S. P. Jinadathappa Vs. R. P. Sharma
& Ors  INSC 160 (17 April 1961)
GUPTA, K.C. DAS AYYANGAR, N. RAJAGOPALA
CITATION: 1961 AIR 1523 1962 SCR (2) 22
CITATOR INFO :
RF 1975 SC 446 (19)
Rent Control-Allotment of
accommodation-Statute authorising controller to select tenant-Constitutionality
of-If violates fundamental right of landlord-Discrimination-Guidance for
choosing tenant-Mysore House Rent and Accommodation Control Act, 1951 (Mys. XXX
of 1951), s. 3(3)(a)-Constitution of India, Arts.14 and 19(1)(f).
Section 30(3)(a) of the Mysore House Rent and
Accommodation Control Act, 1951, authorised the Controller to select any
Government, local authority, public institution, officer of a government, local
authority or public institution or any other person as a tenant of a vacant
house. Under the Act the owner was bound to let the house to the tenant so
selected. The petitioner was the owner of a house for whom the controller
selected a tenant under these provisions. He challenged the constitutionality
of S. 3(3)(a) in so far as the selection of "other persons" was
authorised on the grounds that: (i) it put an unreasonable restriction on his
fundamental right to property and (ii) it offended Art. 14 of the Constitution
as it provided no guidance for choosing the tenant and enabled the controller
to make an arbitrary choice.
Held, that S. 3(3)(a) of the Act was valid
and did not violate Art. 14 or 19(1)(f) of the Constitution.
An individual was a member of the public and
the restriction caused by his selection was in the interest of the general
public. The restriction was not unreasonable. It was enforced only when the
owner did not want the house for his own use. It could make no reasonable
difference to him whether an individual was selected or government, local
authority, public institution or any officer of any of these was selected. The
Act made provision for selection of a suitable tenant. This was further secured
by providing for an appeal to the District judge and thereafter a revision
petition to the High Court.
There was ample guidance given in the Act to
the Controller to choose a suitable tenant. Everyone had been given a right to
apply for being selected as a tenant; and the owner bad been given the right to
have his views also considered.
The ultimate decision was a judicial
decision, and if required, of the highest tribunal in the State.
ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petition No. 71
23 Writ Petition under Art. 32 of the
Constitution of India for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
S. K. Venkataranga Ayengar and S. J. S.
Fernandez, for the petitioner.
B. R. L. Iyengar, for respondent No. 1.
R. Gopalakrishnan and T. M. Sen, for the
respondent No. 2.
1961. April 17. The Judgment of the Court was
delivered by SARKAR, J.-This petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution raises
a question of the constitutional validity of s. 3(3)(a) of the Mysore House
Rent and Accommodation Control Act, 1951 (Mysore XXX of 1951). Shortly put,
that provision enables an authority set up by the Act to select any Government,
local authority, public institution, officer of a government, local authority
or public institution or any other person as the tenant of a vacant house.
Under the Act the owner is bound to let the premises to the tenant so selected.
The petitioner, for whom a tenant had been selected under this provision,
challenges its validity on the ground that it puts an unreasonable restriction
on his fundamental right to property under Art. 19(1)(f) of the Constitution
and is outside the protection of el. (5) of that article.
The petitioner had a building in respect of
which he had made some sort of arrangement with one Misri Lal for the making of
certain alterations in it and for letting it thereafter to him for the purpose
of a boarding house. He later gave a notice as required by s. 3(2)(a) of the
Act to respondent No. 2, the Controller, who had the authority under s. 3(3)(a)
to select a tenant, that the house had become vacant. Thereupon respondent No.
2 considered applications for the tenancy of the house of which there were two.
One was from Misri Lal mentioned above and the other was from respondent No. 1,
who was a private individual carrying on business of a boarding house keeper.
Respondent No. 2 selected respondent No. 1 as
the 24 person to whom the house should be let by the petitioner.
He fixed the rent at Rs. 350 per month which
was the rent demanded by the petitioner. There does not appear to have been any
specification of the terms of the tenancy and no question as to such terms
arises in this case.
The petitioner was dissatisfied with this
decision as he wanted that the premises should be let to Misri Lal, and
appealed to the District Judge under s. 15 of the Act. The District Judge
affirmed the decision of respondent No. 2.
The petitioner then went up in revision to
the High Court under s. 17 of the Act but the High Court refused to interfere.
Before the District Judge and the High Court the petitioner bad contended that
Misri Lal was a more suitable tenant than respondent No. 1. But such contention
was rejected. Having failed in the High Court he has now challenged the Act
itself by the present petition.
