Kashinath Ravant & Anr Vs. Vinayak N.Joshi & Ors  INSC 532 (11 November 1998)
Ahmad, K.T.Thomas Thomas J.
are landlords of one Ms. Shanta Sabnis.
building situate at Benham
Hall Lane, Grigaum,
Mumbai is owned by the appellants and was let out to the aforementioned Shanta Sabnis.
Appellants succeeded in obtaining an order of eviction from the Court of Small
Causes, Bombay, on the ground, inter alia, that
the premises were sub-let to respondents 1 & 2. That order was confirmed in
appeal. But the High Court of Bombay interfered with it under Article 227 of
the Constitution of India and quashed the decree for eviction. Hence, the
landlords have filed the Special Leave Petition.
more facts are these :
Sabnis, the original tenant, died and her mother, who was living with her, also
died later. Second respondent claimed to be the daughter of Shanta Sabnis.
filed a suit for eviction on different grounds, main among them was that the
premises were sub-let to the fourth respondent (who was third dependent in the
the pendency of the suit landlords got the plaint amended for incorporating a
further allegation that first respondent and his sister were inducted into the
building after institution of the suit without the consent of the landlords.
respondent (who was arrayed as second defendant in the suit) contended that she
is the only daughter of Shanta Sabnis and hence the tenancy right has devolved
on her with the death of her mother. She disputed the contention of the
appellants that the building had been sublet to the third respondent but stated
that she was allowed by her mother and grand-mother to reside in the building
for the purpose of looking after her mother and grand-mother who were old and
respondent admitted that he is in possession of the suit premises. But he
contended that he was permitted by the tenant to occupy the building on leave
and licence basis under an agreement dated 16.10.1971 and he continued in such
possession on 1.2.1973 and also thereafter. So the first respondent claimed
protection under Section 15A of the Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates
Control Act, 1947 (for short the 'Act').
Court found that second defendant is the daughter of the original tenant Shanta
Sabnis and that the case of landlords regarding sub-letting to the third
defendant is not a subsisting issue to be considered because the third
defendant had already vacated the premises. Trial court further found that first
respondent was inducted into possession by the second defendant. The claim made
by first respondent for protection under Section 15A of the Act was repelled
and the trial court concluded that induction of first respondent into the
building amounted to unlawful subletting. On the strength of the above finding
a decree for eviction was granted.
appellate authority under the Act confirmed the decree for eviction, but went a
step further by holidng that sub-letting to third defendant would also ensure to
the ground of eviction under Section 13(1) (e) of the Act despite the fact that
the aforesaid sub-tenant later vasated the premises.
single judge of the High Court approached the issue from a new angle untouched
by the trial court and the appellate authority. Learned single judge observed
first that appellants have not treated the second defendant as their tenant and
secondly that there is no clear averment in the plaint to the effect that the
building has been sub-let to the first respondent.
following is the summed up reasoning made by the leaned single judge for
upsetting the concurrent finding:
is therefore, clear that in order to be entitled to a decree of eviction
against the tenant on the ground of unlawful sub-letting an averment in the
Plaint is a must that the tenant has unlawfully sub-let the suit premises. It
is clear from the allegation in the plaint that the plaintiffs were not
treating any of the named defendants as their tenants. The Tenant of the plaintiffs
viz. Ms. Shanta had expired before institution of the suit. Therefore, there is
no question of the plaintiffs being in a position to make a statement that the
tenant inducted defendants No. 4 and 5 as unlawful subtenant. In these
circumstances, therefore, in may opinion, a decree of eviction could not have
been passed against the petitioner under section 13(1)(e) of the Act because
averments necessary for passing a decree under Section 13(1)(e) of the Act
itself were absent in the Plaint. Therefore, in my opinion, both the courts
below have committed grave error of law in overlooking these aspects of the
matter which were crucial for deciding the controversy in the matter." The
High Court was not justified in non-suiting the appellants on the premise that
they have "no where treated the second defendant as their tenant."
The clear averments in the plaint regarding the tenant are the following:
Miss Shanta B.Sabnis during her life time was Plaintiffs' monthly tenant in
respect of the building bearing No. 7 on a monthly rent of Rs.12.85.
said Miss Shanta B. Sabnis died some time ago leaving behind her mother as the
heir and legal representative. However, in or about the month of February 1970
the said mother of the said Miss Shanta B.Sabnis also died. The plaintiffs in
spite of efforts have not been able to get the names and addresses of the heirs
and legal representatives of the said Miss Shanta B.Sabis. Defendant No. 2
claims to be the daughter of the said Miss Shanta B.Sabnis. According to the
Plaintiffs information the said Miss Shanta B.Sabnis was a spinster till her
death and hence the Plaintiffs do not admit that the defendant No.2 is the heir
and legal representative of the said Miss Shanta B.Sabnis.
