1. The tenant who had lost before the Rent Controller as well as the Appellate Authority is the petitioner. This petition has been filed to revise the order of the Appellate Authority confirming the order of the Rent Controller directing the petitioner to re-deposit a sum of Rs. 21,580-92, which he had deposited towards rent due from him in R. C. O. P. 296 of 1973, which he had filed under Section 9(2) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960, and which he had subsequently withdrawn as per order in I.A. No. 204 of 1974. The petitioner had become a tenant of the premises under one Varadarajan who died on 7-8-1971. leaving his widow Rukmaniammal (4th respondent), three sons and one daughter as well as his mother, Rajammal (2nd respondent), and two brothers Nagarajan (3rd respondent) and Muthukrishnan (first respondent). Since the petitioner was in doubt about the person to whom he should pay the rent subsequent to the death of Varadarajan who had leased the premises to him, he filed the aforesaid R. C. O. P. No. 296 of 1973, under Section 9(2) of the Act, and deposited the sum of Rs. 21,580.92 in the Court of the Rent Controller. The three branches appear to have agreed to share the amount in certain proportions, and consequently, R. C. O. P. 296 of 1973, was dismissed on 9-8-1974, However, strangely enough, the petitioner withdrew the amount by filing I. A. No. 204 of 1974, for issue of a cheque for the said amount, evidently without notice to the respondents in the main R. C. O. P. The first respondent herein, Muthukrishnan, filed I. A. No. 155 of 1975 to excuse the delay in filing an appeal against the order in I. A. No. 204 of 1974, but it was dismissed on the ground that the Limitation Act is not applicable to proceedings under the Rent Control Act. Later respondents 1 and 2 in the present petition, against whom alone the present petition is pressed by the learned counsel for the petitioner, filed I. A. No. 26 of 1975 on 18-2-1975 under Section 151,C. P. C. for a direction to the petitioner herein to re-deposit the amount of Rs. 21,580.92. The petitioner's defence was that Section 151, C, P. C. cannot be invoked for directing him to re-deposit the above amount in proceedings under the Rent Control Act. The petitioner claimed to have paid a sum of Rs. 7,813.96 to the first respondent, a sum of Rs. 8,274.76 to the 3rd respondent and a sum of Rs. 8,774.76 to the 4th respondent and he contended that in view of these payments he cannot be directed to re-deposit the amount in any event.
2. The Tribunals below rejected the contentions of the petitioner and directed him to re-deposit the amount. The Appellate Authority has observed in his order that the receipt of Rs. 7,813.96 by the first respondent is not disputed. The payment of Rs. 8,274.76 to the third respondent was not disputed before the Rent Controller. The Appellate Authority found the payment of Rs. 8,774.76 to the 4th respondent to be true.
3. Deceased Varadarajan has left even the second respondent as his heir and since there was admittedly a dispute between the parties about the right to receive the rent, the petitioner himself was in doubt as to who was entitled to receive the amount. The subsequent payment of the various amounts out of Court in the absence of any agreement between the parties to receive the payment in any proportion cannot avail the petitioner. The point strongly urged by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority are only persona designata and Section 151, C. P. C. cannot be invoked before them for directing the petitioner to re-deposit the amount, albeit the amount was wrongly paid out to the petitioner. It is conceded there is no provision in the Act enabling a tenant who had deposited the amount under Section 9(2) of the Act to withdraw the amount. There can be no doubt that the money deposited in R. C. O. P. 296 of 1973 belonged to the respondents in that petition and other heirs of Varadarajan. The learned counsel for the petitioner relied on the decisions of Kailasam J. (as he then was) in Seethalakshmi Ammal v. Rajammal, 1965 1 MLJ 287, and of Gokulakrishnan, J. in Ganapathi v. Kumaraswami, : AIR1975Mad383 in support of his contention that the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority are persona designata. Kailasam J. (as he then was) has, no doubt, held in the former decision that the Rent Controller is not a court and the Civil P. C. is not applicable and he has no power to appoint a Commissioner to inspect the premises and make a report for fixing fair rent. Gokulakrishnan, J. has, after considering several decisions, held in the subsequent case that the Rent Controller constituted under the Tamil Nadu Act is only a persona designata and not a court. The learned Judge was considering the question whether the provisions of the Limitation Act could be relied on before the Appellate Authority for condoning a delay in filing an appeal against the order of eviction passed by the Rent Controller. These decisions do not apply to the facts of the present case. On the other hand, the learned counsel for the first and second respondents invited my attention to the decision of a Bench of this court in S.N. Komaraswami Gounden in re, : AIR1951Mad766 , and submitted that the Rent Controller has committed a mistake in ordering payment out of the amount in the cheque petition and he has jurisdiction to rectify his mistake by ordering the petitioner to re-deposit the amount, at the instance of the first respondent. The learned Judges have observed in that decision that it may be that Section 151 C. P. C. by itself, does not apply to proceedings under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1946, but quasi-judicial tribunals like the Rent Controller and the Appellate Tribunal have an inherent power to set right mistakes made by inadvertence. The learned Judges have made that observation in a case which arose out of an application for amendment of the petition. As already stated, there is no provision in the Act enabling a tenant who had deposited the amount towards rent admittedly due from him in view of the doubt which he had as to the person entitled to receive the payment, to withdraw the amount after the dismissal of the petition. The amount represented the rent due to the persons having interest in the demised premises. The Rent Controller, therefore, committed a mistake in allowing payment out of the amount to the petitioner in the cheque petition. Relying upon the Bench decision of this Court, I hold that the Rent Controller, as a quasi-judicial tribunal, has power to rectify the mistake by directing the petitioner to re-deposit the amount. There is, therefore, no reason to interfere with the order of the Tribunals below. The civil revision petition is dismissed with costs of respondents 1 and 2.