Skip to content


B.S. Nanda Rao and ors. Vs. V.M. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1969)1MLJ153
AppellantB.S. Nanda Rao and ors.
RespondentV.M. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar
Cases ReferredMuhammadunny v. M. Unnuri
Excerpt:
- - 1. the legal representatives of the defendant in a suit in ejectment, who have failed in both the courts below, are the appellants before me; thiyagarajan, learned counsel appearing for the appellants (for convenience sake hereinafter referred to as the tenant), contends that the view of the courts below is unsustainable, that they failed to appreciate that the decisions in question can have no application whatsoever to the demise in this particular case and that the demise was not, as in the cases relied upon, a lease of a building coupled with a hire of cinema equipment to constitute a camposite lease. after providing for the payment of rents and the adjustment of the advance at the close of the lease period, it is covenanted that at the expiry of the lease period the leased.....m. natesan, j.1. the legal representatives of the defendant in a suit in ejectment, who have failed in both the courts below, are the appellants before me; and the question for consideration in the second appeal is within a narrow compass, namely, whether the property which had been demised by the plaintiff to the defendant is a building as defend in the madras buildings (lease and rent control) act (xvii of 1960) the defendant claiming the protection of statutory tenancy.2. the property in question is known as murali talkies, a cinema theatre, in arcot in north arcot district. it was the subject of a demise by the plaintiff to the defendant under a registered lease deed evidenced by exhibit a-2, dated 1st april, 1955. the lease was for a period of five years and provided for the.....
Judgment:

M. Natesan, J.

1. The legal representatives of the defendant in a suit in ejectment, who have failed in both the Courts below, are the appellants before me; and the question for consideration in the second appeal is within a narrow compass, namely, whether the property which had been demised by the plaintiff to the defendant is a building as defend in the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVII of 1960) the defendant claiming the protection of statutory tenancy.

2. The property in question is known as Murali Talkies, a cinema theatre, in Arcot in North Arcot District. It was the subject of a demise by the plaintiff to the defendant under a registered lease deed evidenced by Exhibit A-2, dated 1st April, 1955. The lease was for a period of five years and provided for the defendant handing over possession of the demised property on the expiry of the lease on 31st March, 1960. The suit out of which this second appeal arises was filed for possession on the expiry of the period of lease, claiming in addition an injunction restraining the defendant from carrying on the cinema business in the demised theatre. The Courts below, following the decision in Rajah Chetty v. Jagannathadas : (1949)2MLJ694 and A. N. Shah v. Annapurnamma (1958) 2 A.W.R. 447, held that the lease in question was a composite lease which will not attract the provisions of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960. In that view ejectment was decreed, the Courts holding that it was unnecessary, in the circumstances, to grant the injunction prayed for.

3. Mr. V. Thiyagarajan, learned Counsel appearing for the appellants (for convenience sake hereinafter referred to as the tenant), contends that the view of the Courts below is unsustainable, that they failed to appreciate that the decisions in question can have no application whatsoever to the demise in this particular case and that the demise was not, as in the cases relied upon, a lease of a building coupled with a hire of cinema equipment to constitute a camposite lease.

4. The lease deed in question is a plain one in Tamil, drafted in simple language. It sets out that for the purpose of running a cinema, the building etc., had been fixed at a rent of Rs. 200 per month, for five years from that date and an advance of Rs. 1,200 paid. After providing for the payment of rents and the adjustment of the advance at the close of the lease period, it is covenanted that at the expiry of the lease period the leased property should be surrendered in good repair. The lessors had to carry out the repairs to the building and also whitewash the building once in a year. At the foot of the document under the heading particulars of building the property demised is set out under the boundaries with the door number, giving measurements. After setting out the measurements of the site, it proceeds thus:

This and within these zinc sheet building, and movables within this.

5. Then comes the following description of articles;

Thirty-four good rattan chairs, five condemned chairs, nine sofas, forty-three back-benches, seventy benches, six sofas, sixteen inside light brackets, one central light, eighteen cushion sofas, eleven brackets outside the compound, three cabin lights, two calling bells, electric wiring switches, cabin room wiring, main boards, all these.

