1. This matter comes before us in the following circumstances. The petitioners and respondents herein are the plaintiffs and defendants respectively in C. S. No. 547 of 1979 on the file of this court which later stood transferred to the City Civil Court at Madras and numbered as 0. S. 2646 of 1981 as a result of the enhancement of the jurisdiction of the City Civil Court by the City Civil Court Amendment Act (Tamil Nadu Act 34 of 1980). When the matter was pending before the City Civil Court an application was filed by the petitioner-plaintiffs in Tr. C. M. P. 4374 of 1981 under Art. 228 of the Constitution of India for withdrawal of the~ said suit from the City Civil Court for disposal by the High Court. The said application was allowed by a Division Bench of this court and the suit was withdrawn for disposal by this court. Since all cases which are transferred or withdrawn by the High Court under Art. 228 of the Constitution are to be heard by a Bench in view of O. 1, R. 2 (8) of the Appellate Side Rules of this Court, the suit itself has come up before us for disposal in the form of a referred case.
2. Before going into the various factual and legal contentions raised in the pleadings, the facts which are not in controversy between the parties may briefly be stated. One Messrs Bapalal & Co., a firm of diamond merchants and jewellers (plaintiffs in the suit) were lessees of a portion of the premises called 'Ramakoti buildings' at No. 47-51 Irusappa Maistry Street, also known as Rattan Bazar, Madras-3 from about the year 1938. On 25-4-1949 one S. V. Ramakrishna Mudaliar, the owner of the premises agreed to execute a lease deed in their favour according to the terms and conditions mentioned therein for ''a period of 15 years. However, as the said Ramakrishna Mudaliar (7th defendant) failed to execute the lease deed as agreed upon, the plaintiffs had filed a suit C. S. No. 238 of 1950 on the file of this Court for specific performance of the said agreement dated 25-4-1949. The said suit was decreed on 22-8-50. But the 7th defendant had failed to execute the lease deed as per the decree. Therefore, the court executed a lease deed dated 6-8-1951, for a period of 15 years from 1-8-1949. Since the said lease deed provided for an option for renewal of the lease in favour of the plaintiff for a further period of 15 years from 1-8-1964 on the same terms and conditions, the plaintiffs exercised their option by their letter dated 30-1-1964 and called on the 7th defendant to execute and register a lease deed for that purpose. Since the 7th defendant refused to renew the lease, the plaintiffs again filed O. S. 4547 of 1966 on the file of the City Civil Court, Madras for the specific performance of the agreement to renew. The said suit was decreed after contest on 21-9-1970. There was an appeal by the 7th defendant in A. S. No. 170 of 1971. In that appeal there was a decree by consent on 2-5-1975 and pursuant to the said compromise decree, the trial court executed a lease deed on 26-8-1977 on behalf of the 7th defendant for a period of 25 years from 1-5-1975 on condition that the plaintiffs pay Rs. 750 per month as rent from 1-5-1975 to 31-7-1985 at Rs. 875 per month from 1-8-1985 to 31-7-1990, at Rs. 1000 per month from 3-8-1990 to 31-7-1995 and at Rs. 1,125 per month from 1-8-1995 to 31-7-2000. Subsequently the 7th defendant had sold the premises to defendants 1 to 6 under a registered sale deed dated 12-3-1979. Defendants 1 to 6 by their letter dated 15-3-1979 informed the plaintiffs of their purchase of the premises from the 7th defendant and called upon them to at torn and Pay the rents to them. The plaintiffs expressed their willingness by their letter dated 30-4-1979 to attorn to defendants 1 to 6 under the terms of the lease deed dated 26-8-1977. Defendants 1 to 6 thereafter filed before the Rent Controller on 3-4-1979 two petitions one for fixation of fair rent at Rs. 12,150 under S. 4 of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1960 in the place of the agreed rent of Rs. 750 per month as per the lease deed and the other for eviction of the plaintiffs under S. 14(1)(b) of the said Act, on the ground of demolition and reconstruction. The plaintiffs had been served with notices in the said two petitions. As soon as the plaintiffs received notices from the Rent Controller in the two petitions, they have come forward with the present suit seeking following reliefs:-
(a) For declaring that the rights and liabilities between the plaintiffs as lessees and the defendants 1 to 7 as lessors are exclusively governed by the lease deed dated 26-8-1977 and by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act. 1882;
(b) for declaring that the Rent Controller has no jurisdiction to entertain and Proceed with H. R. C. Petitions Nos. 1146 and 1147 of 1979;
(c) for declaring that the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1960 is wholly ultra vires and void and restraining the State of Tamil Nadu by injunction from taking any action under the Act or enforcing the provisions of the Act;
(d) for declaring that sub-clause (iii) in Sec. 30 of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1960 exempting non-residential buildings with rent above Rs. 400 per month inserted by Tamil Nadu Act 2 of 1962 is in force notwithstanding the purported repeal thereof by Tamil Nadu Act 11 of 1964.
3. The above reliefs have been claimed by the plaintiffs on the basis of the following contentions which have been raised in the plaint. (1) The petitions filed by defendants 1 to 6 for fixation of fair rent and for eviction are not maintainable in law as the Act is unconstitutional, ultra vires and void. (2) The State Legislature had no legislative competence to enact the Act in question under Entry 18 of List II or under Entry 6 of List III of the 7th Schedule to the Constitution for the expression 'land' occurring in Entry 18 cannot include buildings nor will it amount to transfer of property other than agricultural land occurring in Entry 6 of List III of the 7th Schedule. (3) Even if the Act is taken to be a law with respect to 'Transfer of property falling in Entry 6 of List II, the entire Act which is a post-Constitutional law is unconstitutional and void as repugnant to and violative of the fundamental rights to acquire and own property and carry on business guaranteed by Art. 19(1) M and (g) of the Constitution and the right to equal protection of the laws guaranteed by Art. 14 of the Constitution as leasehold right is an interest in immovable property. (4) The Act is also void because the assent given by the President under Art. 201 of the Constitution is not a valid assent and therefore the Bill never became an Act at all. (5) In any event, the provisions of Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1960 hereinafter referred to as the Act, cannot be invoked until after the expiry of the lease granted in favour of the plaintiffs and that the rights and liabilities of the lessors and lessees have to be determined only with reference to the terms of the lease until the expiry of the lease period. (6) S. 30 of the Act as amended by Tamil Nadu Act 11 of 1964 brings in all nonresidential buildings within the scope of the Act while residential buildings fetching a rent of above Rs, 400 per month have been exempted from the provisions of the Act and therefore the denial of exemption for non-residential buildings fetching rents above Rs. 400 per month while such exemption is available for residential buildings is ultra vires as violating Art, 14 of the Constitution.
