1. This appeal is filed by the Proprietor, Gokal Agencies, the petitioner in the writ petition, against the order of Ramanujam, J., holding that the order of the Secretary to Government, Home Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, exempting the premises No. 22 Royapettah High Road, Madras, from the provisions of S. 29 of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, at the instance of the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner was not erroneous. The Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, the second respondent purchased the premises for Rs. 13,19,257 on 25-9-1968. There were several shops in the premises and they were occupied by tenants. In March 1975, the second respondent applied to the first respondent for exemption of the premises under Sec. 29 of the Act on the ground that there had been considerable expansion of his office, that the existing office accommodation in the compound was very inadequate and that considerable difficulties were felt in providing the necessary accommodation. It was pointed out that the strength of the staff had increased from 300 to 700 and that the entire premises was required for the office staff and for locating a post office for the benefit of the office within there compound. After obtaining a report for the Accommodation Controller, the first respondent found that the request was bona fide and reasonable and therefore granted the exemption by G. O. No. 2417 dated 31-12-1975.
2. The appellant before us raised two grounds in his writ petition; the first was that the order had been made at the instance of the Labour Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Government and therefore the impugned order could not be said to have been passed by the first respondent in his independent judgment. Secondly it was contended that so long as the provisions under the Rent Control Act were available to the second respondent for getting the tenants evicted from the premises, the power under Sec. 29 of the Act could not be exercised by the first respondent. The learned Judge found against these contentions and hence this appeal.
3. Mr. G. K. Damodar Rao, the learned counsel for the appellant, urged the same two grounds. There is no difficulty in rejecting the first contention that because on department of the Government prayed for the grant of exemption under Sec. 29 of the Act to the Home Department, which is the authority to exercise the power, the order would become vitiated as the first respondent would not exercise his mind in an unbiased manner. So far as the requirement of one or other department of the Government is concerned, it is only that department that can start the file making out a case for necessary accommodation and for exemption under Sec. 29 being granted. The authority that is empowered to grant exemption will consider the application on its merits and come to its own conclusion and from the mere fact that it agreed with the department for additional accommodation, it would not follow that the order of the authority granting exemption is biased. In this case there can be no difficulty in agreeing with the learned Judge and the authority who granted exemption that the requirement of the second respondent is bona fide and that he is badly in need of accommodation. This contention was therefore rightly rejected by the learned Judge.
4. The second contention that was raised was that the mere fact that the proceedings under the Rent Control Act would take a considerable time would not be a justification for the authority to exercise its powers under Sec. 29. In support of this contention, the decision of the Supreme Court in P. J. Irani v. State of Madras, : 2SCR169 , was cited before us. It may be borne in mind that the requirement in this case was for a department of the Government whose work was hampered for want of even the minimum accommodation. As already pointed out, the staff had increased from 300 in 1968 to 700 in 1974. In the circumstances it was only proper that they were attempting to get additional accommodation in the building which was owned by them. The first respondent was satisfied that the requirement was bona fide and that it was necessary that exemption should be granted for, otherwise the work of the department would be hampered for a very long time.
5. The case relied on by the learned counsel was between two tenants. The Supreme Court has pointed out that any individual order of exemption passed by the Government can be the subject of judicial review by the courts for finding out whether (a) it was discriminatory so as to offend Art. 14 of the Constitution, (b) the order was made on grounds which were germane or relevant to the policy and purpose of the Act and (c) it was not otherwise mala fide. The enforcement of the remedy under Art. 14 is not available to the appellant as his right is now suspended under the Presidential Proclamation. Even otherwise, we do not see any discrimination for the order that is made is in favour of a department which is a different class by itself. The second ground also is not available to the appellant for the ground on which exemption has been granted is quite germane and relevant to the policy and purpose of the Act. The Government is given a discretion where after a bona fide consideration of all the materials before them they consider that the building should be exempt from the operation of the provisions of the Act. The third requirement laid down by the Supreme Court also has been satisfied by the department as there is no suggestion of mala fides on the part of the first respondent. Certain observations relating to the facts of that case were very strongly relied on by the learned counsel to substantiate his plea that the mere fact that court proceedings would take more time would not furnish a ground for exercising the powers under Sec. 29. But in our view the facts of that case are different and the question involved therein was a fight between two tenants and a department of the Government was not involved in it.
6. On a consideration of all the facts of the case, we have no hesitation in agreeing with the view of the learned Judge. The appeal is dismissed.
7. Appeal dismissed.