(1) This revision was heard by me initially on 11-9-1963 and I called for a report of the Rent Controller with the comments of the appellate authority through whom the report was called because in view of Sant Ram Des raj v. Karam Chand 64, Pun LR 758: (AIR 1963 Punj 1 (FB) it was considered necessary to decide issue No. 5 as well. The Full Bench decision in the case of Sant Ram Des Raj 64 Pun LR 758: (AIR 1963 Punj 1(FB)) overruled the decision of Division Bench in Ramakrishna Das v. Gordhan Das 62 Pun LR 670. The case has now been placed before me after receipt of the reports of the Rent Controller and the appellate authority.
(2) The controversy arises out of proceedings for ejectment of the respondents Sunder Das and Kishan Chand initiated by Smt. Subhadran Devi, widow of Dr. Jagan Nath Sood, Smt Dalkashna Devi and Smt, Krishna Kumari, daughters of the deceased and Jathiar Nath and Devinadar Nath sons of the deceased. Various grounds in support of the prayer for ejectment were raised including (j) subletting of a part of the building (ii) nuisance (iii) Sundar Das having been bona fide required for the personal occupation of the petitioners and (iv) the building in dispute having been bona fide required for the personal occupation of he petitioners and (v) the respondents having impaired the value and utility of the building. The petition was resisted and the Rent Controller formed the following issues during the course of trial:
1. Whether the respondents have sublet a part of the building?
2. Whether Sundar Das left this building more than four months ago? I f soits effect?
3. Whether the respondents are a nuisance to the applicants and the neighbours?
4. Whether the Chaubara is also a part of the tenancy premises? If so what is the effect of in non-inclusion in the application ?
5. Whether the applicants require the building bona fide for their personal occupation?
6. Whether the responds have impaired the value and utility of the building?
The first issue was found by the Resent Controller against the petitioner; under the second issue, it was conceded that Sunder Das had vacant the premises long ago and Kishan Chand was in its possession as a tenant; issue No. 3 was decided in favour of the petitioners and under issue No. 4 it was held that the Chaubara did not constitute a part of the tenancy premises; issue No. 5 following the Bench decision of this Court in Ram Kishan Dass's case, 62 Pun LR 670 was decided against the petitioners and issue No. 6 was not pressed. On the findings on issue No. 3 ejectment order was passed.
(3) An appeal having been taken to the appellate authority the controversy was stated to be confined to issue No. 3 only. The decision on this issue was reversed by the learned District Judge acting a s appellate authority with the result that the tenants' appeal was allowed and the landlords petition for ejectment dismissed.
(4) On further revision in this Court as already observer the decision in Ram Kishan Dass's case 62 Pun Lr 670 having been overruled by a Full Bench a report of the Controller and the appellate authority on issue No. 5 was called. On behalf of the petitioner decision on issue No. 3 was also assailed before me and in support of the challenge reliance was placed on Ram Chander v. Kidar Nath etc. 56 Pun Lr 18: (AIR 1954 Punj 135). On behalf of the respondents however reliance was placed on Raj Kumar v. Mangu Ram 65 Pun LR Punj 727 both decision having been given by the learned Chief Justice. Without deciding the respective cotention son issue No, 3 I considered it proper at the stage to call for a report on issue No. 5
(5) The learned Rent Controlled and the learned appellate authority have both concurred in reporting that the petitioners do not require the demised premises bona fide for their personal occupation. The report has, however, been challenged by the petitioner and it has been stressed that the Rent Controller as well as the appellate authority have approached the consideration of the question from a wholly erroneous point of view and have also ignored some basic important factors and the rule of law that the requirement of the landlord is his requirement and not that of the Controller or the appellate authority, if they were landlords.
