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Mohamed Ebrahim and Co. (P.) Ltd. Vs. Sridhar and Co. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1968)1MLJ406
AppellantMohamed Ebrahim and Co. (P.) Ltd.
RespondentSridhar and Co.
Excerpt:
- .....on 19th march, 1965. the petition against the respondent was taken up again and allowed by a different rent controller on 16th june, 1965. he found that the premises nos. 11-a-1 and 11-a-2 structurally constituted a single integral building and that the petitioner not owning any building for the purpose of its business in the city and its business having enormously expanded in recent years, bonafide required additional accommodation for the purpose of its business. he felt that the hardship to the respondent would not outweigh the advantage that would accrue to the petitioner by the order, and ordered eviction. the rent controller carefully scrutinised the evidence on the question of bond fides and was of opinion that the petitioner was bonafide in its requirement of additional.....
Judgment:

K. Veeraswami, J.

1. This petition is to revise an order of the Third Judge in the Court of Small Causes, by which he allowed the appeal by the tenant and dismissed the petition filed by the landlord for eviction. The landlord, who is the petitioner in this Court, purchased on 22nd November, 1961 the premises bearing Nos. 11-A-1 and 11-A-2 for a sum of Rs. 3,00,000. (three lakhs). The petitioner is a private limited company carrying on its business at Nos. 7 and 8, Mount Road, Madras, in electrical goods, radios, tape recorders and other goods. It has a branch in upstairs of Nos. 26 and 27 Rattan Bazaar, Madras, besides a godown behind the Life Insurance Corporation building in Mount Road. All these buildings have been taken on lease on heavy rents by the petitioner for the purpose of its business. It appears the rent for the premises Nos. 7 and 8, Mount Road known as Victory House, was Rs. 2,600 per mensem and since 1964, it has been increased to Rs. 2,500 per mensem. At the time of the purchase of the premises Nos. 11-A-1 and 11-A-2, Mount Road, there were three tenants, Royal Printing Works, My Coffee Bar, and Shridar & Co., The last of the tenants is the respondent before me. On the ground that its business had expanded enormously and that it required the premises for its own occupation to carry on its business, the petitioner applied separately for eviction of the Royal Printing Press and the respondent and instituted a suit against My Coffee Bar in ejectment, since having regard to the quantum of monthly rent it was having for the portion in its occupation, the tenancy was, as the law stood then, outside the purview of the Madras Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960. Subsequently, when the law was amended and the tenancy of My Coffee Bar came within the purview of the Act, the petitioner withdrew the suit and filed an eviction petition against My Coffee Bar. It is common ground that on 28th March, 1963 an eviction order was passed by the Rent Controller against the Royal Printing Works. About four months thereafter, a major portion of the part of the premises in the occupation of the Royal Printing Works was taken possession of by the petitioner. The petition against My Coffee Bar was dismissed by the Rent Controller in June, 1965, and the landlord's appeal failed in March, 1966. But the Civil Revision Petition against the appellate order ended in a compromise on 14th March, 1967^ My Coffee Bar consenting to an eviction order. So far as the petition against the respondent was concerned, it had a chequered career. It was strenuously resisted by the respondent. One of its objections was that during the pendency of the petition, the petitioner having taken possession of a portion of the premises from the Royal Printing Works it was no longer entitled to maintain the petition, as it ought to apply for eviction only on the ground, that it required additional accommodation. The Rent Controller overruled this specific objection on the ground that the matter should be Viewed as on the date on the petition for eviction arid not in the light of subsequent events. He also found that the petitioner did not own any building of its own in the city for carrying on its business, that its business had expanded manifold since 1937, the turnover amounting to as much as about Rs. 69,00,000 (sixty-nine lakhs) for the year ended 31st March, 1963, and that, in the circumstances, the requirement by the landlord of the premises for carrying on its business was bond fide. An eviction order was passed and it was contested by the respondent in an appeal under the provisions of the Act. The appellate Court came to the opposite conclusion, reversed the order and remitted the petition for fresh disposal, directing the Controller to do so Viewing the petition as one for eviction on the ground that the petitioner required additional accommodation for the purposes of its business. The appellate Court took the view that, as the petitioner, had during the pendency of the eviction petition, taken possession of a portion of the part of the premises in the occupation of the Royal Printing Works, this made a difference to the continued maintainability of the petition for eviction, but the petition could, nevertheless, be disposed of afresh regarding it as one for additional accomodation. On that view, the appellate Court did not record its final opinion on the question of bond fides and requirement by the petitioner of the premises for carrying on its business. Against that order, the petitioner filed C.R.P. No. 465 of r965 which was dismissed by Anantanarayanan, J., as he then was, on 19th March, 1965. The petition against the respondent was taken up again and allowed by a different Rent Controller on 16th June, 1965. He found that the premises Nos. 11-A-1 and 11-A-2 structurally constituted a single integral building and that the petitioner not owning any building for the purpose of its business in the city and its business having enormously expanded in recent years, bonafide required additional accommodation for the purpose of its business. He felt that the hardship to the respondent would not outweigh the advantage that would accrue to the petitioner by the order, and ordered eviction. The Rent Controller carefully scrutinised the evidence on the question of bond fides and was of opinion that the petitioner was bonafide in its requirement of additional accommodation. The respondent appealed from that order and succeeded. Once again the appellate Court differed from the findings of the Rent Controller. It observed that it Was not satisfied that there was really need for additional accommodation for the petitioner, as it was already in possession of rented premises in Various places of a total extent of about 10,000 square feet. It thought that a general increase in the turnover by itself would not show that the petitioner was in need of additional accommodation. It was inclined to think that the petitioner purchased the premises as an investment or in the alternative, to demolish the building and construct a new one, and its object in seeking eviction was apparently to get a higher rent. Lastly, it was of opinion that it was difficult for the respondent to get alternative accommodation for its business and therefore the balance of advantage to the petitioner and the hardhsip to the respondent was in favour of the latter. The present petition is directed against this appellate order.

