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Pannalal Jagannath Prasad Gupta Vs. the State of Madras Represented by the Secretary to Government, Home Department and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1963)1MLJ415
AppellantPannalal Jagannath Prasad Gupta
RespondentThe State of Madras Represented by the Secretary to Government, Home Department and anr.
Cases ReferredP.J. Irani v. State of Madras
Excerpt:
- .....earlier to this decision, there was some area of doubt with regard to the grounds upon which the state government could justifiably exercise their powers under section 13, stemming from an observation of a bench of this court in abdul subhan sahib & sons v. state of madras : (1959)2mlj387 to the effect that the exemption under section 13 could not be given upon any ground which was not provided for in the act itself. but that isolated observations was subsequently clarified by the same bench in chinnaiah servai v. state of madras : (1960)2mlj191 and in several subsequent decisions of this court, the matter has been placed beyond doubt. in a recent bench decision of this court in w.a. nos. 156 and 157 of 1960, to which one of us was a party, which itself affirmed the judgment of my lord.....
Judgment:

M. Anantanarayanan, J.

1. This is an appeal by a certain Pannalal Jagannath Prasad Gupta from the judgment of Veeraswami, J., in W.P. No. 218 of 1959 1 upholding the order by Government exempting certain premises from Section 7 of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, by virtue of powers vested in Government under Section 13 of the Act. The facts are very simple, and the essential facts might be set forth as follows.

2. By virtue of G.O. Ms. No. 705, Home, dated 19th March, 1958, Government exempted premises No. 140/2, Audiappa Naicken Street and 17/1, Anna Pillai Street, G.T., Madras from the provisions of Section 7 of the Act, in favour of the landlord (second appellant). The appellant instituted the writ proceeding on the ground that the premises with which we are now concerned (No. 140/2, Audiappa Naicken Street) constituted a non-residential building in his occupation, for the purpose of his business, for over thirty years, and that the second respondent, who was already occupying five stores for his business in Kotwal Bazaar Market, had no genuine need for this building. The order of the Government exempting this building from the provisions of Section 7 was unjustifiable, under the circumstances in which that order was passed; even the bona fides of the order has been attacked, though not directly.

3. The principles governing this matter are not in dispute, and are now settled fey the observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court in P. J. Irani v. State of Madras : [1962]2SCR169 which was itself an appeal from the judgment of a Division Bench of this Court connected with The Globe Theatres, Ltd. v. The State of Madras (1954)2 M.L.J. 110. Earlier to this decision, there was some area of doubt with regard to the grounds upon which the State Government could justifiably exercise their powers under Section 13, stemming from an observation of a Bench of this Court in Abdul Subhan Sahib & Sons v. State of Madras : (1959)2MLJ387 to the effect that the exemption under Section 13 could not be given upon any ground which was not provided for in the Act itself. But that isolated observations was subsequently clarified by the same Bench in Chinnaiah Servai v. State of Madras : (1960)2MLJ191 and in several subsequent decisions of this Court, the matter has been placed beyond doubt. In a recent Bench decision of this Court in W.A. Nos. 156 and 157 of 1960, to which one of us was a party, which itself affirmed the judgment of my Lord the Chief Justice in W.P. Nos. 732 and 733 of 1958, the entire case-law has been reviewed and the scope of the two decisions just referred to explained, in the context of an apparent conflict which does not really exist. As pointed out in this Bench decision, in any event, after the decision in P.J. Irani v. State of Madras : [1962]2SCR169 the proposition is indisputable that Government could exercise their powers under Section 13 to exempt certain premises from the operation of Section 7, upon grounds of exceptional hardship or of abuse of position by one of the parties, though it might be that, by implication, eviction of such premises could not be obtained within the terms of the Act itself. It is not merely in situation where the Act had omitted to provide for eviction, that Government could properly exercise their powers under Section 13. But, of course, every such instance of exercise of power is subject to judicial review by this Court, both upon grounds of justification and upon grounds of the presence or absence of bona fides, or the degree to which the exercise of exemption was in implementation of the policy underlying the Act.

4. So much for the general principles. We shall immediately proceed to the individual facts of this case, upon which the Government claimed that the exemption was perfectly justified.

