1. This petition is filed by the landowner against the order of the Authorised Officer (Land Reforms) Madurai, in T. C. T. P. No. 237 of 1972, D/- 26-4-1973 allowing the petition by the tenant (Respondent herein) under Section 7 of the Tamil Nadu Act 21 of 1972 and directing restoration of possession by the land-owner to the tenant.
2. The facts that are necessary for disposal of this revision petition are as follows:--The tenant was cultivating 3-51 acres of wet lands belonging to the landowner. Due to default in payment of rent, the landowner filed a petition under Section 3(4)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Protection Act of 1955 and an order of eviction was passed in T. C. T. P. No. 163 of 1970, D/- 14-2-1972. The tenant took the matter up to the High Court and the High Court in C. M. P. No. 3819 of 1972 pending C. R. P. No. 823 of 1972 ordered interim stay directing the tenant to deposit a sum of Rs. 5,000/- into the trial Court within one month of 6-7-1972 as directed. After the expiry of the period the landowner filed an eviction petition on 7-8-1972, stating that the tenant has failed to comply with the directions of the High Court by paying the amount. The Civil revision petition itself was subsequently dismissed on 23-2-1973. On application by the landowner for eviction, notice was issued to the tenant for appearance on 21-8-1972. Though the tenant acknowledged the notice, he did not appear for the hearing on 21-8-1972. The Court in. E. P. No. 13 of 1972 in T. C. T. P. No. 163 of 1970 dated 21-8-1972 ordered the eviction of the tenant and possession was taken over by the landlord on 23-8-1972.
3. Act 21 of 1972 i.e. Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants Arrears of Rent (Relief) Act, 1972 came into force on 11-8-1972. It may be noted that this was four days after the landowner filed his eviction petition on 7-8-1972. It is the plea of Mr. Krishnan, the learned counsel for the tenant (respondent herein) that the result of the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act 21 of 1972 is that there is an absolute stay of proceedings for a period of six months from the date on which the Act came into force, i.e., from 11-8-1972 and therefore the order of eviction passed and possession taken by the landowner on 23-8-1972 is non est and therefore the delivery of possession will have to be treated as a nullity.
4. In order to appreciate the contention, it is necessary to examine a few provisions of the Act 21 of 1972. Section 3 of the Act provides certain relief to the tenant on payment of arrears of rent. All arrears to the landlord and outstanding on the 30th June 1972, shall be deemed to be discharged, whether or not a decree or order has been obtained therefor, if such cultivating tenant satisfies one of the conditions referred to in the section. We are concerned with Clause (ii) which gives the benefit of the section if the cultivating tenant pays or deposits in the manner specified in Clause (b) within six months from the date of the publication of this Act, or under Clause (iii), he is deemed to have paid or deposited under this Act. The effect of the section is that the arrears of rent outstanding on 30th June 1971 would be deemed to have been discharged if the condition stipulated in this section is fulfilled. Now under Clause (b) a cultivating tenant may either pay the current rent to the landlord, or deposit in the Court or before the competent authority, to the account of the landlord, the current rent, or if the rent be payable in kind, its market value on the date of deposit of the arrears of rent. When the arrears of rent is deposited the competent authority shall cause notice of the deposit to be issued to the landlord and determine the current rent arrears and direct the cultivating tenant to deposit any further sum as due within the period specified in Clause (a)(ii). If the arrears of rent are paid as directed within the time referred to, the cultivating tenant shall be deemed to have paid the current rent for the purpose of this Act. So far as suits or proceedings pending on the date of the publication of the Act for recovery of arrears of rent or for eviction of the cultivating tenant for non-payment of arrears of rent are concerned it is provided under Section 3(2) that if the cultivating tenant pays or deposits or has paid or deposited, or is deemed to have paid or deposited under the Act, the whole of the current rent and if he applies, the authority may pass an order dismissing the suit or proceeding, in so far as such suit or proceeding relates to such recovery or eviction. The procedure contemplated for pending suit and proceeding is therefore that the cultivating tenant should pay the arrears of rent or should have paid or deposited or deemed to have paid or deposited under the provisions of the Act, and apply to the court or competent authority to pass an order dismissing the petition for recovery of rent or for eviction. It may be noted that Section 3(1) as well as (2) enables the cultivating tenant to pay the current rent within six months and get the arrears of rent discharged. The contention of the learned counsel that there is absolute stay of all the proceedings is based on Section 5 which bars certain proceedings for eviction or recovery of arrears of rent. Section 5 of Act 21 of 1972 states as follows:--
'(1) Until the expiration of a period of six months from the date of the publication of this Act--
(a) No application shall be made for the eviction of a cultivating tenant for non-payment of any arrears of rent, and no suit shall be filed for the recovery of such arrears;
(b) No suit shall be filed for the eviction of a cultivating verumpattamdar for non-payment of any arrears of rent.'
5. Under these two clauses in Section 5(1), there is absolute bar of proceedings for eviction or for recovery of arrears of rent within a period of six months from the date of the publication of the Act, i. e., from 11-8-1972. But so far as the present case is concerned, it is admitted that it falls under Section 5(1)(c), which runs as follows:--
'Subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 3, all applications for the eviction of a cultivating tenant for non-payment of any arrears of rent and all suits, proceedings in execution of decrees or orders and other proceedings, pending before a Court or competent authority for the recovery of any arrears of rent or for such eviction, shall stand stayed.'
6. According to this sub-section there will be stay of all applications for the eviction of a cultivating tenant for non-payment of any arrears of rent and all suits or proceedings in execution of decrees or orders, pending before a Court for the recovery of any arrears of rent or for eviction. These proceedings will be stayed subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) to Section 3. Thus in a case like the present one, when an application for eviction of cultivating tenant is pending, it is open to the tenant to take advantage of Section 3(2). If the case falls under Section 3(2) there is no absolute stay under Section 5(1)(c), as Section 5(1)(c) is subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 3. Sub-section (2) of Section 3 enables the tenant in a suit or proceeding pending on the date of the publication of the Act, i. e., on 11-8-1972, for recovery of arrears of rent or for eviction of the cultivating tenant, to pay or deposit or to make a deposit which is deemed to be a deposit under he Act, he whole of the current rent and to apply for dismissal of the petition. In this case, the petition for eviction was filed on 7-8-1972 and after the Act came into force, the matter was taken up on 21-8-1972 and as the tenant had not paid the money as required or made his appearance, the Court directed delivery of possession which was taken by the landowner.
7. A reading of Section 5(1)(c) along with Section 3(2) makes it clear that while all applications and all suits or proceedings are stayed for a period of six months from the date of the publication, the tenant under Section 3(2) is enabled to pursue his remedies for paying the current rent and getting his arrears of rent wiped out. Apart from the proceedings contemplated under Section 3(2), all other applications and proceedings are stayed. That means no further proceedings like execution of the decree for obtaining possession etc. could be taken by the landlord. Therefore the order of the Court below in the execution petition filed by the landowner on 7-8-1972 ordering delivery of possession on 21-8-1972 is contrary to the statutory stay provided for under section 5(1)(c) of Act of 1972.
8. Having found that possession which was delivered after 11-8-1972 when act 21 of 1972 came into force, namely on 23-8-1972, is contrary to Section 5(1)(c), the question arises whether the tenant can get back possession, which was taken away from him. Two petitions were filed by the tenant, one on 7-9-1972 and another on 6-10-1972, the former under Section 4(1) and (5) of Act 25 of 1955, and the latter under Section 7 of Act 21 of 1972. The lower Court ordered both the petitions and directed re-delivery of possession of the tenant. The present civil revision petition is filed by the landowner against that common order.
9. The point that arises for consideration is whether the order of re-delivery passed by the lower Court is sustainable in law. So far as the right of the Court to direct re-delivery under Section 7 of Act 21 of 1972 is concerned, that section limits the power of re-delivery only to cultivating tenants who have been evicted from any land on or after the 1st March 1972 and before the date of the publication of Act 21 of 1972, that is 11-8-1972. The dispossession in this case being on 23-8-1972 this section will not be applicable and therefore the petition under this section will have to be dismissed.
10. The petition under Section 4(1) and (5) of Act 25 of 1955 has to be dealt with. Section 4(1) of that Act provides that every cultivating tenant who was in possession of any land on 1st December 1953 and who is not in possession thereof at he commencement of that Act, that is on 24th September 1955, will be entitled to be restored to such possession. This sub-section is not applicable as dispossession was not during the relevant period contemplated under this section. The only provision therefore left for the tenant is Section 4(5) of Act 25 of 1955, which provides as follows:
'Any cultivating tenant who after the commencement of this Act has been evicted except under the provisions of sub-section (4) of Section 3 shall be entitled to apply to the Revenue Divisional Officer within two months from the date of such eviction of within two months from the date of coming into force of the Madras Cultivating Tenants Protection (Amendment) Act, 1956, for the restoration to him of the possession of the lands from which he was evicted and to hold them with all the rights and subject to all the liabilities of a cultivating tenant.' The benefit of being restored to possession s available to persons who have been dispossessed except under the provisions of sub-section (4) of Section 3. It is not denied that the tenant was dispossessed under Section 3(4). The landowner applied for eviction of the tenant on the ground of non-payment of rent and the order of eviction became final. The contention for the tenant is that though the order became final, the order directing delivery of possession was made on 21-8-1972 when there was a statutory stay of proceedings in execution under Section 5(1)(c) of the Act and that therefore the eviction order is not in accordance with Section 3(4) of Act 25 of 1955. It cannot be disputed that the order of eviction was strictly according to Section 3(4). The remedy provided under section 4(5) is that the tenant would be entitled to redelivery of possession if he had been evicted except under the provisions of Section 3(4). As already stated, the order of eviction was under Section 3(4), but dispossession was not in accordance with Section 5(1)(c) of Act 21 of 192. It does not appear that the section contemplated cases of persons who would be dispossessed contrary to the provisions of Section 5(1)(c). There is no breach of the order of eviction under Section 3(4). It is submitted by the learned counsel for the tenant that as possession was granted contrary to section 5(1)(c), the order of delivery of possession should be put back in possession. It is not possible to treat the order as non est for in pursuance of the order, the landowner was put in possession and she is in fact in possession. There are o provisions in the Act which would enable the tenant to get back possession. It is not possible to accept the tenant's contention that Section 4(5) of Act 25 of 1955 would give him such a remedy. Unless such a remedy is specifically provided for in the enactment, the tenant cannot have any remedy.
11. Finally, the learned counsel for the tenant submitted that as per Section 6-BB of Act 25 of 1955, which was introduced by Act 6 of 1974, this Court has ample powers to restore possession to the tenant. That section provides that where any cultivating tenant has been evicted in execution of an order for eviction passed under sub-section (4) of Section 3, and where such order of eviction is set aside in revision by the High Court, the High Court shall direct restoration to such cultivating tenant of the possession of lands from which he was evicted. In this case, the cultivating tenant was evicted in execution of an order passed under sub-section (4) of Section 3. The order of eviction has not been set aside by the High Court. In fact, the order of eviction was confirmed by the High Court in prior proceedings. The finding that delivery of possession is contrary to the statutory stay under Section 5(1)(c) of Act 21 of 1972 would not bring the case under Section 6-BB of Act 25 of 1955 and the power of revision cannot be exercised by this Court to direct delivery of possession by the landowner.
12. The result is, the landowner's petition for revising the order of the lower Court is allowed and she is directed to be put back in possession by the tenant. Time for delivery of possession is three months from this date. There will be no order as to costs.
13. Appeal allowed.