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Rameshwar Dayal Vaish Vs. Mani Lal Tripathi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 912 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1977All534
ActsEvidence Act, 1872 - Sections 114; Transfer of Property Act, 1882 - Sections 108(1); Uttar Pradesh (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947 - Sections 3(1)
AppellantRameshwar Dayal Vaish
RespondentMani Lal Tripathi
Appellant AdvocateSuresh Kumar Gupta, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.C. Saxena, Adv.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
.....eviction act, 1947 - tenant paid rent to landlord by money order - presumption can be made that rent received by landlord - onus of proving non receipt of rent depends upon landlord. - - 49/- by money order on 16-12-1967. the courts below came to the conclusion that on receipt of the notice of demand the defendant failed to pay the rent for five months which the notice required him to pay, hence more than three months' rent was due on the date of notice and consequently the defendant had committed default and was liable to ejectment. 6. therefore, the vital question which emerges for decision is whether the appellant has failed to prove the payment of renf for july 1967 which he remitted by money order on 2-8-1967. if the payment of this amount is proved, then surely the plaintiff..........on 2-8-1967 by money order is not proved), the plaintiff was justified in refusing to accept the rent remitted for months subsequent to july 1967. if this argument be accepted, the respondent's further submission is that even if payment of rs. 80/- by money order dated 4-12-1967 is assumed, it will liquidate only the liability of four months at the rate of rs. 20/- per month and fall short of the amount claimed in the notice by rs. 20/- i.e. one month's rent, and consequently the default would be proved and the liability for ejectment would be fastened on the defendant. 6. therefore, the vital question which emerges for decision is whether the appellant has failed to prove the payment of renf for july 1967 which he remitted by money order on 2-8-1967. if the payment of this amount is.....
Judgment:

M.N. Shukla, J.

1. This is defendant's second appeal against the decree and judgment of the Court below decreeing the plaintiff's suit for rent and ejectment.

2. The case of the plaintiff-respondent in brief was that he was the owner and landlord of premises No. 106/115 Ram Park, Gandhi Nagar, Kanpur and the appellant was his tenant, in occupation of the first floor of that house on a rent of Rs. 20/- per month. The respondent served a notice (Ex. 8) dated 7-12-1967 for demand and ejectment on the appellant on 11-12-1967, asking for five months' rent for the period July 1967 to Nov. 1967, which would work out to a sum of Rs. 100/-. According to the plaint allegations the defendant neither paid the rent nor vacated the premises within the time prescribed. Hence, he made himself liable for ejectment and the suit was accordingly filed.

3. The defence of the appellant was that he had remitted the rent by money order for the months of July, August, Sept. and Oct. 1967, in each of the respective months when it fell due, that shortly before the receipt of the notice he also remitted a sum of Rs. 80/- by money order on 4-12-1967 and that even after the receipt of the notice he remitted another sum of Rs. 49/- by money order on 16-12-1967. The Courts below came to the conclusion that on receipt of the notice of demand the defendant failed to pay the rent for five months which the notice required him to pay, hence more than three months' rent was due on the date of notice and consequently the defendant had committed default and was liable to ejectment. The plaintiff, no doubt, made a general denial in the words 'that no rent was ever tendered to him by money order and he never refused to accept any money order'. But the finding recorded by the lower appellate Court is to the following effect:

Month for which

rent wasremitted.

Date of remitting rent.

Result.

1.

July, 1967

2-8-67

Unknown

2.

August, 1967

12-9-67

Refused

3.

September, 1967

17-10-67

Refused

4.

