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Surekha Vs. the United Bank of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtChennai High Court
Decided On
Reported in(1980)1MLJ212
AppellantSurekha
RespondentThe United Bank of India
Cases ReferredK.R. Saraswathi v. Vadivelu Chettiar
Excerpt:
- .....for residential purposes or for purposes of a business which he is carrying on'. in construing the words 'landlord' and 'if he requires' under section 10(3)(c) of the act, the courts have understood the words 'if he requires' in section 10(3)(c) in the same liberal sense as the words' his own occupation' employed in clause (a) of that section, in kolandaivelu chettiar v. koolayana chettiar (1961) 1 m.l.j. 184, venkatadri, j.dealing with a case under section 7(3)(a)(i) of the tamil nadu buildings (lease and rent control) act (xxv of 1959), comparable to section 10(3)(a)(i) of the tamil nadu buildings (lease and rent control) act (xviii of 1960), had occasion to interpret the words 'his own occupation'. after referring to an unreported judgment of chagla, c.j., to the effect that one.....
Judgment:

V. Ratnam, J.

1. The landlady is the petitioner in this civil revision petition, which seeks to revise the orders of the Courts below, dismissing an application filed by her for an order of eviction against the respondent herein under Section 10(3)(c) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960 as amended by Tamil Nadu Act XXIII of 1973, hereinafter referred to as the Act. According to the case of the petitioner, she is the owner of the house bearing door No. 5. Sir Theagaraya Road, Madras-17, having purchased the same under a registered sale deed dated 10th March, 1975 and the first floor of the premises was even then tenanted by the respondent herein on a monthly rent of Rs. 400 the tenancy being reckoned according to English calendar. After the purchase by the petitioner, the respondent attorned the tenancy in favour of the petitioner. The petitioner claimed that the property was purchased by her with the intention of using the entire building for the residence of the petitioner and her family. Elaborating this requirement, the petitioner claimed that her husband is looking after the family charities and estate and he requires enough space in the building for the purpose of attending to the administration of the charities and their estate in order that it may facilitate proper administration of the same and in order to secure this, the petitioner stated that accommodation was necessary to enable her husband to do so. In addition, the petitioner also claimed that of her two daughters, one of them had reached marriageable age and separate and more convenient accommodation for her is necessary. After issuing a notice terminating the tenancy, the petitioner filed an application for eviction on the grounds referred to above.

2. The respondent herein contested this application on several grounds. The respondent admitted that it was a tenant of the first floor right from 1st January, 1964 onwards. It was also further contended by the respondent that there were disputes between the petitioner and the respondent on account of a demand for increased rent by the petitioner which was not accepted by the respondent and this took the shape of interference by the petitioner with certain amenities enjoyed by the respondent, which resulted in an application by the respondent H.R.C. No. 928 of 1976 for the restoration of those amenities. The respondent further contended that the grounds put forth by the petitioner for additional accommodation are vague and totally devoid of particulars and that the provision of separate accommodation for the daughter of the plaintiff is inconsistent with the accommodation claimed on behalf of the petitioner's husband. Another plea was also raised that the services of the respondent would fall under the classification of essential services and therefore, no order for eviction can be passed. The application by the petitioner was characterised as not bona fide and it was also stated that the application does not satisfy the requirements of Section 10(3)(c) of the Act.

3. The learned Rent Controller (7th Judge Court of Small Causes, Madras) held that under Section 10(3)(c) of the Act, the petitioner cannot demand additional accommodation for and on behalf of the members of her family. Dealing with the claim of the respondent that it is engaged in essential services, the learned Rent Controller held that the respondent is not entitled to claim any immunity from eviction on this ground. The learned Rent Controller further held 'that the hardship, which may be caused to the petitioner, if this petition is not allowed will out-weigh the numerous advantages put to the respondent, herein'. On these conclusions, the application was dismissed. Aggrieved by this, the petitioner herein preferred an appeal in H.R.A. No. 322 of 1977 to the Appellate Authority (Second Judge, Court of Small Causes, Madras). The Appellate Authority held, concurring with the learned Rent Controller, that under Section 10(3)(c) the landlord can seek 'additional accommodation only for the business which she was carrying on and not for the purpose of her husband's business,' On this finding, the Appellate Authority dismissed the appeal.

4. In this civil revision petition the learned Counsel for the petitioner strenously contends that the interpretation of Section 10(3)(c) of the Act by the Courts below is incorrect. According to him, the words 'if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes or for purposes of a business which he is carrying on, as the case may be' should be given a liberal interpretation and in order to attract the section, it is not necessary that the need should be exclusively personal to the landlord. On the other hand, the learned Counsel for the respondent contends that the provision has to be strictly interpreted and the personal requirement of the landlord either for business or by way of additional accommodation only is within the contemplation of the section. Before proceeding to consider the rival contentions raised, the provisions of the section in so far as they are relevant for the purpose of the present case may be referred to:

Section 10(3)(c) runs thus.-A landlord who is occupying only a part of a building, whether residential or non-residential, may notwithstanding anything contained in Clause (a) apply to the Controller for an order directing any tenant occupying the whole or any portion of the remaining part of the building to put the landlord in possession thereof, if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes or for purposes of a business which he is carrying on, as the case may be.

