1. The tenant-petitioner has filed this revision petition against the order of the Appellate Authority, Gurdaspur, dated 18th May, 1981 whereby the order of the Rent May, 1981 whereby the order of the Rent Controller dismissing the ejectment application, was set aside and an order of eviction was passed against him. The premises in dispute is a very small place which can more aptly be described as an Almirah constructed in the outer wall of a temple of goddess Devi fully described in site plan Ext. P-1. The landlord is the Manager (Mohitmam) of Mandir Devi in question, whereas the building in which the said Almirah is situate is owned by Devi Mandir. It was alleged in the ejectment application that the Almirah in question was erected for installation of an idol of God Bhairaon Ji. As the idol was not available and the Almirah was not to be put to use immediately, the same was let out to the petitioner at the rate of Rs. 35/- per month. Since the premises in dispute is now required for the purpose, it was built, i.e. for installing the Murti of Bhairon Ji, the ejectment was sought of the tenant under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 (hereinafter referred to as the Act), it being required by the landlord for its own use and occupation. The tenant contested the application and pleaded that the premises in question is a shop which, being small in dimensions, looks like an Almirah and since the premises in dispute was let our for non-residential purpose, the building will be said to be a non-residential building and the landlord is not entitled to seek his ejectment on the ground of bona fide requirement for his own use and occupation.
2. On the pleadings of the parties, the Rent Controller framed the following issues:
1. Whether the premises in dispute are a residential building and are bona fide required by the applicant for the use and occupation of the temple, i.e., for the installation of the idol If so, its effect?
3. The Rent Controller came to the conclusion that the landlord has failed to prove that the premises in dispute which are in the nature of an Almirah, are being used for the purposes of residence and are residential premises. In other words, it came to the conclusion that the building is a non-residential one and, therefore, the ground of eviction on the basis of personal necessity is not available to the landlord. Consequently, the eviction petition was dismissed. On appeal, the Appellate Authority reversed this finding of the Rent Controller and came to the conclusion that the premises in question are an integral part of the temple of goddess Devi and there is no denying the fact that the substantial portion of the building of the temple is used as temple and, by no stretch of imagination, the activities of devotes of the temple could be described as a trade or business. This clearly shows that the temple is a residence of the goddess and as such the temple can hardly be described as a non-residential building. That being so, the small portion of the building, which was let out, even though for being used for trade or business purpose, will not make that portion as a non-residential building. It was further held that the demised premises are a residential building and the landlord requires them bona fide for personal use and occupation. As a result of this finding, the order of the Rent Controller was set aside and an order of eviction was passed against the tenant. Dissatisfied with the same, the tenant-petitioner has come up in revision in this Court.
4. The only contention raised on behalf of the petitioner is that since the premises in dispute was let out for business purpose, the building will be termed as a non-residential building as defined in Section 2(d) of the Act. It was further contended that though the rented premises is an integral part of the temple but the definition of the building as given in Section 2(a) of the Act means any building or part of a building let for any purpose. Thus, the argument proceeds that the premises in dispute, though a part of the building, will be termed as non-residential building which has been defined as a building being used solely for the purpose of business or trade. According to the learned counsel, for the purpose of determining the nature of the building, only the premises rented out are to be seen and not the whole building of which it forms the part. In support of his contention, he referred to Rattan Lal v. Laxmi Devi, (1971) 73 Pun LR 86 ; T. Dakshinamoorthy v. Thulja Bai, AIR 1952 Mad 413 (FB) and Jagan Nath v. Sangrur Central Co-operative Bank Ltd., Tappa, District Barnala, 1980 Cur LJ (Civil) 254 (Punj & Har). On the other hand, the learned counsel for the landlord-respondent submitted that though 'building' means a part of the building let for any purpose also but it is to be read with the opening words of Section 2 of the Act which provides as under :--
'In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context,..........'
According to the learned counsel, when the nature of the building is to be determined for the purpose of ejectment as provided under Section 13 of the Act, then we are to see the building as a whole when the rented premises forms a part of the whole building. In support of this contention, reliance was placed on the Division Bench judgment of this Court reported as Sardarni Sampuran Kaur v. Sant Singh, 1982 Cur LJ (Civil) 233 : (AIR 1982 Punj & Har 245), wherein the judgment delivered by me rendered in Mulkh Raj v. Hari Chand, 1981 Cur LJ (Civil) 500, was approved.
5. I have heard the learned counsel for the parties at a great length and have also gone through the case law cited at the Bar. Of course, the judgment reported in Rattan Lal's case (supra) supports the contention of the learned counsel for the petitioner and since I had taken a different view in Mulkh Raj's case (supra) ordinarily in that situation the case should have been referred to a larger Bench. But, since the Division Bench of this Court has approved my view in Sardarni Sampuran Kaur's case (supra), I do not find any justification to refer the matter again to a larger Bench. It has been now observed by the Division Bench that what deserves highlighting is the fact that the definition of the word 'building' in S. 2 of the Act is not in terms absolute but is subject to contextual limitations. The very opening part of the said section makes it explicit that the definition is to apply only if there is nothing repugnant in the subject or the context. Consequently, the use of the word 'building' in S. 13(3)(a)(iii) has to be viewed in its particular textual context and not with any inflexible absoluteness of the literal terms of clause (a) of Section 2 of the Act. Therefore, it would be possible to construe the word 'building' as used in S. 13(3)(a)(iii) of the Act to include the integrated larger building as a whole rather than the part thereof demised to a particular tenant alone.
6. It may be that S. 13(3)(a)(iii) of the Act relates to a case of any building or rented land which has become unsafe and unfit for human habitation as was the case before the Division Bench of this Court in Sardarni Sampuran Kaur's case (AIR 1982 Punj & Har 245) (supra), but I am of the considered opinion that while interpreting clause (a)(i) of S. 13(3) of the Act, which relates to the residential building, the same consideration would apply and the word 'building' used therein will mean the integrated larger building as a whole rather than a part thereof demised to a particular tenant alone. It stands to reason that where a very small portion of the residential building is let out for non-residential purposes, it does not mean that that particular portion has become non-residential whereas the other building of which it is an integral part, is residential one. In order to determine the nature of the building, the word 'building' in Section 13(3) will also mean the building as a whole and not a part of a building demised to a particular tenant.
7. As regards the bona fide requirement of the landlord for its own use and occupation, it was not contested in this petition.
8. No other point arises.
9. Consequently, this petition fails and is dismissed. However, the tenant is allowed two months time to vacate the premises in dispute provided all the arrears, if any, up-to-date along with two months' advance rent is deposited with the Rent Controller within three weeks from today and the tenant further undertakes to vacate the premises, in dispute, and hand over the vacant possession of the building in question to the landlord on the expiry of the aforesaid two months' period. No costs.
10. Petition dismissed.