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Guruswami Chettiar Vs. Savithri Ammal and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1983)2MLJ88
AppellantGuruswami Chettiar
RespondentSavithri Ammal and ors.
Excerpt:
- .....no. 10 of 1964, within a period of one month from the date of service of the suit summons in the suit filed in ejectment by the landlady. the court, however, did not have to decide that application for the purpose of graning any relief to which the tenant would be entitled under section 9 of the act, because the application was got dismissed by the tenant himself on 28th september, 1966. the question of limitation has been raised not with reference to the application o.p. no. 10 of 1964, which, it is common ground, was filed in time. the subsequent application in o.p. no. 41 of 1976 was filed beyond 30 days from the date of service of the suit summons in the ejectment suit. the argument of the tenant before the court below was that he had filed the application within a period of 30.....
Judgment:

V. Balasubrahmanyan, J.

1. The petitioner obtained a lease of land from the first respondent Savithri Ammal and raised a superstructure of his own on the demised land. The property was situate within the limits of Kumbakonam Municipality to which the provisions of the City Tenants' Protection Act, 1921, were extended with effect from 14th December, 1955. The landlady Savithri Ammal filed a suit, O.S. No. 7 of 1964, on the file of the Sub-Court, Kumbakonam, for ejecting the tenant, from the land. The suit summons was served on the tenant on 11th February, 1964. Within a month's time from the service of summons, on 10th March, 1964, the tenant filed O.P. No. 10 of 1964, on the file of the Sub-Court, Kumbakonam, under Section 9 of the Madras City Tenants' Protection Act, 1922 seeking the aid of the Court to obtain from the landlady, by purchase the demised land on which he bad constructed the superstructure. The Sub-Court decreed the landlady's ejectment suit on 30th October, 1965, subject to the results of the tenant's application in O.P. No. 10 of 1964, against the decree in ejectment. The tenant filed an appeal before the District Judge of West Thanjavur, in A.S. No. 265 of 1975. This appeal by the tenant was allowed by the District Court on 18th June, 1966. Thereupon, apparently, under some instructions, the tenant represented before the Sub-Court, Kumbakonam that he was not pressing his application under Section 9 of the Act, that is to say O.P. No. 10 of 1964, on granting liberty to the tenant to renew the application. Meanwhile, the landlady filed a second appeal in this Court in S.A. No. 224 of 1967 against the decision of the District Court which dismissed her suit for ejectment. This Court allowed the second appeal on 28th January, 1972. The result was that the decree in ejectment passed by the Sub-Court was restored.

2. The landlady then caused a notice to be issued to the tenant for rendering vacant possession of the property. That notice was served on the tenant on 26th July, 1976. On 12th August, 1976, the tenant filed O.P. No. 41 of 1976 in the Sub-Court, Kumbakonam, purporting to be an application under Section 9 of the City Tenants' Protection Act, 1922. This application was said to be in renewal of the earlier application for a similar relief, O.P. No. 10 of 1964, which was dismissed on 28th September, 1966, as not pressed,

3. Objection was taken by the landlady to this renewed application O.P. No. 41 of 1976 on the ground that it was barred by limitation. The Sub-Court upheld this objection and dismissed the application as time-barred. The tenant has now approached this Court in revision.

4. Learned Counsel for the tenant submitted that the Court below ought not to have entertained the plea of limitation since a proper application under Section 9 was brought by the tenant within the time allowed by the law in O.P. No. 10 of 1964 and the present application, namely. O.P. No. 41 of 1976 must be really regarded as a continuation of the original application. He further submitted that while the earlier application O.P. No. 10 of 1964 was dismissed as not pressed, the Court gave liberty to the tenant to renew that application. Learned Counsel accordingly submitted that the question of applying the limitation provisions strictly to this case on the literal words of Section 9 did not arise.

