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Dr. N. Natesan Vs. Mrs. S. Santhalakshmi - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1971)2MLJ164
AppellantDr. N. Natesan
RespondentMrs. S. Santhalakshmi
Cases ReferredGurumurthi v. Subramania
Excerpt:
- - 1. the petitioner is the unsuccessful landlord whose petition for eviction of the respondent under section 10(3)(a)(i) of the madras buildings (lease and rent control) act (xviii of 1960) from premises no. hence i proceed to treat both of them as being in essential service for considering the scope of section 10(4)(i). 4. the learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the protection under section 10(4)(i) will be available only to the tenant and not to any other member of his family and that the view of the courts below that the definition of 'tenant' under section 2(8) will take in the sons and daughters as well cannot be held to be a tenable......of a deceased tenant who had been living with the tenant in the building as a member of the tenant's family upto the death of tenant....' the question is whether the daughters of the respondent who is the tenant, can also come under the definition of a 'tenant'. the view taken by the courts below is that they will come under the extended definition of 'tenant' occurring in section 2(8). but i am of the opinion that the definition will only take in sons or daughters or the legal representatives of the tenants only after the death of the tenant and not when the tenant himself is alive. to construe otherwise will lead to considerable absurdities and anomalies. even when the tenant is alive if his sons and daughters are to be treated as tenants, there will be more than one tenant in.....
Judgment:

G. Ramanujam, J.

1. The petitioner is the unsuccessful landlord whose petition for eviction of the respondent Under Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVIII of 1960) from premises No. 8 Abhiramapuram First Street, Madras-18 on the ground that he bona fide required the same for his own use and occupation and also for the use of his son, had been dismissed. The application for eviction filed by the petitioner was contested by the respondent on the ground that the requirement of the petitioner was not bona fide and that, in any event, her two daughters who are living with her having been employed in essential service an eviction order cannot be passed in view of the protection given Under Section 10(4) of the Act. The Rent Controller found that the petitioner's requirement of the premises for the occupation of himself and his son is bona fide. But he found that the petitioner is not entitled to an order of eviction on the ground that the respondent's daughters are employed in essential service and as such an order of eviction could not be passed in view of Section 10(4)(i) of the Act. There was an appeal to the appellate authority and the appellate authority also held that the petitioner's requirement of the premises for his own occupation was bona fide. It, however, held that the respondent is entitled t o the benefit of Section 10(4)(i) of the Act in view of the fact that her daughters are employed in essential service. The petitioner is questioning the correctness of the finding of the Courts below that he is not entitled to an order of eviction in view of Section to (4) of the Act.

2. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that the Courts below were in error in holding that the respondent was entitled to the benefit of Section 10(4)(i) of the Act so as to prevent the petitioner from getting an order of eviction on the ground of his bona fide requirement of the premises.

3. It is not in dispute that one of the daughters of the respondent is employed in the Southern Railway and the other daughter is employed in the Food Corporation of India. Even though the employment in the Food Corporation of India cannot be said to be a notified essential service, the employment of one of the daughters in the Southern Railway can be said to be in essential service. But whether both the daughters are employed in essential service or one of them alone is employed in essential service, the legal position arising will be the same. Hence I proceed to treat both of them as being in essential service for considering the scope of Section 10(4)(i).

4. The learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that the protection Under Section 10(4)(i) will be available only to the tenant and not to any other member of his family and that the view of the Courts below that the definition of 'tenant' Under Section 2(8) will take in the sons and daughters as well cannot be held to be a tenable.

5. Section 10(4) so far as it is relevant for the present discussion is as follows:

No order for eviction shall be passed under Sub-section (3)(i) against any tenant who is engaged in any employment or class of employment notified by the Government as an essential service for the purpose of this sub-section, unless the landlord is himself engaged in any employment or class of employment which has been so notified....

