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K.J. Sivalingam Vs. S. Guruswamy and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1983)2MLJ85
AppellantK.J. Sivalingam
RespondentS. Guruswamy and anr.
Cases ReferredBharat Trading Co. v. K. Shanmughasundaram
Excerpt:
- - 4. thirdly, learned counsel for the landlord submits that the reasoning of the appellate authority that the buildings do not require immediate demolition and reconstruction runs contrary to the well-accepted dicta of courts in this regard. that is definitely a clear indication that the buildings would require attention for sustaining them in good condition. it is true that there is a general observation by the advocate commissioner that the general condition of the buildings is good. there is no warrant for applying such stringent tests to discountenance the plea of the landlord for requiring the building for demolition and reconstruction of a better structure either to get a better return or to accommodate himself comfortably......the case of the landlord and ordered eviction against the tenants. the tenants appealed and the appellate authority has chosen to reverse the orders of the controller, allowed the appeals and has dismissed the petitions for eviction. hence, these two revisions by the landlord. mr. s. navaneethakrishnan, learned counsel appearing for the landlord, would attack each one of the reasonings advanced by the appellate authority for discountenancing the case of the landlord. the appellate authority with reference to the case of the landlord against the tenant-respondent in c.r.p. no. 3620 of 1981 has taken the view that since the landlord put forth the case under section 14(1)(b) of the act, the other ground under section 10(3)(a)(i) of the act cannot be advanced and the appellate authority.....
Judgment:

S. Nainar Sundaram, J.

1. The petitioner in both these revisions is one and the same. The petitioner is a landlord within the meaning of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act XVII of 1960, hereinafter referred to as the Act. The respondent in each of the revisions is the tenant within the meaning of the Act. The landlord sought the eviction of the tenant-respondent in C.R. P. No. 3620 of 1981 on two grounds, namely that he required the building in question for his own use and occupation under Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Act and on the ground of bona fide requirement for the immediate purpose of demolition and reconstruction under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act. The landlord sought the eviction of the tenant-respondent in C.R.P. No. 3621 of 1981 putting forth the ground under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act. The tenants contested the petitions for eviction. The Controller countenanced the case of the landlord and ordered eviction against the tenants. The tenants appealed and the appellate authority has chosen to reverse the orders of the Controller, allowed the appeals and has dismissed the petitions for eviction. Hence, these two revisions by the landlord. Mr. S. Navaneethakrishnan, learned Counsel appearing for the landlord, would attack each one of the reasonings advanced by the appellate authority for discountenancing the case of the landlord. The appellate authority with reference to the case of the landlord against the tenant-respondent in C.R.P. No. 3620 of 1981 has taken the view that since the landlord put forth the case under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act, the other ground under Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Act cannot be advanced and the Appellate Authority declined to consider the case of the landlord under Section 10(3)(a)(i) on this reasoning. Learned Counsel for the landlord would state that this is an untenable reasoning and cannot have the support of a proper and a harmonious construction of the said provisions of the Act. I am inclined to agree, with this submission of the learned Counsel and I am expressing my reasons therefor, as hereunder.

2. Under Section 10(3)(a)(i), the landlord can get possession of the building, if he satisfies the requisite conditions. The order of eviction could have reference only to the building as it exists. But, that does not preclude the landlord from availing of the provisions of Section 14(1)(b) and getting the purpose of self-occupation served after suitably reconstructing the building on demolition. The two pleas cannot be said to be contradictory to one another. Hence, there is nothing wrong if the landlord quotes both the provisions to serve his end. One does not exclude the other. Both can go together. In Pappu Ammal v. Messrs Lab Chemicals : AIR1978Mad272 . I had occasion to consider somewhat similar facts where the landlady filed a petition under Section 10(3)(a)(ii) of the Act and followed it up by petitions under Section 14(1)(6) of the Act. I have opined that the two claims cannot be said to be contradictory to one another and the forums below, in that case, committed an error in taking this as a factor indicating the lack of bona fides on the part of the landlady. There is a possibility that the landlord could be desirous of accommodating himself in his own property after demolition and reconstruction of the building in question to suit his own needs and merely because the two provisions are quoted, there is no warrant to exclude the consideration of the case under one or the other on the ground that they are contradictory to one another. The case of the landlord can survive either under both or any one of the two provisions also. After all, the general law of landlord and tenant stands excluded and the Act has curtailed the right of the landlord to seek eviction of the tenant except on the grounds set out therein. If there is a warrant for it, the landlord can seek eviction of the tenant under the appropriate provisions, not necessarily tying himself down to one and not the other or others, as the case may be. The forums constituted under the Act are duly bound to consider the case of the landlord, not excluding the consideration of the case under the one or the other, on the reasoning that one will exclude the other, for which I am not able to spell out any support either under the scheme of the Act or on a proper construction of the provisions of the Act. Hence, I have to discountenance the approach and reasoning of the Appellate Authority.

