T. Ramaprasada Rao, J.
1. The tenants are the petitioners. The respondents filed applications seeking for the eviction of the petitioners as tenants under Section 14 (1) (b) of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960, hereinafter referred to as the Act, on the allegation that they required the premises for the purpose of demolition and reconstruction. The Rent Controller, the appellate-authority and the revisional authority came to the conclusion that the landlord's request under the circumstances as above was bona fide. Incidentally a contention was raised about the validity of the notice to quit and whether there was a proper undertaking as contemplated under Section 14 (2) (b) of the Act. On this point raised, the tenants could not succeed both before the Rent Controller, the appellate authority and the revisional authority, namely, the District Judge who had the requisite jurisdiction to deal with such revision petitions under Section 25 of the Act as it then was. It is as against the orders of the revisional authority that the present Civil Revision Petitions have been filed.
2. Again the contentions raised before the lower authorities were repeated. I am unable to interfere with the concurrent findings of the Courts below who accepted that the requirement of the landlords was bona fide and that they genuinely desire to demolish the building and reconstruct the same. On the question whether there was a valid notice to quit, the notices of termination of tenancy called upon the petitioners as tenants to hand over possession by the 1st July, 1969. The tenancy was in accordance with the English calendar month. Our Court accepted such a notice of termination of tenancy as a valid notice to quit and, in fact, the learned District Judge himself referred to the ruling of our Court in Gnana Prakasam v. Vasz 60 M.L.J. 293 : A.I.R. 1931 Mad. 358. In my view, the conclusion arrived at by the revisional authority that the notice to quit was proper, cannot be disturbed.
3. Regarding the other contention, the undertaking given by the respondents in accordance with Section 14 (2) (b) of the Act ran in these terms:
The petitioner undertakes to start the work of demolition forthwith and complete the construction within 4 or 5 months.
The nature of the undertaking required in Section 14 (2) (b) of the Act is that the landlord should undertake that the work of demolishing any material portion of the building shall be substantially commenced by him not later than one month and shall be completed before the expiry of three months from the date he recovers possession of the entire building or before the expiry of such further period as the Controller may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, allow. A proper understanding of this provision relating to the undertaking which a landlord should give if he seeks for eviction of the tenant for the immediate purpose of demolishing the building and erecting a new building on its site is that he should give a reasonable impression that he would take up the work of demolition of the building as expeditiously as possible but not later than one month from the date of recovery of possession of the building. In, the instant case the petitioners undertook the work of demolition forthwith. The word 'forthwith' indicates that the demolition would certainly be started within a month from the date of obtaining possession. By necessary implication, the undertaking would come within the letter as well as the spirit contained in Section 14 (2) (b) of the Act. The learned District judge was therefore right in saying that there has been a substantial compliance of the requirement in Section 14 (2) (b) and hence this point was also held against the petitioners. I am not inclined to interfere with it as I find no material irregularity or impropriety in the said finding. Ultimately the revisional authority dismissed the petitions. It is as against this order the present Civil Revision Petitions have been filed. Though in the grounds a reiteration is made of the contentions earlier raised, which, according to me, are concluded by findings which ought not to be disturbed, a question of general importance was argued by the learned Counsel for the petitioners, which I shall presently state and consider.
4. Act XVIII of 1960 provided for a revision to the District Judge of the district concerned against the order of an appellate authority passed under Section 23 of the Act. In cases decided by an appellate authority under Section 23 of the Act and functioning in the presidency town, the said decision is revisable by the High Court direct. The section also provides for the limits of interference. A revision could be entertained for the purpose by the High Court or the District Court, as the case may be, to satisfy itself as to the legality, regularity or propriety of such order and it may pass such order in reference thereto as it thinks fit.
This was the old provision. Act XVIII of 1960 was further amended by the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Amendment Act, 1973 (XXIII of 1973), hereinafter referred to as the Amendment Act. We are however concerned with Section 19 of the Amendment Act which runs as follows:
19. Substitution of Section 25, Tamil Nadu Act XVIII of 1960.
For Section 25 of the principal Act, the following section shall be substituted, namely:--
25. Revision.--(1) The High Court may on the application of any person aggrieved by an order of the appellate authority, call for and examine the record of the appellate authority, to satisfy itself as to the regularity of such proceeding or the correctness, legality or propriety of any decision or order passed therein and if, in any case, it appears to the High Court that any such decision or order should be modified, annulled, reversed or remitted for re-consideration, it may pass orders accordingly.
