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M. Arasan Chettiar and Ors. vs. S.P. Narasimhalu Naidu's Estate Trust, Coimbatore and Ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberLetter Patent Appeal No. 2 of 1980 and C.R.P. Nos. 1948 to 1951 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1980Mad305; (1980)2MLJ303
ActsTamil Nadu City Tenants Protection Act, 1921 - Sections 3, 9 and 9(1)
AppellantM. Arasan Chettiar and Ors.
RespondentS.P. Narasimhalu Naidu's Estate Trust, Coimbatore and Ors.
Appellant AdvocateV. Natarajan, ;X. Nicholas and ;A.S. Kailasam, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateN. Varadara Jan and ;K. Kumarswami, Advs.
Cases ReferredN. V. Panchapakesan v. K. Swaminathan
Excerpt:
tamil nadu buildings (lease and rent control act (xviii of 1960) as amended by act (xxiii of 1973)--tenancy created by a mortgagee with possession--ties of landlord and tenant are snapped eo instanti the mortgage is redeemed--erstwhile tenant cannot claim protection under the act unless there is a fresh forging of the relationship of the landlord and tenant between the mortgagor and the tenant;the plaintiff, the owner of the suit property viz. a non-residential building, created three mortgages with possession over the suit property in favour of his son-in-law, the first defendant. the first defendant-mortgagee let out the suit property to the second defendant-tenant. the plaintiff redeemed all the three mortgages and then called upon the second defendant to surrender possession of the.....1. in these cases, a common question of law as to the interpretation of certain words occurring in section 9 of the tamil nadu city tenants, protection act, 1921 (tamil nadu act 3 of 1922) as amended by tamil nadu act 13 of 1922, arises, and the said act will be hereinafter referred to as the act. the act was promulgated, as was originally enacted, to give protection to certain classes of tenants in municipal towns and adjoining areas in the state of tamil nadu. the preamble to the act stated:"whereas it is necessary to give protection to tenants who in municipal towns and adjoining areas in the state of madras have constructed buildings -on others' lands in the hope that they would not be evicted so long as they pay a fair rent for the land".this preamble itself was amended subsequently.....
Judgment:
1. In these cases, a common question of law as to the interpretation of certain words occurring in Section 9 of the Tamil Nadu City Tenants, Protection Act, 1921 (Tamil Nadu Act 3 of 1922) as amended by Tamil Nadu Act 13 of 1922, arises, and the said Act will be hereinafter referred to as the Act. The Act was promulgated, as was originally enacted, to give protection to certain classes of tenants in municipal towns and adjoining areas in the State of Tamil Nadu. The preamble to the Act stated:

"Whereas it is necessary to give protection to tenants who in municipal towns and adjoining areas in the State of Madras have constructed buildings -on others' lands in the hope that they would not be evicted so long as they pay a fair rent for the land".

This preamble itself was amended subsequently by Tamil Nadu Act IV of 1972, and we are not concerned with that amendment. In Section 2 (4) of -the Act the expression "Tenant" was defined as:

"'Tenant' in relation to any land - (i) means a person liable "Y rent in respect of such land, under a tenancy agreement express or implied, and M) includes -

(a) any such person as is referred to in sub-Cl. (i) who continues in possession of the land after the determination of the tenancy agreement, and

(b) the heirs of any such person as is referred to in sub-Cl. (i) or sub-Cl. (it) (a)

but does not include sub-tenant or his heirs".

Section 9 of the Act provided:

"Every tenant shall on ejectment be entitled to be paid as compensation the value of any building, which may have been erected by him, by any of his, predecessors in interest, or by any person not in occupation at the time of the ejectment w1io derived title from either of them, and for which compensation has not already been paid. A tenant who is entitled to compensation for the value of any building shall also be paid the value of trees which may have been planted by him on the land and of any improvements which may have been made by him".

Section 9 of this Act conferred an alternative right on the tenant. That Section 9 reads as follows: -

"(1) (a) Any tenant who, is entitled to compensation under Section A and against whom a suit in ejectment has been instituted or proceedings under S. 41 of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act, 1882 (Central Act XV of 1882) taken by the landlord, may, within one month of the date of the Madras City. Tenants' Protection (Amendment) Act, 1955 (Madras Act XIX of 1955) coming into force or of the date with effect from which this Act is extended to the municipal town or village in which the land is situate, or within one month after the service on him of summons, apply to the Court for an order that the landlord shall be directed to sell for a price to be fixed by the Court, the whole or part of, the extent of land specified in the application.

