1. This is a tenant's revision petition against the decision of the Appellate Authority confirming on appeal the order of the Rent Controller evicting him from the premises in dispute.
2. In 1942, Santokh Singh and his brother Niranjan Singh had purchased the house, which is situate in Ludhiana. In the same year, a portion of this house, consisting of two rooms, a kitchen, a terrace and a gallery, on the first floor, was given on rent by Niranjan Singh to one Moti Ram at a monthly rent of Rs.6/-. It appears that in 1945, an application under the Rent Act for the eviction of Moti Ram on the ground of personal necessity was moved by Niranjan Singh. Subsequently, a compromise was effected and this application was withdrawn. In 1960, Moti Ram died and was survived by his three sons Hari Chand, Lal Chand and Dhian Chand. In 1963, another application under Section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949, hereinafter called the Act, was made by Niranjan Singh and his brother Santokh Singh against Shri Hari Chand and his brother Lal Chand for their eviction from the premises. This application was also, subsequently, withdrawn in April 1964, because the landlords had not given the required notice under Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
It appears that in January 1967, another application of a similar kind was moved by both the brothers against Hari Chand and Lal Chand. It is said that this application was also withdrawn at the appellate stage. In August 1968, an application for ejectment under Section 13 of the Act, out of which the present revision petition has arisen, was filed by Santokh Singh on his own behalf and as attorney of Niranjan Singh, against Hari Chand alone. The grounds of ejectment were: (a) non-payment of rent; (b) that the tenant had materially impaired the value and utility of the premises; and (c) 'that Santokh Singh has returned from East Africa and decided to settle permanently at Ludhiana and the premises in his occupation are insufficient to meet his requirements and, therefore, he needs the premises in the possession of the tenant for his bona fide personal need.'
3. This application was contested by Hari Chand, who denied the allegations made by the landlords and pleaded that he was the tenant of Santokh Singh alone and not of Niranjan Singh. His case further was that after the death of his father, the latter's sons as his heirs, entered into possession of the property as joint tenants and were still occupying the same in that capacity. The ejectment application was bad for non-joinder of necessary parties. It was further said that no valid notice had been given to him and his brothers, who were occupying the premises in dispute as tenants.
4. On the first date of hearing, the arrears of rent together with interest and costs of the application, were tendered by the tenant, with the result that this ground of eviction was no longer available to the landlords.
5. The Rent Controller found that Santokh Singh and Niranjan Singh were co-owners of the disputed premises and relationship of landlord and tenant existed between Santokh Singh and Hari Chand tenant. It was further found that Santokh Singh bona fide required the premises for his own use and occupation. It may be stated that the tenant did not press issue No. 4--'Whether legal heirs of Moti Ram are necessary parties' which was struck at his instance. It may also be mentioned that an additional issue had been framed by the Rent Controller to the effect whether or not a valid notice under Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act had been served by the landlords on Hari Chand, tenant, but no finding was given by the Rent Controller on that issue. On the findings recorded by him, the Rent Controller granted the eviction application.
6. Aggrieved by this decision, the tenant went in appeal before the Appellate Authority. The said authority gave a finding in favour of the landlords on the additional issue and held that a proper notice under S. 106, Transfer of Property Act, had been given by them. On the ground of personal necessity, the Appellate Authority confirmed the finding of the Rent Controller and dismissed the appeal. The tenant has come here in revision.
7. The first argument raised by the learned counsel for the petitioner was that the Appellate Authority was in error in holding that a valid notice under Section 106, Transfer of Property Act, had been issued by the landlords before filing the eviction application. His submission was that the tenant had clearly stated in his written statement that he and his two brothers, namely, Lal Chand and Dhian Chand, were the joint-tenants of the premises and they too were occupying the same and no valid notice under Section 106, Transfer of Property Act, had been given to them. Even though the Appellate Authority had held that a valid notice had been issued to Hari Chand that would not be sufficient under the law, unless the same notice was issued to his other two brothers, who were also the joint-tenants of the property.
