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Govind Dass and ors. Vs. Kuldip Singh - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 128 of 1967, against order of Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi, D/- 20-1-1967
Judge
Reported inAIR1971Delhi151; ILR1970Delhi585
ActsDelhi Rent Control Act, 1958 - Sections 14(1); Hindu Law
AppellantGovind Dass and ors.
RespondentKuldip Singh
Appellant Advocate G.S. Vehra, Adv
Respondent Advocate Dalip K. Kapoor and ; Udai Bhan, Advs.
Cases ReferredVas Dev Dhawan v. Trikold Nath
Excerpt:
.....to -- applicability of -- 'family' -- meaning of word 'dependant' -- construction of. ; the word family has not been defined in the act and advisedly so. the extent of the boundaries of the family depends upon the particular facts of each case and the structure and outlook of each community and no one can be dogmatic either way on such matters. in a given set of circumstances and accord ting to the particular structure of a society a family may be constituted of persons who may not in an another given set of circumstances be regarded as being members of one family.; that in the instant case, the members of the family of the owner-landlord, who was an unmarried person would include his brothers,, their wives and children.; that the word dependant is also not defined in the act and..........j. in mrs. g. k. shukla v. parbhu ram sukhram dass ojha, 1963-65 pun lr 256, observed that the word family is capable of wide interpretation, but that interpretation must have relation to existing facts and circumstances proved on the record in each case. a remote relation may, in a given case of set circumstances be treated as a member of the family, whereas in another set of circumstance the same relation may not be legitimately called as a member of the family. in mrs. shukla's case an uncle of a tenant was held not to be a member of the family because mrs. shukla who was the tenant while going out had left the premises with her uncle for being looked after and there was no evidence that this uncle was ever living with her before she went abroad. had there been evidence to show.....
Judgment:

Prakash Narain, J.

1. The problem passed in this second appeal is as to the interpretation of proviso (e) of sub-section (1) of S. 14 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 and finding out whether the claim for eviction made by the appellants was covered by the said proviso.

2. The appellants, three brothers filed an application under Section 14 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 (hereinafter called the Act) seeking eviction of the respondent from the premises under his tenancy comprising of two rooms, a. W.C., and a kitchen on the ground floor in the building bearing No. 48 in Block C. Ramesh Nagar, New Delhi. The Appellants' contention was that they were in occupation of similar accommodation on the first floor but the accommodation occupies by them being insufficient for their needs they required the tenanted premises for occupation by themselves and for members of their family dependent on them. In the eviction petition, the three appellants had claimed to be joint owners of the entire premises contenting that they constituted a joint Hindu family of which Gobind Dass, the first appellant was the Karta. It was further stated that Gobind Dass was a bachelor but the second appellant Dewan Chand was married and besides his wife had five children and the third appellant was married just about the time of the institution of the eviction proceedings.

3. The claim for eviction was resisted by the respondent according to whom Gobind Dass was alone the owner of the premises or landlord of the tenant-respondent. According to him Gobind Dass was a bachelor and so had sufficient accommodation for his own use on the first floor of the building and the requirements of his relations could not be taken into account. It was further urged that Dewan Chand was running a shop at Chakarta and had merely sent his wife and children to stay with his elder brother while Joginder Lal was in Government service and was not dependent upon his elder brother Gobind Dass.

4. The learned Additional Controller, Delhi, by his order dated May 3, 1966 granted the petition in favor of Gobind Dass alone after holding that he alone was the owner of the premises and landlord but at the same time coming to the conclusion that the three appellants were all members of a joint family and Gobind Adass as the Karta was not merely keeping relatives but that the second and the third appellants and their wives and children were dependant on Gobind Dass for accommodation. Aggrieved by this order the respondent-tenant appealed to the Rent Control tribunal which by its order dated January 20, 1967 reversed the findings of the learned additional Controller and dismissed the eviction petition. The learned Tribunal came to the conclusion that there was no joint Hindu family, that the requirements of the relations of Gobind Dass could not be taken into consideration in ordering eviction of the respondent that since Gobind Dass was a bachelor he had sufficient accommodation for himself and also observed that neither Dewan Chand nor Joginder Lal the second and the third appellants were financially dependent upon Gobind Dass and in fact Gobind Dass could not be regarded as having a family as ' it may appear that he had entered some religious order'. The appellants have now come up to the High Court in second appeal against the order of the learned Tribunal stating that not only is the decision of the Tribunal contrary to proved facts but the findings are based on no evidence and further the interpretation of proviso (e) to Section 14(1) as given by the Tribunal is wholly incorrect in law.

5. Before we construe the revision and examine how far it is applicable to the facts of the present case it will be advantageous to read the same which is in the following terms:-

'14 (1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law or contract no order or decree for the recovery of possession of any premises shall be made by any court or Controller in favor of the landlord against a tenant:

Provided that the Controller may, on an application made to him in the prescribed manner make an order for the recovery of the premises on one or more of the following grounds only, namely:-

(a) ........................

(b) .........................

(c) ..........................

(d) ..........................

(e) that the premises let for residential purposes are required bona fide by the landlord for occupation as a resident for himself or for any member of his family dependant on him, if he is the owner thereof or for any person for whose benefit the premises are held and that the landlord or such person has no other reasonably suitable residential accommodation'.

6. Mr. G.S. Vohra, the learned counsel for the appellants has not agitated the question of the three appellants being the joint owners of the premises and, in our opinion, rightly so because that would be a question of fact which is not open to review in second appeal. What he has contended is that Gobind Dass, the eldest of the three brothers, being the owner of the premises, the premises in the tenancy of the respondent are required by him as a residence for himself and for members of his family dependant upon him and that he being the owner of the premises, he also requires the premises for persons for whose benefit he holds the premises. Admittedly, Gobind Dass is a bachelor and his only heirs will be his brothers and their children. So, the premises are held by him for his own benefit and the benefit of those who are likely to succeed to him. In any case the main point at issue is whether his brothers and their wives and children form part of his family and if that be so whether these persons are dependant upon him.

7. The word 'family' has not been defined in the Act and we feel advisedly so. The concept of what constitutes a family when a number of persons are related or are living together is not something static or capable of conscise definition. What constitutes a family in a given set of circumstances or in a particular society depends upon the habits and ideas of persons constituting that society and the religious and socio-religious customs of the community to which such persons may belong. In the case of Ram Pershad Singh v. Mukand Lal, , J. L. Kapur, J. held that in a given set up of social structure even nephews could be regarded as members of a landlord's family within the meaning of Section 9(1)(e) of the Delhi and Ajmer Merwara Rent Control Act, 1947. The learned Judge had quoted extensively form several English judgments and had particularly relied on the observations of Wright, J. in the case of Price v. Gould, (1930) 143 Lt 333 wherein the learned Judge has observed as under:-

'It has been said in a number of equity cases relating principally to wills or to settlements under powers of appointment, that the word 'family' is a popular, loose and flexible expression and not a technical term. It has been laid down that the primary meaning of the word 'family' is children, but that primary meaning is clearly susceptible of wider interpretation, because the cases decide that the exact scope of the word must depend on the context and the other provisions of the will or deed in view of the surrounding circumstances. Thus, in Snow v. Teed, (1871) 23 Lt 303, it was held that the word 'family' could be extended beyond not merely children but even beyond the statutory next-of-kid.

I hold that in the section now under consideration the word 'family' includes brothers and sisters of the deceased living with her at the time of her death. I think that the meaning is required by the ordinary acceptation of the word in this connection, and that he legislature has used the word 'family' to introduce a flexible and wide term' The above quoted observations of Wright J were also noticed with approval in a Bench decision of the Punjab High Court in Shri Nanak Chand v. Shrimati Tara Devi .

8. Similarly D. K. Mahajan, J. in Mrs. G. K. Shukla v. Parbhu Ram Sukhram Dass Ojha, 1963-65 Pun Lr 256, observed that the word family is capable of wide interpretation, but that interpretation must have relation to existing facts and circumstances proved on the record in each case. A remote relation may, in a given case of set circumstances be treated as a member of the family, whereas in another set of circumstance the same relation may not be legitimately called as a member of the family. In Mrs. Shukla's case an uncle of a tenant was held not to be a member of the family because Mrs. Shukla who was the tenant while going out had left the premises with her uncle for being looked after and there was no evidence that this uncle was ever living with her before she went abroad. Had there been evidence to show that this uncle had always lived with her perhaps he may have been regarded as a member of the family.

9. Mr. Vohra had invited our attention to several other decisions also on who all would and can constitute a family in a given set of circumstances but it is not necessary to refer to all of them. We may however notice one decision of the Calcutta High Court in Sukumar Guha v. Naresh Chandra Ghosh : AIR1968Cal49 wherein the learned Judge on the basis of principles wet out in several other decisions had observed that the extent of the boundaries of the family depends upon the particular facts of each case and the structure and outlook of each community and that no one can be dogmatic either way on such matters. We are in respectful agreement with the observations in all the decisions and we have noticed above and would hold that in a given set of circumstances and according to the particular structure of the society a family may be constituted of persons who may not in an another given set of circumstances be regarded as being members of one family. Applying this principle to the facts of the present case there is no doubt that the members of the family of Gobind Dass would include his brothers, their wives and children. These persons belong to the Hindu community where the normal concept is that of a served by the Supreme Court in Bharat Singh v. Mst. Bhagirathi, Air 1956 Sc 405, there is a strong presumption in favor of Hindu brothers constituting a joint family, and it is for the person alleging severance of the joint Hindu family to establish it. Even if it be assumed that there is no joint Hindu family as such in the technical sense, Gobind Dass is a bachelor and the eldest brother and his nearest kith and kin in ht person of his brothers, their wives and their children would undoubtedly be his family.

10. The next question for consideration is whether members of the family of Gobind Dass were dependent upon him within the meaning of proviso (e) to Section 14(1) of the Act and so has to be construed in accordance with the facts and circumstances of each case. As was observed by Falshaw, C.J. in C.L. Davar v. Amar Nath Kapur, 1962-64 Pun Lr 521, the word 'dependant' cannot be construed as meaning nothing but wholly dependent in the sense of not earning any thing at all and being entirely dependant on the father for board, lodging and food. The team must be construed as meaning somebody not wholly independent or self-supporting and in a position to set up separate residence. Dependence may not in all circumstances be entirely a matter of finance and this would particularly be so in the case of an unmarried daughter who may be employed but in whose case for various reasons it would not be desirable for her to attempt to live away from her parents and on her own'. Mr. D. K. Kapur, the learned counsel for the respondent has urged that bough Dewan Chand and Joginder Lal are earning their livelihood and so cannot be regarded as dependant upon Gobind Das. To our mind this interpretation, if accepted, would tend to restrict the meaning of the word 'dependant' to a person being financially dependent. In the socio-religion structure of Hindu society it is common for all the members of a family of brothers to live together while some men folk in the family may go out of town to earn a livelihood and even remit their earnings to the family. One cannot shut one's eyes to this structure of our society and so to give a restricted meaning to the word 'dependant' would be to provide a definition of this work which the legislature has advisedly chosen not to do so. We would thereforee in the circumstances of this case hold that the wives of the brothers of Gobind Dass and their children were dependent on Gobind Das for accommodation specially when it has not been brought on record that the family members owned any other residential premises. That Dewan Chand runs a shop in Chakarta has no relevance to the question of his being dependant upon his elder brother to provide accommodation for his immediate family specially when it is proved on record that he has not taken a house on rent at Chakarta and is probably living in the shop where he carries on his business. Similarly, there is no evidence that Joginder Lal has only other residential accommodation and in these days of high rents and prices it cannot be said that because Dean Chand and Joginder Lal are earning their livelihood they must leave the family home and find independent accommodation for themselves. Apart from the cost of such accommodation it would be in the fitnesses of things for such a family to live together particularly when Gobind Dass is a bachelor and would require his kith and kin to look after him.

11. We may here with advantage refer to a decision of our own Court rendered by Tatachari J in Vas Dev Dhawan v. Trikold Nath, 1967-69 Pun Lr 260 (D). It was held that the requirements of a landlord 'implies that in considering the question as to whether the landlord requires the premises for himself, all the circumstances in which he is placed have to be taken into consideration. State of health of the landlord would be relevant in considering the bona fide requirement of the landlord. If his age and health is such that he cannot live alone and needs the presence, company and assistance of certain members of his family, even if those members are not dependant on him, his requirement would be bona fide' As we have already observed his kith and kin to be near him and so when he seeks eviction it is not only the requirements of his family but his own requirements that must also be kept in mind.

12. Mr. D. K. Kapur, the learned counsel for the respondent very strongly urged that the case as pleaded by the appellants that the case as pleaded by the appellants in their application seeking eviction was that they are joint owners and required the premises for themselves and for members of their family dependent on them and so Gobind Dass cannot be heard to say that his brothers and their families be regarded as his family and that his own requirements should also be looked at as he needs the presence of his kith and kin. To our mind the argument does not have much substance inasmuch as though the appellants had pleaded the case as propounded by Mr. D. K. Kapur the finding of the courts below is that Gobind Dass alone was the owner of the premises and throughout both before the Controller and the Tribunal the case was fought on the basis also that Dewan Chand and Joginder Lal and their immediate families did not form part of the family of Gobind Dass and that the requirements of these persons cannot be considered as requirements of members of the family of Gobind Dass depended upon him.

13. We may, before we close also consent upon an observation of the Tribunal regarding Gobind Dass joining a religious order. This was nobody's case at any stage and there is no evidence to support this observations. Merely because Gobind Dass had acquired this property form claims inherited from the Guru would not mean a Chela at that Guru.

14. As a result of our discussion above the present appeal is accepted, the order of the Tribunal is set aside and the order of the learned Additional Rent Controller is restored. An order of recovery of possession is hereby passed in favor of Gobind Dass, appellants alone against the respondent who is however, given six months' that to vacate the premises from the date of this judgment. In the circumstances of the case, we make no order as to costs.

15. Order accordingly.


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