(b) On such application, the Court shall first decide the minimum extent of the land which may be necessary for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant. The Court shall then fix the price of the minimum extent of the land decided as aforesaid, or of this extent of the land specified in the application under Cl. (a), whichever is less. The price aforesaid shall be the average market value of the three years immediately preceding the date of the order. The Court shall order that within a period to be determined by the Court, not being less than three months and not more than three years from the date of the order, the tenant shall pay into Court or otherwise as directed the price so fixed in one or more instalments with or without interest.

(2) In default of payment by the tenant of any one instalment, the application under Cl. (a) of sub-section (1) shall stand dismissed, provided that on sufficient cause being shown, the Court may excuse the delay and pass such orders as it may think fit, but not so as to extend the time for payment beyond the three years above mentioned. On the application being dismissed, the Court shall order the amount of the instalment or instalments, if any, paid by the tenant to be repaid to him without any Interest.

(3) (a) On payment of the price fixed under clause (b) of sub-section (1), the Court shall pass an order directing the conveyance by the landlord to, the tenant of the extent of land for which the said price was fixed. The Court shall by the same order direct the tenant to put the landlord into possession of the remaining extent of the land, if any. The stamp duty and registration fee in respect of such conveyance shall be borne by the tenant,

(b) On the order referred to In Cl. (a) being made, the suit or proceedings shall stand dismissed, and any decree or order in ejectment that may have been passed therein but which has not been executed shall be vacated."

There is an explanation to this section mentioning what the expression "land" means, and for the purpose of these cases, it is not necessary, to refer to this explanation.

2. The question that arises for consideration in all these, cams is as to the meaning to be attributed to the expression "the date of the order" occurring in the third sentence in S. 9 (1) (b) namely,

"The price aforesaid shall be the average market value of the three years immediately preceding the date of the order".

There are two reported decisions of single Judges of this Court on this point. The earlier of them is that of Natarajan, J., reported in P. T. Srinivasan v, Malleeswarar Devasthanam by Trustees, (1974) 2 Mad LJ

172. In that case, a suit for ejectment was filed by the trustees of Sri Malleeswarar Devasthanam, the respondents before the High Court. The appellant before the High Court contended in that suit that he was entitled to the benefits conferred by the Tamil Nadu City Tenants Protection Act, 1921 and in accordance with such plea he filed a petition, I.A. No. 16074 of 1967, under Section 9 (1) of the Act. The Devasthanam conceded the claim of the appellant and made an endorsement 0 that effect on 13th December. 1969. Thereafter the learned IV Assistant Judge, City Civil court, Madras, who dealt with the petition, appointed a Commissioner to inspect the property in the occupation of the appellant and give a report about the probable value of the property. After making a local inspection and after taking into consideration the documents filed by the Devasthanam, the Commissioner gave his report stating that the total extent of 2 grounds and 2,127 square feet, which had to be conveyed to the appellant, could be so conveyed at the rate of Rs. 12,000/- per ground. The appellant, who contended before the High Court that the valuation of the property at Rs. 12,000/- per ground by the Commissioner was excessive, did not file any document before the Commissioner in support of his contention that the site was not worth Rs. 12,000/per, ground, but was worth much less. After independently considering the documents furnished by the Devasthanam and the report of the Commissioner, the learned IV Assistant Judge accepted the valuation given by the Commissioner and called upon the appellant-tenant to deposit a sum of Rs. 34,635/- within a period of one year towards the value of the site. It was against that order the tenant came forward with the appeal to the High Court. The argument advanced on behalf of the tenant before the High Court was that the Commissioner as well as the City Civil Court had committed an error in taking into consideration several documents which were outside the period set under the Act for computation of the value of the property and as such the fixation of the value of the site in the occupation of the appellant at the, rate of Rs. 12,000/- per ground was unsustainable. As a matter of fact, in that case, the documents that were considered for the purpose of fixing the value of the land were the sale deeds dated 3rd April, 1968 and 1lth December, 1970, a notice issued under the Tamil Nadu Urban Land Tax Act, dated 12th December 1966 and an order of the Commissioner, Hindu Religious Endowments dated 1st August, 1970, fixing the value of sites in that locality. What was contended before the learned Judge was that since the plaintiff Devasthanam conceded the claim of the appellant tenant and made an endorsement to that effect on 13th December 1969, only documents relatable to three years immediately preceding that date should be considered and no other document should be considered. In other words, the contention was that the Commissioner as well as the lower Court committed an error in taking into consideration documents reflecting transactions of the later origin than the period from 13th December 1966 to IM December 1969. This contention was, rejected by Natarajan, 0. The learned Judge, after setting out Section 9 (1) (a) (i) and Section 9 (1) (b) and after referring to the arguments advanced on behalf of the appellant-tenant Observed:

"Mr. Shanmugham would contend that, an order to be passed under S. 9 (1) (a) will actually consist of two stages, vim,(1) an order in. the first instance upholding the contention of the tenant that he is entitled to have direction in his favour calling upon the landlord to sell to him the whole or part of the extent of land specified in the application and (2) a further order by the Court at a later date fixing the price for the indent of land so ordered to be sold by the landlord to the tenant. The wording of Section 9 (1) (a) (i) itself does not lend support to the interpretation given by the learned counsel. As a matter of fact, the records themselves show that the lower Court has not passed two separate orders as is ;ought to be made out by the counsel. When the respondents (Plaintiffs) made an endorsement on the application of the appellant that the Devasthanam concedes the right of the tenant to get a sale of the land leased out to him, the learned TV Assistant Judge has not passed an order in terms of the endorsement and held that the tenant was entitled to a preliminary order in his favour and that a further order will ensue after the price for the land offered to be sold was determined. In the very nature of things a Court dealing with an 'application under Section 9 (1) (a) cannot pass such a piecemeal order but on the other hand it has to pass a composite order which will make reference to the right of the tenant to have the land sold to him, the extent of the land to be sold to him and also the price for which that is to be sold. That the order contemplated under Section 9 (1) (a) (i) must obviously be a composite order and cannot be a multiplicity of orders is clearly brought out by the words occurring in Section 9 (1) (b). The first sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) states that on an application being made under Section 9 (1) (a), the Court has to decide the minimum extent of land which has to be sold to the tenant for his convenient enjoyment of the property. The next sentence makes reference to the duty of the Court to fix the price pf the land which has to be sold to the tenant by the landlord.The third sentence provides the guideline for the Court as to how the market value of the land has to be fixed and that makes reference to the average market value of the land during the three years immediately preceding the date of the order. The next sentence provides that the Court has got the right to call upon the tenant to pay the price fixed for the land at a period fixed by the Court, such period, however, not being less than three months and not 'more than three years from the date of the order. The word 'order' occurring in this sentence can haye reference only to composite order passed by the Court under Section 9 (1) (a) ( i) and cannot have reference to two independent and separate orders as is sought to be contended by the learned counsel for the appellant. If it was the intention of the Legislature that two orders should be passed, viz., first an order upholding the claim of the tenant and second a further order fixing the value of'the Iand, the Legislature would have specifically made reference to two orders that are to be passed by the Court at two different stages of the case In the very nature of things, the order contemplated under S. 9 (1) (i) cannot have a dual aspect, viz.' one phase deal ing withthe right ofthe tenant, to get a sale of the land over which he has put up the superstructure and the other phase of it dealing. with the price the tenant ' has to pay for the lind made available to him by a prior order of the Court in his favour, the reason is that it is open to the tenant to refuse to abido by the order of the Court and pay the price fixed for the land and thereby give up his rights under the Act to buy the land leased to him. If the tenant were to adopt such' a course, it would lead to the anomalous position of the earlier order of the Court declaring the tenant to be entitled under Section 9 (1) (a)(i) of the Act to buy from the land lord the site leased out to him and over which he has constructed the superstructure, remaining, unaltered and unaffected and the later order of the Court calling upon the tenant to pay certain price for the land remaining unimplemented. The landlord would then be left in the unenviable position of not getting from the tenant the price for the land ordered to be sold by the Court and, at the same time, being confronted with the earlier order of the Court declaring the tenant to be entitled to get sale of the land leased out to him as per Section - 9 (1) (a) (1) of the Act. It only to avoid such tragic consequences that the order contemplated under Section 9 (1) (a) (i) of the Act must be a composite one, ie., declaring the right of the tenant, to obtain a sale of the land from the landlord and also fixing the price at which the tenant can obtain a sale of the land in his favour. If the tenant fails to comply with the order by paying the price for the land when called upon to do so by the Court at the rate fixed by it, the Court can set aside the order in favour of the tenant in its entirety and declare the landlord to be eligible to evict the tenant and take possession of the land".