October, 1967

9-11-67

Refused

4. Besides, as I have already observed above, a sum of Rs. 80/- was remitted by money order by the appellant on 4-12-1967, another sum of Rs. 49/- was also remitted by the appellant on 16-12-1967 and the results of those money orders were unknown. It would be clear at a glance that so far as the first money order dated 2-8-1967 relating to the rent of July 1967 is concerned, its remittance by the defendant is proved but neither the coupon containing the endorsement of acknowledgement was received back by the appellant nor the amount itself, The plaintiff, however, denied receipt of that amount. So far as the money orders for the months of August, September and October 1967 are concerned, there is evidence to prove that they were refused by the plaintiff. I do not find any reason to disturb the finding of fact recorded by the Court below so far as the refusal of the three money orders already mentioned, is concerned. The dispute has, therefore, arisen about the remaining three money orders of the dates viz. 2-8-1967, 4-12-1967 and 16-12-1967. The common feature of all these remittances is that the fact of each remittance has been established by the appellant's evidence but neither the money came back to the remitter nor was the money order coupon bearing endorsement of acknowledgment received by him. In this situation it is contended by the plaintiff-respondent that the payment of the aforesaid three amounts to him has not been proved and the appellant committed default in payment of rent which made him liable for ejectment.

5. So far as refusal of the three money orders is concerned, the argument advanced on behalf of the respondent was that since the rent for the month on July 1967 had not been paid by the defendant (because payment of the amount remitted on 2-8-1967 by money order is not proved), the plaintiff was justified in refusing to accept the rent remitted for months subsequent to July 1967. If this argument be accepted, the respondent's further submission is that even if payment of Rs. 80/- by money order dated 4-12-1967 is assumed, it will liquidate only the liability of four months at the rate of Rs. 20/- per month and fall short of the amount claimed in the notice by Rs. 20/- i.e. one month's rent, and consequently the default would be proved and the liability for ejectment would be fastened on the defendant.

6. Therefore, the vital question which emerges for decision is whether the appellant has failed to prove the payment of renf for July 1967 which he remitted by money order on 2-8-1967. If the payment of this amount is proved, then surely the plaintiff would not be entitled to refuse the later remittances and the academic question as to whether the landlord is entitled to refuse rent offered by the tenant on the ground that the previous rent has not been paid, need not be gone into. It has been proved by conclusive evidence that the appellant remitted on 2-8-1967 the rent for July 1967 by money order. The mere fact that the acknowledgment receipt was not delivered to the appellant would not justify the conclusion that the amount had not been received by the plaintiff-Once remittance is proved, the presumption would arise under Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act that the ordinary course of events was followed and the amount must have been tendered to the addressee and received by him. Presumptions play a vital role in filling the hiatus in evidence where the common course of natural events, human conduct and probabilities make certain inferences prima facie well-founded. The regular course of business of post offices has been frequently pressed into service for raising a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. In Hari Har Banerji v. Ram Shashi Roy, AIR 1918 PC 102 it was held that if a letter properly directed, containing a notice to quit, was proved to have been put into the post office, it might be presumed that the letter reached its destination at the proper time according to the regular course of business of the post office and was received by the person to whom it was addressed, It is significant that in Hari Har Banerji's case the Privy Council stated the rule rather widely and held that such presumption was strengthened by the fact that an acknowledgment receipt signed on behalf of the addressee had been produced. It would be legitimate to deduce from the above observations of the Privy Council that even if such acknowledgment receipt was not forthcoming, the presumption would arise, unless rebutted. Hari Har Banerji's case was followed by the Orissa High Court in Madan Lal v. Union of India : AIR1968Ori234 . In Kanak Lata v. Amal Kumar : AIR1970Cal328 the question about the presumption relating to certificates of posting of letters given by postal authorities arose and their Lordships held that the certificate of posting not only raised the presumption that the letter was duly posted but also that the letter was received by the addressee and the mere denial on oath by the addressee on the receipt of the letter was not held as sufficient to rebut the presumption in favour of the receipt under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. It was observed (at p. 332) :

'Not only is the husband a highly interested witness, his conduct before and after the passing of the decree for restitution of conjugal right makes it highly probable that he has suppressed the truth in regard to the receipt of the aforesaid three letters. We cannot attach any importance to his denial and we hold that he actually received the aforesaid three letters.'

