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T.M. Santhakumari Vs. Narasinga Mudaliar and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1976)2MLJ211
AppellantT.M. Santhakumari
RespondentNarasinga Mudaliar and ors.
Cases ReferredChandra Valli v. Ska Poonamehand
Excerpt:
- .....j.1. these civil revision petitions, six in number, have been preferred against the order of the learned appellate authority reversing the order of the learned rent controller directing the eviction of the tenants. the respondents in all the civil revision petitions are in occupation of different portions of the building belonging to the civil revision petitioner heroin as tenants from month to month. the landlady filed six petitions for their eviction on the ground that she wanted possession of the building for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction. the learned rent controller found that the petitions were bonafide, that the landlady had done all that she need do at that stage, as preparation for demolition and reconstruction of the building, that the building was sufficiently.....
Judgment:

S. Suryamurthy, J.

1. These civil revision petitions, six in number, have been preferred against the order of the learned appellate authority reversing the order of the learned Rent Controller directing the eviction of the tenants. The respondents in all the civil revision petitions are in occupation of different portions of the building belonging to the civil revision petitioner heroin as tenants from month to month. The landlady filed six petitions for their eviction on the ground that she wanted possession of the building for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction. The learned Rent Controller found that the petitions were bonafide, that the landlady had done all that she need do at that stage, as preparation for demolition and reconstruction of the building, that the building was sufficiently old to require demolition and reconstruction and that the landlady had sufficient means to demolish the building and reconstruct another building on the site thereof. However, on appeal the learned appellate authority took a different view. The learned appellate authority refused to accept the view of the learned Rent Controller that the mere fact that the application for constructing a building on the site of the existing building after demolishing the latter was filed subsequently, does not discredit the case of the landlady. The appellate authority took the view that the application should have been filed prior to the institution of the proceeding for eviction. The appellate authority also found that the landlady did not have sufficient means to demolish the building now in existence and construct another building thereon. He therefore, allowed the appeals and dismissed the petitions for eviction. Against this order of the learned appellate authority, these six civil revision petitions have been preferred.

2. Admittedly, the building which is now in the occupation of the tenants is not less than 50 years old and the front portion of the building has, already, fallen into ruins and is in a dilapidated condition. The building constitutes a hazard to the occupants themselves. Therefore there can be no doubt about the fact that the building does require to be demolished. In N.A. Ramanatha Iyer and Ors. v. Bathul Bai and Ors : (1971)2MLJ383 . Ramanujam J., has held that:

It cannot be said that in all pases whenever an application for demolition and reconstruction is made a prior sanction of the Municipality should have been obtained. Madras Act XVIII of I960 nowhere provides that a petition for demolition and reconstruction, should be made only after getting the required sanction from the Municipality. The respondents have already applied for the sanction from the Municipality and that shows that they have taken a 11 preliminary steps for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction and that is sufficient to show their bonafides.

With this view of the learned Judge, with great respect, I entirely agree. Having regard to the time taken for the disposal of such petitions and the attempts of the tenants to protract the proceedings it is not surprising that the landlady did not want to obtain a licence for constructing the building before filing the petition for eviction because the period provided for constructing the building in such licence would expire before the petitions are disposed of. The mere fact that the application for grant of a licence was filed subsequently, does not discredit the case of the landlady that she bona fide requires the building for demolition if there are other facts which lend support to her case. In the instant case, the mere fact that the building is so old as to require demolition is sufficient to lend credence to the case of the landlady.

3. It is seen from the evidence of P.W. 1 that she is subscribing to a chit at the monthly rate of Rs. 1,000 and that she is also getting a monthly income of Rs. 400. It is seen from Exhibit P-14 that the landlady is subscribing to a chit of the value of Rs. 10,000. She has sold a house for Rs. 41,000 and has discharged her debts. In the course of the examination in chief it has been suggested to her arid she has denied the suggestion that it is not true to say that she has a cash of Rs. 20,000 on hand. The learned appellate authority was unwilling to believe the case of the landlady because an estimate of the cost of the building proposed to be constructed has not been worked out and filed as an exhibit in this case. The building now in the occupation of the tenants appears to be a kaehcha building. The building which the landlady proposes to put up in its place, also, is not likely to be a building of such a nature as to require a cost estimate being made in advance. It has been proved by P.W. 1 that her husband is earning about Rs. 1,000 per month. The learned Rent Controller had found that she has sufficient means to demolish the building now in existence and put up a new constructions on the site of the same. The reasons given by the learned appellate authority for differing from this view of the learned Rent Controller are not satisfactory. The landlady has come forward with a case that she proposes to demolish and destroy her own property. As observed by Ramaprasada Rao,J., in Chandra Valli v. Ska Poonamehand (1975) T.L.N.J. 266 , that would not be a case which is automatically illustrative of the mala fides of the landlady.

4. Bona fides is a question of degrees. Bona fides have to be assessed with reference to the circumstances and facts of each particular case and in the context and framework of the situation prevailing at that time. The situation here is that the building does require to be demolished on account of its dilapidated condition. The landlady is bound to give an undertaking that the work of demolishing any material portion of the building shall be substantially commenced by her not later than one month and shall be completed before the expiry of three months from the date she recovers possession of the entire building or before the expiiy of such further period as the Controller may fix by reason of Section 14(2)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. If she fails to do so, the tenants can seek recovery under Section 16 of the aforesaid Act.

5. It is further contended by the learned Counsel for the respondents that after the proceedings were initiated, a new tenant was inducted into a part of the building and he has been examined as a witness by the landlady herself on her side. The learned Counsel for the civil revision petitioner now states, and the learned Counsel for the respondents concedes, that this tenant inducted subsequently has now vacated the part of the building which was in his possession. In the circumstances, I am of the opinion that the landlady is entitled to evict the tenants for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction. Therefore, the orders of the learned appellate authority in all these appeals against which the civil revision petitions have been filed arc set aside and the orders of the learned Rent Controller for eviction are restored. The landlady shall give an undertaking that the work of demolishing a material portion of the building shall be substantially commenced by her not later than one month and shall be completed by her before the expiry of three months from the date, she recovers possession of the entire building. Time for eviction six months. Hence all these civil revision petitions are allowed. No order as to costs.


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