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Kuniyil Chandu Vs. Mathiledath Sankaran and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1941Mad558; (1941)1MLJ573
AppellantKuniyil Chandu
RespondentMathiledath Sankaran and anr.
Cases ReferredMura Kasim Rowther v. G. F. F. Foulkes
Excerpt:
.....as a result of the provisions contained in section 20 of that act. that being so, the act complained of cannot be held to attack the provisions of the clause referred to, and furnish a ground of eviction. 6. we are clearly of opinion that this contention cannot be supported......act, should be superseded if they run counter to the provisions contained in the section. in other words, a contract between the parties cannot avail the landlord if he cannot bring himself within the section.4. section 20 of the malabar tenancy act, 1930 reads as follows:no suit for eviction of a customary verumpattamdar, kuzhikanomdar or kanomdar shall lie at the instance of his landholder except on the following grounds.5. six grounds are enumerated in the section of which it is only necessary to refer to one, namely, that mentioned in clause (2), which confers a right of eviction if the tenant had intentionally and wilfully committed such acts of waste as would impair , materially and permanently the value or utility of the holding for agricultural purposes. in the present case the.....
Judgment:

Krishnaswami Aiyangar, J.

1. This appeal arises out of a suit instituted by the appellant who is the owner of a paramba in South Malabar to evict the respondents from it. The paramba had been demised on kanom to the first respondent on the 31st May, 1927. A kychit of even date was executed by him and evidences the terms of the contract. The demise was for a period of 12 years, but was terminable earlier at the option of the appellant, on the happening of one or other of certain conditions mentioned in the kychit. Those conditions are found stated in it in the following words:

If I keep the rent in arrears, or do any acts prejudicial to you or i you are in need of the plot or if I quarry stones from the plot without your written consent thereto, I shall an demand by you surrender the plot to you without raising any dispute whatever, or any plea as to the terms....

2. On the 3rd August, 1931, the appellant served a notice on the respondents demanding surrender of the paramba on the ground that the first respondent had allowed the rent to fall into arrears and had also without his consent quarried stones from the demised paramba in direct violation of the terms of the kychit. The first respondent answered by a reply notice dated the 14th August, 1931, in which he denied that he had quarried stones from the paramba as alleged by the appellant but admitted that the rents had not been duly paid. He however promised to pay the arrears in three monthly instalments, and added that if the appellant wanted the paramba he was willing to surrender it after the monsoons, that is, at the end of six months, on payment to him of the kanom amount, and the value of the improvements effected by him. On the 21st February, 1934, the appellant instituted the suit out of which this appeal has arisen for recovery of the paramba on two grounds, namely: (1) that the first respondent, the kanomdar had failed to pay the rents in due time, and (2) that he had quarried stones from the demised paramba without the appellant's consent. The second respondent, the mother of the first, was added as a party defendant on the ground that she was also residing on the paramba with the first respondent. The District Munsif who tried the suit found for the appellant on both points and accordingly granted a decree in his favour. The first respondent appealed to the Subordinate Judge of Calicut who reversed the decree of the District Munsif and dismissed the suit. He held that the first respondent had before suit made a tender of the arrears of rent sufficient in amount to negative the first ground put forward by appellant. As regards the second ground, he concurred with the District Munsif in holding that the first respondent had in fact quarried stones from the paramba without the consent of the appellant, but held that even this ground, good and valid though it might have been before the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1930 came into force, has since become inoperative as a result of the provisions contained in Section 20 of that Act. In the view which the Subordinate Judge took, there was no cause of action for the suit, and he therefore felt bound to reverse the decree of the District Munsif and dismiss the suit. Against this decision a second appeal was preferred to this Court. Patanjali Sastri, J., who heard it, concurred in the decision of the Subordinate Judge and the result was that this second appeal was also dismissed. The learned Judge, however, granted leave for an appeal being preferred under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent, and this appeal has accordingly been filed.

3. On a consideration of the relevant provisions of the Act, Patanjali, Sastri, J., has accepted the view of the Subordinate Judge that a landlord in Malabar cannot maintain a suit for the eviction of a kanomdar except on one or more of the several grounds enumerated in Section 20 of the Act. In his opinion a contract between the parties which confers a right of eviction on grounds other than those enumerated in the section, has been rendered ineffectual as the Legislature intended that all stipulations between the parties whether made before or after the Act, should be superseded if they run counter to the provisions contained in the section. In other words, a contract between the parties cannot avail the landlord if he cannot bring himself within the section.

