D.K. Kapur, J.
(1) Shri Jagan Nath Behl, respondent in this Court instituted a suit for recovery of Rs. 5,205.41 against S. Malik Singh, appellant here as arrears of rent and damages for use and occupation. The arrears of rent were claimed for the period 12th May, 1960 to 31st March, 1966, because Shri P. K. Bahri, Additional Rent Controller had fixed the standard rent of the premises at Rs. 50.00 per month by an order made on 6th June) 1967. But, this standard rent was made effective from 12th May, 1960. Before the date of the judgment, ShriA.P.Chaudhery, Additional Rent Controller had already passed an eviction order on 1st April, 1966 against the tenant. The tenant was actually evicted on 8th May, 1969. Undoubtedly, before the standard rent was fixed, the tenant was paying only Rs. 10.00 per month. .The landlord, thereforee, filed the suit for recovery of the extra rent for the period 12th May, 1960 to 31st March, 1966, and for damages for use and occupation after the eviction order became operative; he claimed damages equivalent to the standard rent for the period 1st April, 1966 to 8th May, 1969.
(2) The suit was tried by Shri H. S. Bakshi, Subordinate Judge 1st Class, who byjudgment and decree dated 30th April, 1971 allowed the claim of the plaintiff as regards the damages for use and occupation at the rate of Rs. 50.00 per month, but he disallowed the claim for extra rent for the period 12th May, 1960 to 31st March, 1966. One of the questions raised was as to whether the full claim was within limitation. It was held by the trial Court that the suit could not be filed before the standard rent had been fixed, so the claim was not barred by time. But it was held that the landlord could not claim anything above the contractual rate of rent till he had given a notice increasing the rent. Consequently, although the standard rent had been raised to Rs. 50.00 per month, which was well above the rate at which the tenant was paying the rent, the landlord was disentitled to recover the amount unless he actually raised the contracted rate of rent by a notice. On this ground the suit was only partly decreed.
(3) Both the landlord as well as the tenant filed appeals which were heard by Shri N. C. Kochhar. Additional District Judge. The landlord's appeal has been allowed and the full claim has been decreed and the tenant's appeal was rejected. Now the tenant has applied to this Court to claim that nothing more than Rs. 10.00 per month is payable and the decision of the trial Court is right as far as the claim for rent is concerned, but the decision of both Courts below is wrong as far as the rate of damages is concerned.
(4) Having set out the circumstances in which this case has come before this Court, I must at once say that the question before me presents some unusual problems. The Rent Control Act allows the landlord to recover rent from the tenant but nothing more than the standard rent. If a landlord lets out property and the contractual rent happens to be more than the standard rent then, the landlord is disentitled to claim the rent over and above the standard rent and the contract between the parties has to be read as a contract letting out the property at the standard rent. The Act is silent about any landlord letting out the property below the standard rent. There is no bar to the landlord letting out property at a rate of rent for below the standard rent. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that this is a case in which property was being enjoyed by the tenant at Rs. 10.00 per month and even if the standard rent is raised to Rs. 50.00 per month, there has to be a positive act by the landlord to raise the rate of rent to Rs. 50.00 . The mere fixing of the standard rent at Rs. 50.00 per month does not mean that the tenant is obliged to pay the rent at that rate. According to him, the rate of rent continues to be the contractual rent, i.e., Rs. 10.00 per month.
(5) This point regarding the contractual rent of rate is somewhat complicated by the previous facts concerning the property with which we are concerned. The properly in question. No. 8894, Naya Mohalla, Pul Bangash, Delhi, was an evacuee property in which the defendant-appellant was a tenant under the Custodian and paying Rs. 12.75. The property became acquired evacuee property and then the Central Government sold the property to the plaintiff who became owner with effect fr om 15th January, 1957. At that time, the plaintiff became the landlord and the defendant became the tenant. The rent continued to be Rs. 12.75, but for some reason which is not obvious, the plaintiff only charged Rs. 10.00 per month and continued to charge this rate of rent though he had applied for fixation. of standard rent. It is a submission of counsel for the landlord that the standard rent was the real rent whereas the rent being paid to the Custodian was a concessional rent which continued to bind the parties till the standard rent became effective. As stated by learned counsel for the respondent this is not a case in which the landlord has let out the property at Rs. 10.00 per month. This is not the normal rent. When the landlord purchased the property, he got the tenant along with the property and he could not charge more than the rent which was already being paid. However, when. the standard rent was fixed, then the landlord became entitled to charge the extra rent.
