S. Mohan Lal Vs. R. Kondiah  INSC
27 (5 February 1979)
REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA (J) REDDY, O. CHINNAPPA
(J) SARKARIA, RANJIT SINGH
CITATION: 1979 AIR 1132 1979 SCR (3) 12 1979
SCC (2) 616
CITATOR INFO :
RF 1988 SC 852 (8)
Andhra Pradesh Building (Lease, Rent and
Eviction) Control Act, 1960, s. 10(3)(a)(iii), "business,"
interpretation, whether includes practice of legal profession-Construction of
The respondent, an advocate, sought to evict
his tenant, the appellant, under s. 10(3) (a) (iii) of the Andhra Pradesh
Building (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1960, on the ground that he
required the disputed premises for carrying on his profession. The court of
small causes, Hyderabad, finding that the requirement was bona fide, passed an
eviction order against the appellant. In revision, the High Court negatived the
contention that the expression "business" used in s. 10(3)(a)(iii),
did not include the 'profession' of an advocate.
Dismissing the appeal, the Court,
HELD: 1. "Business" is a word of
large and wide import, capable of a variety of meanings. In a broad sense it is
taken to mean 'everything that occupies the time, attention and labour of men,
for the purpose of livlihood or profit'.
The practice of law is 'business' within the
meaning of that expression in s. 10(3)(a)(iii). The Act is of general
application, and its protection is not confined to any classes of tenants, nor
is the right to evict under the Act, limited to any class of landlords. There
is no reason why a landlord who is a member of the legal or medical professions
and who requires the premises for carrying on the practice of his profession,
should be wholly debarred from obtaining possession of the premises. It would
be anamolous to hold that all the provisions of the Act apply to
non-residential buildings owned by an Advocate, excepting s. 10(3)(a)(iii).
[14D, E, 16A-B, C-D] Williams' Will Trusts,
Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China and Anr. v. Williams and Ors.,
 1 All. ELR 536; Taramal v. Laxman Sewak Surey & Ors. 1971 MPLJ 888,
M. P. Sethurama Menon v. Thaiparambath
Kunhukutty Amma's daughter, Meenakshi Amma & Ors., AIR 1967 Kerala 88;
Bangalore Water-Supply Sewerage Board, etc.
v. R. Rajappa & Ors.,  3 SCR 207; Stuchbery & Ors. v. General
Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corp. Ltd.,  2 KBD 256;
2. It is a sound principle of construction
that, meaning of words and expressions used in an Act, must take their colour
from the context in which they appear. Neither the meaning, nor the definition
of a term in one statute, affords a guide to the construction of the same term
in another statute, more so, if the two Acts in which the same word is used,
are not cognate Acts and the sense in which a term has been understood in
several statutes, does not necessarily throw any light on the manner in which
it should be under stood generally. [14G-H & 15A] 13
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 2047 of 1969.
A Appeal by Special Leave from the Judgment
and Order dated 25-6-1969 of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in Civil Revision
Petition No. 346/67.
Y. S. Chitaley, S. K. Mehta, P. N. Puri and
E. M. Sarul Anam for the Appellant.
A. T. M. Sampath and P. N. Ramalingam for the
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
CHlNNAPPA REDDY, J.-The short question for consideration in this appeal is
whether the practice of the legal profession is 'business' within the meaning
of Section 10(3) (a) (iii) of the Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and
Eviction) Control Act, 1960. The question arises this way. The respondent, an
Advocate filed an application before the Rent Controller seeking eviction of
the appellant, his tenant, from the premises in question on the ground that he
required the premises for the purpose of carrying on his profession as an
Advocate. The application was contested by the appellant who was carrying on
the business of manufacturing art jewellery in the premises. We are not
concerned in this appeal with the several defences which were raised by the
appellant. Nor are we concerned with the vicissitudes which the case underwent.
For the purposes of this appeal it is sufficient to say that the final Court of
fact, namely the Chief Judge of the Court of Small causes, Hyderabad, found
that the respondent bona fide required the premises for the purpose of carrying
on his profession as an Advocate and that the tenancy was not such as could be
split up. The Appellate authorities passed an order of eviction against the
appellant. Before the High Court, in revision, it was contended by the
appellant that the practice of the profession of an Advocate was not business
within the meaning of Section 10(3) (a) (iii) and, therefore, the respondent
could not seek the eviction of the appellant on the ground that he required the
premises for the purpose of carrying on his profession as an Advocate. It was
contended that Section 10(3) (a) (iii) used the expression 'business' only and
not the expression 'profession.' The contention was negatived by a Division
Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh consisting of Gopalrao Ekbote and
Ramachandra Rao, JJ. The tenant has appealed by special leave to this Court.
