1. On the ground that the respondent bona fide required a portion: of the premises No. 80/3, Lloyds Road, Royapettah, Madras, the petitioner who has been a tenant therein for about 10 years has been directed to be evicted and this order was confirmed in appeal. This petition is directed against the eviction The requirement of owner's occupation was rested on the basis that the petitioner's-son-in-law who is a practising medical man wants the portion for opening a clinic. It is common ground that the petitioner's only daughter is living with her in the other portions of the house and has grand-children by her. It is also common, ground that the son-in-law is living with her along with his wife and children. The Courts below were of the view that the words ' his own occupation ' in Section 7(3) of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1949, should be read in a liberal sense and that so read, the instant case would also fall within the ambit of those words. In this Revision the propriety of this view is canvassed by the tenant.
2. Clause (i) of Sub-section (3)(a) to Section 7 pertains to the ground of requirement of the premises for owner's occupation on which a tenant in a residential-building may be evicted therefrom provided the other conditions of the clause are satisfied. But this provision will have no direct application here because only a portion of the house is involved in this petition and to such a case the appropriate-provision is Clause (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 7. That clause reads:
A landlord who is occupying a part of a building, whether residential or non-residential, may notwithstanding anything contained in Clause (a) apply to the Controller for an order directing any tenant occupying the whole or any portion of the remaining part of the building to put the landlord in possession thereof, if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes or for the purposes of a business which he is carrying on, as the case may be.
The question is what is the meaning to be given to the words ' if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes.' For this purpose cases decided with reference to the words ' for his own occupation ' in the earlier statutory provision referred to are relied on which are to the effect that the words do not mean one's own requirement literally, but should be construed in a liberal sense. So understood, Courts have taken the view that the requirement need not be personal to the owner of the premises but may be of a son, a daughter, or a daughter's son or a widowed daughter-in-law. Occasionally tests of dependency, blood relationship and the like have been applied to draw the line. But in a Bombay case it would appear the view was taken that in applying the words ' his own occupation ' it would be relevant to take into account the particular custom or usage or practice prevailing in a given community. But as I said the words in this petition to be considered are not ' for his own occupation ' but the words ' if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes.' It is contended for the petitioner that since the. son-in-law in this case had given evidence clearly asserting that he was not dependent on his mother-in-law except that he expected her to look after his children and that in such circumstances it cannot be said that merely because the son-in-law happened to be living with the petitioner that would justify her to say that she required additional accommodation for residential purposes or purposes of a business which she is carrying on. Prima facie there appears to be force in the contention, particularly when the language of Clause (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 7 is literally read. But on a closer consideration I think I must reject the contention of the petitioner for a literal reading of the clause.
3. The policy of the Act in relation to eviction on ground of requirement for one's own occupation is indicated in Sub-section (3). It may be remembered that the provisions of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act is a special law supposedly enacted for a temporary period which is in the nature of a limitation upon the ordinary law of property as contained in the Transfer of Property Act. The Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act being a restriction upon the ownership and enjoyment of house property has to pass the test of reasonableness and in fact it was on that ground, among others, the validity of the Act was upheld. What the Act protects is only against unreasonable eviction. In interpreting the scope of Clause (c) I think these considerations will have to be borne in mind. If the words ' his own occupation ' should be read in a liberal sense as has been held by Courts in this country, I do not see why the same principle should not govern the interpretation of Clause (c). In Balabhadra v. Prentchand A.I.R. 1953 Nag. 144, a Division Bench of the Nagpur High Court was of the view that the need of a widowed daughter and her children must be deemed to be the need of the landlord within the meaning of the words ' his own occupation ' in the C.P. and Berar Letting of Houses and Rent Control Order, 1949. In taking that view the learned Judges expressed themselves thus:
There is nothing in the Rent Control Order which restricts a landlord's needs to his personal needs.... So interpreted, we are of opinion that it would include not only the members of the landlord's family but also all those persons who are dependent on him and whose responsibilities he has accepted.
In the course of the judgment the learned Judges even went further and were inclined to accept the view of Chagla, C.J., that in determining the scope of the words ' his own occupation ' one Would be justified in looking into the customs of the society and the nature of social ties which subsist between the different members of the family in India and that it Was not necessary to bring within the ambit of the need that the person who requires the premises must be dependent on the landlord. In Bidhubhusan v. Commissioner, Patna : AIR1955Pat496 , two learned Judges of the Patna High Court, held that the expression ' his own occupation' in Sections II(3)(a) of the Bihar Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act could not be restricted only to the occupation of the landlord himself but should be given a wider and liberal meaning so as to include the occupation of persons who Were living with the landlord and were economically dependent on him. That was a case for a sister's son of the landlord who was living with him and who required the premises for setting up a business. It was held that this was a proper ground for ordering eviction.
4. In Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolayana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184, Venkatadri, J., with reference to the views expressed in the cases just referred to, held that the requirement of a landlord's son may well come within the words 'for his own occupation'. With respect, I am also inclined to take the view that the words ' his own occupation ' should receive a liberal interpretation. If that is so, there is no reason why a different principle should apply to Clause (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 7. The words 'if he requires' in that provision should in my opinion be understood in the same liberal sense as the words 'his own occupation' in Clause (a) of that Sub-section have been understood. What is meant, as I think by the words 'his own occupation' or 'if he requires' is that the requirement is not that of a stranger. It is not necessary to attract those words that the need should be personal to the landlord. But where the line should be drawn will depend on the particular facts in each case. It may, however, be generally stated, without intending to be precise or exhaustive, that the need of close relations who happen to live with the landlord or landlady may well satisfy the words ' his own occupation ' or ' if he requires '. I do not say that the relationship is the only test. Dependency, social customs, and habits, usage, practice of a particular community and like considerations may well be taken into account in determining whether the requirement of those words is satisfied.
5. In this case it is difficult to hold on the facts that the requirement does not reasonably fall within Clause (c) of Sub-section (3). As I said the petitioner's only daughter is living with her and so too her son-in-law. It may be that he does not depend on he for his livelihood. But undoubtedly he has been sharing the residence with his mother in law and his wife and children. If as I said one's own occupation or one's own requirement is not to be read in the narrow sense of a landlord's personal need the requirement of a landlord's own family may well fall within the statutory requirement I do not see why in. the particular circumstances the need of the son-in-law of the portion of the premises to locate his clinic cannot be regarded as a requirement within Clause (c) of Sub-section (3). That was the view taken by the Courts below and I can find no reason to differ from it.
6. The petition fails and is dismissed. No costs. The petitioner will have two months to vacate the premises from to-date.