R.A. Mehta, J.
1. The petitioner is the owner of the house in Surat purchased by him in the year 1969 with the sitting tenant. The Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, 1947 has been made applicable to this premises. He retired from Government service in 1976 and he wanted to occupy this premises and therefore, he filed a suit for eviction on the ground of his personal and bona fide requirements. He also alleged that the tenant had acquired suitable alternative accommodation. Both the courts below have dismissed the suit for possession on the ground that the so called alternative accommodation is at. Ankleshwar and not suitable for the tenant who has settled in Surat. There is concurrent finding of fact that the alternative accommodation cannot be said to be suitable and, therefore, that cannot be interfered with.
2. The lower courts have also held that for the purpose of Section 13(1)(g) (personal and bona fide requirement of the landlord) the petitioner the plaintiff, cannot be said to be a landlord in view of the Explanation to Section 13(1)(x); he having acquired and purchased the property after 1-1-1964. Said Explanation reads as under:
Explanation : For the purposes of Clause (g) of Sub-section (1):(a) a person shall not be deemed to be a landlord unless he has acquired his interest in the premises at a date prior to the beginning of the tenancy or the first day of January, 1964, whichever is later, or if the interest has devolved on him by inheritance or succession, his predecessor-in-title had acquired the interest at a date prior to the beginning of the tenancy or the first day of January, 1964, whichever is later.
It is clear that the petitioner has acquired interest in the premises after 1-1-1964 and after the beginning of the tenancy of the opponent and, therefore, the petitioner owner cannot be held to be a landlord for the purpose of Clause (g) of Section 13(1). Such an owner cannot seek eviction of a tenant on the ground that he requires the suit premises reasonably and bona fide for occupation by himself.
3. In view of this clear position of law, both the courts below have dismissed the suit of the petitioner for possession on the ground of personal and bona fide requirement under Section 13(1)(g).
4. The petitioner has, therefore, challenged the validity of the provision contained in the aforesaid Explanation. The petitioner has contended that the said provision is discriminatory, unreasonable and violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. It is submitted that there is hostile discrimination and irrational classification of landlords; those who have purchased the property with a sitting tenant before 1-1-64 and those who purchased after 1-1-64 and also between those who have purchased with a sitting tenant and those who have purchased without a sitting tenant. It is also submitted that the date of 1-1-1964 is an arbitrary date and the provision has no rational nexus with the object of the Act.
5. This contention does not require detailed consideration in view of the fact that this High Court has already upheld the validity of this very provision in the judgment in the case of Shah Pravinchand Harakhchand v. State of Gujarat and Anr. 16 G.L.R. 40. A Special Civil Application challenging the validity of the provision, a Civil Reference whereby such question was referred to the High Court and also a Civil Revision Application, were decided by that judgment. That matter was heard by Division Bench consisting of J. B. Mehta and S.H. Sheth, JJ. J. B. Mehta, J. came to the conclusion that said provisions were intra-vires while S.H. Sheth, J. came to the conclusion that they were violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India and, therefore the proceedings were ultimately placed before A. D. Desai, J. for final decision and by the aforesaid reported judgment, A. D. Desai, J. upheld the validity of the provision. That judgment is deemed to be a judgment of the Division Bench because it was rendered by a third Judge on a difference of opinion between the two Judges of the Division Bench. Even so this Revision Application has been admitted and it has been referred to Division Bench for final hearing.
6. We have heard the Learned Counsel and it has been submitted that the judgment in the case of Shah Pravinchand (supra) requires reconsideration. It is submitted that while upholding the validity of the provision, the court had taken into consideration that the provision was of temporary nature and the court had not considered all aspects affecting the validity of the provision. It is not possible to agree with the contention. At page 52 A. D. Desai, J. observed that 'no doubt the impugned Explanation contains a prohibition but The prohibition is not a permanent one though it was for an indefinite and undetermined period but the fact remains that the Act itself was a temporary statute and the Legislature has power to take out the Explanation when it was satisfied that the restriction was no more necessary and in fact the Legislature had removed such a restriction which was placed in the year 1947 in 1953.' From this it is not possible to hold that the validity was upheld on the ground that the provision was a temporary provision. The provision is made with a view to meet the needs of the society and so long as the need continue and the Legislature is the proper authority to assess the needs of the society and to fulfil such needs by enacting appropriate provision in the law from time to time. On the ground that such legislation continues for an indefinite and undetermined period or for a long period is no ground to hold that the provision is bad. If the need for such provision is long, indefinite and even permanent, such provision may continue co-extensively with such need.