Dr. Chitaley learned counsel for the
appellant argued that there was a clear distinction between 'business' and
'profession' and that the practice of a liberal profession like that of an
Advocate or a Doctor which 14 had nothing commercial about it was not business
within the meaning of Section 10 (3) (a) (iii) of the Andhra Pradesh Buildings
( Lease, Rent and Eviction) control Act 1960. He argued that though the Andhra
Pradesh Act broadly classified buildings into residential and non-residential
buildings, the landlord of a non-residential building could not seek to evict
his tenant on the ground of his requirement unless it was for the purpose of
carrying on a business. According to the learned Counsel this indicated that
the expression business was to be given a narrow meaning and was to be confined
to activities of a commercial nature. The learned Counsel also urged that the
Court should favour a construction which would be beneficient to the tenant.
Dr. Chitaley relied on M. P. Sethurama Menon v. Thaiparambath Kunhukutty Amma's
daughter, Meenakshi Amma and Ors. (1) Bangalore Water-Supply & Sewerage
Board etc. v. R. Rajappa & Ors. (2) and Stuchbery & Ors. v. General
Accident Fire and Life Insurance Corporation Ltd.(3) The expression business
has not been defined in the Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction)
Control Act, 1960. It is a common expression which is sometimes used by itself
and sometimes in a collocation of words as in "business, trade or
profession". It is a word of large and wide import,, capable of a variety
of meanings. It is needless to refer to the meanings given to that term in the
various Dictionaries except to say that everyone of them notices a large number
of meanings of the word. In a broad sense it is taken to mean everything that
occupies the time attention and labour of men for the purpose of livlihood or
profit'. In a narrow sense it is confined to commercial activity. It is obvious
that the meaning of the word must be gleaned from the context in which it is
used. Reference to the provisions of the Constitution or other statutes where!
the expression is used cannot be of any assistance in determining its meaning
in Section 10(3) (a) (iii) of the Andhra Pradesh Building (Lease, Rent and
Eviction) Control Act, 1960. It is not a sound principle of construction tn
interpret expressions used in one Act with reference to their use in another
Act; more so, if the two Acts in which the same word is used are not cognate
Acts. Neither the meaning, nor the definition of the term in one statute
affords a guide to the construction of the same term in another statute and the
sense in which the term has been understood in the several statutes does not
necessarily throw any light on the manner in which the term should be
understood generally. On the other hand it is a (1) A.I.R. 1967 Kerala 88.
(2)  3 S.C.R. 207.
(3)  2 K. B. D. 256.
15 sound, and, indeed, a well known principle
of construction that meaning of words and expressions used in an Act must take
their colour from the content in which they appear. Dr.
Chitaley very frankly and fairly conceded as
Now the Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent
and Eviction) Control Act, 1960, is an 'Act to consolidate, and amend the law
relating to the regulation of leasing of buildings, the control of rent thereof
an(l the prevention of unreasonable eviction of tenants therefrom in the State
of Andhra Pradesh. It applies to the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and
to all municipalities in the State of Andhra Pradesh. The provisions of the
Act, however, do not apply to buildings owned by the Government and to
buildings constructed on or after 26th August, 1957. Building is broadly
defined as meaning any house or hut or a part of a house or hut, let or to be
let separately for residential or nonresidential purposes. Landlord is defined
as the owner of a building, including a person who is receiving or is entitled
to receive the rent of a building, on his own account or on behalf of another
person etc. Tenant is defined as a person by whom or on whose account rent is
payable for a building. Section 4 provides for the determination of a fair rent
of a building on the application of the tenant or landlord. Section 10(1)
provides that a tenant shall not be evicted whether in execution of a decree or
otherwise except in accordance with the provisions of Sections 10, 12 and 13.
