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Indian Oil Corporation Limited Vs. the Union Territory of Chandigarh and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 2393 of 1974
Judge
Reported inAIR1975P& H307
ActsTransfer of Property Act, 1882 - Sections 105; Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act - Sections 3(1) and 22; Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Building Rules, 1952 - Rule 2(1)
AppellantIndian Oil Corporation Limited
RespondentThe Union Territory of Chandigarh and anr.
Appellant Advocate C.D. Dewan and; S.P. Jain, Advs.
Respondent Advocate Anand Swaroop, Senior Adv.,; K.G. Chaudhry, Adv.
DispositionPetitions dismissed
Cases Referred and Prem Chand v. The Chief Administrator. Chandigarh Administration. Civil Writ No.
Excerpt:
.....to whether the petitioner is entitled to any compensation for demolition of the structures and the petrol pump and removal of the same can be better agitated in the suit or proceedings, if and when the same are instituted by the chandigarh administration. the matter would have been different if the said spaces were auctioned or used for residential purposes or the like. no other petrol pump has either been installed or is being worked abutting the road, much less that demolition of any petrol pump which is similarly situated like the one in hand has been avoided. therefore, the contention that the notice to quit was bad because the purpose for which the site was required by the chandigarhadministration was, according to the learned counsel for the petitioner, against law, is wholly..........for one year at monthly rental of rupees 599.38, payable in advance by 10th of each month, for a petrol pump from the chandigarh administration. it was agreed upon that the structure for running petrol pump-cum-service station would be installed on the site by the petitioner with the prior approval of the chief administrator in writing. in accordance with the said term of the lease, the petitioner had constructed petrol pump-cum-service station (hereinafter called the petrol pump) at an expense of rs. 2 lakhs and in accordance with the policy of the central government and a condition of the lease the petitioner had appointed ex-servicemen, viz.. wing commander k.s. taunque and squadron leader t.s. shihn, who constituted partnership concern under the name and style of m/s. kav tee.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. Shorn of details, the material facts leading to the institution of this writ petition as well as Civil Writ Petition No. 6156 of 1974 (hereinafter called the second writ petition) are, in brief, as under:

2. The petitioner obtained a site measuring 100 feet X 120 feet abutting V-5 road (hereinafter called the road) in sector 17-F on June 19. 1967 on lease for one year at monthly rental of Rupees 599.38, payable in advance by 10th of each month, for a petrol pump from the Chandigarh Administration. It was agreed upon that the structure for running petrol pump-cum-service station would be installed on the site by the petitioner with the prior approval of the Chief Administrator in writing. In accordance with the said term of the lease, the petitioner had constructed petrol pump-cum-service station (hereinafter called the petrol pump) at an expense of Rs. 2 lakhs and in accordance with the policy of the Central Government and a condition of the lease the petitioner had appointed ex-servicemen, viz.. Wing Commander K.S. Taunque and Squadron Leader T.S. Shihn, who constituted partnership concern under the name and style of M/s. Kav Tee Service Station, which is petitioner in the second writ petition, as its dealers for operating the petrol pump. Later, on June 13, 1968, the period of the said lease was extended for five years. About a year after the expiry of the period of the said lease, the Chandigarh Administration felt the necessity of widening the road, as a result of which the petrol pump was to be dislocated from the site. Therefore, the Chandigarh Administration sent a communication in that respect to the petitioner on August 29, 1973, and the latter agreed to surrender a portion of the site measuring 74 feet. The Chandigarh Administration, however, terminated thelease on May 22, 1974 and served a notice to quit (Annexure P-8) on the petitioner, indicating that the site was required for construction of a double carriage wav on the road. The petitioner impeached the said notice to quit as illegal, void, capricious, mala fide, unconstitutional and without jurisdiction on various grounds, inter alia:--

(1) That the lease in favour of the petitioner was indeterminable and permanent.

(2) That it could not be determined without payment of compensation for the super-structure, loss of business and good will.

(3) That the zoning plan was statutory in character and could not be changed without the sanction of the Parliament and that the construction of double carriage wav on the road would amount to alteration and change of the zoning plan. This could not be done by the Chandigarh Administration without obtaining sanction of the Parliament.

