1. Lakh Raj Respondent in this Revision Petition is the landlord ad the Petitioner-Firm Messrs Nandu Mal Durga Dass is the Tenant of a shop situated in Western Market Moga Mandi. The respondent filed a petition under Section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act for the ejectment of the tenant from the shop in question, on the ground that the petitioner had demolished the verandah marked ABCD as shown in the Plan annexed with the petition and this act of the petitioner had materially impaired the value and utility of the shop. It was also averred that the respondent had got a Chobara on the first floor as shown at mark 'X' in the Plan and the door of the said Chobara opened towards the roof of the demolished verandah which was being used as a courtyard. On account of the demolition of the verandah, the respondent was deprived of the use of that portion of the premises. The Further allegation is that after the demolition of the Verandah the petitioner started construction of a room over the site of the Verandh, but he was stopped from doing so in consequence of an injunction obtained by the respondent from a Civil Court. The petitioner-tenant resisted the ejectment application and pleaded inter alia in the written reply that the verandah in question was a kacha one and it fell down when the petitioner was placing bags of wheat in the shop. After the verandah fell down, the petitioner had no option but to start reconstruction of the portion. It was not disputed that the petitioner-tenant was restrained from doing so on account of the injection obtained by the respondent from the Civil Court.
The learned Rent Controller framed the necessary issues. The only relevant issue so far as the preset Revision Petition is concerned, is issue No. 1. After discussing the evidence led by the parties and the report of a Local Commissioner who had been appointed to inspect the site, the Rent controller found that the verandah in question had not fallen down itself but had been intentionally demolished by the petitioner with a view to reconstruct the portion, but their intention was foiled by an order passed by the Subordinate judge First lass Moga as per which the petitioner-tenant was injuncted from making any construction on the site. The Rent Controller, therefore, held that by intentionally demolishing the verandah of the building the petitioner had materially impaired the value and utility of the demised permises and had invited ejectment on that score. The Rent Controller ordered the petitioner to vacate the premises within one month from the date of the order.
2. The petitioner filed an appeal before the Appellate Authority, Faridkot, but the said Authority also affirmed the finding of the Rent Controller on the point that the verandah in question had not fallen of its own, but had bee demolished by the petitioner. For coming to this finding, the appellate Authority also disbelieved and evidence produced by the petitioner to the effect that the verandah had fallen at the time when some wheat bags were being staked. The appellate Authority also affirmed the view of the Rent Controller that the demolition had bee carried out as the petitioner wanted to remodel the veradah by reducing the width of its gate. The report of the Local Commissioner in this behalf was also relied upon by the appellate Authority. The Appellate Authority consequently dismissed the appeal of the petitioner. However, two month's time was granted to the petitioner to vacate the premises. The present revision petition seeks to challenge the verdict of the two Rent control Authorities mentioned above.
3. At the very outset of the argument in this case, Mr. J.N. Kaushal, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner-Firm candidly conceded that the did not wish to challenge the finding of fact recorded by the two Rent Control Authorities to the effect that the verandah in question had been intentionally demolished by the petitioner for the purpose of reconstructing it in a better form. In the wake of this concession, the sole argument which is advanced in the case is that the petitioners conduct as above was not enough to make him liable to be evicted. Reference in this behalf is made to the relevant statutory provisions, i. e., Section 13(2)(iii) of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, and in an attempt to interpret the same, the argument is that demolition and reconstruction of the verandah would not result in material impairment of the value and utility of the building. On the other hand, the same would have been enhanced if the reconstruction had been allowed to be completed. The above interpretation of the statutory provision had not been supported by any authority directly on the point. Indeed, Mr. Kauishal has cited an unreported decision of this court in Civil Revn, No. 482 of 1964(Babu Ram v. Kesra Devi) decided on December 11, 1964, in which Hon'ble D. Falshaw, Chief Justice (as his Lordship then was) was seized of a case where some alterations had been made in the four arches of a verandah of the building two of which were closed by bricks and the doors. Were fitted in the other two thus converting the portion into a room. The view expressed by the Chief Justice was that the deprivation of light and air to the remaining portion of the building was more a matter for the concern of the tenant as long as he remained in possession and the act of the tenant in making the abovesaid alteration did not tantamount to material impairment of the value and utility of the building since the walls and the doors fixed in the arches could be easily removed at any time.
Evidently, this case is distinguishable on facts alone inasmuch in the present case, the crucial allegation is that the tenant, had completely demolished the verandah and not merely made an alteration or changes for a more useful utilisation of the accommodation. Another authority of this court was cited in which it was emphasised that a small alteration in the demised premises which is not of a far-reaching nature, would not tantamount to material impairment of the building. As against this Mr. H. L. Sibal, learned counsel for the respondent-landlord has placed reliance upon a recent decision of this Court in Natha Singh v. Harbans Singh, (1980) I Rent LR 337, wherein J.V. Gupta, J. while dealing with a case of similar nature expressed the view that when a tenant demolished the construction already existing and raises a construction even though of a temporary nature, he makes himself guilty on impairing materially t he value and utility of the building. In this authority reliance has also been placed upon some other decisions of this Court, one of which is Banars dass v. Sunder Dass.(1969) 71 Pun LR 59. The principle enunciated in this authority is that where the acts of the tenant are such that the original demised premises have practically ceased to exist and in their place almost a new building has come into being then what was let by the landlord to the tenant has been materially destroyed by his acts the value or utility of the demised property as let is in such a case materially affected. In the wake of these authorities, Mr. Sibal has rightly contended that the intention of the tenant howsoever laudable it maybe to reconstruct the building or a part thereof in a much better manner, is not the sine qua non for adjudging as to whether the value or utility of the building has been impaired or not. On the other hand the moment the tenant internationally demolishes the building the cause of action accrues to the landlords to claim his eviction on the grounds of material impairment.
4. The matter may be viewed from another angle also. Indeed, Rent Legislation are to be interpreted more for the benefit of the tenants, but at the same time the Rent Act is not designed to give a free handle to the tenant to deal with the demised premises in whatever manner he wishes. In other words, the tenant cannot assume the role of a landlord. A point, though different from the one under consideration but quite similar, arose in a case decided by me and reported in Jagdish Chand v. Mst Bachni Devi, 1980 Cur LJ (civil) 490. In that case, the tenant had himself replaced the roof of the demised premises as the original roof was in such a shape that the building was unfit and unsale for human habitation. The argument advanced on behalf of the tenant was that the replacement of the roof was in the nature of repairs and by effecting the same the tenant could avoid eviction. I expressed the view in that case that the moment an eventuality occurs which gives rise to a cause of action to the landlord to eject the tenant, the latter cannot set at naught the ground for eviction by taking certain steps himself I am quite convinced in my mind that if the argument of the learned counsel for the petitioner-tenant is accepted it would lead to 'opening the gates' to entitle all the tenants to demolish any demised building or a part there of with impunity and to reconstruct it in a manner as they think fit. This is certainly not the intention of the Legislature, howsoever liberal interpretation to the statute may be made in favour of the tenant.
5. The revision petition is without force and is dismissed, with no order as to costs.
6. The petitioner-tenant has already utility sufficient time for vacating the premises. He is, however, allowed two months' further time from today to do so.
7. Revision dismissed.