1. The tenant-petitioners have filed this revision petition against the order of the Appellate Authority, Bhatinda, dated March 6, 1980 whereby the order of the Rent Controller, Bhatinda, dated January 6, 1979, directing the ejectment of the tenant-petitioner was maintained.
2. Jagwant Singh, landlord-respondent, rented out the premises, in dispute, to the Union of India, the tenant-petitioner, through its Divisional Engineer, Telegraphs, Ferozepore, on March 25, 1970 at the rate of Rs. 150/- per month. The ejectment of the petitioners was sought inter aliea on the ground of non payment of rent since Oct, 1977. The application for ejectment was filed on May 11, 1978. In the written statement filed on behalf of the petitioners, it was pleaded that they made valid tender through money orders, but the landlord refused to accept the same without any reason. Consequently, no tender or payment was made on the first date of hearing which was June 13, 1978. On that date, the learned Rent Controller assessed Rs. 25 as costs of the application. Shri H. S. Sidhu, Government Pleader, then made a statement that the arrears of rent, as claimed, had already been tendered to the landlord. However, he tendered Rs. 25 as costs of the application. On the pleadings of the parties, the Rent Controller framed the following issues:--
1. Whether the applicant required the premises, in dispute, for his personal use and occupation, as alleged?
2. Whether the respondent is in arrears of rent?
3. Whether the application is bad due to non-joinder of necessary parties?
4. Whether the notice served by the applicant on the respondent under Section 106, Transfer of Property Act, is invalid? If so, to what effect?
It is only, issue No. 2, on the finding of which, the Rent Controller directed the eviction of the petitioners as he came to the conclusion that the petitioners were in arrears of rent and that on the first date of the hearing, the arrears of rent, along with the interest were not tendered. In appeal, this finding of the Rent Controller was affirmed. Feeling aggrieved against the same, the petitioners have come up in revision to this Court.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioners, vehemently contended that the petitioners did not tender the rent on the first date of the hearing because according to their written statement, the rent due had been tendered to the landlord by way of money orders, which were returned as refused by him. Under the circumstances, according to the learned counsel, there was no obligation no the part of the petitioners to make the tender or to make the payment on the first date of hearing except the costs of the application, before the Rent Controller. In support of this contention, he has drawn my attention to sub-section (2) (i) of S. 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 (hereinafter called the Act), which reads:--
'(2) A landlord who seeks to evict his tenant shall apply to the Controller for a direction in that behalf. If the Controller, after giving the tenant a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the applicant, is satisfied:--
(i) that the tenant has not paid or tendered the rent due by him in respect of the building or rented land within fifteen days after the expiry of the time fixed in the agreement of tenancy with his landlord or in the absence of any such agreement, by the last date of the month next following that for which the rent is payable: Provided that if the tenant on the first hearing of the application for ejectment after due service pays or tenders the arrears of rent and interest at six per cent per annum on such arrears together with the cost of application assessed by the Controller, the tenant shall be deemed to have duly paid or tendered the rent within the time aforesaid.'
He also placed reliance on Rajaram v. Ganpatlal, 1974 Ren CJ 569 : (AIR 1973 Madh Pra 268) and Narain Prasad v. Smt. Shobha Singh, (1979) 2 Ren CR 81 (Pat). On the other hand, the learned counsel for the landlord submitted that from the admitted facts, as pleaded in the written statement, the rent for the month of December, 1977, was sent by money order on December 30, 1977. which reached the landlord on Feb. 23, 1978, when it is said to have been refused by him. According to the learned counsel, since the rent for the month of December, 1977, was payable up to the end of January, 1978, the tender made on Feb. 23, 1978, vide Exhibit R-1, was no valid tender in the eye of the law and the landlord was within his right to refuse the same. He also submitted that the Post Office through which the money orders were sent, was (not?) the agent of the landlord and thus, the tender made by the petitioners through, Exhibit R-1, in these circumstances, will be deemed to have been made on Feb. 23, 1978, when it is said to have been refused by the landlord, in support of this contention, the learned counsel placed reliance on Vishnudayal v. Anjori Bai, (1981) 1 Rent LR 332 : (AIR 1980 NOC 175) (Madh Pra) and Raja Ram v. Bisram, AIR 1960 All 747.
4. I have heard the learned counsel for the parties at a great length and have also gone through the record. It may be that the view taken by the Appellate Authority was not correct when it observed that the tenant was under the legal obligation to tender or to make the payment of the arrears of rent on the first date of hearing failing which the order of eviction was to be passed against the petitioners. In case, the tenant can show under clause (i) of sub-section (2) of S. 13 of the Act, reproduced above, that the rent due was paid or tendered within the time prescribed therein, then the proviso to that clause, is not attracted. But in that case, the tenant must prove that the rent due was tendered or paid within the time, as fixed in the agreement of the tenancy with his landlord or in the absence of such an agreement, on the last date of the month next following that for which the rent is payable. In the present case, it is the case of the tenant himself that the rent for the month of December, 1977, though sent by money order within time, was refused by the tenant (landlord?) on Feb. 23, 1978, vide Exhibit R-1. Thus, this tender could not be said to be a valid tender, as contemplated under sub-clause (i)of sub-section (2) of Section 13 of the Act. Failing to make the payment of the rent within time, it was obligatory for the tenant to tender the arrears of rent together with costs and interest, on the first date of the hearing, in order to save his eviction.
5. In Raja Ram's case (AIR 1960 All 747) (supra), it was held that the post office could not be held to be the agent of the Court in that case and consequently, the handing over of the money to the post office on April 26, 1956, failed to satisfy the requirement of paying the amount into Court as was required by the decree. In any case, there is no evidence on the record in the present case, nor it is the case of the tenant, that there was any understanding or agreement between the parties, that the rent will be paid through money orders. In the absence of any such agreement or understanding, it could not be held that the post office was the agent of the landlord in the instant case.
Section 44 of the Post Office Act. 1898, provides:--
'44. (1) Subject to such conditions as the Central Government may, by rules made under Section 43, prescribe in respect of the levy of additional rates of commission or fees or any other matters, a person remitting through the post office by means of money order may require that the amount of the order, if not paid to the payee, be repaid to him or be paid to such person other than the original payee as he may direct.
(2) If neither the payee nor the remitter of money order can be found, and if within the period of one year from the date of the issue of the order no claim is made by such payee or remitter, the amount of such order shall not be claimable from the Government.'
In view of the provisions of this section, a person remitting money through the post office by means of a money order may, at any time till that amount is paid to the payee, require that the amount of the money order be re-paid to him or be paid to such person other than the original payee, as he may direct. In other words, the control over that money is that of the remitter till the money is actually paid to the payee, mentioned in the money order. Under the circumstances, the petitioners failed to make the tender, as contemplated under sub-clause (i) of sub-section (2) of S. 13 of the Act, and, since no arrears of rent were paid or tendered on the first date of hearing, the eviction order was rightly passed by both the Courts below.
6. Consequently, this revision petition fails and is dismissed with cost. However, the petitioners are allowed three months' time to vacate the premises; provided all the arrears of rent, if any, and the advance rent for three months, are deposited with the Rent Controller within a month from this order.
7. Revision dismissed.