1. The petitioner, the Vellore Shrof Kumarswami Chetty Choultry by Executive Trustee, Sri V. K. Kannappa Chettiar seeks to revise the decree and order of the District Judge in C.R.P. No. 16 of 1968 on his file, setting aside the order of eviction passed by the Rent Controller and affirmed by the appellate authority, on the ground of sub-letting.
2. The petitioner and the respondent entered into the lease Ex. A-1, for the respondent carrying on a laundry business in the leasehold premises. The petitioner came forward with the case that the respondent-tenant sublet the premises to one Mani for running a tea shop. The respondent denied sub-letting and stated that as the income from his laundry business was not sufficient for the maintenance of his increasing family, he started the tea shop agreeing to pay additional rent. On a consideration of the oral and documentary evidence in this case, the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority have in detailed and well-considered orders accepted the case of the petitioner and ordered eviction. The learned District Judge has, in revision filed by the tenant, concurred with the finding of the Rent Controller and affirmed by the appellate authority, that the tea shop was run in the demised premises itself and not in the vacant municipal site as put forward by the respondent-tenant in the course of his evidence. However, for the reasons stated in paragraph 6 of his order, the learned District Judge found that there was no subletting and set aside the orders of the Rent Controller and the appellate authority and dismissed the eviction petition.
3. I entirely agree with the contentions of Sri K. Parasaran that it is for the landlord to establish independently his plea that the respondent-tenant has sublet the premises. It is really unnecessary to refer to the decision in M. K. Palaniappa Chettiar v. Ponnusami Pillai, 1970 1 SC WR 487 in support of the said obvious proposition. But, as already pointed out, the Rent Controller and the appellate authority have in well considered orders accepted the case of the landlord. Even a reading of paragraph 6 of the order of the learned District Judge will show that the reasons given by him are not sufficient and would not justify interference with the concurrent findings of the Rent Controller and the appellate authority, even giving full scope to the words in Section 25 of the Madras Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act defining the revisional jurisdiction of the district Court.
4. the learned District Judge has observed on the strength of the evidence of the Sanitary Inspector, P.W. 2, that both the laundry and the tea shop were simultaneously run in the demised premises and that the tea shop was run by one Mani in whose name the licence had been obtained and the said Mani should have been working under the tenant. I fail to appreciate the reasoning as to how the fact that the licence was taken in the name of Mani would show that he was working under the tenant. If the respondent-tenant had been running the tea shop as his own, he would have taken the licence in his name. The reasoning of the learned District Judge is obviously perverse. The next observation made by the learned District judge is that Mani would not have easily agreed to the transfer of the licence in the name of the tenant. He relied on the application Ex. A-4 wherein Mani, who is referred to as Subramani has admitted that he was working under the tenant only for wages. The respondent-tenant has got into trouble by subletting the premises to Mani, who had obtained a licence for running a tea shop and the respondent has made a clumsy attempt to improve his case by getting a transfer of the licence in his own name. The learned District Judge has not considered whether the statement of Mani in his application would be admissible at all as evidence in this case. Both according to the petitioner and the respondent, Mani has no independent title. According to the petitioner, he is a sub-tenant and according to the respondent-tenant, Mani is only his employee. The admission made by such a person cannot be made use of in favour of the respondent-tenant unless it could be brought within Section 21 of the Indian Evidence Act dealing with proof of admissions against persons making them and by or on their behalf. It is true that if Mani were dead, the statement could be used under clause (2) of Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act and as such it would be admissible as evidence. But here again, the learned District Judge has not adverted to the fact pointed out by the learned Subordinate Judge that the transfer application was made after the Rent Control application was filed. Sir Parasaran fairly conceded that he could not support this part of the order of the learned District Judge.
5. A reading of the order of the learned District Judge leaves an impression that subletting a part of the leasehold premises will not entail liability for eviction. But it is clear from Section 10(2)(ii)(a) of the Madras Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act that a tenant cannot without the written consent of the landlord transfer his right under the lease or sublet the entire building or any portion thereof, if the lease does not confer on him any right to do so. Hence if a tenant sublets even a portion of the leasehold premises., it will entail liability for eviction. Therefore, the observations of the learned. District Judge 'Even if mani had paid any rent for running his tea stall in one portion of the demised premises (for which there is absolutely no evidence), while the tenant was running his laundry in another portion, even then it will not amount to subletting' is not correct.
6. It is clear from the observation of the learned District Judge extracted above that in his opinion there is no evidence about payment of rent. The learned Rent Controller has rightly pointed out that it is difficult to get direct evidence about the sublease by the tenant and it is a fact which can be proved as much by circumstantial evidence as by direct evidence. It is really unnecessary to deal with this matter in detail, having regard to the pleadings of the parties.. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ..(His Lordship discussed the evidence and proceeded).
There is nothing illegal or improper in the orders of eviction passed by the Rent Controller and affirmed by the appellate authority which would justify and interference in revision by the learned District Judge.
7. Sri Parasaran relied on paragraph 1221 (at page 523) of Woodfall's Law of Landlord and Tenant, Vol. I, in support of his contention that 'So long as the lessee remains in possession, he must permit another person to use the demised premised without committing a breach of a convenant 'not to assign, underlet or part with the possession of the demised premises'. Thus in Venkatarama Chettiar v. duraiswami Mudaliar and Co., : (1963)1MLJ125 , It was held by this court that where the evidence only established that the tenant of a premises permitted another to sell vegetables in baskets in a pial of the building on payment of daily rent, it would not amount to subletting as there was no parting with possession by the tenant or giving exclusive possession to the sub-tenant. The above passage in Woodfall's Law of Landlord and Tenant and the decision proceeded on the footing that there was no sublease, but only a licence. It is enough to point out that the tenant has not put forward any plea at any time that Mani was only a licencee. Once the petitioner has established that there was subletting by the respondent-tenant to Mani, there is really no need to go into the question of any licence, unless it is specifically urged and evidence adduced in respect of the same.
8. Sri Parasaran has referred to the decisions in Hari Sankar v. Girdharilal, AIR 1963 SC 698 and Pooranchand v. Motilal : AIR1964SC461 , as regards the scope of revision by the District Court under Section 25 of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act and by this court under section 115, C. P. Code. Though these two decisions of the Supreme Court have dealt with the Delhi and Ajmer Rent Control Act, the principles therein are equally applicable in deciding cases arising under Section 25 of the Madras Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act and under s. 115, C. P. Code.
9. It is clear from what I have already stated that the orders passed by the Rent Controller and the appellate authority are legal and proper and there was therefore no jurisdiction for the district Judge to interfere in revision under S. 25 of the Madras Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act. Therefore, this is a fit case for this court to interfere in revision and restore the orders of the Rent Controller affirmed by the appellate authority. Accordingly, the civil revision petition is allowed, the order of the learned District Judge is set aside and the order of the Rent Controller, affirmed by the appellate authority is restored. The petitioner is entitled to costs throughout.
10. Revision allowed.