6. The contention of the learned Counsel for the plaintiff-landlord is that whereas furniture would, under the very definition of a building in the Act be included under the definition of building, the fans, switches and main boards--these articles would not get included in the definition of building in the Act. Learned Counsel argues that as these are also part of the demise, the lease in question must be deemed to be a composite lease, a building plus something, and therefore, the entire demised property is excluded from the protection of the Act. The learned Counsel contends that the rent having been fixed both with reference to the building proper and the articles, the so-called rent in the lease includes hire charges for these articles, and that, therefore, it cannot be said that there is a lease of a building under the Act and that what he paid was rent as understood under the Act. Mr. V. Thiyagarajan, learned Counsel for the tenant, on the contrary, contends that if these fittings like fans, brackets, etc., and the electric installation comprising the wiring, switches, main boards, etc., are to be treated as something alien to the building, taking the building in question out of the category of protected premises, practically every dwelling-house in the city would get decontrolled and the Act would become practically a dead letter. Learned Counsel contends that a popular or fair and common sense meaning should be given to the definition of building in the Act, which is a remedial measure. Learned Counsel further contends that a perusal of the lease deed would show that the lessor would not have thought of demising the building and hiring the articles as independent entities, and that he must have treated these articles also as part of the building ex abundanti cavtela; lest they should be lost and not accounted for he had detailed them in the property demised, and that there is nothing special about them. It is contended that no building with any pretensions could be conceived of in these days which is not provided with electric installations, and the normal installations would be in keeping with the character of the building.

7. The Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVIII of 1960) has been enacted for the regulation of the letting of residential and non-residential buildings and the control of rents of such buildings and the prevention of unreasonable eviction of tenants therefrom. The Act does not specifically define what a building is, but Section 2 (2) states that:

'Building' means any building or hut or part of a building or hut, let or to be let separately for residential or non-residential purposes, and includes:

(a) the garden, grounds and out-houses, if any, appurtenant to such building, hut or part of such building or hut and let or to be let along with such building or hut;

(b) any furniture supplied by the landlord for use in such building or hut or part of a building or hut, but does not include a room in a hotel or boarding house;

Landlord is defined as to include the person who is receiving or is entitled to receive the rent of building; and tenant means any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable for a building. The definition of building in the Act, as it only purports to include certain things which may in certain contingencies fall outside the definition of building, cannot be stated to be exhaustive of what a building means and one has to fall back upon what one ordinarily understands by the word building. The contention of the learned Counsel for the plaintiff-landlord is that fittings are not included and reference has been made only to furniture and the items in question, which form part of the present demise, would properly come under the category of fittings. It is, therefore, argued that as fittings are not part of the building what is demised is a building plus something else.

8. I shall first examine whether on the language of the enactment, even in the absence of inclusion of fittings, the items in question would go with the building as an integral part of the building, and then examine the cases above referred to and the other cases cited with reference to the lease in question.

9. The principles that should guide interpretation in cases of this kind is well settled:

There are two rules as to the way in which terms and expressions are to be construed when used in an Act of Parliament. The first rule is that generally statutes will prime facie be presumed to use the words in their popular sense. This rule was stated by Lord Tenterdson in Attorney-General v. Winstanley (1831) 2 D. and CI. 302, .

The words of an Act of Parliament which are not applied to any particular science or art are to be construed ' as they are understood in common language.'

Critical refinements and subtle distinctions are to be avoided, and the obvious and popular meaning of the language should, as a general rule, be followed.(Craies on Statute Law, sixth edition, page 162).

