1. This petition came before our brother Mukerji. He, however, directed that it should be laid before a larger Bench, and, therefore, it has come before us.
2. The petitioner is a partnership firm carrying on the business of disinfectants on the first floor of 84, Kanpur Road, Lucknow. The partners of the aforesaid firm are Sri Suraj Prakash. Vohra and Sri Trilok Vohra, who are real brothers.
3. It is alleged that the aforesaid partners carried on their business since 1933 and eventually they shifted to the premises in dispute from where the aforesaid partnership business was carried on. The two partners, subsequently occupied separate residential accommodation in Lucknow. Sri Tri-lok Vohra lived in 23-C, Singar Nagar,' Lucknow, while Sri Suraj Prakash Vohra lived separately in Ashiq Ali Building. It appears that the premises in dispute, viz., No. 84, Kanpur Road, Lucknow were sought to be allotted by the Area Rationing Officer. On 5th of June, 1961, the Area Rationing Officer sent a notice to the landlord of the premises. Sri B. P. Agarwal intimating that the aforesaid premises, which were 'vacated by Sri Surya Prakash', were being considered for the allotment in favour of Sri Virendra Singh Shrineh Journalist, Information Department, Lucknow. The landlord was required to file objections, if any, against the proposed allotment.
Thereafter on the 6th of June, 1961, the Area Rationing Officer ordered that the premises in dispute shall be let to Sri Virendra Singh by the aforesaid landlord after it was vacated by Sri Surya Prakash. Sri Surya Prakash Vohra thereupon preferred 311 objection before the Rent Control and Eviction Officer saying that the said premises were never vacated, nor there was any likelihood of their being vacated in the near future and he, therefore, prayed that the aforesaid allotment should be cancelled. Thereafter on the 23rd of June, 1961, the Rent Control and Eviction Officer issued a notice under Section 7-A, Sub-section (1) of the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act to the landlord of the aforesaid premises requiring him to show cause why the premises in dispute had been occupied in disregard and in contravention of the provisions of the aforesaid section. Objection was preferred by the landlords saying that the accommodation in dispute had not been vacated at all and there was, therefore, no question of the landlord's occupying the same. The present petitioner also preferred an objection against the aforesaid notice under Section 7-A, Sub-sec-tion (i) saying that the premises were being occupied by the petitioner firm and the firm was having its office in it since the last fifteen years and it had not been vacated nor was there any intention to vacate the same and, therefore, the question of the occupation by the landlord did not arise at all.
Thereafter on the 24th of July, 1961, the District Magistrate of Lucknow issued an order under Section 3 of the U. P. (Temporary) Accommodation Requisition Act of 1947 directing that the premises in dispute were required for housing a Government servant, which was a public purpose and the said accommodation be delivered to him within fifteen days of the service of the order. The aforesaid order further stated as follows :-
'And whereas, I am further satisfied that the present occupier of the accommodation has at his disposal sufficient accommodation at 23-C, Singar Nagar and in Ashiq Ali Building, Pandariba, Charbagh Lucknow and a spacious godown in Ghai Bhawan just next to 84, Kanpur Road, Lucknow, for the purpose of his residence and business and that he does not need any other alternative accommodation for himself.'
The said order was sent to the owner of the premises in dispute, viz., Sri B. P. Agarwal and to the occapier of the requisitioned accommodation, Sri Surya Prakash Vohra, at his address No. 23-C Singar Nagar, Lucknow. Aggrieved from the aforesaid order, the present petitioner filed a writ petition in this Court praying that an order, writ or direction in the nature of mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, certiorari or any other suitable writ, direction or order be passed for quashing the aforesaid order of requisition, dated the 24th of July, 1961. It was further prayed that an ad interim order be passed for restraining the opposite party from dispossessing the petitioner from the premises in dispute.
