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Kadalundi Pulikkalakath Saidalayi Thangal Vs. Thrikkannur Pulathottathil Mohideen and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.A. No. 1610 of 1947
Judge
Reported inAIR1951Mad670; (1950)IIMLJ767
ActsTenancy Law; Malabar Tenancy Act, 1930 - Sections 20, 21, 21(1), 43 and 43(1)
AppellantKadalundi Pulikkalakath Saidalayi Thangal
RespondentThrikkannur Pulathottathil Mohideen and ors.
Appellant AdvocateB. Pocker, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateK.P. Ramakrishna Iyer, Adv.
DispositionCase remanded
Cases ReferredRamayya v. Venkata Subba Rao
Excerpt:
.....20. no doubt section 21 (1) following, & it does, closely upon section 20 which relates to a suit for eviction 'prima facie' suggests that the eviction referred to in section 21 (1) is one obtained by means of a suit as mentioned in section 20 (1). i am not however satisfied on the careful thought bestowed by me since reservation of judgment that the view of the cts below is erroneous. it seems to me that while juxtaposition of sections in a statute may well afford sometimes a helpful clue to their interpretation, the language of each section by itself is the more material matter on a question of its interpretation. ramakrishna aiyar that a distinction ought to be made on principle between cases where eviction is obtained by means of a suit under section 20 of the act & cases where..........20. no doubt section 21 (1) following, & it does, closely upon section 20 which relates to a suit for eviction 'prima facie' suggests that the eviction referred to in section 21 (1) is one obtained by means of a suit as mentioned in section 20 (1). i am not however satisfied on the careful thought bestowed by me since reservation of judgment that the view of the cts below is erroneous. it seems to me that while juxtaposition of sections in a statute may well afford sometimes a helpful clue to their interpretation, the language of each section by itself is the more material matter on a question of its interpretation. 'eviction' in the marginal note to section 20 means, as the section itself shows, eviction by means of a suit. that however is no reason, why eviction in section 21 (1).....
Judgment:

Raghava Rao, J.

1. This second appeal arises out of a suit under Section 21, Malabar Tenancy Act (hereinafter to be referred to as the Act) for restoration of possession of land which the pltf. haying held it on a Kanom under deft 1 surrendered to him after expiry of the term in response to a demand by deft 1 that he required it for his own cultivation. The pltf's case is that he did not 'bona fide' so require it, because deft 1 having thus obtained possession on 16-3-1943 made a transfer of the property to deft 2 on 28-3-1943 barely 12 days afterwards. The answer to the action so far as material to the disposal of this second appeal was twofold : (1) that there was no eviction of the pltf in a suit under Section 20 of the Act for any right of suit for restoration under Section 21 to arise or accrue; & (2) that the suit laid on 9-10-1944 more than one year from the date of the transfer is time barred under Section 43 (1) (a) of the Act. The Cts below have concurrently negatived the first line of defence. As to the second, the lower appellate Ct has upheld it differing from the trial Ct & has dismissed the suit as time barred. Mr. Pocker assails the judgment of the lower appellate Ct on the point of limitation, while Mr. Ramakrishna Aiyar besides maintaining it as correct, attacks the view of the Cts, below on the first line of defence as erroneous.

2. The ground of difference between the Cts below on the question of limitation lies in this : that whereas the trial Ct holds that the date of deft 2 getting into possession which was one year after the surrender is the 'terminus a quo' the lower appellate Ct holds the date of the transfer to deft 2 to be the starting point of limitation. In my judgment, the transfercontemplated by Section 43 (1) (a) of the Act is clearly the transfer referred to in Section 21 (1) as I 'on any kind of lease or mortgage with possession or on kanam, kuzhikanam or verumpattam'. In the present case the transfer to| deft 2 is what is evidenced by Exs. D. 3 & D. 1' executed on one and the same date, the registered mtge by deft 1 to the second & the registered panaya kychit by deft 2 to the first, respectively. If possession under the transfer passed to deft 2 only one year thereafter as held by the learned Dist Munsif in the trial Ct the suit would be in time. That question has not been considered by the learned Subordinate Judge on appeal in the erroneous view that he took that it is immaterial, what is material according to him being only the date of the transfer. This case must therefore go back to the lower appellate Ct, for a fresh determination of the question subject to my decision on the first line of defence to the suit repelled by the Cts below but sought to be supported by Mr. Ramakrishna Aiyar before me.