7. I am inclined to echo more or less the same phraseology with regard to the conduct of the plaintiff in the instant case and disbelieve his denial of the money order relating to the rent for the month of July 1967. The presumption with regard to the receipt of letters has in numerous cases been extended to the delivery of money orders. The principle was elaborated by Dhawan, J. in Wasu Ram v. R. L. Sethi, 1963 All WR (HC) 472 in these words :

'The strength of the presumption will vary according to the facts of each case, being strong in the case of registered letters, and strongest in the case of money orders and insured articles the delivery of which cannot be made without observing certain procedures which are prescribed. Rules under Chap. VII of the Post and Telegraph Guide provide that in case of refusal the money order shall be returned to the remitter with the endorsement 'refused'. If the addressee states on oath that he never received the communication, the Court must decide after considering all the surrounding circumstances, whether he should be believed. The question is always one of fact, though I would add as a matter of plain common sense that a denial which is not only bare but barefaced and made by a person who stood to profit by his denial and, therefore, had all the motive in the world to deny, will not ordinarily weaken the presumption.'

8. The same learned Judge in a later case reported in Zareef Khan v. Mukh-tar Ahmad, 1964 All LJ 148 again raised the presumption that the money order had reached the addressee.

9. Such presumption is, no doubt, re-buttable but the burden is on the addressee to prove that the amount remitted by money order was not received by him. In the instant case on this point there is the bare statement of the plaintiff that he did not receive the rent remitted by money order on 2-8-1967. In my opinion that solitary statement would not be sufficient to rebut the presumption arising in favour of the appellant. The weight of the evidence of rebuttal depends on the particular facts of each case and such factors as the credibility of the person against whom the presumption is drawn, circumstantial evidence and so on. If the Court is not inclined to believe the statement of such person in rebuttal, the presumption would prevail.

10. So far as the credibility of the plaintiff in the instant case is concerned, I am constrained to observe that his statement does not inspire confidence. He has been making deliberately false statements. It is on record that he had received the rent for May and June 1967 by money orders and still he made the statement in Court that no rent was ever tendered to him by money order nor did he refuse any money order. The categorical finding of the Court is that at least as many as three successive money orders were refused by him. Coupled with this is also the circumstantial evidence in the case which destroys the value of the evidence in rebuttal. In the first place, the plaintiff never pleaded in his plaint that he had refused the money orders for August, September and October, 1967 for the reason that the rent for the previous month i.e. July 1967 had not been paid to him. In fact, he never disclosed this fact until he gave the notice dated 7-12-1967 in which he claim-ed rent for five months, including the month of July. Secondly, the plaintiff admitted in his cross-examination that the defendant in his reply to the plaintiff's notice had stated that he had sent six money orders but the plaintiff did not controvert that allegation by sending a counter reply. Thirdly, it was also admitted by the plaintiff that in his plaint he had not made any averment to the effect that he had not received the money orders referred to in the defendant's reply to the plaintiff's notice. Fourthly, the fact that the amount remitted was never returned to the remitter is also a significant circumstance. If it had not been actually received by the addressee, it would have been either returned to the remitter at his address or if there was any difficulty in finding him out, its value would have been credited to the Central Government. In this context the following two provisions contained in paras 125 and 126 of Posts and Telegraphs Manual, Volume I, 1941 are very relevant :

'125. If the payee of a money order cannot be found, or if the payee refuses to take payment, the amount of the order shall be returned at once to the remitter free of charge. The commission shall in no case be refunded.

126. If payment of a money order to the payee cannot be effected and the amount cannot be re-paid to the remitter owing to the latter not being found, the order shall be void and its value credited to the Central Government. But, if the payee or remitter subsequently applies for payment, the amount of the order shall be paid to him on the authority of the Audit Officer, provided that application is made before the expiration of one year from the date of issue of the original order.'