5. I do not accept the submissions of the learned Counsel for the petitioner as tenable. Under the scheme of the City Tenant's Protection Act, where a tenant is found entitled to the benefits of the Act, he can apply to the Court for obtaining the demised land by purchase from the landlord when the landlord institutes a suit against him in ejectment. The time limit within which an application of this kind has to be filed is prescribed in Section 9(1) of the Act as a period of one month after the service on the tenant of the suit summons. There are other alternative periods of limitation under Section 9 of the Act. Even independently of an institution of the suit, the tenant can file a similar application ; a separate period of limitation is prescribed for such an application. It is, however, unnecessary to go into them because they are not relevant to the present discussion. The tenant in this case did file an application under Section 9 of the Act within time, when he filed O.P. No. 10 of 1964, within a period of one month from the date of service of the suit summons in the suit filed in ejectment by the landlady. The Court, however, did not have to decide that application for the purpose of graning any relief to which the tenant would be entitled under Section 9 of the Act, because the application was got dismissed by the tenant himself on 28th September, 1966. The question of limitation has been raised not with reference to the application O.P. No. 10 of 1964, which, it is common ground, was filed in time. The subsequent application in O.P. No. 41 of 1976 was filed beyond 30 days from the date of service of the suit summons in the ejectment suit. The argument of the tenant before the Court below was that he had filed the application within a period of 30 days from the date of service of notice by the landlady to render vacant possession of the property. This is not a period of limitation which has been prescribed under Section 9 or under any other provision of the Act.

6. Another argument addressed before the lower Court and repeated before me was that the present application O.P. No. 41 of 1976 must be regarded as a continuation of the earlier application which was undoubtedly within time. This argument also cannot be accepted for the simple reason that the earlier application was dismissed finally on 28th September, 1966. It is true that liberty was granted by the Court dismissing that application for the tenant to renew it later. But the Court, in my judgment, has no power to grant any such liberty which will cut at the statutory bar of limitation. Any indulgence by the Court as in this case would go quite against the very scheme of the City Tenant's Protection Act. Under the statutory scheme, the tenant would be entitled to alternative reliefs. If he submits to eviction, he would be entitled to compensation for the superstructure which he had built on the dismissed land In the alternative he can file an application under Section 9 for the purchase of the dismissed land from the landlord. The legislative idea behind the conferring of a right on the tenant to purchase the land is to make him the owner of both the land and the superstructure, which would be possible only if no decree in ejectment is passed by the Court. That is why the limitation is prescribed in Section 9 in a manner which will enable the tenant to make the application fairly early in the proceedings in the suit. If once a decree is passed, the fiat of the Court must run and the tenant must be evicted from the demised premises, in which event, to allow the tenant to purchase the land would be meaningless, because it would go against the very teeth of the decree for eviction of the tenant from the premises. In contrast, the Act provides for compensation to be awarded to the tenant for the superstructure both in the suit itself and also after the suit is decreed in favour of the landlord in the execution proceedings. Section 10 provides that even during the pendency of execution of a decree in ejectment, the tenant can apply for compensation to be paid to him for the superstructure and the Court had the power to entertain and allow the application. The statute contemplates that where the application of the tenant is allowed in execution of a decree in ejectment, that would entail the Court passing an additional decree in the very suit in favour of the tenant as respects the amount spent by the tenant. This statutory scheme is possible only in a case where a tenant, not having proseetuted his claim for compensation at the trial of the suit, yet maintains a claim after the decree, because, any such claim will not go against the tenor and against the teeth of the suit in ejectment. But any such relief by the tenant for the purchase of the demised land from the landlord, which as I said, has to be claimed only in the suit and before the suit terminates in a decree in favour of the landlord. There is therefore, no way by which the Court can direct the revival or renewal of an application under Section 9 when it is dismissed for some reason or other and the suit in ejectment proceeds to a conclusion in favour of the landlord. Merely because the Court had granted the tenant in this case the liberty to renew the application it does not mean that thereby the Court had rendered the decree in ejectment passed in favour of the landlord nugatory.

7. I therefore uphold the decision of the Court below as correct in law. The civil revision petition is dismissed. In the peculiar circumstances of the case, there will be no order as to costs.


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