M.H. Beg, J.
1.Jangbir, appellant, is a tenant of a room in a house which was purchased by the respondent Mahavir Prasad Gupta on 15th May, 1956, for Rs. 1930/- shown in his sale deed as situated in 'Khasra No. 203, Khewat No. 1, situated at Village Chowkri Mubarkabad, Delhi Province, within the abadi of Onkar Nagar-II'. The landlord owner had filed a suit for the ejectment of the appellant and for recovery of rent which was dismissed by a Subordinate Judge of Delhi on 26th May, 1966 on the ground that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court was barred by the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') which provided the only modes of relief for aggrieved landlords by proceeding under the Act.
2. The respondent landlord had alleged that the suit lay in the ordinary Civil Court and that it was governed by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act inasmuch as the house, in which the appellant was the tenant of a room, fell outside the area to which the Act was applicable. The short question on which the case was decided was whether the house of the respondent was situated in an area to which the Act had been applied by a notification under Section 507(a) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, dated 7th January, 1960. published in the Delhi Gazette on 17th January, 1960 read with the notification dated 12th April, 1962 under Section 1, Sub-section (2) of the Act, published in the Gazette of India on 21st April, 1962.
3. The operative part of the notification of the Delhi Administration reads as follows :
No. F. 9/5/59-R&SIn; exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (a) of Section 507 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (66 of 1957), the Corporation with the previous approval of the Central Government hereby declares that the following localities mentioned in the Schedule given below, hitherto forming part of the rural areas, shall cease to be rural area.
Thereafter, was given a schedule and then came the heading : 'Shahdara Zone'. The Schedule has 5 columns. The first is for the 'Serial No.' The second is for the name of the 'Revenue estate', which is translation of Mauza, said to be an area composed of several villages. The third column is for the name of the actual village or colony of the Mauza. It is headed 'Name of Colony Village proposed to be included in the urban area'. The fourth column is for what is called the 'square number'. The last and the fifth column was headed : 'Khasra/Killa Nos. covered by the Colony/Villages'. We are concerned here with serial No. 7 which has the entries indicated below made under the appropriate number of each column :
1. No. 7.
2. Chowkri Mubarakabad.
3. Onkar Nagar Lekhu Pura.
4. Square No. Not given.
5. Across 'Onkar Nagar' are shown : '238, 242, 240, 234, 235, 236, 234, 231, 230 and 271'; and, across 'Lekhu Pura' are shown : '215 to 217, 211, 212, 199 to 203.
4. The notification published in the Gazette of India on 21st April, 1962, may be reproduced in toto. It reads :
New Delhi, the 12th April, 1962.
G. S. R. No. 486In exercise of powers conferred by the proviso to Sub-section (2) of Section 1 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 (59 of 1958), the Central Government hereby extends all the provisions of the said Act :-
(a) to the areas which immediately before the 7th April, 1958, were included in the Notified Area Committee, Najafgarh and the Notified Area Committee, Narela; and
(b) to the localities mentioned in the schedule to the notification of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi No. F-9/5/59-R&S;, dated the 28th December, 1959, published in the Delhi Gazette Part IV, dated the 7th January, 1960, and which by virtue of that notification have formed part of the urban areas within the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
A. V. Venkatasubban, Deputy Secretary.
5. The Subordinate Judge, very rightly observed that there was no dispute between the parties that Mauza Chowkri Mubarakabad was included within the limits of Delhi Municipal Corporation by the notification dated 7th January, 1960. He pointed out that there was no indication of a sub-division of Khasra No. 203 showing that any part of it was divided or separately numbered.
6. The disappointed plaintiff landlord was, however, not content with so obviously correct a finding. He appealed to the District Judge who agreed entirely with the Trial Court and also recorded a finding of fact that Khasra No. 203, situated in the Mauza or Revenue Estate of Chowkri Mubarakabad, was covered by the notifications. It seems to us that no other inference was reasonably possible.
7. The plaintiff respondent seems, in a gambling spirit, to have decided to try his luck by a second appeal to the High Court. What surprises us is that a learned Judge of the Delhi High Court, without considering the objects of the notifications or discussing any principle of construction of documents which could indicate that a point of law had really arisen for decision before him, decided to set aside the concurrent findings of fact, and, thereby, patently exceeded the jurisdiction of the High Court under Section 100 Civil Procedure Code. We need hardly say that there cannot be any doubt that he did so. We are surprised that the law laid down by this Court, and, before that, by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should have been so completely ignored. By way of example we may refer to the following cases : Deity Pattabhiramaswamy v. S. Hanyamayya and Ors. A.I.R. 1959 S.C. 57; Sri Sinha Ramanuja Jeer and Ors. v. Shri Ranga Ramanuja Jeer and Anr. : 2SCR509 ; Nedunuri Kameswaramma v. Sampdtj. Subba Rao : 2SCR208 ; Bhusawal Borough Municipality v. Amalgamated Electricity Co. Ltd. and Anr. : 5SCR905 ; Secy, of State v. Rameshwaram Devasthanam and Ors. ; Anup Mahto v. Mita Dusadh and Ors. Sahebrao Narayanrao Deshrnukh v. Jaiwantrao Yadaorao Deshmukh and Anr.
