V. Balasubrahmanyan, J.
1. This revision is against an order of eviction passed against a cultivating tenant by an Authorised Officer. The order was in the usual terms. The tenant was directed to pay the rent arrears within a particular date. If he did not pay, then eviction would follow. The implication was that if the arrears were paid, the eviction petition! against the tenant would stand dismissed.
2. This order was made on the terms aforesaid under Section 3(4) of Act XXV of 1955 (The Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants' Protection Act, 1955). The date fixed for payment under the order was 15th September, 1978.
3. The tenant's plea in this revision is that it was impossible for her to comply with this time-limit since a copy of the order meant fair her and sent by post by the Authorised Officer was delivered to her only on 18th September, 1978, three days after the expiry of the time-limit
4. I must accept this plea without reservation. For, the law does not expect any man or woman to do the impossible. We do not have the Time Machine of H.G. Wells' Tale to travel back in time to comply with the terms of an order served out of time.
5. But the contention put forward by the landlord's counsel is that the date of service of the order by registered post cannot be taken to have any material bearing in this case. He said that the order was pronounced by the Authorised Officer in open Court even on 2nd September, 1978, which gave the tenant a clear 12 or 13 days within which to make the payment.
6. I am told that the rent arrears in tills case ran to about Rs. 10,000. It is quite a thought whether anyone in these hard times can be expected to get ready that much amount in a matter of two weeks. But, the question in this revision is not about the length of time granted. That is a matter of degree and discretion. And probably one in which a revisional Court will rarely interfere.
7. The more serious question is whether anything can be made out of the claim that the Authorised Officer pronounced his order in open Court on 2nd September, 1978. The order itself contains a superscription to the effect that the order was so pronounced on that date. Neither the Authorised Officer nor the place where he has his office is a Court properly so-called. We may therefore gather that he read his order aloud to the hearing of those assembled before him, at any rate, he did so the operative part of the order at least.
8. There is a raging controversy about who were present before the Authorised Officer at the time. The tenant had engaged counsel in those proceedings, but it is claimed he was not present at the time the order was pronounced. This assertion is denied by the landlord. It is also pointed out that at the end of the inquiry, after hearing counsel on both sides, the Authorised Officer posted the matter for judgment for 2nd September, 1978. Hence, the tenant and her counsel were themselves to blame if they had absented themselves on 2nd September, 1978. Delivery in open Court of the order, it is urged, does not depend for its validity on the presence of the parties.
9. The contention put forward by the land lord's learned Counsel is worth examination. I will assume for this limited purpose that the tenant's learned Counsel was present on 2nd September, 1978, and heard the terms of the eviction order against his client being read over audibly by the Authorised Officer. Event so, the question is, does it in any way operator against the tenant in this case?
10. Under the procedure established by law for civil Courts, their orders must be pronounced in open Court. But, that procedure invariably goes along with a concomitant procedure relating to copies of orders. The parties must apply to the Court every time for getting copies of Court orders, even though they have been delivered in open Court. And there are elaborate rules governing the application for copies, provision for supply of stamped stationery by the applicants, transcription and comparison of copies, publication of information as to copies prepared and mad ready and the like. Copies of Court orders pronounced in the open are seldom made available to the parties by being issued suo motu, by registered post or otherwise. The two procedures seldom go together. Either the orders are despatched to the parties by post, in which case it would be quite pointless to pronounce them earlier in open Court, from the point of view of communication: of the decision of the parties. Where judgments are delivered in open Court, then it makes sense and it is also accepted practice to lay down a procedure requiring the parties to apply foe copies.