7. Regarding the date of 1-1-1964, it has already been held in the above judgment that the Legislature took care not to give retrospective effect to the amendment and this was evident because the Legislature changed the date from January 1, 1963 to January 1, 1964. Even in the Minister's speech (on the Bill introducing this explanation) dt. 18th December 1962 the amendment was accepted so as to make provision effective from 1-1-64 instead of 1-1-63. There is no arbitrariness in this date because the date is fixed with reference to prospective effect of the amendment.
8. There is no substance in the contention that there is a hostile discrimination and unreasonable classification amongst the landlords. The persons in possession of money who can afford to purchase or acquire tenanted, property are a class by themselves. If they were in need of property for personal occupation they would purchase a vacant property or construct a new one. When they purchase a tenanted property, they purchase it at incredibly low price and with full knowledge that the Rent Act protects the sitting tenant. For such landlords if a legislation is made declaring that such landlord shall not be entitled to recover possession from such sitting tenant on the ground of personal requirement of the landlord, it cannot be said that there is any unreasonable classification or unreasonable restriction. On the contrary such provision would discourage and prevent unnecessary litigation. It has been submitted by the Learned Counsel for the petitioner that the courts and the Rent Act would continue to protect the tenant and tenant could not be evicted unless a landlord makes out and proves a case of personal and bona fide requirement, and further makes out and proves that greater hardship would be caused to the landlord if possession was not granted, and there was thus sufficient safeguard in the Act itself in favour of the tenant and therefore, this provision of putting additional restriction on the right of the landlord is unreasonable. It is to be noticed that a person who purchases a property with a sitting, tenant knows it fully well that the tenant is occupying the house. If he had to acquire that property for personal requirement, he would not purchase a tenanted property.
9. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that such a landlord should not be encouraged to evict a tenant with the assistance of the court. If he had sufficient money he should have acquired a property without a tenant or constructed a new one. On account of his capital or surplus money, he cannot harass and drive out a sitting tenant. The Act is for the protection of the tenants and this provision has direct and rational nexus with the object of the Act and stability of the tenants. This provision is intended to achieve prevention of transfers by landlords to enable purchasers to evict sitting tenants. A landlord unable to make out a case of eviction of his tenant under Section 13(1)(g) may think of transferring the property for purchaser who may be able to make out a case at his own behalf but the Legislature wanted to step down to discourage this device and did not want to permit such transferee landlords to evict the sitting tenants. We fully concur with the observations in Shah Pravinchand's case (supra), which are as follows:
The persons who would invest in such transactions can be divided into two classes; one class was of those who invested the money for the return by way of rent and there could hardly any hardship to them. The other class was of those who might have needed the premises and they no doubt would suffer some inconvenience but in view of their capital they could construct new buildings and thus avoid their inconvenience. On the other hand any action by persons belonging to those classes would have driven the tenants into streets. It was for these reasons that the legislature intervened in order to avoid hardships to sitting tenants. The legislature did not intend to permit persons having surplus money - a fortuitous circumstance by itself - to evict sitting tenants. In. such a case a poor tenant will be obliged to go through the entire costly litigation. The legislature balanced the circumstances in which the landlords and tenants were and decided that tenants required more protection because the wealthy class would avoid inconvenience by purchasing a vacant house or by building a new house. The tenant had no alternative in such cases except to be thrown on the streets because of the non-availability of premises. Such a legislation could not be said to be unreasonable and the restriction put by it cannot be said to be excessive. If. the intention of the legislature was to protect sitting tenants how can it be said that the classification is unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious? The Act has been enacted in order to protect tenants from eviction and keeping the same beneficient view in mind the legislature enacted the Explanation. The classification made between the landlords is also rational and intelligible as the legislature desired to put an end to the device adopted by the landlords to evict the tenants.
In view of the above, we are clearly of the view that the provision, namely. Explanation to Section 13(1)(g) is intra-vires and not violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. In the result, Revision Application fails and is dismissed. Rule discharged with costs.