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Dr. J.R. Bhatia Vs. Smt. Victoria Rani Sahiba and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberWrit Petn. No. 25 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1957All359
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Uttar Pradesh Temporary Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947 - Sections 3 and 7F
AppellantDr. J.R. Bhatia
RespondentSmt. Victoria Rani Sahiba and ors.
Appellant AdvocateS.S. Dhawan, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateT. Rathore, Adv.
DispositionPetition allowed
Excerpt:
.....act, 1947 - powers of execution proceeding - section 3 does not give unfettered power to the rent control and eviction officer to grant or refuse permission to a landlord to file a suit for ejectment. (ii) consideration of matter - section 7-f of u.p.(temporary) control of rent and eviction act, 1947 - rent control and eviction officer failed to consider matter not brought before him - order passed - held, order not illegal or improper. - - it was further alleged that she was an orthodox vaishnava hindu whereas the petitioner was a non-vegetarian and meals were cooked in his portion and she felt miserable. it may be that a writ of certiorari will issue only as against a quasi-judicial tribunal and any order passed by such a tribunal is liable to be quashed both on the ground of..........j. 1. the petitioner was allotted half portion of house no. 11, thornhill road, allahabad, by the rent control and eviction officer by his order dated the 27th of may 1952. this bungalow for the purposes of allotment was divided into two portions. the western portion was in occupation of one sri s. d. khanna and the other portion was in the occupation of sri b. k. nayar.the petitioner who has a large family occupied under the allotment order referred to above the eastern portion of the house. in january 1954 sri s. d. khanna vacated the premises and rani saheba opposite party no. 1 occupied his portion. she is the owner of the house. some dispute arose between the landlady and the petitioner which is not the subject-matter however of the present petition.on or about the 11th of november.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Mehrotra, J.

1. The petitioner was allotted half portion of house No. 11, Thornhill Road, Allahabad, by the Rent Control and Eviction Officer by his order dated the 27th of May 1952. This bungalow for the purposes of allotment was divided into two portions. The western portion was in occupation of one Sri S. D. Khanna and the other portion was in the occupation of Sri B. K. Nayar.

The petitioner who has a large family occupied under the allotment order referred to above the eastern portion of the house. In January 1954 Sri S. D. Khanna vacated the premises and Rani Saheba opposite party No. 1 occupied his portion. She is the owner of the house. Some dispute arose between the landlady and the petitioner which is not the subject-matter however of the present petition.

On or about the 11th of November 1954 the opposite party No. 1 filed an application before the Town Rationing Officer, Allahabad, for permission to file a suit for the ejectment of the petitioner from the half portion in his occupation. Objections were filed by the petitioner against the said application. The objections were supported by an affidavit filed by the petitioner.

The application of the opposite party for permission to eject the petitioner was rejected by the Rent Control and Eviction Officer, by his order dated the 25th of April 1955. A revision was filed against the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer to the Additional Commissioner. During the pendency of the revision an application was filed by Rani Saheba before the Additional Commissioner.

According to the petitioner she by this application changed the nature of her case. In the application which was filed before the Additional Commissioner it was further alleged by her that a number of visitors were visiting the petitioner every day which caused great inconvenience to Rani Saheba. It was further alleged that she was an orthodox Vaishnava Hindu whereas the petitioner was a non-vegetarian and meals were cooked in his portion and she felt miserable.

She further stated in that application that she had connections with the Royal family of Nepal and other distinguished Rajput families of India. The members of those families were often visiting her and she found it impossible for her to accommodate the guests in the small accommodation available to her. This application was filed in October 1955 not supported by any affidavit.

The revision was allowed by the Additional Commissioner by his order dated the 28th of October 1955. This order of the Additional Commissioner has been challenged by means of the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

2. Shrimati Victoria Rani Saheba, the Additional Commissioner, Allahabad, and the Rent Control and Eviction Officer have been impleaded as the opposite parties to the petition. Notices were issued to the opposite parties and a counter-affidavit has been filed on behalf of Rani Saheba. In the Counter-affidavit some of the allegations regarding the dispute have been denied.

