S. Suryamurthy, J.
1. These four appeals have been preferred by the Municipal Council, Tiruvarur, represented by its Special Officer, against the judgments and decrees of the learned Subordinate Judge, Nagapattinam, who dismissed A.S. Nos. 120, 121, 122 and 123 of 1975 as well as the cross-objections preferred against the judgments and decrees of the District Munsif, Tiruvarur, in O.S. Nos. 226, 255, 451 and 513 of 1973 on his file. The suits were instituted by different plaintiffs for a declaration that the general revision and the subsequent increase in tax on the plaintiffs' buildings is illegal and ultra vires and for a permanent injunction restraining the defendant-Municipality from realising any amount as per the demand notices and assessments. The taxes payable by the respective plaintiffs for the properties situate within the Municipal limits of Tiruvarur were revised and enhanced in the general revision of taxes payable for all the properties situate within the Municipal area after an enquiry in the year 1970. The provisions of Section 82 of the Tamil Nadu District Municipalities Act (V of 1920) were complied with for the purpose of the revision, but the provisions of Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVIII of 1960) were not complied with. Therefore, the suits were filed contending that the provisions of Section 4 of Act XVIII of 1960, have to be complied with and as this has not been done, the defendant-Municipality is not entitled to revise and enhance the taxes payable by the respective plaintiffs in respect of their respective properties.
2. As the plaintiffs have succeeded in both the Courts below, these appeals have been admitted on the following substantial question of law, viz:
Whether the rent fixed under the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act is to be the basis for fixation of rental value under Section 82(2) of the District Municipalities Act, or whether such rental value has to be fixed independently?
The question of law, for the consideration of which these appeals have been admitted, is covered by the decision in Guntur Municipal Council v. Guntur Town Pate Payers' Associations : 2SCR423 where the Supreme Court, after considering the provisions of Section 82(2) of the Madras District Municipalities Act, in relation to the provisions of the Rent Control Acts, has held that
The test essentially is what rent the premises can lawfully fetch if let out to a hypothetical tenant. The Municipality is thus not free to assess any arbitrary annual value and has to look to and is bound by the fair rent or the standard rent which would be payable for a particular premises under the Rent Act in force during the year of assessment. In The Corporation of Calcutta v. Sri Padma Debt and Company : 3SCR49 it was held that on a fair reading of the express provisions of Section 127(a) of Calcutta Municipal Act, 1923, the annual rent could not be fixed higher than the standard rent under the Kent Control Act. There the Rent Control Act of 1950 came into force before the assessment: was finally determined and it was observed that the Corporation had no power to fix the annual valuation of the premises higher than the. standard rent under that Act.
It was contended by the counsel for the appellant in that case that 'so long as the fair rent of a building or premises is not fixed the assessment of valuation by a Municipality need not be limited or governed by the measure provided by the provisions of the Act for determination of fair rent'.
Repelling the contention, the Supreme Court held that.
Logically such buildings or premises as are not let out to a tenant and are in the self-occupation of the landlords would also fall within the same principle if no fair rent has even been fixed in respect of them.
We are unable to agree that on the language of Section 82(2) of the Municipalities Act, any distinction can be made between buildings the fair rent of which has been mainly actually fixed by the Controller and those in respect of which no such rent has been fixed. It is perfectly clear that the landlord cannot lawfully expect to get more rent than the fair rent which is payable in accordance with the principles laid down in the Act. The assessment of valuation must take into account the measure of fair rent as determinable under the Act. It may be that where the Controller has not fixed the fair rent the Municipal authorities will have to arrive at their own figure of fair rent but that can be done without any difficulty by keeping in view the principles laid down in Section 4 of the Act for determination of fair rent.
3. Finally, in declaring what the law is, the Supreme Court has laid down that it appears to be well-settled that 'assessment of valuation for the purpose of tax must be made in accordance with and in the light of the provisions of the Rent Act which would be in force during the period of assessment'. This decision of the Supreme Court has been followed by Paul, J., in Abdul Hasan v. Thiruvarur Municipality : (1978)1MLJ121 . In the instant cases, the Municipality has not complied with the provisions of Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act. Hence, the assessments are illegal.
4. In the result, the judgment and decrees of the Courts below are confirmed, and these appeals are dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.