(6) The problem in this case, thereforee, is: whether the standard rent fixed on 6th June, 1967 by Shri, P.K. Bahri Additional Rent Controller with effect from 12th May, 1960, actually becomes effective on 12th May, 1960, or, whether it became effective from a later date? As I have stated, the problem is not free from difficulties. I may here say that the problem has really arisen because of the lack of a provision relating to this matter in the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. I have in the course of arguments been referred to a judgment of the Calcutta High Court reported as Bijoy Ranjan Dey v. Alin -Kumar Ghosh, : AIR1963Cal531 , in which reference has been made to the West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1950. In that Act, there is a provision for fixing standard rent. Section 10 of that Act very positively states that when the standard rent is fixed, it becomes effective and is the rent payable from dates specified in that Section, i.e., Section 10. It is stated in that Act that when the standard rent is increased, the increase will become payable from the next month after the date of the application. Similarly, if the standard rent is decreased, the new rate of rent becomes payable from the month next after the date of the application. There is no such provision in the Delhi Rent Control Act as we find it. The Section in our Act merely states that the Rent Controller can state in his order the date from which the new standard rent becomes effective. It does not in so many words say when the new standard rent is payable. There is in this sense a lacuna in the Rent Control Act as applicable to Delhi. So, the problem which has arisen in the present case is whether the fact that the new standard rent has become 'effective also leads to an implied conclusion that this is the rate of rent which is now 'payable' by the tenant. The problem requires an interpretation of several Sections of the Delhi Rent Control Act so that they may be harmoniously interpreted to apply to the present case and cases similar to it.
(7) The four points that require decision in this case are: (1) What is the period of limitation applicable to cases where the landlord claims increased rent after the standard rent has been raised. (2) Is the increased rate of rent directed by the order fixing standard rent payable by the tenant. (3) Is any notice required by the landlord be Fore the increased rate of rent can be charged. (4) Is the landlord entitled to raise the contractual rent in case the standard rent is fixed above the contractual rent. I. Limitation.
7A.We must assume that the standard rent is in fact recoverable if it is higher than the contractual rent. On this assumption, one has to enquire whether the period of limitation starts from the date on which the order fixing the new standard rent is passed, or, whether the period of limitation starts from the date which is mentioned in the order as being the effective date from which the new standard rent is to be charted. In this case the order was passed on 6th June, 1967, by Shri P. K. Bahri but new standard rent was effective from 12th May, 1960. It was urged on behalf of the appellant that rent for only three years could be made the subject-matter of a suit and notwithstanding the fact that the new rate of rent is effective from 12th May, 1960, only rent for the period three years before the date of the institution of the suit would be within time. Article 52 of the Limitatation Act, 1963, states that the period of limitation for instituting a suit for recovering arrears of rent is three years and that period begins from 'when the arrears become 127 due'. Learned counsel for the appellant urges that the rent for May, 1960, June, 1960, and so on could be recovered within three years of that date and not later. Undoubtedly, if the arrears of rent were being recovered on the basis of a contract, there would be no quarrel with this proposition, but in this particular case, the cause of action for recovering the excess rent from 12th May, 1960 to 31st March, 1966 is the order passed by the Additional Rent Controller on 6th June, 1967. If there had been no order in fixing the standard rent, there would be no question of recovering the excess rent. This question has been dealt with in J. M.Andrews v. M/s. Radio Engineering Co. A.L.R. 1963, Mys 113, Broja Behari Son v. Ved Piakash Kumar, : AIR1958Cal261 , and both these judgments rely on the principle that before you can make a claim you must have a cause of action. Till the standard rent was actually fixed at Rs. 50.00 , the tenant had to pay the contractual rent. When the standard rent was raised from a back date, then only could the landlord institute a suit for recovering the extra rent. It is a different matter that the rent may not be recoverable because it is not due, but if it is due, it is only due because of the order passed by the Rent Controller and for no other reason. The rent, thereforee, was not due in May, 1960 or June, 1960 or even in March, 1966. It became due only when the Rent Controller passed the order on 6th June, 1967. It was only on that date when the landlord could say to his tenant 'now you have to pay more rent, the Rent Controller has said so. So, please pay me the excess rent.' thereforee, for the purposes of Article 52 of the Limitation Act, the starting point of limitation has to be the date of the order and consequently the claim of the landlord is within time because the suit was instituted within three years from 6th June, 1967. The actual date of institution being 4th June, 1969. The decision of the Courts below on this point is accordingly confirmed.