It is not necessary to refer to those facts. It is stated however in the counter-affidavit that Rani Saheba was the owner of bungalow No. 1 Stanley Road which was acquired by the Government for the Fire-brigade Station. She thereupon insisted upon the President, Court of Wards, to purchase a bungalow for her and No. 11, Thornhill Road, was purchased by her for Rs. 77,000/-and on the suit of the Deputy Commissioner, Pratapgarh, Sri Khanna was ejected from the portion now occupied by her.

The sale deed in her favour was executed on the 6th of November 1950. From the time she entered into this house she had a desire to occupy the other portion also. There are certain allegations about the default committed by the petitioner in the payment of rent but it is not necessary for the disposal of the present application, to deal with them. It is further alleged in the counter-affidavit that the petitioner promised to vacate the house.

It is also alleged in the counter-affidavit that an affidavit was filed in support of the application made before the Additional Commissioner and a copy of the affidavit and application was given to Sri L. Chandra, Advocate for the petitioner, in the revision before the Commissioner.

3. The fact that she is a pardanashin lady is one of the grounds on which she had sought permission before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer. This fact was stated in her application to the District Magistrate, Allahabad, which was sent to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and as the matter had not been considered by the Rent Control and Eviction Officer the petitioner moved an application before the Additional Commissioner referred to above.

4. The petition is based on three grounds; firstly, it is contended by the petitioner's counsel that the power of the Commissioner to interfere with an order passed by the Bent Control and Eviction Officer arises only when the order is illegal, irregular or improper.

In the present case the Additional Commissioner has set aside the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer on considerations whichare outside the ambit of Section 7-F of the Act; secondly, it was contended that the order of the Additional Commissioner is based on grounds whichare outside the purview of Section 3 of the Rent Control and Eviction Act; and lastly, it was contended that the grounds on which the AdditionalCommissioner had granted permission to the opposite party No. 1 depended upon questions of factand it was not open to the Additional Commissioner to have based his decision on those factswithout giving sufficient opportunity to the petitioner to controvert those facts.

These facts were never alleged before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and if they had been raised before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer the petitioner would have had opportunity to meet those allegations.

5. A preliminary objection was raised by the counsel for the opposite party No. 1 that as the order passed by the Rent Control and Eviction Officer under Section 3 of the Act is an administrative order any order passed on revision by the Additional Commissioner would also be an administrative order and this Court in the exercise of its powers under Articles 226 of the Constitution will not interfere with such an order. The distinction between an administrative order and a quasi-Judicial order is not of much practical importance so far as the present case is concerned.

This Court can under Article 226 of the Constitution issue directions and quash administrative orders. It may be that a writ of certiorari will issue only as against a quasi-Judicial tribunal and any order passed by such a tribunal is liable to be quashed both on the ground of want of jurisdiction as well as on the ground of any manifest error of law.

An administrative order can however also be quashed by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution provided it is without jurisdiction or is arbitrary and mala fide. If the order is based on considerations which are outside the ambit of the section which empowers an authority to pass certain order such an order is to my mind clearly without jurisdiction.

If an order is based on questions of fact without giving sufficient opportunity to a party whose rights have been affected by the order to meet those allegations such an order is in violation of the principles of natural justice & can be quashed by this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. The circumstances of each case will have therefore to be examined before granting or refusing relief to the petitioner under Article 226 of the Constitution against a particular order even though it may be an administrative order.

6. The petition which was filed by the opposite party No. 1 before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer has been filed as annexure 'A' to the affidavit filed by the petitioner. In paragraph 7 of the petition it is stated that she is occupying the western portion of the bungalow No. 11 Thornhill Road. The said portion consists only of three rooms with bathrooms etc.

She has a very large family with servants and dependents and is suffering great difficulty and hardship due to the limited space available. The portion she is occupying is hardly sufficient for her needs. Whenever the sisters or other near relations of her's come to Allahabad they have to stay with her and the accommodation in her possession is not sufficient to meet, her requirements. In these circumstances she prayed for permission to file a suit for ejectment of the petitioner.