10. The Court will not put a restricted interpretation on the words and withdraw from the operation of the statute, a case which falls both within its scope and the fair sense of its language, as this would be to defeat, not to promote, the object of the Legislature. If possible, and the language permits, the Court should avoid a construction which would sanction a fraudulent evasion of the Act. In Karani Properties Ltd. v. Miss Augustine : [1957]1SCR20 , 312, which will be referred to in greater detail presently with reference to the West Bengal Rent Control Act, it is observed by the Supreme Court:

The Act is intended ' to make better provision for the control of rents of premises.' It has defined ' premises' in very wide terms, as pointed out above. Hence it is difficult, if not impossible, to accept the contention that the Legislature intended the provisions of the Act to have a limited application, depending upon the terms which an astute landlord may be able to impose upon his tenants. In order fully to give effect to the provisions of the statute, the Court has to give them the widest application possible within the terms of the statute. Having those considerations in view we do not think that the supply of the amenities aforesaid would make any difference to the application of the Act to the premises in question.

11. The definition of premises in the Act in question there ran in these terms:

'Premises' means any building or part of a building or any hut or part of a hut let separately and includes:

(a) the gardens, grounds and out-houses (if any) appertaining to such building or part of a building or hut or part of a hut;

(b) any furniture supplied or any fittings affixed by the landlord for use of the tenant in such building or part of a building or hut or part of a hut; but does not include a room or part of a room or other accommodation in a hotel or lodging house or a stall in a municipal market ....

12. The contention in that case was that premises had been defined to include tenements with special facilities and fittings agreed by the landlord to be supplied to the tenants. With reference to this definition, their Lordships observed at page 311:

The definition of ' premises ' and ' hotel or lodging house ' between them almost exhaust the whole field covered by the relationship of landlord and tenant, subject, to the exception noted in the definition of ' premises.

In the lease deed in question the landlord had agreed to provide not only electric installations but also electric current and other facilities, night guards, lift-men, etc. The tenant had also the use of a number of fans, plug points, besides a basin, a commode, etc. The landlord supplied, without additional charge, electric energy for consumption by the tenant, for the use of lamps, fans, radio, ovens for cooking, etc. The rent fixed was a consolidated sum for all the amenities and services. Dealing with the question whether the term rent in the Act, which was under consideration before their Lordships in the case, included rent on the fittings defined in the Act, their Lordships observed at page 312:

Hence it must be taken to have been used in its ordinary dictionary meaning. If, as already indicated, the term ' rent' is comprehensive enough to include all payment agreed by the tenant to be paid to his landlord for the use and occupation not only of the building and its appurtenances, but also of furnishing, electrical installations and other amenities agreed between the parties to be provided by and at the cost of the landlord, the conclusion is irresistible that all that is included in the term 'rent' is within the purview of the Act and the Rent Controller and other authorities had the power to control the same.

13. A perusal of the judgment of the Supreme Court above referred to would show that no emphasis had been laid on the word fittings in the definition of premises in the Act which was under consideration there. The question for consideration now is whether by reason of the omission to include fittings in the definition of building in the Act now under consideration, the electric installation and accessories have to be excluded from the concept of building under the Act. In the interpretation of statutes, adopting the words of Lord Herschell in Cox v. Hakes (1890) 15 App. Cas. 501, 529, it cannot be denied that for the purpose of construing any enactment it is right to look not only at the provision immediately under construction, but at any others found in connection with it which may throw light upon it, as throwing light upon the meaning of the word building in the Act now under consideration. I would refer to the provisions in Section 3 of the Act, providing for notice of vacancy and for the Government taking over the premises for any of its purposes or for the occupation of any of its officers. Section 3 (5) runs thus:

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 and the fixtures and fittings in or on the buildings, in good tenant-able repairs and condition, to the authorised officer... and the Government shall be deemed to be the tenant of the landlord...the terms of the tenancy being such as may be agreed upon between the landlord and the tenant....

The Third Proviso to the sub-clause runs thus:

Provided also that the rent payable shall be the fair rent, if any, fixed for the building under the provisions of this Act; and if no fair rent has been so fixed such reasonable rent as the authorised officer may determine, in such manner as may be prescribed.

Rule 7 of the Rules framed under the Act provides for the fixation of reasonable rent by the authorised officer for the purpose of the proviso above referred to after personally inspecting the premises and he is enjoined to determine the reasonable rent having regard, inter alia, to the common amenities such as water, sanitation, water-taps electric points, Jans, stair-case. This shows that in the concept of building under the Act, electric points and fans do also go in.

