S. M. Gopalakrishna Chetty Vs.
Ganeshan & Ors  INSC 162 (11 August 1975)
CITATION: 1975 AIR 1750 1976 SCR (1) 273 1975
SCC (2) 408
CITATOR INFO :
D 1979 SC1559 (5,10) RF 1989 SC1101 (16)
Madras Buildings (Lease & Rent Control)
Act 1960- Section 2(6)- Section 14-Whether a single eviction petition with
regard to two tenancies in the same premises is maintainable.
The appellant landlord is a holder of life
interest in the property in question He filed a suit against the tenant for
eviction on the grounds of bona fide requirement by him for demolition and
reconstruction. The Rent Controller held the requirement of the landlord bona
fide and ordered eviction of the tenant. The appellant filed one petition for
evicting the tenants in respect of two different tenancies, one for residential
purpose and the other for non- residential purpose. The appellate Authority
under the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960 dismissed the
appellant's application for eviction on the ground that a landlord having a
life interest cannot seek eviction for bona fide requirement for demolition and
reconstruction. The High Court in Revision refused to inter fere with the order
of the Appellate Authority under the Act.
On appeal by special leave, it was contended
by the appellant that the land lord having a life interest is entitled to evict
the tenant for bona fide requirement for demolition and reconstruction under
section 14 of the Act.
The respondent contended that granting of the
application of the landlord might prejudice the interest of the remainder man.
HELD: Allowing the appeal, (1) Definition of
landlord under- section 2(6) is wide enough to include the appellant who holds
a life interest in the premises. The right between the appellant and the
remainder man with regard to the deed of settlement would have to be worked out
in appropriate proceedings. 'The Act in question is a self-contained and,
complete Code for regulation of the rights between the land lord and tenants.
Even a possible dispute between the landlord
and the remainder man cannot affect adjudication of the claim of the landlord
against his tenants under the provisions of the Act. [275F-276D] (2) A single
petition with regard to two tenancies in the same premises is maintainable when
the tenancy is one.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeals
Nos. 493- 495 of 1 974 Appeals by special leave from the judgment and order
dated the 9th August, 1973 of the Madras High Court in Civil Revision Petition
Nos. 1470 to 1472 of 1973.
K. S. Ramamurthi, T. N. Vallinayagam, R. N.
Nath and V. Maya Krishnan, for the appellant.
M. Natesan, K. Jayaram and R. Chandrasekhar,
for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
GOSWAMI, J.- These appeals by special leave are directed against the order of
the High Court of Madras in three Civil Revision Petitions under section 25 of
the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) 274 Act 1960 briefly the (Act)
whereby the High Court refused to interfere A with the orders of the appellate
authority under the Act holding that the appellant (hereinafter to be described
as the landlord) has no right to evict the respondents (hereinafter to be
described as the tenants) from the premises in question on the ground of
demolition and reconstruction.
The tenancy under the landlord is admitted by
the tenants there is also no question with regard to validity of the notice of
eviction. The only questions in controversy in these appeals are whether the
landlord in this case, who is the holder of life interest in the property, is
entitled to evict the tenants under section 14(1) (b) of the Act on the ground
that the building is bona fide required by the landlord for demolition and for
reconstruction. The second question raised` in one of the appeals is whether a
single petition is maintainable to evict the tenants from two different
tenancies one for residential purpose and the other for non-residential
purpose. The latter point has been held by the High Court in favour of the
landlord but the tenants are raising it in seeking to support the earlier order
of the appellate authority.
The premises are situated at Anna Pinai
Originally the premises belonged to late S.
Manicka Chettyar, father of S. M. Gopalakrislina, the present landlord. By
virtue of a Deed of Settlement executed by S. Manicka Chettyar on May 9, 1934,
possession of the premises was delivered to his wife, Manoranjithammal, as
trustee and guardian an of his three minor children, S. M. Gopalakrishna then
aged 13` years, and his two minor daughters, Indrani Ammal and Palani Ammal. We
are not concerned with the various directions in the Deed of Settlement except
to note the admitted position that Manoranjithammal was allowed to enjoy the
rents and profits of the property for her life time subject to certain charges
mentioned in the Deed. After the life time of the settlor's wife, his son, S.
M. Gopalakrishna (appellant) shall enjoy the rents and profits of the said
property.... for his life time" subject lo certain charges on account of
his two sisters. It is further mentioned in the Deed that after the life time
of Gopalakrishna, his son and son's heir of any predeceased son living at that
time shall enjoy the property subject to identical charges as absolute owners,
with right of sale, gift, etc. There are further directions in case of other
contingencies with which we are not concerned. We may, however, note that S. M.
