Shri Vidya Prachar Trust Vs. Pandit
Basant Ram  INSC 89 (21 March 1969)
21/03/1969 HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ)
HIDAYATULLAH, M. (CJ) MITTER, G.K.
CITATION: 1969 AIR 1273 1970 SCR (1) 66 1969
SCC (1) 835
CITATOR INFO :
D 1979 SC1307 (7,8,9) D 1980 SC 138
(4,5,6,8,9,10,12,13,14) O 1980 SC1709 (3,4,5,14,16,17,23)
East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act,
1949-S. 13(2)(1)- Eviction for non-payment of rent-Deposits in court under s. 31
Relief of in- debtedness Act, 1934-Whether equivalent to tender of rent to
The appellant landlord made an application
under s. 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 for the
respondent's eviction from certain premises on the ground that the -rent 'for
the premises from October 1959 to June 1961 had -not been paid. On the first
day of hearing the respondent appeared and tendered part of the rent. He
claimed that he had made two deposits in the court of the Senior Sub-Judge
under s. 31 of the East Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act, 1934 and that this
was a valid tender of the balance rent to the landlord. The Rent Controller
decided that the respondent was not in default and the appellate authority as
well as the High Court took the same view.
On appeal to this Court,
HELD : The deposit under s. 31 of the Relief
of Indebtedness Act did not save the tenant from the consequences of the
default as contemplated by s. 13 of the Urban Rent Restriction Act. [70 F]
Section 31 is intended to operate between debtors and creditors where
difficulty in making the payment, either wholly or partly, may arise in the
debtor wishes to save himself from interest which is running. The Act is not
intended to operate between landlords and tenants; nor is the Court of the
Senior Sub-Judge a clearing house for rent.
Although the general words "any person
who, owes money" may appear to cover the case of a tenant, looking at the
Act as a whole, the phrase must be read to cover cases of debtors and creditors
between whom the-re is an agreement for payment of interest because the deposit
is intended to stop interest from running. No interest is agreed to be paid by
tenants, at any rate, nor ordinarily, and therefore, the section cannot be said
to cover a case between a landlord and a tenant. [69 F-H]
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 499 of 1966.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order dated March 18, 1964 of the Punjab High Court in Civil Revision No. 750
Bishan Narain and Naunit Lal, for the
N. N. Keswani, for the respondent.
Janardan Sharma and S. K. Nandy, for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by.
Hidayatullah, C.J. This is a landlord's
appeal against an order of the High Court of Punjab, March 18, 1964, confirming
67 the dismissal of his petition for the eviction of the respondent from
certain premises taken on rent. The appellant had made the application under S.
13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 on the allegation that
rent for the premises from October 1, 1959 to June 30, 1961 had not been paid.
The rent of the premises was Rs.
32/8/- and the water connection charges were
Rs. 2/8//-. On the first date of hearing the tenant appeared and tendered Rs.
292/8/- as rent from October 1, 1960 to June 30, 1961.
He also paid Rs. 7/- as interest and Rs. 25/-
These amounts were accepted by the landlord
without prejudice to his claim that the rent for the earlier period had not
It appears that the tenant had made two
deposits in the Court of the Senior Sub-Judge, Ludhiana under s. 31 of the East
Punjab Relief of Indebtedness Act, 1934 on December 23, 1959 and July 18, 1960,
the amount being 210/- on each occasion. The tenant claimed that this was a
valid tender of rent to the landlord. The Rent Controller, by his order,
decided that the tenant was not in default and the Appellate Authority and the
High Court also took the same view. It was held by the Appellate Authority, as
well as by the High Court, that the deposit under s. 31 of the Relief of
Indebtedness Act was a valid tender under s. 13 of the Urban Rent Restriction
Act. The Division Bench in the High Court followed an earlier decision of the
same Court reported in Mam Chand v. Chhotu Ram(1). The correctness of that
decision as well as the decision under appeal are challenged before us.
Before the hearing commenced the respondent
took Objection to the grant of the special leave stating that the appellant was
guilty of making "certain inaccurate untrue and misleading statements in
respect of certain material facts".
The charge was that before the Rent
Controller there was no issue that the deposit under s. 31 of the Relief of
Indebtedness Act was a valid tender of payment, although this was mentioned as
a fact in the petition for special leave. It was also said that this question
was given up before the Appellate Authority although it was stated that the
point was decided by the Appellate Authority. Reliance was placed in this
connection upon two decisions of this Court reported in Hari Narain v. Badri
Das(2) and Rajabhai Abdul Rehman Munshi v. Vasudev Dhanjibhai Mody(3). These
were cases of gross misstatement where the party applying for special leave had
deliberately chosen to make false statements and false pleas. In the present
case the same cannot be said of the appellant. There I was only one issue,
before the Court and it was whether the deposit (1) 1. L. R. (1964) 1 Pb. 626.