14. It may also be noticed that though, while defining building, fittings were not referred to, Sub-clause (5) of Section 3 refers to fittings besides the fixtures, and the building with the fixtures and fittings is treated as coming in the purview of the control. Section 4 provides for the fixation of fair rent for residential and non-residential buildings. With reference to non-residential buildings, with which we are concerned in this case, the provisions run thus:

Section 4 (3)--(a) The fair rent for any non-residential building shall be at nine per cent gross return per annum on the total cost of such buildings.

(b) The total cost referred to in Clause (a) shall consist of:

(i) the cost of construction as calculated according to such rates for such classes of non-residential buildings as may be prescribed less the depreciation at such rates as may be prescribed;

(i) the market value of that portion of the site on which the non-residential building is constructed; and shall include such allowances as may be made for considerations of locality in which the non-residential building is situated, features of architectural interest, accessibility to market, nearness to the railway station and such other amenities as may be prescribed and of the purpose for which the non-residential building is used;

Provided that such allowances shall not exceed twenty-five per cent of the cost of construction as calculated in the manner specified in Sub-clause ().

15. Now, going to the Rules under the Act, Rule 12 provides for the calculation of the cost of construction of non-residential buildings. Rule 13 refers to the amenities for which allowance may be made when calculating the cost of construction of non-residential buildings. The amenities referred to in this rule, in addition to those specified in Section 4 (3) include inter alia (i) air-conditioning; (ii) lifts; (iii) electric fans; (iv) tube lights; (v) number of electric points; (v) electric pump for water, and so on. With reference to residential buildings of certain specified classes, first class electric installations excluding tube lights and fans have to be included in the cost of construction itself, the allowances for amenities in the cost of construction under Section 4 (2) inter alia taking in air-conditioning, tube lights, fans, number of electric points, overhead tank and electric pump for water. It must be noted that under the heading allowances the reference is to the number of electric points. A minimum number of electric points would, therefore, go in the cost of construction of the building itself and will not be added in the cost of the amenities--extra points being treated as amenities. The Act has placed a ceiling as to the cost of amenities with a view to discourage landlords from making the rates prohibitive by including all kinds of things as amenities. Equally they would be prevented from not providing the minimum requirements with regard to buildings showing them under the heading of amenities. This will be clear when reference is made to Schedule I under the Rules where specification for various classes of residential buildings are given, and sanitation in respect of class 2 building includes minimum essential electrical fittings of ordinary type. Section 4 refers to the total cost of the building, of course, meaning the controlled building. The total cost consists of the cost of construction as well as the cost of amenities. As the cost of amenities, which include fittings and fixtures, forms a constituent of and makes up the total cost of a controlled building, it is a proper inference that a building as contemplated under the Act would include fittings and fixtures of the type referred to as amenities. The Act does not divide the rent, where amenities are provided into hire for the amenities and rent for the building. Landlord has been defined as the person entitled to receive the rent of a building, and the rent fixed under the Act takes into consideration also the amenities provided. Reference in this connection may also be made to Section 17 of the Act, which prohibits a landlord from interfering with amenities enjoyed by a tenant on pain of penalties. Section 17 (1) runs thus:

No landlord shall, without just or sufficient cause cut off or withhold any of the amenities enjoyed by the tenant or be in any way responsible for the amenities being cut off or withheld.

And, under the Explanation to the section it is provided thus:

In this section, the expression ' amenities ' includes supply of water, electricity, passages, staircases, light, lavatories, lifts and conservancy or sanitary services.

The amenities provided by the landlord to the tenant, inclusive of services as contemplated in the Explanation, are matters which would come within the cognizance of the Act, and fittings and fixtures, therefore, would form an integral part of a building as defined in the Act.

16. Though cases under the English Rent Acts, which contemplate division of rent into one portion for the dwelling-house and another for the furniture may not be of any help, a brief reference may be made to the law in England where to prevent abuses by the landlord, an article, which at the beginning of the demise constituted part of the dwelling-house itself, is not included for the purpose of the Act in the category of furniture.

