and Sons (P) Ltd. Vs. Associated Publishers (Madras) Limited  INSC 346 (9 November 1990)
T.K. (J) Thommen, T.K. (J) Saikia, K.N. (J) Kasliwal, N.M. (J)
1990 SCR Supl. (2) 615 1991 SCC (1) 301 JT 1990 (4) 374 1990 SCALE (2)960
Control and Eviction--Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960:
Sections 10 and 14(1)(b) bona fide requirement and bona fide personal
requirement demoli- tion and reconstruction of building--Condition of
building--Prime factor--Deterioration to crumbling state--Whether
necessary--Absence of need for urgency by reason of sound condition of
building--Whether negative bona fide character of the requirement for
Review: Findings of competent authority--When open to Court's
interference--Appreciation of evidence and findings of facts--Authority
empowered by statute--Final judge of facts--Court not to sit judgment thereon.
& Phrases: 'Immediate'--'Immediate Purpose'-Mean- ing of.
respondent-landlord filed a petition before the Rent Controller for eviction of
the appellant-tenant under sec- tion 14(1)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings
(Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960 on the ground that the condition of the
building compelled immediate demolition and that the land- lord wanted to put
the property to the best possible use.
appellant-tenant denied the allegations and contended that the building was
structurally safe, and that the stand taken by the respondent-landlord in the
earlier proceedings under the Act falsified its claim. On the basis of evidence
on record, the Rent Controller found that the building was structurally safe
and sound. However, he held that the condition of the building as such was not
decisive in decid- ing the question of bona fide requirement of the landlord
under section 14(1)(b) of the Act. Accordingly, he passed an order of eviction.
The tenant preferred an appeal. The appellate authority concurred with the Rent
Controller and confirmed the order of eviction.
the tenant approached the High Court. Con- firming the findings of the
authorities, the High Court held that though the 616 building was structurally
sound, it was required by the landlord for a legitimate scheme of demolition
and recon- struction with a view to putting the property, to more profitable
and better use.
the High Court's order, the tenant has preferred the present appeal, by special
leave, contending that the respondent-landlord has sought eviction of the
appellant solely in terms of section 14(1)(b) of the Act, which relate to the
condition of the building compelling immediate demo- lition and since the
condition of the building was not as such, the eviction could not have been
behalf of the respondent-landlord it was contended that section 14(1)(b) of the
Act referred to bona fide requirement of the landlord for demolition and reconstruc-
tion. It was also contended that due to various factors, if it became
uneconomical to allow the old building to stand, notwithstanding its sound and
safe condition, and a much larger profit could be derived from the larger
reconstructed building, a prudent landlord would be perfectly justified in
seeking eviction of the tenant under section 14(1)(b) of the Act.
the appeal, this Court,
1.1 Section 14(1)(b) of the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act,
1960 is satisfied only if the building is bona fide required by the landlord
for the "immediate", i.e., direct, sole and timely purpose of demol- ishing
it with a view to erecting a new building on the site of the existing building.
Various circumstances such as the capacity of the landlord, the size of
existing building, the demand for additional space, the condition of the place,
the economic advantage and other factors justifying investment of capital on
reconstruction may be taken into account by the concerned authority in
considering an application for recovery; but the essential and overriding
consideration which, in the general interests of the public and for the
protection of the tenants from unreasonable eviction, the legislature has in
mind the condition of the building that demands timely demolition by reason of
the extent of damage to its structure, making it uneconomical or unsafe to
under- take repairs. While the condition of the building by itself may not
necessarily establish the bona fide requirement under clause (b), that
condition is not only one of the various' circumstances which may be taken into
account by the Rent Controller but it is the essential condition. The Act does
not accept the requirement by the landlord as a bona fide requirement within
the meaning of the provision unless the condition of the building, in the
context of the relevant circumstances, 617 requires demolition. These are
matters which are to be proved by evidence. [635H; 636A-D]
order to satisfy the test under section 14(1)(b) the condition of the building
need not have deteriorated to the extent of the building being in danger of
crumbling down, but the condition mast be such as to indicate a bona fide
requirement for the timely, genuine and direct purpose of demolition and
reconstruction. The personal requirement of the landlord or any member of his
family for residence or business is not germane to section 14, and to import
that concept for the construction of that section, as the High Court appears to
have done, is to project section 10 into section 14, and that is an exercise
which has no warrant in the law. [636E-F] Metalware & Co. etc. v. Bansilal Sarma
& Co. etc.,  3 SCC 398; Neta Ram v. Jiwan Lal,  Suppl. 2 SCR
623 relied on.
Bhai v. Hale & Company G.T., Madras,  2 MLJ 147; K. Ramachandra Rao v. Krishnaswami lyengar and Ors.,
 1 MLJ 267; K.P. Lonaopan and Sons v.S. Mohamed lqbal,  1 MLJ 386
David and Anr. v. N. Denial and Ors.,  1 MLJ 110; V.P. Selvaraj v. V. Narasimhe
Rao,  1 MLJ 587; Bharat Trading Company v. K. Shanmughasundaram,  1
MLJ 94; Manakayal' Ammal & Ors. v. V.S. Sundaram and Ors.,  1 MLJ
310; A.S. Sheikh Fathma and Ors. v. Omer
Cloth State and Ors., AIR 1986 Madras 90 overruled.
