Subba Rao, J.
1. This is an application for issuing a writ of certiorari and for quashing the order of the Accommodation Controller, dated 11th June 1951. The petitioner is the owner of premises No. 10, Stringers Street) George Town, Madras. Till May 1951 admittedly the premises were let out for non-residential purposes. As the tenant vacated the premises, the petitioner took possession of the same on 7th May 1951 and he intimated to the first respondent about the vacancy of the said premises. On 17th May 1951, he received a memo from the first respondent informing him that he had taken over the premises for allotment to Government officials, and that orders regarding the allotment would issue shortly. On llth June 1951, the first respondent made an order allotting the said premises to Mr. S. A. Venkatesan, Assistant Engineer, P. W. D., Madras for residential purposes and directed the petitioner to hand over possession to the said Mr. Venkatesan, Learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the said order was made by the Accommodation Controller without jurisdiction, as under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1949, the Accommodation Controller has no power to convert a non-residential building into a residential building and 'vice versa'.
2. To appreciate the contentions of the parties, I shall read the relevant sections of the Act.
Section 2 (1): ' 'Building' means any building or hut or part of a building or hut, letor to be let separately for residential or non-residential purposes.....'
Section 3 (1) (a) 'Every landlord shall, within seven days after the building becomes vacant by his ceasing to occupy it, or by the termination of a tenancy, or by release from requisition give notice of the vacancy in writing to the officer authorised in that behalf by the State Government (hereinafter in this section referred to as the 'authorised officer')' Section 3 (3) 'If, within ten days of the receipt by the authorised officer of a notice under Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2), the State Government or the authorised officer does not intimate to the landlord in writing that the building is required for the purposes of the State or Central Government or of any local authority of or any public institution under the control of any such Government or for the occupation of any officer of such Government, the landlord shall be at liberty to let the building to any tenant or to occupy it himself.
Section 3 (5) 'If the building is required for any of the purposes, or for occupation by any of the officers, specified in Sub-section (3), the landlord shall deliver possession of the building to the authorised officer and the State Government shall be deemed to be the tenant of the landlord, with retrospective effect from the 'date on which the authorised officer received notice under Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2), the terms of the tenancy being such as may be agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant and in default of an agreement, as may be determined by the City Civil Court in the City of Madras and elsewhere by the Subordinate Judge's Court having original jurisdiction over the area in which the building is situated or if there is no such Court, by the District Court.'
Section 3 (9) 'Nothing contained in this section shall apply:
(a) to a residential building the monthly rent of which does not exceed twenty five rupees; or
(b) to a non-residential building the monthly rent of which does not exceed fifty rupees; or
(c) to any building or buildings in the same city, town or village, owned by any company, association or firm, whether incorporated or not, and bona fide intended solely for the occupation of its officers, servants or agents.'
3. Section 4 provides for fixing the fair rent, and the provisions indicate that different considerations will have to be borne in mind in fixing the rent for residential and non-residential buildings. Section 7 also prescribes various conditions which entitle the landlord to evict the tenant. Section 11 reads: 'No residential building shall be converted into a non-residential building except with the permission in writing of the Controller.' Mr. Radhakrishnan, the learned counsel for the petitioner, argues that under the provisions of the Act only the owner can convert a residential building into a non-residential building and 'vice versa', with the previous permission of the Accommodation Controller, and that the Accommodation Controller suo motu cannot convert one class of building into another. He also further emphasises that if a non-residential building is leased out for residential purposes, it will be impossible to apply the provisions of Sections 4 and 7 of the Act. The Act does not define a residential building or a non-residential building. Under Section 2 (1) a building has been defined, which includes both the categories of buildings. It is true that the various sections of the Act make a distinction between residential and non-residential buildings and also provides different rents for the two categories of buildings. It may therefore be accepted that the character of the building will depend upon the purpose for which it is let. If it is let for residential purposes, it will be a residential building; if it is let for non-residential purposes, it will be a non-residential building. Once it is let for one purpose or the other, the conversion of one into another can only be under Section 11. But Section 3 gives a very wide power to the Accommodation Controller to requisition the building for the purposes of the State or Central Government or of any local authority or of any public institution under the control of any such Government or for the occupation of any officer of such Government. Section 3 (3) does not s_ay that the Accommodation Controller can acquire a residential building only for residential purposes, and a non-residential building, only for non-residential purposes. It can be acquired for any of the purposes mentioned in Sub-section (3). Under Sub-section (5), if the building is required for any of such purposes the tenant shall deliver possession to the authorised officer. On a fair reading of the plain words used in Section 3, I find it very difficult to hold that the Accommodation Controller cannot acquire a non-residential building for the purpose of giving it for residential purposes. Once he made the requisition, he is certainly entitled under that section to allot it for the purposes for which he is authorised to take the building.
4. Mr. Radhakrishnan has argued with some force that as no express power is conferred upon the Accommodation Controller to convert suo motu one building into another, the construction I adopt may lead to anomalies in the application of Sections 4 and 7. It is true that under Section 11 an owner can convert a building with the permission of the Accommodation Controller; but that section cannot affect the specific powers conferred upon the Accommodation Controller under Section 3 of the Act. It does not also contravene the spirit underlying Section 11 either, as what the landlord can do with the permission of the Accommodation Controller, the Accommodation Controller can do suo motu under Section 3. If so understood, the character of the building can be ascertained by the manner in which the Accommodation Controller deals with the property after he takes over possession; if he gives it for residential purposes it will be a residential building; if he gives for non-residential purposes, it will be a non-residential building. If so understood, there will not be any difficulty in applying the provisions of Sections 4 and 7.
5. For the aforesaid reasons, I hold that theorder of the Accommodation Controller iscorrect, and this petition is dismissed with costs,advocate's fee Rs. 50. Time for delivery fifteendays.