4. Section 20 of the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1930 reads as follows:

No suit for eviction of a customary verumpattamdar, kuzhikanomdar or kanomdar shall lie at the instance of his landholder except on the following grounds.

5. Six grounds are enumerated in the section of which it is only necessary to refer to one, namely, that mentioned in Clause (2), which confers a right of eviction if the tenant had intentionally and wilfully committed such acts of waste as would impair , materially and permanently the value or utility of the holding for agricultural purposes. In the present case the Subordinate Judge has found as a fact--and this finding is binding on us that though the respondent did quarry stones from the paramba, his action was not such an act of waste as can be said to have materially or permanently impaired the value of the holding for agricultural purposes. That being so, the act complained of cannot be held to attack the provisions of the clause referred to, and furnish a ground of eviction. In fact the appellant concedes this position but only argues that his rights such as they were under the kychits should not be held to have been prejudicially affected by anything contained in an enactment of a later date, in the absence of express words to the contrary.

6. We are clearly of opinion that this contention cannot be supported. The language employed in Section 20 is plain and peremptory and prohibits a suit for eviction being instituted except on one or more of the several grounds specified in the section. There are no words showing an intention on the part of the Legislature to save contracts entered into before or after the Act. On behalf of the appellant our attention was called to the difference between the wording of Section 20, and that of Sections 10, 22 and 32 of the Act in which the following words, 'notwithstanding any contract to the contrary' occur at the commencement. The point sought to be made was that the omission of these words in Section 20, shows that it was not the intention of the Legislature to abrogate the contract of parties. It was argued that whenever the Legislature intended that the terms of such a contract should be nullified it has taken care to use apt language to express such an intention; whereas in Section 20, the section with which we are now concerned, such words are conspicuous by their absence. It is to be observed that the primary rule by which we should be guided in the construction of a statute is to consider first the. words employed and ascertain their ordinary grammatical meaning. It is only where the words are ambiguous it is permissible to look at the scheme of the Act or the language used in other parts of the statute for gathering the intention. We are unable to see any ambiguity in the words of Section 20 and it is therefore unnecessary to compare and consider the meaning of the language employed in other parts of the statute. Its effect in our judgment is to supersede and nullify all contracts which recognise a right of eviction in the landowner contrary to the terms of the section. Learned Counsel for the appellant relied in support of his argument on a decision of a Bench of this Court in Mura Kasim Rowther v. G. F. F. Foulkes : (1912)23MLJ352 , which turned on the language of Sections 9, 151 and 187 of the Madras Estates Land Act, 1908. That was a. case where a landholder sued to evict a ryot on the ground that the ryot had used the land in a manner calculated to impair its value for agricultural purposes. It was found that there was a contract, or what amounted to it, between the parties which permitted the tenant to use the land in the way in which he did, though the result of such user was to produce the consequences mentioned. It was held that such a term conferring as it did, a benefit upon the tenant was not affected by anything contained in Section 151 or Section 187. The principle underlying this decision can have no application to a case such as the present. One of the objects, perhaps the main object of this Act, as it is of the Malabar Tenancy Act, was to secure a fixity of tenure for tenants, and to protect them against arbitrary evictions by the superior proprietor. Freedom of contract was interfered with not for the benefit of the landholder, but for the benefit of the tenant, because it was the tenant who was not in a position to contract on equal terms with the proprietor, and it was he who required protection and not the proprietor. The learned Judges who decided Mura Kasim Rowther v. G. F. F. Foulkes : (1912)23MLJ352 , were therefore, warranted in holding, as they did, that Sections 151 and 187 of the Madras Estates Land Act did not operate to the prejudice of rights conferred on a tenant by the landholder by a contract entered into between them. We do not see how this decision can help the appellant. We are not in this case concerned with a contract containing a term intending to operate for the benefit of the tenant as in the case quoted, but with one conferring privilege on the owner of the land.

7. We are of opinion that the decision of the learned Judge who decided the second appeal is right. The appeal is accordingly dismissed with costs of the first respondent.


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