1. Ram Lal Gandhi, respondent (Landlord) is the owner of House No. 264, Sector 10A, Chandigarh. He let it out to Farmer's Forum, Punjab (hereafter the Forum), which is stated to be a registered society in 1960. In May, 1979, he filed a petition for ejectment of the Forum and its Assistant Secretary (P. N. Bhatia) under S. 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act (hereafter the Act) on the grounds of personal requirement and for use as office by his son Ashok Kumar Gandhi, who wanted to start practice as a lawyer in Chandigarh. The Forum and its Assistant Secretary (petitioners) resisted the ejectment petition filed against them and objected that the Forum has not been properly sued and further the landlord did not bona fide require the premises for his own occupation or for use as office by his son, Ashok Kumar Gandhi. It was also objected that the house having been let out for use as an office by the Forum could not be got vacated on the ground of personal requirement.
The Rent Controller framed the following issues:--
1. Whether the respondent No. 1 has not been properly sued, as alleged ?
2. Whether the applicant requires the demised premises for his own use and occupation bona fide?
3. Whether the applicant requires the demised premises for use as an office by his son Ashok Kumar who wants to start practice as an advocate at Chandigarh and also for his residence?
4. Whether the applicant or his son has not vacated any residential building in the urban area of Chandigarh after the commencement of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, and are not in occupation of any other residential building in the urban area concerned ?
5. Whether the demised premises were let out for commercial purposes, as alleged ?
6. Whether the petition is premature, as alleged in para 3 of the preliminary objections of the written statement?
2. The Rent Controller vide order dated 29th Mar, 1982, found issues Nos. 1 and 4 in favour of the landlord and the remaining issues against him and, consequently, dismissed his ejectment petition. The landlord filed appeal against the order of the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority vide order dead 6th Sept. 1982, maintained the finding of the Rent Controller under issue No. 2 but reversed his findings under issues Nos. 3, 5 and 6, which were decided in favour of the landlord. The order of the Rent Controller was consequently set aside and the ejectment petition filed by the landlord allowed. It is against this order of the Appellate Authority that the present revision has been filed by the petitioners.
3. The learned counsel for the petitioners has urged the following three points:--
1. The Forum which is admittedly the tenant of the demised premises has not been properly sued.
2. The house was let out to the Forum for running its office and as such, it is not a residential building. The landlord cannot get it vacated on the ground of personal requirement or for use as office by his lawyer son Ashok Kumar Gandhi.
3. The house is not bona fide required for use as office by Ashok Kumar Gandhi.
Point No. 1:--The ejectment petition has been filed against the Forum through its Assistant Secretary (P. N. Bhatia). The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the Forum could not be sued through its Assistant Secretary. Reliance has been placed on provisions contained in S. 6 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860 which reads as under:--
'6. Suits by and against societies:--Every society registered under this Act may sue or be sued in the name of the president, chairman, or principal, secretary or trustees, as shall be determined by the rules and regulations of the society, and, in default of such determination, in the name of such person as shall be appointed by the governing body for the occasion.
Provided that it shall be competent for any person having a claim or demand against the society, to sue the president or chairman, or principal, secretary, or the trustees thereof, if on application to the governing body some other officer or person be not nominated to be the defendant'.
The ejectment petition filed by the landlord against the petitioners under the Act is not a suit. It is, therefore, difficult to hold that a provision contained in S. 6 of the Societies Registration Act shall be wholly applicable thereto. It is not disputed that P. N. Bhatia, Assistant Secretary of the Forum is its principal officer in Chandigarh. He has contested the ejectment petition filed against the Forum throughout. It is obvious that no prejudice has been caused to the Forum by the landlord having filed the ejectment petition against it through P. N. Bhatia, Assistant Secretary. The contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners that the ejectment petition filed by the landlord against them is liable to fail on this ground is without merit.
