K.C. Agrawal, J.
1. This Full Bench has been constituted to decide the following question :--
'Whether the provisions of Section 2(2) are applicable only to buildings which are brought into existence after the coming into force of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 or they are applicable also to buildings constructed prior thereto?'
2. In Suit No. 1440 of 1976 brought by plaintiff-respondent for ejectment of the defendant-petitioner the question raised was whether the plaintiff-respondents was entitled to get the decree for ejectment of the defendant from the disputed house without complying with the requirements of Section 2 of the Uttar Pradesh Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting. Rent and Eviction) Act 1972 (hereinafter referred to as Act No. 13 of 1972). The allegations made in the plaint by the plaintiff were that as the disputed house had been constructed in the year 1971, the provisions of the aforesaid Act did not apply and that they were entitled to get the decree for ejectment against the defendant petitioner. The defendant contested the suit and claimed that the house had been constructed in the year 1960 and, as such the plaintiff respondent, could not get the decree without removing the bar for eviction on the grounds specified in Sub-section (21 of Section 2 of the Act. On the pleadings of the parties Judge, Small Causes framed the issue:
Whether the constructions are of 1971 or of 1980?
The Judge, Small Causes held that thehouse had been constructed in October,1971 and decreed the suit. The revisioncarried against the said judgment bythe defendant petitioner under Section 25of the Provincial Small Cause CourtsAct failed. Thereupon, the defendantpetitioner filed the present writ.
3. Before the learned single Judge, the question was that the U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 applied to all the buildings constructed before 16th July, 1972 and. as such, the decree for eiectment granted against the petitioner was illegal. The submission made further was that the exemption provided for in Sub-section (2) of Section 2 applied only to buildings which had been constructed after the coming into force of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972. Hence, the disputed building having been constructed in 1971, the suit of the plaintiff respondent, was liable to fail. For the above submission, petitioner relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court reported in Ratan Lal Singhal v. Smt. Marti Devi 1979 All LR 595: (AIR 1980 SC 635).
4. On behalf of plaintiff-respondents 2 and 3, the argument made was that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 exempted a building constructed during a period of ten years from the date on which the construction was completed irrespective of the fact as to when the construction actually had been made. For the plaintiff respondents, reliance was placed on a decision of the Supreme Court in Ram Swarup Rai v. Smt. Lilawati Devi (1980 All LR 359): (1980 All LJ 651).
5. Being of opinion that the controversy raised in the writ petition was required to be decided by a larger Bench, Hon. A.N. Verma, J. referred the question mentioned above for decision by a larger Bench. Thereafter, the case was listed before the Division Bench of Hon. N.D. Ojha and Hon. K.N. Dayal, JJ.
6. Before mentioning as to what transpired before the Division Bench, it may be useful here to refer to the decision of the Supreme Court in Ratan Lal v. Smt. Marti Devi (AIR 1980 SC 635) (supra). In that case, the appeal had been preferred against the judgment of the High Court decreeing the suit of the plaintiff for eiectment. The landlord of the said case had claimed that as the building had been constructed within the period of ten years of the filing of the suit, the same was entitled to be given exemption from the operation of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972, This plea found favour with the High Court. Before the Supreme Court, the argument was that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 did not apply to buildings constructed prior to the enforcement of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972. The contention was that the Act was prospective and. as such the benefit of the provision of Sub-section (2) could only be given to the building which had been constructed after U. P. Act No. 13 of1972. came 'Into force. The Supreme Court found substance in this Submit sion and observed (at p. 636):--
'We are inclined to agree with him that Legislation is not retrospective and would have gone further to give him relief on that basis,'
7. An argument was raised in Smt. Radhika Devi v. Prescribed Authority, Agra (1980 All LJ 84), that as the Supreme Court had found the aforesaid Act to be prospective, the Act did not apply to the shop which had been built long before the commencement of the said Act. This argument was negatived by the Division Bench on the view that the Supreme Court had only found that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 was prospective and that its benefit could not be extended to buildings constructed prior to the commencement of U. P. Act No. 13 of '1972. When the reference made by Hon. A.N. Varma, J., came up for decision before the Division Bench, it realised that on account of the subsequent decision taken in Ram Swarup Rai v. Smt. Lilawati Devi (1980 All LJ 651} (supra) the Division Bench's decision of Smt. Radhika Devi v. Prescribed Authority. Agra (1980 All LJ 84) might have to be reconsidered. As noted above, the decision of Smt. Radhika Devi's case had proceeded on the basis that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 was prospective and applied only to buildings constructed after the enforcement of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 whereas the ratio of Ram Swarup Rai v. Smt. Lilawati Devi was that the benefit of Sub-section (2) of Section 2 was available even to buildings constructed before U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972. Being of opinion that the view canvassed in Ram Swarup Rai V. Smt. Lilawati Devi. if accepted, could lead to conflict with a decision of another Division Bench given in Smt. Radhika Devi v. Prescribed Authority, the Bench decided to make the reference to the question for decision by a larger Bench. Reference was felt necessary for the purpose of securing uniformity and certainty in the law.