3. Secondly, learned Counsel for the landlord submits that the Appellate Authority was patently in error when he declined to consider the case of the landlord on the ground that the two buildings in question are in a row of four buildings, the other two buildings belonging to the brother of the landlord and the landlord has not stated in his evidence that his brother has no objection to his own buildings being damaged at the time of the proposed demolition and reconstruction. The discussion on this aspect is found in paragraph 10 of the judgment of the Appellate Authority. On going through the same, I am obliged to accept this submission of the learned Counsel for the landlord. P.W. 2 is the brother of the landlord. P.W. 2 has stated in his evidence that he has no objection to his buildings being damaged at the time of the proposed demolition and reconstruction of the buildings owned by his brother, namely, the landlord. When this is the evidence of the owner of the other two adjoining buildings, it is puerile to insist that the landlord must also state so in his evidence.

4. Thirdly, learned Counsel for the landlord submits that the reasoning of the Appellate Authority that the buildings do not require immediate demolition and reconstruction runs contrary to the well-accepted dicta of Courts in this regard. It is true that the existing conditions of building, far from being totally irrelevant, is a vital factor while considering the bona fide requirement under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act. Equally so, old age and dilapidated condition of the building is not a sine qua non or a decisive factor for eviction under Section 14(1)(b). Vide Metal ware and Co. v. Bansila : [1979]3SCR1107 . It is the admitted case of the tenants-respondents herein that the buildings in question are about 40 years old. The landlord, in his petitions, has categorically averred that he wants to reconstruct the buildings to put them for proper use. In one case, he has invoked the aid of Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Act thereby indicating that he wants to occupy the building after such reconstruction. The Advocate Commissioner appointed to find out the condition of the buildings found that repair works had been carried out recently. That is definitely a clear indication that the buildings would require attention for sustaining them in good condition. It is true that there is a general observation by the Advocate Commissioner that the general condition of the buildings is good. While the age and the condition of the buildings are relevant factors to be taken into account, it is not possible to insist that the condition of the buildings must be such that there is an imminent threat of the same crumbling down in the near future and only in such a contingency, the landlord could resort to the process under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act. There is no warrant for applying such stringent tests to discountenance the plea of the landlord for requiring the building for demolition and reconstruction of a better structure either to get a better return or to accommodate himself comfortably. A similar view has been expressed by Sengottuvelan, J. in Bharat Trading Co. v. K. Shanmughasundaram (1981) 1 M.L.J. 94: (1982) 95 L.W.259. The reasoning of the learned Judge appeals to me and I feel obliged to follow the same, In this view, I am not able to sustain the finding of the appellate authority on this aspect.

5. Fourthly, the learned Counsel for the landlord submits that a suit, O.S. No. 192 of 1975 filed by the tenant-respondent in C.R.P. No. 3620 of 1981, which is a suit for injunction against the landlord, has been put against the landlord, to negative his bona fides. In his anxiety, and apprehending action for eviction by the landlord, the tenant has resorted to the civil process. That could not be a factor to be put against the landlord' to test his bona fides. After all, parties resort to Courts and Tribunals to safeguard rights, legitimate and sometimes imaginary, as conceived by them and it is for the Courts and Tribunals to adjudicate them on merits and in accordance with law, and resort to a process of law through a particular forum by a party, by itself, cannot be put in the balance to tilt the same in favour of one or the other.

6. Practically, the above discussion covers all the aspects put against the landlord by the ' appellate authority and I have to hold that none of the said reasonings could be sustained in law. The appellate authority has found that the landlord has got the means to carry out the work of demolition and reconstruction and further, he has made necessary arrangements for getting the plans approved and the licence for the proposed reconstruction and these findings enure to the benefit of the landlord. Mr. S. Navaneethakrishnan, learned Counsel for the landlord, wants to canvass the case under Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Act also against the tenant-respondent in C.R.P. No. 3620 of 1981. In my view, it is unnecessary to go into the details since I have sustained the case of the landlord under Section 14(i)(6) of the Act against both the tenants, Suffice it to point out that the Controller has discussed this aspect, taking into account all the relevant considerations and his reasonings and conclusion are convincing and they have not been upset by the appellate authority and I confirm the decision of the Controller in this regard.

7. It is true that the powers of this Court are limited, but when there is an omission to apply the law to the admitted set of facts, definitely that would be an order per se perverse and would come within the norms of 'irregularity or incorrectness, illegality or impropriety' under Section 25 of the Act, and definitely, this Court can interfere in revision.

8. For all the above reasons, these two revisions are allowed, the orders of the appellate authority are set aside and those of the Controller are restored. But, there will be no order as to costs in these revisions. Time to vacate, three months.


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