II. Is the increased rent consequent to the order fixing the standard rent payable by the. tenant?
(8) In this case, the standard rent was fixed by the Rent Controller by order dated 6th June, 1967, which order made the standard rent of Rs. 50.00 per month effective from 12th May, 1960. The ejectment order was passed by another Rent Controller on 1st April, 1966. So, in actual fact the standard rent was fixed after the ejectment order had already been passed. Part of the claim of the landlord in this suit was for recovering rent during the tenancy period and part of the claim was for recovering damages for use and occupation after the tenancy was terminated by the ejectment order because the tenant continued to be in occupation till 8th May, 1969. The suit, thereforee, covers two periods-one during which the appellant continued to be tenant and one during which he remained in occupation in spite of the ejectment order. The question for consideration is whether the increased rent became payable from 12th May, 1960 which was the effective date mentioned in the Rent Controller's order, or, whether it requires any notice by the landlord under Section 8 of the Delhi Rent Control Act which requires the landlord to give a notice for increase of the rent. The tenant's case is that notwithstanding the order of the Rent Controller fixing the effective date on 12th May, 1960, the requiiement of the Act is that after the order is passed by the Rent Controller on 6th June, 1967, a notice is necessary under Section 8 requiring the tenant to pay the extra rent and only then the extra rent can be charged. In actual fact, as the tenancy had already been terminated on 1st April, 1966, this would mean that the landlord could give no notice at all because it is not possible for a landlord to give a notice increasing the rent to a person who has ceased to be a tenant after the eviction order was passed on 1st April, 1966. The two Sections which require to be re- conciled for the purposes of this case are Section 8 of the Delhi Rent Control Act which requires a notice to be given for increasing the rent and Section 9 which enables the Controller to fix an effective date from which the new standard rent shall be deemed to take effect.
(9) As I have pointed out earlier in this judgment, the West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1950, has a distinct and precise provision staling the date on which the new standard rent will become effective. It says in so many words that the standard rent if decreased will be payable from the month next following after the date of the application, and similarly, if the standard rent is increased it slates that the increased rent will become payable from the month following the date of the application. In ascertaining whether the increased rent was to be paid, the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in Bijoy Ranjan Dey v. Atin Kumar Ghosh, : AIR1963Cal531 had no difficulty in holding that the rent was recoverable because of the provisions of the Act, and also the suit was within limitation because the cause of action commenced from the date when the order of the Rent Controller was passed fixing the rate of rent which is a point I have already dealt with. There is an absence of a provision in the Delhi Rent Control Act about the increased or decreased rent being payable. The actual provision dealing with the question is Section 9(7) which reads ;
'9(7).In fixing the standard rent of any premises under this section, the Controller shall specify a date from which the standard rent so fixed shall be deemed to have effect; Provided that in no case the date so specified shall be earlier than one year prior to the date of the filing of the application for the fixation of the standard rent.'
