1. The tenant within the meaning of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act XVIII of 1960, hereinafter referred to as the Act, is the petitioner in this revision. The respondent is the landlady within the meaning of the Act. The landlady sought the eviction of the tenant, on two grounds, namely, wilful default in the payment of rents and commission of acts of waste as are likely to impair the value or utility of the building. The Controller negatived the two grounds put forth by the landlady and dismissed the petition for eviction. The landlady appealed and she succeeded before the Appellate Authority, which countenanced only her case of commission of acts of waste against the tenant and ordered eviction of the tenant and that is how the tenant is before this Court by way of this revision, challenging the orders of the Appellate Authority.
2. Mr. B. Soundarapandian, learned counsel for the tenant, petitioner herein, submits that what the tenant actually did was only converting the old type of latrine into a flush out latrine and putting up a temporary shed for storing firewood and nothing more, and these acts could not be characterised as impairing materially the value of the utility of the building. From the judgment of the Appellate Authority, I find that it has guided itself mostly by the fact that the tenant has not obtained the consent of the landlady for carrying out these works. There is no finding at all that what the tenant did have in any manner impaired materially the value or utility of the building or likely to do so in due course. From the materials placed in the case, it has come out that the tenant has converted the old latrine into a flush out latrine and has put up a temporary shed for storing firewood. No evidence worth the name has been placed in the case by the landlady to show that such works have impaired materially the value or utility of the building or likely to do so in due course. It is not as if any unauthorised act on the part of the tenant with reference to the building let out to and occupied by him, however reprehensible this act may be, is made a ground for his eviction under the Act. It is only an act of waste and that too one likely to impair materially the value or the utility of the building that is made a ground for eviction under S. 10(2)(iii) of the Act. A particular act of waste as materially impaired or likely to impair the value or utility of the building cannot be a matter of presumption or assumption, but must be a matter of concrete evidence. A bare and a bald statement that it has materially impaired or is likely to impair materially the value or the utility of the building also will not do. It must be established through proper evidence as to how and in what manner the reprehensible act has materially impaired or is likely to impair the value or the utility of the building. It is possible that what the tenant did may apparently look beneficial both to the building and to the landlord, but it may prove to be deceptive and in due course, the building is likely to suffer in its value or utility on account of the present acts of the tenant. Even then the mischief of the provision would be attracted. But all these features must be borne out by convincing evidence and the authorities under the Act are duty bound to advert to this aspect and render a finding that the acts of waste have impaired or are likely to impair materially the value or the utility of the building. In appropriate cases, the evidence to be placed could be the evidence of a technical man. However, harsh it may look from the point of view of the landlord, the rigour of the provisions of the Act, being a beneficial legislation, intended for the protection of tenants, could not be watered down by bringing in any extraneous consideration leaning towards the landlord. The act perpetrated by the tenant, if it does not come within the import and implications of S. 10(2)(iii) of the Act, cannot form a lever for eviction of the tenant, though other remedies may be open for the landlord, such as compensation, rectification of the offending works and restoration too, all at the cost of the tenant.
3. The decisions earlier rendered by this Court have also countenanced the above propositions. In Govindasami Naidu v. Pushpalammal, , a Bench of this Court consisting of Rajamannar, C.J. and Somasundaram, J. with reference to the analogous provision under Madras Act XV of 1946, held as follows :-
"It is not every act of waste that will entitle the landlord to obtain an order of eviction under S. 7. A finding on this point that a particular act of the tenant, namely, a destruction of wall constitutes an act of waste must be based upon the evidence adduced. It cannot be laid down as a rule of law that a demolition of any wall in a building must necessarily be deemed to be an act of waste which is likely to impair materially the value or utility of the building. Where the evidence is merely that the act of tenant would impair materially the value or utility of building and it is not said how or why it would be so, it is difficult to ascertain on what facts it can be concluded that the demolition must have resulted in impairing the value of the building." - Headnote.
4. In Damodaram v. Loganatha, AIR 1956 Mad 54, P. N. Ramaswami, J. following the above Bench pronouncements, observed -
"It is not every act of waste on the part of the tenant which will entitle the landlord to obtain an order of eviction and what should be the nature and extent of the waste will depend on the circumstances of each case". At p. 56 of AIR 1956 Mad.
5. In Patel Md. Siddique v. H. H. The Prince of Arcot Endowment (1964) 77 Mad LW 87. Venkatadri, J. also relying on the above Bench pronouncement, held as follows -
"It is not every act of waste on the part of a tenant that will entitle the landlord to obtain an order of eviction under S. 7(2)(iii) of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. It is the duty of the Court to see whether there is sufficient evidence on record to show that the tenant has committed such acts of waste as to impair the value or utility of the building." - Headnote.
6. In G. Natarajan v. P. Thandavarayan, 1969 Ren CJ 733 (Madras) it was held -
"... drilling of a hole to let out smoke by the tenant who had taken the building for hotelliering business, cannot be said to be an act of waste within the meaning of S. 10(2)(iii) of the Act 18 of 1960. So also is the case with the removal of a portion of a parapet wall for temporarily accommodating his employees housed in the adjacent building cannot in any way be said to be one which would impair the utility of the building or its value."
7. In the present case, it has not come out in evidence that by converting the old type of latrine into a flush out latrine, or by putting up a temporary shed for storing firewood, there has been or there is likely to be material impairment to the value or the utility of the building. In my view, the Appellate Authority has not understood the correct principles under S. 10(2)(iii) of the Act, which enables a landlord to obtain eviction of the tenant only if the tenant committed or caused to have committed such acts or waste as are likely to impair the value or the utility of the building. The facts of the case have not demonstrated that the mischief of this provision has been attracted. Since there is an omission on the part of the Appellate Authority to appreciate and apply the principles under S. 10(2)(iii) of the Act, to the facts of the present case, I am obliged to interfere in revision. Accordingly, this revision is allowed; the orders of the Appellate Authority are set aside and in their place, the orders of the Controller will stand restored; and the petition for eviction filed by the landlady will stand dismissed. I make no order as to costs in this revision.
8. Revision allowed.