4. The suit is resisted only by defendants 1 to 6. Their contentions are- (1) That the main issue raised in the suit as to whether during the subsistence of a registered lease for a specific period the Act is applicable has been decided by a Full Bench of this court in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 and it has been affirmed by the Supreme Court and therefore that issue is conclusive and that it is no longer open to the plaintiffs to reagitate that issue. (2) As the relationship of lessor and lessee is governed by the provisions of the Act, and not by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act, the plaintiffs are, entitled to maintain the two applications, one for fixation of fair rent and the other for eviction of the plaintiffs before the Rent Controller. (3) The Rent Control Act is not ultra vires and void as contended by the plaintiffs and the Legislative competence of the State to enact the Act has been sustained by this court under Entry 18 of List II in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 . (4) Even if the Act were to be taken as falling under Entry 6 of List III, since the assent of the President has been obtained under Art. 254(2) the State law will prevail over the existing law, that is, the Transfer of Property Act. (5) The Act is not violative of the fundamental rights of the plaintiffs to acquire property and to carry on business under Art. 19(1)(f) and (g) of the Constitution and that in fact Art, 19(1)M has since been omitted from the Constitution and that the Act does not deal with or affect the right of the plaintiffs to carry on business. (6) The assent of the President obtained under Art. 201 of the Constitution is valid and that even otherwise presumed to be valid under S. 114 of the Evidence Act and Art. 261 of the Constitution and that the validity of the Presidential assent cannot be questioned in a court of law in view of Arts. 74(2) and 122 of the Constitution, (7) As per the decision of this court in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court the Act is a complete Code and operates even in respect of contractual leases. (8) The amendment to the Act bringing all non-residential buildings within the purview of the Act is not discriminatory and illegal as alleged by the plaintiffs.
5. The 8th defendant, State of Tamil Nadu has filed a written statement contending that the State Legislature's competence to enact the law in question under Entry 18 of List 11 cannot be disputed and that even if the law is taken to be one under the Concurrent List, the same will prevail over the existing Central Law in view of the President's assent, that the amendment made to S. 30 of the Act withdrawing the exemption originally granted in respect of non-residential buildings fetching a rent of more than Rs. 400 per month is intra vires the State Legislature that the section as amended has also been held valid by the Full Bench in Raval's case : AIR1967Mad57 , that the Act is a complete Code applying to all tenancies whether contractual or statutory that the Act does not violate any of the plaintiffs' fundamental right to acquire or own property or to carry on business and that t he assent given by the President is valid.
6. The 9th defendant did not file any written statement apart from the written statement filed by the State of Tamil Nadu, the 8th defendant.
7. With reference to the above pleadings the following issues arise for considerations :-
(1) Are defendants 1 to 6 entitled to take proceedings for eviction of the plaintiffs or for fixation of fair rent under the provisions of the Act during the subsistence of the registered lease deed dated 26-8-1977 fixing the term from 1-5-1975 to 31-7-2000?
(2) Are the rights and liabilities of the plaintiffs as lessees and the defendants 1 to 7 as lessors exclusively governed by the lease deed and the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act 1882, and not by the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1960 during the subsistence of the lease as claimed by the plaintiffs?
(3) Does the Act fall under Entry 18 of List II of the 7th Schedule or whether it falls under Entry 6 of List III?
(4) If the law is taken to fall under Entry 18 of List 11 is the President competent to give any assent thereto under clause (2) of Art. 254 of the Constitution?
(5) Whether the assent given by the President for the Act in question is invalid for any reason?
(6) Whether the Amending Act 11 of 1964 is violative of the plaintiffs' fundamental rights conferred by Arts. 14 and 19?
(7) Whether the Act is so far as it converts the contractual tenancy into a statutory tenancy even before the expiry of the term is unconstitutional and void?
(8) Are the plaintiffs entitled to the reliefs claimed in the plaint?
8. The Counsel on both sides represented that they are not adducing any oral evidence as all the issues raised in the suit relate to questions of law they are prepared to proceed with the case on the basis of the pleadings and the documents filed and marked in the case. By consent of parties, Exs. p. 1 to P. 17 were marked. Ex, P. I to P. 5 relate to the various earlier proceedings between the plaintiffs and their lessor, the 7th defendant which ultimately led to the execution of the lease deed Ex. P. 6 dated 26-8-1977, and they are relevant only to that extent. Ex. P. 6 was a lease deed executed by the City Civil Court in O. S. 4547 of 1966 in favour of the plaintiffs in relation to the suit property for a period of 25 years from 1-5-197 5 to 31-7-2000 at a slab rate of rent. The said lease deed provides that the lessee has to pay the rent at the rate of Rupees 750 p.m. from 1-5-1975 to 31-7-1985, at Rs. 875 p.m. from 1-8-1985 to 31-71990, at Rs. 1000 p.m. from 1-8-1990 to 31-7-1995 and at Rs. 1125 p.m. from 1-8-1995 to 31-7-2000 and that the said rent is payable on or before the 10th of every month. Clauses Nos. 3 to 6 relate to the purpose for which the premises are to be used. Clause 9 provides that the lessees are entitled to sublet the entire premises demised to them or any portion thereof. Clause 17 provides that on the lessees paying the rent reserved and otherwise fulfilling the conditions and covenants, positive or negative on their Part to be Performed they shall reasonably and quietly Possess and enjoy the demised premises without any unlawful interruption or disturbance by the lessor or any person lawfully or equitably claiming through him during the continuance of the lease.
