1. This is an application by the plaintiffs for an injunction restraining the defendant from taking any steps in proceedings instituted by him before the Rent Controller, Calcutta for the fixation of standard rent being Case No. 978A of 1950 in the Court of the Rent Controller and also for an injunction rest-training the defendant from dismantling certain flxures or from selling or disposing of the same and further for restraining the defendant from assigning or subletting the premises let out to him and also for an injunction restraining the defendant from casing further damages to the walls or floor of the demised premises. the suit out of which this application arises was filed on the 12th of June, 1950 and is for a declaration that the defendant is the tenant under the plaintiffs in respect of certain rooms delineated in a plan marked as annexure 'A' to the plaint, on a monthly rent of Rs. 350/- and on terms and conditions contained in an agreement dated the 7th June, 1947 and also for a declaration that certain fixtures in the demised premises belong to the plaintiffs, for damages and for injunction in the forms that I have stated above and certain other reliefs.
2. The facts are that the plaintiffs are the owners of premises No. 224, Harrison Road, Calcutta. Prior to June 1947 one Gulam Md. Ambia was a tenant in respect of a shop room on the ground floor of the said premises which was divided by partitions into three rooms. In June 1947 the defendant became a monthly tenant in respect of the said shop room in place of the said Gulam Md. Ambia and also another room on certain terms and conditions embodied in a written agreement dated the 7th of June 1947. Pursuant to such agreement the defendant went into possession of the demised premises and paid rent up to March 1950. On the 13th of May, 1950 the defendant made an application before the Rent Controller, Calcutta, for fixing standard rent in respect of his tenancy. In the petition filed before the Rent Controller the defendant has stated that he is a tenant in respect of only that portion of the premises which was in the possession of Gulam Md. Ambia but he was wrongly made to sign the agreement dated the 7th of June, 1947 stating therein that he was being given a additional room in respect of his tenancy. the plaintiffs state in their petition before me that the Rent Controller has no jurisdiction to decide these questions as to the area or extent of the tenanted premises. It is further stated that the defendant is wrongly claiming title to certain fittings & fixtures in the tenanted rooms and is dismantling these fixtures and is causing damage to the floor and walls of the rooms. It is also stated that the defendant is attempting to sublet or assign the tenancy in violation of a covenant not to assign or sublet the same.
3. It is submitted by Mr. R. C. Deb, the learned counsel for the applicants that the Rent Controller has no power to decide disputes or questions as to title or the extent of the tenancy. His jurisdiction is confined to determination of the question of quantum of rent payable in respect of the premises. the questions as to title and area can be determined in the present suit filed in this Court and the decision of this Court will operate as res judicata in respect of matters decided. Any decision by the Rent Controller in respect of such matters will not however operate as res judicata so as to bar trial of those questions in this suit. there is thus a likelihood of there being conflicting decisions in respect of the same matters by the Rent Controller's Court and by this Court. Further if the Rent Controller fixed a standard rent on the basis of the findings arrived at by him on the question of title and extent of the tenancy and his decision is taken up in appeal in the manner prescribed by the West Bengal Premises Rent Control Act 1950 and a decision is arrived at in such appeal, such a decision will become final and conclusive and even if this Court comes to a different finding in respect of the title or extent of the tenancy in this suit, there will be no remedy open to the petitioners to have the decision of the Rent Controller or the Appellate Tribunal modified on the strength of or in the light of the findings of this Court. In the circumstances, the petitioners submitted that the defendant should be restrained from taking any steps in the proceedings taken by him and pending before the Rent Controller.
4. Mr. A. K. Sen the learned counsel for the defendant submits that the application by the petitioners is not a bona fide one. He relates the circumstances under which his client came to be a tenant under the plaintiffs and states 'that his client was made to sign the written agreement of the 7th of June 1947 under compulsion. the rent which Ambia used to pay was Rs. 187/- but the defendant was forced 'to agree to pay a sum of Rs. 350/- in respect of the same tenancy and it was only after the defendant made an application before the Rent Controller for reducing the rent and for fixation of the standard rent that the petitioners started making false allegations and charges against the defendant of causing damage to the tenanted premises and of wrongful attempts to sublet or assign the tenancy and of selling away or disposing of the fittings and fixtures. He submits that both the suit filed and the present application are false and harrassing ones and brought and made with the whole object of stifling the proceedings before the Rent Controller. It may be noted however that although the tenancy arrangement was executed so far back as the 7th of June, 1947 no steps have been taken by the defendant to have that cancelled or set aside. It is also significant that the defendant has paid rent in terms of the written agreement without any protest, for the last two years and nine months.
