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Reethalammal Vs. K. Arumugham Pillai and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1978)1MLJ536
AppellantReethalammal
RespondentK. Arumugham Pillai and ors.
Cases ReferredJagannath v. Abdul Azia and Ors.
Excerpt:
- .....under the hyderabad houses rent control order, 1353 fasli, but under the hyderabad houses (rent, eviction and. lease) control act, that can be done only with the written consent of the landlord. the present act has no retrospective operation so as to invalidate a sub-tenancy created, long prior to the coming into force of the present act, with the oral consent of the landlord.13. in s. arputam chettiar v. c.p. narayana rao (1962) 75 l.w. 523, srinivasan, j., was concerned with the question as to whether if the tenant had the authority to sub-let the premises prior to the passing of the act, such authority would be deemed to have continued and that no further written consent to authorise such sub-letting was necessary after the passing of the act. the learned judge referred to a.....
Judgment:

S. Nainar Sundaram, J.

1. The landlady under the Tamil Nadu Act XVIII of 1960 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) is the petitioner in this revision. The first respondent was the tenant and respondents 2 to 5 are arrayed as sub-tenants. The landlady filed a petition for eviction before the Rent Controller (District Munsif) Tenkasi, H.R.C.O.P.No.2 of 1973 under Section 10(2)(i) and Section 10(2)(ii)(a) of the Act. Certain facts not in dispute may be stated. The premises originally belonged to the first respondent and he othied the same in favour of one Ganapathi Joshier for Rs. 1,500 on 30th July, 1969 under Exhibit A-1. The first respondent himself took the building on lease from the said Ganapathi Joshier under Exhibit A-2. Under Exhibit A.2 the rate of rent reserved was Rs. 15 per month fora period of three years and thereafter, the rent was to be paid at the rate of Rs. 22.50 Ps. On 15th November, 1972, the said Ganapathi Joshier assigned the othi in favour of the petitioner for Rs. 1,500. The petitioner pursuant to the assignment asserted her rights as 'landlord' and demanded the rents and followed. it up by the action for eviction referred to above. The petition for eviction was contested in the mam by the first respondent and he would contend that prior to the assignment in favour of the petitioner on 15th November, 1972, he (1st respondent has sub-let the building to respondent 3to 5 and that it is not correct to say that he has agreed to pay a monthly rent of Rs. 22.50 to Ganapathi Joshier.

2. The Rent Controller who heard the matter, came to the conclusion that the tenant committed wilful default in the payment of rents and has further subletthe building without the written con sent of the 'land lord' and hence, he is liable to be evicted along with the other respondents The first respondent appealed in C.M.A. No. 42 of 1973, whichcame to be heard and disposed of by the Subordinate Judge (Appellate Authority), Tirunelveli by an order dated 19th August, 1974. The appellate authority reversed the findings of the Rent Controller and dismissed the petition for eviction preferred by the petitioner. As against the said order, the present Revision is filed.

3. Thiru T.R. Mani, learned Counsel for the petitioner would urge that the order of the appellate authority is vitiated by impropriety and irregularity in that the correct principles with regard to the question of wilful default and sub-letting have not been followed by the appellate authority.

4. As stated above, two grounds were put forth for eviction of the tenant, Viz., wilful default and sub-letting.

5. Before I deal with the aspect of willful default, it is better to deal with the question of sub-letting because the counsel for the both sides have placed before me a number of authorities on this question.

6. The ground of sub-letting must satisfy the provisions of Section 10(2)(ii)(a) of the Act, which reads as follows:

that the tenant has after the 23rd October, 1945 without the written consent of the landlord, transferred his right under the lease or sub-let the entire building or any portion thereof, if the lease does not confer on him any right to do so'. On the question of 'consent', decisions have been rendered both under the old statute and the present statute and there are also decisions which have arisen under similar statutes of other States.

7. In Mohammed haji v. A. Moshin Raja : AIR1948Mad440 Happell, J., was concerned with a case where sub-letting had taken place before the commencement of the Madras Act XV of 1946, and held that the tenant can -not be evicted on that ground. It must be pointed out that under Madras Act XV of 1946, which came into force on 1st October, 1946, Clause (2) of Section 7 enabled the landlord to Seek eviction of the tenant, if the sub-letting had taken place after the commencement of the Act without his written consent.

