T. Sathiadev, J.
1. The landlady is the petitioner herein and she filed a petition before Rent Controller, Vellore. under Section 4 of the Act XVIII of 1960 for fixation of fair rent. The premises bearing door No. 26, of Sanjeevi Pillai Street of Vellore town, has been rented out on a monthly rent of Rs. 100 to the respondent. The total plinth area is claimed to be 1879 sq. feet and the building was constructed about 20 years back at a cost of Rs. 20,000 and the value of the site is Rs. 50 per sq. foot. Therefore she had claimed the fixation of fair rent at Rs. 400 per month.
2. The tenant claimed that the rent was raised only in 1973, and therefore no fair rent can be fixed. The building is 50 years old and the cost of site will be only Rs. 4 per sq. foot and that there is no need for fixation of any fair rent.
3. Before the Rent Controller, both the authorities agreed that the schedule building is a class HI building and that it is about 40 years old. A Commissioner was appointed 10 find out the area occupied by the building and ultimately the Rent Controller determined the plinth area at 1315 1/2 sq. feet and the vacant site at 298 1/2 sq. feet.
4. The point involved in these civil revision petitions is concerned only with the determination of what extent of vacant site can be taken into account for fixing the market value of the site, and therefore the other aspects dealt with by two statutory authorities do not arise for consideration. The Rent Controller held that the vacant land referred to in the first proviso to Section 4(4) of Act XVIII of 1960 represents only 50 per cent of the constructed portion of the site to be added to the actual cost of construction of the building and not 50 per cent of the vacant land, whereas the Appellate Authority held that it can be only one half of the vacant site which should be added to the constructed portion. Aggrieved with this finding, the landlady has filed the present Civil Revision Petitions.
5. Mr. V. N. Krishna Rao, learned Counsel for the petitioner in both these petitions contends that under Section 4(1) of the Act while fixing fair rent for a building, it has to be decided in accordance with the principles set out in the other sub-sections. In case of a non-residential building, the fair rent will be 12 percent of gross-return per-annum on the total cost of the building. Sub-section (4) of Section 4 provides the manner in which the cost referred to in Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 4, is to be worked out. The total cost will consist of (1) the market value of the site in which the building is constructed; (2) of the cost of construction of the building; and (3) cost of provision of any one or more of the amenities specified in schedule I of the Act. First proviso contemplates the method to be adopted for calculating the market value of the site on which the building is constructed and of the portion of the vacant land to be taken into account to be treated as part of the cost of building. According to Mr. Krishna Rao, in view of statutory provisions made under other enactments like the Municipalities Act or Town Planning Act etc., a landlord is compelled to keep certain portions Of the property, vacant and when such a compulsion exists, the appurtenant area could not be treated as an amenity and the legislative intent could have been only to provide for 50 per cent of the constructed portion to be taken into account as the appurtenant area, and it cannot be SO per cent of the vacant land.
6. Regarding the market value of the site over which the building is constructed which is ordinarily called plinth area of the building, there is no dispute. The only other aspect is that, what should be the extent of the vacant land appurtenant to the building that can be taken into account under the First proviso to Section 4(4) of the Act
The relevant provision reads as follows:
Section 4(4) First proviso:Provided that while calculating the market value of the site in which the building is constructed, the Controller shall take into account only that portion of the site on which the building is constructed, and of a portion up to fifty per cent. thereof of the vacant land, if any, appurtenant to such building the excess portion of the vacant land being treated as amenity;
In the Proviso, it will be seen that the market value of the site is made up of the area over which the building is constructed and a portion upto 50 per cent there of of the vacant land, if any, appurtenant to the building and the excess portion is to be treated as amenity. It is hot in dispute that in working out the cost of the site, it is made up of two factors : (1) the area over which the building is constructed and (2) a portion of the vacant site.
7. Mr. Krishna Rao would contend that the 50 per cent referred to, is the 50 per cent of the built up area which should be deducted from the vacant land available appurtenant to the building and the rest of the area is to be treated as amenity, for which the cost is to be worked out as provided under Schedule I to the Act. In this case, the built up area is 1315 5 1/2 sq. ft. and the available vacant land is only 298 1/2 sq. ft. If the contention of Mr. Krishna Rao is accepted, the entire vacant land available will have to be treated as part of the cost of the site, whereas if it is to be understood as referable only to one half of the vacant land, an extent of 149 1/2 sq. feet alone can be added to the builit up area of 1315 1/2 sq. ft. This is a case in which major portion of the area of the property is occupied by the building. But, in cases where the building occupies a smaller area and the appurtenant area to the building is larger and extensive, according to Mr. Krishna Rao, it would result in the rent being fixed higher than what would be the case, if his contention is accepted.
8. While interpreting a section in the Act, the words used must be understood by giving their literal, normal or ordinary dictionary meaning, unless in the enactment a different definition is provided, for being understood in a particular manner for purposes of the enactment. The relevant portion in the proviso is
of a portion upto fifty per cent, thereof of the vacant land.
Since the point involved relates to an interpretation being put on this portion of the proviso, notice was issued to the Government Pleader and he contends that what was meant was to take into account only 50 per cent of the constructed portion.
9. But it will be seen that the pivotal expression in the proviso is the word 'thereof' of the vacant land. In Chamber's Dictionary, 20th edition, the meaning for the word 'thereof', is 'of that' ; 'from that'. Hence, by substituting the meaning, the relevant portion will read as 'a portion upto 50 per cent from that of the vacant land' on 'a portion upto 50 per cent of that of the vacant land'. In view of what has been pointed out, the intendment is to take into account 50 per cent from that of the vacant land, to be treated as part of the site over which the building is constructed, and the other 50 per cent of the vacant land to be treated as an amenity, and its cost should be worked out under Schedule I of the Act. Therefore, the contention of Mr. Krishna Rao and the interpretation sought to be made out by the Government Pleader, cannot be acceded to.
10. The other point taken by Mr. Krishna Rao is that, in working out the cost of the vacant site, both the Authorities have fixed it at Rs. 3.50 per sq. foot, even though the tenant In the counter-affidavit had stated that the cost would be Rs. 4-per sq. foot. On this aspect, there could be no interference because, the order of the Rent Controller states that the parties have agreed that the rate per sq. foot is Rs. 3.50, and when such an agreement had been arrived at, it cannot now be contended that the cost of vacant site should have been fixed at least at the rate accepted by the tenant in the counter. Subsequent agreement, between the parties, expressed before the Rent Controller, will prevail over what is stated in counter and it will be binding as between them.
11. Hence, the market value of the site will have to be calculated in this case on 1315 1/2 sq. ft. being the constructed area plus one half of the vacant land, being 149 sq. ft., which comes to a total extent of 1464 3/4 sq. ft. Therefore C.R.P. No. 707 of 1977 is dismissed. No costs.
12. C.R.P. No. 1830 of 1977.-This petition is also filed by the same landlady who has filed the other civil revision petition and the point involved being the same this petition also stands accordingly dismissed. No costs.