Section 10(2) mentions several grounds on which a landlord may seek to evict a
tenant. The grounds are default of payment of rent, sub-letting of premises,
used for a purpose other than that for which it was leased, commission of acts
of waste, conduct amounting to nuisance to the occupiers of the other portions
in the same building, securing of alternative accommodation by the tenant and
denial of the title of the landlord. The grounds mentioned in Section 10(2)
apply both to residential and non-residential buildings. Section 10(3) (a) (i)
provides for the eviction of a tenant where the landlord of a residential
building requires it for his own occupation. Section 10(3)(a)(iii) provides for
the eviction of a tenant from a non-residential building where "the
landlord is not occupying a non-residential building in a city town or village
concerned which is his own or to the possession of which he is entitled whether
under the Act or otherwise-(a) for the purpose of a business which he is carrying
on on the date of the application, or (b) for the purpose of a business which
in the opinion of the Controller, the landlord bona-fide proposes to
Section 12 and 13 contain special provisions
relating to recovery of buildings by landlord for the purpose of effecting
repairs, alterations or additions or for reconstruction. The scheme of the Act
is to prevent unreasonable eviction of 16 tenants by landlords and to provide
for eviction on specified grounds. The Act is of general application and its
protection not confined to any classes of tenants nor is the right to evict
under the Act limited to any class of landlords. There is no reason why a
landlord who is a member of the legal or medical professions and who requires
the premises for carrying on the practice of his profession should be wholly
debarred from obtaining possession of the premises. It is impossible to
discover any reason for so making a discrimination against the liberal
But, that would be the result if the expression
'business' is given a narrow meaning which the appellant wants us to give to
that expression. It would indeed be anamolous to hold that all the provisions
of the Act including Section 4 which provides for the determination of fair
rent and Section 10(1) which bars the eviction of tenants apply to
nonresidential buildings owned by an Advocate but not Section 10 (3) (a) (iii)
only. In our view the expression business occurring in Section 10(3)(a)(iii) is
used in a wide sense so as to include the practice of the profession of an
The Kerala High Court in M.P. Sethurama Menon
v. Meenakshi Amma & Ors., (supra) construed the expression 'trade or
business' as connoting commercial activity and as not including the practice of
the legal profession. The learned Judges referred to Article 19(1)(g) of the
Constitution, Section 49 of the Advocates Act, 1961, the Madras Shops and
Establishments Act, 1947 and drew a distinction between the words 'business'
and 'profession.' As mentioned by us earlier, we do not think that it is right
to ascribe to the word 'business' occurring in the Andhra Pradesh Buildings
(Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1960, the same meaning that the word may
have when it occurs in other statutory provisions. The word must be interpreted
in the context of the statute in which it occurs and not in the context of
other statutes or in a manner alien to the context of the statute concerned.
In Bangalore Water-Supply & Sewerage
Board etc. v. R. Rajappa Ors., (supra) Chandrachud, J. (as he then was)
observed ".. I find myself unable to accept the broad formulation that a
Solicitor's establishment cannot be an industry. A Solicitor, undoubtedly, does
not carry on trade or business when he acts for his client or advises him or
pleads for him, if and when pleading is permissible to him.
He pursues a profession which is variously
and justifiably described as learned, liberal or noble." The observations
of the Learned Judge were made in the context of the question whether a
Solicitor's establishment would fall within the definition of 'industry' under
the 17 Industrial Disputes Act. It would be most unwise to apply this A
observation to determine whether the practice of the liberal professions is
within the meaning of the expression 'business' in Rent Control legislation.
In Stuchbery & Ors. v. General Accident
Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Ltd., (supra) it was observed that the
carrying on of a Solicitor's business was the carrying on of a profession and
was not the carrying on of a trade or business within the meaning of that
phrase in the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1927. The observation was made in the
context of that Act which made a distinction between 'trade or business' and
'profession'. In fact sub-section 3(a) of Section 17 of the Act expressly said:
"for the purposes of this Section premises shall not be deemed to be
premises used for carrying on there at a trade or business by reason of their
being used for the purpose of carrying on there at any profession". The
question in that case was about the right to compensation for the goodwill
attached to the premises where the "business" or
"profession" was being carried on. We do not think 1 that the case is
of any help to the appellant.
We may refer here to the decision of
Danckwerts, J., in Re Williams' Will Trusts, Chartered Bank of India, Australia
and China and Another v. Williams and Others.(1) where the question was whether
the bequest to a son for the purpose of starting him in 'business' was
affective to start the son in medical practice. The learned Judge held that it
did, observing that the word 'business' was capable of including the practice
of a profession and that it plainly included the profession of a Doctor.
We may refer to just one more case i.e.
Taramal v. Laxman Sewak Surey Ors(2) where this very question whether the
practice of law was a 'business' within the meaning of the Madhya Pradesh
Accommodation Control Act came for consideration before A. P. Sen, J. The
learned Judge held that in the context of the Madhya Pradesh Act, the word
'business' had to be given a wide meaning so as to include any profession.
We, therefore, agree with the High Court that
the practice of law is 'business' within the meaning of that expression in
Section 10(3) (a) (iii) of the Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and
Eviction) Control Act, 196(). The appeal is, therefore, dismissed with costs.
M. R. Appeal dismissed.
(1)  All E.R. 536.
(2)  M.P.L.J. 888.