1. This is an undefended suit for arrears of rent and for recovery of possession of premises No. 78, 78/1 and 78-2 Bentink Street, Calcutta, situate within the ordinary original jurisdiction of this Court.
2. The ground on which possession is asked for is that the defendants' interest in the premises stood ipso facto determined on the expiry of the month of October 1949 under the provisions of the West Bengal Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1948.
3. It is stated in the plaint that since the month of August 1949 the defendants failed to pay any rent in respect of the premises, and that there is a sum of Rs. 728-7-0 due for arrears of rent up to October 1949. The plaintiff claims mesne profits from October 1949 on the ground that as the defendants' tenancystood ipso facto determined by reason of three consecutive defaults in payment of the rent for the months of August, September and October, the defendants became trespassers, and, therefore, they have no right to retain possession.
4. The present suit was filed on 25-7-1950. At this date the West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, (Act 17 of 1950), which came into force on 30-3-1950, was in operation, and as the defendants could not be described as 'tenants' on that date, Section 16 of the said Act did not apply to the suit in question, and, therefore, although the rent in respect of the premises was Rs. 242-13-0 per month, the suit was properly instituted on the Original Side of this Court, being a suit by a landlord against persons who were to be regarded as mere trespassers in respect of the premises in question.
5. The West Bengal State Legislature, however, passed an Amending Act, known as the West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 1950, (Act 62 of 1950), which came into force on 30-11-1950. In Section 2 of the Amending Act it is provided as follows :
'In Section 2, West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1950, (hereinafter referred to as the said Act) for Clause 11 the following clause shall be substituted and shall be deemed always to have been substituted, namely : (11) 'Tenant means any person by whom rent is, or but for a special contract would be, payable for any premises, and includes (i) any person who is liable to be sued by the landlord for rent; and (ii) any person whose interest in the premises has been ipso facto determined under Sub-section 3 of Section 12, West Bengal Premises Rent Control (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1948.'
6. It is clear from this provision that the effect of the amendment is to make a person, whose interest in the premises has determined ipso facto by three consecutive defaults of payment of rent, a tenant within the meaning of the West Bengal Act 17 of 1950, and it is also the intention of the framers of the Act that this change of status will have retrospective operation from the date when Act 17 of 1950 had come into force. There can be no doubt upon the plain language of the Section that the definition of 'tenant' as given in the amending section was intended to have retrospective effect from the very date of the commencement of Act 17 of 1950.
7. The question, however, which further arises for determination is whether this amending Section 2 was intended to affect pending proceedings. It is clear that when the present suit was filed on the footing that the defendants were trespassers, it was a properly instituted suit and was maintainable in the Original Jurisdiction of this Court. The question is whether this jurisdiction of the High Court has been taken away by this amending Section 2.
8. It may be pointed out that Section 5 of the Amending Act is as follows:
'In all applications made under Sub-section 1 of Section 18 of the said Act which are pending at the commencement of this Act, and in all suits referred to in Sub-section 5 of the said section which are pending at such commencement, the said Act as amended by this Actshall apply and shall be deemed always tohave applied.'
It is clear from this section that in so far as the framers of the Amending Act intended the Amending Act to affect pending proceedings, it has made express provision to that effect, and in respect of granting reliefs as contemplated under Section 18 of Act 17 of 1950, this Amending Act is expressly made applicable to pending proceedings by the terms of Sections 5 itself. There is, however, nothing in the Amending Act which, either expressly or by implication, affects the jurisdiction of this Court to deal with a pending suit of the kind which is before me now for disposal.
9. It is a well-settled principle of construction of Statutes that very clear language should be used to make the retrospective effect applicable to proceedings commenced before the passing of the statute. If the legislation purports to affect rights of action, then it would only apply to actions commenced before the passing of the Act, if any intention to that effect can be gathered from the language of the Act itself. I do not find anything in the language of S. ,2 either expressly or by necessary implication to suggest that the definition which is made retrospective in operation was intended to apply to pending proceedings or to take away the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of such proceedings.
