P.S. Safeer, J.
(1) This appeal turns on an interpretation of clause (h) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of Act 59 of 1958 (hereinafter called 'the Act'). Sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act with the proviso and the relevant clause is :-
'14. Protection of tenant against eviction :- (1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law or contract to 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 :- ***** (h) that the tenant has, whether before or after the commencement of the Act, built, acquired vacant possession of, or been allotted, a residence '
(2) The elementary principle of statutory interpretation is that the words employed should be given their plain meaning. The statute is to be construed as to be judiciously meaningful in its own context. Subsection (1) of section 14 starts with the prohibition that Do order or decree for recovery of possession of any premises is to be made by any court or Controller in favor of a landlord against the tenant and then by enumerating under the proviso separate grounds the provision contains in itself the pre-conditions which when satisfied may lead to an order for recovery of premises by the Controller.
(3) The word 'has', the fourth in clause (h), carries in itself the force of the present tense. It has to be interpreted in terms of the words employed in the opening part of the proviso which are to the effect that the Controller may on an application made to him in the prescribed manner make an order for the recovery of the premises and those words mean that on the date of the application the tenant must be having a residence either because he may have built the same or may have acquired vacant possession thereof or it may have been allotted to him. Either of the three situations must be there on the date of the application. If that is not so. then clause (h) of the proviso to subsection (1) of section 14 of the Act will have no application. Yet in another way, it may be said that as on the date of the appplication the tenant should be presently having firm legal rights of residence either in respect of a residence built by him or of which he may have acquired vacant possession or of which be may be having the allotment. This clause has been the subject of some controversial interpretations. It is, thereforee, that I have repeated myself and propose to dwell further on a thorough probe into its true meaning.
(4) The Act is a special protective statute. Section 14 begins under the caption Protection of tenant against eviction'. In term of the grounds contained in the proviso that protection becomes unavailable to the tenant and he becomes liable to eviction only incase certain specified circumstances are proved. The legislative intent contained in clause (h) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act is that no tenant should remain entitled to the protection against eviction any longer if he has as on the date of the application for his eviction, a clear subsisting legal right to occupy and live in any other residential premises which may he available to him either because he may have built the same or may have acquired vacant possession thereof or may have been allotted such residential premises. If as a matter of fact, on the date of an application for eviction the tenant does not have any subsisting legal right to go and reside in a residence either built by him or of which he may have acquired vacant possession or which may have been allotted to him then it cannot be said that the landlord has a subsisting cause of action to move the Controller for passing an order for eviction against him. The 'building', 'acquisition' or 'allotment' may be either before or after the commencement of the Act, but the 'residence' mentioned in clause (h) must be actually available to the tenant on the date when the action for eviction is initiated against him
(5) The controversy which has arisen around this clause and around clauses (b) (c) and (d) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act is based noon a significant, but, in my respectful view, erroneous concept. Section 14 seen in its entirety is not a punitive provision. The grounds contained in the proviso are not criminal offences and the tenant mentioned therein is not an accused person ever more liable to be punished Take a case where A is the landlord and B is the tenant. B sub-lets the premises without obtaining consent in writing of the landlord, after the 9th of June, 1952, in Januaty. 1953. He incurs the liability to ejectment In terms of clause (b) under the priviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act. After about six months be recover the premises from the sub-tenant. From that month in 1953 onwards the tenant continues to remain in possession of the entire premises as a tenant and the landlord continues accepting rent. In 1960, the premises are sold out to another person who then becomes the landlord entitled to receive the rent and invoke the law against the tenant. Can it be said that the landlord in 1980 cart file an application and successfully ontain eviction of the tenant on the ground of his having sub-let the premises once in 1953 without obtaining the consent in writing of the then landlord? There are some cases in which the view taken is that he can do so. That View. however, militates against the intention of the statute. The intention can be best gathered by keeping in view the words used in the opening part of the proviso which are:- 'Provided that the Controller may, on an application made to him In the prescribed manner, make an order for the recovery , the premises on one or more Of the following grounds only, namely :-' An application has to be made in the prescribed manner invoking one or more of the grounds enumerated under the proviso. There should be a subsisting cause pf action as on the date of the application so as to be affirmed ultimately through evidence that the breach by the tenant of the obligations cast upon him was persisting on the date of the application itself. A past breach cannot furnish circumstances for punishing the tenant. He is not a person accused of a crime These provisions as I have said are not punitive provisions. This aspect of section 14 becomes clear when the provisions contained in sub-sections (2) to (11) Of the Act are considered in their total effect. After having enumerated the grounds as from (a) to (1) further restrictions have been imposed against eviction in terms of several subsequent subsections containes in section 14 The pre-condition for allowing eviction are sought to be legislatively fixed with absolute certainly.If a landlord wants to derive aid from the breach of any of the obligations created by the ground enumerated under the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act then he must make a grievance of it, a grievance of it, at once refuse treating the tenant as such and stop accepting the rent and because rent is his only earning out of the tenancy he is expected to initiate an action for the tenants' eviction at the earliest.