This provision applies both to applications filed by the landlord or filed by the tenant. Learned counsel for the landlord urges that if an effective date can be fixed by the Rent Controller, it also means that the rent so fixed is to be charged with effect from that date, otherwise the order is not effective. He urges that there is no point in the standard rent being effective from a back date if it is not to be made payable. If for instance, the tenant's contention is accepted, then the standard rent will not be effective from 12th May, 1960. It will be effective after 6th June, 1967. So, the order making the standard rent effective from a back date will become meaningless and the Section will not have effect as intended by the Legislature. On the other hand, counsel for the tenant-appellant urges that the Section states that in order to increase the rent a notice must be given by the landlord and if no notice is given then Section 8 is infringed and becomes non-effective. So, each of the parties rely on a different provision to support their contentions.
(10) I have examined the language of Section 9(7) as reproduced. I am totally in agreement with the contention of the respondent's counsel that an order fixing the rent can only be said to be effective it if actually results in the rent being paid. What is the point of the standard rent being made effective from 12th May, 1960, as is permitted by the Section if the tenant is not obliged to pay the said rent? Learned counsel for the appellant urges that this provision can lead to startling results. He says that a person may take a house on rent at a low rate of rent and then on an application by the landlord find that he has to pay a far greater rent which he cannot afford and would not have agreed to pay in the first instance. I do realies that some hardship may result, but it certainly does not result in this case. Here, the contracted rate of rent was only Rs. 10.00 and the standard rent is only Rs. 50.00 which are both very modest amounts keeping in view the rate of rent which prevail normally.
(11) One way of reconciling the two Sections is to treat the application under Section 9 made to the Controller for fixing an increased standard rent as being tentamount and equivalent to a notice to the tenant that the landlord wants an increased rent. This may reconcile the two provisions. But, I think the better way is to read Section 9(7) as being the provision governing the Controller's order and Section 8 as being the Section which applies when the landlord takes action without going to the Controller.
(12) If we read the two provisions in this way, we find that if either of the parties go to the Controller for either increasing or decreasing the standard rent, or for making an application for lawful increase in the standard rent if previously fixed, then the Controller has to fix the effective date at the conclusion of the case. Therealreasonwhysection 9(7) hasbeen enacted is to allow for the time which may be taken in getting the Controller's decision and further time which may be taken in appeal or second appeal. When the Controller decides the case, he fixes the effective date of the order which may be even before the application is actually made. The idea of the provision is to protect the tenant in case the landlord is charging more than the standard rent, and also to aid to the landlord to recover the standard rent in case he happens to be charging too small an amount. It must not be forgotten that the Act protects a tenant from eviction and when it gives the tenant a right, it also gives a corresponding duty to pay at least the standard rent. thereforee, Section 9(7) provides the mechanism by which the landlord can be made to pay back any excessive rent he may have charged above the standard rent and it also provides the mechanism by which the landlord can recover the extra rent which he has failed to charge earlier because the house was let out below the standard rate of rent.
(13) I would accordingly held that Section 9(7) which allows the Rent Controller to make his order fixing the standard rent effective from a back date must be read in such a way that the order is actually affective and does result in payment of the higher or lower rent which may be fixed by the Controller from the date which the Controller specifies as being the effective date for payment of the standard rent. In other words, I read the Section as meaning that the new standard rent is effective and also payable from the effective date I concur with the decision of the lower appellate Court on this question inspire of the plausible reasons given by the trial Court in holding that a notice under Section 8 is necessary. III. Is notice required before the increased rent can be charged from the tenant.
(14) This question has more or less been answered in the previous discussion, but it requires a little more analysis because the question may very well arise as to why Section 8 has been enacted and if it is negatived by my construction of Section 9(7), then does not this Section become meaningless and practically ineffective. This Section (8) reads as follows :-
'8.Notice of increase of rent. (1) Where a landlord wishes to increase the rent of any premises, he shall give the tenant notice of his intention to make the increase and in so far as such increase is lawful under this Act, it shall be due and recoverable only in respect of the period of the tenancy after the expiry of thirty days from the date on which the notice is given. (2) Every notice under sub-section (1) shall be in writing signed by or on behalf of the landlord and given in the manner provided in section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.'
