K. Veeraswami, J.
1. This petition by the landlord raises a question of construction of Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVIII of 1960). The premises in were purchased by T.N.K. Govindaraju Chetty, which is a firm of partnership at Madras. The respondents are tenants of these premises for a number of years. On the ground that one of the partners T.N.V. Nanjappa Chetty required the premises for his own occupation, the firm represented by him applied under Section 10(3)(a)(i) for the eviction of the respondents. The Rent Controller accepted the ground and finding that the requirement was bona fide ordered eviction. The lower appellate Court agreed with the Rent Controller as to the bona fide requirement. Nonetheless, it held that Section 10(3)(a)(i) would not apply to the case. Its view is that a firm not being a legal person cannot be said to reside in any place, and, therefore, the requirement of one of its partners cannot be considered to be the requirement of the firm. On that view, it dismissed the petition for eviction.
2. In my view the lower appellate Court was not right as to the scope of Section 10(3)(a)(i). Sub-section (3)(a)(i) is to the effect that a landlord may apply to the Controller for an order for eviction of the tenant of a residential building if he requires it for his own occupation or for the occupation of his son provided he is not occupying a residential building of his own in the city, town, or village. Here the landlord is the firm. But since the firm is not a legal entity, in substance, the partners of the firm will be the landlords. When a firm purchases property, the purchase is really by its partners. It follows, therefore, that when a firm lets out a residential building belonging to it, in effect, its partners become the landlords. In that sense, Nanjappa as one of the partners, is a joint landlord. I do not see why the words in Sub-section (3)(a)(i) if the landlord requires it for his own occupation will not cover the case of a joint landlord. The words the landlord will cover not only a single or sole landlord, but also one of the joint landlords. Where the property is owned by the partners constituting a firm and one of them requires the building for his own occupation, I am of the view that it will squarely fall within the ambit of Section 10(3)(a)(i). On that view the petition is allowed the order of the lower appellate Court is set aside and that of the Rent Controller is restored. The respondents will have six months from to-date to vacate.
3. No. Costs.