1. The petitioner before me is the landlady. This petition arises under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960. The petitioner filed an application for possession of her premises on the ground that the same was required for the business carried on by her husband. The respondent-tenant contended originally that he was not the tenant, that the requirement of the petitioner was not bona fide and that in any event the application was not maintainable as the premises was only required by the landlady's husband. In the appeal before the Court of Small Causes, the relationship of landlord and tenant was not canvassed. Both the Rent Controller and the Court of Small Causes held that the petitioner required the premises bona fide for use and occupation. The Rent Controller however held, on the question of maintainability, that the petition was maintainable by the landlady though the premises was required by her husband. But, on this question, the learned Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes differed and held that the requirement by the landlady's husband of the premises belonging to the landlady will not be a ground for eviction under Section 10(3)(a)(iii) of Act XVIII of 1960. He, therefore, dismissed the petition as being not maintainable. This revision petition is directed against the said order of the learned Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes.
2. The Rent Controller came to the conclusion that the petitioner is entitled to maintain her application as she is the landlady and that the word "landlady" or "landlord" in Section 10(3)(a)(iii) would include a dependant or a near relative. The appellate Court however held with some hesitancy that the words "landlord or his son" appearing in the new Act is likely to indicate that the requirement must be for the use of the landlord or his son and for the use of no other person. The main question for determination is whether the Amending Act XVIII of 1960 has in fact made any deliberate change in the law as it existed before. Section 10(3)(a)(iii) of Act XVIII of 1960 reads as follows:
10(3)(a). A landlord may, subject to the provisions of Clause (d) apply to the Controller for an order directing the tenant to put the landlord in possession of the building-
(iii) in case it is any other non-residential building, if the landlord or his son is not occupying for purposes of a business which he or his son is carrying on, a non-residential building in the city, town or village concerned which is his own.
Section 7(3)(a)(iii) of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1949 (XXV of 1949) reads as follows:
7(3)(a). A landlord may, subject to the provisions of Clause (d), apply to the Controller for an order directing the tenant to put the landlord in possession of the building-
(iii) in case it is any other non-residential building if the landlord is not occupying for purposes of a business which he is carrying on, a non-residential building in the city, town or village concerned Which is his own or to the possession of which he is entitled whether under this Act or otherwise.
The only conspicuous change effected in the provision under consideration is, what was 'landlord' in Section 7(3)(a)(iii) in Act XXV of 1949 has been changed to "landlord or his son" in Act XVIII of 1960. Of course, the latter portion of Section 7(3)(a)(iii) of Act XXV of 1949 has been omitted and the omission is not relevant for purposes of this case.
3. What exactly the word 'landlord' in the old Act connoted was the subject-matter of two decisions of our High Court. In Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolavana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184, Venkatadri, J., held that the word 'landlord' cannot be intended or treated as rigid, but elastic. The learned Judge held that the word would include a dependant as well. This decision was rendered after the passing of the new Act XVIII of 1960. Under Section 35 of the new Act, the earlier Act XXV of 1949, was repealed and the statute obligated that all decisions to be rendered after the coming into force of the new Act shall be so done under the provisions of the new Act. Bearing this in mind, Venkatadri, J., observed that he had to decide the case which had arisen under the old Act under the relevant provisions of the new Act of 1960. It is very clear that the word 'landlord' was interpreted by Venkatadri, J., in the above decision in the light of the amended provisions of Act XVIII of 1960, namely, Section 10(3)(a)(iii) of the new Act. The Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes fell into an error when he held that the decision reported in Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolavana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184 was given under the old Act. While respectfully agreeing with the interpretation given by Venkatadri, J., in the above case, I would add that it would be indeed delimiting the fair sense and meaning of the word 'landlord' in Section 10(3)(a)(iii) in the new Act XVIII of 1960, if it were to be interpreted as a rigid and inelastic word. At this stage the decision of Veeraswami, J., in Kangu v. Ahmed Unnissa Begum , may be usefully referred to. The learned Judge quoted with approval the decision of Venkatadri, J., in Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolavana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184. He continued to say:
In Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolavana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184, Venkatadri, J., With reference to the views expressed in the cases just referred to, held that the requirement of a landlord's son may Well come within the Words 'for his own occupation'. With respect, I am also inclined to take the view that the words 'his own occupation' should receive a liberal interpretation. If that is so, there is no reason why a different principle should apply to Clause (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 7. The Words 'if he requires' in that provision should in my opinion be understood in the same liberal sense as the words 'his own occupation' in Clause (a) of that sub-section have been understood. What is meant, as. I think by the words 'his own occupation' or 'if he requires' is that the requirement is not that of a stranger. It is not necessary to attract those words that the need should be personal to the landlord. But where the line should be drawn will depend on the particular facts in each case. It may, however, be generally stated, without intending to be precise or exhaustive, that the need of close relations Who happen to live with the landlord or landlady may well satisfy the words 'his own occupation' or 'if he requires'. I do not say that the relationship is the only test. Dependency, social customs, and habits, usage, practice of a particular community and like considerations may well be taken into account in determining Whether the requirement of those words is satisfied.
4. The above decision was obviously given after the passing of the new Act and therefore should be deemed to have been rendered under the new Act. I respectfully agree with the observations of the learned Judge extracted above.