Having given his views an the scope of S. 9 (1) (a) (s), as above, the learned Judge proceeded to state:-

"From another point of view also, the contention of Mr. Shanmugham cannot be sustained. It is needless to say that the average market value fixed by the Court under Section 9 (1) (b) must have close proximity to the order passed by the Court. If the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant were to be upheld, the contingency may arise in certain cases where a long interval I of time may be taken by the Commissioner to inspect the property and fix its average market value in such cases, the order of the Court fixing the average market value of the land will have no reference to state of affairs when the Court passes its order and surely such a state of affairs would not have been contemplated by the Legislature. It must therefore necessarily be held that the average market value has to be computed with reference to transaction which took place within three years prior to the Court passing its order fixing the value of the site under the occupation of the tenant".

3. The other decision is that of Ramaprasada Rao, J. as he then was, in N. V. Panchapakesan v. K. Swaminathan, (1976) 1 Mad LJ 338. In that case, the petitioner before the High Court filed a suit for eviction of the respondent in 1962 and the respondent in turn filed an application under Section 9 of the Act claiming benefits thereunder. There was a controversy as to whether the tenant was entitled to such benefits. Finally, in C. R. P. No. 1887 of 1"5, disposed of by the High Court on 11th February, 1971, the right of the tenant to secure the benefits under the Act was affirmed. Thereafter, I.A. No. 12272 of 1971, was filed for the fixation of the extent of the convenient land to which the tenant would be entitled and for the fixation of the price of the land. The first Court found that the price of the land, whatever extent has to be given over by the landlord to the tenant or taken over by the tenant from the landlord under the Act, has to be fixed as on 24th March, 1965, which was the date on which the rights of the respondent under the Act was first recognised by the Civil Court. In accordance with that conclusion, the trial Court fixed the value of the property at Rs. 10,000 per ground, though the claim of the petitioner landlord was at Rs. 18,000/- per ground. The appellate Court confirmed the order of the trial Court in all respects and against those orders, the landlord came up in revision to, the High Court under Section 115 C. P. C. The learned Judge, therefore, had to consider the date with reference to which the price had to be fixed as contemplated by the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) of the Act. The learned Judge observed:

"It is common ground that the tenant having regard to the nature of this business requested that the entire extent of land demised to him may be allotted to him and I the price fixed therefore. It is significant to note that when the landlord filed 0. S. No. 1382 of 1962, seeking for ejectment of the tenant from the leased land and in spite of the defences raised and in particular the request of the tenant of the recognition of his rights under Section 9 of the Tamil Nadu City Tenants Protection Act it was denied to him as early as 28th September, 1964 it was only the appellate Court on appeal by the tenant in re his statutory rights under the Act that confirmed the rights of the tenant and conferred on him the benefits arising out of the beneficial provisions of the Act. . This was on 24th March 1965. For the first time, therefore, the entitlement of the tenant to claim the benefits under the Act was given a judicial recognition only on 24th March 1965. It is this specifically in the event that is pressed into service by Mr. Sundaram 1yer when he says that it is only that date when the, rights of the tenants under the Act are affirmed which enters into the occupation for purposes of fixing the price of the land to which the tenant would be entitled in accordance with the provisions of the Act and. that date alone has to be taken into ac count. If the argument of Mr. Balasubramanian is accepted, it would be difficult to find any other alternative specific date for the ascertainment of such price. It may be that appeals or other proceedings before the higherhierarchy may be filed by landlord opposing the conferment of such a statutory benefit on the tenant and the appellate court or the Court of revision might take some time before deciding whether the tenant is entitled to such benefits or not In the instantcase,, C. R. P. No. 1887 of 1965, filed by the landlord against the order of the appellate Court which recognised the right of the tenant to the benefits of the Act was disposed of only in 1971. Could it therefore be said that the price of the land to wkich the tenant would ordinarily be entitled to under the Act should be fixed as on the date when the High Court in exercise of its revisional powers disposed of the revision petition filed by the landlord? Can it also be said that after such final disposal of the matter by the High Court if the tenant filed an application for processing further the effect of the earlier orders whereunder he secured the benefit under the Act, it is the date on which he filed such an application for the ascertainment of the quantum of the land to be allotted to him or for the fixation of the price of land to be so allotted,is the date on which the price of the land has to be fixed? Many hypothetical reasons or options or considers tiohs might arise if the argument of Mr. Balasubramanian is accepted. There may be occasions when litigants might go to the Supreme Court as well. The order passed by the High Court in a revision petition can under certain circumstances be taken up further to the Supreme Court. Should the tenant therefore await the decision of the Supreme Court and take it for granted that it in only then the Supreme Court agrees with the Courts below that his entitlement to purchase the land has become fruitioned and complete in the eye of law and, that such land ,to be taken over by him should be valued only on that date. Such ambulatory and indefinite methods of fixation of price of land to be allotted to a tenant in view of his entitlement under the provisions of the Act has to be necessarily avoided if a definite date is available for such fixation. Such a date for fixation of the price, in my view, would reasonably be the date on which the tenants' entitlement to compensation in first, recognised by a competent Court which hears the matter and decides on it. Of course, if at any time another competent Court in the higher hierarchy aside the directive of the Courts below that the tenant is not entitled to such an entitlement, then the matter is closed. But if the Judgments of the higher Courts are Judgments of affirmance, then such orders or Judgments obviously relate back to the date of the order of the first competent Court which decided on the entitlement of the tenant under the Act. As a specific, definite and unambiguous date is available for valuation of the land to be purchased by the tenant pursuant to his entitlement under the Act, I am of the view that the date for fixation of such price should relate back to the date when the Court, in the first instance, recognises and confers such a right on the tenant and cannot be relegated to any other uncertain, ambulatory and ambiguous dates."

4. When these cases came before us ,and our attention was drawn to these Judgments, we were of the, view that acceptance of either of the views referred to above will lead to some practical difficulty. In view of this and in view of the fact that the question is a general one likely to arise again and again. we give notice to the Advocates' Association, Madras, Bar Association, Madras Law Association, Madras, Women Lawyers Association, Madras and to the Law Officers of the State Government. Pursuant to our notice, the two Secretaries' of the Advocates' Association, Madras, namely, Mr. R. S.Venkatachari and Mr.N. Sivamani, Mr. V.M.Lenin on behalf of the Bar Association, Madras made his submissions and Mr. Chardran the First Additional Government Pleader, Madras, made his submissions. After having considered the submissions made by them as well as the counsel appearing for the parties in these cases, we are of the view that acceptance of either of the views of Natarajan, J. or Ramaprasada Rao, J. as he then was will give rise to difficulties, and that the matter has to be approached afresh.

5. We have extracted the entire Section 9-A. Reading of the section clearly shows that it contemplates the various steps to be taken by 4 Court before it ultimately passes the order contemplated by sub-section (3) of Section 9, which alone will be the final order. The moment an application is filed by a tenant under Section 9 (1) (a) of the Act, the Court will have to first fix the minimum extent of the land which will be necessary for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant. That this is the first step is made clear by the use of the expression "first" occurring in the first sentence in Section 9 (1) (b). After fixing the minimum extent of the land, the Court will have to proceed to fix the price of the minimum extent of the land decided as above. That flows from the language of the second sentence in Section 9 (1) (b). The use of the word "first" in the first sentence and the use of the word "then" in the second sentence certainly fix and prescribe the sequence of events or the decision to be reached by the Court. Therefore, the two steps that have to be taken by the Court one after another are (1) to decide the minimum extent of the land, which may be necessary for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant, and (2) after having decided on the minimum extent, to fix the price of such minimum extent. The third stage is to pass an order directing the tenant to pay the price so fixed within a period to be determined by the Court, not being less than three months and not more than three years from the date of the order. Thereafter, if the tenant pays the amount as directed 107 the Court, the final order under sub-section (3) will be passed directing the conveyance by the landlord to the tenant of the extent of the land for which the said price was fixed and at the same time directing the tenant to put the landlord Into possession of the remaining extent of the land, if any. On the other hand, if the tenant commits default in payment of the price as directed by the Court under Section 9 (1) (b), subsection (2) of Section 9 provided for the consequence by way of dismissal of the application by the tenant. Therefore it is not possible to accept the view of Natarajan, J. that the provisions of Section 9 contemplate only a composite order and not separate orders. As a matter of fact, only the ' "order" rnentioned in sub-section (3) (a) of Section 9 will be relatable to the "order" mentioned in Section 9 (1) (a). In between ther6 is a specific reference to an order in Section 9 (1) Ni as well as other orders in Section 9 (2). The last sentence in Section 9 (1) (b), as we have extracted already, is:

"The Court shall order that within t period to be determined by the Court, not being less than three months and not more than three years from the date of the order, the tenant shall pay into Court or otherwise as directed, the price so fixed in one or more instalments with or without interest".

From the very nature of the various subsections of the section, this order is different from the order contemplated by S. 9 (3). Certainly, this order is more or less a preliminary or interim order before passing the final order under Section 9 (3) will arise if it is not complied with, the provisions of sub-sec (2): of Section 9 will come into operation and the application filed by the tenant shall stand dismissed. Consequently, we are not able to accept the reasoning of the learned Judge Natarajan, J. and the view he has taken. Apart from that, there is another principle involved in the section itself which militates against any such construction. We have already referred to, the use of the word "first" in the first sentence of Section 9 (1) (b) and the use of the word "then" in the second sentence in the said sub-section. In addition, logically speaking the determination of the price for a land must necessarily follow the determination of the extent of the land to be sold. It is common knowledge that the price of a land will vary depending upon the size of the land if the land sought to be sold is small in extent the price rate will be higher. On the other hand, if the land sought to be sold is large in extent, the price rate will be lower. Therefore, even purely from the common sense view, it must logically follow that first, there must be a decision by the Court determining the extent of the land which may be necessary for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant and only after the minimum extent had been determined, the price for that minimum extent will have to be fixed.

6. There is yet another reason also for holding that the view taken by Natarajan, J. is not sound. We have already extracted the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b). That talks of the price being the average market value of the three years immediately preceding the date of the order. An order follows the evidence adduced by the parties and cannot precede 1he evidence. Consequently, at the time when the parties adduced the evidence either before the Court or before the, Commissioner regarding the average market value of the land, they must know with reference to what date the three year period back wards has to be calculated. The calculation of the period in future will not present any difficulty, because that will be the calculation of a period from the date of the order in future. When a statute talks of a period backwards with reference to a particular date, that date must be specific and definite at the time when t he parties are called upon to give evidence regarding the average market value of the land for the period of three years It would have been impossible for them to give any such evidence unless they knew what is the date with reference to which the three year period will have to be calculated. On the date when the parties are required to give evidence, it would not be known on what date the order will be passed by the Court fixing the price. Therefore, from the practical point of view, it is impossible to hold that the date of the order referred to in the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) is the date of the order fixing the price of the land. It must be a date something definite and that too must be anterior to the date of the order fixing the price.

7. In so far as the judgment of Ramaprasada Rao, J., as he then was, is concerned, he held that the date must be a specific, certain and unambiguous date. We agree. But we are unable to agree with learned Judge that the date can be only the date on which the entitlement of tenant to purchase the land was first recognised by a competent Court.