The, only question is whether s. 3(3)(a)
imposes an unreasonable 'restriction on the petitioner's right to property. The
validity of no other part of the Act has been challenged in this petition. The
provision challenged is in these words. 3(3)(a). On receipt of the intimation
under sub-section (2), the Controller shall, taking into consideration any
representation made by the landlord and after making such inquiry as he
considers necessary, select the State Government or the Central Government or
the Government of any other State in India, or any local authority or any
educational or other public institution or any officer of any Government,
authority or institution, aforesaid, or any other person (hereinafter referred
to as the allotted), to be inducted as a tenant in the house and direct the
landlord by a written order (hereinafter referred to as the allotment order')
to let the house to such allotted at such rent as shall be specified in the
allotment order and to deliver possession of the house to the allotted on such
date as shall be specified in the said order:
Provided that before making an allotment
order in favour of any authority or person, other than 25 the State Government,
the Central Government or the Government of any State in India or a local
authority, the Controller shall consider any representation of the landlord
about the suitability of the proposed tenant and shall not allot the house to
any person who, in the opinion of the Controller, is an unsuitable tenant:
The petitioner does not contend that the
provision in so far as it allows the Controller to select as a tenant a
Government, local authority, public institution or any of the officers
mentioned, imposes any unreasonable restriction on the right to property. As we
understood learned counsel for the petitioner, it was conceded that selection
of such tenant would constitute a public purpose and the restriction thereby
imposed, would be reasonable. It would therefore appear that it is not
contended that the selection of a tenant by the Controller would by itself amount
to imposing an unreasonable restriction on the right to property. We do not
think that such a contention, if made, would have been well founded. It is
clear that the Act deals with houses which are vacant. It does not deprive an
owner of his right to live in his own house. It provides for vacant houses not
needed for the use of the owner being made available for the use of others who
are without accommodation. The Act was necessary because of the scarcity of
housing. It was, therefore, passed to regulate the letting of houses and to
control rent and also to prevent unreasonable eviction: see the preamble to the
Does the Act then by leaving it to the
Controller to select any person other than a Government, local authority,
public institution or an officer of any of these as the tenant, impose an
unreasonable restriction on the right to property? We do not think it does so.
If the Controller could validly choose a Government, a local authority or any
institution which as we have said is not disputed-it can make no difference
that instead of such a tenant the Controller chooses a private individual as a
tenant. The idea of this provision is that people in need should be 4 26 found
accommodation. Persons in need of accommodation are the public and therefore
serving their need, would be serving a public purpose. An individual would be a
member of the public and as the accommodation available can be let out to one,
a restriction caused by selection of a member of the public would be one in the
interest of the general public. Such a restriction is furthermore not
It is enforced only when the owner does not
want the house for his own use. It can then make no reasonable difference to
the owner if a private individual is chosen as the tenant. The Act further
makes ample provision to see that the tenant chosen is suitable. By providing
the appeal to the District Judge and a right to move the High Court in
revision, full safeguard has been given to secure that an unsuitable person is
not foisted on an owner as his tenant.
It is true that the Act does not define who
would be a suitable person but we do not think that a definition was required.
Any man of experience would know who is a suitable tenant. Further., the owner
has been given the right to have the suitability of the tenant chosen examined
by the highest court. In the explanation to s. 3(3)(a) certain persons have
been declared to be unsuitable tenants.
We are unable to accept the contention of the
learned counsel for the petitioner that the result of this explanation is that
all others are suitable. The explanation only shows that the persons coming
within the description are unsuitable. As to whether others would be suitable
or not would have to be decided on the merits of each. The decision as to the
suitability of a tenant is not to be controlled by the explanation at all
except to the extent of making certain persons unsuitable as tenants and taking
it out of the discretion of the authority concerned to go into the question of
their suitability If the Act had left it to the house-owner to choose a tenant,
then there was every likelihood of its purpose being defeated. It would be easy
for the owner to make secret arrangements for his own gain in creating a
tenancy. The tenant would obviously be 27 in a disadvantageous situation in
view of the scarcity of housing, in the matter of bargaining for the house. He
could easily be made to yield to the terms imposed by the owner who has a much
superior bargaining situation. If scope was left for this kind of thing to
happen, then the entire object of the Act would have been defeated. The Act
intends to avoid this situation and hence the provision for a power in the
Controller to select a tenant for the owner.
Neither do we think that any objection to
this pro. vision can be based on Art. 14 of the Constitution on the ground that
it provided no guidance as to how a tenant is to be chosen and so enabled the
authority concerned to make an arbitrary choice. This contention is not in any
event open to the petitioner, an owner, for the provision does not enable any
discrimination being made between one owner and another. If a tenant had
challenged the validity of the provision relying on Art. 14, which is not the
case here, we do not think that challenge would have been of substance.
There is, in our view, ample guidance given
to the authority as to how to choose a tenant. The tenant has first to be
suitable. All persons are entitled to apply for being selected as tenants and
so all have equal chance to get the house. The choice will have to be made from
amongst the applicants and that choice will depend on an examination of the
comparative merits of their claims. Further, the owner has a right to have his
views in the matter being given due consideration by the authority selecting
the tenant. Again, the ultimate decision would be a judicial decision, and if
required, of the highest tribunal in the State.
We, therefore, think that the challenge to
the Act is ill founded. In the result we dismiss this petition. The petitioner
will pay the costs of the appearing respondent.