Narayan Shenoy v. Basthi Venkatesha Shenoy,  1 SCC 499 distinguished.
Badsha v. M. Manga Devi and Anr.,  2 MLJ 209; K.J Sivalingam v.S. Guruswamy
and Anr.,  2 MLJ 85 referred to.
the construction of sections such as 10 and 14 of the Act, the Court must be
guided by the overriding legisla- tive object articulated in the Preamble to
the Act, that 'the control of rents of such buildings and the prevention of
unreasonable eviction of tenants therefrom in the state of Tamil Nadu."
[636H; 637A] Prabhakaran Nair and Ors. v. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors.,
 4 SCC 238 relied on.
Section 14(1)(b), however, does not require instant demolition, but demolition
within the specified time.
purpose", in the context in which the expression appears, relates to
directness rather than speed, although absence of the letter negative the
former. It denotes con- nection and timely action, but not instant action; yet
delayed action is a sign of remoteness of purpose. The expression must be
understood as a directly connected and timely purpose, and not a secondary or
remote or premature purpose. Significantly, the clause does not say "for
the purpose of immediately demolishing" which words might have denoted
instant demolition. What section 14(1)(b) says is "immediate purpose of
demolishing". The legislative intent is that the purpose should be
immediate or direct and not mediate or remote or indirect or secondary. The
condition of the building need not be such as to warrant instant demoli- tion,
but it must be grave enough to need timely action and rule out undue or
protracted delay. The landlord is not expected to wait till the building is in
imminent or immedi- ate danger of crumbling down so as to necessitate recovery
of possession for instant demolition. The purpose of demoli- tion must of
course be immediately or directly connected with the requirement so as not to
be separated by any inter- vening consideration. Demolition for the purpose of
erection of a new building must be the direct immediate, genuine and real
requirement of the landlord. The bona fide character of the requirement is
proved by the appropriateness of time and the absence of any ulterior or
irrelevant consideration separating the requirement from the statutory or
permitted purpose. The direct and immediate nexus between these two element is
proved by the condition of the building and other relevant circumstances.
Absence of any need for urgency by reason of the strong and sound condition of
the building will negative the bona fide character of the requirement.
is the degree of urgency warranted by what extent of damage to the building
that makes the requirement directly and immediately connected with the
statutory purpose is a question of fact which must be decided in each case on evidence.
But a building which is sound and safe does not qualify for demolition in terms
of section 14(1)(b). Any such building fails totally outside its ambit.
[627B-H] Black's Law Dictionary, 5th Edn: Concise Oxford Diction- ary, New 7th Edn.,
requirement for demolition can be regarded as genuine and bona fide only when
the condition of the exist- ing building is such that a reasonable and prudent
landlord would regard it to be uneconomical to repair it rather than demolish
it and reconstruct a new building 619 Apart from the condition of the building,
the nature of the locality, the advantages arising from reconstruction the
capacity of the landlord to erect a new building the demand for accommodation
and other factors suggesting the bona fide character of the landlord's request
for recovery of posses- sion under section 14(1)(b) are relevant. Even where
the condition of the building demands demolition, it is possible that, in view
of the landlord's lack of capacity to rebuild or the futility of reconstruction
by reason of the condition of the time and place, the authority may regard, without
prejudice to whatever power there is to enforce repairs or demolition in
certain circumstances, that the landlord's application lacks bona fide. The
authority has to take into account the totality of the circumstances. [628H;
absence of any provision to compel reinduction of the tenant after
reconstruction or to compel reconstruction after demolition and the
non-applicability of the Act for a period of five years after reconstruction
make it imperative that the reasonableness of the landlord's requirement should
be considered with care and caution, bearing in mind the fundamental
legislative object to protect the tenant from unreasonable eviction. [628E-F]
over-riding consideration underlying section 14(1)(b) is the bona fide need for
demolishing the old building and erecting a new building, once the demolition
of the old building is completed, for loss of time means not only loss of
income, but probably also increased expendi- ture. This construction must
necessarily lead to the inevi- table conclusion that the condition of the
building is a basic and essential requirement of section 14(1)(b). [628G- H]
requisite circumstances warranting repairs under clause (a) or demolition under
clause (b) of section 14(1) are matters for determination by the competent
authority on the basis of relevant evidence and the applicable provisions of
the law. In proceedings for judicial review, the Court does not sit in judgment
over appreciation of evidence and finding of facts by the authority empowered
by the statute.
the final judge of facts, and so long as he has taken into account all relevant
facts and has eschewed from his mind all irrelevant circumstances and has
correctly under- stood and applied the law. including the rules of natural
justice, his judgment is generally regarded as final and not open to challenge.
On the other hand, where he has acted in excess of his jurisdiction or asked
himself the wrong ques- tions or misunderstood or misapplied the law or failed
to consider the relevant circumstances, his conclusions are liable to be
reversed as perverse 620 by a court exercising judicial review. Any repository
of power must act in accordance with the law and on the basis of relevant
evidence. He must be guided by reason and jus- tice and not by private opinion.
the present case the Rent Controller asked himself the wrong question. He did
not think that the condition of building was relevant. He disregarded the clear
admission of the landlord and other evidence as regards the sound condi- tion
of the building. The crucial condition for demolition was thus absent. The
Controller was totally misguided as to the conclusions which he reached. So
were the appellate authority and the High Court. [636F-G]