7. In this application there is no mention of any other ground on which she claimed permission for filing a suit. The Rent Control and Eviction Officer inspected the premises and in his order has observed that on inspection he found the portion in the occupation of Rani Saheba to be sufficient for her needs. He further observed that there was some dispute between the parties.

He rejected the petition on the clear finding that her needs were not genuine, and the application was inspired by the fact that there was some dispute between the parties. The Additional Commissioner in his order allowing the revision observed that the accommodation occupied by the landlady was sufficient for her although she was probably put to some inconvenience. He however observed that the main question for him to determine was not whether the accommodation was sufficient for her but whether her needs were genuine. In considering that question a number of other factors had to be taken into account and in his opinion the landlady was inconvenienced and embarrassed due to her observing pardah.

Even the male servants were not allowed to appear before the ladies of the house and thus the presence of a stranger within the compound could be a source of inconvenience and. embarrassment. On that ground he was of the opinion that the need of the landlady was genuine although she had sufficient accommodation.

In view of this order passed by the Additional Commissioner two questions arise for consideration: firstly, whether the grounds on which the order had been passed are within the ambit and scope of Section 3 of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act, and secondly, whether sufficient opportunity had been given to the petitioner to rebut the allegations made by the landlady that she observes pardah and is thus inconvenienced by the presence of a stranger in the compound.

To my mind Section 3 does not give unfettered powers to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer to grant or refuse permission to a landlord to file a suit for ejectment. The power is to be exercised having regard to the object and the purpose underlying the whole Act. The object of the Rent Control Act is not only to regulate the letting of the houses or to control the rent but also to regulate the ejectment of the tenants.

This is a legislation which had to be passed due to the scarcity of accommodation and consequently it will be going beyond the very object of the Act and defeating its purpose if powers were given to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer to grant or refuse permission on their sweet-will unguided by the rules of conduct laid down in the Act itself. In this view of the matter it cannot be said that Section 3 of the Act gives unfettered and unguided powers to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer.

8. If the reasonings given by the Additional Commissioner are regarded as a relevant consideration for refusing or granting permission it would be giving very wide powers to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer to grant or refuse permission. In substance the reasoning of the Additional Commissioner is that as the opposite party No. 1 is a young widow belonging to a respectable family and generally observes pardah the presence of a stranger in the compound will greatly embarrass her and inconvenience her.

That to my mind cannot be regarded as a ground having any relevance to the object or the purpose of the Act. Sometimes even men feel embarrassed and inconvenienced if strangers whose way of life is different are allowed to share with them a portion of the house but such an inconvenience and embarrassment are mostly the attitude of an individual's mind and they cannot be regarded as a ground which has-any relevance to the object underlying the Act.

In all cases where the owner is occupying a portion, his interests have been safeguarded by enacting Rules 6 and 7 of the Rules framed under the Act; but where a portion of the accommodation is already in the occupation of a tenant and during the continuance of this occupation the other portion comes into occupation of the landlord he cannot take advantage of his position and get permission to eject the tenant on the mere ground that the very presence of the tenant in the other portion inconveniences the landlord or is embarrassing to him.

There is nothing in Section 3 which lays down as a condition for grant of the permission that the tenant should be provided with any alternative accommodation and if such a power is given to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer to grant permission on the ground that the landlord occupying a portion feels embarrassed or inconvenienced the tenant would be thrown on the street on the sweet-will of the landlord which would be defeating the very object of the Act.

In my opinion therefore the considerations on which the Additional Commissioner had set aside the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and had recommended that she should be granted permission is outside the scope of Section 3 having regard to the object of the legislation.

9. The second point urged by the petitioner's counsel has also to my mind some force. The prayer to grant the permission or to refuse permission has been given to the District Magistrate which includes the Rent Control and Eviction Officer. No such power has been given to the Commissioner.

