Skip to content


Ramnikal Pitambardas Mehta Vs. Indradaman Amratlal Sheth - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtSupreme Court of India
Decided On
Judge
Reported inAIR1964SC1676; (1964)0GLR98; (1964)GLR798(SC); [1964]8SCR1
ActsBombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, 1947 - Sections 13(1)
AppellantRamnikal Pitambardas Mehta
Respondentindradaman Amratlal Sheth
Cases Referred and Allarkha Fakirmahomed v. The SuratElectricity Co. Ltd.
Excerpt:
.....subject to the provisions of section 15, alandlord shall be entitled to recover possession of any premises if the courtis satisfied. section 13 provides exceptional cases in which the landlord can eject thetenant even though he had been paying rent regularly or be ready and willing topay rent. these provisions clearly establish that the provisionsof clause (hh) apply when the landlord desires to demolish the premises for thepurpose of erecting a new building on the premises for being let to tenants. in a case like the present, if the plaintiffs on getting possessionstart their work of demolition within the prescribed period, they would haveoccupied the premises in order to erect a building fit for their occupation......that theprovisions of s. 13(1)(g) would not be applicable when the landlord did notwish to occupy the premises as such but intended to occupy it after carryingout major repairs, and decreed the respondent's suit for ejectment. 5. the defendant went up in appeal. it was dismissed. the appellate court,agreed with the views of the trial court. the defendant then presented arevision petition to the high court. it was rejected. it is against this orderthat he has filed this appeal. 6. a preliminary objection has been taken that the revision to the highcourt was incompetent as no question of jurisdiction was involved. for theappellant it is urged that on the facts found, the trial court assumedjurisdiction which it did not have and that therefore the revision wascompetent. we uphold.....
Judgment:

Raghubar Dayal, J.

1. This appeal, by special leave, is directed against the order of theBombay High Court and raises the question of the true construction of sub-cls.(g) and (hh) of sub-s. (1) of s. 13 of the Bombay Rents, Hotel and LodgingHouse Rates Control Act, 1947 (Act LVII of 1947), hereinafter called the Act.

2. The facts leading to the appeal, in short, are that the appellant is atenant of the ground-floor of a house owned by the respondent. The respondentsued for the ejectment of the appellant on the ground that he required theentire house, including the portion occupied by the appellant, for hisresidential purpose. He further stated in the plaint :

'The whole suit bungalow isvery old - built about 75 years ago and at present its different parts arelikely to give way and collapse. Before sometime, a little portion of an upperbalcony had collapsed. In the circumstances, on finding it unsafe to stay in itwithout making additions, alternations and necessary changes, I, the plaintiff,am obliged to wait till I get possession of the whole bungalow.

I, the plaintiff, have got theupper portion of the said suit bungalow vacated at present and only after thewhole bungalow is got overhauled as stated in para above, I, the plaintiff canutilize it for my personal use.'

3. The appellant contested the suit on various grounds including the onesthat the respondent did not reasonably and bona fide require the premises forhis occupation and that he did not reasonably and bona fide require thepremises for carrying out repairs.

4. The trail Court found that the respondent bona fide required the premisesfor his occupation. It repelled the contention of the appellant that theprovisions of s. 13(1)(g) would not be applicable when the landlord did notwish to occupy the premises as such but intended to occupy it after carryingout major repairs, and decreed the respondent's suit for ejectment.

5. The defendant went up in appeal. It was dismissed. The appellate Court,agreed with the views of the trial Court. The defendant then presented arevision petition to the High Court. It was rejected. It is against this orderthat he has filed this appeal.

6. A preliminary objection has been taken that the revision to the HighCourt was incompetent as no question of jurisdiction was involved. For theappellant it is urged that on the facts found, the trial Court assumedjurisdiction which it did not have and that therefore the revision wascompetent. We uphold the preliminary objection and hold that the revision wasincompetent.

7. The question raised was whether a decree in ejectment should be passed onthe ground of personal requirement under s. 13(1)(g) of the Act where it wasproved that the landlord wanted to pull down the premises and build another andthen occupy it. It was said that in such a case he had to proceed under clause(hh) of s. 13(1). It is clear that the question so raised is one ofinterpretation of these two clauses. Section 28 of the Act gives jurisdictionto the Court specified in it, to try a suit or proceeding between a landlordand tenant relating to possession of the premises. That section expresslyprovides that no other Court, subject to the provisions of sub-s. (2) which donot apply to this case, has jurisdiction to entertain such suits. It is clearfrom this section that the trial Court had full jurisdiction to entertain thesuit for ejectment. That being so, it had jurisdiction to interpret whetherclause (g) of s. 13(1) would apply to the present case. The appellate Court hadjurisdiction to hear the appeal. The High Court could not, therefore, interferein revision with the decision of the appellate Court, even if it had gonewrong, on facts or law, in the exercise of its jurisdiction. It follows thatthe revision application had to be dismissed by the High Court and that thisappeal too must fail.

