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Munshi Lal Vs. Thakur Prem Chand - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSecond Appeal No. 5 of 1967
Judge
Reported inILR1970Delhi499
ActsDelhi Rent Control Act, 1958 - Sections 14(1)
AppellantMunshi Lal
RespondentThakur Prem Chand
Advocates: K.R. Gupta and; S.S. Sabharwal, Advs
Cases Referred and Rampiyari v. Ramautar
Excerpt:
.....15(1) and section 15(3) fully.; where the tenant paid the arrears of the rent as ordered by the rent controller (on the application of the landlord for eviction of the tenant on the ground of non-payment of rent) but delayed the payment of future rent twice and thus defaulted in the payment of future rent :; that the benefit of section 14(2) of the rent control act 1958 is available to the tenant only when the tenant has made the payment or deposit of the rent as required by section 15(3) read with section 15(1) and that such rent includes nto only the arrears of the rent but also the rent becoming due subsequently.; second appeal from the order of shri a. p. chowdhri, addl. rent controller delhi. - - (1) this is a landlord's second appeal against the decision of the rent control..........his application for the eviction of the respondent tenant and reversing the order of the rent controller who had ordered the eviction of the tenant on the ground of non-payment of arrears of rent under proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the delhi rent control act, 1958, (hereinafter called the act). (2) the landlord filed a petition for eviction of the tenant on the ground that the tenant had failed to pay the contractual rent of rs. 35.00 per month and that a notice of demand for the arrears of the rent had been given as required by proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the act. (3) the tenant defended the petition on the ground that the contractual rent was only rs. 30.00 per month. he also prayed for the fixation of the standard rent. (4) as the rate of the rent was disputed by the.....
Judgment:

V.S. Deshpande, J.

(1) This is a landlord's second appeal against the decision of the Rent Control Tribunal dismissing his application for the eviction of the respondent tenant and reversing the order of the Rent Controller who had ordered the eviction of the tenant on the ground of non-payment of arrears of rent under proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, (hereinafter called the Act).

(2) The landlord filed a petition for eviction of the tenant on the ground that the tenant had failed to pay the contractual rent of Rs. 35.00 per month and that a notice of demand for the arrears of the rent had been given as required by proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the Act.

(3) The tenant defended the petition on the ground that the contractual rent was only Rs. 30.00 per month. He also prayed for the fixation of the standard rent.

(4) As the rate of the rent was disputed by the parties, the Rent Controller fixed the interim rent at Rs, 30.00 per month under section 15(3) .and ordered the tenant to deposit the arrears of the rent as also the future rent at that rate. The tenant paid the arrears of the rent as ordered by the Rent Controller but delayed the payment of future rent twice and thus defaulted in the payment of future rent. The Controller ultimately fixed the standard rent at Rs. 30.00 per month. He declined to strike off the defense of the tenant under section 15(7) of the Act but held that the tenant had nto complied with his order for the deposit of the interim rent and. thereforee, the tenant was nto entitled to the protection of section 14(2) of the Act. He, thereforee, held that the tenant was liable to be evicted under proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the Act.

(5) The Rent Control Tribunal was of the view that the tenant having paid the arrears of the rent on which the eviction petition was based as ordered by the Rent Controller under section 15(3), the tenant could nto be evicted under proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the Act even though the tenant did nto comply with the order of the Rent Controller strictly inasmuch as he failed to pay the future interim rent in time. He confirmed the Rent Controller's finding that the standard rent should be Rs. 30.00 per month, but dismissed the eviction petition of the landlord on the ground that the arrears of the rent on which the eviction petition was based had been paid by the tenant in time as per the order of the Rent Controller under section 15(3) of the Act.

(6) The sole question that arises for decision by me is, whether the default in the payment of future interim rent fixed by the Rent Controller under section 15(3) of the Act disentitles the tenant to the benefit of section 14(2) of the Act.

(7) It is true that the eviction petition was originally based on a cause of action arising prior to the filing of the said petition, namely, the non-payment of arrears of the rent by the tenant and a notice of demand made by the landlord within the meaning of proviso (a) to section 14(1) of the Act. This is in accordance with the principle that a cause of action must arise in favor of a party before such a party can come to a Court of law to seek relief. Section 15(3) read with S. 15(1) of the Act gives power to the Rent Controller to fix an interim rent and to order that the amount of arrears of the rent on the basis of which the eviction petition was brought as also the rent becoming due thereafter shall be paid by the tenant to the landlord by the 15th of each month till the standard rent is fixed by the Rent Controller. The significance of the provisions contained in section 15(3) is two fold: on the one hand, it deals equitably with the landlord by ensuring that the tenant does nto take an undue advantage of the litigation by refraining from paying rent to the landlord. On the other hand, the compliance by the tenant with this order of the Rent Controller gives him the statutory benefit of section 14(2) which says that:-

'NO order for the recovery of possession of any premises shall he made on the ground specified in clause (a) of the proviso to sub-section (1), if the tenant makes payment or deposit as required by section 15.'

(8) The crux of this case is the correct construction of sub-section (2) of section 14 which is reproduced above. At first sight, it may be thought that the payment or deposit required by section 15 would mean the payment or deposit of only those arrears of the rent the non-payment of which provided a cause of action to the landlord to file the eviction petition. This argument may receive some support by the fact that it is only the recovery of possession on the grounds specified in clause (a) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 which is barred by the said, payment or deposit. This argument seems to have appealed to the learned Rent Control Tribunal.

(9) On fuller consideration, however, this argument, though at first plausible, would be found to be untenable. Firstly, it is to be noted that sub-section (2) of section 14 becomes applicable only if the tenant makes the payment or deposit as required by section 15. By section 15, we must understand section 15 as a whole. If the legislature had intended that only that portion of the order of the Rent Controller as related to the deposits of the arrears of rent need to be complied with by the tenant to get the benefit of sub-section (2) of section 14, then the legislature would have said so. The legislature was aware that section 15(3) empowered the Rent Controller to fix and order the payment of interim rent nto only in respect of the arrears but also in respect of the rent which became payable subsequently. A plain reading of the language of sub-section (2) of section 14, thereforee, requires the tenant to comply with the order of the Rent Controller passed under section 15(3) as a whole and nto only in respect of the arrears of rent.

(10) Secondly, it is a fallacy to think that the payment of the arrears of the rent by the tenant wipes out the cause of action on which the eviction petition was based. The same principle which requires that a cause of action must precede the filing of the eviction petition also requires that the cause of action which has once arisen cannto be wiped out by the payment of rent by the tenant subsequently, particularly when such payment has been made after the filing of the eviction petition and that too in compliance with the order of the Rent Controller under section 15(3) of the Act. There is, thereforee, no principle which can be invoked to support the argument that the payment of the arrears of the rent by the tenant under section 15(3) of the Act wipes out the cause of action under sec. 14(1)(a) and disentitles the landlord to evict the tenant thereafter. The correct principle is, on the other hand, that the tenant is allowed by section 14(2) a special statutory benefit of defeating the landlord's petition for eviction by fully complying with the provisions of section 15(3). The non-compliance with the previsions of section 15(3) disentitles the tenant from the benefit of section 14(2). Such non-compliance may consist in defaulting to pay the rent for a period which is subsequent to the period for the arrears of which the cause of action for the eviction petition was provided by proviso (a) to section 14(1). When the benefit of section 14(2) is thus denied to the tenant, the relief of eviction is granted to the landlord nto because the tenant has failed to pay the future rent as ordered by the Controller under section 15(3) but because the original cause of action which had arisen in favor of the landlord under proviso (a) to section 14(1) is still available to him. The only way to deprive the landlord of the said cause of action was for the tenant to comply fully with the order under section 15(3) so as to get the benefit of section 14(2). The eviction of the tenant is still bring made on the ground that the tenant had originally nto paid the arrears of the rent which were demanded by the landlord under proviso (a) to section 14(1) before the eviction petition was filed. If the legal situation is understood in this way, the fallacy underlying the argument which appealed to the learned Rent Control Tribunal would become obvious.

(11) Thirdly, section 15(3) which is to be read with section 15(1) does nto give the Controller any discretion to extend in favor of the tenant the time to pay the rent. On the contrary, the rent has to be paid by the 15th of each month as stated in section 15(1). The failure of the tenant to pay the rent by the 15th of a month constitutes non-compliance with the order made by the Rent Controller under section 15(3) read with section 15(1). Section 14(2) of the Act gives a special statutory benefit to the tenant. thereforee, it is to be strictly constructed. Its provisions have to be regarded as mandatory and any failure to comply with it read with section 15(3) in this case would disentitle the tenant to its benefit. In Caltex (India) Limited, v. Bhagwan Devi, Ca 2347 of 1966 decided by the supreme Court on the 26th September 1968, it was held that the right to the renewal of the lease given to a tenant was a privilege and if the tenant wished to claim the privilege he must do so strictly within the time limited for the purpose. Applying this observation to our case, the tenant must pay the rent in time as provided for by section 15 if he wishes to get the benefit of section 14(2). The decision of the Supreme Court in Raja Ram Mahadev Paranjype and Others v. Aba Maruti Mali and others : AIR1962SC753 would also be found instructive in this connection. The result is that it cannto be said that the tenant has made payment or deposit as required by section 15 within the meaning of section 14(2). Section 14(2) also does nto provide that the Court may regard a payment or deposit of rent as made under section 15 even though the tenant may be late in making such payment or deposit and thereby contravenes the provisions of section 15(3) read with section 15(1). For the above reasons I find that the correct construction of section 14(2) of the Act is that its benefit is available to the tenant only when the tenant has made the payment or deposit of the rent as required by section 15(3) read with section 15(1) and that such rent includes nto only the arrears of the rent but also the rent becoming due subsequently. Though the above reasons are my own, I am supported in the above conclusion by the following decisions, namely, Darshan Devi v. Vidya Nath Misra (1969 D.L.T. 405), Chitra Kumar Tiwari v. Gangaram (1966 Jlj 1028) and Rampiyari v. Ramautar : AIR1968MP87 -these two Madhya Pradesh decisions being based on statutory provisions which are in pan materia with section 14(2) of the Act.

(12) The learned counsel for the appellant did nto press his attack on the fixation of the standard rent by the learned lower courts but conceded on the other hand that the standard rent fixed at Rs.30.00 per month is correct.

(13) The learned counsel for the respondent wanted to argue that the notice of demand given by the landlord to the tenant under proviso (a) to section 14(1) was invalid inasmuch as the rent demanded therein was at the rate of Rs. 35.35 per month while the true contractual rent was only Rs. 30.00 per month. This objection of the tenant was negatived by the Rent Controller. But the tenant in his appeal to the Rent Control Tribunal did nto challenge this finding of the Rent Controller. The finding has, thereforee, become rest judicata between the parties. In the landlord's appeal before me the tenant cannto raise this point now firstly because the point was nto urged before the Rent Control Tribunal when the tenant had the opportunity and the duty to do so and secondly because it is nto a pure question of law but a mixed question of fact and law. I could not, thereforee, allow the tenant to raise it.

(14) This appeal is, thereforee, partly allowed and it is ordered that the respondent-tenant be evicted from the premises at the instance of the appellant-landlord while the standard rent of Rs. 30.00 as fixed by the learned lower courts is confirmed. In view of the divided success, the parties are ordered to bear their own costs.


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