P.N. Mookekjee, J.
1. These Rules are directed against an order of the learned Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Calcutta, directing 22 appeals pending before him from rent standardisation proceedings to be put up on a particular date for the fixation of a date of hearing. The order was passed under the following circumstances:
The opposite parties, Messrs. Azizul Haque & Brothers, are the landlords in respect of several tenancies in premises No. P7, Old China Bazar Street, Calcutta. 19 of the tenants filed applications before the Rent Controller for fixation of standard rent. These applications were filed some time in the year 1949 when the Rent Control Act of 1948 was in force. The applications were heard together and rents were standardised by the learned Rent Controller. Against the decision the landlords appealed and there were 19 appeals filed by the landlords. There were, also three appeals filed by the tenants. These 22 appeals, which were filed before the learned Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Calcutta, were transferred by him for disposal to the Second Bench of that Court and, by a judgment delivered on the 26th June, 1950 the learned Judge, Second Bench, disposed of those appeals. Thereafter when the Rent Control Act of 1950 came into force the landlords, Messrs. Azizul Haque & Brothers, applied for re-fixation of the standard reht under Section 17(2) of this new Act of 1950 in all these cases but the said applications were dismisssed by the Rent Controllerupon the view that, as the appeals under the Rent Control Act of 1948 had been disposed of by a Judge, namely, the Judge, Second Court, Court of Small Causes, Calcutta, who was not competent to hear the same, he not having been authorised in that behalf by the Provincial Government as required by law, those appeals must be deemed to be lying undisposed of and pending in the eye of law and, accordingly, no application for re-fixation of the standard rent was maintainable. That decision was affirmed' on appeal by the Sixth Bench, Court of Small Causes, Calcutta.
2. Meanwhile, the landlords had applied for the fixation of a date of hearing of the 22 appeals, to which reference has been made above and which, according to the above decision of the Rent Controller, subsequently affirmed in appeal as aforesaid, remained pending in spite of the disposal by the learned Judge, Second Court, Court of Small Causes, who, as already stated, was not a competent authority to hear and dispose of those appeals. These applications for fixation of dates of the above 22 pending appeals have been accepted by the learned Chief Judge, Court of Small Causes, Calcutta, and he has directed the appeals to be put up on a particular date for the fixation of a date of hearing. Against this order the present Rules were obtained by the tenants petitioners.
3. It is urged by Mr. Ghose, who appears in support of these Rules, that, although it is true that the appeals under the 1948 Act were not competently disposed of, that decision should not be disregarded unless it is considered to be wrong on the merits. In support of this proposition he referred us to the decision of this court in the case of Indra Narayan v. Girindra Nath : AIR1952Cal192 (A), where according to him, this court refused to interfere with a similar order, passed, by the learned Appellate Judge. In our opinion, that case has no application to the facts before us. There, so far as it is relevant for our present purpose, this court was asked to exercise its power of revision under Article 227, of the Constitution and it is well known that even if the order, challenged before this court in revision under that Article, be without jurisdiction this court is not bound to interfere with that order and indeed, seldom does it so interfere in the exercise of its discretionary powers under that Article, unless it is satisfied that the order is unjust and wrong on the merits. That, however, is not the position in the cases before us. Here we have a decision of certain appeals by an incompetent tribunal. There is no question here of the exercise of any discretionary power for revision of that order. We are only to consider the legal effect of the decision of that incompetent tribunal.
4. It is one thing to refuse to interfere with an invalid order in the exercise of discretion. It is quite a different thing to give effect to the invalid order as a valid one. The tribunal being incompetent its decision can have no legal validity and, accordingly, the appeals, so incompetently decided, must be treated as not disposed of and, therefore, remaining pending. This is well in accord with the previous decisions of this court on similar matters as reported in P.C. Guha v. B.A. Basil : AIR1951Cal554 (B) and Mohanlal Chowdhury v. Bejoy Singh Nahata Civil Revns. Cases Nos. 2910 to 2912 of 1951 (Cal) (C).
5. We, accordingly hold that the learned Chief Judge was entirely right in his view that the 22 appeals, in spite of their purported disposal by the Second Bench, Court of Small Causes, Calcutta, still remain pending and it is necessary, therefore, that a date for their hearing should be fixed by the court.
6. In the above view we discharge these Rules. The learned Chief Judge will now hear out the appeals in accordance with law.
7. In the circumstances of these cases there will be no order for costs in this court.
P.K. Sarkar, J.
8. I agree.