8. Since the merits of the case have been argued fully before us, we expressour opinion on the law point urged before us.

9. The sole question to determine in this appeal is whether the respondent'scase came within the provisions of s. 13(1)(g) of the Act or fell within theprovisions of s. 13(1)(hh). We may now set out these provisions :

'13(1) Notwithstandinganything contained in this Act but subject to the provisions of section 15, alandlord shall be entitled to recover possession of any premises if the Courtis satisfied...

(g) that the premises arereasonably and bona fide required by the landlord for occupation by himself orby any person for whose benefit the premises are held or where the landlord isa trustee of a public charitable trust that the premises are required faroccupation for the purposes of the trust; or

(hh) that the premises consist ofnot more than two floors and are reasonably and bona fide required by thelandlord for the immediate purpose of demolishing them and such demolition isto be made for the purpose of erecting new building on the premises sought tobe demolished.'

10. A landlord can sue for the ejectment of his tenant in view of s. 13(1) for various reasons including the one that he requires the premises reasonablyand bona fide for occupation by himself. The respondent alleged, and the Courtsbelow have found, that he bona fide required the premises in the suit foroccupation by himself. The respondent stated in the plaint that he would takeup residence in the premises after overhauling it. It is on this account thatthe appellant submits that the case falls under s. 13(1)(hh), as the respondentwants the premises for the immediate purpose of demolishing it and erecting anew building.

11. It is further contended for the appellant that the two grounds forejectment under cls. (g) and (hh) are mutually exclusive and therefore alandlord cannot take advantage of clause (g) when his case falls under clause(hh) in view of the immediate steps he has to take after getting possession ofthe premises. We need not express an opinion on this point, as, for reasons tobe mentioned later, the case falls under clause (g) and not under clause (hh)of s. 13(1) of the Act.

12. We agree with the Courts below that the respondent's case falls underclause (g) when he bona fide requires the premises for his own occupation. Themere fact that he intends to make alternations in the house either on accountof his sweet will or on account of absolute necessity in view of the conditionof the house, does not effect the question of his requiring the house bona fideand reasonably for his occupation, when he has provide his need for occupyingthe house. There is no such prohibition either in the language of clause (g) orin any other provision of the Act to the effect that the landlord must occupythe house for residence without making any alternations in it. There could notbe any logical reason for such a prohibition. Under ordinary law, the landlordis entitled to eject his tenant whenever he likes, after following certainprocedure except in cases where he has contracted not to eject him before thehappening of a certain event. The Act restricts that general right of thelandlord in the special circumstances prevailing in regard to the availabilityof accommodation and the incidental abuse of those circumstances by landlordsin demanding unjustifiably high rents.

13. The Act has provided sufficient protection to the tenants against beingharassed by threat of ejectment in case they are unable to satisfy landlord'sdemands. Various restrictions have been placed on the right of the landlord toeject the tenant. Section 12(1) provides that the landlord shall not beentitled to the recovery of possession of any premises so long as the tenantpays or is ready and willing to pay the amount of the standard rent andpermitted increases, if any, and observes and performs the other conditions ofthe tenancy in so far as they are consistent with the provisions of the Act.Section 13 provides exceptional cases in which the landlord can eject thetenant even though he had been paying rent regularly or be ready and willing topay rent. The provisions of s. 13 are for the advantage of the landlord and thevarious grounds for ejectment mentioned in that section are such whichreasonably justify the ejectment of the tenant in the exercise of thelandlord's general right to eject his tenant. There is therefore no reason whyrestrictions not mentioned in the grounds be read into them. We do nottherefore agree with the contention that clause (g) will apply only when thelandlord bona fide needs to occupy the premises without making any alternationin them, i.e., to occupy the identical building which the tenant occupies.There is no justification to give such a narrow construction either to the word'premises' or to the word 'occupies' which have been construed by this Court inKrishanlal Ishwarlal Desai v. Bai Vijkor : [1964]1SCR553 referred tolater.

14. There are provisions in the Act which ensure that the provisions ofclause (g) are not abused. Section 17 provides that if the premises are notoccupied within a period of one month from the date the landlord recoverspossession or the premises are re-let within a period of one year of the saiddate to any person other than the original tenant, the Court may order thelandlord, on the application of the original tenant, within the timeprescribed, to place him in occupation of the premises on the original termsand conditions. This tends to ensure that a landlord does not eject a tenantunless he really requires the premises for occupation by himself.

