1. Respondent 2 is the landlord of the premises of which the Petitioner is the tenant. The landlord applied to the Competent Authority (Respondent 1) for Permission to institute pro ceedings against the tenant for eviction from the premises. Initially, the permission was granted by the Competent Authority under Section 19(3) of the Slum Areas (Improvement and Clearance) Act, 1956 (hereinafter called the Act) by an order, which was ex Parte against the tenant. The said order was set aside by the Competent Authority on 5-5-1970 after hearing the Parties on the around that the tenant had not been served with the notice of the application of the land lord The order dated 5-5-1s970 has be come final between 'the parties as it has not been challenged by the landlord. After the proceedings were reopened the (3) Whether the impugned order landlord informed the Competent Authority that she had already filed her own affidavit as also the supporting affidavits to prove her case. The tenant filed his written statement in opposition to the application of the landlord. The case was then fixed for the evidence of the tenant in the form of supporting affidavits. In stead of adducing his evidence in the form Of supporting affidavits, the tenant made an application under Section 151, Civil Procedure Code on 30-10-1970. He stated therein that the application for eviction of the tenant had already been filed by the landlord against the tenant on the strength of the original order granting permission to the landlord. Even though the original order granting Permission had been set aside by the Competent Authority the Rent Controller passed an order dated 19-10-1970 holding that the original ex parte permission granted by the Competent Authority was still valid and binding between the parties. The tenant, thereforee, made the following prayer in paragraph 6 of the application:-
'That as a result of the aforesaid order Passed by the Rent Controller, copy attached. The above application has become in fructuous and is legally not maintainable. The relief claimed in the application had already been granted and availed of by the petitioner. It is prayed that the application be dismissed as having become in fructuous.'
On this application, the Competent Authority Passed the following order on 2-12-1970: -
'Counsel for the petition present. In view of the application of the respondent dated 30-10-1970 and the order of Rent Controller dated 19-10-1970 these proceedings are in fructuous and are ordered to be filed. Permission granted stands.'
2. The present petition under Article 227 of the Constitution has been filed by the tenant against a part of the order-dated 2-12-1970. He prays that the words 'permission granted stands' should be deleted from the said order. He does not challenge the rest of the order.
3. The petition is opposed by the landlord on the ground that the impugned or0er had been passed at 'the instance of the tenant himself and that he cannot complain against it,
4. The questions which arise for decision on the above facts are as follows-
(1)What is the effect of the setting aside of the ex parte order which had granted permission to the landlord to institute eviction proceedings against the 'tenant?
(2) Whether the order dated 19-101970 passed by the Rent Controller is binding on the Competent Authority?
(3)Whether the impugned order dated 2-12-1970 is illegal?
These questions are considered below.
Question NO. 1:
5. Under Section 19(3) of the Act, on receipt of the application of the landlord for permission to evict the tenant, the Competent Authority has to make 'such summary enquiry into the circumstances of the case as it thinks fit'. The discretion as to what procedure should be followed is, thereforee, entirely of the Competent Authority. This discretion cannot be controlled by the Rules framed under the Act. thereforee, the Slum Areas (improvement and Clearance, Rules, 1957 also leave it to the Competent Authority as to what procedure he would follow in holding the enquiry. The provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure have not been made applicable to such an enquiry by any provision of the Act. Nor can they be made applicable to it by Section 141. Civil Procedure Code.