9. Clause 19 provides that on the termination of the lease or sooner determination thereof, the lessee shall quit and deliver vacant possession of the premises demised to them by the lessor in the same condition as it was let out to them subject to usual wear and tear. Clause 20 provides that if the lessees commit default in payment of the rent reserved for three months either consecutively or in the aggregate, or if the lessees violate any of the terms and conditions and covenants on their part, positive or negative, then the lease shall at the option of the lessor be absolutely determined irrespective of the period mentioned in the document and it shall be lawful for the lessor in that event to enter upon the demised premises and to take possession of the same. The other clauses in the lease deed are not quite material for the purpose of this case. Ex. P. 7 is the letter dated 15-3-1979 by which the original lessor, the 7th defendant writes to the plaintiffs intimating the sale of the property in favour of defendants 1 to 6 and asking them to attorn the tenancy in their favour and to pay the rents due by them thereafter to the purchasers. Ex. P. 8 is a letter dated 15-3-1979 by defendants 1 to 6 informing the plaintiffs of their purchase of the property and calling upon them to pay the rents to them for the building. Ex. P. 9 dated 30-4-1979 is a letter written by the plaintiffs to the purchasers, defendants 1 to 6 recognising them as purchasers and attorning tenancy to them strictly in terms of the lease deed dated 26-8-1977 in their favour. Ex. P. 10 is the copy of the petition filed by defendants 1 to 6 in H. R. C. 1146 of 1979, for fixation of fair rent in relation to the suit property at Rs. 12150 per month under S. 4 of the Act. Ex. P. 11 is copy of the petition filed in H. R. C. No. 1147 of 1979 under S. 14(1)(b) for eviction of the plaintiffs from the suit premises on the ground that they require the premises bona fide for the immediate purpose of demolition and reconstruction, Ex. P. 12 is a communication sent by the State Government the 8th defendant to the Govt. of India seeking the assent of the President for the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1959. Ex. P. 13 is a communication received from the Government of India by the State Government informing the State Government that the President has assented to the Bill and enclosing an authentic copy of the Bill with the President's assent signified thereon, Ex. P. 14 is a communication sent by the State Government to the Government of India seeking the assent of the President for the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Amending Bill 1962. Ex. P. 15 is the communication received from the Government of India by the State Government informing the State Government that the President has given assent to the Bill under Article 201 of the Constitution of India and enclosing authentic copies of the Bills with the President's assent signified thereon. Exs. P. 16 and P. 17 are similar communications between the State Government and Central Government regarding the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Amendment Bill 1964. In the light of the above documents and the legal contentions urged by the parties we shall consider the various issues.
10. Issue No. 3: As already stated according to the plaintiffs the Act will not fall either under Entry 18 of List II or under Entry 6 of List III, while according to the defendants the Act will fall under Entry 18 of List II in respect of which the State Government has got the exclusive power to make the law. The question as to whether the power of the Legislature to make rent control law could be traced to any of the Entries in the State List or the Concurrent List, came up for consideration before a Full Bench of this court in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 , and this court held that Entry 18 of List II of the 7th Schedule to the Constitution includes relationship of landlord and tenant and rights in or over land and. therefore, there is no room for doubt regarding the legislative competence of the State to enact Act 18 of 1960. Though the decision of the Full Bench was taken in appeal to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court affirmed the Full Bench decision in Raval and Co. v. K. G. Ramachandran, : 2SCR629 , the point as to the legislative competence was not dealt with by the Supreme Court. However, in an earlier case in Indu Bhusan v. Rama Sundari, : 1SCR443 the Supreme Court had held that Entry 18 of List If permits legislation in respect of land which could be equated with rights in or over land, land tenures, including the relationship of landlord and tenant and the collection of rents. that as the relationship of landlord and tenant is mentioned as being included in land tenures and the expression 'land tenures' would not, appropriately cover tenancy of buildings or of house accommodation, as that expression is only used with reference to relationship between landlord and tenant in respect of vacant land and that therefore any lease in respect of non-agricultural property which is dealt with in the Transfer of Property Act will much more appropriately fall within the scope of Entry 6 of List III read with Entry 7 in the same List in the 7th Schedule to the Constitution. However, the learned Judges felt that it is not necessary for them to express any definite opinion in that case as the relationship of landlord and tenant in respect of house accommodation situated in Cantonment areas is clearly covered by the Entries in List 1. The question specifically came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Dhanapal v, Yesodai, : 1SCR334 , wherein their Lordships noted the conflict of opinion between the High Courts of Bombay, Nagpur and Patna taking the view that the relationship of landlord and tenant will fall under Entry 18 of List II and the High Courts of Calcutta and Rajasthan taking the view that it will not fall under Entry 18 of List 11 but will fall under Entries 6, 7 and 13 of List III and accepted the view of the Calcutta and Rajasthan High Courts as correct and expressed the view that the topic of transfer of property other than agricultural land is covered by Entry 6 of List III of the 7th Schedule to the Constitution. Following the said decision of the Supreme 'Court we have to hold that the State Legislature has got the legislative competence to enact the law in question under Entries 6 and 8 f List III and not under Entry 18 of List II, as held by the Full Bench in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 . The decision of the Full Bench so far as it relates to the question of legislative competence to enact the Act in question should be taken to be no longer good law having regard to the view taken by the Supreme Court in the subsequent decisions that the rent control legislation actually falls under Entry 6 of List III but not under Entry 18 of List II. The learned Advocate-General appearing for the 8th defendant and the counsel appearing for the other defendants have fairly conceded this position. Therefore, we hold on issue No. 3, that the Act is one falling under Entries 6 and 7 of List III.
11. Issue No. 4: Having regard to our finding on issue 3 this issue as to whether the President has got the power to give assent in respect of matters covered by List II does not arise for consideration.
