V.P. Gupta, J.
1. These revision petitions are being disposed of by this single order as they involve common questions of law and facts.
2. Sheela Sharma (respondent) is the landlady and Swami Bhandari, Janki Devi and Garib Dass (petitioners) are the - tenants. Three separate applications for the eviction of the petitioners were filed by the respondent, under Section 14 of the Himachal Pradesh Urban Rent Control Act (hereinafter called the Act) and one of the grounds for eviction was the nonpayment of rent.
3. The eviction applications were contested by the tenants (petitioners). The Rent Controller, Simla, vide his order Dt. 8-5-1980, passed orders of eviction of the tenants (petitioners) on the ground of non-payment of arrears of rent.
4. The tenants (petitioners) filed appeals on 6-6-1980. The Appellate Authority passed an order (on 6-6-1980) staying the dispossession of the tenants (petitioners) till further orders subject to the condition that arrears of rent accrued up to date would be deposited in the court of Rent Controller within 20 days. The arrears of rent were not deposited within 20 days and were actually deposited on 28-6-1980, that is, after the expiry of 20 days. The tenants (petitioners) moved an application on 27-6-1980, that is, after the period of 20 days praying that they may be allowed time to deposit arrears of rent till 30-8-1980. This application was contested. On 20-12-1980 an order was passed that the dispossession of the appellants be stayed till final disposal of the appeals.
5. The appeals were finally dismissed on 2-6-1981. After dismissal of the appeals the landlady (respondent) filedapplication for execution of the eviction orders of the Rent Controller Dt. 8-5-1980. The tenants (petitioners) con tested the execution petitions and filed objections alleging that they had deposited the arrears of rent and for this reason the orders of eviction had become nonexecutable. The Rent Controller framed the following issues on 'the objections of the tenants (petitioners):
1. Whether the amount due was deposited within the time prescribed by law? OPD.
2. Whether the order Dt. 8-5-1980 of this court merged into the order dated Dt. 2-6-1981 passed by the Appellate Authority, Simla, if so, to what effect? OPD.
3. Whether Shri S.M. Sharma is the General Attorney of the D. H. and competent to move the present application? OPDH.
6. All the issues were decided in favour of the respondent (landlady) and the objections of the tenants (petitioners) were dismissed on 28-6-1981. Now the present revision petitions have been filed by the petitioners (tenants) challenging the order Dt. 28-6-1981.
7. The main contention of the learned counsel for the petitioners (tenants) before me was that the order of the Rent Controller Dt. 8-5-1980 had merged in the appellate order Dt. 2-6-1981 and the arrears in rent had been deposited within 30 days from 2-6-1981. It was contended that the Appellate Authority would be deemed to be a 'Rent Controller' for the purposes of the Act and the petitioners could avail of the benefit of second proviso to Section 14 of the Act. The further contention was that the Appellate Authority had stayed the dispossession till the decision of the appeals and time for payment of arrears of rent had been allowed
8. The learned counsel for the respondent (landlady) contended that the period of 30 days is a statutory period, which can only be counted from the date of the order of the Rent Controller, that is, 8-5-1980. This period cannot be extended by the court or any other authority. The learned counsel also contended that there was no merger of the order as the order had only been confirmed
9. The facts as narrated in the earlier part of this order are not disputed by the learned counsel for the parties.
10. The relevant provisions of the Act read as follows.
'2. Definitions. In this Act, unless there is anything repugnant in the subject or context.
(b) 'Controller' means any person who is appointed by the State Government to perform the functions of a Controller under this Act;
Section 14. Eviction of tenants.-- (1) A tenant in possession of a building or rented land shall not be evicted therefrom in execution of a decree passed before or after the commencement of this Act or otherwise and whether before or after the termination of the tenancy, except in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) A landlord who seeks to evict his tenant shall apply to the Controller for a direction in that behalf. If the Controller, after giving the tenant a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the applicant is satisfied---
(i) that the tenant has not paid or tendered the rent due by him in respect of the building or rented land within fifteen days after the expiry of the time fixed in the agreement of tenancy with his landlord or in the absence of any such agreement, by the last day of the month next following that for which the rent is payable:
Provided that if the tenant on the first hearing of the application for ejectment after due service pays or tenders the arrears of rent and interest at 6 per cent per annum on such arrears together with the cost of application assessed by the Controller, the tenant shall be deemed to have duly paid or tendered the rent within the time aforesaid:
Provided further that the tenant against whom the Controller has made an order for eviction on the ground of non-payment of rent due from him, shall not be evicted as a result of his order, if tenant pays the amount due within a period of 30 days from the date of order, or
Section 21. Vesting of appellate authority on officers by State Government.-- (1) (a) The State, Government may by a general or special order, by notification confer on such officers and authorities as they think fit, the powers of appellate authorities for the purposes of this Act, in such area or in such classes of cases as may be specified in the order.
(b) Any person aggrieved by an order passed by the Controller, may, within fifteen days from the date of such order or such longer period as the appellate authority may allow for reasons to be recorded in writing, prefer an appeal in writing to the appellate authority having jurisdiction. In computing the period of fifteen days the time taken to obtain a certified copy of the order appealed against shall be excluded.
(2) On such appeal being preferred, the appellate authority may order stay of further proceedings in the matter pending decision on the appeal.
(3) The appellate authority shall decide the appeal after sending for the records of the case from the Controller and after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard and, if necessary, after making such further inquiry as it thinks fit either personally or through the controller.