(4) That the termination of the lease was discriminatory and arbitrary and violative of the fundamental rights available to the petitioner under Articles 14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution of India.

3. Being dealer M/s. Kav Tee Service Station, who are petitioners in the second writ petition, too challenged the notice to quit on the grounds identical to the one raised by the petitioner in this writ petition. The averments in the second writ petition were also similar to the one made in this petition. It was, however, averred in the second writ petition that M/s. Kav Tee Service Station had invested Rs. 1,50,000/- for running the business on the site and had earned goodwill.

4. Both the writ petitions were contested by the Chandigarh Administration (Respondent 1) and the Estate Officer (Respondent 2). The Estate Officer put in affidavits by wav of returns in both the writ petitions. The broad facts were admitted. The material averments, including that the lease was of permanent nature or that widening of the road would amount to changing of the zoning plan, were controverted and it was pleaded, inter alia, that the growth of traffic had necessitated the construction of double carriage way on the road in the interest of the general public and that M/s. Kav Tee Service Station had no locus standi to maintain the writ petition because there was no relationship between it and the Chandigarh Administration. Since common questions of fact and law are involved in both the writ petitions, the same are being disposed of by one judgment.

5. The contentions raised by Shri C.D. Dewan, learned counsel, for the petitioner, are mainly two; firstly, that the lease granted to the petitioner by the Chandigarh Administration was permanent and indeterminable and that it was statutory and could not be revoked by the Chandigarh Administration: and, secondly, that the zoning plan was creation of statute and the construction of double carriage way on the road would tantamount to alteration and changing of the zoning plan which was not permitted without the sanction of the Parliament. In addition to the aforesaid two principal contentions. Shri Dewan also argued that the notice to quit was bad and illegal because the date of commencement of the tenancy had been wrongly mentioned therein as 24th instead of 19th day of every month and that no amount of condensation and no offer of compensation for the damages which the petitioner would have to suffer due to the demolition of the structures erected on the site had been offered therein. The contentions advanced by Shri Dewan were adopted by Shri Manmohan Singh, learned counsel for the petitioner in the second writ petition, and the points urged by him were similar to the one urged by Shri Dewan.

6. It is accepted rule of interpretation that while construing all documents, including leases and statutes, the ordinary and grammatical meaning must be given to the words used therein. The intention and also the meaning have primarily to be sought from the words used in the documents or the statute. When the words are plain and unambiguous, the same have to be so construed. The nature of a tenancy granted by any document can be determined by construing the document as a whole. Admittedly, the site was leased out to the petitioner for petrol pump on June 19, 1967 by the Estate Officer by a letter. The copy of the said letter is Annexure P-1. A bare reading of the said letter (Annexure P-l) points out unmistakably that the lease of the site granted to the petitioner was on temporary basis and was for one year only. The words 'on temporary basis' and 'for one year only.' mentioned in the said letter (Annexure P-1), are wholly inconsistent with the permanency of the tenancy claimed by the petitioner. The said lease, which was for one year only, was to expire on June 19, 1968. Before the expiry of the period of the said lease, the Estate Officer had addressed another letter (Annexure P-2) on June 13, 1968, extending the period of the said lease to five years, stating clearly therein that the possession of the site had been delivered to the petitioner on June 19, 1967. The said letter, if the same is construedas lease deed, required compulsory registration for the reason that it granted a lease for more than one year. A copy of the draft of the lease deed signed by the District Manager of the petitioner, was Put in by Respondents 1 and 2. Since it has not been signed by Respondent 1 or by Respondent 2, it remained an inchoate document. Therefore, no help can be invoked from it. Further, the lease deed, the draft of which has been out in, was also compulsorily registrable being for five years. Since the letter (Annexure P-2) and the inchoate lease deed were not registered, the same cannot be used or looked at for determining the nature of the tenancy. Even otherwise, there is nothing in the letter (Annexure P-2) or in the draft of the lease deed which can give an indication, even to slightest extent, that the lease granted to the petitioner was of permanent nature. Since letter (Annexure P-2) and the draft of the lease deed have to be ignored for want of registration, the only document that can be taken into consideration for determining the nature of the lease remains the letter (Annexure P-1). The said letter when read as a whole, as indicated above, reveals that the intention of the parties was to create tenancy for a fixed period of one year and that too on temporary basis. True, the petitioner must have spent some amount in raisins the structures and the petrol pump on the site and M/s. Kav Tee Service Station must have, invested some amount in running the business, but all that was done by them with the full knowledge of the fact that the lease was for a definite period and was on a temporary basis. Therefore, the mere erection of the structures, installation of the petrol pump and investment of money for running the business cannot, in my opinion, convert the nature of the lease from temporary into permanent.

