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Reliance Jute Mills Co. Ltd. Vs. Dukhi Shah S/O Dhandraj Shah and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy;Property
CourtKolkata
Decided On
Reported inAIR1942Cal550
AppellantReliance Jute Mills Co. Ltd.
RespondentDukhi Shah S/O Dhandraj Shah and anr.
Cases ReferredPurnendu Nath v. Narendra Nath
Excerpt:
- .....the tenants were in arrears as regards payment of rents due by them, there could be no stay of any suit or proceeding under section 3, bengal non-agricultural tenancy act. the proceeding for delivery of possession could be stayed only if the entire decretal amount was deposited in court as prescribed by the proviso to section 3 of the act within thirty days from the date of the decree. there are two other points which have been put forward by mr. bose in support of his rule. the first is that section 3, bengal non-agricultural tenancy act, is ultra vires of the provincial legislature and the second is that the defendant in both these two suits does not come within the definition of a non-agricultural tenant as defined in section 2 of the act. we shall take up these points one after.....
Judgment:

B.K. Mukherjea, J.

1. The facts giving rise to these analogous cases may be shortly stated as follows: The Reliance Jute Mills, Ltd., which is the petitioner in both these rules brought two suits in the Court of the Second Munsif, Barasat, being Title Suits Nos. 31 and 32 of 1939, for recovery of khas possession of certain lands on the allegation that the defendants who are in occupation of the same were thika tenants whose tenancies had been determined on proper service of demand notices. There were claims also for arrears of rent and mesne profits in both these suits. The suits were decreed by the trial Court and the plaintiffs were declared entitled to recover possession of the lands by evicting the defendants and also to recover rents and mesne profits as claimed by them. There were two appeals taken against these two decrees by the tenants defendants but the appeals were dismissed by the lower appellate Court on 26th April 1940. The plaintiff-decree-holder then put these decrees into execution and the defendants thereupon filed application before the executing Court praying that the proceeding for delivery of the lands of the two suits might be stayed under Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1940. The Court granted this prayer and the order recorded in the two execution cases reads as follows : 'The application be allowed in part and the execution case in so far as regards delivery of possession of the disputed land, shall be stayed according to the provisions of the Non Agricultural Tenancy Act and it shall proceed in respect of the decree for the arrears of rent and cost.' Thereafter the plaintiff-decree-holder presented certain applications for review of this order under Order 47, Rule 1, Civil P.C, and also put in fresh applications for obtaining delivery of possession of the properties. All these applications were dismissed by the learned Munsif and it is against these two sets of orders passed in these two cases that the present rules have been obtained.

2. The substantial point which was raised by the plaintiff-decree-holder in support of their applications for review and which has been reiterated before us by Mr. Bose is that the Court below in making the orders for stay of the proceedings for delivery of possession overlooked' the provision of Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1940. The argument is that as in the present case the tenants were in arrears as regards payment of rents due by them, there could be no stay of any suit or proceeding under Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act. The proceeding for delivery of possession could be stayed only if the entire decretal amount was deposited in Court as prescribed by the proviso to Section 3 of the Act within thirty days from the date of the decree. There are two other points which have been put forward by Mr. Bose in support of his rule. The first is that Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act, is ultra vires of the Provincial Legislature and the second is that the defendant in both these two suits does not come within the definition of a non-agricultural tenant as defined in Section 2 of the Act. We shall take up these points one after another. To appreciate the first point that has been raised by Mr. Bose, it is necessary to examine carefully the provision of Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act. That section reads as follows:

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, every suit and proceeding in any Court for ejectment of a non-agricultural tenant, other than a suit or proceeding for ejectment on account of the non-payment of rent by such tenant, shall be stayed for the period during which this Act continues in force.

3. There is a proviso attached to it which says that a proceeding for delivery of possession in execution of a decree for ejectment on account of non-payment of rent by such tenant shall be stayed if, within thirty days from the date of the decree, such tenant deposited into Court the amount of the decree together with the costs of the proceeding. Thus, in order to attract the operation of the section what is necessary is, that the suit or proceeding must be one for ejectment of a non-agricultural tenant and the ejectment must be sought for on a ground other than non-payment of rents. The words 'on account of non-payment of rents' are somewhat unhappy and it has been pointed out by our learned brother Mitter J. in Purnendu Nath v. Narendra Nath : AIR1941Cal302 that mere non-payment of rent could not be a ground for ejectment of a tenant under the substantive law of this country. Our learned brother was constrained to interpret these words as referring to a suit for ejectment of a tenant whose rents were in arrears although the right to sue was based on grounds other than non- payment of rent. This decision was followed by Henderson J. in Nut Behari Das v. Mahamed Ali : AIR1941Cal528 . With great respect to the learned Judges we are bound to say that the interpretation adopted by them is somewhat farfetched and unnatural. A suit for ejectment of a tenant for non-payment of rent means and implies that the tenant is sought to be ejected on the ground that he has defaulted to pay rent due by him. It is true that mere non-payment of rent is not a ground upon which eviction could be claimed by the landlord but at the same time there may be a condition in the lease under which the lessee would forfeit his tenancy if there is default in the payment of rent for a certain period. Under Section 111, Clause G. T.P. Act, a forfeiture may arise in case the lessee breaks an express condition which provides that on breach thereof the lessee may re-enter; and non-payment of rent may be a condition on the breach of which a forfeiture would be incurred. It is to this class of cases that the words 'a suit for ejectment for nonpayment of rent' as used in Section 3 of the Act are in our opinion referable. Section 114, T.P. Act, gives the Court power to grant relief in such cases and instead of making a decree for ejectment the Court can make an order relieving the lessee against the forfeiture provided he pays or tenders to the lessor the rent in arrears together with interest and costs. It may be that it was on account of the provision of Section 114, T.P. Act, that the Legislature exempted such cases from the operation of the provision of Section 3, Non-agricultural Tenancy Act. Even when no decree has been made in conformity with the provision of Section 114, T.P. Act, and a decree for ejectment has been passed, the proviso to Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act, gives a relief to the judgment-debtor, and there will be a stay of the proceeding for delivery of possession provided the tenant deposits in Court the amount of the decree together with the costs of the proceeding within thirty days from the date of the decree. It may be argued that the view which we are taking may lead to this undesirable result that a suit which has been brought by the landlord for ejectment as well as for recovery of rent may be stayed in its entirety under the provision of Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act, and the landlord may, have to forego the rent for a certain period of time. We do not think, however, that this was the intention of the Legislature. What the Legislature intended is that only a suit or proceeding for the ejectment of a tenant shall be stayed and there is nothing in Section 3 which prevents the Court from proceeding with the suit so far as it relates to recovery of rent. We believe that a perfectly correct order has been made by the Court in the present case by staying the proceeding for the delivery of possession only and allowing the decree-holder to proceed with the execution of the decree so far as it relates to recovery of arrears of rents and costs. The first point must therefore fail.