12. Issue No. 5: Mr. V. K. T. Chari, learned counsel appearing for the plaintiffs, contends with reference to this issue as follows: The President is under an obligation to apply his mind to the question whether the law which the State Legislature wants to make for the particular State differing from the law made by the Centre was necessary or not, and when the validity of the assent of the, President is questioned on the ground that the President has not applied his mind to the consideration which he should take into account while giving his assent or refusing his assent it is not questioning the validity of the proceedings of the Legislature of the State or the Parliament. If the President had not taken into account the relevant considerations or had taken irrelevant considerations the assent has to be struck down by the court with the consequence that the law for which assent has been given will become void. In support of this submission reference has been made to the decision of this court in Sowdambigai Motor Service, Dharapuram v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1979) 92 Mad LW 565. As against this the learned counsel for the defendants contends that the assent given by the President is not open to attack in a court of law in view of Arts. 74(2) and 122 of the Constitution and that, in any event, the assent given by the President in this case is strictly in accordance with Article 254(2). In this case the assent is sought to be invalidated on the ground that the President was not made aware of the repugnancy between the proposed State Law (Rent Control Act) and the existing Central Law (the Transfer of Property Act) in Ex. P. 12, which does not indicate the extent to which the State law is repugnant to the earlier existing Central Law. It is said that in this case, Ex. P. 12 does not exactly indicate how far the proposed State Act is repugnant to the provisions of the existing Central law and any assent given without considering the extent and the nature of the repugnancy should be taken to be no assent at all. However, a perusal of Ex. P. 12 shows that S. 10 of the Act has been referred as a provision which can be said to be repugnant to the Provisions of the Civil Procedure Code and the Transfer of Property Act which are existing laws on the concurrent subject. Further, a copy of the Bill has been reserved for the consideration of the President under Art. 254(2) of the Constitution. Therefore, even if the State Legislature did not point out the provisions of the Bill which are repugnant to the existing Central Law. the President should be presumed to have gone through the Bill to see whether any of the provisions is repugnant to the Central Law and whether such a legislation is to be permitted before giving assent to the Bill. Merely because the State Government when seeking the assent of the President does not indicate the exact provisions which are repugnant to the earlier Central Law under concurrent List, the assent given by the President cannot be said to be invalid, According to the learned Advocate-General inconsistency between the proposed law and the existing Central Law has been pointed out under Ex. P. 12, and the Bill has been sent for scrutiny and that the Central Government should be taken to know its job while considering the question as to whether the assent is to be given or withheld, and, therefore, there is no room for any contention that the assent in this case is not valid.
13. It is seen that a similar plea was taken before the Supreme Court in Khajamian Wakf Estate v. State of Madras, : 2SCR790 , but the Supreme Court repelled the said plea with the following observation-
'In order to avoid the bar of Art. 31-A a curious plea was put forward. It was urged that when the concerned Bills were submitted to the President for his assent as required by the first proviso to Art. 31-A, the President was not made aware of the implications of the Bills. This contention is a wholly untenable one. There is no material before us from which we could conclude that the President or his advisers were unaware of the implications of those Bills. We must proceed on the basis that the President has given his assent to those Bills after duly considering the implications of the provisions contained therein,'
In Ramachandra Rao v. A. P. Regional Committee, : AIR1965AP306 , certain members of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly sought an injunction from the court to restrain the Council of Ministers from presenting two Bills to the Governor for assent under Article 200 of the Constitution. The court took the view that under Art. 163 of the Constitution the Governor is an essential part of the Legislature, that Art. 200 enjoins that a bill passed by both the Legislatures of the State shall be presented to the Governor and that is undoubtedly an essential legislative process and therefore a court of law will not interfere with it. It is on the basis of this, the court had expressed the view (at p. 314)-
'The attempt of the petitioners is to persuade this court to interfere with the proceedings of the Legislature in the formative stages of an enactment. I do not think this court can or should accede to this request. The sovereignty of the legislature vouchsafed by Arts. 194, 208 and 212, not to speak of the general scheme and structure of our Constitution, is a potent factor and a decisive answer against the petitioners in this regard. In several cases, the High Courts in India have refused to interfere with the Legislative processes in the passage of bills in the Legislature. It is unnecessary to dwell upon these decisions at length. The view adopted by the High Courts is against interference with the internal procedure of the Legislature.'
14. In Subbachariar v. State of Madras. (1967) 1 MLJ 206 the assent given by the President for the Madras Inams (Amendment) Act (XL of 1956) was questioned on the ground that the assent of the President has been obtained to a colourable legislation. Dealing with that question, a Division Bench of this court observed -
'We agree with learned counsel that reservation of a Bill for consideration and assent by the President is not a mere matter of form. As we see it, it is an essential and important part of the machinery of law-making set up by the Constitution. Bearing in mind the practice that had been obtaining in Constitutions of the Colonies and Dominions of the British Commonwealth, including the Constitution under the Government of India Act 1935, we think it may be safely assumed that when a Bill is reserved by a Governor of a State for consideration of the President, the Bill will be examined by the Law Advisors of the President.'
15. These observations have been approved by another Bench in a subsequent decision of this court in Kannappa Chetti v. State of Tamil Nadu, : (1973)2MLJ212 . The same view has been taken in Khajamian Wakf Estates v. State of Madras, : 2SCR790 . Having regard to the view taken in the above decisions, we are not inclined to hold that the assent of the President given for the Act in question was no assent at all as contended by the learned counsel for the plaintiffs for two reasons, (1) the inconsistency has in fact been, pointed out by the State Government while seeking the assent from the President in Ex. P. 12 and (2) that even otherwise the Bill having been sent for the scrutiny of the Parliament, the President should be taken to have scrutinised the Bill before giving his assent with the assistance of his legal advisers. We therefore hold under issue No. 5 that the assent of the President has not been shown to be invalid.
