1. These revisions have been brought before this Court under S. 11 of the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants (Payment of Fair Rent) Act. 1956. The Petitioner is the landlord of 1.90 acres of land, which is classified under S. 4 (1) (iii) of the Act. The landlord and tenant had an agreement for 11 years, which was executed in the year 1952. Under that agreement the tenant had to Day the rent by cash of Rs. 305 per year. It would appear that the tenant had paid rent in advance for the entire period of 11 years. Nevertheless the landlord had filed a petition before the Rent Court for fixation of fair rent under S. 9 (1) of the Act. This Petition was resisted by the tenant In his petition the landlord claimed that the fair rent for the land would be Rs. 3000 per annum. The tenant opposed the application maintaining that the fair rent cannot be charged at anything above Rs. 305 Per annum. The Rent Court conducted an enquiry and ultimately fixed the fair rent at Rs. 1100.
2. Against this determination both the tenant and the landlord filed appeals 1981 Mad./16 IX G-34 before the Rent Tribunal, The Rent Tribunal after hearing the parties set aside the order of the Rent Court and remanded the matter for fresh enquiry. The principal reason for this remand was that the landlord had failed to arouse the Gazette Notification regarding this market, value of the Produce during the relevant period and he had also failed to examine any of the landowners of adjacent lands.
3. In this revision brought by the landlord Mr. Palantswami, his learned counsel submitted that the Land Tribunal had completely misconceived its role as an appellate authority under the Act when it desisted from going into the matter in appeal on merits, but preferred to reprint the case. Learned counsel submitted that it is not open to the Rent Tribunal constituted under the Act to shy at entering upon the determination of fair rent merely for the reason that the District Gazette carrying the figures relating to average market prices of the produce had not been produced by the landlord at the hearing.
4. I quite agrees with this point of criticism made by learned counsel. Irairl rent under the Act has got to be fixed by the Rent Court or by the Rent Tribunal as the case may be internal of the formula I-aid down by S. 4 of the Acts. I earlier mentioned the land in question in the present case is of a category, which falls under S. 4 (1) (iii). This means' that the fair rent for the land is to be fixed as equivalent to 33-1/3 per cent of the normal gross produce or its value in money- Normal gross produce in respect of any land is defined under the Act to mean the Produce which would be obtained, if the rain fall and the season were of a normal character, from lands of the same class as the land in question similarly situated and possessing similar advantages. In order to enable the Rent Court and the Rent Tribunal determine the fair rent for any land on the above basis, the Legislature had made appropriate provision in the Act. It had also empowered the rule making authority to lay down guidelines in this regard rules to be prescribed for the in S. 12 of the Act for instance makes it the duty of the District Collector to Publish the average market Prices of the main crops of the district, four times a year, in, January. April. July and October, the average market Prices being related to the preceding three, months on every occasion of publication. The relevant rules framed by the State Government under the Act called the Tamil Nadu Cultivating Tenants (Payment of Fair Rent) Rules make more elaborate provision for enabling the Rent Court and Rent Tribunal to determine the, fair rent in particular cases by reference to relevant data, The Rules also confer requisite powers on the Rent Court and Rent Tribunal by the exercise of which they could get at the relevant data and information. Rule 10 of the Rules provides that for determining the normal gross produce, which has to be ascertained for the fixation of fair rent the Rent Court and the Rent Tribunal may take into consideration such things as the soil of the land. the classification of the land. the normal or standard out turn of Paddy and other produce as adopted in the latest land settlement The same rule further provides that the Rent Court or the Rent Tribunal may take into consideration-
(a) the Government records containing season and crop reports and rainfall accounts,
(b) the accounts of land owners intermediaries. and cultivating tenants, wherever available for similar lands enjoying similar advantages:
(c) the oral or documentary evidence adduced by any of the interested parties and decrees of civil courts.
Rule 15 of the Rules lays down how and in what manner the District Collector should arrive at the average market prices of the main crops of his district. Rule 15 (1) (iii) insists that copies of the notification published in the District Gazette containing the average market Dricetor of the district's main cords shall be kept in the office of the Rent Court and Rent Tribunal concerned. Apart from the materials and sources of materials available to the Rent Courts or Rent Tribunals. Rule 3 empowers both these authorities. in the exercise of their discretion. to enter upon any land and insect and I do any act thereon which, in their duty would further the enquiry. In particular, both these authorities have power to cut and thrash the crops on any land and weigh or measure the produce, with a view to estimating the capabilities of the soil. The Rent Court and the Rent Tribunal also have such Powers as a civil court may have 'in the trial of a suit 07 an appeal. as the case may be. With Particular reference to the issuance and service of summons examination of parties production of documents rectification of apparent errors in the orders and the like.