Under the Acts nothing (would be) a furniture if, on detachment, it would become so altered as to lose the utility it previously possessed, (and) article, attached to the fabric of the dwelling-house, which would otherwise be furniture, must be regarded as part of the premises (and so not furniture), if they cannot be detached without appreciable damage to or alteration of the fabric or themselves.' (Vide--The Rent Acts by Megarry, seventh edition, page 125).

'Articles which at the beginning of the demise constituted part of the dwelling-house such as built-in cup-boards, built in wardrobes, fitted baths, heavy cellar lids kept in position by their own weight, electric immersion heaters, panel electric fires and modern, water heaters and boilers are excluded. Refrigerators which can be moved as loose articles when the electric plug is withdrawn, linoleum and rubber floor covering, electric clocks and curtains are all properly regarded as furniture and it is considered that the same principle applies to electric and gas cookers which are removable.' (Vide--Woodfall on Landlord and Tenant, twenty-sixth edition, volume I, page 1263-1264).

17. This is referred to, to point out that a wider meaning may be given to dwelling-houses as taking within its concept articles which would otherwise be furniture. The guiding line in the interpretation of the Rent Control Act must be that it is intended to confer personal security on a tenant in respect of his home or his business premises. This is provided by prolonging this existing tenancy permitting the tenant, to continue in possession under a statutory tenancy. Rents are controllerd. At the same time, the landlord is protected and the Act provides for his securing a fair return for his investment.

18. I shall now take up for consideration the case law that has been placed before me. Reference has already been made to the decision of the Supreme Court in Karnani Properties Limited v. Miss Augustine : [1957]1SCR20 . In my view that settles the question for decision in this case, and in the light of the principles enunciated therein, the lease, in question, cannot be considered to be outside the scope of the Act now under consideration before me. Considerable reliance was placed by Mr. V.V. Raghavan, learned Counsel for the respondent-landlord, on the decision of this Court in Raja Chetty v. Jagannathadas : (1949)2MLJ694 . The definition of building then under consideration was the same as in the present Act. That was also a case of lease of a cinema theatre, viz., the Maharani Talkies, Madras. The lease therein, was not merely of the theatre, but also of the fixtures, fitting, cinematograph talkie equipment, machinery, furniture, scenery, and things in, upon and about the said theatre as inventoried. The rent had been split up into Rs. 1,600 for the ground and superstructure, and Rs. 800 as hire for the furniture and Rs. 800 as hire for talkies equipment, machinery, fittings and lessor's fixtures. The lessors applied under the Rent Control Act for eviction, and considering the composite nature of the demise, prayed in their petition for eviction of the lessees from the land and buildings, only. It was conceded that if the lessee paid the rents due for the theatre, but defaulted in the payment of what was due as hire for the furniture and equipment, the lessors had no right to ask for eviction under this Rent Control Act. It was in those circumstances that this Court held that the attempt at division of the lease and separation of rights in regard to two classes of property was in the highest degree artificial and not contemplated by the parties. The lease was regarded as a composite lease and as the Act contemplated only letting of residential and non-residential buildings, this Court concluded that the lessor's application for eviction under the Act was not maintainable. It will be noted that hire charges for the machinery and cinema equipment were a substantial part of the total rent fixed and what was let was a running cinema concern. The following observations bring out the distinction and the essential features in that case, which took the lease in question out of the Rent Control Act:

Here is a lease of a talkie house with everything that is necessary to run cinema shows. To split up such a composite lease as this into separate contracts of lease and hire is to destroy it altogether (page 287)

19. Their Lordships followed in that case an earlier unreported decision of this Court in Appeal Suit No. 590 of 1945, by Patanjali Sastri and Bell JJ. In the latter case, their Lordships were dealing with the lease of a factory called the West Coast Match Company. The appeal before their Lordships arose out of a suit for recovery of possession of the factory and the substantial question for consideration was whether the landlord was prevented by the Rent Control Orders then in force from seeking eviction outside the Act. Their Lordships pointed out that the parties knew that they were not dealing with buildings, merely, but with a match factory, namely, a place where the business of manufacturing matches was carried on. Their Lordships observed:

Both parties knew that what was let was, as stated, something more than non-residential or residential buildings, something which comprised both, plus such things as are necessary to constitute a match factory, that is to say, a place where matches were made and, in the contemplation of the parties, were going to be made by the lessee for a period of five years from the date of the lease.