16. Issue No. 6: According to Mr. V. K. T. Chari, learned counsel for plaintiffs, even if the assent in this case is taken to be valid under Art. 254(2) of the Constitution, the Act must be subject to Art. 14. According to the learned counsel there is no reason as to why a different treatment is given for landlords in Tamil Nadu alone and even if the Parliament has made such a law it will offend Art. 14. Having regard to the necessity felt by the State Legislature of having a State Legislation on a topic in a concurrent list with reference to which there is already an existing Central Act, the principle of uniformity or equality cannot be applied. If uniformity is to be insisted then there cannot be any law made by the State Legislature different from the Central Law. It is not. therefore, Possible to hold that the Act in question even if taken as one assented to by the President under Article 254(2) of the Constitution offends the equality clause under Art. 14.
17. Mr. V. K. T. Chari then contends that the Act in so far as it affects the leasehold interest which is an interest in immovable property violates Art. 19 of the Constitution in that the lessee's right to be in peaceful possession so long as he Pays the rent reserved is taken away and his tenancy right is made precarious. It is no doubt true that the tenant's leasehold interest is an interest in immovable property and such a right will naturally be affected if that right is taken away or substantially interfered with by making the provisions of the Act applicable to the lease. But the question is whether the provisions of the Act can be considered to be reasonable restrictions on the Plaintiffs' leasehold interest. This question has also been dealt with by the Full Bench in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 . After referring to the legislative history of the Amending Act 11 of 1964 and after referring to the decisions of the Supreme Court, the court held that there is no basis for the plea of hostile discrimination or the inequality of treatment either with regard to the Amending Act 11 of 11964 or with regard to the original Act of 1960, that the successive enactments have embodied a perfectly rational principle of classification, that the criteria and their application have been evolved, from time to time, in accordance with the needs of this class of citizens and that there is a clear and discernible nexus between the object of the measure and the differentia themselves and that if any group of tenants occupying residential buildings with a rent of over Rs. 250 per mensern do not have the protection of these beneficial laws,. Dealing with the plea of violation of Art. 19 of the Constitution either upon Amending Act 11 of 1964 or upon the 1960 Act, the Full Bench after noting the various decisions of the Supreme Court dealing with the scope of Art. 19 observed (at P. 72)-
'Indeed, we think it would be almost impossible to sustain any doctrine of the inviolability of contractual rights, in the context of the welfare legislation, which has become so marked a characteristic of modem times. It is difficult to see how, if a legislature would enact that an exorbitant rate of interest could be struck down by a court and the debtor relieved against this, notwithstanding the terms of a contract, it cannot validly enact that both a landlord and tenant may apply for the determination of fair rent for premises. though the contract may be subsisting. The same remarks would be applicable to many other restrictions upon property, imposed in numerous fields of human activity, which have been held to be reasonable.'
18. In view of the said decision of the Full Bench of this Court which is binding on us, we have to reject the said contention, raised by the plaintiffs based on the violation of Arts. 14 and 19 of the Constitution. This issue is therefore held against the plaintiffs.
19. Issue No. 7 : According to Mr. V. K. T. Chari, learned counsel for the plaintiffs, normally a statutory tenancy comes into operation only after the expiration of the contractual lease and the same position prevails in England. From the legislative history of the Rent Control legislation in this State it is clear that the Act was intended to cover small tenancies such as tenancies from month to month which in their nature are precarious. Even in the case of residential buildings, it is only small buildings fetching a monthly rents of not exceeding Rs. 400, that are covered by the Act and the tenancies in relation to other residential buildings are not covered. However, with reference to non-residential buildings the Act is made to apply for all tenancies without reference to the monthly rent payable. Even so, the Act will apply only in cases of monthly tenancies and in cases where the tenant holds over after the expiry of the lease. The Act is not intended to operate during the subsistence of the contractual lease. Even apart from the said general submission, the learned counsel submits that there is no provision in the Act specially and specifically interfering with or taking away the rights and liabilities under the Transfer of Property Act as between the landlord and the tenant before the determination of the lease and that as a matter of fact a contractual tenant does not need the protection under the Act during the subsistence of the contractual lease and that he needs protection only after the expiry of the lease. According to him a proper construction of S. 10 of the Act would show that where a tenant is liable to be evicted he gets protection under that section and that, where he is not liable to be evicted as per the contractual lease he does not need the protection under S. 10. If S. 10 is construed as applicable to contractual tenancies also then the Act instead of giving him protection will expose him to an order of eviction which the lessor will not be entitled to under the contractual lease. Therefore, the Act which is intended to confer a protection mainly on the tenants cannot be construed as prejudicing the tenant and depriving him of the rights under the general law. Therefore, the proper view to take is that the Act applies only when the contractual tenancy comes to an end and not before. The learned counsel further submits that the reasoning of the Full Bench in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 that the Act abrogates and repeals the 'Transfer of Property Act as it is a complete Code is not correct and the decision of the Full Bench to that extent requires reconsideration. According to him Tamil Nadu Act from the beginning applies only to certain named municipal areas and other notified towns or areas and from this it is clear that in the other non-notified areas in the State of Tamil Nadu the Transfer of Property Act is fully applicable. Further even in the named and notified areas, the Act by S. 30 limits its operation to particular tenancies. In respect of tenancies for which a rent of above the limit prescribed is charged the Transfer of Property Act continues to apply. Therefore the Act cannot be said to abrogate or repeal the Transfer of Property Act. In view of the fact that the Transfer of Property Act admittedly continues to apply to areas or tenancies to which the Rent Control Act does not apply, the decision of the Full Bench that the Rent Control Act abrogates the Transfer of Property Act is not good law. This is particularly so in view of the decisions of the Supreme Court in Firm Sardarilal Viswa Nath v. Pritam Singh, : 1SCR111 and Dhanapal v, Yesodai, : 1SCR334 .
