1. On 18th April, 1953, Bishan Dass, Bhagat Ram and Narinder Kumar gave on rent a vacant plot belonging to them and situate in the City of Jullundur to Satish Chander Pal as partner of Firm Lord Krishna Soda Silicate of Jullundur at a monthly rent of Rs.60/-. The tenant was asked not to construct any Pacca structures on the said plot. It is said that in spite of this condition in the lease-deed, the tenant put up certain machinery and built some sheds on the demised premises. In May 1954, the tenant firm through its another partner Rajeshwar Singh Pal, transferred the machinery and the sheds in favour of Kehar Singh. The goodwill of this firm was also given to Kehar Singh in June 1954. In July 1968, the landlords filed an application under Section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 for the eviction of the tenant on four grounds, namely,(a) non-payment of rent; (b) personal necessity; (c) that the tenant has transferred the leasehold rights in favour of Kehar Singh without their consent; and (d) that the tenant has made unauthorised constructions on the said land. The application was made against the tenant and Kehar Singh was also impleaded as a party.
2. Satish Chander Pal admitted the claim of the landlords, but Kehar Singh opposed the application and pleaded that he was a direct tenant under the landlords with effect from 7th June, 1954, and had also made payments of rent to the landlords in that connection. He denied that the leasehold rights were transferred in his favour by Satish Chander Pal. He also averred that the eviction application was not maintainable because the landlords had not served him with a notice under Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act.
3. On the pleadings of the parties, a number of issues were framed and the only material issue for the purpose of this revision petition is issue No. 1, which reads:--
'Whether there is a relationship of landlord and tenant between the petitioners and respondent No. 2 (Kehar Singh)'.
4. The onus of this issue was placed on Kehar Singh.
5. The Rent Controller ordered eviction holding that there was no relationship of landlord and tenant between the applicants and Kehar Singh and it was held that Kehar Singh and Satish Chander Pal were liable to be evicted on the ground that the latter had transferred his leasehold rights in favour of the former without consent of the landlords.
6. Against this order, Kehar Singh filed an appeal before the Appellate Authority. Before the said authority, Kehar Singh, on 3rd July 1970, filed an application under Order 41, Rule 27, Code of Civil Procedure, praying that he be allowed to produce and prove about 17 documents mentioned in that application and thus establish the payment of rent made by him to the landlords.
7. This application though opposed by the landlords, was accepted by the Appellate Authority by means of his order dated 6th March 1971. That Authority then remitted the case to the Rent Controller directing him to try issue No. 1 afresh by affording an opportunity to the parties to lead their evidence and then return the same to the said Authority together with his fresh finding on that issue and reasons therefor. Against this order the present revision petition has been file by the landlords.
8. Learned counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the order is liable to be set aside, because there was absolutely no ground for accepting the application of Kehar Singh.
9. In the impugned order, after mentioning that Kehar Singh had made an application and it had been opposed by the landlords, the Appellate Authority quoted Section 15(3) of the Rent Restriction Act and then observed:--
'In my opinion, for the just decision of this case, it deems proper that further enquiry be held and the respondent/appellant Kehar Singh be allowed to produce additional evidence as prayed for by him in his aforesaid application dated 3-7-1970 for proving issue No. 1 and that the petitioners/respondents be also allowed to lead further evidence to rebut the evidence which has been led or may be led on issue No. 1 by Kehar Singh, respondent No. 1'.
10. It will thus, be seen that the Appellate Authority has not given any reasons for accepting the prayer of Kehar Singh. It is true that under Section 15(3) of the Rent Restriction Act, the Appellate Authority has wide powers but when the parties have finished their evidence and thereafter the case has been decided by the Rent Controller and subsequently when the appeal against the same comes up before the Appellate Authority and there an application is made under O. 41, R. 27, Civil P. C. for producing additional evidence, one would expect that the said authority, while granting that prayer, will give reasons as to why he is doing so. The opposite party is fully entitled to say that after the other party had full opportunity to lead evidence and it has closed its case, why should it be permitted to lead additional evidence before the Appellate Authority?
Undoubtedly, there are numerous decisions under Order 41, Rule 27, Code of Civil Procedure, wherein it has been held that a valid legal ground has to be made for allowing a person to lead additional evidence. The provisions of Order 41, Rule 27, Code of Civil Procedure, may perhaps not strictly apply to cases under the Rent Act, but still while granting a prayer of this kind, the principles which guide the Courts in accepting an application of that nature have to be borne in mind by the Appellate Authority. As I have said in this case it is somewhat strange that no reasons whatsoever have been given by the Appellate Authority for accepting the prayer of Kehar Singh. It is not enough to say that it will be in the interest of justice to grant the request of the applicant. The Appellate Authority is supposed to apply his mind and then after hearing both the sides, should give adequate reasons for acceding to a prayer of this kind.
11. Learned counsel for the respondents submitted that a similar application was made before the Rent Controller as well and it was rejected by him.
12. After going through the record, I notice that an application of this kind was also made to the Rent Controller by the respondent, after he had closed his evidence and the case was ripe for arguments. While disposing of that application, the Rent Controller observed:--
'I have gone through the evidence of Kehar Singh in his statement made on 29-7-1969 and in this statement he has stated on oath that he made payments through cheques also. This means that the respondent has already led evidence of cheques but if he now wants to produce the details of the cheques, in order to fill up the gaps, I think, he is not earnest in his approach to apply for the same at this stage again and in view of this, I do not find anything in his favour to allow him to dilate the details of cheques given to the petitioners. This the respondent could no very well when he stated that he also made payments through cheques in his examination-in-chief on 29-7-1969. This application of the respondent dated 18-8-1969 is also dismissed'.
13. It will thus, be seen that the Rent Controller has given sound reasons for rejecting the prayer of the respondent.
14. This apart, under issue No. 1, it was for Kehar Singh to establish that there was a relationship of landlord and tenant between him and the landlords. He in his evidence had stated that he had paid rent to the landlords and in proof thereof he had produced certain receipts as well. If all these documents, which he now wishes to bring on the record were in his custody and possession, I see no reason as to why he did not (a) rely on them and (b) then produce them at the proper time, especially when four other receipts had actually been brought into evidence by him. There was sufficient opportunity for him to produce the said documents. He could do so, when he filed his written statement. He could also bring them on the record, even when he was giving his own statement. It is also pertinent to mention that while closing his evidence, he never reserved the right of producing them later on. Under these circumstances, his prayer should not have been granted by the Appellate Authority.
15. For the reasons given above, I would accept this petition and quash the impugned order. There will, however, be no order as to costs. Parties have been directed to appear before the Appellate Authority on 7th February, 1972 for further proceedings in the case.
16. Petition accepted.