6. It is, however. a basic rule of natural -justice that no order adversely affecting the rights of a party or no order having civil consequences can be Passed against a Party unless the Part), is heard. thereforee, the Competent Authority, as a quasi-judicial tribunal even if it is not a court, is bound to follow this procedure as a part of natural justice. The Competent Authority has also had inherent jurisdiction to set aside an ex parte order passed by it if it is satisfied that service of the notice had not been effected Properly, (Rameshwar Daval v. Ram Avtar. (1970) 1 Delhi 694. In Shivdeo Singh v. State of Punjab. Air 1963 Sc 1909, the question was whether in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Court had inherent power to set aside an order passed against a party who had no notice of the proceeding in which the order was passed. The Supreme Court held in favor of such inherent jurisdiction in the following words in paragraph 8 of the judgment:
'It is sufficient to say that there is nothing in Article 226 of the Constitution to preclude a High Court from exercising the power of review which inheres in every court of plenary jurisdiction to prevent miscarriage of justice or to correct grave and palpable errors committed by it. Here the Previous order of Khosla, J., affected the interests of persons who were not made Parties to the proceeding before him. It was at their instance and for giving them a hearing that Khosla. J.. entertained the second petition. In doing so, he merely did what the principles of natural justice required him to do. It is said that the respondents before us had no right to apply for review because they were not parties 'to the previous proceedings. As we have already pointed out, it is precisely because they were not made Parties to the previous proceedings, though their interests were sought to be affected by the decision of the High Court, that the second application was entertained by Khosla, J.,'
7. The effect of the exercise of the inherent power of review by the Competent Authority on 5-5-1970 was that the ex parte order granting permission was set aside, the case was reopened and the tenant was given the opportunity to show why the permission should not be granted to the landlord. The parties were thus Put in the same position as it no ex parte permission had been granted to the landlord for the eviction of the 'tenant. It became the duty of the Competent Authority, thereforee, to hold enquiry between the parties with a view 'to 'grant or refuse the Permission under Section 19(3) of the Act.
Ouestion No, 2:
8. The Competent Authority acting under Section 19 of the Act was deciding a question which was in its exclusive competence, namely, whether to grant the permission to the landlord or not. It had already set aside the ex parte permission granted to the landlord. It follows thereforee that the Competent Authority would not be bound by any order which the Rent Controller may pass as to the validity of the ex parte permission which had been previously granted by the Competent Authority. The Competent Authority was not bound by the order-dated 19-10-1970 passed by the Rent Controller. For the same reason, the landlord and the tenant appearing before the Competent Authority were not bound by the said order inasmuch as the proceeding before the Competent Authority and its object were quite different from the -proceeding before the Rent Controller and its object. The application filed by the tenant on 30-10-1970 before the Competent Authority was, thereforee, completely misconceived. It assumed that the order of the Rent Controller dated 19-10-1970 affected the parties before the Competent Authority and was binding on the Competent Authority. This assumption was wrong. The Competent Authority should not have considered itself to be bound by the said order and should have continued 'to hold its own inquiry independently of it.
Question NO. 3:
9. thereforee, insofar as the impugned order dated 2-12-1970 purported to regard the enquiry under Section 19(3) of the Act as having become infructuous because of the order dated 19-101970 passed by the Rent Controller, the impugned order was illegal. The Competent Authority wrongly thought that U could not hold the enquiry in view of the order passed by the Rent Controller. Further, the words 'Permission already granted stands' in the impugned order were also unjustified. The Competent Authority was bound to hold a fresh enquiry and arrive at a decision on the record of the enquiry independently of whatever view had been taken by the Rent Controller.
10. For the above reasons this petition under Article 227 is allowed in the following terms:-
1. The impugned order dated 2-121970 is set aside.
2. The Competent Authority had granted sufficient time to the tenant to adduce evidence. The tenant by his conduct showed that he did not want 'to adduce any evidence after filing his counter-affidavit.
3. thereforee the parties are directed to appear before the Competent Authority on 5th March, 1973, to argue their respective cases on merits on the strength, of the record only and without any opportunity of adducing any further evidence,
4. The Competent Authority shad hear the Parties on the record as it stands and grant or refuse the Permission sought for by the landlord under Section 19(3) of the Act.
5. In Lsrantinva or refusing the Permission, the Competent Authority shall consider whether alternative accommodation within the means of the tenant would be available to him if he were evicted within the meaning of Section 19(4)(a) of the Act. In deciding this question the Competent Authority shall bear in mind that the means of the tenant are a fact within his special knowledge within the meaning of Section 106 of the Evidence Act and, thereforee, the burden of proving that his means are inadequate to find alternative accommodation shifts to the tenant there under and also under Section 102 of the Evidence Act.
11. In the circumstances the parties are directed to bear their own costs of this petition,
12. Petition allowed.