1. This is an appeal preferred against the decree and judgment of the learned City Civil Judge of Madras in O. S. 784 of 1949.
2. The facts are : In the city of Madras there is a well known club known as the Madras club extensively patronised by Europeans, consisting of about 400 members. This club is governed by its own byelaws and administered by a Committee. Among the amenities provided by the club is provision for food and lodging in the manner stated in the bye-laws and on payment of charges specified by the appropriate authorities of the club. Food--breakfast, lunch and dinner -- is supplied only to members of the Club. They are free, however, to introduce guests, provided they are over 21 years of age and are of accepted social standing. The wife of a member may, as his guest, stay or take food in the Club even when he is himself not present, but, otherwise, no guest is served with food except in the company of the member who introduces him. No payment is accepted from the guest; he is merely entertained by the member who is charged for the food served to him and the guest. No stranger is served with food in the club. Food is prepared in the Club out of the materials purchased out of the general funds of the Club. The charges paid by members for the supply of food are, in turn, credited to the general funds.
3. In these circumstances the Corporation of Madras directed this Club to take out a licence under Section 279, Madras City Municipal Act on the foot that it comes within one of the three categories of institutions contemplated by Section 279.
4. The learned City Civil Judge came to the conclusion that this Madras Club did not fall within the ambit of Section 279 and therefore need not take out licence and decreed the suit of the club. Hence this appeal by the defeated Madras Corporation.
5. In appeal I am of the opinion that this Madras club does not fall within the ambit of Section 279, Madras City Municipal Act for the following three good reasons. First of all, the section meticulously describes the types of places which are hit at by the section. Though Clubs constitute a well known and distinct category of institutions, they are not mentioned as one of these types governed by this Section 279. The Legislature cannot be credited with such a blissful ignorance as to ignore these Clubs if it had really intended to make them come within the meaning of Section 279. On the other hand it seems plain as pointed out by the learned City Civil Judge that had the Legislature intended so, it would have added 'clubs' to many other names of places found in Section 279(1) and that it seemed plain that the legislature did not consider that clubs stood in need of the inspection, supervision and services, on the part of the Corporation, which the issue of a licence under Section 279 involves and entails.
Secondly, this Madras Club cannot be brought within the meaning of the first type of institutions viz, lodging house or eating house. The terms 'lodging house' and 'eating house' normally connote places to which the members of the public have a right of admission and in which they have no interest otherwise than as mere lodgers or boarders. I have already described the bye-laws and amenities provided by this Club and it would be outrageous to describe this Madras club as only a variety of lodging house or eating house. Therefore, the learned City Civil Judge has pointed out that the matter did not require an elaborate discussion though in fact he has discussed the English cases on this subject which support his conclusion. But really speaking the discussion of these English cases is not very relevant except to throw additional light on this matter because we are guided by the language of Section 279 and as I have just now mentioned by no stretch of imagination the Madras club can be described either as a lodging house or a eating house. Therefore, we have to find whether this club would come within the second category of institutions viz, any place where the public are admitted for repose.
The rules of the Madras club excluding all excepting the members of the Club would show that this Club could not be an institution where the public can go and have repose. The third category of institution mentioned in Section 279 is aplace where food is sold or prepared for sale. No doubt if the expressions are construed by themselves, they can be stretched to fanciful lengths and will take in to mention one illustration even Vaishnavite temples. On the other hand we must remember that the constructions that should be placed on this third category must be 'ejusdem generis' to be of the same variety as the other two categories enumerated above. In order to support this conclusion that it was a place where food was sold or prepared for sale, the argument which was advanced in the lower court was that the tax officers are assessing the Madras Club to sales-tax. But this argument does not now support the position taken by the Corporation in view of the recent decision of Mack J. in --'Cosmopolitan Club Madras v. Deputy Commercial Tax Officer', : AIR1952Mad814 wherein my learned brother held that the levy of sales tax has no scope.
6. To sum up this discussion first of all whereas many types of institutions are enumerated as coming within Section 279, clubs are not mentioned at all & which cannot be due to any oversight whatsoever but due to a deliberate reason by the Legislature and secondly, the Madras club does not fall within any one of the three categories of institutions enumerated in Section 279.
7. In the result, the learned City Civil Judge was justified in holding that the Corporation could not ask this Madras club to take out a licence and rightly decreed the suit for the plaintiff club.
8. I affirm the findings of the learned City Civil Judge and confirming his decree and judgment dismiss this appeal with costs.