8. Since the case set up by Hari Chand in the written statement was that his other two brothers, after the death of their father Moti Ram, were also in occupation of the premises and they were the joint-tenants, they were also necessary parties to the application. It was on this assertion that issue No. 4 was framed by the Rent Controller. As I have mentioned above, that issue was not pressed by him before the Rent Controller. From this it can be legitimately inferred that he was not pursuing his objection that his other two brothers were also the joint-tenants with him and as such were necessary parties to the application. That also explains as to why the additional issue, that was struck by the Rent Controller, was worded as 'whether the notice served upon respondent under Section 106, Transfer of Property Act, is invalid. If so, to what effect?' If Hari Chand was serious about this matter, he would have got not only his own name but of his other two brothers also inserted in this issue.
As rightly pointed out by the learned counsel for the respondent, the finding of the Appellate Authority, after appreciation of evidence, was that Hari Chand was in occupation of the premises and he was liable to pay rent for the same to his landlords. There is ample material on the record, viz. property-tax register, Exhibit A-16, ration-card, Exhibit RD/3 and Santokh Singh's own statement to support the finding given by the Appellate Authority. If that be so, then obviously he alone would be covered by the definition of the word 'tenant' as given in Section 2(i) of the . His two brothers never came into the witness-box to say that they were also the tenants of the premises. It is also surprising that even Hari Chand did not say in his statement that his other two brothers were also liable to pay the rent or they ever paid the rent. Under these circumstances, I am of the view that the Appellate Authority was right in observing that a valid notice under Section 106, Transfer of Property Act, had been given to Hari Chand in the instant case.
9. Leaned counsel then contended that the findings of the Appellate Authority on the ground of personal necessity was also erroneous in law. He submits that when a landlord files an application under Section 13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act, he has to show that he requires the premises for his own residence. I am purposely saying 'residence', because in the statute, the words used are 'requires it for his own occupation'. In support of this contention, he referred to a decision of the Supreme Court in Attar Singh v. Inder Kumar, 69 Punj LR 83=(AIR 1967 SC 773). The Supreme Court, undoubtedly, was dealing with Section 13(3)(a)(ii)(a) of the Act and interpreting the words 'for his own use' occurring therein. On the reasoning given by the Supreme Court in the said case, learned counsel argues that the words 'for his own occupation' in Section 13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act should be interpreted as 'for his own residence'. In the instant case, according to the learned counsel, it was proved on the record that the landlord did not bona fide require the disputed premises for his own residence.
In that connection, he referred to two circumstances. Firstly, that previously also two rooms, a kitchen, a verandah and a courtyard on the ground floor were vacated by Joginder Singh tenant and the said accommodation was then utilised by the landlords for their hosiery business. Secondly, he submitted that the landlords file an application for the ejectment of another tenant, Ram Kishan, who was occupying a Baithak and a store on the ground floor in the same house and after the same had been vacated, they used that accommodation also not for residence but for their business of hosiery. From these two circumstances, he concludes that this accommodation, for which they have made the present application for eviction, will also be utilised by them not for residence, but for their hosiery business and that being so, the application was not bona fide. In this connection, he referred to a decision given by me in Hans Raj v. Balwant Rai, Civil Revn. No. 540 of 1968, decided on 7-10-1968 (Punj).
10. Learned counsel for the respondents concedes that when a landlord files an application for eviction of the tenant under Section 13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act, he has to prove that he requires it for his own residence. That being so, it is not necessary for me to decide as to whether or not the Supreme Court ruling in Attar Singh's case, 69 Punj LR 83=(AIR 1967 SC 773), given under Section 13(3)(a)(ii)(a) will apply to a case under 13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act also. So I shall assume that the landlord Santokh Singh in this case had to prove that he needed this accommodation for his own residence. There is doubt that this application will be held to be mala fide, if the tenant could establish that previously also the landlords had been getting their tenants evicted from the various portions of this house on the ground that they needed them for their own residence, but after they had been evicted therefrom, the said portions had then actually been utilised by them not for their residence but for their business purposes. The question is whether the tenant has been able to prove this fact in the instant case.