For the tenant-appellant it is contended that this Section shows that even when the standard rent is raised, the landlord has to give a notice. It is significant that this Section does not refer to the standard rent specifically, but merely to rent generally. I put to the counsel for the respondent that this Section probably referred to cases where the contractual rent was to be increased, but he said that such an interpretation would work even greater hardship in a number of cases and he gave some examples. He said that if this Section is read as dealing with a case where the standard rent had not been fixed and the landlord wanted to increase the rent at which the property was let out, it would mean that the landlord could unilaterally alter the contract which is an idea abhorred of the concept that two parties must be ad idem when they enter into a contract. He says the Section cannot be read as covering such a case because nobody can unilaterally alter a contract. For instance) if a house is let out Rs. 500.00 a month, this Section cannot be read to mean that the landlord can say, 'Please pay me Rs. 10,000.00 next month' merely because the standard rent has not been fixed. The Section does not cover such a case, but covers certain cases which are dealt with in Sections 6 and 7 previously in the Act.
(15) I have examined this point of view and I agree with this interpretation. There are many provisions in this Act which show the the standard rent can be increased. I take up Section 6 first. In the case of residential premises, there is reference to the basic rent which is defined in the Second Schedule of the Act and the new Act states that if the premises were let out before 2nd June 1944, and the basic rent is below Rs. 600.00 per annum then the standard rent is equal to the basic rent. But if the basic rent is more than Rs. 600.00 then the standard rent is the basic rent plus ten per cent. Similarly, if the premises were let out after 2nd June, 1944-, and the standard rent had been fixed either under the Delhi and Ajmer-Merwar Rent Control Act, 1947 or the Delhi and Ajmer Rent Control Act, 1952 and the rent fixed is below Rs. 1,200.00 then the same standard rent will apply, but if the standard rent under the previous Act is more than Rs. 1,200.00 then there will be an increase of 10%. Similarly, in the case of non-residential premises, if premises had been let out before 2nd June, 1944, it is the basic rent plus 10% which will apply if the basic rent is below Rs. 1,200/. But, if it is more than Rs. 1,200.00 then it is the basic rent plus 15%. In the case of premises let on or after 2nd June, 1944, the standard rent fixed by the previous Act will apply if it is not more than Rs. 1,200.00 annually, but if it is more than Rs. 1,200/' there will be an increase of 15%. thereforee, the Act, did visualise an increase in the standard rent fixed previously. The landlord, thereforee, became entitled by operation of Section 6 to increase certain rent either by 10% or 15%. Such an increase could be brought about by a notice under Section 8. This is an increase contemplated by the Act itself. But in order to bring about an increase the landlord has to give a notice and that notice is mentioned in Section 8.
(16) Then we have Section 7 which provides for improvements, additions or structural alterations made by the landlord. If these changes have been made before the commencement of the Act, the landlord can charge a certain percentage as increase in the standard rent dependent on the cost of .the improvements additions or structural alterations. This does not require any reference to the Controller. If such changes are made after the commencement of the Act then either the written approval of the tenant or the Controller is necessary. If the Controller is applied to, then Section 9 and 9(7) will apply and the effective date will be given by the Controller. But, if it is with the written approval of the tenant and no application is made to the Controller, then Section 8 will apply. In other words, if we have a case 131 in which, say. two extra rooms have been made in a house with the written approval of the tenant or before the Act commenced, with or without the approval of the tenant, then the landlord can give a notice increasing, the rent, but the increase has to be at the rate of 7-1/2^) of the cost of the improvements. This is the only amount allowed for this purpose. Clearly, Section is not without meaning. It is really a Section introduced for giving effect to certain changes made in the Act before the Act of 1958, with a view to allowing the landlord to get extra return from other buildings.
(17) The scheme ofthe Acts of 1947, 1952 and 1958 was to fix standard rent in relation to the rate at which premises were let out, and in each of the subsequent Act, there has been a small marginal increase of rent permitted over and above the fixed standard rent. The mechanism for getting the increase is provided for by Section 8. This Sections thereforee, operate in a restricted manner to cases where an increase in rent is permitted by the Act. It can in no way be read as being a provision which allows the landlord to change the contractual rate of rent. That is not the purpose of this provision and without reading the Act in other context, the provision can be mis- interpreted.