4. So far as the second point is concerned, it seems to us that it is concluded by the decision of a Special Bench of this Court in Sukumari Devi v. Rajdhari Pandey : AIR1942Cal49 . It was held there by three Judges of this Court that Section 3, Bengal Non-agricultural Tenancy Act, is a valid piece of legislation which is covered by item 2 read with item 21 of the Provincial List and is not repugnant to any existing Indian law which makes it void under Section 107, Government of India Act. The third point raised by Mr. Bose does not appear to us to have any substance. It is true that the defendants in both the suits were originally sub-tenants but the case of the landlord plaintiffs as made in the Plaint was that the tenant holding the land immediately under them had surrendered the tenancy and the sub-tenants had become tenants directly under them. It was on this footing that the suits for ejectment were brought, and rents were claimed against them up to the date of the expiry of the period of the notice. Under the circumstances we are unable to say that the defendants were sued as trespassers and not as tenants. The result, therefore, is that the rules fail and are discharged without costs. Certificate for leave to appeal to the-Federal Court under Section 205(1), Government of India Act, 1935, is granted in each case.

Sen, J.

5. I am also of opinion that the rules should be discharged. I desire to say a few words regarding the reasons why I am unable to accept the interpretation put upon Section 3, Non-agricultural Tenancy (Temporary Provisions) Act, by my learned brother Mitter J. in Purnendu Nath v. Narendra Nath ('41) 28 A.I.R. 1941 Cal. 302. Section 3 is in the following terms:

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, every suit and proceeding in any Court for ejectment of a non-agricultural tenant, other than a suit or proceeding for ejectment on account of the non-payment of rent by such tenant, shall be stayed for the period during which this Act continues in force, provided that every proceeding for delivery of possession in execution of a decree for ejectment on account of the non-payment of rent by such tenant shall be stayed if, within 30 days from the date of the decree, such tenant deposits into Court the amount of the decree together with the costs of the proceeding.

6. What Mitter J. has said is that a suit for ejectment of a tenant who is in arrears regarding his rent is a suit for ejectment on account of non-payment of rent, although ejectment is claimed on a ground other than that of non-payment of rent. In explanation of this interpretation Mitter J. remarks that under the law a non. agricultural tenant cannot be ejected for non-payment of rent and that therefore the phrase 'ejectment on account of non-payment of rent' appearing in Section 3 is meaningless if words are given their ordinary meaning. In order to give the clause some meaning he is constrained to interpret it as stated above. There can be no doubt that if the words of the above mentioned phrase in the section be given their ordinary meaning the interpretation of my learned brother cannot be supported. This forced and, if I may say so with great respect, unnatural interpretation is based on the view that a non-agricultural tenant cannot be ejected on account of non payment of rent. With great respect I am unable to accept this view. It is true that non-payment of rent is not necessarily a ground for ejectment, but a non-agricultural tenant may in certain circumstances be ejected on account of non-payment of rent. If the lease contains a condition that it will be forfeited for non-payment of rent then if the tenant defaults he may be ejected for non-payment of rent (vide Section 111G. T.P. Act). I am not unmindful of the provisions of Section 114, T. P. Act, by which a tenant may obtain relief against forfeiture for non-payment of rent if he complies with certain terms mentioned in the section, but the fact remains that he is liable to be ejected for non-payment of rent if he does not comply with these terms. Thus in my opinion there is no necessity for giving a forced meaning to the phrase 'ejectment on account of non-payment of rent.' The section can be made effective by giving the words their natural and ordinary meaning. If that is done then Section 3, Non-agricultural Tenancy (Temporary Provisions) Act, must be construed as providing that a suit or proceeding against a non-agricultural tenant for ejectment on grounds other than for non-payment of rent must be stayed. The fact that rent is also claimed in such a suit would make no difference to the position, the suit or proceeding have to be stayed. For these reasons I am of opinion that the order of the Court below staying proceedings for delivery of possession of the property is correct.


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