The facts of the case reported in Sivavogeswara Cotton Press. Devangere v. M. Panchaksharappa, AIR 1962 SC 413, relied on by the learned counsel for the petitioner to support his contention that raising of the structures Or erection of petrol pump had the effect of rendering the tenancy permanent, were entirely different. In that case, the lease was of extensive land and it was granted to the lessee with a view to raise substantial structures by wav of factory premises, residential quarters and other appurtenant buildings. It was firstly for a period of 20 years and after the lapse of the said period of 20 years the lessee had been given the option to give up the lease at any time and the lessor bound himself not to call upon him (the lessee) at any time to give up possession of the leasehold so long as he (the lessee) was pre-pared to observe the terms of the lease. The lessee had also been given powers to (sic)blet and re-let the demised land to any person and on any terms. It was in the background of the said facts that the lease deed was construed to evidence an intention to create a permanent lease. In the case in hand, letter (Annexure P. 1) contains unreservedly that the lease was on temporary basis and it was for one year only and had been granted for running the business. Later on, it was extended to five years. Therefore, the terms of the lease in the case in hand are contrary to the argument that the intention of the parties was to create a permanent lease simply because the lessee had been allowed to raise structures or to instal petrol pump with the prior approval of the Chief Administrator in writing. I am, therefore, of the opinion that the lease of the site was on temporary basis, may be taken to be for a fixed period of five years which had expired long before the notice to quit was given, and am in disagreement with the learned counsel for the petitioner that the lease of the site granted to the petitioner was of permanent nature.

7. A statutory tenancy, as I understand, would be one which is created by statute. To put it differently when a statute grants rights of tenancy to a lessee, it may be termed as statutory tenancy. There is no material on the record to show, and it is nobody's case that the petitioners had obtained lease-hold rights in the site under any statute. True, it was in exercise of the provision contained in Sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 3952 (hereinafter called the Act), that the Chandigarh Administration granted lease of the site to the petitioner. But that would not, in my opinion, be a ground or basis for contending that the lease had been created under the statute. Section 3 (1) of the Act simply empowered the Chandigarh Administration to lease out any land, including the site, and it was in exercise of the said Power that the Chandigarh Administration had leased the site to the petitioner. So, it had the effect of creating relationship of landlord and tenant between the Chandigarh Administration being the landlord and the petitioner being the tenant. Their relationship and the lease would, therefore, be governed by the ordinary law which is applicable to any other lease. There is nothing in the Act which excludes the application of the ordinary law governing the other leases to the lease of the site granted to the petitioner, or to debar the Chandigarh Administration from determining the said lease. Though the Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Building Rules. 1952 have beenmade, but no rules relating to leases have been framed or made. Therefore, I find no force in the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the lease was determinable or that the Chandigarh Administration could not revoke it.

8. True, according to letter (Annexure P-11, the lease seems to have commenced from June 19, 1967, and similar deduction can be made from letter (Annexure P-2), but in the notice to quit (Annexure P-8), it was mentioned that the lease had commenced with effect from June 24, 1967, and the petitioner was required to deliver possession of the site to the Chandigarh Administration on June 24, 1974. The question as to whether the aforesaid notice to quit can be assailed as bad because the petitioner had been required to deliver possession of the site on June 24, 1974, instead of June 19, 1974, can be better decided in the suit or any other proceedings if and when the same are instituted by the Chandigarh Administration for evicting the petitioner from the site. To me the said question appears to be beyond the scope of these proceedings of writ jurisdiction. Similarly, the question as to whether the petitioner is entitled to any compensation for demolition of the structures and the petrol pump and removal of the same can be better agitated in the suit or proceedings, if and when the same are instituted by the Chandigarh Administration. The said question and also the quantum of compensation if the same would be allowable, appear to me to be foreign to these writ proceedings.