8. For a proper construction of Subsection (2) of Section 2 of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972, reference may be made to the legislative antecedent of the statutory provisions under consideration. The U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rentand Eviction Act, was passed as a temporary measure with a view mainly to continuing in force the provisions relating to the control of letting and rent to accommodation similar to those contained in orders which had been issued under the Defence pf India Rules, 1939. As initially it was thought that shortage of accommodation would be tided over after a short period, an Ordinance was promulgated in 1946 which was later on converted into a temporary Act shown as the U. P. (Temporary) Control of Rent and Eviction Act, 1947 (Act 3 of 1947). The difficulties arising out of the shortage of accommodation could not be got over and with the passage of time it became necessary to make a law taking within its ambit more accommodations constructed which were not previously covered by U. P. Act No. 3 of 1947, U. P. Act No. 3 of 1947, it would be recalled, did not apply to accommodations constructed on January 1, 1951. It was in this background that the U. P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting. Rent and Eviction) Bill. 1970 was introduced in the Assembly in May 1970. It was passed by the State Legislature on January 21, 1972 and received the assent of the President on March 8, 1972. After publication of the Act in the Gazette, the notification under Sub-section (4) of Section 1 enforcing the Act was made on July 15, 1972. The Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Bill provided:--
'It was expected that the situation of shortage of accommodation would be tided over after a short period, and accordingly an Ordinance was promulgated in 1946, and it was replaced by a temporary Act in 1947. In view, however, of the continuing increase in urban population and the relatively slow pace of house building activity due, mainly, to shortage of materials the problem of shortage of accommodation has become chronic and the life of the Act, has had to be extended. from time to time.'
9. The Scheme of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 was different than that of U. P. Act 3 of 1947. Unlike Section 1-A of the latter Act, which provided that the said Act did not apply to any building or part of a building which was under erection or was constructed onor after 1st January, 1951. the subsection (3) of Section 1 of U. P. Act 3 of 1947 lavs down that the Act applies to all buildings situated in every city. Municipality, Notified Area and Town Area. Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of the Act, the relevant portion with which we are concerned reads as under:--
'(2) Except as provided in Sub-section (2) of Section 24 or Sub-section (31 of Section 29. nothing in this Act shall apply to a building during a period of ten years from the date on which its construction is completed.'
10. Sub-section (2) of Section 2 was subsequently amended by the Amending Act 28 of 1976. After amendment, the relevant portion of the aforesaid provision reads as -under:--
'(2) Except as provided in Sub-section (5) of Section 12, Sub-section (1-A) of Section 21, Sub-section (2) of Section 24. Sections 24-A, 24-B, 24-C or Sub-section (3) of Section 29, nothing in this Act shall apply to a building during a period of ten years from the date on which its construction is completed.'
11. It is in this background that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of the Act, is required to be interpreted. This sub- Section (2) provides for two things -- firstly, that the provisions of the Act shall not apply to a building during a period of ten years from the date on which its construction is completed, and secondly, that the exemption shall not apply to the buildings covered by Sub-section (5) of Section 12, Sub-section (1-A) of Section 21, Sub-section (2) of Section 24, Section 24-A, 24-B or 24-C, or Sub-section (3) of Section 29.
12. We find that there is a conflict in the two decisions of the Supreme Court cited above. In Ratan Lal Singhal's case (AIR 1980 SC 635) the building which was in dispute had been constructed on October 1, 1969, i. e. prior to the commencement of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972. The tenant claimed protection of U. P. Act 13 of 1972 on the ground that the suit was not maintainable in the absence of any of the grounds contemplated by Section 20 of the said Act. The case of the landlord, on the other hand, was that since ten years had not expired from the date of completion of the building, U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 was not applicable and that the tenant was not entitled to protection. Reliance OB behalf of the landlord had been placed on Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of U. P. Act 13 of 1972. Thus, the controversy before the: Supreme Court was as to whether the landlord was entitled to the benefit of Sub-section (2) of Section 2. It is in respect of this matter that the Supreme Court held that (at p. 638) :--
'The point of law is of frequent occurrence and may affect judicially a number of tenants in these days of accommodation scarcity. That is why we have indicated clearly that the contention is sound that Act XIII of 1972 is prospective and applies only to buildings brought into being de novo after the Act came into force.'