11. It is not unusual for administrative or quasi-judicial tribunals to adopt the practice of the Courts in this regard. The Rent Controller for instance, is enjoined by an express provision in the statute to pronounce his orders in open Court. The relevant rules provide for the procedure of certified copies of such orders. There is, however, no similar provision under Tamil Nadu Act (XXV of 1955). The Authorised Officer is not required to pronounce his orders in the open. There are no statutory rules to that effect. There is no evidence of a uniform unwritten practice in this regard which is followed by all authorised5 officers in this State. There is no evidence even that this Authorised Officer whose order is the subject of the present revision, is so much used to reading aloud his orders on dates appointed for that purpose that his habit has come to attain the status of a practice of his Court. It is often said that in the absence of regulation by any statute or statutory rules, a Court or tribunal is a master of its own procedure. But, merely because a tribunal fancies a particular line or course of proceedings in a given case it does not make it 'procedure' of which it can be said to be master. It is the very opposite of procedure; it is absence of procedure. Where the tribunal is free to act on the fancy or caprice of the moment it cannot be said to follow its own 'procedure'.
12. In this case, it is said that the tenant's learned Counsel had notice of the day on which the Authorised Officer was going to pronounce his order in open Court. That may be so. But, that alone cannot give validity to the act of pronouncing the order. All that can be said is that counsel was forewarned.
13. It may be conceded that reading aloud is one of the communications of an order. But, we have now come to a stage in the evolution of civilised existence that we employ the written word as the language, not only for accord but for communication as well, in matters which affect men and women.
14. Apart from the absence any legal sanction for the course of proceeding pursued by the Authorised Officer, his act of pronouncing the order in open Court was altogether robbed of its meaning and purpose when he at the same time communicated it to the tenant by registered post. A copy of the order apparently was delivered then and there to the landlord, for, the original order carries an endorsement to that effect. But, so far as the tenant was concerned, the order copy was sent by mail. This act of communication by post, unasked for by the tenant, shows that the Authorised Officer was quite, serious about communication of the order suo motu to that tenant. It follows therefore, that the means adopted for the communication must itself render the, communication serve its purpose, A communication which stultifies its purpose is no communication at all. We must attribute a degree of seriousness to the Authorised Officer's decision setting down a definite time-limit for the tenant to deposit the rent arrears. For, by complying with the terms of such a direction the tenant could ward off her eviction. Attributing to the Authorised Officer this serious intention and given the mode adopted for communication of the order, it is unthinkable that the tenant should find herself in an unhappy and impossible situation in the matter of compliance with the terms of the order.
15. It might be said that the delays of the postal department should not be visited on the head of the Authorised Officer. But, the purpose of the present discussion is not to lay the, blame on anyone or apportion it. The purpose is to see whether, in the events that happened, the tenant can be bound hand and foot by the terms of an order which it was impossible for her to carry out. The answer can only be one way.
16. I accordingly set aside the order of the Authorised Officer. It is needless to say that the Authorised Officer has to go through the proceedings all over again. In that connection it seems to me to be necessary to give him a word of advice. In the order that he had passed, which I have now set aside, the Authorised Officer had not followed the various stages of the procedure laid down by Section 3 of the Act, As pointed out by this Court in Chinnayyan v. Nagarathinam Pillai : (1964)1MLJ389 , there are at least two distinct stages which the Authorised Officer must pass through in the determination of an eviction petition. The two stages are distinct and separate. The Authorised Officer cannot skip the first stage to see an end to the proceedings. At the initial stage the Authorised Officer must give the tenant an opportunity to pay up the arrears by giving a reasonable time. The second stage would come only after the time fixed by the Court for deposit expires without the tenant having made the deposit. The Authorised Officer in this case has rolled the two stage proceedings into one. In his order, as framed, he has pre-determined the question of eviction irrespective of deposit or non-deposit, by making the eviction order self-operative. This is not the proper way to administer Section 3(4)(b) of the Act. The Authorised Officer has to comply with the statutory provision to the letter.
17. My order in this revision would therefore, be to set aside the order of the Authorised Officer and direct him to pass orders in accordance with Section 3(4)(b) of the Act. The revision petition is allowed on these lines. There will, however, be no order as to costs.