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A.V. Viswanatha Sastri and ors. Vs. A.R. Murugappa Chetti and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai
Decided On
Reported inAIR1941Mad682; (1941)2MLJ115
AppellantA.V. Viswanatha Sastri and ors.
RespondentA.R. Murugappa Chetti and anr.
Cases ReferredIn Ranganatham Chetti v. Ethirajulu Nayudu
Excerpt:
- - the respondents have failed to show that; in fact the evidence clearly demonstrates that the sub-tenancy under which they are now holding was created as late as 1934. 6. for these reasons the appeal will be allowed and the decree of the trial court restored with costs throughout......suit and by an order of this court passed in 1925 took possession of all the properties from one kasim sahib, to whom they had been leased. the properties comprised a market and houses, shops and vacant land in the vicinity of the market. according to the lease deed, there are four blocks of property. the market comprises one block, a house and shops in venkata-krishnan street another block, a house and shops in the tiruvottiyur high road a third block, and shops and vacant land in mottai gardens a fourth block. the four blocks have been referred to in these proceedings and in the partition suit as 'the market.' kasim sahib went into possession of the properties on the 5th january, 1916, under a registered deed, which gave him a lease of the premises for five years. although the.....
Judgment:

Alfred Henry Lionel Leach, C.J.

1. The appellants instituted the suit out of which this appeal arises in the City Civil Court for a decree for the ejectment of the respondents from premises situate in Mottai Gardens, Washermanpet, Madras. The respondents claimed that they were tenants within the meaning of the Madras City Tenants' Protection Act, 1921 and that the suit could not be maintained as the notice required by Section 11 of the Act had not been given. The City Civil Court Judge held that the Act did not apply and decreed the suit. On appeal to this Court Pandrang Row, J., held that the Act did apply and that the plea raised by the respondents was a valid one. Accordingly he allowed the appeal and dismissed the suit with costs. The appellants have preferred the present appeal from the decision of Pandrang Row, J.

2. In order to appreciate the contentions of the respective parties it is necessary to refer in some detail to the facts. The third appellant is a lessee from the first and second appellants of certain properties, which include the properties in suit. The first and second appellants are the receivers appointed in a partition suit and by an order of this Court passed in 1925 took possession of all the properties from one Kasim Sahib, to whom they had been leased. The properties comprised a market and houses, shops and vacant land in the vicinity of the market. According to the lease deed, there are four blocks of property. The market comprises one block, a house and shops in Venkata-krishnan Street another block, a house and shops in the Tiruvottiyur High Road a third block, and shops and vacant land in Mottai Gardens a fourth block. The four blocks have been referred to in these proceedings and in the partition suit as 'the market.' Kasim Sahib went into possession of the properties on the 5th January, 1916, under a registered deed, which gave him a lease of the premises for five years. Although the contract allowed him to sublet the houses, shops and the stalls in the market, it prohibited him from creating any other subtenancies. He was also prohibited from converting the existing buildings and from erecting fresh ones. This lease was renewed for a period of three years on the 5th January, 1921, on similar terms. A further lease for three years was granted on the 27th April, 1924, also on the same terms. The partition suit was filed in 1924, and it involved all the properties leased to Kasim Sahib. When the receivers were appointed they ejected Kasim Sahib for breaches of the conditions of his tenancy, and leased all the properties to three persons of whom the third appellant was one. This lease continued for three and a half years. On the 27th August, 1929, the properties were leased for three years to the third defendant in the suit out of which this appeal arises. On the 1st November, 1931, the properties were leased to the third appellant, who is still the lessee.

3. In 1917 Kasim Sahib sublet a part of the vacant land in Mottai Gardens to the respondents and they erected thereon a shed for the purposes of storing firewood. They were dealers in firewood. Kasim Sahib had no power to allow the respondent to erect this building, but he did not interfere and he accepted rent from them in respect of it. When the receivers took possession of the property in 1925 no objection was taken to the action of the respondents in erecting this building and they granted a new lease knowing that the lessees would be accepting rent from the respondents in respect of the building. The respondents commenced their occupation in 1927 as the daily tenants of the lessee and throughout have continued in occupation on this basis. On each occasion when a fresh lease was granted the respondents accepted the lessee as their landlord and paid to him the daily rent. The present suit was filed by the appellants in 1934. The question which the Court is called upon to decide is whether the present tenancy of the respondents must be deemed to have commenced before the 21st February, 1922, when the Madras City Tenants' Protection Act came into force. If they are to be deemed to be holding under a tenancy created after the Act came into force it is conceded that they will not be entitled to the benefit of the Act, as Section 1(3) provides that the Act shall apply only to tenancies of land created before the commencement of the Act. Section 2(2) states that land does not include buildings, and much has been said as to whether the respondents' tenancy was a tenancy of the land or of the building. It may be taken that the tenancy which was originally created was a tenancy of the land because the plot of which they got possession and in respect of which they paid rent had no-superstructure on it at the outset.

4. We accept the argument advanced on behalf of the appellants that the respondents must be deemed to be in possession under a tenancy created after the Act came into force. A sublessee can have no greater rights than his landlord and when the landlord's lease terminates any sub-tenancy created by him ceases to exist. The respondents were originally the sub-tenants of Kasim Sahib, but his lease of the properties terminated in 1925, and with the termination the respondents' sub-tenancy came to an end. On each occasion when a new lease was created there was a new sub-tenancy and the respondents must be deemed to be in possession under a sub-tenancy which commenced on the 1st October, 1934.

5. Mr. Krishnaswami Naidu has laid great stress on the definition of the word 'tenant' in Sub-section (4) of Section 2 of the Act. The sub-section defines the word 'tenant' as meaning a tenant of land liable to pay rent on it, every other person deriving title from him, and as including persons who continue in possession after the termination of the tenancy. The learned advocate says that the respondents derive title from Kasim Sahib, but that is obviously not the case. At one time they did derive title from him, but that title came to an end and they derived title from others after the Act came into operation. Mr. Krishnaswami Naidu has suggested that he receives help from the words 'includes persons who continue in possession after the termination of the tenancy'. These words would help the respondents if they were now in possession in continuation of the sub-tenancy created by Kasim Sahib, but unfortunately for them that is not the case. In Ranganatham Chetti v. Ethirajulu Nayudu (1940) 1 M.L.J. 24 : L.R. 67 IndAp 25 : I.L.R. (1940) Mad. 172 , the Privy Council considered the definition of the word 'tenant' in Section 2(4) and held that to obtain the benefit of the remaining sections of the Act including Section 12, a tenant must show that his tenancy was created before the commencement of the Act. The respondents have failed to show that; in fact the evidence clearly demonstrates that the sub-tenancy under which they are now holding was created as late as 1934.

6. For these reasons the appeal will be allowed and the decree of the trial Court restored with costs throughout.

7. In as much as the receivers took no action after Kasim Sahib's interest in the properties had ceased in 1925 and the respondents were allowed to continue in possession on the basis of paying rent to the then lessees we think that six months will be a reasonable time to give them for the removal of the superstructure.


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