13. In Ram Swarup's case (1980 All LJ 651) Smt. Lilawati purchased shops No. 66 in the city of Jhansi in 1969 from one Brij Mohan and allowed Ram Swarup Rai to occupy the ground floor in 1970 on a lease deed which stated that the building was erected in 1965. In 1975, Smt. Lilawati filed the suit for eviction on the basis that the building was new and that the Act, No. 13 of 1972 did not debar eviction of the tenant as the new construction, was within ten years of the suit. The suit was contested by the tenant on the plea that the building was constructed fifty years ago. The trial Court negatived the defence and decreed the suit which was upheld by the High Court. In the appeal filed before the Supreme Court, an argument was raised about the construction of Sub-section (2) of Section 2. After quoting Sub-section (2) of Section 2, the Supreme Court observed as under (at p. 652 of All LJ):--
'This sub-section and its construction is decisive of the fate of the appeal. Nothing in the Rent Control Legislation shall apply to a building 'during a neriod of ten years from the date on which its construction is completed'. The first thing that falls to be emphasised is that in regard to all buildings the Act applies save where this exemption one-rates. Therefore, the landlord who seeks exemption must prove that exception. The burden is on him to make out that notwithstanding the Rent Control Legislation, his building is out of its ambit. It is not for the tenant to prove that the building has been constructed beyond a period of ten years, but it is for the landlady to mate out that theconstruction has been completed within ten years of the suit....'
14. After having laid down the above law the Supreme Court examined the evidence of the parties and found that the suit was required to be remanded and decided afresh on merits. From the decision given in this case, it is apparent that the Supreme Court accepted that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 was applicable to a building constructed prior to Act No. 13 of 1972. Had that not been so, there was no question of remanding the suit for a fresh decision. In Ratan Lal Singhal's case, (AIR 1980 SC 635) the Supreme Court found that subsection (2) of Section 2 was prospective and was applicable to buildings constructed after the enforcement of Act No. 13 of 1972, whereas in Ram SwaruP Rai's case, (1980 All LJ 651), the view taken was contrary. The noticeable difference, however is that in Ram Swarup Rai's case the controversy about application of Sub-section (2) of Section 2 was elaborately discussed. We are in dilemma between what we consider the conflicting decisions. The decisions in both cases are ostensibly binding on us, which we are to follow?
15. Article 141 of the Constitution provides that:--
'The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India.''
16. This Article gives a constitutional status to the theory of the Precedent in respect of the law declared by the Supreme Court which is essential for a proper administration of justice. It is a basic principle of administration of justice that like cases should be decided alike. For this reason, a Judge tends to decide a case in the same way in which a similar case had been decided by another Judge. Every Court is bound to follow any case decided by a Court above it in the hierachy, and appellate Courts are bound by the previous decisions.
17. In Bengal Immunity Co. v. State of Bihar (AIR 1955 SC 661) the Supreme Court observed :--
'Article 141 which lays down that the law declared by this Court shall be binding on all Courts within the territory of India quite obviously refers to Courts other than this Court'.
18. Dealing with the utility of precedent. Lord Gardiner, L.C., observed in Davis v. Johnson (1978) 2 WLR182 :--
'Their Lordships regard the use of precedent as an indispensable foundation upon which to decide what is the law and its application to individual cases. It provides at least some degree of certainty upon which individuals can rely in the conduct of their affairs, as well as a basis for orderly development of legal rules'.
19. The Supreme Court has dealt with the binding nature of its pronouncements in a number of decisions. It is not necessary to refer to those cases. In a case where a High Court finds any conflict between views expressed by larger and smaller Benches of the Supreme Court. the Supreme Court said that proper course for such a High Court is to follow the opinion expressed by larger Benches of the Supreme Court in preference to those expressed by smaller Benches of the Court (See State of U. P. v. Ram Chandra. AIR 1976 SC 2547).
