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S.S. Purushotham Chettiar Vs. S. Parasumal Sowcar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1977)1MLJ275
AppellantS.S. Purushotham Chettiar
RespondentS. Parasumal Sowcar
Cases ReferredBalaiah v. Lachaiah
Excerpt:
.....it. it is for the landlord to decide and if that decision is based on real and acceptable facts, then the landlord should be deemed to have satisfied the conscience of the court about his bona fide..........revisional authority, namely, the district judge, cuddalore. it is as against this finding of the learned district judge that the petition is not maintainable and that the landlord did not establish bona fides, that the present civil revision petition has been filed.2. mr. g. narasimhalu, has been appointed as amicus curiae as the respondent was not represented. mr. narasimhalu's case, is that as this legislation is intended for the benefit of the tenant the words 'of his own' in section 10 (3) (a) (i) of the act should be interpreted strictly in juxtaposition to the word 'occupying' in that sub-clause; his contention is that the learned district judge was right when he negatived the claim of the landlord on the foot that he had admittedly a right of residence in the premises in which.....
Judgment:

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The landlord is the revision petitioner. This is one of those cases which has come up to this Court on the fourth round. The tenant-respondent succeeded before the District Court which at that particular point of time could exercise a revisional jurisdiction under Section 25 of Act XVIII of 1960. The Rent Controller as well as the Appellate Authority found the requirement of the landlord of the premises in the occupation of the tenant-respondent to be bona fide. The revisional authority, however, differed. There was also an additional legal contention by the tenant that the application of the landlord was not maintainable because admittedly he had a right of residence in the premises in which he was residing on the date when he filed the application for eviction. As this premises which according to the tenant is his own by reason of the right of residence annexed to his occupation the argument was that the petition by the landlord under Section 10 (3) (a) (i) of Act XVIII of 1960 was not maintainable. This gained acceptance before the revisional authority, namely, the District Judge, Cuddalore. It is as against this finding of the learned District Judge that the petition is not maintainable and that the landlord did not establish bona fides, that the present civil revision petition has been filed.

2. Mr. G. Narasimhalu, has been appointed as amicus curiae as the respondent was not represented. Mr. Narasimhalu's case, is that as this legislation is intended for the benefit of the tenant the words 'of his own' in Section 10 (3) (a) (i) of the Act should be interpreted strictly in juxtaposition to the word 'occupying' in that Sub-clause; his contention is that the learned District Judge was right when he negatived the claim of the landlord on the foot that he had admittedly a right of residence in the premises in which he was residing on the date when the eviction petition was filed. He would also support the District Judge's observation that since the landlord was old enough, it was not quite possible to comprehend that he would dissociate himself from the rest of the family members at that ripe age so as to live alone. Contending contra, Mr. M. Srinivasan, learned Counsel for the landlord would say that a liberal interpretation has to be given to the words 'of his own' referred to in Section 10 (3) (a) (i), for the statutory authority deciding on such applications has also the ancillary power to find whether the claim of the landlord is bona fide or not and such an inbuilt safeguard in the generality of the section as a whole is enough to thwart any attempt on the part of a landlord who wants to take undue and irregular advantage of the provisions above cited. He would say that no particular reason which could be accepted and which could be given by a revisional Court was rendered by the learned District Judge when he disagreed with the concurrent findings of the Rent Controller and the appellate authority who found that the claim of the landlord was bona fide and he required the possession of the building for his own occupation.