(6) The clauses containing the rounds under the proviso to subsection (1) of section 14 of the Act lay down the circumstances which alone, if proved, would enucle a landlord to an order of eviction Howsoever may be the protection as given to the tenant in terms of Clause (h) to the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14, he is not to be allowed to enjoy his residedce in the tenancy premises in a situation in which he may be having a presedent persisting right to go an I live just at his own choice in a residence which he may have built or of which he may have acquired vacant possession or which may have beeen allotted to him. An order of eviction can be passed against him if premises for his residence other than the tenancy -premises as a matter of right available to him If such a tenant is not moving into such premises presently available to him, the landlord can cams forward with an application in the prescribed manner and the Controller can then on coming to the conclusion that the de:nio Is of clause (h) to the proviso to section 14(1) stand satisfied, pass an ord-r of eviction. If the tenant has no such present right as on the date of the application, then his eviction under that clause cannot be sought.
(7) Turning once again to the exact provisions of clause (h), mentioned above, the word 'has' applies with the same force and velocity to the words 'built',acquired vacant. possession of' and 'been allotted'. The last words 'a residence' again relate to .all the three contingencies. The word 'has' contains in itself the meaning of presently possessing something. The ordinary English dictionaries while giving the meaning of word 'has' refer to the word 'have', which in turn means 'to hold', 'to possess'.
(8) The words 'has built' or 'has acquired'; or 'has been allotted' clearly mean that the tenant has already built, acquired or been allotted the residence to which he can move and that on the date of the application or his eviction his right to reside therein exists. I am supported in in this view by the views expressed in Mc Connel v. Wright. It is imparative that the word ''acquired' in the phrase ''acquired vacant posession of ' is given the deserved consideration As for as its true import is concorned the word 'acquired' carries within itself sense of present right to move into the premises of which vacant possession stands acquired.
(9) The meaning of clause (h) may be looked into in another way. It occurs in a provision which provides protection to the tenant against eviction It a tenant has no present right of moving into a residential accommodation either built bjy him or of which may have been allotted to him then the landlord cannot be held to be having any present right of moving an application against the tenant for his eviction. Any other meaning would defendence statue in as much as it would cease to be a protective statute. The words as they stand associated with each other in clause (h) lead to the only conclusion that as on the date of the application the tenant must be possessing a clear right to reside in some other possession than the tenancy premises as a matter of his own rightful choice either because he may v have built such premises or acquired vacant possession thereof or the same may have been allotted to him. forme it appears that if any other interpretation is sought to be placed then that would be making an effort beyond the statute, and that wouldn't be
(10) Navrang Lal v Suresh Kumar.' Sundr v Khan Chand Siri Chand v. Topi Ram Gian Singh v. Surinder Lal. and Jai Kumar v. Saidar I egun
(11) I have read the cases and pondered ever the views expressed therein. I am purposefully avoiding discussion because I am firmly of the view that clause (h) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act bears out to me only the interpretation to which I have resorted.