(18) So, I hold that in this particular case. Section 8 is not applicable and was never intended to be applicable. It applies to a completely different set of circumstances which are specified in Sections 6 and 7. In other words, if a landlord gets an increase of rent by getting an order from the Controller fixing the standard rent above the contracted rate of rent, then the only way in which he can recover the amount and the only reason why he can recover that amount is because the Controller makes it the effective standard rent for the premises in question and from the date the standard rent is effective. It is the rate of rent which has to be paid by the tenant whether it is an increase or whether it is a decrease.
(19) This meaning ofthe two provisions can also be obtained by reading Section 10 which allows for the fixation of an interim rent.. When an application has been made to the Rent Controller for fixing the standard rent whether for increase or decrease, the (controller is entitled to fix an interim rent and the provision states that the Controller may make an order specifying the amount of the rent or the lawful increase to be paid by the tenant to the landlord pending final decision on the application and shall appoint the date from which the rent or lawful increase so specified shall be deemed to have effect'. Clearly, this provision permits the Controller to say that an interim rent is fixed and that is the rent which will be payable. In this case, where the contractual rent was Rs. 10.00 and the landlord wanted to increase the rent, the Controller could have passed an order fixing the interim rent at Rs. 30.00 and in such a case, the tenant would have to pay the rent so fixed. If the Controller can pass an interim order, certainly he can pass a final order of this type. I would accordingly hold that in such a case the rent would be payable.
IV.Is the landlord entitled to raise the contractual rent in case the stan- dard rent is fixed above the contractual rent.
(20) In the above discussion, I have dealt with this point because I have held that the fixation of standard rent implies that it'is also payable. If the standard rent is above the contractual rent, it is payable because the new rent is the effective rent which means it is payable.
(21) In connection with this point, certain other judgments have been brought-to my notice including my.own unreported judgment in Shri lal Chand v. ShriRam Avtar, S.A.O. No. 27 of 1970, decided on 11th May, 1971. In that case on a somewhat similar facts as in the present case, the tenant of the Custodian became the tenant of the purchaser at the rate of Rs. 6.00 per month. The standard rent was increased to Rs. 40.00 per month on 16th January, 1968 by the Additional Rent Controller with effect from 2nd November, 1965. In an ejectment proceeding, the question arose as to what was the rent payable under Section 15 of the Act. It may be recalled that when an ejectment proceeding is brought, the Rent Controller can pass an order calling up the tenant to deposit the arrears of rent and future rent monthly. The question was whether the deposit was to be at the contractual rent of Rs. 6.00 or the standard rent which was Rs. 40.00 . I confirmed the order of the Rent Control Tribunal holding that the rate at which the rent had to be deposited was Rs. 40.00 and not Rs. 6.00 . This judgment has been relied upon by the lower appellate Court in deciding the present case. It has been brought to my notice that a similar view has recently been taken by M.L. Jain J. in Sampuran Singh v. B. Gopal, (1980), Delhi Law Times 382. Both these judgments are authorities for the view that the standard rent once fixed is the effective rate of rent governing the parties and can be recovered from the tenant. In both these cases) the tenant was required to make a deposit of rent during the pendency of the eviction proceedings at the rate of standard rent and at not the contractual rate of rent which was lower. So it would follow that in an ordinary suit for recovery of rent the landlord will be entitled to recover the standard rent if fixed higher than the contractual rent, and he can do so without any notice under Section 8.
(22) The result of all this discussion is that I come to the conclusion that the decision of the lower appellate Court has to be upheld and this appeal has to be dismissed. I hold that the standard rent is recoverable with effect from 12th May, 1960 which is the date specified in the Rent Controller's order passed on 6th June, 1967. I hold that this rent which was more than the contractual rent of Rs. 10.00 could only be sued for after the Controller passed his order on 6th June, 1967, and thereforee, the starting point of limitation for recovering the excessive rent was the date of that order, 6th June, 1967. I also hold that the damages for use and occupation after the ejectment order was passed have also to be recovered at the rate of the standard rent. So, I affirm the judgment of the lower appellate Court on every point. In view of the intricacy of the point, I would hold that in this Court the parties will bear their own costs.