1. This case comes before us on a reference made by the Municipal Magistrate of Calcutta in his capacity as a Presidency Magistrate under Section 432 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The question referred by the learned Magistrate is not very clearly stated in the letter of reference: but the learned Magistrate has sent a supplemental letter and the question which has to be gathered from the two letters is, whether Section 343 of the Calcutta Municipal Act is applicable when the hut and the land on which it is built belong to different individuals. The case that the Magistrate has before him is a case where the tenant on the land is the owner of the hut and the only question we have to consider is whether, under Section 348 of the Calcutta Municipal Act, the notice can be served upon the person who is the owner of the land. The section says that it may be served upon the owner of the land. The definition of 'owner of land' obviously includes both the landlord and the tenant. 'Owner of land' is defined in Section 3, Sub-section (32), and that obviously includes the landlord. The duty of removing a building which comes within the terms of Section 343 after notice has been served falls clearly, amongst others, on the landlord. That seems to me to be without doubt.
2. Then the learned Magistrate seems to have got somewhat confused over Section 442. He seems to have included that section in some manner in this letter of reference. Section 442 contemplates a different set of circumstances. What is contemplated by Section 442 is that where in the opinion of the Chairman a building is so imminently dangerous that it is necessary to erect a boarding to prevent it from falling on passengers--I suppose, passengers in a public street--and for that another set of provisions is enacted. But Section 442 does not, in any manner, abridge the power that is conferred by Section 343. Under Section 343 the person who is the owner of the land, having had a notice served upon him, is liable to comply with the terms thereof. That is the only point that arises on the reference. I think the learned Municipal Magistrate after this expression of opinion ought to have no difficulty in disposing of the case before him.
3. In regard to the first part of the question, it is quite clear that Section 343 applies to the facts stated. The language of the section is clear and unambiguous.
4. The second part of the question is, 'whether notice should have been issued in this case to the owner of the hut under Section 442 of the Act.' No doubt the Chairman could have issued a notice on the owner of the hut after taking the steps contemplated in the first part of the section, if he considered the building to be in such a runious state as to make these steps necessary. But that was a matter for the Chairman to decide. The section provides that, if he considers a building to be in so dangerous a state as to render immediate steps necessary for the safety of the public, he is to take those steps and then to serve notices on the owner and occupier. It contemplates a case of much greater urgency than Section 343 does, and in no way limits the powers of the Chairman under the latter section.