(12) Turning to the facts of this case an application for ejectment of the tenant appellant was filed on 17th September 1959 by respondent Chuni Lal. It is significant that it has been found by the Kent Control Tribunal in paragraph 4 of the impugned judgment that the respondent was not the owner of the premises in dispute, but was himself a tenant thereof; the present appellant being an alleged subtenant.
(13) The agreed case between the parties is that the premises allotted to the tenant remained in his possession as from 21st of January, 1956, to 5th of February, 1959. The facts proved show that in spite of the provisions contained in clause (h) of the proviso to sub-section (1} of section 13 of Act 38 of 1952, which were applicable, the present respondent-landlord never moved an application for the ejectment of the tenant during the aforementioned period. The act came into force in February, 1959. The application for ejectment was not filed till 17th September, 1959. I have seen the original application for ejectment. Non-payment of rent was one of the grounds. That ground as in the eviction application is ;-
'18(A): Non-payment of rent and water charges due from 1st of April, 1957.'
The aspect raised by the plea that rent was due only as from 1st of April, 1957, is indeed intriguing. The tenant had been allotted premises as from 21st January, 1956 From that date to the 1st of April, 1957 (for about a yeary and three months the landlord received the rent. How can such a landlord turnback and invoke the aid of the Controller for living him an eviction order against the tenant from whom he has been receiving rent inspire of his having been allotted other residential premises and his not having moved to the same The landlord waived the breach which was there The law laid down by a Division Bench in New Garage. Limited v. Khushwant Singh.' cannot be ignored.
(14) I must, however, say that the interpretation of clause (h)as recorded above has not been influenced by this aspect and I have actually checked up the ejectment application after recording the inter- pretation.
(15) The plea with which this appeal is concerned is contained in the following words used in ground No. 1 of paragrapa 18 of the ejectment application :- '
'18(2): Respondent has acquired vacant possession of Government quarter at Vinav Nagar, New Delhi.'
The foregoing was an allegation of fact. Its clear meaning Was that as on 15th September, 1959, which is the date on which the application for ejectment seems to have been thumb-marked by Chani Lal applicant (although the filing stamp on the ejectment application bears the date 17th September, 1959) the respendent was alleged to have acquired uacant possession of Government quarter at Vinay Nagar, New Delhi It was not alleged that he had been allotted any residential premises. The allegation was that he had acquired vacant possession of Governmeai quarter The words 'has acquired' could not convey that as on the date of the application the respondent had with him the acquired vacant possession of the Government quarter at Vinay Nagar The facts proved disclose that on the 15th September, 1959, Ved Parkash, respondent to the ejectment application, did not have any acquired vacant possession of Government quarter at Vinay Nagar. That being an admitted fact, I wounder why the Controller and the Rent Control Tribunal did not look through this factual aspect and decide the dispute between the parties on that basis. It has been noticed by both the Controller and the Rent Control Tribunal that after 5th February, 1959, Ved Parkash did not have in his possession any allotted premises That being so, the fact of his not having with him any acquired vacant possession of any Government quarter at Vinay Nagar on 15th September, 1959, should have been determined as disentitling the respondent to any relief on that ground because of the very scope of the factual plea raised by him through his ejectment application.
(16) I may also say that the allegation to the effect that, the 'respondent has acquired vacant possession of Government quarter at Vinay Nagar, New Delhi' clearly meant that the respondent as on 15th September 1959, was having that accommodation. The Controller and the Rent Control Tribunal having not recorded any finding that on 15th September, 1959. the rescond was hiving any such acquired vacant possession of Government quarter at Vinay fJagar, New Delhi, should not have allowed ejectment on that score. Looking at the case before me from all aspects and finding that the judgment under appeal sustains eviction only on the basis of the provisions of clause (h) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 14 of the Act land finding myself in clear disagreement with the view taken by the Rent Control Tribunal. I hereby accept the appeal and allow the sime. The appellant will have his costs incurred before this Court and the Kent Control Tribunal.