(6) On the other hand, the respondents have supported the report on the ground that ground that it is essentially a question of the fact and should not be interfered with on revision. During the course of arguments, the respondent' learned counsel has made a passing reference to a Supreme Court decision in Jagat Bahadur Singh v. Badri Prasad, 65 Pun LR 452 (SC) in which it has been laid down that the scope of section 15(5) of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act is wider than that of section 115, Civil Procedure Code, and that in that case the learned Single Judge of this Court was in error in treating an application under the rent Act as one under section 115 of the Code. This judgment further shows that the decisions of the learned District Judge holding that landlord did not require the building to carry out the repair work suggested by the Municipal Committee in that case was considered to be justified.
Reference by the respondents has also been made to another decision of the Supreme Court in Neta Ram v. Jiwan Lal, 64 Pun LR 694: (AIR 1963 SC 499) in which it has been observed that the law speaks not of the bona fide of the landlord but that the clam of the landlord that the requires the building for reconstruction and re-erection must be bona fide, that is to say, honest in the circumstances and that the Controller should investigate about the existence of an honest intention to reconstruct in the mind of the landlord. The Rent Restriction Acts having been passed in view of the shortage of house and the high rent which were being charged by the landlord, the purpose of the Act would be defeated if the landlord were to come forward to get tenants turned out on the bare plea that they want to reconstruct the houses without first establishing that the plea is bona fide with regard to all the circumstances.
While commenting on the revisional power of this out under section 15(5) of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, the Supreme Court further proceeded to observe that the power of the High Court dose not include power to reverse by the Rent Controller and the appellate authority on examining fact and after instructing themselves correctly about the law, unless the High Court demonstrates by its own decision the impropriety of the which it seeks to revise, Mahabir Parshad v. Mohinde Kumar, 61 Pun LR 625 and Ganga Bishan v. Puran Singh, 66 Pun LR 452 have also been cited by the question from the point of view that if he were in the position of a landlord, he would not have required the premises in question, though of course, it is open to the Controller on proper material to conclude that the landlord is not requiring the premises bona fide. Shri Suri has indeed said fairly and forcefully all that is possible to say for the respondents.
(7) In a case in hand the learned Rent Controller noticed the fact that the premises in question has been purchased by Dr. Jagan Nath in an auction from the Rehabilitation Department on 22-4-1957 and that the said Dr. Jagan Anth passed away less than two months later on 16-6-1957 with the result that it was only his legal representatives initiated the present proceedings for eviction of their tenants from portion of the said premises. The tenants from a portion of the said premises. The tenants had been on the premises in that capacity under the District Rent and Managing Officer Ludhiana, on monthly rent of Rs. 12.50 paise 22-4-1957 these occupations became tenants under Dr. Jagan Nath as a result of the purchase of the building by him. The learned Rent Controller after remand referred to Exhibit R. W. 3/1 a certified copy of the order of the District Rent Officer Ludhiana, dated 27-8-1955 from which it appeared that two Chaubaras (16' x 12' each) two Verandahs (10' x 6' each) and two Baraties (10' x 6' each) were in possession of the owners Smt. Sulakhma Devi petitioner No. 2 a daughter of Dr. Jagan Nath deceased had got married before the institution of the present proceedings and Smt. Krishna Devi another daughter, got married during the tendency of the present proceedings.
One of the sons of the deceased doctor had joined service at Nangal. This showed that out of five petitioners only Smt. Subhadra Devi and her two sons were living with her in the portion of the building mentioned above. In the ration-cared four members were shown to be residing with Devinder Nath is noted in the order to have deposed that on account of the illness of his mother, Smt Subhadra Devi his elder sister, and her two children were also living at Ludhiana. The Rent Controller however did not feel inclined to believe this part of the evidence on the ground that if they had in fact been living at Ludhiana, then their names would certainly have been mentioned in the ration-card. Considering these circumstances the Rent Controller came to the conclusion that for three persons the accommodation in possession of the Landlords could not be regarded as insufficient.
