any one, the landlord may nominate a person and the District Magistrate shall direct the landlord to lease the accommodation in favour of the person so named, unless he himself names another person forthwith. The emphasis appears to us to be on the words 'within 30 days' and 'forthwith' and the whole idea appears to be to avoid heavy loss of rents, i.e. loss in excess of rent for one month whenever a vacancy has been duly notified to the District Magistrate.

6. The next contention of the learned counsel is that such an agreement is not void in view of the provisions of Section 23 of the Contract Act (Act No. IX of 1872). We have already held that the provisions of U. P. Act III of 1947 forbid a landlord from entering into an agreement of letting out accommodation except in accordance with the direction or allotment order issued by the District Magistrate or his delegate, the Rent Control and Eviction Officer, Section 23 of the Contract Act (ays down:

'The consideration or object of an agreement is lawful unless -

it is forbidden in law; or

is of such a nature that if permitted it would

defeat the provisions of any law; or

is fraudulent or

involves or implies injury to the person or property of another; or

the court regards it as immoral, or opposed to

public policy.

In each of these cases, the consideration or object of an agreement is said to be unlawful Every agreement of which the object or consideration is unlawful is void.'

We are here concerned only with three parts of this section :

1. Is forbidden by law;

2. Is of such a nature that, if permitted, it would defeat the provisions of any law; and

3. Is opposed to public policy.

It is needless for us to discuss this matter in any great detail as it is clear to us that if such contracts are permitted, they would defeat the very purpose of U. P. Act III of 1947. They would contravene the prohibitory order issued by the District Magistrate and would involve every District Magistrate into numerous actions under Section 7A in order to control letting and even action under Section 7A may not furnish a complete remedy inasmuch as before an allotment order could be passed another unauthorised person may occupy the accommodation.

It is thus clear that if such agreements are permitted, they would defeat the provisions and infact the very purpose of U. P. Act III of 1947. Being of that view it is not necessary for us to consider whether such agreements are forbidden by law and opposed to public policy. We will however briefly indicate that for reasons, which are apparent, such contracts are certainly opposed to public policy which, in our view, is to control letting in view of the scarcity of accommodation and also to control rents that may be demanded in respect of buildings constructed before January 1951,

7. We would now briefly refer to a few of the rulings that have been cited before us. The earliest Allahabad case to which we have been referred is Gauri Shanker v. Mumtaz All Khan, ILR 2 All 411 (FB). This case will not help the learned counsel as it was held therein :

'There is nothing in Regulation VI of 1819 which makes a contract of the nature of that between defendant and Badal illegal, nor has the Circular Order No, 22 of 1874 of the Executive Engineer, Allahabad Division, the force of law, assuming that the contract is forbidden by that Circular; so we cannot say that this contract is void under the two first grounds in Section 23 of the Contract Act, and we cannot hold it to be void under any of the other grounds which renders a contract absolutely void. Its object is not fraudulent. We cannot say that it involves or implies injury to the person or property of another, or that the Court can regard its object as immoral or opposed to public policy.'' Thus in that particular case on the facts of that case it was held that the agreement was not contrary to any law or was not likely to defeat the provisions of any law.

8. The next Allahabad case is a Single Judge case of Habib Ahmad v. Mt. Keoti Kuer : AIR1946All328 . In this case it was held:

'The notification (under the Defence of India Rules) of the Collector of Saharanpur was in the first instance subsequent to the date of the forfeiture and could not have a retrospective effect. Even if it were of a prior date, I do not think that it can debar a civil court from passing a decree for ejectment.'

In this case also the orders restrained and affected the decree-holders and not the courts. The next case to which we have been referred is Sharan Behari Lal v. Kanhaiya Lal : AIR1953All276 . The case considered the question of a contract entered into by a legal practitioner and held that such a contract was not void. It Was held that Rule 26 of the rules framed under Section 6, Legal Practitioners Act was a rule of discipline or conduct and did not prohibit either expressly or impliedly the making of a contract. It was held that such contract was not void for the reason that it was prohibited by law or opposed to public policy. Discussing the matter in paragraph 9 the learned Judges stated:

'The power conferred on the High Court for the purpose of framing the rule, was limited to the specific object of prescribing the conditions under which legal practitioners should be admitted and practise before it or in the Courts subordinate thereto, or under which they could be removed or suspended from practice. The High Court was not given the power of declaring void contracts entered into by legal practitioners in the course of trade or business, because that power appertains to the field of contracts and not to the practice of the profession of law. Since the High Court had no power to make a rule rendering a contract entered into by a legal practitioner void, if it made such a rule, the rule itself would be void, and so the rule in question cannot be read as impliedly rendering a contract void.'