8. The question for consideration is what then can be the date of the order referred to in the third sentence of Section 9 (1) (b)? We are of the opinion that "the date of the order" referred to in the third sentence and the fourth sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) Cannot Mean the same date. It must mean two different dates. There is no controversy that as fat as "the date of the order" occurring in the fourth sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) is concerned, it is the date of the order fixing the price to be paid by the tenant to the landlord because it contemplates a period of time to be not less than three months and not more than three years in future with reference to "the date of the order". The difficulty arises only with regard to the expression "date of the order" occurring in the third sentence. If the expression "date of the order" occurring in the third and fourth sentences means the same date, namely, the date when the Court fixes the price to be paid by the tenant to the landlord, the third sentence will not be workable for the reasons already indicated, namely, at the time when the parties are called upon to adduce evidence regarding the average market value of the land for a period of three years, the parties would not know and from the nature of, the case, nobody, can know with reference to what date the three year period should be calculated because the passing of the order will be in future. Therefore, we have to give a meaning to the expression "the date of the order" occurring in the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) different from the meaning which we have given to the expression "date of the order" occurring In the fourth sentence in Section 9 (1) (b). Having given our careful consideration, we are of the opinion that the expression "date of order" occurring In the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) must mean the date on which the Court decided the minimum extent of the land which may be necessary for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant. Once that decision has been arrived at whatever might have been the interval between the date and the date on which the price was ultimately fixed, the period of three years backwards from that date is definitely known and there will be no difficulty for any particular party adducing evidence in that behalf.

9. There is also another reason for our not accepting the view of Ramaprasada Rao, J., as he then was. We have already indicated that the fixation at the price of the land will have a bearing on the extent of the land to be sold. If the view of the learned Judge Ramaprasada Rao, J., as he then was is to be accepted, as on that date, there was no fixation of the extent of the land and consequently, It will not be possible to fix the average market value of the land properly.

10. Even on principle, we are of the opinion that there is nothing in the general principles relating to the interpretation of statutes which prevents us from giving two different meanings to the same expression occurring even in the same sentence. It is a general principle that whenever the same expression occurs in a statute more so when it occurs in the same section, the expression must be given the same meaning. But that is not an unalterable and inflexible rule of interpretation. An interpretation to a statute has to be given for the purpose of working out the statute if it is possible, and a Court can strike down a statute only when it comes to the conclusion that by no rule of interpretation the statute can be made workable. In this case, the statute, particularly, the provisions contained in Section 9 (1) (b) can be made workable only by giving two different meanings to the expression "the date of the order" occurring in the third and fourth sentences in that sub-section. We derive strength to such a construction from the use of the word "first" occurring in the first sentence and the use of the word "then" occurring in the second sentence in Section 9 (1) (b).

11. In Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes Twelfth Edition, at page 279, it is observed:

"This presumption as, to identical meaning is, however, not of much weight. The same word may be used in different senses in the same statute and even in the same section, especially in a consolidating statute where the word derives from two earlier enactments."

Therefore, on principle, there is no objection to give different meanings to the same expression "the date of the order" occurring in the third and fourth sentences in Section 9 (1) (b).

12. We shall now take up the decision of Ramaprasada Rao, J. as he then was. The learned Judge had considered the decision regarding the entitlement of the tenant to purchase the property from the landlord. We are of the opinion; the entitlement of the tenant to purchase the property from the landlord is not a question that arises on an application filed by the tenant under Section 9 of the Act. In fact, we have already referred to the definition of the term "tenant". Once a tenant satisfies the requirements of the definition as contained in the Act, immediately he becomes entitled to either of the two rights, the right to get compensation under Section 3 or the right for a direction to the landlord to sell the land to him under Section 9. In fact, Section assumes that the person who files the application under Section 9, is a person who is a tenant under the Act and who is entitled to compensation under Section 3 of the Act. Section 9 (1) (b) uses the expression "on such application". Therefore, when a controversy arises as between the landlord and the tenant, whether the tenant comes within the scope of the Act at all and, therefore, whether he is entitled to the benefits of the Act, the decision thereon will not be a decision under Section 9 (1) (b) of the Act. Such a question will be in the nature of a jurisdictional one, an affirmative decision on which will entitle the Court to proceed under Section 9 and a negative decision on which will render the application not maintainable. Therefore, when a Court decides a controversy, whether a particular tenant is entitled to the benefits of the Act or not, it is not rendering decision under Section 9, but it is rendering a decision preliminary to the passing of the orders under Section 9. Consequently, the date of such a decision cannot be relevant for the purpose of the disposal of the application under Section 9. As a matter of fact, the expression "date of the order" occurring in the third and fourth sentences in Section 9 (1) (b), from the very nature of the case, cannot take in an order determining whether the tenant is entitled to the benefits of the Act or not, and from what we have pointed out, correlating the use of the word "first" in the first 9enence and the use of the word "then" in the second sentence with the third and fourth sentences in See. 9 (1) (b), such an order cannot fall within the scope of the orders to be passed by the Court under Section 9 (1) (b). From this point of view, we do not agree with the decision of Ramaprasada Rao, J., as he then was.