8. In P. Renganatham v. Sankarlal Davey : (1949)2MLJ597 Rajamannar, C.J., and Krishnaswamy Nayudu, J., in a case which arose under Madras Act (LV of 1946), held: that the landlord is entitled to obtain an order for eviction of the tenant if the tenant has after the commencement of the Act without the consent of the landlord, transferred his right under the lease or sub-let the entire or any portion of the lease building, and if therefore, there is a transfer or sub-letting after the commencement of the Act, the tenant can be saved by a written consent of the landlord from the consequence, namely, eviction,

9. In V. Somasundaram Mudaliar and another v. The Madras Provincial Co-operative Society Limited and another (1950) 1 M.L.J. 655 : A.I.R. 1950 Mad. 11 : 63 L.W 610 Rajamannar, C.J., and Somasundaram, J., reiterating the basis of that sub-letting without the written consent of the landlord after the commencement of the Madras Act XV of 1946 would afford a ground for eviction, extended the principle by saying that a subsequent purchaser from the landlord can avail himself of that sub-letting ard file a petition. The learned Judge further held that if there was a change in the subtenant after the commencement of the Act, that would constitute subletting after the commencement of the Act within the meaning of the said statutory provision.

10. A Division Bench of the Saurashtra High Court in Gokaldas Dah yabhai v. Jiva Raghay and another A.I.R. 1955 Saur.52., held that where a sub-lease was already subsisting when the Bomb?y Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates (Control) Act (LVII of 1947) was applied to Saurashtra, it could not be said that the tenant created any fresh sublease after the commencement of that Act by merely recovering rent under the subsisting sub-lease.

11. In P.A. Aiyannath Chetty and Ors. v. V. Pala Muddukrishnayya and Co., Madras : (1956)2MLJ54 . Somasundaram, J., was concerned about the amendment introduced, by the Madras Act VIII of 1951 to Section 7, Sub-clause(2) of the Madras Act XV of 1964, by virtue of which, for the words figures and letters ''AfteJ the 23rd October, 1945' were substituted. The learned Judge while recognising the principle of the non-consent of the landlord in writing will entail eviction repelled the argument that the landlord is estopped by his conduct, on the principle that there can be no estoppel against a Statute. In that case, an argument was put forth that the 'landlord' must be considered to have acquiesced or contracted out of the Statute waivirg his privileges under the Statute. The learned Judge assuming that there can be a waiver, considered the question as to whether there is such a waiver and on the facts of that case, held that there was no such waiver.

12. In Jafer Ali v. Choitram (1957) An.L.T, 399 : (1957) 1 AnWR 348 Jaganmohan Reddy, J., as he then was, laid down the principle as follows:

A tenant can sub-let the house with the oral consent of the landlords under the Hyderabad Houses Rent Control Order, 1353 Fasli, but under the Hyderabad Houses (Rent, Eviction and. Lease) Control Act, that can be done only with the written consent of the landlord. The present Act has no retrospective operation so as to invalidate a sub-tenancy created, long prior to the coming into force of the present Act, with the oral consent of the landlord.

13. In S. Arputam chettiar v. C.P. Narayana Rao (1962) 75 L.W. 523, Srinivasan, J., was concerned with the question as to whether if the tenant had the authority to sub-let the premises prior to the passing of the Act, such authority would be deemed to have continued and that no further written consent to authorise such sub-letting was necessary after the passing of the Act. The learned Judge referred to a decision of Ramachandra Iyer, O.C.J., as he then was in C.R.P. No. 1247 of 1960, where it was laid down that if the original terms of the tenancy authorised the tenant to sublet and if the landlord had acquiesced in such sub-letting it could be presumed that there was such authority and that the landlord could not, therefore, put this forward as a ground for eviction. Srinivasan, J., on the facts of the case dealt by him, found that there was no evidence of such authority.

14. In T.S.O. Abdul Khader v. G.H. Rao (1964) 2 M.L.J.288, Ramakrishnan, j., had occasion to consider the provisions of Section 10(2)(ii)(b)-of the Tamil Nadu Act XVIII of 1960, with reference to the use of the premises let for a purpose other than that for which it was leased. The learned Judge repelled the arguments with reference to the acquiescence by the landlord or estoppel by conduct and held that any kind of acquiescence by the landlord or estoppel by his conduct can-not be a substitute for the plain requirements of the Statute about a written consent.

15. In P.M. Jagadisa Mudaliar v. N.C.C. Aagappa Mudaliar (1966) 79 L.W. 615. Venkatadri, J., reiterated the principle with reference to obtaining the written consent of the landlord for sub-letting so that it can be a defence open to the tenant when eviction was sought against him on the ground of such sub-letting. The learned Judge laid down the principle as follows:

The provisions of Act XVIII of 1960' in Section 10(2)(a) requires that the written consent of the landlord should be obtained. Therefore, it is immaterial whether the previous landlord gave permission to the tenant to sublet the premises. The tenant must obtain the written consent of the landlord for the purpose of sub-letting. Where there is a change in the subtenancy and when new persons are introduced into the premises by the majn tenant, he should obtain the written consent of the landlord for sub-letting the premises. Even assuming that the original agreement permitted the main tenant to sub-let the premises, that agreement would not bind the subsequent purchaser of the premises. Even though the landlord tacitly allowed the tenant to sub-let the premises, still the landlord can at any time take advantage of the provisions of the Act for evicting the tenant on the simple ground that the tenant has not obtained the written consent of the landlord for sub-letting the premises.