It is thus clear that it was held that a contract entered into by a legal practitioner was not void. Reliance was then placed on the case of Mt. Bhagwan Dei v. Murari Lal, (1916) 14 All LJ 962 : (AIR 1917 All 462) (FB), and the remarks of Walsh, J. in that case to the effect:

'With regard to the rules, I think it very doubtful whether the power to make rules relating to the appointment, dismissal and so forth of a patwari, under Section 234 confers any right to qualify the general law with regard to contracts or anything else, and I think the draftsman who drew these rules knew his business too well and therefore omitted to do any such thing,'

The whole law was summarised by the learned Judges in paragraph 34 of this 1953 ruling : AIR1953All276 , and it was stated that it appeared that the following propositions were deducible from the decided cases:

1. The question whether a particular transaction falls within the purview of a prohibitory statute is manifestly one of construction.

2. When a transaction is forbidden, the grounds of the prohibition are immaterial,

3. The imposition or non-imposition of penalty by the legislature for a specific act or omission is no sure criterion whether the legislature intended to prohibit the contract. Even in cases where a penalty is provided for the breach of statutory provision, the contract need not necessarily be considered to be void. The absence o a penalty does not prevent the contract from being held void.

4. If the context shows that the object of the legislature in imposing conditions for the conduct of any particular business Or profession is the maintenance of public order or safety or health, whether or not it was also for the protection of revenue, the non-observance of the conditions renders the contract void.

5. Whether the prohibitions or conditions imposed for the conduct of any particular business or profession are intended for the benefit of a particular class of persons dealing with those on whom the condition is imposed the contract between such persons and the persons for whose benefit conditions are imposed is rendered void.

6. Whether the conditions are imposed merely for a collateral purpose for the convenient collection of the revenue or for the maintenance of discipline in a case of persons or for the dignity or integrity of a certain profession and is not intended for the benefit of persons dealing with the person on whom the condition is imposed the contract is not void. We respectfully agree with the views expressed in this decision and we are of opinion that in the particular circumstances of this case it must be held that the contract is void. The grounds, therefore, need not be examined. It is not necessary for us to go in any detail in the case of Ram Singh v. ML Raghubansa, AIR 1923 Oudh 3, as this case also relates to the conduct of a pleader. The case of London and Lancashire Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Binoy Krishna Mitra : AIR1945Cal218 , does not help in the decision of this case as it was therein held that a threat to prosecute did not vitiate a subsequent contract. In that particular case the money was due since before. The case Pratabmuil Rameshwar v. K.C. Sethia (1944) Ltd., : AIR1960Cal702 , is clearly distinguishable as in this case it was held that it could not be said that the awards themselves require the seller to do anything which was against the law of India. Therefore, neither the agreement to arbitrate nor the awards as such are against the public policy of India. It was, therefore, held in the circumstances of the case that the transaction was not void. That of course is a question to be determined on the circumstances of each case.

9. The learned counsel for the respondent has referred us to Sundrabai Sitaram v. Manohar Dhondu, AIR 1933 Bom 262. This case goes on a little further and holds that a purchase made against service rules is void,. The reference was, however, not to the provisions of service regulations but to the provisions of Section 33 of the Bombay District Police Act (Bombay Act IV of 1890). The Allahabad case in 14 All LJ 962 : (AIR 1917 All 462) (FB) (supra), in respect of a particular Patwari was distinguished on the statement:

'It may be pointed out, however, that in the Allahabad case the transaction was prohibited by one of the Government Servants' Conduct Rules, and not, as here, by Statute.'

In the present case the transaction is forbidden by a statute and therefore this ruling will furnish a good guide. The last case relied on by the learned counsel for the applicant is P. Bhushayya v. k. Chinnapareddi : AIR1960AP39 . This case lays down that where a statute merely imposes a penalty without declaring a contract to be illegal or void, the imposition of penalty by itself does not have the effect of making the contract made in contravention of a specific provision of the statute illegal or void. It must, therefore, be seen whether the statute was designed as a whole to further a public policy.

That question is not raised before us. It has not been suggested, and in fact we are of opinion that it could not be urged, that the provisions of U. P. Act III of 1947 were not in furtherance of a public policy. In this case it was held that admission to a partnership was not illegal and the law specifically recognised even a partner which was not reported to the authorities (sic). It was further held :

'Though the omission to intimate within the prescribed time may expose the persons concerned to a fine only, it does not appear that the intention of the rule is to declare the partnership illegal or invalid, because if that was so the rule would not have provided that the unlicensed partner would also be liable for all the terms and conditions of the licence on his becoming a partner. This means that notwithstanding the omission to give intimation of an unlicensed person becoming a partner with a licensed person, he will still be responsible for the terms and conditions of the licence.'

It was on the facts of that case held that such an admission to partnership was not void.

10. On a consideration o the particular facts before us, we are definitely of opinion that such a contract, i.e. letting of accommodation in contravention of order passed under Section 7 (2) of U. P. Act III of 1947, would certainly defeat the provisions of the law and would also be against public policy. We are, therefore, of opinion that the consideration is unlawful and the agreement or the contract between the parties is void. It, therefore, follows that no effect can be given to such a contract. It has been laid) down in Waman Shriniwas Kini v. Ratilal Bhagwandas and Co. : AIR1959SC689 :

'This section prohibits Sub-letting and makes it unlawful for a tenant to assign or to transfer his interest in the premises let to him ..... This would apply to contracts also as all contracts would fall under the provisions of the law relating to contracts i.e. Contract Act. An agreement contrary to the provisions of that section (Section 15) would be unenforceable as being in contravention of the express provision of the Act which prohibits it.'

