1. The sole point which arises for consideration in this case is whether the successor-in-interest of the landlord can be allowed to continue ejectment application when the following four grounds were pleaded for ejectment of the tenant :
1. Non-payment of rent on the first date of hearing.
2. Building being unsafe and unfit for human habitation.
3. Change of user; and
4. The tenant materially impairing the value and utility of the building.
Nar Singh Dass and Gian Chand were the landlords and the premises in dispute had been let out by them to Bachna Ram. Both the landlords filed an application for ejectment on the aforesaid four grounds. While the application was pending before the Rent Controller, they sold the rights in the property in dispute to Smt. Shanti Devi, Smt. Sarla Devi and Sunil Kumar, vide two registered sale deeds dated 10th of July, 1981 and 29th of July, 1981. After purchase the vendees filed an application under O. 22, R. 10 of the Civil P. C. for being impleaded as petitioner-landlords in the pending ejectment petition. The application was opposed by the tenant on the ground that the purchasers could not be allowed to be impleaded as petitioners. The Rent Controller allowed the application and impleaded vendees. This is tenant's revision against the aforesaid order.
2. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties, I am of the view that the purchasers have rightly been brought on record to continue the ejectment petition at least on the following three grounds:-
1.Building being unsafe and unfit for human habitation;
2. Change of user of the demised premises; and
3. Tenant having materially impaired the value and utility of the building.
This view of mine has indirect support from Supreme Court decision in Smt. Phool Rani v. Naubat Rai Ahluwalia, 1973 Ren CR 364 : (AIR 1973 SC 2110). There the landlord died while his appeal was pending before the Appellate Authority and his legal representatives applied for being brought on the record. The only ground which was taken in the ejectment application was that the landlord required the premises for his personal necessity. In the facts of that case, it was held that the legal representatives could not be allowed to be brought on the record because the lis in that case centered around the personal necessity of the landlord who has filed the ejectment petition because it was for him to plead and prove the following three things :--
1. Whether the plaintiff required the premises for his occupation and for the occupation of his wife, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
2. Whether the aforesaid requirement is bona fide; and
3. Whether the plaintiff has no other reasonably suitable residential accommodation.
The moment the landlord died and the enquiry which was to be made came to an end a fresh enquiry had to be made on all the three points after they were pleaded by the legal representatives because it is quite possible that the legal representatives may be having other residential accommodation in the same urban area whereas their predecessor-in--interest may not be having and may not be having personal necessity. According to the Supreme Court, this could be done only in a fresh petition and not by substitution of the legal representatives. If the matter had to be decided on larger principle of law that an ejectment application once filed by a landlord has to come to an end on his death and cannot be continued by his legal representatives or will come to an end by sale and cannot be continued by the successor, then it was wholly unnecessary to consider whether it would be a fit case for the legal representatives/transferees to continue the proceedings. That is why the Supreme Court took pains to consider this matter and found in case of personal necessity that it cannot be continued Adopting the reasoning, if the building was unsafe and unfit for human habitation for the pervious landlord owning the property, it cannot be said that it became a good building the moment it was sold by him and ceased to be unsafe and unfit. Similar would be the answer to the other two grounds of eviction.
3. Mr. Ashok Bhan, learned counsel for the tenant has cited decision of Bombay High Court in Shantinath S. Ghongade v. Rajmal Uttamchand Gugale, (1979) 2 Ren CR 434 : (AIR 1979 Bom 269), where the ejectment petition on the ground of impairment of the value and utility of the building as also on the ground of change of user, was not allowed to be continued by the vendee, wherein it is held as follows (Paras 14 & 15 of AIR):--
'Any landlord who wants to recover possession and wants to take advantage of the provisions of Section 13, is bound to show that certain acts were committed by a tenant and, as already pointed out, that tenant referred to in Section 13(1)(a) and (b) is the tenant of the landlord who wants to recover possession. If at the time when the alleged acts were committed the defendant was not the tenant of the plaintiff-landlord, in my view, he, as a transferee of such property, will not be entitled to found his claim for possession on any breaches alleged to have been committed prior to the time when the title vested in the plaintiff.
In this view of the matter, there is a clear infirmity in the suit filed by the plaintiff inasmuch as admittedly, both the breaches alleged to have been committed by the defendant were committed long before the plaintiff became the owner of the property. Consequently, he was not entitled to invoke the provisions of Section 13(1)(a) or (b) of the Rent Act against the defendant on the basis of acts alleged to have been committed prior to 20th January, 1971. The fact that those breaches continued up to the date of the suit would, in my view, not be material because the breaches had already occurred and there was no question of the breaches being continued.
4. I do not subscribe to the aforesaid view. It is nowhere contained in the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 (hereinafter called the Act) with which I am concerned that the breaches must be committed at a time when the applicant who came to the Court was the landlord. On the contrary what is contained in the Act is that if breaches are committed after the coming into force of the Act, the ground of eviction becomes available to a landlord which can be pleaded by the landlord who wants the premises to be vacated and this would include the successors as well. Moreover, the Supreme Court decision was not noticed and if that had been noticed, the result may have been different.
5. Whether the ground of non-payment of rent would be available to the vendees or not, this matter is left upon and would be gone into afresh by the Rent Controller.
6. For the reasons recorded above, I do not find any merit in the revision petition and dismiss the same with no order as to costs.
7. Petition dismissed.