A power has been given to the Commissioner under Section 7-P to pass any suitable order in case he finds that the order of the Rent Control & Eviction Officer is illegal, irregular or improper. Even assuming that the consideration on which the Additional Commissioner had set aside the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and granted permission to the opposite party No. 1 to file a suit for ejectment, is a relevant consideration within the meaning of Section 3, the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer cannot be regarded as illegal or improper if in that order he had failed to consider that matter unless the matter was brought before him.

I have already referred to the application made by the opposite party No. 1 for permission and there is no mention in that application of the fact that the landlady observes pardah and as such the very presence of a stranger in a part of the bungalow is embarrassing to her and has considerably inconvenienced her.

Unless that matter was brought before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and he had an occasion to apply his mind to that fact the existence of that fact could not be assumed by the Commissioner and he could not set aside the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer on the ground that the Rent Control and Eviction Officer acted improperly inasmuch as he ignored a relevant consideration.

10. It was contended by the counsel for the other side that a letter had been sent to the District Magistrate by the opposite party No. 1 earlier in which it was pointed out that she was a pardanashin lady. This letter had been forwarded to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer and consequently it must have been before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer when he passed the order under Section 3.

It cannot therefore be urged that the consideration which weighed with the Additional Commissioner was not pointed out to the Rent Control and Eviction Officer. This letter has been filed as annexure 'D' to the counter-affidavit and it reads as follows:

'I am the owner of 11 Thornhill Road and am living in half portion of the same bungalow. The other half is occupied by Mr. Bhatia. I am a widow and am living here with two of my mother-in-laws. Being a widow and there being no male members in my family I would not like to share the house with any one else. There is no privacy in the house and the accommodation at our disposal is not sufficient.'

In this letter it is not said that the landlady observes pardah and as such she would be inconvenienced by the presence of a stranger in the other half of the house. The whole ground in this letter is that she is a widow and there being no male member she will not like to share the house with anyone else and there is no privacy in the house.

If the other portion of the house has been occupied by a non-member of a family there was obviously no privacy left in the house but it is not the same ground as alleging that the landlady observes pardah and she does not appear before strangers and as such she will feel embarrassed or inconvenienced if a stranger is allowed to remain in the other part of the house.

It is therefore clear that the ground on which the Additional Commissioner had based his decision was not urged before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer. He never applied his mind to those facts and therefore his failure to consider this point in his order will not make the order either illegal or improper.

11. The last point which was urged was that the Additional Commissioner acted illegally in relying upon the application made, by the opposite party No. 1 during the course of the revision without giving sufficient opportunity to his client to rebut the allegations of fact made in that application.

In the counter-affidavit it is stated that an affidavit in support of the petition was subsequently filed, a copy of the application and affidavit was given to Sri L. Chandra, the counsel for the petitioner, and as such it is urged that sufficient opportunity was given to the petitioner's counsel to refute the allegations of fact made in that application. It was clear from the application filed by the opposite party No. 1 before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer as well as the order passed by him that the fact that the opposite party No. 1 was a pardanashin lady was never before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer.

In these circumstances if this fact was sought to be brought on the record by means of a subsequent application, even assuming that such an application was supported by an affidavit, during the course of the revision and the revisional authority considered it desirable to investigate that question it should have given an opportunity to the other side to rebut those facts if so desired by means of la counter-affidavit.

It could have even after setting aside the order of the Rent Control and Eviction Officer directed the Rent Control and Eviction Officer to consider the evidence and then to give its decision on the question of fact; but it was not open to the revisional authority to assume the fact to be correct without giving sufficient opportunity to the petitioner to meet those allegations.

By merely giving a copy of the application and the affidavit to the counsel for the other side it cannot be regarded as sufficient opportunity to the petitioner to meet those allegations. In my opinion therefore the order of the Additional Commissioner must be set aside.

12. I therefore allow this petition, andquash the order of the Additional Commissionerdated, the 28th of October, 1955. As the petitionerin spite of the service of the copy of the application and the affidavit did not move the Commissioner for grant of a specific opportunity to meetthose allegations of fact he is not entitled to hiscosts. The parties will bear their own costs.


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