in view of her contention Defendant No.2 has been joined as a party to this
suit." It admits of no doubt that appellants have clearly recognised Ms. Shanta
Sabnis as their tenant in respect of the suit premises. On her death it became
doubtful for the appellants to spell out who are the real legal heirs of the
said tenant. Whoever are the legal heirs, they become entitled to the tenancy
right and hence appellants left it to the court to finally say as to who among
the claimants are the legal heirs. An approach adopted by the appellants by way
of abundant caution cannot now be used against him for non-suiting him
altogether. It must be remembered that when trial court found the second
defendant as the sole heir of Ms. Shanta Sabnis appellants submitted to that
finding as they are not interested in any dispute between different claimants
to the legal heir-ship of the original tenant.
the second aspect i.e. subletting to the first respondent, the High Court has
obviously exceeded its jurisdiction by upsetting the concurrent finding of
facts reached by the two fact finding courts, on a very fragile reasoning that
there was no sufficient averment in the plaint regarding the ground under
Section 30(1)(e) of the Act.
plaint, as it originally stood the following averment was made as regards the
case of subletting to the third defendant:
said premises have been unlawfully sublet to the third defendant who is at
present in unlawful occupation of the said premises. The third defendant is
further about to part with possession to a third party." It was the case
of the appellants that during the pendency of the suit first respondent and his
sister (second respondent) were unlawfully, inducted into possession of the
building. So appellants moved an application for amendment of the building. So
appellants moved an application for amendment of the plaint and the same was
granted by the trial court. In the plaint so amended paragraph 5-A was
inserted, the material portion of which reads thus:
Plaintiffs say that pending the suit the defendants have or any of them has
inducted in the suit premises Defendant Nos. 4 & 5 unlawfully."
Learned Single Judge treated the aforesaid pleading as insufficient to make out
a case for subletting. This was not a point considered by or even raised before
the two fact finding forums. Order 6 Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure (For
short 'the Code') confers powers on the Court to order a party to make a
further statement or even a better statement or further and better particulars
of any matter already mentioned in the pleading. This is incorporated in the
Code to indicate that no suit shall be dismissed merely on the ground that more
particulars are not stated in the pleadings. If the contesting respondents, or
any of them had raised objection that the pleading was scanty perhaps
appellants would have further elaborated it as provided in Rule 5 above. At any
rate this should not have been a premise on which interference by the High
Court Should have been made in exercising a jurisdiction of superintendence
under Article 227 of the Constitution.
apart, the averment extracted above cannot by any standard be dubbed as bereft
of sufficiency in pleading.
Order 6 Rule 2(1) of the Code the requirement is the following:
pleading shall contain, and contain only, a statement in a concise form of the
material facts on which the party pleading relies for his claim or defence, as
the case may be, but not the evidence by which they are to be proved.
object of the Rule is two-fold. First is to afford the other said intimation
regarding the particular facts of hiscase so that they may be met by the other
is to enable the court to determine what is really the issue between the
parties. The words in the sub-rule "a statement in a concise form" are
definitely suggestive that brevity should be adhered to while drafting
pleadings. Of course brevity should not be at the cost of setting out necessary
facts, but it does not mean niggling in the pleadings. If care is taken in the
syntactic process, pleadings can be saved from tautology. Elaboration of facts
in pleadings is not the ideal measure and that is why the sub-rule embodied the
words "and contain only" just before the succeeding words "a
statement in a concise form of the material facts".
Court has indicated the position in Manphul Singh vs. Surinder Singh (AIR 1973
SC 2158). On a subsequent occasion this court has again reiterated the
principle in M/s. Genesh trading Co. vs Moji Ram (AIR 1978 SC 484). Following
observations made in the said decision are useful in this context:
law is intended to facilitate and not to obstruct the course of substantive
relating to pleadings in civil cases are meant to give to each side intimation
of the case of the other so that it may be met to enable Courts to determine
what is really at issue between parties, and to prevent deviations from the
course which litigation on particular causes of action must take."
sufficient notice to the other side that he was putting forth a case that first
respondent was inducted into the premises by the tenant and such induction is
unlawful. Appellant could not made a further elaboration as to who is the legal
heir of the original tenant and Nance appellant adopted the cautious approach
without committing themselves as to who, among the rival claimants to the legal
heir-ship of Ms. Shanta Sabnis is responsible for such unlawful act. We are,
therefore, of the clear view that learned single judge ought not have disturbed
the concurrent findings on such an erroneous consideration.
Court has thus erred as it exceeded its jurisdiction. Hence we allow this
appeal and set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court and restore the
order of the trial court as confirmed by the appellate court.