1. These are appeals by the defendants in O. S. Nos. 867, 1109 and 1411 of 1962 on the file of the City Civil Court Madras, against the decree directing eviction from the suit plots.
2. The plaintiff in all the suits is the Receiver appointed by the High Court in O. S. A. No. 52 of 1960 in respect of the suit properties and other properties belonging to one late P. S. Narayana Iyer and his sons. The plaint allegations were as follows: The suit properties were comprised in R. S. Nos. 132, 244/2 and 133. They belonged to the estate of P. S. Narayana Iyer. They were purchased by Narayana Iyer and his son Krishna Iyer. These lands were cultivated by Narayana Iyer and Krishna Iyer through one Lakshmana Naicker, Krishna Iyer predeceased his father. After the death of Narayana Iyer, there were disputes relating to the estate and a suit was filed in the High Court and in those proceedings, the plaintiff was appointed as Receiver. The plaintiff on enquiry found that the defendants had trespassed into the properties subsequent to the death of Narayana Iyer in 1952.
Lakshmana Naicker gave a statement to him, in which he admitted that Narayana Iyer was cultivating the properties through him and that after his death, on account of the pending litigation, no one gave necessary advance for cultivating the lands and that therefore he discontinued the cultivation and the properties remained vacant. It is the further case of the plaintiff that on account of the absence of the owners. Lakshmana Naicker appears to have allowed the defendants to trespass into the properties in 1952 or 1953. After issuing notices calling upon the defendants to vacate and hand over vacant possession, the plaintiff has filed the present suits praying for a decree directing the defendants to vacate and deliver vacant possession and for mesne profits.
3. The defendants contended that Lakshmana Naicker was not cultivating the lands under Narayana Iyer and Krishna Iyer, but Lakshmana Naicker was in occupation of the lands in his own right and as owner of the properties he had leased out portions of the properties to the defendants and that the defendants had put up pucca superstructures thereon and were enjoying the same. They further contended that they were entitled to the benefits of the City Tenants Protection Act.
4. These suits were tried along with some other suits. All the suits were decreed. Only the defendants in these three suits have filed the present appeals and the defendants in the other suits have not filed any appeal.
5. The learned counsel for the appellants in the appeals contended that Lakshmana Naicker was the owner of the properties and that he leased out the properties to the defendants and that as lessees they have put up superstructures, and that therefore they are entitled to the benefits of the City Tenants Protection Act. Alternatively he contended that they have bona fide made improvements by filling up pits in the suit plots and putting up superstructures thereon and that therefore under Section 51 of the Transfer of Property Act, they as entitled to be paid compensation for the improvements effected before they are ordered to be evicted from the suit properties.
6. The plaintiff claimed that Narayana Iyer and his son Krishna Iyer were the owners of the suit properties and that the owners were cultivating the lands through one Lakshmana Naicker and that the said Lakshmana Naicker was not the owner of the suit properties. In support of the claim of title, the plaintiff relied on Exhibits A. 1, and A. 4 to A. 6 and the oral evidence. Exhibit A. 1, dated 27-3-1944 is a sale deed in the name of Krishna Iyer, under which the properties, comprised in R. S. 244/2 and 133 were purchased. The plaintiff further contended that R. S. 132 was purchased by Narayana Iyer on 26-1-1941. But, the document in respect of the same has not been produced. Exhibit A. 4 series the Corporation tax receipts, and A. 5 series and Exhibit A. 6 series, the quit rent receipts in respect of the properties are also produced in support of the claim of title by the plaintiff. D.W. 1 admitted that Lakshmana Naicker told him that it was the owner who asked him to let out the lands and that some Brahmins were the owners, in effect admitting that Lakshmana Naicker told him that he was not the owner. This statement in chief examination has not been cross-examined by the learned counsel for the other defendants. The evidence of D.W. 2, 3, 4 and 6 also disclosed that they never understood Lakshmana Naicker as saying that he was the owner. On the other hand, the evidence disclosed that Lakshmana Naicker was giving out that he was not the owner, but some Brahmins were the owners. As against the evidence, the defendants-appellants want to rely on Exhibits B-8, B-11 to B-13, which are rental agreements in their favour, in support of the title of the defendants to the suit properties. These are not title deeds; but they are only rental agreements. How these can prove title to the properties, is not explained by the learned counsel for the appellants.
Further, as commented by the lower court, these rental agreements were produced very late in the suit; there was no reference to these documents in the written statements or the reply notices sent by the defendants, and it would not be difficult for the defendants to bring into existence Exhibit B-8 to B-13 as D.W. 3 himself admitted that Lakshmana Naicker was still supporting their case. It is not necessary for us to rely on Exhibit A. 7, the letter given by Lakshmana Naicker to the Receiver, acknowledging the right of Narayana Iyer and Krishna Iyer to the suit properties, as the other evidence available is enough to give a finding. In the circumstances, we have no doubt in confirming the finding of the trial court that Lakshmana Naicker was not the owner of the suit properties, but that the suit properties belonged to the estate of Narayana Iyer and his sons. If Lakshmana Naicker was not the owner, the defendants could not get any legal right under the tenancy agreement said to have been executed by Lakshmana Naicker and therefore the defendants could not get any right under the City Tenants Protection Act as well.
7. The next contention of the learned counsel for the appellants, based on Section 51 of the Transfer of Property Act, is not also tenable. First of all, the trial court has found that the defendants were not bona fide occupants in their own right and that they are only squatters and trespassers. It is seen from the evidence of D.W. 1 that Lakshmana Naicker told him that it was the owner who asked him to let out the lands and that after he took the properties on lease on two occasions, some two Brahmins went there and that Lakshmana Naicker told him that they were the owners of the lands. D.W. 2 (the first appellant in A. S. 329 of 1964) also admits in cross-examination that he did not ask Lakshmana Naicker about his right after the suit was filed, because he was convinced that he is not the owner of the suit properties. D.W. 3 is the brother of D.W. 2 and he affirms to what is stated by D.W. 2 D.W. 4 admitted in cross-examination that he did not know who the owner of the properties was and that he knew definitely that Lakshmana Naicker was not the owner, D.W. 7 also admitted that he did not ask Lakshmana Naicker regarding his right over the suit properties either at the time of the lease or at the time of the suit. D.W. 8 also admits that he never asked Lakshmana Naicker about his rights.
Thus, the evidence discloses that the defendants could not have acted bona fide in making the improvements on the properties. Even assuming that they made the improvements, bona fide believing that the said Lakshmana Naicker was the owner of the properties and that he was entitled to lease the same, we do not see how Section 51 of the Transfer of Property Act is applicable to the lessees, the appellants herein, S. 51 relates to improvements made by bona fide holders under defective title. A lessee, in our opinion, cannot rely on this section. The lessee's rights are only those provided under S. 108, unless there is a contract or local usage to the contrary. The defendants have not pleaded any contract or local usage which enables them to get the value of the improvements. Their only right was that provided under Section 108(h) and the decrees of the lower court have given them this right by permitting them to remove the superstructures constructed by them.
8. In the foregoing circumstances, we consider that there are absolutely no merits in these appeals and we dismiss the same with costs. The defendants are given three months' time to remove the superstructures and vacate and hand over vacant possession to the plaintiff.
9. Appeals dismissed.