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Chandraleka Vs. P.K. Suseela Rani - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1969)2MLJ17
AppellantChandraleka
RespondentP.K. Suseela Rani
Cases ReferredIn Ananahjee Ammal v. S. M. Khaja
Excerpt:
- .....under section 10 (3) (a) and sought for the premises in the occupation of the petitioner bona fide for her own use and occupation. the respondent complained also of wilful default, but that was found against her. the only ground which survived and which was indeed canvassed by the parties in the lower courts was whether the requirement of the respondent was real and bona fide. the petitioner resisted the petition contending that the request of the respondent was not bona fide since portions in the ground floor fell vacant which she did not occupy and therefore her contention is that the petition ought to be dismissed. the tenant's contention in the main was that as and when the down stairs portion of the premises fell vacant, the respondent did not occupy the same and has not.....
Judgment:

T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.

1. The unsuccessful tenant before the appellate authority under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, Madras Act XVIII of 1960, is the petitioner in this civil revision petition. The respondent landlady filed an. application under Section 10 (3) (a) and sought for the premises in the occupation of the petitioner bona fide for her own use and occupation. The respondent complained also of wilful default, but that was found against her. The only ground which survived and which was indeed canvassed by the parties in the lower Courts was whether the requirement of the respondent was real and bona fide. The petitioner resisted the petition contending that the request of the respondent was not bona fide since portions in the ground floor fell vacant which she did not occupy and therefore her contention is that the petition ought to be dismissed. The tenant's contention in the main was that as and when the down stairs portion of the premises fell vacant, the respondent did not occupy the same and has not even given a ground either in the pleadings or in her testimony as to why she chose not to occupy the downstairs portion which fell vacant and was insistent upon occupying the upstairs portion only. The contention of the tenant found favour with the Rent Controller; but the appellate authority found, in my view rightly, that the claim of the respondent is bona fide and it is not for the tenant to dictate as to which of the portions in a premises is required for the personal use and need of a landlord.

2. Canvassing the contentions raised before the appellate authority and reiterating the same, the tenant would state that it is necessary on the part of a landlord or landlady seeking for eviction on the ground that the premises is required for his. or her Own use and occupation to state the reason why she did not occupy one or the other of the portions of the premises when it fell vacant. The question now to-be decided is whether it is obligatory on the part of the landlord or landlady to give reasons as to why she did not occupy a portion of the same premises when it fell vacant and not having occupied that portion when it was available to her, whether it is open to the landlady to seek possession of another portion in the same premises on the ground that it is required bona fide for her own use and occupation. The respondent is a widow who is residing in George Town along with her daughter and a son aged about 15 years who is school-going. On account of the insanitary condition prevailing in the locality and for the reason that it has become very congested, the respondent sought the upstairs portion of premises No. 3, Krishna Iyer Street, Nungambakkam, Madras, in the occupation of the petitioner, mostly on health grounds. She examined herself and proved her intention to occupy the upstairs portion and the reason for the preference as well. She has no doubt not given any reason why she did not occupy one portion or the other of the downstairs in the said premises when it fell vacant. It is however clear from the evidence on record that the requirement of the upstairs of the premises in question by the respondent is really honest. But the question that was mooted before the Controller and the appellate authority was whether it was bona fide.

3. It is impossible to iron jacket the phrase bona fide in the shape of a definition. As it is very much allied and concerns with a subjective element and not necessarily with physical facts, it has to be ascertained only from the facts and circumstances of each case. It will be indeed fallible to prescribe a rule either by way of prudence or otherwise as to the circumstances which ought to prompt a tribunal called upon to decide what would constitute bona fide. The correct content of this phrase is therefore very closely connected with things and actions which have a relation to the mind or motive of an individual.

4. The petitioner's case is that the respondent not having furnished any reason for her preference of the upstairs portion of the premises, though at or about the time of the filing of the petition, the downstairs portion was vacant, the enquiry before the Rent Controller should be undertaken afresh or this* civil revision petition allowed on that ground alone. ' Bona fide' has always a subjective element inhered in it and it would be difficult to base one's conclusion relying on its existence by weighing facts surrounding the same and by surmises. The respondent, for reasons of health and in the interests of her children, intends to shift to a claimer locality. It would be too hard to prescribe mandates to a landlord in the matter of choosing a particular portion in his own building. So long as the purpose is not designed or motivated or prompted by an oblique purpose, it is unwise to fetter the choice of the landlord. The decision referred to in the lower Courts and before me (C.R.P. 230 of 1956) relate to a preference sought to be exercised by the landlord over a particular house in spite of the fact that other houses with same amenities, and conveniences became available for his occupation in the same colony. That case was decided on the ground that persistence of the landlord to seek eviction of a particular tenant apparently savoured of mala fide. Such is not the position here. The above principle cannot be extended to a case where a landlady prefers to occupy the upstairs of her own house instead of the downstairs portion for conveniences of her own. In fact, Veeraswami, J., speaking for the Bench in N. Sampath Chettiar v. S. V. Bapulal (1967) 1 M.L.J. 289 said ::

The expression bona fide, therefore, will have to be understood in the context, but subject to that, it means in cases under Section 10 (3) (a) that the landlord honestly desired to occupy .the premises from which eviction is sought and his claim is not a device to serve an oblique purpose....The. fact that he owned several other buildings....is of no consequence as it is entirely open to a landlord to choose which building he would require for his business.

5. 'Building ' includes a part of a building and I am unable to be persuaded in this case that the evidence does not justify a finding that the claim is a device and is far from being honest. In Ananahjee Ammal v. S. M. Khaja & Co. (1967) 1 M.L.J. 368 : I.L.R. (1968) 3 Mad. 284, I held that unless there are compelling circumstances to totally disbelieve the version of the landlord or landlady, as the case may be, in a case where the landlord requires the premises for his own occupation, the question of bona fide is alien for consideration. This view gains support from the various decisions referred to in the above citation.

6. I am unable to agree with Mr. Mohan Kumaramangalam, learned Counsel for the petitioner that the respondent has wantonly and designedly filed the petition against the petitioner. Non-assignment of the reason for the choice is mostly irrelevant unless it be to find an oblique motive in the mind of the landlord. Such has not been found in this case. The petitioner has failed to establish a mental fact which would disprove the bona fides on the part of the respondent. 'A fact completely within physical comprehension can neither be bona fide or mala fide.' I am satisfied that the evidence in the case fully justifies that the intention of the landlady to occupy the first floor is honest. The appellate authority lightly found it to be so. There is no error of jurisdiction in the order impugned. The civil revision petition is dismissed with costs. The tenant is granted time till 31st March,. 1969 to vacate and surrender possession.


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