15. We are therefore of opinion that once the landlord establishes that hebona fide requires the premises for his occupation, he is entitled to recoverpossession of it from the tenant in view of the provisions of sub-clause (g) ofs. 13(1) irrespective of the fact whether he would occupy the premises withoutmaking any alternations to them or after making the necessary alternations.

16. The provisions of clause (hh) cannot possibly apply to the case where alandlord reasonably and bona fide requires the premises for his own occupationeven if he had to demolish the premises and to erect a new building on them.The provisions of clause (hh) apply to cases where the landlord does notrequire the premises for his own occupation but requires them for erecting anew building which is to be let out to tenants. This is clear from theprovisions of sub-s. (3A) which provide that a landlord has to give certainundertaking before a decree for eviction can be passed on the ground specifiedin clause (hh). He has to undertake that the new building will have not lessthan two times the number of residential tenements and not less than two timesthe floor area contained in the premises sought to be demolished, that the workof demolishing the premises shall be commenced by him not later than one monthand shall be completed not later than three months from the date he recoverspossession of the entire premises and that the work of erection of the newbuilding shall be completed by him not later than fifteen months from the saiddate. These undertakings thus provide for a time schedule for the new buildingto come up into existence and ensures atleast the doubling of the residentialtenements, i.e., rooms or groups of rooms rented or offered for rent as a unit: vide s. 5(12) of the Act.

17. Such undertakings would be unnecessary if the landlord seeks to ejectthe tenant from the premises in order to occupy the premises himself aftermaking the necessary alternations to suit his conveniences. Further, s. 17Aprovides for the ejected tenant's re-occupying the premises in case thelandlord does not start the work of demolition within the period specified insub-s. (3A). Section 17B provides for the ejected tenant to notify to thelandlord within six months from the date on which he delivered vacantpossession of the premises of his intention to occupy a tenement in the new buildingon its completion on the conditions specified in the section. Section 17Cprovides that the landlord would intimate to the tenant the date when the newbuilding would be complete and that the tenant would be entitled to occupy thetenement on that date. These provisions clearly establish that the provisionsof clause (hh) apply when the landlord desires to demolish the premises for thepurpose of erecting a new building on the premises for being let to tenants.

18. We may mention that the provisions of clauses similar to cls. (g) and(hh) of sub-s. (1) of s. 13 of the Act have been construed in this way inKrishna Das v. Bidhan Chandra : AIR1959Cal181 , McKenna v. PorterMotors Ltd. [1956] A.C. 688, and Betty's Cafes Ltd. v. Phillips FurnishingStores Ltd. [1959] A.C. 20.

19. The appellant has referred us to two cases of the Bombay High Courtwhich tend to support him in so far as it is held in them that in circumstancessimilar to the present one, the case would come under clause (hh) of s. 13(1)and not under clause (g). They are : Manchharam Ghelabhai Pittalwala v. TheSurat Electricity Co. Ltd. [Civil Revision Application No. 204/56 decided on1-2-57 by the Bombay High Court.] and Allarkha Fakirmahomed v. The SuratElectricity Co. Ltd. [Civil Revision Application No. 164/57 decided on 8-10-57by the Bombay High Court.]. The latter case followed the previous one. In theformer case the High Court said :

'Indeed the expression 'occupation' occurring inclause (g) means 'possession followed by actual occupation', while for thepurpose of clause (hh) what is necessary is 'possesion for the purpose ofdemolition'. 'Occupation' within clause (g) would include 'possession', as itis obvious that one cannot occupy unless one is able to possess, but in thecase of clause (hh) it is clear that it is not necessary to occupy for thepurpose of demolition. What is necessary is that the landlord must possess inorder to enable him to demolish and erect a new building.'

20. Demolition of the existing building and subsequent erection of a newbuilding are only intermediate steps in order to make the building fit foroccupation by the landlord;

21. In Krishanlal Iswarlal Desai's case : [1964]1SCR553 this Courtsaid in connection with the provisions of s. 17(1) of the Act :

'What is, however, clear beyond any doubt is thatwhen the possession is obtained in execution it must be followed by an act ofoccupation which must inevitably consist of some overt act in thatbehalf......'

22. 'Occupation' of the premises in clause (g) does not necessarily refer tooccupation as residence. The owner can occupy a place by making use of it inany manner. In a case like the present, if the plaintiffs on getting possessionstart their work of demolition within the prescribed period, they would haveoccupied the premises in order to erect a building fit for their occupation.

23. We therefore hold that the respondent's case came within clause (g) ofsub-s. (1) of s. 13 of the Act and therefore dismiss the appeal with costs.Three months allowed for vacating the premises on the defendant tenantundertaking to vacate the premises himself during this period.

24. Appeal dismissed.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //