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T. Thiruppathi Vs. Maimoon Bibi and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberC.R.P. No. 1922 of 1979
Judge
Reported inAIR1982Mad120; (1982)1MLJ154
ActsTamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960 - Sections 14 (1)
AppellantT. Thiruppathi
RespondentMaimoon Bibi and ors.
Appellant AdvocateO.V. Baluswami, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateT.R. Ramchandran, Adv. for ;T.R. Rajagopalan and ;T.R. Rajaraman, Advs.
Cases ReferredAct. In A. G. Kannappa Nadar v. Krishnaswamy Pillai
Excerpt:
.....and reconstruction - revision dismissed. - - 2. an interesting question of law arises in this civil revision petition, viz. 12 and 13, on the application made by a landlord, the controller shall, if he is satisfied- (b) that the building is bona fide required by the landlord for the immediate purpose of demolishing it and such demolition is to be made for the purpose of erecting a new building on the site of the building sought to be demolished, pass an order directing the tenant to deliver possession of the building to the landlord before a specified date. if these conditions are satisfied, the landlord is entitled to ask for eviction. 104)- as already stated the plan produced clearly makes out the situation that the first floor is sought to be interfered with materially and in..........judge of madurai passed in c. m. a. 238 of 1976, dismissing the claim of the landlord, the civil revision petitioner, for eviction of the premises bearing door no. 232 east masi st. madurai town, on the ground~ that the landlord required the same for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction under s. 14(1)(b) of the tamil nadu buildings (lease and rent control) act hereinafter referred to as the act. originally the landlord filed r. c. 0. p. 569 of 1974 on the file of the court of the district munsif and the rent controller, madurai town, for eviction of the tenants, the respondents herein, on the ground that the landlord required the premises for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction and also on the other ground that the tenants had caused damages to the building. the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

1. This civil revision petition arises out of the order of the appellate authority and the Subordinate Judge of Madurai passed in C. M. A. 238 of 1976, dismissing the claim of the landlord, the civil revision petitioner, for eviction of the premises bearing door No. 232 East Masi St. Madurai Town, on the ground~ that the landlord required the same for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction under S. 14(1)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act hereinafter referred to as the Act. Originally the landlord filed R. C. 0. P. 569 of 1974 on the file of the Court of the District Munsif and the Rent Controller, Madurai Town, for eviction of the tenants, the respondents herein, on the ground that the landlord required the premises for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction and also on the other ground that the tenants had caused damages to the building. The learned Rent Controller after enquiry held that the landlord had not proved the second ground, viz, the tenants had caused damages to the above said building. But as regards the first ground the learned Rent Controller came to the conclusion that the landlord required the above said premises for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction. In view of the finding that the landlord required the premises for the immediate purpose of demolition and reconstruction, the learned Rent Controller ordered eviction of the tenants by granting a months' time to vacate the premises. As against the order of the Rent Controller, the tenants filed an appeal in C. M. A. No. 238 of 1976 on the file of the appellate authority and the Subordinate Judge of Madurai and the learned appellate authority after considering the evidence on record dismissed the appeal and confirmed the finding of the Rent Controller. As against the said order of the appellate authority the tenants filed a , revision petition to this Court in C. R. P. 241 of 1976 and this Court after considering the material on record allowed the revision and remanded the matter to the appellate authority directing the appellate authority to dispose of' the appeal in the light of the decision reported in K. Krishnan v. Munusami, : AIR1979Mad50 . After remand the appellate authority considered the matter afresh in the light of the above said decision and came to the conclusion that what the civil revision petitioner, the landlord, proposed to do cannot amount to demolition of the existing building and the erection of a new building within the meaning of Section 14(1)(b) of the Act and allowed the appeal and dismissed the rent control petition. As against the said order of the appellate -authority this civil revision petition has been filed.

2. An interesting question of law arises in this civil revision petition, viz., as to what is the meaning to be given to the terms 'demolition' and 'erecting a new building' occurring in S. 14(1)(b) of the Act. S. 14(1)(b) reads as follows-

'14. Recovery of possession by landlord for repairs or for reconstruction -(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, but subject to the provisions of Ss. 12 and 13, on the application made by a landlord, the Controller shall, if he is satisfied- (b) that the building is bona fide required by the landlord for the immediate purpose of demolishing it and such demolition is to be made for the purpose of erecting a new building on the site of the building sought to be demolished, pass an order directing the tenant to deliver possession of the building to the landlord before a specified date.'

S. 16 (2) of the Act provides that in case of erection of a new building all the provisions of the Act shall cease to apply to~ such a new building for a period of five years from the date of construction. Section 16(2) of the Act reads as follows-

'16 (2) Where in pursuance of an order passed by the Controller under Cl. (b) of sub-see, (1) of Sec. 14, any building is totally demolished and a new building is erected in its place, all the provisions of this Act shall cease to apply to such new building for a period of five years from the date on which the construction of such new building is completed and notified to the local authority concerned.'

The case of the civil revision petitioner in this case is that he wants to remove the Madras terrace in the front portion of the building and erect R. C. pillars and put up R. C. terrace in its place and also put up a first floor with R. C. terrace. He also proposes to renew the floor of the hall next to the Madras terrace and replace some of the rafters in the terrace. The civil revision petitioner also proposes to demolish the verandahs with the sheet roofing and tiled roofing by converting the same into a Madras terrace. He also proposes to shift the latrine to the vacant site situated in the northern side of the verandah from the front portion of the building. The plan which the civil revision petitioner submitted for carrying out the above said alterations is marked as Ex. A-4. It is seen that the proposed demolition is not in respect of the entire building but only with reference to a portion of the building. Similarly new constructions are proposed to be put up on the upstairs of the R. C. portion and the tiled single roof verandah is to be converted into terrace verandah and the latrine in the front portion of the building is to be shifted to the rear verandah. The case of the civil revision petitioner is that carrying out the above said items of work will amount to demolition and reconstruction and the case of the respondents is that these items of work will not amount to demolition of an old building and the construction of a new building which will entitle the civil revision petitioner for eviction of the respondents under S. 14(1)(b) of the Act.

3. 'Demolition' is not defined in the Act. The effect of the words 'demolition' and 'erection of a new building' occurring in S. 14(1)(b) of the Act had been considered in several decisions of this Court. A single Judge of this Court in the case reported in Ramachandran v. Kasirn Khaleeli (1965) 1 MLJ 78, observed as follows-

'S. 14 (1) (b) confers the right on the landlord to get the tenant evicted if he bona fide required the building for the immediate purpose of demolishing it and if such demolition is to be made for the purpose of erecting a new building on the site of the building sought to be demolished. It is not necessary that the building should be very old and decrepit to enable the landlord to claim his immediate purpose was for demolition of the building. All that the sub-section requires is that the building should be bona fide required for the immediate purpose of demolishing it. with a view to erecting a new building. If these conditions are satisfied, the landlord is entitled to ask for eviction. The contention of the learned counsel that the demolition intended should be total is not supported by any authority. In this case, the roof of the premises that is in the occupation of the petitioner is to be demolished and a staircase put, retaining only the walls. This, in my opinion, would amount to demolition'.

4. This view of the learned single Judge of this Court that the demolition of the roof of the premises and putting up a staircas6 will amount to demolition had not been accepted by a Division Bench of this Court in the case reported in K. Krishnan v. Munuswamy. : AIR1979Mad50 where it has been held that a change of the roof of the building will not by itself amount to demolishing a building and putting up a new building on the site of the old building and in such a case S. 14(1)(b) of the Act will not be attracted. The Division Bench observed as follows (at p. 54)-

'A change from one type to another may perhaps be a change of a substantial nature so far as the roof is concerned. But when one talks of demolition of a building as contemplated in S. 14(1)(b) it is difficult to assume that the change of a roof will amount to demolition of the building'.

During the course of the judgment the Division Bench referred to an earlier decision of a single Judge of this Court reported in Pattabiraman v. Accommodation Controller, : AIR1972Mad102 , and the following passage is also extracted (at p. 104)-

'As already stated the plan produced clearly makes out the situation that the first floor is sought to be interfered with materially and in many respects by the petitioner when he reconstructs the building in accordance with the sanctioned plan. The cubical content of enclosed space is increased or altered, the walls are changed and above all the roof of the premises is removed and substituted by another. In a case where the roof of a premises is removed and substituted and this is followed up by a variation of the space content of the quondam building, then undoubtedly the entire process involves not only demolition, but also reconstruction I , have already expressed the view that the work to be undertaken by the petitioner is effectively to change the entire face of the building, its cubical content and its size. More than anything else the roof is sought to be removed and substituted by another of a different variety altogether.

5. In the course of the judgment the Division Bench also referred to a decision reported in S. A. Henry v. J. V. K. Rao, : AIR1972Mad64 , where Ramamurti J. observed as follows (at p. 55 of : AIR1979Mad50 ):-

'There is a lacuna in the Act since S. 14(1)(b) would be attracted only in case of repairs as defined in the Act to which we have already made a reference and the provisions in S. 14(1)(b) provided for demolition and erection of a new building on the same site, and in between the 'repairs' as defined in the Act and 'demolition and erection of a new building' there could be many changes which could be made to a building and for which there is no provision made in the Act. In other words, when changes much more substantial than mere 'repairs' fall for consideration, the learned Judge felt that if too technical meaning is to be given for the words 'demolishing and erecting a new building on the site' appearing in S. 14(1)(b) many cases where substantial changes which have to be made would not fall within the scope of the Act and therefore, the words appearing in S. 14(1)(b) must be given a larger import than what they appear to convey by reading them in the ordinary manner'.

6. This view of Ramamurti J. was not accepted by the subsequent Division Bench of this Court referred to above L, Krishnan v. Munusami, : AIR1979Mad50 . Referring to the above judgment the Division Bench observed as follows (at p. 55)-

'We have to interpret the statute and gather the intention of the legislature according to the words used applying the well known principles that normally we must attach to those words a grammatical and literal meaning attributable to those words. Only in exceptional circumstances where absurdities would result by such interpretation, a Court in interpreting the words in a statute can add to the words or attribute a meaning different from the meaning that is ordinarily applicable, It is perhaps true that some changes in a building which would not fall under the expression 'repairs' as defined in the Act, would not amount to demolishing and erecting a new building on the site and if they fall out of the ambit of S. 14(1)(b) of the Act, eviction for those purposes may not be possible. We cannot rectify any lacuna even if that be.,'

In construing the words 'demolition' and 'erection of a new building' occurring in Section 14(1)(b) of the Act, the Division Bench observed as follows (at p. 52)-

''Demolition' mentioned in S. 14(1)(b) has not been defined under the AA nor is there any definition as to what is meant by a 'new building'. But turning to the scheme of the Act, it is clear that a freedom is given to the landlord when the requirements of S. 14(1)(b) are made out, to ask for possession of the building let out, and demolish that building and on the site on which the building stood, erect a new building. Apart from the requirement of S. 14(1)(b), there is the requirement under S. 14(2)(b) that the landlord should undertake to commence demolishing material portion of the building not later than one month and complete the demolition before the expiry of three months from the date he recovers possession of the entire building. On failure to comply with the requirement in S. 14(2)(b) the tenant can ask for recovery of possession of the building from the landlord under S. 16. These provisions in S. 14(1)(a) and (b) provide that the Rent Controller shall be satisfied that the requirements of the landlord are bona fide, namely, for the purpose of demolishing and erecting a new building, on the site of the building. S. 14(2)(b) insists that the work of demolishing a material portion of the building should be commenced not later than one month and completed before the expiry of three months from the date the landlord recovers possession of the entire building. If he does not comply with those requirements, his bona fide requirement would be belied and in such circumstances, the tenant will be restored to the building and the eviction ordered would thus become ineffective.'

The Division Bench taking into consideration the definition of 'building' which includes part of a building also. observed as follows (at p. 52)-

'As far as the tenant is concerned, that part of the building which is let out to him will be building in reality and that reality has been recognised by the statute and specifically provided for in the definition referred to above. As far as such a tenant of a part of the building is concerned, when the statute talks of demolition of a building, it means the building that is let out to him or in other words that part of the building which formed the transaction of tenancy. We are adverting to this aspect only to make it clear that the entire structure of the building need not be demolished and a new building erected in its place in order to attract S. 14(1)(b). When a part of a building is to be demolished which was under the tenancy of a person it will be sufficient if that part is demolished and a new building is erected on the site.'

In cases where the lease is in respect of the whole building, the Division Bench observed as follows (at p. 52)-

'If we conceive the ordinary meaning of the word 'demolition' it would mean a destruction so total as to result in, the ruins of the building. In Chambers's Twentieth Century dictionary, the word demolish' in its verb form is given the meaning as 'to destroy' 'lay in ruins' 'to ruin'. The noun form 'demolition' is given the meaning as 'act of pulling down' and 'ruin'. Ordinarily, we must give the natural meaning to the word when it is used in a statute, unless the statute is of a particular nature which would oblige the court or compel it to give some special meaning, to that word. No argument was advanced before us that the nature of the Statute and the context in which the word appears are such that the word 'demolition' appearing in S. 14(1)(b) should be given a special meaning. We therefore consider that the old building which was let out, by the act of demolition must come to an end so totally as to amount to substantially ceasing to exist. In fact, See. 16 (2) of the Act in referring to the word 'demolition' uses the expression 'totally demolished. The word 'totally' no doubt is not used in S. 14(1)(b). Even then we cannot ignore this expression in S. 16(2) for understanding the scope and ambit of the word 'demolition' occurring in S. 14(1)(b). The purpose and intent of the statute appears to be that when ever an old building has to be demolished and a new building has to be erected on the site of the old building, the Act is not to apply so far as the new building is concerned for a period of five years from the completion of the new building. We have already adverted to the fact that the only requirement to enable a landlord to ask for possession is that he bona fide required the building for the purpose of demolition and for erecting a new building on the same site and that his failure to do so will visit upon the tenant the right to move the Court to take possession of the building from the landlord.'

7. The view of the Division Bench is that in view of the word 'totally' occurring in S. 16(2), the ambit of the word 'demolition' occurring in S. 14(1)(b) can only be total demolition.

8. The view of the Division Bench clearly appears to be that in a claim under S. 14(1)(b) the demolition contemplated by that section is one by which the building must come to an end so totally as to amount to substantially ceasing to exist and the expression 'a new building' would indicate that something different from what was in existence on the property or on the site to be more accurate, must be brought into The demolition being after demolition is therefore to obliterate substantially the old building and the construction must bring into being a new building.

9. Bearing the above principles in mind, we will have to look into the facts of the present case. According to the plan Ex. A. 4 and the evidence of P. W1, the landlord, wanted to remove only the portion of the building with Madras terrace and erect R. C. pillars and put up R~ C. terrace in its place and certain other repairs are to be carried out to the building. Evidently the demolition contemplated in the present case is not so total as to say that the old building ceases to exist. My attention is also drawn to a decision of a single Judge of this Court reported in Varghese v. Mrs. Irudaye Mary (1979) 92 Mad LW 75 where the following observation is found.

'The next submission made by the learned counsel is that the plan filed by the respondent indicates that the respondent proposed to change only the tiled roof into RCC roof and that will not amount to demolition and reconstruction. For this, the learned counsel invokes the aid of the decision of a Bench of this Court in Krishnan v. Munusami, : AIR1979Mad50 . But, the authorities below after looking into the plan have held that there is not only the change of the roof but also a change in the plinth area as between the old tiled construction and the new construction with RCC roof. I have also, perused the copy of the plan produced by the petitioner's counsel. It clearly indicates that the proposed RCC structure is to be of a larger area than the area covered by the tiled building. As a matter of fact, the open space in between the two tiled structures is to be covered by the RCC roofing. Therefore, the authorities below appear to be right in holding that there is not only a change in the roofing, but also a change in the area in that the new structure includes a larger area over and above the area covered by the tiled structure.'

10. The learned counsel for the petitioner herein relied upon this case in support of his argument that in order to attract the provisions of S. 14(1)(b) it is sufficient that there is a change in the plinth area and the roof. But at the same time, we will have to note that the process of demolishing an old structure and putting up a RCC structure with a larger area involves total demolition of the old structure. Hence this case cannot in any way support the case of the civil revision petitioner. In the case reported in A. M. Batcha v. T. M. P. C. Ramachandran, 1979 TLNJ 73, this Court after quoting with approval the decision of the Division Bench referred to above, also extracted the following passage in the report in Pattabhjraman v. Accommodation Controller, : AIR1972Mad102 -

'As already stated the plan produced clearly makes out the situation that the first floor is sought to be interfered with materially and in many respects by the petitioner when he reconstructs the building in accordance with the sanctioned plan. The cubical content of enclosed space is increased or altered, the walls are changed, and above all the roof of a premises is removed and is substituted and that is followed up by a variation of the space content of the quondam building, then undoubtedly the entire process involves not only demolition, but also reconstruction'.

10A. In the course of the judgment Ramaprasada Rao J. as he then was, observed as follows-

'It appears to me, therefore, that under S. 14(1)(b) the word demolition has to be understood not merely in the dictionary meaning sense, but in the sense where there is a real variation in the cubical content of the enclosed space by the roof being altered, the size of the walls being changed by demolishing it, a new roof being substituted thereon and by putting up an additional construction on the new roof by erecting pillars from its foundation'.

This observation is sought to be relied upon by the learned counsel for the civil revision petitioner in support of his argument that the proposed reconstruction would change the cubical content of the building and as such the landlord is entitled to relief under S. 14(1)(b) of the Act. But it is seen from the evidence and the plan that there is no demolition of the entire walls and the roofing, and in fact a substantial portion of the walls and the roof of the building is retained. There is also no evidence as to the cubical content of the building before and after reconstruction. Hence the principles laid down in the case reported in A. M. Batcha v. T. M. P. C. Ramachandran, 1979 TLNJ 73, cannot be applied to the facts of this case. In the case reported in M. Kanakavel Pillai by agent M. Solliah Pillai v. Drugs and Chemicals, Kumbakonam by its Mg. D4'rector T. Ramani : (1980)2MLJ392 , Ratnam J. following the observation of the Division Bench reported in K. Krishnan v. Munusami, : AIR1979Mad50 held that in a case where the middle portion of the building, where Madras terrace roof is in existence, is proposed to be left untouched and with reference to the front and the rear portions it is proposed to convert the existing thatched and tiled roof into RCC roofing it will not amount to demolition and reconstruction within the meaning of S. 14(1)(b) of the Act. In A. G. Kannappa Nadar v. Krishnaswamy Pillai, 1981 1 MLJ 19, a single Judge of this Court held that the proposal to remove the existing damaged tiled roof in the first floor and to convert it into a Madras terrace cannot be within the expression 'demolition and reconstruction', as a change of the roof of the building from tiles into a Madras terrace would not amount to demolishing the building and putting up a new building on the site of the old building. The renewal of the damaged staircase and the proposal to put up another staircase instead also cannot be included with the expression 'demolition and reconstruction',

11. In the light of the principles set out in the above decisions if we examine the facts of this case it is seen that the proposed renewal of the existing roof of the front portion of the building and conversion into reinforced concrete one and the alteration of the tiled verandahs and shifting of the latrine will not amount to 'demolition' and the conclusion arrived at by the appellate authority is correct and no interference is called for. The civil revision petition fails and is dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.

12. At the time of pronouncement of judgment Mr. O. V. Baluswami submits that an observation may be made that the order in the above civil revision petition will not in any way prejudice the right of the landlord to apply for demolition of the entire building and for reconstruction afresh. I have no hesitation in making an observation that this order will not, in any way, prejudice the case of the landlord if any when he comes forward with an application for, total demolition of the premises. The defence available to the tenants are also left open.

13. Revision dismissed.


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