10. Learned counsel appearing for the plaintiff drew my attention to a decision reported in -- 'Rex v. Southampton Income Tax Commrs, Ex parte Singer', (1916) 2 K. B., 249, at p. 258 (A), bottom to p. 259, where the principles of interpretation as to retrospective operation of statutes affecting pending proceedings have been discussed. The principles therein laid down are well-settled and it is not necessary to repeat them here. It has been pointed out that this decision was reversed in 'appeal on another point, but so far as this point of construction is concerned the Court of Appeal had affirmed the decision of the lower Court. The decision of the Court of Appeal is reported in -- 'Rex v. Southampton Income Tax Commrs., Ex parte Singer, (1917) 1 K, B. 259 (B). In the case of -- '(1916) 2 K. B. 249 (A), the facts were that one Washington Singer of Norman Court, Tytherley, Hampshire, was assessed to income tax by the Additional Commissioners for the district of Romsey in respect of profits from foreign securities. Singer applied for Writ of Prohibition on inter alia the ground that under S. 108, Income-tax Act, 1842, the only Commissioners having jurisdiction to assess him in respect of such profits were the Commissioners for Bristol, that being the nearest of the four places mentioned in the Section to the place where the applicant resided, namely, Norman Court, Romsey in Hampshire. It was contended on behalf of the applicant that the assessment was without jurisdiction. The order nisi on the application was made on 26-10-1915 returnable on 4-11-1915. During the pendency of the proceeding the Finance Act 1915 (5 & 6 Geo. 5. Ch. 89) was passed on 23-12-1915 by Section 32 whereof it was provided that a person might be charged to income-tax in respect of foreign possessions by Commissioners acting for any parish or place in which that person ordinarily resided and if such person had been charged before the commencement of this Act the charge wouldnot be deemed invalid by reason of that person not having been charged by the right commissioners. It was held that this amendment validated the assessment of the petitioner Singer although it was not done by the right commissioners, and as the intention of the Statute was clear enough for validating all charges prior to the Act whether the charges were the subject matter of pending proceedings or not, the mere fact that the assessment of the applicant was the subject of pending proceedings did not take it out of the operation of the amending Statute.
11. Learned counsel also drew my attention to the decision in -- 'Midland Rly. Co. v. Pye', (1861) 142 E. Rule 419, at pp. 424-425 (C), where a married woman, whose husband had deserted her, obtained a protection order from a Magistrate under Section 21, Divorce Act (20 and 21, Vic. Chap. 85), after the commencement of an action by her in her own name to recover damages against a carrier for the loss of goods entrusted to him by her for carriage, and it was held that although the protection order was retrospective in operation by virtue of Section 21, Divorce Act, it did not make a suit competent which a married woman had no right to file as feme sole at the date when the suit was filed. This, as it appears, was a converse case, but it is submitted that the principle laid down in this case will apply to the case before me. It is not always a safe guide to rely upon construction put upon a particular statute, the language of which is different and the circumstances and considerations attending the passing of the statute are different, and so I do not propose to make this decision in -- '(1861) 142 E. Rule 419 (C)', as the basis of the conclusions at which I have arrived in this case. I am satisfied from the language of the Amending Act 62 of 1950 that it was not intended to affect pending proceedings, and therefore this Court has jurisdiction to entertain the present suit.
12. The plaintiff has called evidence and has proved his claim in the suit. There will, therefore, be a decree in favour of the plaintiff for Rs. 728-7-0 for arrears of rent, and decree for possession and mesne profits at the rate of Rs. 242-13-0 per month from November 1949 till possession is delivered, with interest on decree at 6 per cent and costs as of an undefended suit.
13. The Official Receiver who has been appointed receiver in this suit is discharged andhe is directed to deposit the surplus amountlying in his hand, after deducting his costs,charges and expenses, to the credit of this suit.