This sub-section in terms gives protection to a tenant who is engaged in any employment or class of employment notified by the Government as an essential service for the purpose of the sub-section. A 'tenant' has been defined Under Section 2(8) as meaning 'any person by whom or on whose account rent is payable for a building and includes the surviving spouse, or any son, or daughter, or the legal representative of a deceased tenant who had been living with the tenant in the building as a member of the tenant's family upto the death of tenant....' The question is whether the daughters of the respondent who is the tenant, can also come under the definition of a 'tenant'. The view taken by the Courts below is that they will come under the extended definition of 'tenant' occurring in Section 2(8). But I am of the opinion that the definition will only take in sons or daughters or the legal representatives of the tenants only after the death of the tenant and not when the tenant himself is alive. To construe otherwise will lead to considerable absurdities and anomalies. Even when the tenant is alive if his sons and daughters are to be treated as tenants, there will be more than one tenant in respect of the same building and they may independently seek the protection of the Act in respect of the same building. If the statute intended to confer a benefit also on the other members of the tenant's family it could have specifically stated so. I am not inclined to agree with the learned Counsel for the respondent that the punctuation between the words 'surviving spouse' and 'or any son or daughter' showed that the word ' surviving' qualified only spouse and not the son and daughter. The punctuation though regarded as a guide for the interpretation of a statutory provision, it cannot be conclusive. Odgers in his 'the Construction of Deeds and Statutes' 4th edition, page 249 says:

the title, marginal notes and punctuation in a statute are regarded merely as contemporanea expositio, 'which though useful as a guide to a hasty inquirer,' ought not to be relied upon in construing an Act of Parliament.

Maxwell 'On the Interpretation of Statutes' at page 14 of the 12th edition also points out that:

Where it is necessary to give a provision a particular construction which is at variance with the way in which the section is punctuated, it may be read as though there were in fact punctuations where none appears on the face of the Act.

Though punctuation can be regarded as a kind of contemporanea expositio, it cannot be treated as forming part of the statute itself. In my view on a proper construction of the definition of 'tenant' in Section 2(8), it can be taken to include a surviving spouse, son or daughter or the legal representative of a deceased tenant who had been living with the tenant in the building as a member of his family up to the death of the tenant and it will not take in any spouse, son or daughter even though living with the tenant as a member of his family, when the tenant is alive. The words 'son or daughter' occurring in the definition cannot be taken out of its context and construed as coming within the definition of 'tenant' without the qualification that they must have been living with the tenant in the building as a member of his family up to the death of the tenant. In my view, the surviving spouse, son, daughter or legal representative all go together and they will become tenants only on the death of the tenant if they had been living with the deceased tenant in the building as a. member of his family up to his death. The construction put forward by the Courts below would mean that the tenant as defined in the Act will include all the members of his family. That cannot obviously be the intention of the Legislature. A son or daughter of a tenant can claim protection only if he or she had lived with the tenant as a member of his family up to his death. That means that during the lifetime of the tenant they cannot seek the protection under the Act as tenants.

6. The learned Counsel for the respondent contends that the object and purpose of the Act being to confer some benefits on the tenants and to prevent unreasonable eviction of tenants, the definition in Section 2(8) of the Act should be liberally construed so as to bring in a son or daughter of a tenant within the scope of the definition. It is true the object of the Act or is to regulate the letting of residential and non-residential buildings and the control of rents of such building and to prevent unreasonable eviction of tenants at the instance of landlords. But that object cannot be brought in aid to bring in within the definition of 'tenant' all members in the tenant's family as urged by the learned Counsel for the respondent.

7. Reliance is placed by the learned Counsel for the respondent on a decision of this Court in Gurumurthi v. Subramania : (1967)2MLJ322 . That was a case where an order or eviction obtained originally against the deceased tenant was sought to be executed against his legal representatives; Section 18 of Madras Act XVIII of 1960, and two of the legal representatives who were employed in essential service resisted that application on the ground that they are entitled to the protection of Section 10(4)(i) of the Act, and the Court held that the said legal representatives will be entitled to the protection claimed and that the protection is not merely against the passing of an eviction order but also against the execution of the said eviction order. The principle laid down in that decision cannot obviously be applied to the facts of this case. There the legal representatives claimed the benefit of Section 10(4)(i) on the basis that they come under the definition of 'tenant' after the death of the deceased tenant. But in this case, the daughters of the tenant claim the benefit of the provision in Section 10(4)(i) even during the lifetime of the tenant. That means they claim to be tenants simultaneously with their mother who is admittedly the tenant. Even the extended definition in Section 2(8) cannot cover, in my opinion, such a case as this. I therefore do not agree with the view taken by the Courts below that the daughters of the respondent are entitled to the protection Under Section 10(4)(i) of the Act, and hold that Section 10(4)(i) will not be bar against the petitioner seeking an order of eviction on the ground of his bona fide requirement of the premises for his own occupation.

8. The Civil Revision Petition is, therefore, allowed and an order of eviction is passed against the respondent. There will, however, be no order as to costs. Time for delivery 16th June, 1971.


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