1. In this case the petitioner who is a tenant who rented certain premises at a rent of Rs. 180 a month and whose rent was enhanced from Rs. 180 to Rs. 400, asked that the standard rent might be fixed under the Calcutta Rent Act. Evidence was taken, we are told, from both parties, and at the conclusion of the evidence the Controller went and inspected the premises in question and then wrote his judgment holding that the premises he inspected were not 'premises' within the meaning of the definition in the Calcutta Rant Act. These 'premises' are defined as 'any building or part of a building or hut let separately for residential, charitable, educational or public purposes or for the purposes of a shop or an office including any land appertaining thereto and let therewith.' The Controller held in his judgment that this was not a case in which the standard rent could be fixed. An application was then made to this Court to revise that decision on the ground that the Rent Controller had acted illegally or with material irregularity in basing his decision upon his inspection without, it is said, any reference to the evidence which has been taken in the case.
2. A preliminary objection is raised that we have no power in revision to interfere with the decision of the Rent Controller. It has, however, been held by this Court that the Rent Controller's Court is a Court of civil jurisdiction and that the High Court has power to revise the Rent Controller's orders under its general power of superintendence under Section 107 of the Government of India Act. We see no reason for dissenting from that decision. It is then said that even if we have jurisdiction to hear this matter, this is not a case in which we should do so. His judgment is expressed in such a way as to indicate, (whether it be the fact or not), that it is based on inspection only; for no reference is made to the evidence which had been previously taken, Whether in fact the Judge had in his mind such evidence and based his decision on such evidence we cannot say. We can only deal with the judgment as it is and draw such inference as the language there used implies. We see no reference made to the evidence. Again, we do not know what use the learned Judge made of that inspection whether it was for the purpose of explaining the evidence, assuming that he had in his mind the evidence which he had taken, or whether or not the learned Judge's decision was based directly and solely upon such inspection. There must accordingly be an order directing the Controller to re-hear and determine the case upon the evidence relying only upon the inspection in so far as such inspection may enable him to understand better the evidence which he has taken and which both parties have given. Whether or not further evidence should be allowed will be determined by the Controller. It may be that it has not been sufficiently clear to him and the parties that in order to see whether a property comes within the term 'premises' as defined in the Act it is necessary to ascertain the purpose for which the premises were let. It may be that the actual user of the premises may be relevant on that point. In determining the case the Rent Controller should bear in mind the purposes for which the property was let. The Rent Controller will have to determine whether the premises in question were let for the purposes mentioned in Section 2 Clause (c) of the Calcutta Rent Act, though, as I have said, on the question what was the purpose of the original letting, the actual user of the premises may be evidence. I do not say it mast be evidence but it may be evidence. This depends on the circumstances of the case.
3. The Rule, therefore, is made absolute and the order of the Rent Controller is hereby set aside and he is directed to determine the application having regard to the observations made in our judgment. The hearing fee is assessed at five gold mohurs in this Rule.
4. The costs of this Rule will follow the event, that is, the hearing by the Controller.
5. We may observe that this matter has been pending from a long time and we are told that a suit is now also pending in respect of these proceedings, We, therefore, ask the Rant Controller to dispose of this matter as quickly as possible.
6. Let the record be seat dawn to the Court below without delay.