C.M. Lodha, J.
1. This is a plaintiff's second appeal arising out of a suit for perpetual in injunction for restraining the defendant from removing the plaintiff's fire wood lying in the cattle shed leased out to the plaintiffs by the defendant, the Cantonment Board, Nasirabad.
2. The plaintiffs' case as set out in the plaint was that the cattle-shed in question was leased out to the plaintiffs on 1. 4. 1957, initially for a period of one year upto 31st March, 1958. It appears that even after expiry of period of one year the lessee held over and continued to occupy the cattle shed on the terms agreed to between the parties at the commencement of the lease. The plaintiff stacked fire-wood in the cattle-shed and thereupon the Cantonment Board served a notice on the plaintiffs to remove the fire-wood within 7 days of the service of notice. Another notice dated 13. 7. 1959 was served on the plaintiffs to the effect that if the latter did not remove the fire-wood from the cattle-shed, the same would be got removed through the agency of the Cantonment after 18. 7. 1959 and all the expenses incurred in this connection would be recovered from the plaintiffs. Consequertly the plaintiffs filed the present suit in the Court of Munsit Nasirabad on 20.7.1959 for issue of an injunction against the Cantonment Board restraining the defendant from removing the fire-wood from the cattle shed or in any way interfering with the plaintiffs' right to use the premises in question for stacking fire-wood. The defendant resisted the plaintiffs' suit. The parties went on trial on a number of points, but the only two points which now survive for decision are:
(1) Whether Bye-Law No.1 made by the Cantonment Board prohibits stocking of wood within 100 yards of a public building irrespective of the fact whether the public building has a thatched roof?
(2) Whether the wood can be stocked or collected in that portion of the cattle shed which lies beyond 100 yards from a public building?
3. It may be observed that there is no dispute between the parties that the cattle shed in question is situated within 100 yards of a church and Vyopari College, both of which are pucca public buildings having no thatched roof. It is also the admitted case of the parties that a part of the cattle shed lies beyond 100 yards of the aforesaid church and Vyopari College, whereas the other part of the cattle shed lies within 100 yards of the said buildings.
4. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the prohibition contained in Bye-Law 1 of the Bye-Laws made by Nasirabad Cantonment Board with respect to stocking or collecting of wood applies only to these places which are situated within 100 yards of a public building having a thatched roof and if a portion of the place does not lie within 100 yards of such building the prohibition will not apply to that part of the place.
5. In order to appreciate the contention raised on behalf of the appellants it would be relevant to reproduce Bye-Law No. 1 made by the Nasirabad Cantonment Board which reads as under:
1. Prevention and extinction of fire:--No person shall, in any place in the Cantonment within one hundred yards of a public building or buildings having a thatched roof, or in any other place in respect of which a notice prohibiting the stocking or collecting of wood, dry grass, straw or other inflamable materials, or the erection of matted or thatched huts, or the lighting of fire, has been issued by the Cantonment Authority, under Section 122 of the Cantonments Act, 1925.
(a) stack or collect wood, dry grass, straw or any other inflammable material; or
(b) erect a structure made or renewed of grass mats, leaves or any other inflammable material.
6. The contention of the learned counsel for the appellant is that the words 'having a thatched roof' in the above mentioned bye-law qualify not only the word 'building' immediately preceding this phrase but also the words 'a public building'. It is submitted that it is only in case of a public building having a thatched roof, within 100 yards of which the stacking or collecting of wood, dry grass, or any other inflammable material is not permitted.
7. It is well settled that phrases and sentences in a statue should be interpreted according to their grammatical meaning unless that leads to some absurdity. So also relative and qualifying words, phrases and clauses apply to the antecedents immediately preceding. The rule is, however, subordinate to context and may be better stated by saying that a qualifying phrase ought to be referred to the next antecedent unless the context definitely suggests that the relevant rule of grammar is inappplicable. Then the requirement of context must prevail over the rule of grammar. The disjunctive 'or' has been used between the words 'public building' and 'buildings'. The question is whether the words 'public building' are connected with the clause 'having a thatched roof'? In other words should the term 'thached roof' reach back to the words 'public building'. Applying the ordinary rule of grammar, I am of the opinion that the application of the words'having a thatched roof 'should be confined to the subject which immediately precedes them, and not the word 'public building' betwe?n which and the word 'buildings' there occurs the disjunctive 'or'. No doubt the rule of gramatical interpretation is subordinate to context, but I do not see any thing in the context to disregard the ordinary rule of grammar in the present case. If what is argued by the learned counsel for the appellant is correct, then there was no need to use the word 'public building' separately and the purpose should have been served only by using the words 'buildings having a thatched roof', which expression would have included 'public building' also. However the rule making authority in its wisdom provided a separate catagory of buildings viz. 'a public building' clearly with a view to make provision for a public building separately. It is clearly borne out from the language of the bye-law that the intention of the legislature was to make provision for two types of buildings:
(1) public buildings which are to form a clause by themselves and
(2) 'buildings' which term has been used in the sense of private building having a thatched roof.