4. It was contended inter alia by the petitioner that the requisition of the premises in dispute was contrary to law as the premises had been requisitioned for accommodating Sri Virendra Singh, who was the son-in-law of Sri Har Govind Singh, a Minister of U. P. Government. It was, however, conceded that Sri Virendra Singh was himself an officer serving in the Information Ministry of the U. P. Government. It was contended that the requisition for providing accommodation to Sri Virendra Singh was not for a public purpose. It was further contended that the premises were, in fact, occupied by the petitioner firm from where the business of the firm was conducted, and no notice under Section 4 of the Act was served on the petitioner. Lastly, it was contended that the provisions of Section 3 of the U. P. (Temporary) Accommodation Requisition Act, 1947 were ultra vires.
5. It was strenuously urged that there was no public purpose in providing the accommodation in dispute for Sri Virendra Singh. It is not denied that Sri Virendra Singh is serving as an officer in the Information Ministry of the U. P. Government. It was urged that even though Sri Virendra Singh was an officer, yet there was no public purpose involved in dispossessing the petitioner from the premises in dispute and giving them to Sri Virendra Singh. The question whether the requisitioning of any premises for accommodating a Government employee is a public service, was considered by a Division Bench in Sudhindra Nath Datta v. Sai-lendra Nath Mitra, AIR 1952 Cal 65. In that case the petitioner owned certain premises in Calcutta, which were requisitioned for providing accommodation to the Minister of Excise in the Government of the State of Bengal under Section 3 (1) of the West Bengal Premises Requisition and Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1947. The provisions of the aforesaid Section 3, Sub-section (1) are similar to the provisions of Section 3 of the U. P. Act. It was observed by Harries, Chief Justice, that he was very doubtful as to whether it wag open to the Court to go into the question whether the said requisitioning of the premises as a residence for the Minister of the Bengal Government could be questioned at all by the Court. It was held that the requistioning of premises under the Act was merely an executive or an administrative act. The learned Chief Justice disagreed with the contrary view expressed in a case, which was not named, by the Bombay High Court.
In Rani Prabhabati Devi Sahiba v. The District Magistrate, Allahabad, 1952 All LJ 163 : (AIR 1952 All 836). A Division Bench of this Court held that the provisions of the Act showed that it did not require the District Magistrate to make a judicial approach when he had to requisition an accommodation under Section 3. It was further held that the District Magistrate was under no obligation to call for objections, to take evidence, and to give a hearing. It was, however, observed that it was doubtful whether the order passed by the District Magistrate in the aforesaid case was quasi judicial in its nature. It would thus appear that the question whether the allotment made by the District Magistrate was for a4 public purpose or not would be a matter exclusively within the jurisdiction of the District Magistrate himself and it may not be open to a judicial Tribunal to question the propriety of the order passed by the Magistrate. We, however, do not express a final opinion on the question whether the order passed by a Magistrate under Section 3 of the Act could in no case be questioned by a judicial Tribunal.
In Manohar Ramkrishna v. G. G. Desai, AIR 1951 Nag 33 it was held that under the circumstances of that case it couuld not be said that the requisition made by the authorities concerned was bona fide inasmuch as the requisitioned premises were found to be in excess of the requirements of the persons lor whom it had been requisitioned. In Bhanjee Munjee v. State of Bombay, AIR 1952 Born 476 a view was expressed by the Court that the decision of the authorities requisitioning the premises could be scrutinised by the Court.
6. We, however, express no opinion on the views expressed in the aforesaid Bombay and Nagpur decisions. It might be that under certain circumstances an order passed by the requisitioning authority can be assailed on the ground that it was a mala fide order on the face of it.
7. In the case before us, however, we do not see anything mala fide in the order passed by the District Magistrate. It was contended that the previous action of, the authorities when they attempted to dispossess the petitioner firm and its partners from the premises in dispute under the Control of Rent and Eviction Act showed that the authorities were bent upon dispossessing the petitioner from the premises in dispute. It may be that the premises were genuinely required for accommodating Sri Virendra Singh and efforts were made by the authorities to secure for him the premises in dispute under the provisions of the Control of Rent and Eviction Act. When it was found that the premises could not be vacated under the provisions of the aforesaid Act, the provisions of the U. P. (Temporary) Accommodation Requisition Act (U. P. Act XXV of 1947) were invoked by the authorities concerned. The case before us has to be examined in the light of the provisions of the aforesaid U. P. Act XXV of 1947.