20. ' Their Lordships ruled out the argument that the plant machinery and other movables would come under the category of furniture. It is apparent that what was let in that case was a factory as a going concern and it was in those circumstances that this Court held that the Rent Control Order did not apply to the case.

21. Learned Counsel for the landlord placed reliance on the decision of a division Bench of the Andhra High Court in A. N. Shah v. Annapurnamma (1958) 2 A.W.R. 447. That was also a case of a cinema theatre and the lease document in case that was considered more or less similar to the one that was considered by this Court in Raja Chetty v. Jagamadha Das : AIR1950Mad284 . By the lease in question before the Andhra High Court, cinema equipment was also granted on lease apart from the premises. In the circumstances, that case also cannot help the landlord in this case. Learned Counsel drew my attention to the observations in A. N. Shah v. Annapurnamma (1958) 2 A.W.R. 447, where the Court pointed out that the definition of building under the Madras Rent Control Act included only furniture and not fittings as in the Calcutta case which was under consideration before the Supreme Court in Karnani Properties, Limited v. Miss Augustine : [1957]1SCR20 . Learned Counsel pointed out that subsequently the Andhra Act has been amended to include fittings also. Apart from the fact that I do not find any emphasis placed by the Supreme Court on the inclusion of the word fittings in the Calcutta Act, in the view I have taken of the proper interpretation to be given to the word building with reference to the lease deed now under consideration before me, the absence of the word fittings in the definition of building in the Madras Act is not of much significance. Learned Counsel for the landlord drew my attention also to the decision of Rajamannar C.J., in the Indian Insurance and B. C. Limited v. Paramasiva Mudaliar (1957) 70 L.W. 205, where the purchaser in execution of a mortgage decree was held not entitled to the chairs, benches, projectors, etc., of the cinema theatre, which was the subject-matter of the mortgage. The mortgage-purchaser claimed that he would at least be entitled to certain ceiling boards, ceiling fans, exhaust fans and the entire electric installation. The mortgage was of a cinema theatre building which was being built. This Court, having regard to the description of the mortgaged property, held that what was intended to be hypothecated was only the building as such and in that view ceiling boards and ceiling fans and exhaust fans would not form an integral part of the building, though they may be required to run the cinema in the building. As regards the electric [installation, this Court made a distinction between the electric fittings which are removable and the electric installations consisting of the mains, switch board and the connecting wires between the mains of the building and the mains of the electric supply. These latter, it was held, would form an integral part of the house and -were intended to go along with the house. So also the general electric wiring in the building but not the fans, shades, bulbs and similar fittings. I do not think that this case will be of much help to the landlord in this case. The conclusion depended on the interpretation of what passed under the mortgage in question is not of general application.

22. Learned Counsel for the landlord then referred to the decision of Ramachandra Ayyar, C.J., repored in Chakravarthy v. Union of India (1965) 1 M.L.J. 154 : I.L.R. (1965). That was a case under Section 4 providing for fixation of fair rent under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960. The attempt in that case was to include in the cost of construction of the building certain additions and not treat them as amenities, for which allowance could be claimed, the allowance being limited to ten per cent, of the cost of construction of the building. This Court observed that air-conditioning apparatus tube lights, electric points, etc., would be amenities and it was pointed out that the policy of the Legislature appeared to be that the landlord should not be allowed to increase the rent for the buildings by providing too many costly amenities and thereby inflate the rent. It was observed that the list of amenities provided in the section is by no means exhaustive and that electric points, etc., can only be regarded as amenities. I fail to see how this decision can help the appellant. As already stated, even treating the item in question in the present case as amenities, they could still form part of the building and come under the purview of the Rent Control Act. By providing that for the purpose of Section 4 certain items shall be treated as amenities they do not cease to be an integral part of the building and take the lease of the building with the amenities outside the ambit of the Act. The moment it is conceded that these items are amenities under the Act, the applicability of the Act to the building to which they are attached is automatically attracted. Learned Counsel' for the appellant also referred to a decision of Rajagopala Ayyangar, J., in Krishnaveni Ammal v. Board of Revenue, Madras (1960) 1 M.L.J. 9, wherein it is observed thus:

A composite lease which comprises not merely a building and site but also other machinery and equipments like a cinematographic projector, etc., will be outside the scope of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1949. But a lessee of a theatre simpliciter, who will be entitled to the protection of the Act, will be in lawful possession of the theatre within the meaning of Rule 13 of the Madras Cinemas Regulation Rules as his continuance in possession of the premises even after the expiry of the lease will be protected as a statutory tenant.

This decision, again emphasises the distinction which I have pointed out. In the case of a composite lease, where a substantial part of the rent goes in hire of machinery and plant, and Act cannot apply, what is thereby leased is not a theatre simpliciter,, but a running cinema business with all its accessories. The Act controls and regulates only the letting of buildings and not transfer of business concerns and running business, for periods together with the buildings. The question for consideration in each case would be whether what is leased is a theatre building with its normal! adjuncts as a building constructed to serve as a theatre, or something more than a building--an equipped cinema house.

23. It follows from the above discussion that the property demised in the present case by the plaintiff comes under the control of. the Madras Buildings (Lease and. Rent Control) Act, 1960, entitling the tenant to seek the protection of the Act against eviction.

24. Mr. V.V. Raghavan, learned Counsel for the landlord, submits that even if the tenant in the present case is entitled to the protection under Act XVIII of 1960, the suit itself need not be dismissed. Learned Counsel submits that there being no-other defence to the suit in ejectment than the security of the tenancy provided by the Rent Control Act, all that the tenant can claim is that during the subsistence of the Rent Control Act, he cannot be evicted in execution of the decree in ejectment. My attention is drawn, in this connection, to the decision of this Court by Ramaswami, J., in Haji Mohamed v. Globe Theatres A.I.R. 1956 Mad. 216, 218. Following an earlier Bench decision of this Court in Muhammadunny v. M. Unnuri : (1949)1MLJ452 , it is observed by Ramaswami, J.:

It is now well settled that a decree in ejectment can be passed by the civil Court and all that the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act ensures is that during the subsistence of that Act the civil Court cannot execute the decree but the landlord will have to take appropriate steps under the provisions of the said Act.

The provisions of the Act then under consideration and Section 10 of the present Act are identical with reference to the matter under consideration. The prohibition under Section 10 of the present Act runs thus:

Section 10 (1).--A tenant shall not be evicted whether in execution of a decree or otherwise except in accordance with the provisions of this section or Sections 14 to 16.

The jurisdiction of the Civil Court, as noticed in the decision above referred to, to pass a decree in ejectment is not taken away, though it may be of little use to the plaintiff. Learned Counsel for the appellants-tenants, has not placed before me any decision contra. The Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Amendment Act (XI of 1964), which by Section 3 provides for the abatement of certain proceedings, is limited in its application and does not apply to the present suit. In the circumstances there is no need to set aside the decree in ejectment which has been passed. But the plaintiff-decree holder will not be entitled during the subsistence of statutory tenancy to evict the tenants, the present appellants, in execution of the decree in ejectment the remedy for eviction having to be in accordance with and under the terms and provisions of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVIII of 1960), by appropriate steps under the provisions of the said Act. The decree would be modified accordingly.

25. Though the decree subject to the modification is maintained, as the appellants have succeeded in their contention, they will be entitled to their costs in this Court. The parties will bear their respective costs in the Courts below. Leave refused.


Save Judgments// Add Notes // Store Search Result sets // Organizer Client Files //