9. The Zoning Plan is not defined in the Act. It is, however, defined in Clause (1vi) of Rule 2 of the Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Building Rules. 1952 (hereinafter called the Rules), thus :--

' 'Zoning plan' shall mean the numbered Plan signed by the Chief Administrator and kept in his office defining the layout of any numbered sector of the Master Plan of Chandigarh showing the streets, boundaries of building plots, open spaces, position of protected trees or other features, and showing in colour or by other means the specified land-use, building lines, permissible heights of buildings, site coverages and such other restrictions on the development of land or buildings as may be prescribed.'

In view of the judgments reported in Daya Swarup Nehra v. The State of Pun-lab, AIR 1964 Punj 533. B. L. Bhandari v. Chief Commissioner, Union Territory, Chandigarh, 1966-68 SUPPL Pun LR 594 and Prem Chand v. The Chief Administrator. Chandigarh Administration. Civil Writ No. 2656 of 1973, decided on November 7, 1973. I have no reluctance toaccept the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that the Master Plan and the Zoning Plan are statutory in character and that being so. the same cannot be changed at the sweet-will of the Chandigarh Administration. In order to change the Master Plan of the Chandigarh Capital or Zoning Plan relating to any sector, the sanction of the Parliament seems to be necessary. The word 'change' means 'to substitute another for something or to make its form or nature different from what it is or from what it would have been, had it been left alone'. The Zoning Plan shown at the time of arguments contained, and it was not disputed, that the open spaces abutting the road and lying towards sector 18 were reserved for commercial purposes, and undoubtedly the road now existing and the double carriage way intended to be constructed on the road would cater to the needs and purposes for which the aforesaid spaces had been reserved. So the road now existing and the double carriage way to be constructed thereon would be subservient to the commercial purposes for which the said spaces had been reserved. In that view of the matter, the widening Of the road in order to construct double carriage wav would not tantamount to change of the purpose for which the aforesaid spaces had been reserved in the Zoning Plan. The definition of 'material change of use' given in Clause (xxxi) of Rule 2 of the Rules, which runs thus:

' 'Material change of use' shall mean a change from one class of building toanother.'

also lends support to my aforesaid view. The aforesaid spaces, which were reserved for commercial purposes would not be used for any other purpose after or by construction of double carriage way. The matter would have been different if the said spaces were auctioned or used for residential purposes or the like. Roads have to be widened in the interest of the public and because the necessity of the same arises due to growth of traffic. Therefore, it would not be correct to say that the mere circumstance that double carriage way, which is intended to be constructed on the road with a view to cater to the commercial purposes for which the aforesaid spaces are reserved and Sector 17 has been erected, would tantamount to change of the Zoning Plan, especially when the portion or the area to be covered by the double carriage way along the aforesaid commercial spaces would be to a very small extent.

10. The facts of Daya Swarup Nehra's case, AIR 1964 Punj 533 and B.L. Bhandari's case. C.W. No. 2656 of 1973, D/- 7-11-1973 (Punj) were different.In Daya Swarup Nehra's case (supra), there was open space about 300' X 300' on the entrance junction of sectors 9-C and 9-D from Madhya Marg facing sector 17 and in the said Zoning Plan the said site was shown as Public Space for landscape features, educational, public and community buildings and Public amenities. An attempt was made for construction of a petrol pump on a portion of the said site which was against the specifications made in the Zoning Plan and also contrary to the provisions of the Act and the Rules made thereunder. The said attempt was challenged in a writ petition and it was held that the petrol pump-cum-service station would be commercial building and it would be abnoxious trade and the same was contrary to the purpose for which the site had been left So the construction of the oetrol pump-cum-service station in the circumstances of that case did tantamount to changing of the Zoning Plan. In B.L. Bhandari's case (supra), he had purchased a preferential plot and for that he had to pay 10% more in addition to the price fixed by the Rules . A preferential plot, according to the definition, is one which has one or more side boundaries abutting on an open space at least 40 feet in width or which opens on two or more than two streets. The plot purchased by B. L. Bhandari abutted on only one street but it had an open space to a distance of 40 feet in width on one of its sides. B. L. Bhandari had built his house on the aforesaid plot. When he had been away to the United Kingdom, the Chandigarh Administration constructed a building to be used for a club. Its construction was within 40 feet from the boundary of the plot of B. L. Bhandari. Thereafter, the Chandigarh Administration wanted to raise additional constructions extending UP to 16 feet from the boundary wall of the house of B. L. Bhandari. Therefore, he impeached the said act of the Chandigarh Administration in the writ petition. It was in these circumstances that it was held that the construction of the additional buildings extending UP to 16 feet from the boundary wall of B. L. Bhandari was in contravention of the Zoning Plan and, therefore, the same was disallowed. In the case in hand, as remarked above, the widening of the road to provide double carriage way would be subservient to the commercial purposes for which the spaces had been reserved in the Zoning Plan and, as such, the same cannot be said to be use of whatever little space that would be covered by the double carriage way different from the one for which the spaces had been reserved. To put it differently, the construction of double carriage wav cannot be said to be change or altering of the Zoning Plan.Viewed thus, the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner that construction of double carriage way on the road could not be taken up without sanction of the Parliament appears to be devoid of any force.