8. It appears that private buildings other than those having a thatched roof were not to be included in this bye-law whereas all public buildings irrespective of the fact whether they had thatched roof or ordriary puccaroof for the purpose of operation of the prohibition clause contained in the bye-law. For ought I know, it appears that the rule making authority wanted to place the public building at a higher footing and afford greater protection to them for reasons which are not far to seek. In any case the language of the bye-law is so clear that it does not admit of any ambiguity and it is useless to make any attempt to probe into the intention of the rule making authority for the purpose of interpretation of this bye-law. The context does not suggest that the relevant rule of grammar which I have mentioned above is inapplicable, for the purpose of interpretation of the said bye-law. I am, therefore, in agreement with the interpretation put by the courts below that the above mentioned bye-law prohibition stacking or collecting of wood in any place within 100 yards of a public building irrespective of the fact whether it has a thatched roof or any other pucca roof.
9. This brings me to the consideration of the second contention raised by the learned counsel for the appellants. As already mentioned above a part of the cattle shed in question undoubtedly lies beyond 100 yards of the Vapory College and the Church. The trial court was of the view that the prohibition contained in bye-law No. 1 would not apply to that portion of the cattle-shed which was beyond 100 yards of the said buildings, whereas the learned Senior Civil Judge came to the conclusion that the words 'place' used in the bye-law must be taken to mean the entire premises and hence it was not proper to say that the plaintiff could place the fire wood in one corner of the premises and not in the other. In view of the interpretation put by the trial court a limited injuction was issued by the trial court restraining the defendant from removing the fire-wood stacked by the plaintiff in that portion of the cattle shed which was beyond 100 yards from the Vyopari College and the Church. But on the interpretation put by the learned Senior Civil Judge no portion of the cattle shed could be used for stacking fire-wood with the result that the learned Senior Civil Judge set aside the injunction granted by the trial court dismissed the whole suit.
10. The question then arises what meaning should be given to the words 'in any place in the cantonment' used in bye-law 1 reproduced above? Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that there is not much distinction between a place and an area and therefore the word 'place' must interpreted to mean the area which actually falls within 100 yards from the public building.
11. After having given my anxious consideration to the matter I have come to the conclusion that the words 'any place in the Cantonment' have been used in the bye-law as refering to a particular place which may be a house, a godown, an enclosure, or even an open space demarcated by boundaries or square and not in the sense of a portion of space. Consequently, if there is a house or any of the types of places some of which I have illustrated above which is situated within 100 yards of a public building or building having a thatched roof, the prohibition contained in the bye-law would apply with respect to the whole of such place irrespective of the fact whether a part of it big or small falls beyond 100 yards of the public building or the building having a thatched roof. The intention behind the bye-law seems , to be that for purpose of prevention and extinction of fire, inflammable articles including wood and dry grass should not at all be stacked or collected in such a place. The very purpose and object behind the rule would be defeated if the interpretation suggested by the learned counsel for the appellant is accepted. In the first place it would not at all be difficult for the occupant of such place to dodge the authorities by shifting the inflammable articles in the premises so as to be within 100 yards of the public building and thereby making the enforcement of the bye-law impossible. Then again, the intention behind the bye-law clearly seems to be that such a place must not be used for stacking or collection of inflammable materials. That intention can be carried out only if a wider meaning is given to the word 'place'. Therefore I hold that the words 'any place in the Cantonment' used in the bye-law refer to the premises as a whole. In this view of the matter both the contention raised by the learned counsel for the appellant must be replied.
12. The result is that I do not see any substantial grounds to interfere with the judgement and decreed by the learned Senior Civil Judge, Ajmer dated 13. 9. 1963, and hereby dismiss the appeal. But in the circumstances of the case the parties are left to bear their own costs.
13. Learned counsel for the appellant prays for leave to Division Bench. However, I do not consider it a fit case for grant of leave. The prayer is disallowed.