20. In the first case the court seems to by-pass its settled distinction drawn in some earlier cases between State Rent Control legislation which is a complete Code and lease legislation which is only a supplement to the Transfer of Property Act, and held that the position which emerged was that S. 116 of the Transfer of Property Act, underwent a basic change when the Rent Restriction Act was put in the statute book and that therefore a lessee holding over and as such a statutory lessee cannot seek any assistance from the provisions contained in See. 116 of the, Transfer of Property Act. In Dhanapal's case, : 1SCR334 , the question was whether it is necessary to give a notice under S. 106 of the Transfer of Property Act to terminate the tenancy so as to enable the owner to seek eviction of the tenant. Dealing with that question the Supreme Court held that if a case is made out for the tenant's eviction in accordance with the provisions of the Rent Control Act, he can be evicted, that the tenancy actually terminates on passing of the order for eviction and, therefore, the giving of notice is only a mere surplus act. The following observations are relevant (at P. 1750) -
'It is true that the Rent Act is intended to restrict the rights which the landlord possessed either for charging excessive rents or for eviction of tenants. But if within the ambit of those restricted rights, he made out his case, it is a mere empty formality to ask him to determine the contractual tenancy before institution of a suit for eviction. As we have pointed out above, this was necessary under the Transfer of Property Act as mere termination of the lease entitled the landlord to recover possession. But under Rent Control Acts it becomes an unnecessary technicality to insist that the landlord must determine the contractual tenancy.'
21. The learned counsel, however, relies on the following observation in that king his stand that so long case as the contractual tenancy is enforced the tenant does not need any protection under the Act and therefore the Act is not intended to apply during the currency of the contractual tenancy:
'Now if the lease of immovable property determines in any one of the modes prescribed under S. 111, the contract of lease comes to an end and the landlord can exercise his right of reentry. This right of re-entry is further restricted and fettered by the provisions of the Rent Restriction Act. Nonetheless the contract of lease expired and the tenant lessee continues in possession under the protective wing of the Rent Restriction Act until the lessee loses protection.'
Reference has also been made to the decision in Biswabani Pvt. Ltd. v. V. Santosh Kumar, : 1SCR650 . There, there was a registered lease from 1948 to 31-8-1953. After the expiry of the lease, the tenant filed an application to fix the standard rent and the landlord filed a suit in ejectment. There was a consent decree under which the tenant was to get a new lease for five years from 1-3-1955 to 28-2-1959. However, no lease deed was drawn up, executed and registered. Since the tenant's possession was sought to be disturbed he filed a suit for declaration of his status as a tenant and for an injunction either prohibitory or mandatory. Their Lordships of the Supreme Court held that the contractual tenancy for the period 1948 to 1953, having come to an end the tenant became a statutory tenant remaining in possession and he acquires the status of irremovability, that a statutory tenant being a person who enjoys the status of irremovability until he is evicted from the premises under the enabling provisions of the statute that the statutory tenancy will come to an end on either the surrender of the premises by such tenant or after a decree for his eviction is passed against him and therefore, the tenant would be entitled to protect his possession unless evicted in due course of law and in order to protect his possession the law does not bar him from filing a suit for declaration of his status as a tenant. The learned counsel for the plaintiffs' relies on some of the observations in the above decisions which are to the effect that the statutory tenancy comes into existence after the contractual tenancy comes to an end as running counter to the view taken by the Full Bench in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 , that even during the currency of the contractual tenancy the Rent Control Act will be applicable. According to the learned counsel there is a clear cut distinction between a contractual tenancy and a statutory tenancy and both cannot co-exist and, therefore, the statutory tenancy should come into existence only after the expiry of the contractual tenancy. It is also pointed out by the learned counsel that the development of law has been from status to contract and this concept has been reversed by the Rent Control legislations which proceed to make a transition from contract to status. The Full Bench had to consider in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 , the following four questions-
(1) Do the Madras Acts including the latest Amending Act XI of 1964, enact a self-contained Code governing all relationships between landlords and tenants, during their subsistence including contractual as well as statutory tenants, within their ambit?
(2) In particular, do they enable landlords and tenants to obtain the determination of fair rents for buildings, even during the contractual tenancies and notwithstanding the contract of rent. to which the tenancies relate?
(3) Similarly do they enable the landlords and tenants to work out their respective rights in the matter of the liability of the tenants for eviction on the grounds specified in the Acts, even during a contractual tenancy, and without that tenancy being first determined by the landlord in accordance with S. 111(h) of the Transfer of Property Act?
(4) Can this interpretation be sustained as a matter of legislative competence and legislative intendment, notwithstanding the absence of a non obstante clause in the Act?
22. After a detailed and elaborate consideration of the legal position and the relevant decisions rendered earlier by the Supreme Court, the Full Bench came to the conclusion that the legislative intendment or the plain significance of the structure of the enactment admits only of one interpretation i.e.. they interfere both with contractual and statutory tenancies by affording a special protection to tenants against eviction and also balancing this by certain corresponding obligations imposed on tenants that the Act is a complete Code in itself for eviction and for determination of fair rent in respect of tenancies both contractual as well as statutory and that absence of non obstante clause does not affect the interpretation of the Act with regard to inroads it makes upon the previous property law of landlords and tenants of buildings, that the Act enables both landlords and tenants to seek the benefit of the Act under the provisions of the Act, whether contractual tenancy with different terms prevails or whether it has been determined. Dealing with the doctrine of inviolability of contractual rights, the Full Bench pointed out that is impossible to accept that decision in the context of the welfare legislation which has become a marked characteristics of modern times and that, therefore, notwithstanding the terms of an existing contract it is open to the Legislature to enact that both a landlord and tenant may apply for determination of the fair rent for premises though the contract may be subsisting. The facts in that case are more or less identical with the facts of this case. In that case also there was a subsisting contractual tenancy lease which had fixed a particular period and a sum as the monthly rent. The tenant filed an application for determination of the fair rent for the building even during the subsistence of the contractual tenancy notwithstanding the agreed rent. The lessors also filed eviction petition against the tenant notwithstanding the period fixed under the lease. this decision of the Full Bench was taken to the Supreme Court in Raval & Co. v. Ramachandran, : 2SCR629 . The Supreme Court by a majority of 3:2 affirmed the view taken by the Full Bench and held that an analysis of the Tamil Nadu Buldings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1960, showed that it has a scheme of its own and it is intended to provide a complete code in respect of both contractual tenancies, that the definitions of 'landlord' and 'tenant' also show that the Act applies to contractual as well as statutory tenancies, that the provision for fixation of fair rent is for the benefit of both landlords and tenants whether it is contractual tenancy or a statutory tenancy, that the provision that both the tenant and the landlord can apply for fixation of fair rent would become meaningless if the fixation of fair rent will only be downwards from the contracted rent and that the provision also indicates that the Act is intended ton apply to both contractual tenancies as well as statutory tenancies. The relevant observations of the Supreme Court are these (at . 823).
