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Shanti Rani Vs. Mohan Lal - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision No. 279D of 1963
Judge
Reported in7(1971)DLT183
ActsDelhi Rent Control Act, 1958 - Sections 8(4)
AppellantShanti Rani
RespondentMohan Lal
Advocates: S.L. Bhatia,; P.K. Seth and; B.J. Nayar, Advs
Excerpt:
.....landlady against such order - court below misconceived legal position as regards period of which market value of land underneath premises was to be taken into consideration - section 8 (4) provides cost of construction of premises to be considered while fixing standard rent - market value of land as it existed in 1945-46 to be considered - order of court below set aside - matter remanded back for fixing standard rent of premises after taking into consideration market value of land underneath. - - the district judge dismissed the appeal as well a, the cross objections and upheld the findings of the subordinate judge, (3) the petitioner's contention is that the lower courts should have treated the shops as separate uiits of the building which were constructed in 1956-57 and should..........of the building which were constructed in 1956-57 and should have taken into consideration the market value ofthe land underneath the shops as in 1956 57 for the purpose of calculating the standard rent. since admittedly that has not ben done the judgment should be set aside and the case remanded. (4) section 2(g) of the act defines 'premises' as meaning 'any buillding or part of a building which is, or is intended to be, let separately for use. as a resideace or for commercial use or for any other purpose . . . .'. the shops in question forming part of the building and intended to be let separately for commercial use themselves formed 'premises' according to this definition. section 8 of the act deals with fixation of the standard rent by court. sub-section (4) thereof is in the.....
Judgment:

V.D. Misra, J.

(1) Shrimati Shsnti Rani, the landlady, has filed these two revisions (Nos. 279-D and 280- D of 184 1953) against the Judgment of the District Judge. Delhi, upholding the judgment and onder of the Subordinite Judge fixing the standard rent of the premsses.

(2) Shrimati Shanti Rani had bought House No 2883 Har Dhian Singh Road, Karol Bagh, New Delhi, in February 1973 for a sum of, Rs. 5850.00 and odd. The house being in a dilapidated condition it was demolished and the entire building was reconstructed in 1945 46. Thereafter the landlady continued to make additions to it The rooms on the ground floor were meant for residence and at one time had been let out for that purpose. Somtime in 1956 the Delhi Improvement Trust declared the locality, in which the house was situated, as a business centre Thereafter, the landlady converted three rooms on the ground-floor into shops by opening their doors on the road and making other necessary addition and alterations. One of the shops was let out to Mohan Lal on 19th May, 1957. This shop had covered area of 40/sq.ft. and the rent agreed was Rs. 90.00 per month. The other two shops were let out to Prithvi Raj on 10th November 195S The covered area of these shops was 342 Sq. ft. and the rent agreed upon was Rs 200.00 per month. On 9th May, 1957. Prithvi Raj moved an application under section 8 of the Delhi aid Ajmer Rent Control Act No. 38 of 1952 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') for fixation of the standard rent. Mohan Lal also made a similar application on 24th October, 1957, for fixation of the standard.rent of the premises in his occupation. The case of the landlady was that she had converted the residential rooms into shops at a considerable expense and that the rent she was changing was not mora than the standard rent to be fixed. In one of the applications the issue framed was 'what is the standard rent ofthe premises in dispute', whereas the following issues wire framed in the other application:

'1.What is the standard rent of the suit premises? 2. Whether the premises in dispute were reconstructed in 1945-45? If so to what effect? 3. Relief.'

Both the cases were later on consolidated and disposed of by one judgment since the parties had agreed thit the entire evidence recorded in both the cases had to bs read in both of them. The Subordinate Juige fixed the standard rent of the premises in occupation of Prithvi Rani, at Rs. 480.00 per annum and of that in possession of Mohan Lat at Rs. 216/per annum from the dates of their applications. The landlady appealed to the District Judge against the Judgment and order of the Subordinate Judge and the tenants put in cross-objections. The District Judge dismissed the appeal as well a, the cross objections and upheld the findings of the Subordinate Judge,

(3) The petitioner's contention is that the lower Courts should have treated the shops as separate uiits of the building which were constructed in 1956-57 and should have taken into consideration the market value ofthe land underneath the shops as in 1956 57 for the purpose of calculating the standard rent. Since admittedly that has not ben done the judgment should be set aside and the case remanded.