(4) The decision of the appellate authority and subject only to such decision, an order of the Controller shall be final and shall not be liable to be called in question in any court of law except as provided in Sub-section (5) of this section.
(5) The High Court may at any time, on the application of any aggrieved party or on its own motion call for and examine the records relating to any order passed or proceedings taken under this Act for the purpose of satisfying itself as to the legality or propriety of such order or proceedings and may pass such order in relation thereto as it may, deem fit'
11. From the bare reading of Section 14, it is clear that the tenant has been given opportunities to pay the arrears of rent, The second proviso in Section 14 (2) of the Act is for the benefit of those tenants who wish to contest their eviction on the ground of non-payment of rent, that is, who claim to have paid the rent but ultimately fail to prove their defence. In such an event the tenant is allowed a further period of 30 days from the date of the order of the 'Controller' to make the payment of the rent, and in case the payment is made within the statutory period of 30 days, then the tenant cannot be evicted in pursuance to an order of eviction on the ground of non-payment of rent.
12. In the Act there is no provision giving powers to the Rent Controller to condone the delay in the payment of rent or to enlarge the lime fixed in Section 14 (2). Hence, even the Rent Controller has no authority to extend the time for depositing the arrears of rent. This view has already been taken in two decisions of this Court. In Krishan Kumar v. Gurbux Singh (1977 (2) Ren CR 62): (AIR 1977 NOC 276 (HP)), it was held that the Rent Controller cannot vary the order by abridging or enlarging the period of 30 days and if the tenant deposits the rent after 30 days then he is liable to eviction. Similarly, in C. R. No. 208 of 1981 decided on 21-5-1982. K.N. Trading v. Masonic Fraternity of Simla, Hon'ble Vyas Dev Misra, C J. held that the period of 30 days cannot be extended.
13. In Hem Chand v. Delhi Cloth & General Mills, (AIR 1977 SC 1986) the Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court were considering the provisions of Sections 14 and 15 of the Delhi Rent Control Act. It may be mentioned that under the Delhi Rent Control Act the statute has provided a period of one month for depositing the rent. In these circumstances it was held that the legislature has given statutory protection to the tenant by affording him an opportunity to pay the arrears of rent within one month from the date of the order. This statutory provision cannot be modified as rights of parties depend on the compliance with an order under Section 15 (1).
14. The learned counsel for the petitioners relied upon K. Kanakamma v. Govinda Filial Sivasankharan Nair, (1977 Ren CJ VOO) and Kuriakose Kurian v. Saramma, (AIR 1964 Ker 154) (FB). Both these authorities are under the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act and are based upon the interpretation of Section 11 (2) (c) of the Kerala Act. Under Section 11 (2t (c) of the Kerala Act the tenant can deposit the rent within a period of one month from the date of the order of the Rent Control Court or within such period as the Rent Control Court may in its discretion allow to the tenant. Under the Kerala Act, powers to extend the period beyond one month have been conferred upon the Rent Control Court and, therefore, these two authorities are quite distinguishable.
15. Hence I hold that the period of 30 days allowed under Section 14 (2) to the tenant for depositing the arrears of rent cannot be extended by any authority.
16. Under Section 21 (4) the order of the Appellate Authority is final except as provided in Section 21 (5). Similarly, under Section 21 (2) the Appellate Authority can also order stay of further proceedings in the matter pending decision on the appeal. The contention of the counsel for the petitioners was that the Appellate Authority had allowed the stay of dispossession and had granted time to deposit the rent.
17. In the Act the Appellate Authority gets its powers from the State Government and the Appellate Authority can exercise powers under Section 21 of the Act, The Controller can exercise powers under Section 14 of the Act. The Appellate Authority cannot fall within the definition of the word 'Controller', while deciding an appeal and for this reason the benefit of the second proviso of Section 14 (2) cannot be allowed to a tenant, who is ordered to be evicted by the Appellate Authority.
18. The language of Section 14 clearly provides that the tenant can only be allowed a period of 30 days from the date of the order of the 'Controller'. In Kanai Lal Sur v. Paramnidhi Sadhukhan (AIR 1957 SC 907) it is held that (at p. 910): --
'The first and primary rule of construction is that the intention of the Legislature must be found in the words used by the Legislature itself. If the words used are capable of one construction only then it would not be open to the Courts to adopt any other hypothetical construction on the ground that such hypothetical construction is more consistent with the alleged object and policy of the Act. The words used in the material provisions of the stalute must be interpreted in their plain grammatical meaning and it is only when such words are capable of two constructions that the question, of giving effect to the policy or object of the Act can legitimately arise.'
19. It is true that the dispossession of the petitioners was stayed by the Appellate Authority, but the Appellate Authority nowhere ordered that the period for depositing the rent was extended beyond 30 days. The Appellate Authority had in fact no such powers. It could only stay the further proceedings, that is, the dispossession. Hence the contention of the petitioners' counsel that the Appellate Authority had extended the period for depositing the arrears of rent under Section 14 of the Act cannot be accepted.
20. In the circumstances of the present case, the petitioners (tenants) cannot take any benefit by relying upon the principle of merger in view of the clear and unambiguous provisions of Section 14 (2) of the Act. Moreover, the Appellate Authority dismissed the appeals of the tennants (petitioners) and confirmed the orders of the Controller.
21. In view of the aforesaid discussion, I do not find any merit in these revision petitions which are accordingly dismissed. The parties are, however, left to bear their own costs.