16. The same principle has been recognised by Sadasivam, J., in Kamnapa Chettiar v. Veerasami (1972) 1 M.L.J. 184 : 85 L.W. 192 : A.I.R. 1972 Mart. 303, when the learned Judge stated that a tenant cannot without the written consent of the landlord transfer his rights under the lease and sub-let the entire building or part thereof, if the lease does not confer any right to do so and if the tenant sub-lets without complying with the above requirement, he will come within the mischief of Section 10(2)(ii)(a) of the Tamil Nadu Act. XVI11 of 1960.

17. In P.J.Gupta and Co. v. M. Venkatesan Merchant and Ors. : [1975]2SCR401 , the Supreme Court dealing with a case which arose under the Tamil Nadu Act (XVIII of 1960), observed as follows:

The provisions of the Act apply to all tenancies. A tenancy is essentially based on and governed by an agreement or contract even when a statute intervenes to limit the area within which an agreement or contract operates, or subjects contractual rights to statutory rights and obligations. Where the tenant has Sub-let in 1957, i.e; subsequent to 1945, the case would be covered by Section 10(2)(ii)(a) and he would be liable to be evicted.

18. In Poorna Chand v. Motilal and Ors. : AIR1964SC461 , the Supreme Court was concerned with the provisions of Delhi and Ajmer Rent Control Act (XXXVIIIof 1952) and in particular secticn 13(i) of the Act, the material part of which reads as follows:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law or any contract, no decree or order for the recovery of possession of any premises shall be passed by any Court in favour of the landlord against any tenant (including a tenant whose tenancy is terminated.) : provided that nothing in this sub-secticn shall apply to any suit or other proceeding for such recovery of possession if the Court is satisfied: (a) that the tenant has neither paid non tendered the whole of the arrears of rent due within the month of the date on which a notice of demand for the arrears of rent has been served on him by the landlord in the manner provided in Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act (IV of 1882); or (b) that the tenant without obtaining the consent of the landlord in writing has, after the commencement of this Act, (i) sub-let, assigned or otherwise parted with the possession of, the whole or any fart of the premises....

19. It was held as follows: where admittedly after the execution of the lease deed, the tenant las sub-let some of the rooms of the building to others without obtaining the written consent of the landlord, Section 13(1)(b) (i) applies. The fact that there were sub-tenants in the said portions and new ones were substituted for their, could not conceivebly be of any help to the tenant, because the new sub-tenants were not holding under the earlier sub-tenants, but were inducted by the tenant after the earlier subtenancies were terminated. The tenant, having sub-let part of the premises without the consent of the landlord in writing, cannot invoke the protection given to him. under secticn 13 of the Act.

20. In Goppulal v.Thakurji Shriji Dwarkadheeshi ard another : [1969]3SCR989 , the Supreme Court was concerned with the provisions of Rajasthan PresmJses (Control of Rent and Eviction) Act (XVll of 1950). Section 13(1)(e) sets out sub-letting as a ground for ejectment in the following terms:

That the tenant had assigned, sublet or otherwise parted with the possession of, the whole or any part of the premises without tre permission of the landlord

The Supreme Court observed:

The question whether a sub-letting before the coming into force of the Act is within the purview of Clause (e) of Section 13(1) depends upon the construcion of that clause. The relevant words are 'has sub-let'. The present perfect tense contemplates a completed even connected in some way with the present time. The words take within their sweep any sub-letting which was made in the past and has continued up to the present time. It does not matter that the sub-letting was either before or after the Act came into force. All such sub-lettings are within the purview of Clause (e).

21. From a discussion of the above authorities, certain principles do emerge out. Sub-letting is made a ground for seeking eviction by the landlord. Consent by landlord for such sub-letting would provide a cover fcr the tenent. It may be expressed or implied provided it is in writing. Sub-letting done during the terure of a lease under a previous landlord and without his written consent can be availed of by a subsequent purchaser from the previous landlord to seek eviction of the tenant. Though in some decisions acquiescence by the landlord was countenanced as a defence available to the tenant, other decisions have discountenanced it and they have held that there is no question of acquiescence or estoppel against the landlord and that would practically be a estoppel against the statute. In my view, the second line of decisions are in consonance with the language used in the provisions of the Act. To repeat the dictum of Ramakrishnan, J., in T.S.O. Abdul Khader v. G.H Rao (1964) 2 M.L.J. 288 any kind of acquiescence by the landlord or estoppel by his conduct cannot be a substitute for the plain requirements of the Statute about a written consent.' A change of sub-tenant after the relevant date without the written consent of 'landlord' will entail eviction. Keeping the above principles in the background, we have to see as to whether the decision of the appellate authority has conformed to the same.