8. It is urged on behalf of the appellants that the construction of a document is always a question off law. Reliance was placed upon Meenakshi Mills, Madurai v. The Commissioner of Income-tax, Madras 0044/1956 : 1SCR691 and Nedunuri Kameswaramma v. Sampati Subba Rao (Supra). This Court has never laid down that inferences from contents of a documents always raise questions of law. Indeed, in Nedunuri Kameshwaramma's case (supra), this Court observed (at: p. 215-216) :
A construction of documents (unless they are documents of title) produced by the parties to prove a question of fact does not involve an issue of law, unless it can be shown that the material evidence contained in them was misunderstood by the Court of fact. The documents in this case, which have been the subject of three separate considerations, were the Land Registers the Amarkam, and Bhooband Accounts and the Adangal Registers, together with certain documents derived from the Zamindari records. None of these documents can be correctly described as a document of title, whatever its evidentiary value otherwise.
9. We think that, unless interpretation of a document involves the question of application of a principle of law mere inferences from or the evidentiary value of a document generally raises only a question:ef fact.
10. We think that, if the learned Judge of the High Court had cared to consider the provisions of law relating to the extension of the Act to urban areasor, to bear in mind the correct principles of construction of documents, or, tried to appreciate the true nature of the case before him, he could not have possibly interfered with the concurrent findings of the two Courts below simply because the number of the Khasra in which the house of respondent lay was not mentioned against both the portions of Chowki Mubarakabad but wholly against Lekhu Pura. In so far as the assumption, from the entries in column 5 of' the notification, could be that the whole of No. 203 fell in Lekhupura, it was an obviously erroneous assumption. A clerical error was the most that was indicated by such an entry. But, even so, it left no doubt that the whole Khasra No. 203 was duly notified.
1. (1) This Act may be called the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958.
(2) It extends to the area included within the limits of the New Delhi Municipal Committee and the Delhi Cantonment Board and to such urban areas within the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi as are specified in the first Schedule;
Provided that the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, extend this Act or any provision thereof, to any other urban area included within the limits of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi or exclude any area from the operation of this Act or any provision thereof.
11. It is evident that the proviso does not require the mention of anything more than the urban area which is to be included or excluded from the limits of the Municipal Corporation. That area was sufficiently clearly indicated by entries in columns 2 and 3 meant for the Revenue Estate or Mauza and for the colony or the village. It is clear from these that the whole of Mauza Chowkri Mubarakabad and the whole of Onkar Nagar and Lekhupura were meant to be notified. The mere fact that the last column was not filled up by whoever drew up the notification in such a manner as to show precisely where each Khasra number lay did not affect the question whether the area to be included was sufficiently indicated or not. The well-known principles of interpretation applicable to such cases are : (a) Firstly, a document must be construed as a whole, (b) Secondly, it has to be so construed as not to reduce what was meant or being done by it to a patent absurdity, (c) Thirdly, if any entry of a column appears to have been carelessly made, so as not to give a correct indication of what was otherwise clearly capable of being inferred from the objects and rest of the contents of such a notification, the slight error, due obviously to inadvertence, would not matter on an application of the principle : Falsa Demonstrated non nocet. A deliberate intention to omit a part of a Khasra number the whole of which is given in the notification of 7th January, 1960, could not possibly be inferred.
12. When we look at Section 507 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, we find the relevant part runs as follows :
507. Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing provisions of this Act,-
(a) the Corporation with the previous approval of the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare that any portion of the rural areas shall cease to be included therein and upon the issue of such notification that portion shall be included in and form part of the urban areas;
(b) the Corporation with the previous approval of the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette,-
(i) exempt the rural areas or any portion thereof from such of the provisions of this Act as it deems fit.
(ii) Levy taxes, rates, fees and other charges in the rural areas or any portion thereof at rates lower than those at which such taxes, rates, fees and other charges are levied in the urban areas or exempt such areas or portion from any such tax, rate, fee or other charge;
13. Thus, we find the provisions of Section 1(2) of the Act as well as of Section 507(a) and (b) of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act refer only to 'areas' and not to mere Khasra Nos. which are convenient divisions for the purposes of indicating what lay within each area. The Khasra is often spoken of as the 'village map'. Khasra for 'abadi' areas even indicate the type of construction which may lie within a particular number or the use to which a piece of land was being put. The term 'urban area' or 'rural area' is used for much larger units than Khasra Nos. It would, obviously, be quite impossible to think of one particular number, within an 'abadi' area, left out or dropped deliberately, without any rhyme or reason, from the notifications mentioned above. No conceivable reason has been suggested for such an omission. Indeed, there is not even an omission the effect of which may have been helpful to the appellant. It was only a case where the whole number is shown against one village only instead of being shown against two.
14. The learned High Court Judge, by basing his whole judgment on a farfetched conjecture from supposed omission of No. 203 in column 5, against Onkar Nagar, adopted a construction of the Notification, if that is what the learned Judge was doing, which was quite unintelligible with reference to the facts of the case or purposes of such notifications. The learned Judge would have been well advised to rest content with the obviously correct position that what the two Courts below had done was to arrive at a pure finding of fact as to whether a particular Khasra number containing the house in question was included within a mauza to the whole of which the provisions of the act had been plainly extended. in view ot all the facts of the case, no other conclusion was reasonably possible.
15. Consequently, we allow this appeal, by special leave, with costs throughout, set aside the judgment of the High Court and dismiss the plaintiff's suit. As no counsel appeared to hear the Judgment today's costs are disallowed to both the parties.