1. Thc petitioner in C.R.P. No. 1698 of 1960 is the owner of premises No. 206, Angappa Naicken Street, G.T., Madras, and the respondent is his tenant in the said premises. We shall refer to the petitioner as the landlord and the respondent as the tenant in (his judgment. The tenant filed an application before the House Rent Controller at Madras in H.R.C. No. 4968 of 1959 praying for fixation of a fair rent of the premises at Rs. 100 per month. He was actually paying a rent of Rs. 275 per month from March, 1958, onwards. The landlord contended that even the rent of Rs. 275 paid by the tenant was far below the fair rent payable for the premises and that therefore the application should be dismissed. The House Rent Controller after an enquiry fixed the fair rent at Rs. 200 per month. Both the landlord and the tenant preferred appeals in the Court of Small Causes at Madras and the learned appellate Judge fixed the fair rent at Rs. 225 per month. Hence two Civil Revision Petitions have been preferred, C.R.P. No. 1698 of 1960 by the landlord and C.R.P. No. 2027 of 1960 by the tenant; the landlord contends that the fair rent payable is at least Rs. 275 per month and the tenant urges that the fair rent fixed by the Rent Controller as well as by the appellate authority was high, and not in accordance with the provisions of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act.
2. The Act which governed the rights of parties in the matter of fixation of fair rent at the time when the application was filed and during the time when the appeals before the Court of Small Causes were pending is the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XXV of 1949). Section 4 of that Act provided that in fixing the fair rent the Controller should have due regard to (i) the prevailing rates of rent in the locality for the same or similar accommodation in similar circumstances during the 12 months prior to 1st April, 1940; (ii) the rental value as entered in the property tax assessment book of the Municipal Council, Local Board, or the Corporation of Madras as the case may be, during the twelve months prior to 1st April, 1940; (iii) the circumstances of the case including any amount paid by the tenant by way of premimum or any other like sum in addition to rent after 1st April, 1940. Section 4 (4) further provided that in fixing the fair rent of non-residential buildings, the Controller may allow an increase not exceeding 50 per cent. of such rate or rental-value if the rate of rent or rental value exceeds Rs. 50 per mensem. The premises forming the subject-matter of these proceedings is admittedly a non-residential building. The annual rental value for the building in 1939-1940 was Rs. 972 and the half yearly tax payable was Rs. 81-5-8. The landlord let in evidence to show that premises No. 207 in the same street, Angappa Naicken Street, was fetching a rent of Rs. 225 per month. This premises consists of three floors while the premises with which we are now concerned is only of two floors. The landlord of premises No. 207 however denied that his premises consists of three floors. The learned appellate Judge has discussed the evidence relating to the rent of premises No. 207 and is of opinion that the evidence is neither helpful nor reliable. We see no reason to differ from his conclusion on this point. The Rent Controller had the benefit of local inspection and he fixed the fair rent at Rs. 200 per month after such inspection.
3. The most important piece of evidence in this case relating to the question of fair rent is an agreement between the landlord and the tenant fixing the fair rent for this building at Rs. 225 per month. This agreement is, dated 26th April, 1954, and is signed by both the landlord and the tenant. This constitutes relevant and cogent evidence on the question of the fair rent payable for the premises as the parties themselves adverted their minds to their relative rights and obligations under the statute and reached an agreement that the fair rent should be Rs. 225 per month. The tenant cannot of course contract out of the stautory rights and benefits conferred under the Act, and he cannot be deprived of such rights by reason of any agreement by him with the landlord. There may be cases of waiver of even statutory rights and benefits for valid consideration received by the party waiving the rights. An agreement between a landlord and a tenant fixing a fair rent for the tenanted premises is valid and binding on the contracting parties so long as it is not opposed to or forbidden by law. We agree with the learned Judge of the Court of Small Causes that the agreement, dated 26th April, 1954, between the landlord and the tenant fixing the fair rent at Rs. 225 per month is valid and that the tenant is not entitled to resile from that agreement and seek a revision of the rent payable by him by resorting to an application for fixing of fair rent under the Act.
4. Learned Counsel for the landlord contended that the subsequent conduct of the parties which resulted in the increase of rent from Rs. 225 to Rs. 275 should also to be taken to be an agreement between them and that Rs. 275 alone must be deemed to be the fair rent. We are unable to accept this contention. It may be that the tenant yielded to the importunities of the landlord and paid enhanced rent much against his will. There is no proof of any voluntary agreement between the parties showing that the parties themselves considered that Rs. 275 should be the fair rent instead of Rs. 225 fixed as fair rent previously in the year 1954.
5. We find from the judgments of the Courts below that the landlord filed two documents in the case, Exhibits R-4 and R-5, Exhibit R-4 purporting to be a notice issued by the landlord on 28th February, 1959, to the tenant calling upon the tenant to furnish a list of sub-tenants in the premises and Exhibit R-5 purporting to be a reply to Exhibit R-4 alleged to have been signed by the clerk of the tenant. The Courts below have held that these are spurious and fabricated documents. We are inclined to uphold this finding. Instances where a party to an action is found to have produced forged and fabricated documents should not be allowed to pass by mechanically but should be taken note of seriously and the delinquent should be dealt with in an appropriate and deterrent manner.
6. It was contended on behalf of the landlord that the new Act, Madras Act (XVIII of 1960) which came into the statute book in September, 1960 should govern the rights of parties as these proceedings had been pending at the time of the commencement of the Act. We have already held in C.R.P. No. 41 of 1960 that Madras Act (XVIII of 1960) is not retrospective in the sense that the provisions thereof govern all pending actions. The new Act contains a special provision in the matter of fixation of fair rent, Section 35 (3), which is as follows:
Notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (2)of this section, or in Section 5, the Controller shall, on application by the tenant or the landlord of a building for which fair rent has been fixed under the said Act, fix the fair rent for such building in accordance with the provisions of Section 4 of this Act.
Any fixation of fair rent in these proceedings cannot prevent the landlord or the tenant from filing a fresh application for fair rent under the provisions of Section 4 of the new Act. In Md. Ayoob v. Krishna Iyer (1961) 2 M.L.J. 184 : I.L.R. (1961) Mad. 897, one of us had to consider the applicability of the new Act to pending proceedings relating to fixation of fair rent and the operation of Section 35 (3) of the new Act. It was held in that decision that under Section 35, Sub-section (3), the tenant or the landlord has been given the right to move the Rent Controller afresh for fixation of fair rent of the building in accordance with the provisions of the new Act notwithstanding anything contained in Sub-section (2) of Section 35 or Section 5 of the Act. The practical difficulties in applying the new Act to a pending proceeding in the matter of fixation of fair rent has also been pointed out in these words:
On the fixation of a fair rent, the right to recover rent at the rate fixed would enure as from the date of the application or at least from the date of the order. If the original petition itself is to be disposed of in the light of Section 4, as amended by the new Act, it would mean that the petitioner would have the benefit of the new provision even from the date prior to the enactment; that is, the provision would be given a retrospective operation which the Legislature did not intend to confer.
We are clearly of opinion that the new Act cannot govern the rights of parties in this case relating to the fixation of fair rent as the statute does not so provide, expressly or by necessary implication, and as the right to have a fair rent fixed under the new Act is kept preserved even after the fixation of fair rent under the old Act.
7. These Revision Petitions fail and are dismissed. The landlord by reason of his conduct in producing spurious documents should pay the costs of the tenant in C.R.P. No. 1698 of 1960 and in the Court below. There will be no order as to costs in C.R.P. No. 2027 of 1960.