3. The view of the Cts below as to this is that in terms of Section 21 (1) of the Act the present is a case in which eviction as denned by Section 3 (e) i.e., recovery of possession of land from a tenant, was obtained by deft 1 on the ground specified in Clause (5) of Section 20, no matter that he obtained it by merely making a private demand without having recourse to a suit under Section 20. No doubt Section 21 (1) following, & it does, closely upon Section 20 which relates to a suit for eviction 'prima facie' suggests that the eviction referred to in Section 21 (1) is one obtained by means of a suit as mentioned in Section 20 (1). I am not however satisfied on the careful thought bestowed by me since reservation of judgment that the view of the Cts below is erroneous. It seems to me that while juxtaposition of sections in a statute may well afford sometimes a helpful clue to their interpretation, the language of each section by itself is the more material matter on a question of its interpretation. 'Eviction' in the marginal note to Section 20 means, as the section itself shows, eviction by means of a suit. That however is no reason, why eviction in Section 21 (1) should not be understood as covering eviction otherwise than by suit, if the wider connotation is, as I hold, warranted by the definition of 'eviction' in Section 3 (e), namely, that it means recovery of possession of land from a tenant, 'simpliciter' & no matter how. The definition does not of course govern where there is something repugnant to in the subject or context. In my opinion, there is nothing however in the subject or context of Section 21 (1) which is repugnant to the appln. of the definition to the word 'eviction' occurring there. 'In any case' is the expression with which the section begins, not 'in the case of any suit'. 'On the ground specified' in Clause (5) of Section 20 & not 'under Clause 5 of Section 20' are again the words which we have in the section. Far from there being anything in the subject or context of Section 21 (1) to preclude the importation therein to of the general definition of 'eviction' in Section 3 (e) it seems to me that there is in the language of Section 21 (1) as chosen by the Legislature an intention revealed not to restrict the beneficient operation of this section only to cases of eviction obtained by means of suits as provided for in the immediately preceding section.

4. It is true, as I had occasion to observe in 'Ramayya v. Venkata Subba Rao', : AIR1950Mad214 that the equity of the statute, as it is sometimes called, cannot override its plain language; nor is any benevolent interpretation of a statute permissible which extends the spirit of a section of the statute beyond its plain letter & unequivocal tenor. It is equally clear, however, to my mind that where the language of a section is sufficiently wide to indicate a beneficial operation wider than what another section may suggest, the Ct ought not to whittle down or curtail such beneficial operation which is in accord with the general design of the statute by reference to the narrower scope & ambit of that other section. It is suggested by Mr. Ramakrishna Aiyar that a distinction ought to be made on principle between cases where eviction is obtained by means of a suit under Section 20 of the Act & cases where eviction is obtained by private treaty between the landlord & the tenant, The principle according to the learned counsel, is that in the former case there is unimpeachable record in a judicial proceeding that the landlord did require the premises for his own cultivation taut not 'bona fide' as his later conduct might show, while in the latter case proof of such requirement by the landlord & the lack of 'bona fides' about it as well as a decision by the Ct on such proof would be a matter more difficult in 'rerum naturae', especially when the question happens to arise after a long lapse of time, as it may well do, in view of the provision of so long a period as six years which the statute contains for any subsequent transfer by the landlord as giving rise to the right on the part of the tenant to be restored to possession on the ground of such transfer. I am not prepared to say that this difference, really affects the principle applicable to the situation with which I am called upon to deal, which is one of proper construction of the statute on its language.

5. 'Eviction' according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary is derived from 'vincere', to conquer, & means expulsion, especially of a tenant from land, or more generally recovery of property from a person by legal process. As pointed out in Ramanatha Aiyar's Law Lexicon of British India, the word is derived from 'evinco', to overcome, & according to Tomlin's Law Dictionary quoted by the author means, a recovery of land etc., by form of law. The author further observes:

'In its original & technical meaning it is an expulsion by the assertion of a paramount title & by process of law; a recovery of land etc., by form of law; a lawful dispossession by judgment of law; an ouster. Act of the landlord with the intention & having the effect of depriving the tenant of the enjoyment of the demised premises; the term is now popularly applied to every class of expulsion'.

The definition of the word 'eviction' in Section 3 (e) of the Act, it will be seen, is not restricted to cases of expulsion in the sense of ejection by force which is the ordinary meaning of the word as given in the Dictionaries, for instance, the Concise Oxford Dictionary. Much less is it restricted to dispossession by judgment in a suit. It means purely & simply recovery of possession according to the statutory definition--no matter how the recovery comes about. Asindicated Dy. the very opening words of Section 3 & as also observed in Halsbury's Laws of England, 2nd Edn., Vol. 31, p. 477 in para 591,

'If a defined expression is used in a context which the definition will not fit, it may be interpreted according to its ordinary meaning.'

I am unable to see how the definition of 'eviction' in the interpretation section does not fit the context of Section 21 unless it be that the very juxtaposition of that section with Section 20 is to entail a different result. As already indicated by me, such a result does not necessarily follow from the juxtaposition.

6. Another rule of interpretation of statutes applicable to the matter on hand is thus stated in Halsbury's Laws of England, 2nd Edn., Vol. 61 at p. 464 in para 566 & again at p. 483 in para 603,

'Notwithstanding that every section of a statute is a substantive enactment in itself, the statute must be read & construed as a whole, though one section may bear a wider, another a more limited meaning.'

Applying the rule thus stated to the case on hand I am of opinion that Section 21 (1) of the Act which is a substantive enactment in itself is not controlled in the wider meaning of 'eviction' which it 'prima facie' carries with it by anything in Section 20 with which it occurs in Juxtaposition in the statute, with which it no doubt has to be read in order that the statute may be read & construed as a whole, but in which is to be found nothing repugnant, to that wider meaning.

7. This being my view of this aspect of thematter I must remit the case to the Ct ofFirst Instance, as agreed upon by both sidesbefore me for a disposal of the suit, with reference to the question of limitation after giving the parties an opportunity for such freshevidence as they may have on the question.Appellant will have refund of Court-fee aswell as costs of this appeal. All other coststo abide. No leave.


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