1. The first respondent Tikam Das had let out a house in the city of Jabalpurto the second respondent Surya Kant Naidoo. Sometime in 1961 Tikam Das, hereinreferred to as the landlord, served a notice on Surya Kant, herein referred toas the tenant, terminating the tenancy and later in the same year filed a suitin a civil court against the latter for ejectment. On June 23, 1962, by consentof parties, a decree for ejectment was passed in that suit in favour of thelandlord against the tenant. The appellants who were occupying the premises assub-tenants under the tenant had not been made parties to the suit.
2. On June 25 and 26, 1962, the appellants served notices on the landlordunder s. 15(2) of the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act, 1961 which hadcome into force on December 30, 1961, claiming that as the tenant had sub-letthe premises to them before the Act had come into force with the consent of thelandlord, they had become his direct tenants under s. 16(2) of the Act and onJune 28, 1962, the appellants filed a suit against both the landlord and thetenant in a civil court claiming a declaration that they had in thecircumstances become direct tenants of the premise under the landlord. On June30, 1962, the landlord sent a reply to the notices sent by the appellants inwhich he denied that the sub-letting by the tenant had been with his consent orwas lawful. It does not appear that the landlord had put his decree inexecution for evicting the appellants.
3. One of the points canvassed in the High Court was whether in view of s.45(1) of the Act a civil court was competent to entertain the appellant's suitand it held that it was not in that view of the matter dismissed the suit. Thequestion is whether the High Court was right.
4. The Act established certain authorities called Rent ControllingAuthorities and gave them power to decide various matters. Sub-section (1) ofs. 45 states that 'no civil court shall entertain any suit or proceedingin so far as it relates....... to any........ matter which the Rent ControllingAuthority is empowered by or under this Act to decide'. If, therefore, thesuit related to a matter which a Rent Controlling Authority had jurisdiction todecide, the civil court would have no jurisdiction to entertain it.
5. Now the appellant's suit was for a declaration that they had become directtenants under the landlord by virtue of s. 16(2) of the Act. That provision isin these terms :
S. 16. (1).....
(2) Where, before thecommencement of this Act, the interest of a tenant in respect of anyaccommodation has been determined without determining the interest of anysub-tenant to whom the accommodation either in whole or in part had beenlawfully sub-let, the sub-tenant shall, with effect from the date of thecommencement of this Act be deemed to have become a tenant holding directlyunder the landlord on the same terms and conditions on which the tenant wouldhave held from the landlord, if the tenancy had continued.
6. Clearly the appellants would not be entitled to the benefit of thisprovision unless the sub-letting to them was lawful. This is where theirdifficulty arises. Sub-section (2) of s. 15 deals with the case of a sub-letting before the Act and provides for a notice of the sub- letting beinggiven to the landlord by the tenant and the sub-tenant. There is no disputethat the sub-letting to the appellants was before the Act and they had giventhe notice. The sub-letting, therefore, comes within sub-s. (2) of s. 15. Thenwe come to sub-s. (3) of s. 15 which provides, 'Where in any casementioned in sub-section (2), the landlord contests that the accommodation wasnot lawfully sub-let and an application is made to the Rent ControllingAuthority in this behalf, either by the landlord or by the sub-tenant, withintwo months of the date of the receipt of the notice of sub-letting by the landlordor the issue of the notice by the tenant or the sub-tenant, as the case may be,the Rent Controlling Authority shall decide the dispute.' This sub-sectionempowers a Rent Controlling Authority to decide whether a sub-letting waslawful where the landlord disputes that the sub-letting was lawful, on anapplication made to it by either party within the period mentioned. When theRent Controlling Authorities have the power to decide the lawfulness of thesubletting, a civil court is plainly debarred from deciding that question by s.45 (1). In the present case the landlord did contend that the sub-letting wasnot lawful. The appellant's suit was filed within the period mentioned insub-s. (3) of s. 15. So the Rent Controlling Authorities had the power todecide the question on which the appellants' suit depended. It follows that thesuit related to a matter which the Rent Controlling Authorities had power todecide and no civil court was, therefore, competent to entertain it. Hence wethink that the High Court was right in deciding that the suit had been filed ina court incompetent to entertain it, and in dismissing it.