(8) The learned Rent Controller sought support for his view from the decision in the case of Sant Ram Des Raj, 64 Pun Lr 758: (AIR 1963 Punj 1 (FB)) observing that it had not come on the record as to what was the income of the deceased doctor and that in any case there was noting on the record to suggest that the petitioners belonged to a very high family and were thus accustomed to a high standard of living. The size of the Chanbaras was, according to the learned Rent Controller quite big enough and one of the Verandahs could also easily be converted into a kitchen and a bathroom. He need his conclusion by observing that even if it be taken into consideration that the daughters of Smt. Subadra Devi and her son paid occasional visits to Ludhiana the accommodation mentioned above was more than sufficient to accommodate them. The denied premised were thus found not to have been required bona fide for their personal occupation by the landlords.
(9) The learned appellate authority repeated that the petitioners were in occupation of two binge Chaudharas, two Verandahs two Barsatis, a bath-room and a terrace of the house in dispute and the tenants were occupying mainly the accommodation on the ground floor. Kishan Chand tenant as noted by the learned appellate authority had worked out the total floor area in possession of the landlords as 624 square feet whereas he himself was in occupation of only 494 square feet out of the house in dispute. The evidence on which the appellate authority was called upon to base its report had been recorded more than three years earlier and it was admitted before it that there had Been some further changes in the circumstances of the landlords' family since then but the appellate authority felt that it has to make the report keeping in view the facts as they existed at the time the evidence of the parties with recorded in November 1960. At that time one Devinder Nath's sister had been married and her husband (petitioner in the case) was posted at Nagal.
According to the ration-card issued to the family there were only four family members living with him at Ludhiana. The appellate authority then proceeded to observe that even if the married daughter to there children came to stay at Ludhianan occasionally their need could not be made the basis for ordering the tenants' eviction because after her marriage she and her children became the responsibility of her husband and it was no longer necessary for her brother to provide her and her children accommodation in her parents house. Jatinder Nath day of the appellate authority's report and his family would normally be expected to live with him at his station of posting. Under these circumstances the appellate authority observe that the landlords and that they were not acting in a bonafide manner.
The appellate authority agreed with learned Rent Controller that two big Chaubara, two Brsatis and two Verandahs one of which could easily be covered into a small kitchen should be sufficient for a family consisting of four or five members. The landlords has already the amenity had been managing to live in the present accommodation from the time when Dr. Jagat Nath was alive. Since then due to deaths and marriages in the family and postings of some members outside Ludhiana so proceeds the opinion of ht learned appellate authority there must have been further relief if the family really felt congested at on evidence regarding social position and standing in the profession of the deceased Dr. Jagan Nath was learned appellate authority was unable to say that having regard to all the circumstances the petitioners had no sufficient accommodation for their present needs.
(10) The learned counsel for the petitioners has criticsed these reports and has submitted that the entire approach of the two Tribunals below betrays a complete lack of group of the real legal position in the background of which such cases have to be adjudicated upon. The criticism is to my opinion not without substance. Here it is desirable to state the legal position on the point as I understand it. Section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restrictions Act, 1949 so far as relevant for our purposes in the present case provides that
(3)(a) A landlord may apply to the Controller for an order directing the tenant to put the landlord in possession:
(i) in the case of a residential building if--(a) he requires it for his own occupation;................
(b) The Controller shall, if he is satisfied that the claim of the landlord is bonafide make an order directing the tenant to put the landlord in possession of the building or rented land from such date as my be specified by the Controller and if the Controller is not so satisfied he shall make an order rejecting the application.
The word 'requires ' in the context appears to connote something less than absolute necessity considered in the limited background of his legal obligations; of course it does not mean mere wish and may be intended to contain as has sometimes been described ' to a certain extent an element of need' but it would scarcely be correct to say that where accommodation in possession of the owner is somewhat inadequate for his requirement s he is debarred form making himself more comfortable the premises owned by him if he can show that he has a bona fide intention of occupying it. The word ' bona fide' means in good faith or genuinely; in other word sit conveys absence to intent to deceive. If therefore a landlord is not seeking eviction on the false pretence of requiring additional accomodation with some collateral or oblique motive or for achieving some other ulterior purpose his claim deserves to be upheld as bona fide. The word 'bona fide ' has apparently been used in section 13 in the sense of honest intention to occupy the premises.
It is true that on account of shortage of built accommodation in the country the rent restriction legislation has been brought on the statue-book to protect tenants from greedy unscrupulous landlords who on various pretexts adopt methods and devices to charge or extract exorbitant rents, but at the same time this statute does not seem to be intended to deprive a landlord of his bona fide desire within reasonable limits from a particle point of view to be more comfortable by occupying his own house ; amy be that if his requirements is held on a proper consideration of all aspects and circumstances to be wholly unreasonable the Rent Controller may have some justification for feeling unsatisfied with the bona fides of his claim. The sacrifice his own comforts and requirements by way of personally using the premises merely because they are in the possession of a tenant. The Act in question does not aim at restricting or curtailing the landlords requirements for personal use if the claim is genuine and honest.
And then social customs conventions and habits usage's and practices of the society and other similar considerations also cannot be completely ignored as irrelevant while deterring the question of requirement s of the landlord. The learned appellate authority was, in my opinion not justified in taking a purely legalistic view that if the married daughter or her children do frequently come to stay with her widowed mother because of her old age and illness, then this factor cannot be taken into account for considering the bona fide requirement of the owners. To brush aside the claim of the owners with the curt observations that after marriage the daughter and her children become the responsibility of her husband and that her brothers need not care to see that she and her children become the responsibility of her husband and that her brothers need comfortable and lodged in suitable accommodation frequently is with respect a completely erroneous the true statutory purpose object and intendment.
It is not absolute necessity for the minimum accommodation for the owner which the stature contemplates ; on the contrary the stature merely speaks of the landlord requiring the premises for this own occupation and the Controllers satisfaction that his claim is bonafide that is to say genuine honest and in good faith not inspired by a collateral or an oblique motive. Again Jatinder Nath though posted at Nangal has as it clear on the record to send his family quite often to be with his aged and ailing widowed mother. It is difficult to appreciate how this circumstance can also be completely ignored as has been done in this case while considering the requirements or the bona fide claim of the owners. And then it May be kept in view that as children grow up their needs also grow and both boys and girls from the very nature of things need more accommodation. Having desired in good faith to occupy the premises which cannot be considered to be wholly unreasonable from a broad practical point of view, it may well be held appropriately to fall within the purview of the statute.
(11)It may be pointed out that it was not Dr. Jagan Nath who has let out the premises after the purchase because he considered the same to be spare with him; on the other hand he had purchased the house in question apparently for his own use from the Rehabilitation Department and the persons in occupation were virtually forced on him as occupants under statutory provisions. There is of course no suggestions and none has been urged before me that ejectment is being sought for any ulterior collateral or oblique purpose or that higher rent having been refused by the tenants the present proceedings have been instituted as a part of pressure tactics for extracting higher rent. In case the landlords do not occupy the premises themselves under section 13(4) the tenant has it may be pointed out a statutory right to claim back possession.
(12) For the foregoing reasons, I am constrained to disagree with the learned Controller and the appellate authority in the opinion expressed by them in their remand reports and reversing the order of the appellate authority dated 19-4-1962 restore the order of eviction passed by the Rent Controller on 25-1-1961. The parties in the circumstances are directed to bear their own costs.
(13) Before finally closing the judgment however I cannot help observing that these premises were required for personal use by the owners and they stared the proceedings as far back as 1959 and till 1964 this cause has not been finally adjudicated. The length of delay in such cases is likely to give rise to a feelings of frustration in the minds of suitors in so far as the administration of justice in our country goes. It is therefore desirable to see that such claims are finally disposed of with greater promptitude.
(14) The occupant is given three months for vacating the premises and he should not be evicted before the expiry of three months.
(15) Revision allowed.