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T. Rajarathnam Chetti Vs. A.A. Abdul Gani and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1963)1MLJ289
AppellantT. Rajarathnam Chetti
RespondentA.A. Abdul Gani and ors.
Cases ReferredCumming v. Danson
Excerpt:
- .....civil revision petitions the interesting question of law that-arises is whether both the house rent controller and the chief judge of the court of small causes (the appellate authority) having found that the requirement of the landlord is bona fide for the purpose of his business, are justified in allotting only two shops instead of four shops in the premises in question 24, devaraja mudali street, was purchased by the petitioner in the year 1959 for a sum of rs. 70,000. his son was originally carrying on glass business in partnership with a third party from 1956 to 1960. after the dissolution of the partnership he started a glass-business of his own with the capital furnished by his father. his father filed the present application for eviction of the four tenants from the.....
Judgment:
ORDER

T. Venkatadri, J.

1. In these Civil Revision Petitions the interesting question of law that-arises is whether both the House Rent Controller and the Chief Judge of the Court of Small Causes (the appellate authority) having found that the requirement of the landlord is bona fide for the purpose of his business, are justified in allotting only two shops instead of four shops in the premises in question 24, Devaraja Mudali Street, was purchased by the petitioner in the year 1959 for a sum of Rs. 70,000. His son was originally carrying on glass business in partnership with a third party from 1956 to 1960. After the dissolution of the partnership he started a glass-business of his own with the capital furnished by his father. His father filed the present application for eviction of the four tenants from the non-residential portion, of the said premises for the purpose of carrying on his own business. He is not in occupation of any other non-residential building of his own. The Rent Controller found as a matter of fact the landlord's application for his business is a bona fide one and he is entitled for possession of the building for carrying on his. business. But he considered the question whether he is really entitled to all the four shops or a portion of the premises for his own use and occupation. The House Rent Controller made a personal inspection of the suit premises, considered the oral evidence let in by the landlord, examined the volume of the business he is carrying on and kept in view the capital he has invested for the business in coming to the conclusion about the requirement of the landlord. The House Rent Controller concluded thus:

I am not convinced that the need for the entire downstairs is honestly and genuinely felt by him If the entire premises form one building occupied by one tenant, it would be inappropriate to go into the question of area or space that would be required.

2. The House Rent Controller gave an option to the landlord to choose any two-shops for his use and occupation but as the landlord refused to exercise the option, the House Rent Controller passed an order of eviction in respect of two tenants, K.S. Adam and K. Rathakrishniah, respondents 1 and 4 in the House Rent Control petition.

3. On appeal by the landlord to the appellate Court, the learned Judge of the Court of Small Causes confirmed the order passed by the House Rent Controller and came to the following conclusion:

Considering the fact that the business by the landlord has been started only recently and considering also the further fact that he has not got much goods to be stocked, the learned Rent Controller rightly held that the portions occupied by respondents 1 and 4 in the petition alone would be sufficient for his. occupation.

In the end, he dismissed the appeal.

4. The landlord filed a Revision Petition against this order complaining that once the House Rent Controller gave a finding that his application was a bona fide one he should have ordered eviction for the entire downstair portion for the purpose of carrying on his business. His learned Counsel Mr. Rajah Ayyar has stated all that could be said in his favour but in my view the decision of the lower Court was correct.

5. The only question that I have to consider is what is the reasonable requirement of the petitioner herein when he applied for eviction of the entire downstair portion of the suit building. No doubt it is a question of fact and it depends upon the circumstances of each case. The term 'require' implies that it is more under the force of personal circumstances than under the impulse of a desire that the landlord needs the premises ; but desire is not altogether to be ruled out. 'Requirement ' has a subjective element in it, whereas the term 'reasonable' possesses an objective element. It is useful now to refer to a passage in ' Principles of Rent Control by R.B. Andhayawjina where at page 254 the learned author says:

A man may honestly say : 'These are my requirements, and I feel that that must be satisfied These are my normal needs.' But the Court which plays the objective role says : 'True, this is what you feel and think, but let me know the full circumstances of your case. It may be that your notion of what you need may coincide with my notion of what reasonably you should need ; but it may be that. I may come to a different conclusion, and have to say that you have over-estimated what you should need. ' A Prince may need a palatial accommodation, and may come to the Court to recover possession of the same from his tenant. To him the Court says : ' I do not, while considering your requirement, forget that you are a Prince, and will surely make allowance for the comfort to which you are entitled, but I shall not make allowance for the comforts to which you are accustomed nor for the comforts which you may perhaps legitimately desire : for we live in emergent times and I can only permit you to occupy what is, under the circumstances, reasonable. The regulated needs of society must readily yield to the arbitrary and unbridled desire of individuals however high placed they may be.'

In this case the House Rent Controller considered every circumstance affecting the interests of either the landlord or tenants in the premises and came to an honest conclusion that the requirements of the landlord may be satisfied by an allotment of two shops out of the four shops in the downstair portion of the premises in question. R.E. Megarry in his book ' The Rent Acts ' states at page 236:

The discretion to be exercised is not that of the Court of Appeal but that of the trial Judge, and his exercise of that discretion cannot be set aside 'unless it appears that he has proceeded upon grounds which are wholly unreasonable.'

In this connection it is useful to refer to a passage of Lord Greene, M.R., in Cumming v. Danson (1942) 2 All E.R. 655, which runs thus:

In considering reasonableness under Section 3(1), it is, in my opinion, perfectly clear the duty of the judges is to take into account all relevant circumstances as they exist at the date of the hearing. That he must do in what I venture to call a broad, commonsense way as a man of the world, and come to his conclusion giving such weight as he thinks right to the various factors in the situation. Some factor may have little or no weight, others may be decisive, but it is quite wrong for him to exclude from his consideration matters which he ought to take into account.

Similarly in Darnell v. Nilwood (1951) 1 All E.R. 83, Raymond Evershed, M.R., observes:

It has been said many times in this Court that the question what is reasonable is eminently a question of fact for the County Court Judge, and, unless it can be shown that he has misdirected himself by omitting some point of substance or by taking account of something which should not properly have been considered, it is not for this Court to disturb the judge's findings.

The learned Counsel for the respondent also brought to my notice a decision Rambilas v. Bajpai (1958) Nag. L.J. 44, which has been referred to in the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960 (1962) M.L.J. Edn. Whether the landlord would reasonably need the whole house is a question of fact and any finding given by the House Rent Controller on that has to be accepted by the High Court. Mr. Rajah Ayyar, learned Counsel for the petitioner, drew my attention to a Bench decision of our High Court in Venkatesachary and Ors. v. The Judge, Court of Small Courts, Madras and Ors. : (1949)2MLJ784 , where it has been held:

What is sufficient for the landlord is not the real question, but whether he requires the entire building bona fide for his occupation.

The learned Counsel may be right if the landlord requires the entire non-residential portion of the building if it is occupied by one tenant. But this principle may not be applicable if the non-residential portion of the building is occupied by different tenants. Then the natural question would arise whether the landlord required the entire portion or any portion of the non-residential building for his use and occupation. It is true that the landlord purchased this building for Rs. 70,000 but as rightly pointed out in Cumming v. Danson1, it is irrelevant to take into consideration that the landlord purchased the building recently for his use and occupation.

6. In the end these Civil Revision Petitions are dismissed. But these are fit cases where each party should bear its costs throughout.


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