Again, referring to the case of Surajmull Nagoremull v. Triton Insurance Co. , their Lordships quoted with approval the following passage:

'No Court can enforce as valid that which competent enactments have declared shall not be valid, nor is obedience to such an enactment a thing from which a Court can be dispensed by the consent of the parties, or by a failure to plead or to argue the point at the outset ...'

Referring to the case of Norwich Corporation v. Norwich Electric Tramways Co., (1906) 2 KB 119, their Lordships quoted the following passage:

'The case is not like that of a provision in an agreement which is for the benefit of one of the parties and which he may waive. This is a provision in an Act of Parliament, which, though to some extent it may be for the benefit of the parties to the difference, must be regarded as inserted in the interest of the .public also.'

In Moti Chand v. Ikram-Ullah Khan, AIR 1916 PC 59, it has been held that all devices, arrangements and agreements in contravention of the public policy are illegal and void and could not be enforced in any civil or revenue court.

11. We are, therefore, of opinion that this contract being against the statute is void and cannot be enforced.

12. The learned counsel next urges that in any case Section 65 of the Contract Act would be applicable and the defendant having received certain advantages should restitute them to the plaintiff. In terms Section 65 has no application to the facts of the case. This is not a case that an agreement is 'discovered to be void or in which a contract 'becomes void. Therefore the provisions of Section 65 of the Contract Act will not strictly speaking, apply.

13. The learned counsel has, however, referred to four cases. The first case is that of Mahabal Singh v. Ram Raj : AIR1950All604 . That was a case of an usufructuary mortgage of an occupancy holding which was held to be void. It was, however, held that the so-called mortgagor was not entitled to recover possession of the occupancy holding, without being called upon to return the consideration. That was a case of adjustment of equities at the time of restoring possession and not restitution, of any benefits already received under the illegal contract.

In Anderson Ltd. v. Daniel, 1924-1 KB 138, it was held that as the object of the statute in requiring the vendor to give the statutory invoice and imposing on him a penalty in the event of his default is to protect the purchasers of fertilisers, the effect of non-compliance with the requirement is not merely to render the vendor liable to the penalty, but also to make the sale illegal and preclude the vendor from suing for the price, Thus it was held that in case the sale was void, there could 'be no suit for the price as is stated at page 149 of the report:

'The question of illegality in a contract generally arises in connection with its formation, but it may also arise, as it does here, in connection with its performance. In the former case, where the parties have agreed to something which is prohibited by Act of Parliament, it is indisputable that the contract is unenforceable by either party.'

Again at page 150 of the report it is stated:

'This provision for the delivery of the invoice-is a provision for the way in which contracts for the sale of fertilisers are to be performed, and it' the invoice is not delivered on or before or after the delivery of the articles sold and the vendor has no reasonable excuse for the omission, he will have performed the contract illegally, and he cannot recover the price.'

The case of Kaushal Singh v. Ghanshiam Singh : AIR1956All639 , is also a case of a void mortgage and it was held that the mortgagor is entitled to -recover possession subject to payment of the money received from the mortgagees. The case also followed the earlier Allahabad case of : AIR1950All604 (Supra), and does not lay down any new principle.

14. The last case relied upon by the learned counsel for the applicant is Babulal Swarupchand Shah . v. South Satara (Fixed' Delivery) Merchants' Association Ltd. AIR 1960 Bom 548. The relevant portion occurs in paragraph 15. Their Lordships held:

'We are of the view that where the cause of action is not founded either on the illegal contract or on its breach, the party's right to possess his own chattels will be enforced against those who without any right detain the same or convert it to their own use even if it appears either from the pleadings or evidence led at the trial that they have come in possession of the defendants as a result of an illegal transaction,'

The learned counsel does not seek to recover possession of the accommodation. He wants that the defendant, who has drawn certain benefits under the illegal contract, should be made to compensate the plaintiff. In fact, that would be indirectly seeking advantage of the illegal contract and that, in our opinion, he cannot be allowed to do. For the reasons given above, we are of opinion that the contract in suit was void and the assistance of the court would not be given to the plaintiff in enforcing its terms. We are further of opinion that no damages for use and occupation could be allowed to the plaintiff.

15. It is, therefore, not necessary for us to refer to the question of fact as regard the payment by the defendant of the rent for the period 1-12-1952 to 28-2-1954. We will briefly mention that we do not see any reason to take a view different from the view taken by the learned trial Judge. The learned trial Judge has had the advantage of seeing the demeanour of the witnesses. Ho has believed the particular set of evidence. We cannot regard his conclusions as being perverse or liable to amendment in a proceeding under Section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act,

16. No other point has been pressed before us.

17. We are, therefore, of opinion that there isno force in this revision application and dismiss itwith costs.


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