5. It is on the other hand submitted by the learned counsel for the petitioners that before they actually received any notice of the proceedings started by the defendant before the Rent Controller they had written to the defendant complaining of the wrongful acts done by the defendant in their letter of the 1st of June, 1950. there is no mala fide on their part in bringing the suit or making this application. Owing to the increased assessment by the Corporation of Calcutta in respect of the tenanted premises the petitioners called upon the defendant to pay his share of the proportionate enhanced municipal tax and being displeased with this demand the defendant had started the proceedings before the Rent Controller with a view to harrass the petitioners.
6. I feel that in the present state of the affidavits it will not be proper to come to the conclusion that the application of the petitioners is mala fide.
7. The question, however, arises whether this Court should in the exercise of its Original jurisdiction restrain proceedings pending before the Rent Controller.
8. The jurisdiction of the Rent Controller to fix the standard rent and determine all incidental questions is derived from and is the creature of statute. A special tribunal has been established by the West Bengal Premises Rent Control Act, 1950. the origin and existence of the Tribunal rests on the statute and this tribunal has power to determine a right or liability which but for the statute it would not have any jurisdiction to adjudicate upon. the Tribunal is vested with a special jurisdiction and the ambit of this jurisdiction is indicated by the various provisions in the Act.
9. Section 2 of the Bengal Act (XVII of 1950) defines the words 'Premises' (Section 2 (8) (b)) 'Standard Rent' (Section 2(10)) and 'Tenant' (Section 2(11)). these definitions & Sections 8 and 9 of the Act clearly show that the question whether the tenancy was a furnished one or had fittings is a question which the Rent Controller has to go into in fixing the standard rent and there can be no doubt that the Controller in fixing the standard rent has also to determine the area or extent of the tenanted premises if any such question crops up or falls for determination.
10. It may be that the decision of the Rent Controller as to the area of the tenancy or on the question whether the fittings and fixtures were part of the premises and supplied by the landlords or were the property of the tenant may not be Res Judicata if the matter is agitated in proceedings before the ordinary Courts but there can be no manner of doubt that it is open to the Rent Controller to inquire into these questions incidentally in determining the standard rent payable in respect of the premises under consideration.
11. It is clear from Sections 28 to 32 of the Act and from other provisions of the Act that a Regular tribunal has been set up to discharge certain special functions, with jurisdiction to hear appeals from the final orders of the Rant Controller and there is power of Revision given to the High Court.
12. Every landlord and tenant who is governed by the Act has a right to have access to this special tribunal and avail of the remedy or the relief which can be granted by this Tribunal. If a landlord or a tenant has initiated proper proceedings before this special tribunal or is about to do so I fail to see how this Court can restrain such persons from taking proceedings or from continuing the proceedings already vitiated before the Special Tribunal. In Hals-bury's Laws of England (Hailsham Edition) Volume 18, Para. 120 page 87 it is stated that:
'Where Parliament has constituted a tribunal for a special purpose, the Court cannot restrain persons who are entitled to do so from applying to it. No equity can be founded on an allegation that a Court legally constituted is not properly competent to decide question within its jurisdiction.'
13. I am of opinion, therefore, that this application in so far as it seeks an injunction restraining the defendant from taking any further steps in 'Case No. 978A of 1950' before the Rent Controller, Calcutta, must fail.
14. I am satisfied on affidavits, however, that the petitioners have made out a prima facie case for injunction as asked for in Clauses (2) and (4) of the Notice of Motion and I accordingly make an order confirming the interim injunction granted by J. P. Mitter J. in terms of Clauses (2) and (4) of the Notice of Motion. Costs of the application, costs in the cause.