The question is what is the meaning to be given to the words 'if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes or for purposes of a business which he is carrying on'. In construing the words 'landlord' and 'if he requires' under Section 10(3)(c) of the Act, the Courts have understood the words 'if he requires' in Section 10(3)(c) in the same liberal sense as the words' his own occupation' employed in Clause (a) of that Section, in Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolayana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184, Venkatadri, J.dealing with a case under Section 7(3)(a)(i) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XXV of 1959), comparable to Section 10(3)(a)(i) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act (XVIII of 1960), had occasion to interpret the words 'his own occupation'. After referring to an unreported judgment of Chagla, C.J., to the effect that one should look into the customs of the society and the nature of socialities which subsist between the different members of the family in this country, the learned Judge held that a landlord can maintain an application for eviction of a tenant on the ground that he requires the premises for setting up a separate family for his second son. In doing so, Venkatadri, J., referred to and relied on a Division Bench Judgment of the Patna High Court in Bindhubhusan v. Commissioner Patna : AIR1955Pat496 . In construing the expression 'his own occupation' the Bench held that those words cannot be restricted only to the occupation of the landlord himself, but should be given a wider and liberal meaning so as to include the occupation of persons, who are living with the landlord and are economically dependent on him. In that case, the landlord required the premises for establishing his nephew, who was living with him and dependent on him. This interpretation would take in the requirement of the landlord's son also within the meaning of the words 'his own occupation' even according to Section 7(3)(a)(i) as it then stood. To a similar effect is the judgment of V.V. Ragahvan, J. in Mrs. Rajaratinam and Anr. v. L. Noronha (1972) 2 M.L.J. 70 : 85 L.W. 298 : A.I.R. 1972 Mad. 232 wherein the learned Judge followed the reasoning of Venkatadri, J. in Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolayana Chettiar (1960) 1 M.L.J. 184. It must also be remembered that the section had undergone an amendment and in Section 0(3)(a)(i) of the Tamil Nadu Act XVIII of 1960, a clear provision has also been made and the words 'for the occupation of his son and if he or his son is not occupying a residential building of his own in the city, town or village concerned.' have been inserted, presumably to accord with this interpretation put upon the words by the Courts. It is therefore evident that the requirement for the son of the landlord would fall within the requirement of the landlord within the meaning of Section 7(3)(a)(i) as it then stood and now under Section 10(3)(a)(i) as amended and it is difficult to apply a different principle of interpretation to the words 'if he (landlord) requires additional accommodation for residential purposes of a business which he is carrying on occurring in Section 10(3)(c). Indeed, Veeraswamy, J. as he then was had occasion to interpret Section 7(3)(c) of the Tamil Nadu Act XXV of 1949 as it then stood, in K.L. Kangu v. Ahmed Unnissa Begum : (1963)1MLJ97 . In that case, the application was filed on the ground that the landlord's son-in-law who was practising medicine, required a portion of the premises for opening a clinic. It was also not disputed that the son-in-law and the daughter with their children were living in the same house. The learned Rent Controller as well as the Appellate Authority construed the words his own 'occupation' in Section 7(3)(c) of the Act liberally and held that that case would fall within the ambit of those words. The propriety of the view was challenged before the learned Judge, Before the learned Judge, a literal construction of the words 'if he requires additional accommodation for residential purposes or for the purposes of a business which he is carrying on' was persisted in and the argument was raised that merely because the son-in law happened to be living with the landlady, that would be no justification to say that she required additional accommodation for residential purposes or for purposes of a business which she was carrying on. On a close examination of the provision, Veerasamy, J., as he then was, after referring to the judgment of Venkatadri, J. in Kolandaivelu Chettiar v. Koolayana Chettiar (1961) 1 M.L.J. 184 observed at page 99:

I am also inclined to take the view that the words' for his own occupation' should receive a liberal interpretation. If that is so, there is no reason why a different principle should apply to Clause (c) of Sub-section (3) of Section 7. The words 'if he requires in that provision should, in my opinion, be understood in the same liberal sense as the words 'his own occupation' in Clause (a) of that sub-section have been understood. What is meant, as I think by the words' 'his own occupation' or if he requires' is that the requirement is not that of a stranger. It is not necessary to attract those words that the need should be personal to the landlord But where the line should be drawn will depend on the particular facts in each case. It may, however, be generally stated, without intending to be precise or exhaustive. that the need of close relations who happen to live with the landlord or landlady may well satisfy the words 'his own occupation' or 'if he requites'. I do not say that the relationship is the only test. Dependency, social customs, and habits, usage, practice of a particular community and like considerations may well be taken into account in determining whether the requirement of those words is satisfied.