13. From the above conclusion of ours on the interpretation and scope of Section 9, the following consequences will follow:

1. If a controversy arises whether a particular tenant is entitled to the benefits of the Act or not in the sense that he is a tenant complying with the definition of the term "tenant" in Section 2 (4), that question has necessarily to be considered by the Court, because, an affirmative decision in favour of the ,tenant alone will enable the Court to proceed further with the application made under Section 9 (1) (a) of the Act and a negative decision against the tenant will render any application filed by the tenant, under Section 9 (1) (a) as not maintainable and such an order is not an order, under Section 9, and the date of that order has no relevancy to the fixation of the price of the land to be sold by the landlord to the tenant;

2. When once the Court has decided that the tenant is entitled to the benefits of the Act or there is no controversy that the tenant is entitled to the benefits of the Act, the- Court will have to dispose of the application filed by the tenant under Section 9 (1) (a);

3. For the purpose of disposing of this application, the Court, must first decide upon the minimum extent of the land which may be necessary for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant Any such decision of the Court, from the very nature of the cage, can only be by means of an order and the date of that order will be the relevant date for the purpose of fixing the price mentioned in the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b). If the decision of the Court on the minimum extent is, taken up further by wav of appeal or revision and that decision is either affirmed or modified and if there had been a stay of further proceedings during the pendency of such appeal or revision, naturally, the date of the order contemplated in the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) will be the date of the order of the appellate or revisional Court;

4. After having determined the minimum extent of the land or if such determination had been the subject matter of further proceedings and those proceedings have concluded the Court will then 1proceed to fix the price of the land;

5. For the purpose of deciding upon the minimum extent of the land or for the purpose of fixing the price of the land certainly it is open to the Court to appoint a Commissioner to record evidence and submit a report to the Court;

6. After the price to be paid by the tenant to the landlord for the purchase the land has been determined, the Court will have to pass an order directing the tenant, within a period to be determined by the Court, not being less than three months and not more than three years from the date of such order, to Pay into Court or otherwise as directed by it, the price so fixed in one or more instalments with or without interest,

7. If the tenant complies with such a direction, then the Court will pass a final order under Section R (3) (a)of the Act directing the landlord to convey the extent of the land decided to the tenant for the price so fixed and in the same order directing the tenant to put the landlord into possession of the remaining extent of the land, if any;

8. If on the other hand the tenant commits default in the payment of the amount as directed and the Court itself had not excused the delay by giving further opportunity, the application filed by the tenant under Section 9 (1) (a) shall stand dismissed; and

9. If the tenant has fulfilled the directions given by the Court and the Court has passed the order under Sec. 9 (3) (a), then the suit or proceeding shall stand dismissed and any decree or order in ejectment that might have been passed therein but which has not been executed shall be vacated. If, on the other hand, the tenant has committed default and the application filed by him under Section 9 (1) (a) stands dismissed under Section 9 (2), then the suit or proceedings will proceed or any decree or order in ejectment that may have been passed therein shall stand.

14. As far as the Letters Patent Appeal No. 2 of 1980 is concerned, the date for the purpose of the third sentence in Section 9 (1) (b) has been taken to be the date when the Court decided the minimum extent of the land for the convenient enjoyment by the tenant. In view of this, the Letters Patent Appeal fails and is dismissed. The moment we have reached this conclusion, Mr. M. Srinivasan, appearing for the appellant in the Letters Patent Appeal, only wanted the fixation of time for payment of the amount, since, during the pendency of the further proceedings, he had obtained stay from the Courts. Having regard to the fact that the Courts had granted stay, we grant the appellant in the Letters Patent Appeal three months' time from this date to pay the price fixed by the Court under Section 9 (1) (b).

As far as the Civil Revision Petitions are concerned, we set aside the orders of the Court below and remand the matters to the Court below for passing fresh orders in the light of guidelines indicated by us in this judgment.

There will be no order, as to costs in any of these cases.

We acknowledge the assistance rendered by the counsel referred to above in the disposal of these cases.

15. Order accordingly.


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