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Venkitasubbu Ramaswami Vanavarayar Vs. Marimuthu Gounder - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1970)2MLJ108
AppellantVenkitasubbu Ramaswami Vanavarayar
RespondentMarimuthu Gounder
Cases ReferredRamroop v. Bishwa Nath
Excerpt:
- .....public trusts (regulation of administration of agricultural lands) act, 1961, for fixation of fair rent in respect of certain trust lands that had been leased out to the respondent herein. the original rent payable was about rs. 600 per annum and the trustee wanted it to be enhanced to over rs. 3,000 on the ground that the lease-hold had become converted into wet lands. this application was contested by the tenant and the enquiry was being postponed from 29th july, 1966 to 13th march, 1967 on which date neither the petitioner nor his advocate was present in court and consequently, the rent court dismissed the petition for non-appearance of the petitioner. under rule 24 (2) of the rules framed under the act, the proceedings of rent court and the rent tribunal shall as far as possible.....
Judgment:

S. Maharajan, J.

1. This is an application for revision of an order passed by the Rent Court, Pollachi under the following circumstances:

A hereditary trustee of the Mariamman temple at Samathur filed an application on nth May, 1966 under Section 29 of the Madras Public Trusts (Regulation of Administration of Agricultural Lands) Act, 1961, for fixation of fair rent in respect of certain trust lands that had been leased out to the respondent herein. The original rent payable was about Rs. 600 per annum and the trustee wanted it to be enhanced to over Rs. 3,000 on the ground that the lease-hold had become converted into wet lands. This application was contested by the tenant and the enquiry was being postponed from 29th July, 1966 to 13th March, 1967 on which date neither the petitioner nor his advocate was present in Court and consequently, the Rent Court dismissed the petition for non-appearance of the petitioner. Under Rule 24 (2) of the Rules framed under the Act, the proceedings of Rent Court and the Rent Tribunal shall as far as possible be governed by the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code with regard among other things to the ordering the dismissal of the petition for default of appearance and setting aside such orders for good cause. On the very date on which the petition was dismissed for default, the Advocate appearing for the petitioner filed a petition for setting aside the order of dismissal. This petition was again contested by the tenant and by an order dated 5th January, 1968, the Rent Court dismissed the same on the ground that the petitioner had failed to satisfy the Court that there was sufficient cause for his non-appearance on 13th March, 1967. In the course of the order, the Rent Court makes an observation which cannot be regarded as correct in the light of the notes paper of the Court. For instance, the Rent Court has said that the petitioner had not attended any hearing of the case whereas in fact, the notes paper shows that the petitioner had been present at most of the previous hearings. It is not necessary at this stage to consider whether the dismissal of the restoration petition is justified.

2. The more important question that arises for consideration is whether this Court can interfere under Article 227 of the Constitution with the order of the Rent Court when in fact an alternative remedy is available to the petitioner to appeal against the order of the Rent Court to the authority prescribed in the special enactment. Section 29 (2) of the Madras Act LVII of 1961 provides that from every decision of a Rent Court, an appeal shall, within such time as may be prescribed, lie to the Rent Tribunal whose decision shall be final, subject to revision, if any, under Section 32.

3. Learned Counsel for the petitioner contends that an order of dismissal of an application for restoration of the petition for fixation of fair rent cannot be regarded as a decision of a Rent Court within the meaning of Clause (2) of Section 29 of the Act. In support of this contention, he places reliance upon a rulling of Ramachandra Iyer, J., reported in Peria Maria Gounden v. Ramaswami Gounder : (1962)1MLJ106 That was a case which arose under the Madras Cultivating Tenants (Payment of Fair Rent) Act, Section 29 (2) which runs as follows:

From every decision of a Rent Court, an appeal shall, within such time as may be prescribed, lie to the Rent Tribunal whose decision shall be final, subject to revision, if any, under Section 11.

4. Ramachandra Iyer, J., held that the words ' every decision ' can only mean a final decision and quoted the ruling of Somasundaram J., in Santhanam Iyer v. Somasundara Vanniar : (1958)1MLJ400 , to the effect that the term 'decision ' in Section 9 (2) would not include interlocutory orders so as to confer a right of appeal therefrom in that case, the tenant resisted the application on several grounds one of which was that the Rent Court had no jurisdiction to fix the fair rent. The Rent Court rejected the plea and it was held by this Court that this rejection of the preliminary objection did not amount to a decision within the meaning of Section 9 (2) and that no appeal lay against such a determination.

5. On the other hand, we are here concerned with the determination, not of a preliminary objection but of a decision, the effect of which is to finally terminate the enquiry relating to fixation of fair rent and to deny to the landlord the valuable relief which he had claimed.

6. In fact, in Thangavelu v. Arumugha Panditkar : (1962)2MLJ24 , it has been held that an order of the Rent Court refusing to set aside an ex parte order under Rule 4 (g) of the Rules will be a final order and an appeal would lie against such an order. It is manifest that the order, whether it be a refusal to set aside an ex parte order or a refusal to restore a dismissed petition is complete and final so far as the parties and the Court are concerned. If the order in question were to become final, the position is that the landlord will be precluded from seeking for enhancement of rent from the date on which the application was dismissed. The final order or decision need not necessarily be on the application for fixation of fair rent. An order which declines to restore a dismissed petition for fixation of fair rent would have as much finality as an order dismissing the main petition itself. I, therefore, repel the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the decision of the Rent Court is not appealable. In my view, the impugned decision is liable under Section 29 (2) of Madras Act LVII of 1961 to be appealed against before the Rent Tribunal, whose decision will again be subject to revision before the District Court under Section 32 of the Act. In other words, before the petitioner came to this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution he had two remedies open to him, one by way of appeal to the Rent tribunal and another by way of revision to the District Court under Section 32 of the Act.

7. The question arises whether in view of the double remedy available to the petitioner, it would be right on the part of this Court to act under Article 227 and interfere with the order in question. It is settled law that the power of superintendence conferred upon the High Court by Article 227 has to be most sparingly exercised and only in appropriate cases, in order that the Subordinate Courts may be kept within the bounds of their authority, and not, for correcting mere errors committed by them--Vide Nagendranath v. Commissioner of Hills Division : [1958]1SCR1240 , and Watyan Singh v. Amarnath : [1954]1SCR565 . The preponderance of authority is in favour of the view that the power of revision under Article 227 is restricted to cases where there has been a grave dereliction of duty or flagrant abuse of any fundamental principles of law or natural justice and must be confined to cases where there is no other adequate or prompt remedy available. Vide Gundappa v. Collector Gulbarga A.I.R. 1953 Hyd. 135, and Pretnawati v. Satyawati : AIR1953All55 , In fact in Ramroop v. Bishwa Nath : AIR1958All456 , it has been held that this power shall not be exercised except when no other remedy is available, even though the pursuit of the other remedy may involve some inconvenience or delay.

8. In this case, as has been pointed out, two statutory remedies are open to the petitioner for correcting any error that might have been committed by the Rent Court. Further, the error committed by the Rent Court is merely an error of fact or law and is not so grave as to shock the conscience of the Court. Even if an alternative remedy were not available this Court would be chary of interfering in revision with an order which is neither perverse nor outrageous nor involves a gross abuse or unwarranted assumption or transgression of jurisdiction. After all, it is open to the petitioner to file an appeal before the prescribed authority even now against the order in question or to present a fresh petition of fixation of fair rent-In these circumstances, a revision of the order is not called for.

9. In the result, the petition will stand dismissed with costs.


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