11. It was nobody's case that the amount remitted by the money order dated 2-8-1967 was either credited to the Central Government or was returned to the remitter, namely, the defendant.

12. The learned counsel for the respondent Sri K. G. Saxena strenuously urged that the burden lay on the defendant to prove the actual payment or tender of rent for July 1967 to the plaintiff and, therefore, it was incumbent on the defendant to state in his deposition or lead other evidence to the effect that the amount had not been returned to him or credited to the Central Government. This contention is wholly untenable. As already observed, once the fact of remittance is established, the presumption arises in law that the amount was tendered to the addressee and thereafter the entire onus lies on the addressee to prove affirmatively that it was not so tendered or received. It, is significant that in the instant case no such suggestion was even put to the defendant in his cross-examination that the amount remitted by him on 2-8-1967 had been received back by him. it was the duty of the addressee to adduce cogent evidence to prove either the return of the amount to the remitter or its being credited to the Central Government. This may perhaps have been possible by summoning the relevant records of the postal authorities. No such attempt was made by the plaintiff. On the other hand, the appellant took every possible legal step to place before the Court all the documentary evidence available from the postal department to prove how the remittance dated 2-8-1967 had been dealt with. He summoned the postal records and examined D. W. 1 Sri P. D. Tandon, Overseer, Post Offices, who deposed on 24-5-1971 that the record of money orders was destroyed after two years and also proved the letter of the Post Master, Kanpur, produced by the witness saying that the records sought for in the present case were no more available in the office, as the same had already been weeded out in due course of time and further that even the name of the postman could not be ascertained. Since the witness had deposed that some records were not kept at the Kanpur office but were despatched to Delhi with the record which contained the signature of the payee, the appellant summoned all the relevant records from Delhi. On this a reply was received, which is on the record, from the Accounts Officer, Post and Telegraph Department, Delhi, saying that the money orders in question and the connected records had already heen destroyed in that office after the prescribed period of preservation. In these circumstances it is manifest that the plaintiff-respondent failed to rebut the legal presumption which arose in the defendant's favour and it must be held that the rent for July 1967 was received by the plaintiff.

13. The lower appellate Court was in error of law in coming to a contrary conclusion. Its decision was based on a ruling of this Court reported in 1971 All LJ 1399, Gobind Rao v. Kanhaiya Lal in which a Division Bench expressed the opinion that it was not sufficient for the tenant to prove that he remitted the money before the expiry of one month from the service of notice but that he should further establish that the remittance reached the landlord before the expiry of one month. It was also observed in that case that

'the post office, in the case of a money order is an agent of remitter and continues to be so until termination of that agency which takes place when' the money remitted by the remitter has been handed over to the payee.' The observation made in that case can no longer be accepted as laying down the correct law. The Full Bench decision in Bhikha Lal v. Munna Lal : AIR1974All366 to which I was a party, considered the earlier authority and disapproving the same enunciated the rule at p. 482 (of All LJ) : (at pp. 374, 375 of AIR) that in such cases deposit of the cash at a postal money order office will be treated as payment to an agent of the creditor made in 'accordance with the ordinary usage of mankind' and 'handing over of the arrears of rent in cash at the post office must be held to be payment to the appellant's agent, or in the alternative to a common agent of both parties and thus by legal implication to the appellants.'

14. Thus on an over-all consideration of the circumstances of the present case I come to the conclusion that the rent for July 3967 was paid to the plaintiff landlord. Therefore, the plaintiff was not justified in refusing the rent remit' ted by the defendant for August, September and October 1967 and I have no reason to disturb the finding recorded by the Courts below that the aforesaid amounts of rent had been remitted by the defendant but refused by the plaintiff.

