1. The petitioner in these two Revision Petitions is the Receiver appointed in the proceedings in T.O.S. No. 9 of 1947 on the file of the Original Side of this Court. As such Receiver he let out a tiled shop, premises No. 13 and a godown, premises No. 9 in the Evening Bazaar Road, Park Town, Madras, on a monthly rental of Rs. 300 to a firm of merchants, Abdul Rahim & Brothers. The terms of the lease were approved and sanctioned by an order of Court, dated 29th September, 1955. The lease was for a period of three years from 22nd July, 1955. The lessee undertook to effect the annual repairs, including white-washing, to the buildings, at his expense.
2. The lessee, after having been in occupation of the premises paying the rent of Rs. 300 per month for a period of 2 years after the lease, filed an application. H.R.C. No. 1755 of 1957 before the House Rent Controller, Madras, praying for fixation of fair rent for the premises. The Receiver, the landlord, resisted the application and contended that it was not open to the tenant to ask for relief by way of fixation of fair rent in view of the agreement to pay rent at the rate of Rs. 300 which was sanctioned by the Court. The Rent Controller inspected the premises and adverted to the fact that the annual valuation of the premises as disclosed in the Property Register maintained by the Corporation of Madras worked out at the rate of a monthly rent of Rs. 160 during the 1939-1940 and fixed the fair rent at Rs. 240 adding 50 per cent, to Rs. 160. He overruled the contention of the landlord that the application for fixation of fair rent was not maintainable. Both the landlord and the tenant filed appeals against the said decision in the Court of Small Causes at Madras; H.R.A. No. 194 of 1958 was the landlord's appeal and H.R.A. No. 202 of 1958 was the tenant's appeal. The learned Second Judge of the Court of Small Causes found that the tenant in occupation of the premises in the year 1939-40 actually paid only a rent of Rs. 150 per month, and held that the monthly rental forming the basis of annual, valuation in the books of the Corporation should not be taken as the proper guide and that under the circumstances of the case only an addition of 25 per cent, to Rs. 150 per month was called for and he accordingly fixed Rs. 187-8-0 per month as the fair rent. These two Revision Petitions have been preferred by the landlord.
3. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contended that the application for fixation of fair rent is not competent in view of the fact that the tenant had agreed to pay Rs. 300 per month when he took up the premises on lease under orders of Court. There is no force in this contention. The tenant has a right to apply for fixation of fair rent and the mere fact that he agreed to pay rent at a certain rate at the inception of the tenancy is not a bar to enforce such a right.
4. We are wholly unable to agree with the learned Judge of the Court of Small Causes that the extracts, Exhibits P-1 and P-2 from the Property Tax Register of the Corporation, which unmistakably show that the annual value was fixed on the basis of a monthly rental of Rs. 160 should or can be ignored. The evidence that during the year 1939-40, the tenant of the premises paid only Rs. 150 per month is very slender and certainly the Rent Controller was not impressed with that evidence. It is no doubt true that the landlord-Receiver was not in a position to deny the statement of the tenant that the premises fetched a rent of Rs. 150 during the material period prior to 1st April, 1940. We are inclined to attach more importance to the extracts from the Corporation Register than the oral evidence in the case regarding the rent paid by the tenant prior to 1940. It must therefore be taken that the monthly rental for the premises prior to 1st April, 1940 was only the sum of Rs. 160.
5. The Rent Controller added 50 per cent, to Rs. 160 and fixed the fair rent at Rs. 240 per month. The Appellate Authority was of the opinion that the circumstances of the case called for an addition of only 25 per cent. We are unable to see on what basis the Appellate Authority interfered with the discretion of the Rent Controller in the matter. The tenant effected repairs to the building only because he undertook such an obligation by the terms of the lease. If the tenant improved the building to suit his convenience he cannot claim that circumstance as a bar to the statutory right of the landlord of an increase up to 50 per cent, over the basic rent for the twelve months prior to 1st April, 1940. It is stated that the tenant electrified the shop. That again was done by the tenant, if it was done by him at all, only for his convenience and for the amenities of his trade or business. Whatever right a tenant may have against the landlord in regard to improvements effected by him in respect of the premises voluntarily, the carrying out of such improvements cannot be a relevant circumstance enabling the tenant to prevent the landlord from obtaining the benefit of increase of rent over the basic rent. The fixation of fair rent does not mean the fixation of a low rent favourable, beneficial and to the advantage of the tenant, as that would result in the landlord getting only an unfair rent.
6. We are clearly of opinion that the fair rent fixed by the Rent Controller, namely, Rs. 240 per month was just, proper and in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
7. The New Act, Madras Act (XVIII of 1960), does not govern these proceedings as the Act does not in express terms or by necessary intendment govern pending proceedings. Section 35(3) of the New Act, however, can be availed of by either party and these proceedings cannot in any way affect that right.
8. The Revision Petitions are therefore allowed; and the order of the Second Judge of the Court of Small Causes is set aside and that of the Rent Controller is restored. The petitioner will have his costs in C.R.P. No. 331 of 1960 from the respondent and he will also get his costs from the respondent in H.R.A. No. 194 of 1958, Court of Small Causes, Madras.