'The provisions of the Act under consideration show that they are to take effect notwithstanding any contract even during the subsistence of the contract. We have already referred to the definition of the terms 'landlord' and 'tenant' which applies both to subsisting tenancies as well as tenancies which might have come to an end. We may also refer to the provisions in S. 7(2) which lays down that where the fair rent of a building has not been fixed the landlord shall not claim anything in addition to the agreed rent, thus showing that the fair rent can be fixed even where there is an agreed rent. That is why we have earlier pointed out that the various English decisions which provide for fixation of rent only where the contractual tenancy has come to an end do not apply here. We may also refer to sub-sec. (3) of S. 10 which deals with cases where landlord required a residential or nonresidential building for his own use. Clause (d) of that sub-section provides that where the tenancy is for a term the landlord cannot get possession before the expiry of the term, thus showing that in other cases of eviction covered by S. 10 eviction is permissible even during the continuance of the contractual tenancy if the conditions laid down in S. 10 are satisfied.'
23. Thus there is a direct decision of the Full Bench of this court in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 , and of the Supreme Court in Raval and Co. v. K. G. Ramachandran, : 2SCR629 holding that the provisions of the Act relating to fixation of fair rent and eviction apply to all tenancies either contractual or statutory, if the conditions laid down in the said sections are satisfied. We do not see how it is possible for this court to go behind the decision of the Supreme Court in the said case which under Article 141 of the Constitution is the law of the land and as such binds us. It is no doubt true the contentions advanced on behalf of the plaintiffs find support in the minority judgment in Raval's case and also certain earlier decisions of that court in Bhaiya Punjalal v. Bhagwat Prasad, : 3SCR312 , Mangilal v. Suganchand, : 5SCR239 , and Anand Nivas v. Anandji, : 4SCR892 . In the first case, the court while interpreting S. 12 of the Bombay Act 57 of 1947 in relation to S. 111 of the Transfer of Property Act held that sub-sec. (1) of S. 12 of that Act merely provided that the landlord will not be entitled to recover possession of the premises so long as the tenant was willing to pay the standard rent and permitted increase, by observing-
'We are, therefore, of the opinion that where a tenant is in possession under a lease from the landlord, he is not to be evicted for a cause which would give rise to a suit for recovery of possession under S. 12 if his tenancy has not been determined already. It follows that whenever a tenant acts in a way which would remove the bar on the landlord's right to evict him, it is necessary for the landlord to serve him with a notice determining his tenancy, and also serve him with a notice under sub-see. (2) of S. 12 of the Act.'
24. In the second case, which deals with the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act 23 of 1955, the provisions of S. 4 of that Act were held to be in addition to those of the Transfer of Property Act and the fact that S, 4 of Act 23 of 1955 did not convert a periodic tenancy into one of fixed or indefinite duration, nor insert therein a clause of re-entry on the ground of non-payment of rent. In Anand Nivas v. Anandji, : 4SCR892 , after referring to Ss. 13, 14 and 15 of the Bombay Act 57 of 1947, the Supreme Court commented upon the neologism of 'statutory tenant' and its implications at page 422-
'Such a person is not a tenant at all. He has no estate or interest in the premises occupied by him. He has merely the protection of the statute in that he cannot be turned out so long as he pays the standard rent and the permitted increase.....His right to remain in possession after the determination of the contractual tenancy is personal; it is not capable of being transferred or assigned.' These decisions are with reference to the specific provisions in the relevant Acts which came up for interpretation before the Supreme Court which had a different structure and object of their own. So far as the Tamil Nadu Act is concerned its structure is quite different and the definition of 'landlord' and tenant' has been construed by the Supreme Court itself in Raval' s case, : 2SCR629 , as applying even in relation to contractual tenancies. As a matter of fact in Dhanapal's case, : 1SCR334 it has been held that Punjalal's case : 3SCR312 and Mangilal's case : 5SCR239 have not been correctly decided, In Dhanapal's case, : 1SCR334 , the Supreme Court refer red to Raval's case, : 2SCR629 , with approval and without expressing any dissent. In fact the minority judgment in Raval's case, : 2SCR629 Proceeds on the basis that the Legislature while enacting the Act could not have intended to have the right to apply for fixation of fair rent or for seeking eviction during the subsistence of a contractual tenancy, that therefore, the landlord cannot apply for fixation of fair rent or for eviction while the contract of tenancy is subsisting, that having regard to the basic character of the statute and as a Rent Control legislation and the scheme of the provisions it is only when the contract of tenancy is lawfully determined that the landlord becomes entitled either to apply for fixation of fair rent or for eviction. The learned counsel for the plaintiff would, how ever, say that the Supreme Court rendered the decision in Raval's case, : 2SCR629 at a time when the lease time had expired and, therefore, the principle of that decision cannot be taken to be a binding authority on the question as to whether the provisions of the Act could be invoked either by the land lord or by the tenant during the subsistence of the lease period. It is no doubt true that the lease period in that case had come to an end when the Supreme Court rendered its judgment, But the decision was rendered with reference to the facts as on the date of the application for fixation of fair rent and also for eviction. If really the Supreme Court had taken note of the fact that the lease had expired when it rendered the judgment it was unnecessary for them to render a decision holding that the provisions of the Act are intended to benefit both the landlord and the tenant and that they can seek the benefit of the Act even during the subsistence of a contractual tenancy. We therefore feel that the question as to whether the Act could be applied during the subsistence of a contractual tenancy stands concluded by the decision of the Supreme Court in the said case.
25. However, Mr. V. K. T. Chari would refer to some observations in Sardarilal's case, : 1SCR111 which according to him throw doubt on the correctness of the decision rendered in the above case-
'Rent Act is intended to improve the position of tenant and not to undermine it.