7. It was said that a Rent Controlling Authority would have no power todecide a dispute as to whether a sub-letting was lawful where the noticementioned in s. 15(2) had not been served, or after the period mentioned insub-s. (3) of that section had expired if it had not been moved earlier.Another question mooted was that the two months mentioned in sub-s. (3) onlyprovided a special period of limitation for the application mentioned in it andthe provision of the period did not mean that a Rent Controlling Authority hadpower to decide the matter only if an application had been made within thatperiod, so that if no such application had been made, after the expiry of theperiod a civil court would have jurisdiction to decide a dispute as to whethera sub-letting was lawful. The point is that the real effect of s. 15(3) was todeprive the civil court of the jurisdiction to decide that dispute for alltime. We do not feel called upon to decide these questions. They do not arisein the present case and it was not said that these questions affect thequestion of the competence of the civil court to try the present suit. Theyclearly do not. The suit was filed within the period of two months during whichadmittedly the Rent Controlling Authorities had jurisdiction to decide thedispute on which it was based. Whatever may be the jurisdiction of a civilcourt on other facts, in the present case it clearly had no jurisdiction toentertain the appellants' suit.
8. It was said on behalf of the appellants that s. 15(3) had no applicationto the present case as the landlord had before the appellants' suit was filed,obtained a decree against the tenant for eviction. We are unable to accept thiscontention. There is nothing in sub-s. (3) of s. 15 to indicate that it doesnot apply to a case where a landlord has obtained such a decree. If in spite ofthe decree the appellants had a right under the Act to a direct tenancy underthe landlord, they had right to move the Rent Controlling Authority within theperiod mentioned (now expired) for a decision of the question that thesub-letting to them was lawful. If the Rent Controlling Authority had the powerto decide that question, a civil court would not be competent to decide thedispute in a suit brought within that period. So the decree does not make acivil court, a court competent to entertain the suit.
9. It was also said that as the landlord had not applied under sub-s. (3) ofs. 15 - and this is not disputed by the landlord - that provision is put out ofthe way and it must now be held that the appellants had become direct tenantsunder him. The words of the sub-section lend no support to this contention. Theappellants can claim the direct tenancy only when they establish that thesub-letting to them was lawful. As they claim that right, they must establishit and they do not dose by the failure of the landlord to move for a decisionthat the sub-letting was not lawful. This contention of the appellants seems tous to be untenable. In any case it is difficult to appreciate how the failureof the landlord to apply under s. 15(3) would affect the question of thecompetence of a civil court to entertain the appellants' suit which had beenfiled before the time limited by the sub-section for the landlord to apply to aRent Controlling Authority had expired.
10. We now come to sub-s. (2) of s. 45 of the Act which is in these terms :
S. 45. (1)......
(2) Nothing in sub-section (1)shall be construed as preventing a civil court from entertaining any suit orproceeding for the decision of any question of title to any accommodation towhich this Act applies or any question as to the person or persons who are entitledto receive the rent of such accommodation.
11. It is said by the appellants that their suit raises a question of titleto the tenanted premises within the meaning of that word as used in the sub-section. This contention does not seem to us to be well founded.'Accommodation' has been defined in the Act as a building, garden,ground, out-house, or garage appurtenant to it, its fixtures and furnituresupplied for use there and also land not used for agricultural purpose. Theword, therefore, refers to property of certain varieties and in our opinion thewords 'title to any accommodation' in the sub-section mean a right toor interest in property existing otherwise than under the Act and not thosecreated by it. It does not include a sub-tenant's right created by the Act tobe treated under certain circumstances as the direct tenant of the landlord.This seems to us to be clear from the whole scheme of the Act, which is tocreate certain rights and a to leave them in certain cases to be decided by theRent Controlling Authority established under it, quicklY, inexpensively andsummarily and with restricted rights of appeal from their decision. The objectof the Act as disclosed by its scheme would be defeated if civil courts were toadjudicate upon the rights which it was intended the Rent ControllingAuthorities would decide, with all the consequent delay, expense and series ofappeals. Again if the civil courts had the power to decide such rights, s.15(3) would be meaningless, for the decision of the dispute as to whethersub-letting was lawful was necessary only for establishing a sub-tenant's rightto a direct tenancy under the landlord under s. 16(2). Sub-section (2) of s. 45was clearly intended only to protect a right to resort to a civil court for thedecision of a question as to an interest in property existing apart from theAct concerning which an adjudication may have been incidentally made by a RentControlling Authority in deciding a question which it had been expresslyempowered by the Act to decide. We, therefore, think that sub-s. (2) of s. 45does not authorise a civil court to decide the dispute as to the lawfulness ofthe sub-letting and does not therefore make it competent to entertain theappellants' suit.
12. For these reasons, in our view, no civil court had jurisdiction to trythe appellants' suit and it was rightly dismissed as having been filed in anincompetent tribunal. The result is that the appeal fails and is dismissed withcosts.
13. Appeal dismissed.