11. In the Zoning Plan, produced at the time of arguments, the site was never reserved for the petrol pump. It was only in the layout, which was prepared later on when the site was leased for the petrol pump, that it (the petrol pump) had been shown on the site. Therefore, no assistance can be invoked by the petitioner by the mere fact that the site had been shown for petrol pump in the layout which had to be prepared at the time of leasing of the site for the petrol-pump. No other petrol pump has either been installed or is being worked abutting the road, much less that demolition of any petrol pump which is similarly situated like the one in hand has been avoided. Therefore, the argument that the notice to quit (Annexure P-8) was discriminatory is not borne out by the facts or circumstances of the case.

12. Section 3 of the Act empowered the Chandigarh Administration to grant leases. It does not provide any provision for regulating the leases. The authority to grant the lease includes the power to determine the lease, of course in accordance with its terms. The period of the lease had expired. Therefore, the Chandigarh Administration had undoubtedly the right to terminate it. There is nothing in the Act, the Rules or in the material on record which can give an indication that the petitioner had any right to preclude the Chandigarh Administration from terminating the lease. Therefore, the argument raised on behalf of the petitioner that the notice to quit suffered from arbitrariness is without any basis. When the period of lease had expired and the Chandigarh Administration had the right to terminate the lease, the reason given by it for terminating the lease becomes immaterial. Even otherwise, as pointed out above, the Chandigarh Administration required the site for widening the road in order to construct double carriage way thereon due to growth of traffic and in the interest of the general public and the said widening of the road does not tantamount to the changing of the Zoning Plan and, as such it, cannot be maintained that the reason stated in the notice to quit (Annexure P-8) that the site was required for construction of double carriage road amounts to a purpose which can be termed as illegal or unauthorised. Therefore, the contention that the notice to quit was bad because the purpose for which the site was required by the ChandigarhAdministration was, according to the learned counsel for the petitioner, against law, is wholly unacceptable. There was the relationship of lessor and lessee between the Chandigarh Administration and the petitioner. The petitioner did not possess and did not acquire any right to remain in possession of the site or to carry on business of petrol pump there for all times. So, it cannot be maintained that the petitioner had any absolute, much less fundamental, right to remain in possession of the site or to carry on business of petrol pump thereon for all times, much less to deprive the Chandigarh Administration of its right to terminate the lease or to use the site for the purpose for which it is required by it (the Chandigarh Administration). Therefore, the question of violation of fundamental rights claimed by the petitioner under Articles 14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution of India on account of the issuance of the notice to quit does not arise.

13. For the foregoing reasons, I find that all the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioner are without any merit and the same are repelled. So, there is no substance in this writ petition and it must fail.

14. M/s. Kav Tee Service Station in the second writ petition were appointed as dealers by the petitioner. So, their right to remain in possession of the site or to impeach the notice to quit cannot be better than the right of the petitioner in Civil Writ Petition 2393 of 1974, who had been lessee. In view of the failure of the said writ petition. M/s. Kav Tee Service Station cannot have any luck in the second writ petition and the same is also bereft of any merit and fails.

Consequently, I dismiss both the writ petitions with costs. Counsel's fee to be determined at Rs. 200/- in each of the two writ petitions.


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