22. coming to the facts of the present case, I find that the specific case as put forth by the 1st respondent is that prior to the assignment in favour of the petitioner oo 15th November, 1972 the 1st respondent has sub-let the building to respondents 3 to 5 on mnthly rent and therefore, the petitioner is not competent to object to it. It appears that in the course of the arguments before the Rent Controller, it was contended on behalf of the 1st respondent that he sub-let the building even before the othi deed Exhibit A-l dated 30th July, 1969. This contention runs contra to the specific plea taken by the 1st respondent in the counter. I do not find that any material has been placed before the Courts below to substantiate the later contention. Hence, we have to take it that the sub-lease has admittedly been done after the othi deed under Exhibit A-l dated 30th July, 1969 and the rent deed Exhibit A-8 of the same date and before the assignment under Exhibit A-2 dated 15th November, 1972. Equally so, the 1st respondent has not obtained the written consent of the'landlord' either Ganapathi Joshier or the present petitioner for such sub-letting. The appellate authority sets out the contentionof the 1st respondent that the tenants were already there even at the time when Ganapathi Joshier got Exhibit A-l othi, when he entered into a lease back arrangement under Exhibit A-8 on the same date. The appellate authority observed as followstowards the end jof paragraph 9 of his order.-

The 1st respondent herein as petitioner before the lower Court was very well aware of the sub-lease even at the time of her getting the assignment and in such circumstance, it should be taken that a sub-lease was done even earlier to the assignment in favour the 1st respondent regarding the othi-and so there is no question of any sub-lease without the consent of the land lady.

23 This is a misconception of the case of the parties. Not only, the appellatethe parties, but has not applied the correct principles of law governing the question of sub-letting under the Act. When once sub-letting is admitted and when it is found that it has no sanction of the written consent of the 'landlord'the tenant cannot escape the consequences of eviction, which must eventually follow. Hence, I find that the orderof the appellate authority suffers from an impropriety in the application of the law to the frets of the case.

24 Thiru K. Ramamurthy, learned Counsel for the respondent would reply on the ratio by Kailasam, J., as he then was in C.R.P. No. 639 of 1973, wherein the learned Judge considered the question of the knowledge of the landlord with reference to the use of the premises for a purpose other than that for which it was leased in the context of Section 10(2)(ii)(b) of the Act. The learned Counsel for the respondent also relies on the decision in Jagannath v. Abdul Azia and Ors. : AIR1973Delhi9 . There the learned Judge of the Delhi High Court was considering a similar provision of Delhi Rent Control Act (LIXof I958) and held that the consent may be express or implied, and either would be sufficient provided that it is in writing. The learned Counsel fcr the respondent woufa contend that knowledge would amount 10 acquiescence. There may be a reed to consider tris question if the materials on record do make rut that the 'landlord' had knowledge about, the sub-letting earlier and had acquiesced in the same by conduct. But, in the present case, there are no materials j laced befr re the Court to this effect. I also find that such a specific plea was not taken and presented in the Courts below.

25. Coming to the question of wilful default, I find that the appellate authority has again acted on a miser nception. Admittedly under Exhibit A-8, the lease agreement the rate cf rent stipulated was Rs. 28.50 after 2nd August, 1972. Inspite of the sarre, the 1st respondent would contend that he would pay only at the rate rf Rs. I5 p.m. and the 1st respondent having had been a party to the written agreement, cannot be said to have acted bona Jjde under a wrong notion. On an analysis of the materials, I find that the finding of the Rent Controller that the 1st respondent committed wilful default, is correct. The appellate authority diverted his attention more on tre conduct of the petitioner in making the demands at the earliest print of time after the assignment in her favour. This is not proper. The question to be^considered is, whether the default committed by the tenant is wilful or not. As stated above, the tenant inspite 0 f Exhibit A-8 would main.tain tr at he would pay only at the rate of Rs. 1.5 p.m. and persisted in the said stand in the Courts below and even at the said rate, the tenant showed no alacrity to deposit the rents, as enjoined by the statute. This would come within the mischief wilful default' as defined under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Act XVIII of 1960. In this view also, the petition for eviction filed b the petitioner should be allowed.

26. In the said circumstances, this revision is allowed. The order of the appellate authority is set aside and tie order of the Fem Controller is restored. Taking into consideration the facts and circumstances cf the case and the relationship between the parties, 1 consider sufficient time should be given for the respondent to varete. The respordents, will have jiur months to vacate. No orders as to costs.


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