Ultimately, the learned Judge held that the words 'if he requires' should not be read in a narrow sense of a landlord's personal needs, but that the requirement of the landlord's family would well fall within the statutory requirement and upheld the order of eviction.

5. In the instant case, it is not disputed that the husband of the petitioner and her two daughters and sons are living with her and the petitioner requires ths premises in question only for the purpose of using the entire house as ths residence for herself and for other members of her family including her husband, daughters and son, It is the case of the landlady that her husband has to be provided with accommodation in order to facilitate his management of the charities and estate It is in evidence that the husband of the petitioner is having his office for this purpose elsewhere. This requirement cannot be in any manner characterised as unreasonable. Ths following observations os Ramaprasada Rao, J., as he then was, reported in K.R. Saraswathi v. Vadivelu Chettiar : AIR1968Mad70 are apposite:

I do not think that a beneficial construction - a construction in consonance with justice equity, reason and good consaience-would exclude a request by a landlady for being put in possession of her building for the use and occupation by her husband for his business. In Hindu society, it is the legitimate duty of the wife to provide comfort to her husband and a fortiori it is so for furtherance of the interests of the business of her husband in which it can be safely presumed that she is vitally interested.

In view of the above, the petitioner is certainly entitled to ask for additional accommodation in the premises in question in order to enable her husband to establish his office which is now being located outside.

6. Likewise, the requirement of the petitioner even for the other members of the family, seems to be not only bona fide, but also reasonable. It is not in dispute that the first daughter of the petitioner has attained age and that she is to be married and evidence has been given to the effect that the daughter and the son-in-law will have to be provided with accommodation. The evidence also discloses that the existing accommodation in the ground floor is inadequate because it consists of two bed rooms, a hall, a kitchen and a bath room. It is not in dispute that there is no drawing room in the ground floor. Having regard to the available accom nodation, the object of the landlady seems to be to locate her Husband's office inside the premises and also to make a readjustment of the other accommodation for the daughter and the son-in-law who is to be brought into the family as well as the other daughter and son. It is not disputed that it is open to the landlady to seek additional accommodation either for residential or for non-residential purposes and therefore, it is certainly open to the petitioner to recover possession of the premises in the occupation of the respondent on the ground that she requires additional accommodation for the purposes aforesaid.

7. That leaves for consideration the question of bona fide. Though the respondent would claim that the application for eviction is the outcome of a refusal by it to pay increased rent, yet, there is no acceptable evidence in regard to that. It is admitted that the area in the occupation of the respondent is about 1,000 sq. ft. and the building is situated in the main road in a very important and busy locality. In respect of this premises, the rent that is being paid by the respondent is Rs. 400 per mensem. A suggestion has been put to P.W. 1 that there was a demand for increase of rent, that the respondent refused to pay and thereafter the amenities were cut off and attempts were made to evict the respondent. This suggestion has been denied. It is the evidence of R.W. 1 that he did not write to the head office about the alleged demand for enhanced rent by the petitioner. There is, thus, no proof before the Court that there was any demand as such for increased rent by the petitioner and a refusal by the respondent and in the absence of such proof, it must be held that there was no such demand by the petitioner. It is also not established by evidence that amenities were cut off and that there were misunderstandings on account of the proceedings taken before the Rent Controller. Though the respondent refers to certain proceedings in paragraph 4 of its counter, the orders passed thereon have not been made available to the Court as evidence and therefore, it is not possible to hold that the application for eviction was the outcome of a refusal by the petitioner to provide amenities and a restoration thereof by the Court in those proceedings. Under these circumstances. the application by the petitioner cannot be characterised as not bona fide and the Courts below were, therefore, in error in having rejected this reasonable request of the petitioner.

8. The question of relative hardship may now be adverted to. It is significant that R.W. 1 admits that it is not necessary for them to have the very same premises for carrying on the business of the respondent, but that they would like to have a premises in the main road, which would not in any manner affect their business. There is nothing to indicate that other premises having similar advantages like the one in the occupation of the respondent are not available and it is only necessary that the respondent should be on the lookout for a suitable premises in the locality and being a banking institution, whose occupation of premises is prized by some landlords at least, there is no likelihood of the respondent encountering any difficulty in the matter of securing equally convenient accommodation. There is, thus, no hardship that would be caused to the tenant by an order for eviction being passed against it which would outweigh the advantages of the landlady. The result is, the orders of the Courts below are set aside and the civil revision petition is allowed. No costs.

9. The learned Counsel for the respondent prays that some time may be given to vacate the premises and the learned Counsel for the petitioner has no objection to grant the respondent two months time. The respondent accordingly will have two months time from to day to vacate the premises.


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