5. One of the main grounds upon which the appellant sought to impugn this order of Government was that Government had declined to exempt these premises, previously, though, the situation was then identical, namely, in November, 1956. In October, 1957, the second respondent (landlord) made a second application to Government, and this application was successful. In their counter-affidavit the Government have affirmed that there were adequate reasons for a change of view, and it was not merely as if, as suggested by the appellant a change in the personnel of Government had led to more favourable attitude towards the landlord. On the contrary, Government later came into possession of a document which showed that the restoration of the premises claimed by the appellant was effected by funds made available by the landlord (second respondent) himself. As the learned Judge has pointed out, the actual order of the Government does not deal in detail with the considerations which led the Government to exempt these premises, but the counter-affidavit does furnish those details. In their counter-affidavit, the Government point out that the restoration of the premises was really effected by virtue of advances made by the landlord and not through the funds of the appellant as claimed. Further, the landlord had improved his business in a very speedy fashion, and built up a clientele with a large turnover within a short period. The scale of expansion of that business did justify the landlord in seeking to obtain possession of these non-residential premises, notwithstanding the fact that he was already in control of other premises. Incidentally, the Government noted that the offer of the landlord (second respondent) to put Sri Pannalal Gupta and his sub-tenants of the premises in possession of alternative premises in Kotwal Bazaar, appeared to indicate a desire on the part of the landlord not to injure the interests of the tenant, compatible with his need for the premises in question. This, of course, could not be the main ground for the exemption, but it was an equity in favour if the landlord which the authorities were certainly to take into account.

6. In arguing the Writ Appeal before us, learned Counsel does not dispute the force of the propositions earlier referred to by us, upon which the general principles rest, which govern this matter. For instance, it is not seriously disputed that the genuine need of the landlord for additional accommodation, for an expanding business, would justify the exemption notwithstanding the fact that the landlord is already in possession of non-residential premises. It was no doubt urged that Government having once declined to grant the exemptions, should not have granted it on a subsequent occasion, and that this raises some suspicion that special influences might have been at work, and that the order itself might not have been supported entirely by bona fides. But the argument could not be seriously pressed, as there is a total absence of material in support of such a suggestion. On the contrary, the counter-affidavit of Government, as we have earlier noticed, shows that the Government came into possession of certain material before the subsequent order, which led them to take the view that this was a justifiable case. In other words, we do not have a shred of evidence to sustain any suspicion of the bona fides of the Government. On the materials on record, we are wholly unable to hold that the need of the landlord for the occupation of these premises, for his expanding business, could be doubted, or regarded as anything else than genuine. In other words, on the application of the principles to the special facts of this case, the order of Government must be sustained as totally justified.

7. That would ordinarily make an end of the appeal, but we also desire to stress one incidental matter, which came to our attention during the hearing of arguments in this appeal. We have earlier referred to one ground incidentally adverted to by Government, namely, the offer of the landlord to provide alternative accommodation for the appellant and his sub-tenants, who might be gravely inconvenienced by the eviction. In the grounds of appeal, we find a ground stating that this offer of the landlord could not at all be really genuine, as it was a contingent offer depending upon the consent of a third party. We desire to observe that, during arguments, the learned Advocate-General appearing for the landlord (second respondent) made the offer, which did appear to be substantially fair and equitable, and undertook to use his efforts to see that this alternative accommodation was obtained for the appellant and other tenants, who might be displaced by virtue of the order of Government, and thus put to hardship. Learned Counsel appearing for the appellant (Sri V. Thyagarajan) intimated his willingness to accept this offer, provided that it could be implemented in practice, by securing the consent of the concerned landlord. We might add, that the alternative accommodation is within the same business area and locality. An adjournment was thereupon granted by us to enable the learned Advocate-General to pursue his efforts to obtain the consent of the third party landlord, so that the alternative accommodation would be made available for the appellant and his sub-tenants. This was done; and, at this stage, the learned Counsel for the appellant intimated to us that his client was no longer willing to abide by the acquiescence originally expressed. We merely desire to note these facts, without any further comment. Actually, they do not impinge in any manner upon the result of the Writ Appeal, but as we think that these facts are germane, we have referred to them here.

8. In the result, as we have already held, the order of the learned Judge (Veeraswami, J.) : (1962)1MLJ426 upholding the order of Government under Section 13 of the Act was, in our view, perfectly correct and we agree with the learned Judge in his-conclusions upon the matter. The Writ Appeal fails and is dismissed with costs; Two sets.


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