20. The difficulty, however, before us is slightly different. and is not covered by the authority cited above. We are faced with a situation where there are conflicts between the two decisions of the Supreme Court given by Judges of equal strength. We are not concerned here with reasons which led to these conflicts.
21. Rupert Cross in his book on 'Precedent in English Law' third edition page 133, has dealt with this matter in the following words:--
'If there is an increasing tendency to recognise the possibility that previous decisions of the same Court may conflict, it is a tendency which is to be applauded. The Court's attention is frequently not drawn to all the relevant authorities, some cases are not particularly well argued, and unreserved judgments are often delivered. It if useless to deplore these occurrences because they will continue as long as barristers, Judges, and litigants remain human....'.
22. To meet a situation like the present, reference may be made to a Full Bench decision of our Court in U. P. S. R. T. C. v. State Road Transport Tribunal, U. P. .Lucknow (AIR 1977 All
1): (1976 All LJ 683) where the Full Bench held :-- 'Even if there is some conflict in the two Supreme Court's decisions, we have to follow the law as declared in the latter case of Mysore State Transport Corporation'.
23. To the same effect is the view taken by a Full Bench of Karnataka High Court in Govindanaik G. Kalghatagi v. West Patent Press Co. Ltd. (AIR 1980 Kant 92) and by Calcutta High Court in M/s. Sovachand Mulchand v. Collector of Central Excise and Land Customs (AIR 1968 Cal 174). Thus, what follows is that in the event of there being clear conflict, the decision of such latter Bench would be binding on us.
24. Counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that since in Ram Swarup Rai's case (1980 AH LJ 651) (SC) the earlier decision given in Ratan Lal Singhal's case (AIR 1980 SC 635) had not been cited, the decision being in ignorance of a case which was binding on the Court is per incuriam. Counsel urged that Ram Swarup Rai's decision does not have a binding authority. We are unable to agree with the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner. In Ballabhdas Mathuradas Lakhani v. Municipal Committee, Malkapur (AIR 1970 SC 1002), the Supreme Court held that a Supreme Court's judgment is binding on High Court and it cannot be ignored on ground that relevant provision was not brought to the notice of the Supreme Court. To us, it appears that it is only in cases of decision of concurrent Courts that the doctrine of per incuriam can be applied. Thus, the law declared by the Supreme Court cannot be ignored on that basis. A failure to cite authority of the earlier decision of the Supreme Court before it is not sufficient to render its latter decision per incuriam. Overruling a similar argument made in Ambika Prasad Misra v. State of U. P. (1980 RD 227) : (AIR 1980 SC 1762) Krishna Iyer. J., agreed with the following observations made in Salmond 'Jurisprudence', page 215 (11th edition):--
'A decision does not lose its authority merely because it was badly argued. inadequately considered and fallaciously reasoned.'
25. We, therefore, cannot ignore the subsequent decision of the Supreme Court on the basis of the same being per incuriam.
26. Counsel appearing for the landlord contended that if there was any objection to the rule of law laid down in U.P.S.R.T.C. v. State Roard Transport Tribunal, U. P. Lucknow, (AIR 1977 All 1) : (1976 All LJ 683), this Court should examine the merits of the contentions of the parties itself and follow the decision which may appear to be better in point of law. For the above proposition, reliance had been placed on a decision reported in Miles v. Jarvis (1883) 24 Ch D 633 at page 636. where Kay, J. observed:--
'......The question is which of thesetwo decisions I should follow and it seems to me that I ought to follow that of the Master of the Rolls, as being the better in point of law.'
27. To the same effect is the law laid down by Jassel M. R. in Baker v. White (1877) 5 Ch D 183(7). We do not wish to express opinion on this aspect of the matter. We would only content ourselves by saying that since we are bound by the latter decision of the Supreme Court, we must follow the same. To us, it appears that the latter decision has impliedly overruled the earlier.
28. The next submission made by the learned counsel for the tenant was that it is a cardinal principle of construction that every statute is prima facie prospective unless it is expressly or by necessary implication made to have retrospective operation. The counsel contended that Section 1 of the Act takes within its purview all the buildings constructed before or after the enforcement of the Act, and as a result of the bringing of all the buildings made before the Act tenants occupying them became entitled to the protection from eviction. The protection provided by the Act was a vested right and that to give a meaning to Sub-section (2) of Section 2, which the landlord wanted, would tantamount to hold that theAct was retrospective. This interpretation, the counsel said was not only against all the canons of interpretation but also against the language employed in Sub-section (2) of Section 2.