5. A fair understanding of the nature of the enquiry to be undertaken by the rent, Court in the first instance and by the Rent Tribunal in appeal. in the matter of fixation of fair rent as provided for under Act shows that the inquiry partakes to a certain extent of the character of what is called by American Legal writers as adversary Proceedings. Necessarily therefore, it will have the trappings of a legal controversy between two contestant. But. Then the rules make it quite clear that the be all and end all of the Power both of the Rent Court and Rent Tribunal. is to fix a fair rent on the basis of all available and relevant data. Both the statute and the statutory rules have been. made to the end that these two authorities are supplied with such data without the inhibitions of any formalisms of procedure cluttering uP the enquiry. The provisions relating to the furnishing of figures of average market prices of the main crops of a district, Gazettee them in the District Gazette and makiriv available the Copies of the District Gazette to the Rent Court and Rent Tribunal. have all got to be understood only from the stand point that the task of these two authorities is essentially to get at the requisite material to arrive at the fair rent in the given case. While the genesis of the Proceedings for fixation of fair rent is an application either by the landlord or by the tenant, the subsequent equily as such cannot be likened in all respects to a judicial Proceedings before a common~ law court. Nor can the Rent Court or even the Rent Tribunal make themselves
into the very images of Presidency officers of judicial tribunals. It is sometimes said in legal writings that quasi-judicial tribunals have the trappings of a court without their being. in the true sense, courts of law. I should like to say that the Rent Court and the Rent Tri bunal under this Act. Notwithstanding that their names have a judicial ring about them. are not even pseudo courts. Having regard to the nature of their Power and to the avowed objectives of the Act. I should think that their jurist diction. if I can describe it so. is more of
an administrative character than of a judicial nature. While it may be proper to bring the inquiry into fair rent under the Act within the generic classification of 'quasi judicial' enquiry. the emphasis must be more on the quasi than on the 'judicial'.
6. It is in this light that the justification for the remand in this case has to be judged. I had earlier mentioned that the Rent Tribunal had remanded the whole case for no other reason than that the landlord, for his part. did not Produce before the Tribunal the District Gazette containing the data of market Prices. I dare say the Rent Tribunal itself could have had access to the gazette for the mere asking from its own library. This apart. finding fault with the landlord for not Producing a copy of the gazette is, in my judgment. an act of the Rent Tribunal which is founded on a thorough going misconception of what its role is under the statutory scheme of things. I like to imagine that there might not have been even a remote possibility of a misconception of this kind occurring if the Tribunal had been . recruited from a cadre which is not judicial. 'As it happens. however, the Act demands that the Rent Tribunals be recruited from Judicial Cadre at District Munsif level. it might well be that the particular incumbent of the Rent Tribunal in this case could not shake off his judicial upbringing even while sitting as a Tribunal and might. by, sheer habit, have presided over the inquiry as if it were a court Proceedings. It is even likely that the presence of lawyers in the appeal and their manner of Presentation might have created the illusion of court proceedings and infused a court atmosphere to the entire appeal hearing. But lawyers have a right of audience both before courts and before tribunals and what makes a court a court is not the throng of lawyers before it. but its own inherent judicial quality and the legal sanctions behind its authority. While I find no objection whatever to a Rent Tribunal or to Rent Court bringing to bear : judicial approach. please let them remember always that they are there to fix a fair rent and not decide a law suit.
7. The other reason which the Rent Tribunal advanced for the remand was that the landlord had not called in the testimony of neighboring Property owners and cultivators of adjacent lands. Here again. I do riot think the Rent Tribunal, same as the Rent Court. should have felt handicapped for lack of the evidence of such witnesses. I have earlier referred to Rule 10 of the relevant rules. under which the Rent Code the Rent Tribunal has got to take MD43 Consideration not merely the oral anti documentary evidence adduced by the Parties interested but, must itself take note of (a) the Government records. (b) the accounts of land owners. intermediaries. and cultivating tenants wherever available for similar lands enioyhik similar advantages. Under this rule the Rent Court or the. Rent - Tribunal has got to go into the accounts of land owners. -intermediaries and cultivating tenants. whether or not they are called in evidence at the instance of one or other of the parties. If the Parties call them to the witness box well and -,good. But if they do not, it would still be the bounden duty of the Rent Court or the Rent Tribunal to call for their evidence, if it thinks it would be relevant and it would assist the determination of the fair rent in the given case.
8. I am. therefore, satisfied that the remand made by the Rent Tribunal in this case is not either in the proper exercise or on a Proper understanding of its function as an appellate authority under the Act. I accordingly set aside, that order and direct the Rent. Tribunal to go into the question of fair rent on its own. It is needless to save that at the time of the re-hearing of the appeal. both the parties would be at liberty to place before the Tribunal such further materials as they may think fit. As I earlier mentioned, whether or not they do so. the Tribunal is under a duty to go into the question bringing to bear all its Powers both under the Act and under the statutory rules.
9. One other matter which was raised before me in the course of the hearing of this revision was about the application which the tenant in this case had Preferred before the Rent Court apparently under Section 5 (2) of the Act for revision of the rent. The order of the Rent Tribunal shows that the said application had not had a chance of being dealt with by the Rent Court. Hence the Tribunal had given appropriate directions to the Rent Court to hear and determine that application, I think what the Rent Tribunal did was correct. The pendency of proceedings, for fixation of fair rent before the Rent Tribunal can be no bar to the Rent Court's going into the merits of the application filed by the tenant for revision of rent under Section 5(2) of the Act. This part of the direction of the Rent Tribunal would have to be retained. For the rest as I earlier directed the order of the Rent Tribunal is set aside and the Rent Tribunal will have to hear and determine afresh both the appeals before it, viz, F. R. A. 1 of 1977 and F. R. A. 2 of 1977. There will however be no order as to costs.
10. Order accordingly.