5. As already stated, though the above cases arose under the old Act, the decisions having been rendered after the passing of the new Act and in the light of its provisions, I am of the opinion that the word 'landlord' appearing in Section 10(3)(a)(iii) should receive the same liberal interpretation given in the above two cases. The reasoning and conclusion on which the learned Judges rested their decisions would apply mutatis mutandis to the facts of this case as well while considering the word 'landlord' appearing in the new Act in Section 10(3)(a)(iii). The learned Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes did not appreciate this position. Veeraswami, J., while disposing of the case reported in Kangu v. Ahmed Unnissa Begum , did not expressly advert to Section 10(3)(a)(iii) of the new Act, as it was not necessary for him to do so in that case. But, in my opinion, it can be safely assumed that the ratio decidendi in Kangu v. Ahmed Unnissa Begum , in so far as it concerns the interpretation of the word 'landlord' is applicable to the said word as it appears in the new Act. This by itself would suffice to hold that the expression 'landlord' appearing both the old and the new Acts do bear the same meaning and connotation. It is desirable at this stage to consider the preamble to the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. This Act was passed in order to prevent unreasonable eviction of tenants and to amend and consolidate the law relating to the regulation of the letting of residential and non-residential buildings and the control of rents of such buildings. This Act has passed the test of reasonableness, though it is designedly temporary. The sine qua non of this Act is that tenants ought not to be unreasonably evicted by landlords. No doubt, the Act created inroads into the rights of ownership of immovable properties. But, in the interests of the community at large, this piece of legislation has been held to be a reasonable restriction of such vested rights in the citizens. Such being the main purpose and intent of this piece of beneficial legislation can it be presumed that the rights vested in landlord can be curtailed by mere surmises? 'Landlord' is of course different from the 'landlord's son'. The expression 'son', added on in the Amending Act XVIII of 1960, in my opinion, has been so added, so that a son who may or may not be a dependant on the father or mother as the case may be, can be deemed to be a person who could assert himself to the benefits of the new section. It is for purposes of making such a benefit more specific that the Legislature in its wisdom might have thought fit to include expressly the word 'son' after the word 'landlord' in Section 10(3)(a)(iii). The mere addition of the word 'son' in the above provision and the exclusion of the enumeration of the other dependants as is ordinarily understood in society cannot lead to the irresistible conclusion that the Legislature by necessary implication intended to exclude such dependant from obtaining such benefit. I think, if such exclusion were to be inferred as a matter of course, it would lead to an unreasonable restriction in the matter of enjoyment of property by landlord.
6. Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, Eleventh Edition, under the caption of 'Beneficial Construction' states as follows:
It is said to be the duty of the Judge to make such construction of a statute as shall suppress the mischief and advance the remedy. Even where the usual meaning of the language falls short of the whole object of the Legislature a more extended meaning may be attributed to the words, if they are fairly susceptible of it. The construction must not, of course, be strained to include cases plainly omitted from the natural meaning of the Words...
If, however, there are circumstances in the Act showing that the phraseology is used in a larger sense than its ordinary meaning, that sense may be given to it.
The same learned author under the caption "Construction most agreeable to justice and reason" observed as follows:
In determining either the general object of the Legislature, or the meaning of its language in any particular passage, it is obvious that the intention which appears to be most in accord with convenience, reason, justice and legal principles, should, in all cases of doubtful significance, be presumed to be the true one.
Veeraswami, J., in Kangu v. Ahmed Unnissa Begum ,
considered elaborately the policy of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. In his opinion, the words "his own occupation" should be read in a liberal sense. He accepted the view of Chagla, C.J., that in determining the scope of the words "his own occupation" one would be justified in looking into the customs of the society and the nature of social ties which subsist between the different members of the family in India and that it was not necessary to bring within the ambit of the need that the person who requires the premises must be dependant on the landlord. Thus, the learned Judge has broadly stated the intention of the Legislature while considering as to what is plausibly meant by "landlord's requirement ". As already seen from the extract of the judgment incorporated before, there are various factors such as dependency, social customs and other similar considerations which have to be necessarily taken into consideration to determine whether the requirement of the word is satisfied.
7. Here, I am concerned with the meaning of the expression 'landlord'. Should it in the light of the passages extracted above by me be circumscribed only to the personality of the landlord or should it be extended to his very near and dear relations? No doubt, the Legislature has expressly included the word 'son'. I have made it clear that by such specific inclusion, it cannot be reasonably presumed that other dependants such as wife in the case of a landlord or husband in the case of a landlady can be omitted from consideration while appreciating the need of the landlord or landlady, as the case may be. In the instant case, it is the landlady who is seeking for eviction of the tenant on the ground that her husband is carrying on a business and for such business of her husband her premises is needed. I do not think that a beneficial construction-a construction in consonance with justice, equity, reason and good conscience-would exclude a request by a landlady for being put in possession of her building for the use and occupation by her husband for his business. In Hindu society it is the legitimate duty of the wife to provide comfort to her husband and a fortiori it is so for furtherance of the interests of the business of her husband in which it can be safely presumed that she is vitally interested.
8. Thus, the addition of the word 'son' in Section 10(3)(a)(iii) of Act XVIII of 1960 does not militate against the adoption of a reasonable and beneficial construction of the word 'landlord' appearing therein. In my view, therefore, the petitioner (wife) is entitled in the circumstances to ask for possession of the premises from the tenant for the furtherance of the business of her husband which he is admittedly and indisputably carrying on. The revision petition is therefore allowed and the judgment of the learned Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes is set aside and that of the Rent Controller restored. In the peculiar circumstances of this case, however, there will be no order as to costs. The tenant is given six months' time for surrendering possession of the premises to the petitioner.