(2) Every application to the High Court for the exercise of its power under Sub-section (1) shall be preferred within one month from the date on which the order or proceeding to which the application relates is communicated to the applicant:
Provided that the High Court, may, in its discretion, allow further time not exceeding one month for the filing of any such application, if it is satisfied that the applicant had sufficient cause for not preferring the application within the time specified in this sub-section.
5. The main purport of this Act is to take away the revisional jurisdiction of the District Courts against an order of the appellate authority. In this Amendment Act no other saving provision is made regarding the disposal of proceedings which were by then pending in District Courts. There is however Section 27 of the Amendment Act which expressly provides for the disposal of pending proceedings relating to fixation of fair rent.
6. Under these circumstances learned Counsel for the petitioners said that on and after 30th June, 1973, when the Amendment Act came into force, there is automatic abatement of the revision petitions filed and pending disposal before the District Courts under Section 25 of the Act and that therefore the order made by the learned District Judge in this case on 9th July, 1973 is without jurisdiction. It was also said that in the absence of a specific saving clause or an enabling provision in the Amendment Act to cover the transitory stage, the order of the District Judge should be deemed to be a nullity.
7. The situation now obtaining regarding similar matters could duly be conceived and stated as follows. There may be revision petitions filed under Section 25 of the Act before the District Judge of each district which were duly entertained in accordance with the law then in force prior to 30th June, 1973. They were valid'y instituted and entertained. We can also conceive of cases where the District Judge as revisional authority has disposed of matters as such authority prior to 30th June, 1973 and the aggrieved party might have come to the High Court for the purpose of revision against the said order and such revision petitions may also be pending disposal by the High Court. If the appellate authority passes an order under Section 23 of the Act on and after 30th June, 1973^ then the aggrieved party should certainly seek relief in the High Court for purposes of revising such an order under Section 19 of the Amendment Act. But the question is whether the quondam revisional authority, namely, the District Judge, under section 25 of the Act can deal with such a revision petition after 30th June, 1973 which was duly, regularly and properly entertained prior to that date. It was argued that the District Judge has no jurisdiction to deal with such revision petitions after 30th June, 1973.
8. I am unable to agree. The amendment Act of 1973 does not touch upon the jurisdiction of the District Judge as such revisional authority under Section 25 of the Act in matters of which he is in seisin or relating to petitions filed before 30th June, 1973. Once a Us has been properly entertained by a statutory authority, then it is that authority which ought to continue that proceeding, clear it and dispose of it unless expressly prohibited from doing so by a later enactment. The Amendment Act has no retrospective effect. If the provisions of the Amendment Act of 1973 are only prospective in nature, then it is but regular to infer that the Legislature did not want to disturb the prior state of affairs and in particular did not want to take away the jurisdiction of the District Judge to deal with such revision petitions pending on his file on the 30th June, 1973. It is only in such circumstances that Section 4 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 would come into play. Section 4 reads as under:
4. Matters prior to repeal unaffected--The repeal of any Act or Regulation shall not affect any act which shall have been done or any offence which shall have been committed, or any fine or penalty which shall have been committed, before the repealing Act shall have come into operation.
According to this section, if any proceeding has commenced before the repeal of Section 25 of the Act, then it shall remain unaffected by the supervening provision in the enactment. When the Legislature has taken particular care to enact Section 27 in the Amendment Act and made special provision for the disposal of pending proceedings relating to fixation of fair rent, by necessary implication it means that it did not want to disturb the pending proceedings in relation to other matters. By reason of the provision in the General Clauses Act, the continuity of the remedy or the legal proceedings already commenced is preserved and saved.
9. It is an accepted principle of law that when a repeal is followed by fresh legislation on the same subject, the later provision will prevail; but we have to look into the provisions of the new act only for the purpose of determining whether they indicate a different intention; see State of Punjab v. Mehar Singh Pratap Singh : 1955CriLJ254 . The bare repeal by itself does not give an indicia, but the manifest intention should be ascertained from the new provision and if the Court is satisfied that a different remedy is provided for even as regards pending actions and if no other mode is possible then only the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioners that there is total absence of jurisdiction on the part of the learned District Judge can be entertained. As the Supreme Court said in the above case:
The provisions of Section 6 of the (Uttar Pradesh) General Clauses Act, 1904 (Corresponding to Section 4 of the Madras General Clauses Act) will in our opinion, apply to a case of repeal even if there is simultaneous enactment unless a contrary intention can be gathered from the new enactment.