As I have said, he relied on two circumstances. So far as Joginder Singh is concerned, it has been conceded that he himself vacated the premises. No eviction application had been filed against him by the landlords on the ground of personal necessity. Therefore, if a tenant suo motu leaves the accommodation in his possession, surely the landlord is fully entitled to use it in any manner he likes. It is the case of Santokh Singh that he has recently come from East Africa and has settled in Ludhiana. If he has a house of his own here, surely he can utilize the same both for his residence as well as for carrying on some business for his maintenance. There is no law that the entire accommodation must be used by a landlord for his residence alone and nothing else.
11. Now coming to the other instance of Ram Kishan there is on the record only the statement of the tenant in the witness-box as R. W. 2 to the effect that the landlords had filed an ejectment application against Ram Kishan for his eviction from one Baithak and one store on the ground-floor and the said accommodation had been vacated by him and thereafter the landlords had utilised the same for their hosiery business. It is true that Santokh Singh, in his evidence as A. W. 8, has admitted that Ram Kishan was in occupation of one Baithak and one store on the ground floor. On this state of evidence, can it be held positively that the landlords had filed an ejectment application against Ram Kishan for his eviction on the ground that they needed the accommodation in his possession for their own personal occupation and further that after the said application had been accepted and Ram Kishan had given up the possession, the landlords had actually used that accommodation for their hosiery business? It is difficult for me to give a firm finding on this point in favour of the tenant on his statement alone.
Surely, the landlord is, under the law, entitled to meet this case of the tenant at some stage of the proceedings and he has to be given a chance to show as to whether these allegations of the tenant were correct or not and also whether he actually used the said accommodation for his business purposes. It was suggested that the tenant could not raise this plea in the written statement. Be that as it may, but whenever this plea was available to him, he could have made an application either to the Rent Controller or the Appellate Authority for taking up this additional plea, which, admittedly, he did not do. The fact remains that the tenant has not been able to conclusively prove on the record that the landlords got any tenant evicted from the first floor of this house, where the accommodation in dispute is, on the ground of personal necessity and then utilised the vacated premises for business purposes. It was stated at the bar that in Ludhiana, the owners of houses use the ground-floor for some sort of business, like, hosiery, and the first floor for residential purposes. As I have said, nothing has been brought on the record to show that the landlords in this case by using a false ground of evidence, have got any residential accommodation on the first floor vacated by a tenant and then used it for business purposes. The ruling in Hans Raj's case, Civil Revn. No. 540 of 1968, D/- 7-10-1968 (Punj) on which reliance was placed, has no application to the facts of this case. Therein, it was observed:
'The plan, Exhibit A/1, put in by the landlord shows that on the ground-floor, there are about four rooms and two small stores. It is in evidence that one of the rooms, which is marked R. 1 in the said plan, was given on rent to Dharam Pal R. W. 2, who was doing his laundry business therein. That room was vacated by him some six or seven years back and the landlord used the same for his hosiery business. Two rooms on the ground-floor were given on rent to Hira Lal R. W. 1. One of those rooms was got vacated by the landlord on the ground that he required it for his residential purposes. This was about five or six years back. After obtaining its possession the landlord put his machines therein and used it for business purposes. The other room is still with Hira Lal and he is doing his business of property-dealer in the same. The remaining rooms on the ground-floor are shown in the plan as hosiery stock room, yarn store, and home store. After going through the case, it appears to me that the landlord is doing hosiery business in Ludhiana and is using the ground-floor for that purpose. The first-floor and the second-floor, as I have already said, are being utilised by him for his residential purposes. Whatever room on the ground-floor is vacated by the tenant he uses the same for his business. I. therefore, agree with the Rent Controller that the main idea of the landlord in getting the room in dispute vacated is that he wants to use the same for his business. I am satisfied that the claim of the landlord was not bona fide, and the eviction application has been made with an ulterior motive.'
I would, therefore, confirm the finding of the Appellate Authority on the ground of personal necessity as well.
12. The result is that this petition fails and is dismissed. In the circumstances of this case, however, I will leave the parties to bear their own costs throughout. The tenant is given two months' time to vacate the premises.
13. Revision dismissed.