2.  2 S. C. R. 203.
3.  3 S. C. R. 480 68 under one Act was
good for the purposes of the other Act.
All that the courts had to consider was
whether that deposit saved the tenant from eviction or not. The High Court
mentioned that this was the only point before all the courts below and we do
not think that the complaint that there had been any false averment in the petition
for special leave was sustainable. We accordingly -rejected the contention,
raised by C.M.P. No. 64 of 1969.
As regards the merits of the case s. 1 3 (2)
(1) of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act reads as follows "13.
Eviction of tenants.
(1) A tenant in possession of a building or
rented land shall not be evicted there from 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, or in pursuance of an order made under-section 13 of the
Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1947, as subsequently amen (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 six 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."
The Act does not lay down any other procedure under which -money can be
deposited with any Government Authority. Such provisions are to be found in
other Rent Control Acts but are missing in this Act. Eviction, therefore, takes
place on the ground of non-payment or tender of rent due within time fixed by
the 69 tenancy and 15 days thereafter. There is only one saving for the tenant
and that is when he tenders the full rent in Court before the Rent Controller
together with interest and costs. In the present case, the tenant did tender
rent but only for a portion of the period and he relied on his deposit under
the Relief of Indebtedness Act as due discharge of his liability for the
earlier period. It may be stated that the deposit before the Senior Sub Judge
was made not only of arrears of rent but prospectively for some future period
for which the rent was then not due. The question is whether such payment is a
valid payment or tender to the landlord.
Section 31 of the Relief of Indebtedness Act
reads as follows :- "31. Deposit in court.
(1) Any person who owes money may at any time
deposit in court a sum of money in full or part payment to his creditor.
(2) The court on receipt of such deposit
shall give notice thereof to the creditor and shall, on his application, pay
the sum to him.
(3) From the date of such deposit interest
shall cease to run on the sum so deposited." This Act was passed to govern
the relation between the debtors and creditors. The scheme of the Act bears
upon this relationship because it provides for insolvency procedure, usurious
loans, damdupat, redemption of mortgages, deposit in court, and sets up Debt
Conciliation Boards, suitably amending the civil law wherever necessary.
Incidentally, it provides for deposit in
court with a view to giving a chance to debtors to save interest on the
outstanding dues either wholly or partially. The section, therefore, is
intended to operate between debtors and creditors where difficulty in making
the payment, either wholly or partly, may arise and the debtor wishes to save
himself from interest which is running. The Act is not intended to operate
between landlords and tenants; nor is the Court of the Senior Sub-Judge created
into a clearing house for rent. Although the general words "any person who
owes money" may appear to cover the case of a tenant, we have to look at
the Act as a whole and see what kind of a person is intended thereby. The
phrase must be read to cover cases of debtors and creditors between whom there
is an agreement for payment of interest because the deposit is intended to stop
interest from running. No interest is agreed to be paid by tenants, at any
rate, nor ordinarily, and, therefore, the, section 70 cannot be said to cover a
case between a landlord and a tenant. There is no provision in the Urban Rent
Restriction Act for making a deposit except one, and that is on the first day
of the hearing of the case. It could not have been intended that all tenants
who may be disinclined to pay rent to their landlords should be enabled to
deposit it in the Court of a Senior Sub-Judge making the Senior Sub-Judge, a
kind of a Rent Collector for all landlords. The provision for stoppage of
interest is a pointer that the interest in the first instance must have been
due. In our judgment, S.
31 has been misunderstood in the High Court.
A second pointer is that the amount may be deposited in part which cannot
possibly be a valid tender in case of rent. It may be pointed out that the
decision of the Division Bench runs counter to two other decisions of single
Judges of the same High Court who have taken the same view which we are taking
here. The decisions are noticed by the Division Bench but have not been
accepted. The decisions of the learned single Judges are to be preferred. The
Division Bench has taken a very extended view of the deposit under the Relief
of Indebtedness Act.
Further the deposit of money in the present
case was not only of the rent due but also of future rent. Under s. 19 read
with s. 6 of the Urban Rent Restriction Act a landlord is liable to be sent to
jail if he recovers advance rent beyond one month. It is impossible to think
that the landlords would be required to go to the Court of the Senior Sub-Judge
with a view to finding out whether their tenants have deposited rent due to
them or not. No doubt there is a provision for sending a notice, but we do not
think that that notice is intended to cover such cases. On the whole,
therefore, we are of opinion that the deposit under s. 31 of the Relief of
Indebtedness Act did not save the tenant from the consequences of the default
as contemplated by s. 13 of the Urban Rent Restriction Act. We accordingly
allow the appeal and, setting aside the judgment of the High Court, order the
eviction of the tenant from the premises rented out by him. He shall have three
months' time in which to vacate the premises. The costs throughout must also be
borne by the respondent.
R.K.P.S. Appeal allowed.