3. Regarding the legal contention, the quintes scence of Sub-clause (i) of Section 10 (3) (a) of the Act has to be placed in the forefront instead of dissecting each of the words contained in it, so as to arrive at the meaning and intendment of that clause. The main purpose which Section 10 (3) (a) (i) serves is that the landlord who is in occupation of a building of his own ought not to unreasonably seek for the eviction of a tenant who is occupying another residential building of his own. The interdict is based on the highest principle of equity and good conscience. But where a landlord is permissively in occupation of a residential building by reason of a right of residence obtained by him in a civil proceeding as between himself and the other members of his family, such a right is not an equation of ownership as is understood in jurisprudence. Ownership is a peculiar concept which highlights on the individuality of the person who owns it and his exclusive right to deal with it under the law. A right of residence is a much smaller right, though it may be one of the elements of the bundle of rights which constitute ownership. But it is certainly not ownership in the eye of law. Apparently this distinction was borne in mind when the expression 'in' at occupying a residential building his own' has been ingrained in Sub-clause (i) of Section 10 (3) (a) of the Act. 1 am of the view that the words 'of his own' appearing in the above section should be understood liberally and not in the manner in which Mr. Narasimhalu wants me to understand it. Having regard to the normal concept of jurisprudence which defines 'ownership' and 'rights' which are not the equations of ownership, I am of the view that the right of residence which is available to a landlord with reference to a particular residential building which is based upon certain domestic and internal arrangements between himself and the other members of the family, cannot stand as a bar to his making an application under the above sub-clause for eviction of a tenant of his from a building which he owns in the sense, the ownership of which indisputably vests in him. That this appears to be the reasonable meaning attributable to the expression 'of his own' is seen from the observations of Venkatadri, J., in Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolayana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184. The learned Judge observed that the expression 'his own' cannot mean constructive ownership or notional possession. On the other hand, he accepted the argument of the learned Counsel in that case that it should be full ownership. This observation of the learned Judge was quoted with approval by a Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Balaiah v. Lachaiah : AIR1965AP435 . According to the learned Judges of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, the expression 'of his own' should be interpreted as a building independently owned by the landlord or that he should have full ownership of it and it should belong to a single individual or a group of individuals.

4. It appears to me therefore that the expression 'is not occupying a residential building of his own' appearing in Section 10 (3) (a) (i) should be limited to, the situation where the landlord is not occupying a residential building of which he is the sole owner thereof. As already stated, the right of residence which was secured by an internal arrangement or by reason of a decree of Court would not make him the owner of that building, but it would only enable him to gain a privilege which he might or might not exercise. The choice is with him and if he chooses not to reside in that premises, I am of the view that he can seek the benefit of Section 10 (3) (a) (i) and ask for the eviction of the tenant from a premises which he substantially and really owned, provided he satisfied that he bona fide required it.

5. On the question of bona fides, the revisional Court ought not to have entered into a discussion about the existence of such bona fides, as in my opinion, the limits available for interference by Courts exercising revisional jurisdiction is far too limited and circumscribed. It can interfere only in a case where the order of the lower Court presents a material irregularity or want of jurisdiction, or in a case where there has been non-exercise of jurisdiction or mal-exercise of jurisdiction. But interference on questions of fact decided by two tribunals is not one which is warranted, and therefore is not within the periphery of the revisional jurisdiction then available to the District Courts under Section 25 of Act XVIII of 1960. The appellate authority gave sufficient reasons such as that the landlord who had two wives and many children through each of those wives wanted to accommodate the second wife's children in the other building. In fact, there was a lengthy discussion about it by both the Rent Controller and the appellate authority. But the learned District Judge says:

It is very difficult to believe that this old man on the wrong side of eighty wants to go out of his house wherein he has lived all along....

It is not for the District Judge to say so. It is for the landlord to decide and if that decision is based on real and acceptable facts, then the landlord should be deemed to have satisfied the conscience of the Court about his bona fide requirement. In my opinion, therefore, there was no cause for interference in the hands of the District Judge with the concurrent findings rendered by both the Rent Controller and the Appellate authority. On both the grounds, the landlord succeeds.

6. In the result, the civil revision petition is allowed and the judgment and decree of the District Judge are set aside. There will be no order as to costs. The tenant is given two months' time from today to vacate the premises. This Court is thankful to Mr. G. Narasimhalu for having worked up the position properly.


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