As we have observed above, the provisions of Section 3 give an unfettered right to the District Magistrate to requisition any accommodation for public purpose subject to the condition laid down in the two provisos. So far as the first condition with regard to the accommodation being used for any religious worship is concerned, it is nobody's case that any religious worship is carried on in the premises in dispute. With regard to the second condition that no accommodation which is in actual occupation of any person, shall be requisitioned unless the District Magistrate is further of the opinion that suitable alternative accommodation existed for his needs or had been provided to him, it was contended by the petitioner that the aforesaid condition had not been complied with. We see no force in this contention. The Notice, which was served on the petitioner, quite clearly stated that the occupier had sufficient accommo-dation at his disposal at 23-C, Singar Nagar and in Ashiq AH Building, Pandariba, and a spacious godown in Ghai Bhawan for the purposes of his residence and business and that he did not require any alternative accommodation for himself. It, therefore, could not be said that the requirements laid down by the second proviso to Section 3 were not fulfilled.
It was contended that the said godown aa also the residential accommodation at 23-C Sin-gar Nagar and in Ashiq Ali Building was not sufficient for the requirements of the firm and of the two partners. That is a question of fact which has to be determined, if challenged on the evidence produced by the parties concerned and has to be decided by the Administrative authorities whose decision on the matter is conclusive and is not open to question before us. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the requirements for seeing that the persons dispossessed had adequate accommodation was fulfilled in the notice served on the landlord and Sri Surya Prakash Vohra.
Coming to the question whether the requisitioning of the accommodation for meeting the requirements of Sri Virendra Singh was a pablic purpose, we have no doubt that it is so. The ques-tion whether such a requisition was for public purpose was considered in AIR 1952 Cal 65 (supra). The Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in that case came to the conclusion that the requisitioning of the premises for providing accommodation to a Minister of a State Government would amount to a public purpose. If the officers of the State are not provided with suitable residential accommodation, it is undoubted that the administration would suffer and it is in public interest that the officers and the employees of the Stats-are suitably housed. It was observed by Chief Justice Harries as follows :-
'It appears to me quite clear that housing a high Minister of State is clearly a public purpose. It is in the public interest that Ministers of the-State of West Bengal should have suitable accommodation. How can they be expected to give of their best if they have to live in discomfort and squalor.'
The same considerations would apply in the case of an officer of the category of Sri Virendra Singh, who is serving in the Information Ministry of the State. The act of the District Magistrate in requisitioning the premises in dispute for accommodating Sri Virendra Singh would, therefore, come within the ambit of a public purpose as contemplated by the provisions of Section 3 of the Act.
8. It was further contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the provisions of Section 3 were ultra vires and were hit by Articles 19(1)(f) and 31 of the Constitution of India. Article 19 guarantees to all the citizens the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property. It is, however, subject to the provisions of Clause (5) of Article 19 which provides that nothing in the aforesaid provision shall affect the operation of any existing law in 50 far as it imposes ..... reasonable-restrictions on the exercise of the aforesaid rights. The question, therefore, would be whether the provisions of Section 3 violate the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property by a citizen. The provisions of Section 3 would result in depriving the landlord of the rights to occupy his property even though, his right in the property may remain intact. In case he is himself in possession, his possession would be taken away and the requisitioned premises would be given to the person for whom the requisition is made. He would thus be deprived of his possession. If the requisitioned premises are in the possession of a tenant, then the effect of the requisition would result in terminating his tenancy.
In State of Bombay v. Bhanji Munji, AIR 1955 S. C. 41 the Supreme Court, while considering the provisions of the Bombay Land Requisition Act, held that it was not hit by Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution of India. It was observed :
'When every kind of enjoyment which normally accompanies an interest in this kind of property is taken away leaving the mere husk of title, Article 19(1)(f) is not attracted .... In the present case the right to occupy the premises has gone as also the right to transfer, assign, let or sublet. What is left is the mere husk of title in the lease-hold interest; a forlorn hope that the force of this law will somehow expend itself before the lease runs out'.
