(1) This revision petition has been filed by Tara Chand in the following circumstances. The respondent Mool Chand instituted a petition for the ejectment or Tara Chand and his brothers Prakash Chand before the Rent Controller on the ground of non-payment of rent. It was apparently matter of dispute whether the actual rent of the leased premises was Rs. 325/- or Rs. 217 annum. The Rent Controller passed an order for ejectment which was set aside by the Appellate Authority after admitting additional evidence, it being held that the deposit made by the tenant at the rate of Rs. 217/- p. a. for the arrears claimed was valid. In his order accepting the tenant's appeal the learned District Judge, as Appellate Authority held that a central statement made by Tara Chand before the Rent Controller, and repeated before the Appellate Authority was false and he issued notice to Tara Chand under section 476, Criminal Procedure Code to show cause why he should not be prosecuted for perjury in respect of these false statements.
(2) This order is challenged in the present petition on the ground that neither the Rent Controller nor the Appellate Authority under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act of 1949 is a Civil Court within the meaning of section 476, Criminal Procedure Code, which contains provisions for the instituting of prosecutions for perjury by any Civil, revenue or criminal Court with regard to any offence committed in or in relation to a proceeding in that Court. Apart from certain observations made in the judgment in Virindar Kumar Satyawadi v. State of Punjab, (S) AIR 1956 Supreme Court 153, in which a returning officer under the Representation of the People Act was held not to be a Court for the purpose of section 476 Criminal Procedure Code reliance was principally placed on the decision of the Full Bench consisting of S. R. Das, C. J., and G. D. Khosla and Kapur, JJ. in Pitaman's Shorthand Academy V. B. Lila Ram and Sons, 52 Pun LR 1 : (AIR 1950 EP 181) (FB), in which it was held that neither the Rent Controller nor the Appellate Authority under the Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act of 1949 were civil Courts nor subordinate to the High Court.
(3) An attempt has been made on behalf of the respondent to distinguish this decision on the ground that in the Act of 1947 no provision was made for revision to the High Court such as is contained in the present Act, and that the matter was purely being considered from the angle whether any revision lay to the high Court such against the order of an Appellate Authority under the Act under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(4) It does not seem to me, however, that this gives rise to any real distinction. Even in the current Act of 1949 the same provisions exist regarding the appointment of the Rent Controller and Appellate Authority and the manner in which appeals are to be dealt with by the Appellate Authority. There is now a provision in section 15(5) which amounts to giving this Court powers of revision, but the word 'revision' is not used. Sub-section (5) reads--
'The High Court may, at any time, on the application of any aggrieved party or on its own motion, call for and examine the records relating to any order passed or proceedings taken under this Act for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of such order or proceedings and may pass such order in relation thereto as it may deem fit'.
(5) Apart from this, although the question was being considered by the Full Bench from the point of view of whether section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure applied, the question of what and what is not a Court has been exhaustively discussed and I am bound to follow the decision that neither the Rent Controller nor Appellate Authority is a court, and so they cannot be held to be Civil Courts within the meaning of section 476 Criminal Procedure Code unless the term 'civil Court' in that section is to be taken as having a much wider meaning than is ordinarily given to it. I accordingly accept the revision petition and set aside the order of the learned District and Sessions Judge as Appellate Authority calling on the petitioner to show cause why he should not be prosecuted for perjury.
(6) I feel bound, however, to add that I think that the resulting situation is unfortunate and anomalous in that witnesses in proceedings under the Act should in this way be immune from proceedings for perjury under S. 476 Cr. P.C. and I feel that the Act should be amended so as to make the Rent Controller and Appellate Authority civil Courts for the purpose of S. 476.
(7) Petition allowed.