2. It is contended for the petitioner in this Court that the landlord's application for eviction was wrongly disposed of after the remit order as one under Section 10(3)(c) of the Act while it was originally one filed under Section 10(3)(a)(iii). Alternatively it is said that even on the footing that the petitioner required, additional accommodation, the appellate authority failed to make the correct approach. On the other hand, for the respondent, it is urged that the petitioner having during the pendency of the eviction petition obtained an order of eviction against another tenant in a portion of the building and taken, possession of a part of it, it could only succeed on satisfying the Court that it bond fide required the additional accommodation and the conditions of the proviso to Section 10(3)(c). On Behalf of the respondent, attention is also invited to Clause (ii) of the second proviso to Sub-section 3(a) of Section 10 and it is pressed upon me that once the landlord obtained possession, of a part of the building, he Would not be entitled to apply under Section 10(3)(c)(iii) of the Act.

3. In my view, the main contention for the petitioner is sound and should be accepted. The petition for eviction, as originally filed against the respondent, was clearly one under Section 10(3)(a)(iii). When it filed it, it was not in occupation of any part of the premises. It could, therefore, only apply for eviction under Section 10(3)(a)(iii). That provision enables a landlord to get an order of eviction, on the ground that he is not in occupation of any other building of his own for the purpose of carrying on his business, and that he requires it for the purpose and that the requirement is bond fide. Once the landlord obtains possession of a building under this provision, he is debarred from applying again under that provision for obtaining possession of another non-residential building of his own. That is the only effect of Clause (ii) of the second proviso to Section 10(3)(a). This is not a case where the petitioner has obtained possession of the whole or part of a non-residential building under Section 10(3)(a)(iii) and applied again under that Very clause for eviction of a tenant from another non-residential building of its own. The various clauses of Section 10 will have to be read and understood in the context of each other and a comparison of Clause (a) and (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 10 shows that Clause (c) applies only where a landlord is already in occupation of a part of a building and requires additional accommodation. Clause (d) of Sub-section (3) of Section 10 covers a case of a landlord who is not in occupation of a building or part of it and requires it for his own occupation for the purpose of his residence or of carrying on his business. Clause (ii) of the second proviso to Sub-section (3)(a) is inapplicable to a petition for eviction during the pendency of which the landlord takes possession of another building or a part of it by an independent petition, for, it is inappropriate to say that the landlord applies again under the same clause for eviction. In my opinion, if a landlord files separate eviction petitions against each of the tenants in a building and during the pendency of one, obtains possession of parts of the building from one or more of the tenants, who are respondents in other applications, by no stretch of imagination can it be said that the application, which remains to be disposed of, is one that has been filed again by the landlord within the meaning of the proviso. The proviso does not bar such a petition. Nor is there anything in the proviso of the rest of the provisions of Sub-section (3)(a) or Clause (c) of that sub-section to justify the view that on account of the fact that during the pendency of an eviction petition, possession of a part of the building has been taken, as a result of another eviction petition, the petition so pending should, for that reason, be viewed as one under Section 10(3)(c) for additional accommodation. On that view the petitioner must succeed.

4. But it is argued for the respondent that the contention is not open to the petitioner in view of the order of Ajnantanarayanan, J., in C.R.P. No. 465 of 1965. The learned Judge while disposing of the petition referred to the fact that the petitioner had taken possession of a portion of the premises from the Royal Printing Works and observed that in that case, the proceeding by virtue of the subsequent facts might well be considered as one under Section 10(3)(c) of Madras Act XVIII of 1960. The learned Judge, however, went on to observe:

The argument is that this provision does not apply, because the landlord took out comprehensive proceedings for eviction of all the tenants, originally. That, again, is an argument, which could be raised in the Court of the learned Rent Controller. There is no ground for interference in revision with the judgment directing the remand, and the petition is dismissed.

5. The last observations show that the learned Judge did not decide the question but expressly left it open so that it could be raised before the Rent Controller. As I understand the order, the learned Judge Was not inclined to interfere in revision, with the order of remit but at the same time did not intend to conclude the point against the petitioner once and for all.

6. There is no dispute in this Court that the petitioner does not own any other building. The record clearly shows that it is in possession of rented space of a total extent of about 10,000 to 12,000 square feet. On the evidence on record, there is no doubt that the petitioner has been paying heavy rent. It is equally clear on the material available that the petitioner's business has expanded manifold. In the circumstances, there is no reason to suspect the bona fides of the petitioner bona fides in the context have relevance to the honest requirement by a landlord of the premises he has purchased for the purpose of carrying on his business. No oblique purpose of the petitioner in seeking eviction is made out from the evidence. The petitioner is, therefore, entitled to an order of eviction under Section 10(3)(a)(iii)

7. In any case, I think the petitioner's alternative contention also has force. If the application for eviction is to be regarded as one under Section 10(3)(c), it seems to me that the occupation of a part of the building contemplated by that provision in its occupation of carrying on the business. There is no evidence on record that the petitioner has occupied any part of the premises in that sense. Assuming it has, I feel no doubt having regard to the great volume of the petitioner's business, it needs additional accommodation for the purposes of its business. On this matter, the Rent Controller has given Very cogent and convincing reasons from which the lower appellate Court could not justifiably differ. On the proviso to Clause (c), Sub-section (3) of Section 10 also, I think the Rent Controller's conclusion on the facts was the correct one.

8. The petition is allowed and the order of the Rent Controller dated 16th June, 1965, is restored. Each party will bear its or his costs throughout. Time for eviction six months.


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