A similar view was expressed in Sudhindra Nathi's case, AIR 1952 Cal 65 (supra) by the Calcutta High, Court. Chief Justice Harries observed as follows : --
'In my opinion it is quite clear that Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution has no application to cases where a State, authority or person has compulsorily acquired property or obtained possession of property. The relevant provisions are to be found in Article 31.'
For purposes of Article 31 it is necessary to see whether the Statute says that the requisition would be for a public purpose. It cannot be denied that the provisions of Section 3 of the Act expressly say so. Even where it is not expressly stated but the intention to acquire for public purpose can be gathered from the provisions of the Act, it would not be hit by Article 31. Mahajan, Chief Justice, in The State of Bihar v. Sir Kameshwar Singh, AIR 1952 SC 252 observed as follows :
'It is unnecessary to state in express terms in the statute itself the precise purpose for which property is being taken, provided from the whole tenor and intendment of the Act it could be gathered that the property was being acquired either for purposes of the State or for purposes of the public and that the intention was to benefit the community at large.'
The provisions of Sections 5 and 6 of the Act provide for compensation to the landlord. Furthermore, there is provision in Section 3 for alternative accommodation where a tenant is to be dispossessed. If the District Magistrate thought that the alternative accommodation was sufficient for the needs of the firm and its partners it would follow that there was adequate compensation. Thus it could not be said that the provisions of Section 3 of the Act are ultra vires and are hit either by Article 19(1)(f) or Article 31 of the Constitution of India.
9. It was next contended that there was no service of notice on the petitioner, who is the occupant of the premises in dispute and that such a notice was clearly contemplated by Section 4 of the Act. Notice under Section 4 was served on the landlord Sri B. P. Agarwal and on Sri Surya Prakash Vohra as the occupier of the requisitioned accommodation. Learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that it was the firm which was in occupation of the premises and since no notice was served on the firm itself, there was no compliance of the provisions of Section 4 of the Act and consequently the requisition itself was not in accordance with law. The question whether the premises were occupied by the petitioner or were occupied by the two partners, viz. Sri Surya Prakash Vohra and Sri Tri-lok Vohra, is itself a disputed question.
The learned Counsel for the State contended that the premises in dispute were actually in the occupation of Sri Surya Prakash Vohra and it was not correct that they were in the occupation of the petitioner firm. The petitioner firm, however, is represented by two partners and Sri Surya Prakash Vohra is admittedly one of them. In this state of affairs the question whether the petitioner firm itself was in actual possession or occupation or Sri Surya Parkash Vohra was himself in occupation being a matter in controversy, it was open to the District Magistrate to come to the conclusion that the premises were in the occupation of Sri Surya Parkash Vohra and, therefore, he chose to serve the aforesaid notice of requisition on the landlord and the tenant Sri Surya Prakash Vohra. It is not open to the learned Counsel for the petitioner to ask us to go into the question as to whether the firm itself was in actual possession of the premises or Sri Surya Parkash was occupying it. The matter was exclusively within the administrative jurisdiction of the District Magistrate and if he decided to serve the notice on Sri Surya Parkash Vohra, as the occupant of the premises in dispute, we are not prepared to question the propriety of the decision of the District Magistrate in this matter.
10. We, therefore, see no defect in the aforesaid notice dated the 24th of July, 1961, and are of the opinion that the said notice fully complies with the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.
11. Lastly, it was contended that the petitioner was not competent to maintain the writ petition before us because on his own showing no notice under Section 4 had been served on the firm and, therefore, he had no right to bring the present petition. Learned Counsel for the State referred to Indian Sugar Mills Association v. Secy. to Government, Uttar Pradesh Labour Department, AIR 1951 All 1 (F.B.), Asiatic Engineering Co. v. Achhni Ram, AIR 1951 All 746 (FB) and Raj Narain Singh v. Atmaram Govind, AIR 1954 All 319. We, however, feel that it is not necessary for us to go into the question whether the petitioner could maintain the writ petition because we have already expressed the view that the petitioner has no right to seek the relief prayed for. We, therefore, see no force in this writ petition and dismiss it with costs.
The stay order dated .21-8-1961 is vacated.