29. We are unable to find any merit in this submission. The scheme of the U. P. Act 13 of 1972 is different than that which had been provided in U. P. Act 3 of 1947. Sub-section (2) of Sec-uon 1 applies to every city, every municipality, every notified area and every town area by making a provision to that effect in clauses 1 (a) to (d). Section 2 deals with exemptions from operation of the Act. Thus, after having taken within it all the buildings at the places mentioned above, it exempted those which have been provided in Section 2. Section 2 therefore, is an exemption clause providing immunity from regulations of restrictions placed on the right of a landlord to evict his tenant. The exemption clause contained in Sub-section (2) of Section 2 lays down that the Act shall not apply to the building during a period of ten years from the date on which it is constructed. This Sub-section does not make any difference between a building made before or after the Act. Irrespective of the time when it is made, the benefit of exemption is available to it. Consequently, the regulatory provision dealing with eviction and rent are not applicable. The mind of the legislature is wrttten in the words used in this provision. It has unambiguously expressed itself in clear language. The meaning therefore, has to be gathered by its language alone without reference to the supposed but unexpressed intentions. Interpreting Section 2 (2) we find that throughout the course of ten years from the date of construction, a building is immune or exempted from the operation of the Act. The period of ten years has to run from the date of completion of the construction. This will apply not only to construction made after the Act but also to those made before its enforcement.
30. The law well settled is that a statute is prospective and that vested rights cannot be deprived of unless provisions have been expressly or by necessary implication made to that effect. But the question here is as to what was the vested right of a tenant like that of the present of which he has been deprived. Before the enforcement of this Act, there was no protection provided to any tenant of a building constructed after January 1, 1951. The provision was made in this Actproviding for the same but this very Act exempts buildings constructed during a period of ten years from the date of its construction. Rights become vested when they have so completely and definitely accrued to or settled in a person that they are not subiect to be defeated. That is not so in the present case. Since both the provisions became applicable on the day, such a situation does not arise.
31. Coming to the argument of re-trospectivity, we find that simply because, on our interpretation, benefit of Sub-section (2) of Section 2 would also be given to buildings constructed before the Act, the provision cannot be said to have been found retrospective. The fact that benefit would depend on antecedent facts, does not make the provision retrospective. In order to apply the presumption that an Act is not retrospective, the statute be genuine retrospective in its operation. It is not correct to say that, to make Section 2 (2) to apply, in such a case, was to construe it retrospectively.
32. To cite an example. Section 2 of the Poor Removal Act. 1846 provided that 'no woman residing in any parish with her husband at the death shall be removed from such parish for 12 calendar months, next after his death, if she so long continues a widow,' it was held in R. v. St. Mary White Chapel (1948) 12 QB 120 that the section operated to prevent this removal of a widow whose husband had died before it came to be enforced. It was argued that the right to remove was vested in the authority on her husband's death but the Court held that the Statute was not retrospective because it related to future removals it is not properly called, a retrospective statute because a part of requisites of its action is drawn from time antecedent to its passing. In R. v. Christchurch (1948) 12 QB 149. Lord Denman C. J., said:
'A space of time is an essential ingredient in the case to which it applies and this space of time may consist in part of time passed before the statute passed as in the case with statutes in limitation and prescription but they are not therefore, pleased with the retrospective statutes.'
33. Customs and Excise Commr. v. Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. (1975)3 All ER 881, is another illustration laying down the same principle. In this case the Commissioners claimed value added tax on payments made to the company in and after April 1973 under an agreement for the hire of a television set executed on 20th July 1972. The Finance Act 1972 received the royalassent on 27th July, and Section 7, dealing with value added tax, together with regulations made under it, came into force on 1st April, 1973. According to one of the regulations:
'......where goods are or have beensupplied under an agreement to hire they shall be treated as being successively supplied on hire for successive parts of the period of the agreement and each of the successive supplies shall be treated as taking place when a payment under the agreement is received......'
The House of Lords held that the supply of goods under a hire agreement was a continuing process, so there could be no question of the regulation operating retrospectively.
34. We, therefore, are of opinion that the language of Sub-section (2) of Section 2 is plain and admits of no difficulty. It takes within itself not only to constructions made after the Act but also made before.
35. For the reasons given above, we are of opinion that Sub-section (2) of Section 2 is not only applicable to buildings which were brought into existence after the coming into force of U. P. Act No. 13 of 1972 and that it is applicable to buildings constructed prior to it as well.
Reference answered accordingly.