Gopalakrishna is issueless.
From the above terms of the Settlement it is
contended by the tenants that the landlord has only a life interest in the
premises in question and that it is inherent in such a life interest that it is
not permissible for the landlord to invoke section 14(1) (b) as grounds for
eviction of the:
tenants by demolition of the property for the
purpose of reconstruction. It is emphasised that since the interest of the
remainder-man may be prejudiced? the landlord with a life interest in the
premises cannot evict the tenants on these grounds.
The Rent, Controller held that the
requirement of the landlords bona fide and ordered for eviction of the tenants.
The Court of Small Causes, 275 which is the
appellate authority, allowed the appeals lodged by the tenants against the
orders of eviction and set aside the orders of eviction. As noticed earlier the
High Court refused to interfere in revision.
The High Court agreed with the! view of the
appellate authority that the landlord had no right to ask for eviction of the respondents
on the ground of demolition and reconstruction, he admittedly having only a
life interest or right to enjoy the property for his life. The appellant sub
mits that this view is not legally tenable.
Before we proceed to consider the point in
controversy, we may read section 14(1)(b):
14. "Recovery of possession by landlord
for repairs or for reconstruction.- (1) Not withstanding anything contained in
this Act, but subject to the provisions of section 12 and 13, on an application
made by a landlord the Controller shall, if he is satisfied- (b) that the
building is bona fide required by the landlord for the immediate purpose of
demolishing it and such demolition is to be made for the purpose of erecting a
new building on the site of the building sought to be demolished, pass an order
directing the tenant to deliver possession of the building to the landlord
before a specified date".
The expression landlord is defined under
section 2(6) as follows:- " 'Landlord' includes the person who is
receiving or is entitled to receive the rent of a building, whether on his own
account or on behalf of another or on behalf of himself and others or as an
agent, trustee, executor, administrator, receiver or guardian or who would so
receive the rent or be entitled to receive the rent, if the building were let
to a tenant".
x x x x This inclusive definition o landlord
would clearly take in its sweep the present landlord who holds a life interest
in the premises and who admittedly has been on his own right under the Deed of
Settlement as a trustee receiving rents of the premises from the tenants. We
are not even concerned with the question as has been sought to be established
in the case by proving that there is no possibility or any objection from the
daughters of the settlor or from any other remainder-man. It is sufficient to
observe that the rights between S. M. Gopalakrishna and the remainder-man with
regard to the terms of the Deed of Settlement win have to be worked out in
appropriate proceedings, if necessary and the general law win govern the matter
if any occasion arises.
On the other hand, the Act with which we are
concerned is a self contained and complete code for regulation of the rights
between landlord and tenants as defined in the Act (See M/s Raval and Co. v. K.
G. 276 Ramachandra and others (1). Thus a controversy that may arise between a
landlord and others, who are not his tenants under the Act, is outside the ken
of this Act. Even a possible dispute, imaginary or real, between the landlord
and the remainder-man cannot affect adjudication of the claim of the landlord
against his tenants under the provisions of the Act. It win also not affect the
efficacy of the nature of the plea of bona fide on the part of the landlord, if
otherwise so. Such questions as are raised in this appeal by the tenants are,
therefore, irrelevant in a litigation between the landlord and tenants when a
suit for eviction is instituted by the former on any of the grounds available
to him under the Act. It is clear that when the objection on the score of the
landlord being a holder of life interest and hence incapable of invoking
section 14 (1) (b) fails the suit must be decreed.
lt was strenuously submitted by Mr. Natesan
that a tenant with a life interest cannot be allowed to demolish the property
in order to reconstruct it as that action would, per se be not bona fide. We
are unable to accede to this submission. A landlord has every right to demolish
his property in order to build a new structure on the site with view to improve
his business or to get better returns on his investment. Such a step per se,
cannot be characterised as mala fide on the part of the landlord. There is
no merit in this contention.
Mr. Natesan faintly submitted that a single
petition with regard to two different tenancies, although in the same premises,
one for residential purpose and the other for non- residential purpose, is not
maintainable. We do not find any substance in such a contention when the
tenancy is one.
In the result the appeals are allowed and the
order of the High Court as well as that of the appellate authority are set
aside. The order of the Controller allowing eviction of the tenants stands
restored. We win, however, allow time to the tenants upto 31st January, 1976,
to vacate the premises on the distinct condition that they shall submit
affidavits in this Court undertaking to vacate the premises by the aforesaid
date within two weeks from to-day. The appellant win be entitled to his costs
in these appeals. One set of costs P.H.P. Appeal allowed.