(4) Section 2(g) of the Act defines 'premises' as meaning 'any buillding or part of a building which is, or is intended to be, let separately for use. as a resideace or for commercial use or for any other purpose . . . .'. The shops in question forming part of the building and intended to be let separately for commercial use themselves formed 'premises' according to this definition. Section 8 of the Act deals with fixation of the standard rent by Court. Sub-Section (4) thereof is in the following terms:-

'(4)In fixing the standard rent of any premises under claue (b) of sub-section (1), the court shall fix an amount which appears to it to be reasonable and no standard rent so fixed shall exceed seven and one-half per cent of the reasonable cost of construction of such premises. Explanationn.- For the purposes of this sub section, the 'cost of coastruction', in respect of any premises, includes the market value of the laid comprised in the premises at the time of the completion of such construction.'

(5) On the basis of this sub-section it is argued by the petitioner that construction of the shops was completed by her in 1956-57 when these were converted from residential portions to shops as a considerable expecse and so while calculating the cost of construction the. market value of the land underneath the said shops as in 1955-57 should have been taken into consideration. In order to make, this conversion it is stated that rolling shutter were fixed after putting R.C.C. beams. It is further stated that new floor of mirble chips was put up. R C C. Chhajja protruding over the dears of the shops was also constructed. lt is thus argued that by these works the construction was completed in 1955-57 in terms of sub-section (4) of section 8 of the Act.

(6) If the work carried out by the petitioner amounts to a construction only then she is entitled to have the market value of the land on the date of its completion taken into consideration for fixation of the standand rent. The word 'canstruction', according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, means-

'THEaction of framing, devising, or forming, by the: putting together of part; erection, building the art or science of constructing. The manner in which a thing is constructed or formed................. ' This shows that wherever a part of the building, in the present case the shops in dispute, was constructed afresh, it will fall within the meaning of the word 'construction'. It is admittedly not the case of the petitioner that the shops were constructed afresh. The walls and the roofs were already there. Doors were, however, opened on the road and other improvements were made. Simply by putting a new floor or by opening doors where previously they did not exist and putting up of R. C C. beams and a Chhajja will not make it a new construction. These works will fall under the term 'improvement' Both th3 Court below, after going through the evidence on record, have come to the conclusion, in my opinion correctly, that the so- called construction of the shops was no more than an improvement Simply because the user of the premises was changed from residential to commercial by making necessary additions and alterations will not amount to construction of the shops The construction had taken place when the building, including the portion consisting of the pres- eat shops in question, was Finally put up. Other works relationg to the improvement of the premises, so that they may become more attractive or more useful for a particular purpose, will amount to only additions, alterations and improvements. la Messrs British Medical Stores and others v. L Bhagirath Mal, a Division Bench of the Punjab High Court held that where the avails were already there an j what had been done was that the roof was rebuils and reflooring was done and the walls were plastered, they were nothing more than mere improvement. In my opinion thereforee, no case for interference on this aspect has been made out.

(7) The petitioner, however, submits that the Courts below had taken into considiration the value of the land as in 1943 and not as in 1945-46 when trie construction was completed. An effort has also been made to say that the constiuction was completed in 1952 since Budh Parkash, husband of the landlady, appeared as R W. 8 and stated that the construction continued and was completed in 1952- He did not state as to when the construction of the premises in dispute was in fact started My attention has also been drawn to para. 3 of the written-statement filed by the landlady where in it was stated that she had reconstructed the entire building in 1945-46 It is true that she had further stated that thereafter she continued to make additions at a considerable cost but it does not mean that the construction was not completed in 1 45-46 la these circu stances, the learned counsel for the petitioner contended that at least 1945-40 have been the period in respect of which the market value of the land should have been taken into consideration and not 1943. The method of calculation adopted by the two Courts below shows that they had taken into consideration Exhibit A W I/I, which is 'abstract of cost for additions and alterations of House No 2883 purchased by my wife in 1943' submitted by Budh Parkash, husband of the landlady. This estimated the cost of the material after dismantling the existing construction at Rs. 2000.00. This amount was deducted from the purchase price of the petitioner in order to find out the market value of the 'and. By this method the market value related to the period 1943 when the petitioner had purchased the property The learned counsel for the respondents had to concede that there was nothing on record to show that the lower Courts had taken into considerate the mirket price of the landau it existed in 1945-46. I find that the lower Courts having misconceived the legal position as regards the period of which the market value of the land underneath the premises was to be taken into consideration the decision has to be set aside.

(8) The result is that both the petitions are allowed and the judgments and decrees of the lower Courts are set aside The cases are remanded to the lower Court for fixing the standard rent of the premises after taking into consideration the market value of the land underneath the shops in dispute as in 1945-46 The other calculations made by the lower court in respect of the improvement etc , shall not be disturbed and only the valuation of the land shall be replaced by the market value aforesaid.

(9) The parties are directed to appear before the District Judge on 21st October, 1970 when be will mark the case to a Subordinate Judge.


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