1. This petition is by the-defendants against the order dated 9-8-1951 passed by the Subordinate Judge of Sambal-pur in Money Suit No. 24 of 1950 rejecting' their petition for stay of the hearing of the suit till the disposal of a proceeding pending before the House Rent Controller, Sambalpur.
2. The opposite party is the owner of a house in Sambalpur town. Petitioner 2 Mr. M. C. Panigrahi is the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies and the Central Co-operative Bank, Sambalpur. He has taken possession of the house as a tenant for the purposes of the office of the Assistant Registrar and also for his residence. It is alleged by the plaintiff (opposite party) that petitioner 2 agreed to pay a monthly rent of Rs. 205/-. But the Co-operative Department, however, refused to pay rent at such a high rate and offered a monthly rent of Rs. 120/- only. This was, however, not accepted by the house owner and on 23-6-50 the petitioners applied to the House Rent Controller, Sambalpur for fixing a fair-rent for the house. On 10-8-50 the opposite party instituted the present suit claiming arrears of house rent at the contracted rate of Rs. 205/- per month. The petitioners then applied to the learned Subordinate Judge for stay of the hearing of the suit till the disposal of the proceeding pending before the House Rent Controller. But the Court without giving any reasons rejected that petition for stay.
3. The Court's order is clearly wrong. Subsection (1) of Section 4, Orissa House Rent Control Act, 1947, says that notwithstanding any contract to the contrary no landlord shall be entitled to charge rent at a sum higher than what is justified on the basis of the rental shown in the registers maintained by the local authority, namely, the Municipality of Sambalpur. Subsection (2) of that section further says that in case of difficulty regarding fixation of rent an application shall be made to the Controller who shall fix a fair rent in the manner provided in Section 7 of the Act. That sub-section further provides that pending final decision the Controller may fix a provisional rent which shall be binding on all parties concerned and that when the final decision is arrived at, payments made on the basis of the provisional rent shall be adjusted towards payment of the final rent.
4. As the suit is based on an alleged contract it is obvious that the stipulated rate cannot prevail over any fair rent that may be fixed by the Controller. The learned Subordinate judge should, therefore, have stayed the hearing of the suit until the disposal of the fair rent proceeding pending before the House Rent Controller. It was urged by Mr. Mohanti that though more than two years have elapsed since the commencement of the proceeding before the House Rent Controller of Sambalpur no final order has yet been passed and that the Civil Court cannot postpone indefinitely the hearing of the suit in the hope that the Controller may at some future distant date dispose of the proceeding pending before him. We are not in a position to know at present what are the reasons for such inordinate delay in the disposal of the proceeding by the House Rent Controller. But the Act itself gives some relief to the house owner if there is likelihood of much delay in the hearing of the fair rent proceeding. It is open to the house owner to apply to the House Rent Controller for fixing a provisional rent which shall be binding on all parties till the final fixation of the fair rent. The opposite party may, therefore, apply to the Controller for fixing a provisional rent and also apply for expeditious hearing of the fair rent proceeding.
5. The Money Suit in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, however, cannot continue until the fair rent proceeding is finally disposed of. We would, therefore, allow the revision and direct the stay of hearing in M. S. No. 24 of 1950 pending in the Court of the Subordinate Judge, Sambalpur, till the disposal of the fair rent proceeding in the Court of the House Rent Controller there. There will be no order for costs.
6. I agree.