10. Under the General Clauses Act, notwithstanding the repeal of Section 25 of the Act and the introduction of Section 19 in the Amendment Act, 1973, no contrary intention appears in the amended section providing for an automatic cessation of jurisdiction in the District Judge to deal with pending Civil Revision Petitions before him filed as against orders passed by the appellate authority prior to 1st July, 1973. It is also an accepted principle of law that retrospectivity should be clearly manifest in a legislative provision and such retrospectivity should not be given a larger effect than what is absolutely necessary. As was pointed out by a Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Har Prasad Singh v. Ram Swamp : AIR1973All390 .
The mere fact that the enactment in question does not contain any saving clause in not decisive of the question as to whether the Act is to operate retrospectively so as to affect pending cases as well.
11. A statutory remedy by way of an appeal or revision to a tribunal in the higher hierarchy does create a right in the litigant. If it can be safely assumed that the litigant had such a right to file a revision petition in the District Court, over orders passed by the appellate authority prior to 30th June, 1973 then it follows that the said revisional authority namely, the District Judge, is statutorily obliged to deal with such revision petitions unless there is a ban created in the exercise of such jurisdiction by him by a supervening legislative provision. I am of the view that the District Judge, when he disposed of the present matter, was a competent statutory tribunal who could exercise jurisdiction over a pending revision petition before him and the orders passed by him in that capacity are not assailable on the ground that there was total want of jurisdiction in him after the introduction of Section 19 in the Amendment Act.
12. The practical difficulty in accepting the contention of the learned Counsel for the petitioners may also be pointed out. There are numerous Civil Revision Petitions now pending in the High Court against the orders of District Judges who disposed of old matters after the 30th June, 1973 as such revisional authorities. Is the High Court competent to revise or affirm such an order if the revisional authority lacked jurisdiction when it passed the said order Or should the High Court treat it as a revision against the order of the appellate authority and deal with it? Or should the High Court return the said Civil Revision Petitions to the parties concerned to enable them, if they are so inclined, to file revision petitions under Section 19 of the Amendment Act seeking a revision of the order of the Appellate Authority? The only possible reconciliation which could be had to surmount the above practical difficulties is to allow the continuance of pending proceedings before the District Judges of districts as revisional authorities under the quondam provision of law to exercise their jurisdiction under it and deal with them as there is no prohibition in the Amendment Act enabling them to do so. This would also simplify the complex practical problems which the High Court may be called upon to face. In all matters in which revisions have been filed to this Court against decisions of the District Judges as revisional authorities under Section 25 of the old Act, the High Court can revise the same exercising jurisdiction under the quondam provision in Section 25 of the Act.
13. As the litigant's right to file a revision petition cannot so lightly be brushed aside unless the Legislature prescribed a mandate in that direction, I am of the view that the District Judges in the various districts would have jurisdiction to continue the pending Civil Revision Petitions before them provided they relate to orders passed by the appellate authorities before 30th June, 1973. The position, however, would certainly be different if an appellate authority has passed an order on and after 30th June, 1973 on which date Section 19 of the Amendment Act came on the anvil. In those cases the District Judges certainly would not have jurisdiction to entertain the revision petitions and they would be right if they return the same for presentation to the proper Court. But in all other cases, particularly in cases where revisions are pending against the orders of the appellate authorities passed prior to 30th June, 1973, the District Judges will still have jurisdiction to deal with them and pass orders thereon. All such orders are once again revisable, if they need revision at all, by the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under the quondam Section 25 of the Act. In these circumstances I am unable to agree with the learned Counsel for the petitioners that the order sought to be revised was passed by the learned District Judge without jurisdiction.
14. If the District Judge has such jurisdiction to continue those proceedings, hear them and dispose of them, he has no jurisdiction to return them. It is however made clear that this order of mine relates only to revision petitions pending before District Judges before 30th June, 1973, and as against orders of appellate authority passed before that date. The Civil Revision Petitions are therefore dismissed.
15. The petitioners seek for time to vacate on the ground that they were there for a considerable length of time. The petitioners are granted four months' time to vacate.