4. The learned counsel for the petitioners has argued that the house had been let out to the Forum in 1960 exclusively for being used as its office. A small portion of the building is used as residence by the Assistant Secretary of the Forum right from the inception of the tenancy. The Assistant Secretary and his family reside there primarily to look after the office. The building shall, therefore, be treated non-residential with the result that it cannot be got vacated by the respondent-landlord for his personal requirement. The stand of the learned counsel for the respondent-landlord is that the house had been let out to the Forum for being used as office-cum-residence of the Assistant Secretary. The Assistant Secretary of the Forum as also his family have lived in this house right from the inception of the tenancy. As the house was not let out exclusively for use as an office nor has it been so used, it cannot be treated non-residential in the context of S. 13 of the Act. The contention of the learned counsel for the respondent-landlord must prevail.
5. The house is situated in the residential area. The Assistant Secretary of the Forum is its principal officer in Chandigarh. A part of the house has throughout been used as office of the Forum and the remaining part as residence by the Assistant Secretary and his family since 1960. In the absence of any rent deed, it would be correct to infer that the house had been let out to the Forum for office and residence of its Assistant Secretary. It is difficult to hold that the Assistant Secretary along with his family has lived in part of the building for the sole purpose of looking after the office of the Forum. The house having not been let out nor used solely for non-residential purposes, cannot be so treated for the purposes of S. 13 of the Act. It is, therefore, open for the respondent-landlord to get the house vacated for personal requirement.
6. The respondent-landlord has sought the ejectment of the Forum from the house for his own use and occupation and also for use as office by his lawyer son Ashok Kumar Gandhi. The respondent-landlord was a Kanungo in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Jalandhar and he retired in Jan., 1978. He and his family are living in Jalandhar. His plea that he wanted to shift to Chandigarh has been negatived by the Rent Controller as also by the Appellate Authority. This finding has not been assailed before me.
7. The Appellate Authority has held that the respondent-landlord has proved that he requires the house for use as office by his lawyer son Ashok Kumar Gandhi. The learned counsel for the petitioners has argued that the finding of the Appellate Authority is erroneous.
8. P.W. Ram Lal Gandhi, respondent-landlord, appeared as his own witness and stated that his son Ashok Kumar Gandhi passed law in 1978 and that he is practising as a lawyer at Jalandhar. Ashok Kumar Gandhi is dependent on him and he wants to start practice at Chandigarh. P.W. Ashok Kumar Gandhi stated that he obtained licence to practice as an Advocate on 8th Dec., 1978 and is practising at Jalandhar. He intends to shift to Chandigarh, where he want to practice as a lawyer in the High Court. In his cross-examination, he stated that he wished to work as a Junior to Mr. Vishwanathan, Advocate, who is practising at Ludhiana and Chandigarh.
9. The Forum produced R. W. Prem Singh, Clerk District Bar Association, Chandigarh. He stated from the record that Ashok Kumar Gandhi had become a Member of the District Bar Association, Chandigarh on 26th April, 1979. He has not paid the membership fee after becoming a member of the Bar Association. He has not paid the subscription since May, 1979 and his name is no more shown in the membership list of the District Bar Association, Chandigarh since 1980.
10. Ashok Kumar Gandhi is practising as a lawyer at Jalandhar. He is living with his parents. He became a member of the District Bar Association, Chandigarh on 26th April, 1979 and the ejectment petition was filed on 10th May, 1979. He did not pay the membership fee at Chandigarh from 1980 onwards. He is no more a member of the District Bar Association, Chandigarh. It is difficult to infer from the evidence led on the file that the plea of the respondent-landlord that his son Ashok Kumar Gandhi wants to shift his practice as lawyer from Jalandhar to Chandigarh and, as such, he requires the house for setting up his office is genuine or bona fide. The learned Appellate Court has erred in recording a finding on this point in favour of the respondent-landlord. The finding of the learned Appellate Court is reversed.
11. In the result, the revision is allowed, the order of the Appellate Authority reversed and that of the Rent Controller restored with no order as to costs.
12. Revision allowed.