15. On this evidence it is also clear that the appellant was not in arrears of rent and the Courts below acted illegally in making him liable for eviction on that erroneous assumption. The notice for demand had been served on the defendant on 11-l2-1967. It has been proved in the case that the appellant had already remitted a sum of Rs. 80/-by money order on 4-12-1967. The demand contained in the notice was with respect to rent for five months i.e. from July to Nov. 1967, The sum of Rs. 80/-remitted by money order on 4-12-1967 covered the rent for four months and as I have found that the rent for July had already been remitted by the appellant by money order on 2-8-1967 and it has not been satisfactorily proved that the plaintiff did not receive that amount hence there was no default. The evidence in this case reveals that the tenant was extremely cautious and took every care to avoid his eviction whereas the landlord was creating a situation in which some kind of default may be proved so as to bring about his ejectment. This conclusion is reinforced by another important circumstance viz, that on 16-12-1967 i.e. only 5 days after the service of the notice the appellant again remitted a sum of Rs. 49/- by money order which included the rent for July 1967 also. This was notwithstanding the fact that he had already remitted the rent for that month and Ms successive money orders for the following months had been refused by the plaintiff. This action of the appellant is whol-ly incompatible with his alleged de-fault in payment of rent or non-com-pliance with the notice of demand in that regard. It is true that the remit-tances by money order made on 4-12-1967 and 16-12-1967 for Rs. 80/- and 49/-respectively met with the same fate as the remittance of the rent for July made on 2-8-1967. In other words, the acknowledgment receipts relating to those money orders were not received by the appellant and the plaintiff stated that the said amounts had not been paid to him. I have already given my reasons in detail for raising a presumption in favour of the appellant under Section 114 of the Evidence Act and the same obser-vations apply with full force to the remittances made on 4-12-1967 and 16-12- 1967. Thus, in no view of the matter can the appellant be said to have been in default so as to make him liable for ejectment. The Courts below committed an error of law in passing a decree for ejectment against the appellant in these circumstances.

16. The learned counsel for the respondent relied on a Division Bench decision of this Court in Ram Babu v. Par-shadi Lal : AIR1964All192 which lays down that if the rent for more than three months had not in fact 'been paid, it must be held that this rent was in arrears, it was immaterial that the tenant had attempted to pay the rent but the landlord had not accepted the same, that an unsuccessful attempt on the part of the tenant to pay rent also amounted to default, even though the failure of the attempt could be attributed to the landlord. That case was expressly overruled by a Full Bench decision of this Court in Smt. Indrasanl v. Din All, 1968 All WR (HC) 167. The Full Bench answered the question referred to it in these words :

'Where a tenant remits rent 'by money order and the amount remitted covers rent for a particular month and the landlord refuses to accept the same, the tenant cannot be said to be in arrears in respect of that month within the meaning of Section 3 (1) (a) of the U. P-(Temp.) Control of Rent and Eviction Act.'

17. Courts have never been hesitant in applying the principle of Section 114 Illustration (f) of the Indian Evidence Act and raisins a presumption of law in appropriate circumstances. The utility of presumptions is that they may be drawn where there are gaps in the evidence and the natural course of events points to a particular conclusion which the opposite party is unable to rebut. Although Illustration (f) of Section 114 in terms deals with the posting of letters and not remittances by money orders, yet it has been extended to cases of remittance of money by money order on the basis of the fundamental principle embodied in Section 114 that the Court may presume the existence of any fact which it deems likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business in relation to the facts of the particular case. The postal establishment is a governmental agency so thoroughly woven in to the texture of the common life of this country that a presumption contemplated by Section 114 of the Evidence Act must be available with regard to this agency as well. It is well known that people do employ this medium for posting their letters as well as remitting money to the payees and unless the contrary is proved, a modicum of efficiency in the discharge of its functions by this agency and achieving the results sought by those who take recourse to this process, must be presumed.

18. Thus, on the facts of the present case the decree for eviction passed against the appellant was illegal and cannot be sustained. Hence, the decree for eviction of the appellant is set aside and this appeal is allowed with costs.


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