The following passage in Manugendra Dutt's case, : 1SCR475 is also referred to (at p. 1422)-
'The Thika Tenancy Act like -similar Rent Acts passed in different States is intended to prevent indiscriminate eviction of tenants and is intended to be a protective statute to safeguard security of possession of tenants and therefore should be construed in the light of its being a social legislation Rent Acts are not ordinarily intended to interfere with contractual leases and are acts for the protection of tenants and are consequently restrictive and not enabling, conferring no new rights of action, but restricting the existing rights either
under the contract or under the general law.'
The learned counsel for the plaintiffs also relies on certain general observations made by the Supreme Court in later decisions to the effect that statutory tenancy comes into existence after the expiration of the contractual tenancy and that the Rent Control legislation is mainly intended to give protection to the tenants. According to the learned counsel, the rent legislation which is intended to protect the tenants cannot take away the rights of the tenants under the contract of lease which they have entered into with landlords under which they are entitled to continue their possession till the expiration of the lease provided that they pay the agreed rents and satisfy the other conditions in the lease deed as the Legislature would not have intended to undermine or destroy the tenant's right under the general law and put them in a worse position by superimposing a statutory tenancy on the contractual tenancy already existing. If the Act is construed as one applicable to the tenancy after the contractual tenancy has come to an end, that will be consistent with the pattern and object of the Rent legislation, It is also said that similarly the landlord also cannot claim better right than what he bargained for in the contract of lease by invoking the Provisions of the Act and that as a matter of fact there is no non obstante clause in the Act excluding operation of the Transfer of Property Act and therefore the contract of lease entered into as per the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act should be taken to govern the rights of parties till the expiry of the lease and it is only thereafter the provisions of the Act can apply if the tenant continues to be in possession either as a tenant holding over or otherwise. In Raval's case, : 2SCR629 the Supreme Court while construing the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act specifically rejected the plea that the construction of the Act should be based on the general pattern of Rent legislation and observed that the provisions of the Act normally indicate the legislative intention to apply the provisions of the Act to subsisting contractual tenancies as well. In view of the said specific pronouncement by the Supreme Court the observations made in the later decisions by some of the learned Judges of that court cannot be taken to override that decision rendered in Raval's case.
26. Coming to the contention that as the subsequent decisions proceed on the basis that the statutory tenancy comes into force after the expiry of the contractual tenancy and not earlier, it is no doubt true that generally when there is a contractual tenancy the tenant cannot be called statutory tenant and not only when the contract of lease expires he could be called a statutory tenant But from this it cannot be said that the provisions of the Act will not apply to contractual tenancies. The Supreme Court in' Raval's case : 2SCR629 , has considered the specific provisions of the Act and inferred a legislative intention there from to apply the Act even to contractual tenancies. Though normally a tenant under a contractual tenancy cannot be called a statutory tenant, still the legislature may, if it so chooses, subject the contractual tenancy to certain legislative control and make a specific provision that even contractual tenancies will be subject to the provisions of the Act. In such a case the tenant under a contractual tenancy continues to be a contractual tenant and not a statutory tenant but by the force of the provisions of the Act the contractual tenancy is made subject to the provisions of the Act. Thus the provisions of the Act have been made to apply to all tenants, contractual or otherwise without classifying them as statutory tenants. As a matter of fact, there is no definition of 'statutory tenant' in the Act though normally we call a person who is entitled to claim benefits under the Act as statutory tenant. A person remaining in occupation of premises let to him after the determination of or expiry of the period of the tenancy is commonly, though in law not accurately, called a statutory tenant. He acquires the status of irremovability. Statutory tenant being a person who enjoys the status of irremovability, would enjoy the protection of the statute until he is evicted from the premises under the enabling provisions of the statute, (Vide Biswabani (P.) Ltd. v. S. K. Dutta, : 1SCR650 ). Therefore, the fact that a tenant becomes a statutory tenant only after the expiry of the lease does not mean that during the currency of the lease, the Rent legislation cannot be applied. In this view of the matter it is not possible to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the plaintiffs that the plaintiffs in this case cannot be proceeded with under the provisions of the Act.
27. The plaintffs' learned counsel however, points out that in view of the observations of the Supreme Court in the subsequent decisions that statutory tenancy comes into existence only after the expiry of the contractual tenancy the Full Bench decision in Raval's case, : AIR1967Mad57 requires reconsideration and, therefore, the matter may be posted before a fuller Bench. But we have already expressed our view that on the question before us the Supreme Court has rendered a conclusive and binding decision in Raval's case : 2SCR629 , and the efficacy and the binding nature of the said decision has not been watered down by the general observations made in the subsequent decisions. In Raval's case, the specific question which has now been before us has been decided and it is not, therefore, possible for us to go against that decision merely based on the general observations made in the subsequent decisions and based on the basic nature and Pattern of tenancy legislation and their impact on the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act. Following the decision of the Supreme Court in Raval's case, we hold that the provisions of the Act can be applied even to subsisting contractual tenancies.
28. Issue Nos. 1 and 2 : In view of our finding on issue No. 7 holding that even during the subsistence of contractual tenancy the Rent Control Act can be applied, these issues are held against the plaintiffs.
Issue No. 8 : In view of the fact that we have held that the petition for fixation of fair rent as well as the petition for evection filed by defendants 1 to 6 fore the Rent Controller, Madras, maintainable notwithstanding the subsistence of the contractual tenancy, plaintiffs are not entitled to any of reliefs sought for in the plaint.
29. The suit is therefore dismissed but in the special circumstances of this case without costs. R. C. No, 4 of 1981 is accordingly ordered.
30. Learned counsel for the plaintiffs seeks orally leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment just now pronounced by us. But, having regard to the fact that our decision merely follows the decision of the Supreme Court in Raval's case, : 2SCR629 we do not think that this is a fit case for the grant of leave to the Supreme Court.
31. The leave sought for is, therefore, refused.
32. Suit dismissed.