Ahmad Vs. Sham Lal & Anr  Insc 68 (8 February 2002)
Shah Mohammed Quadri & S.N. Variava Syed Shah Mohammed Quadri, J.
appeal arises from the judgment and order of the High Court of Punjab & Haryana
in Civil Revision No.872 of 1996 dated May 28, 1998. By that order the High Court
upheld the judgment of the Appellate Authority in R.A.No.206 of 20.5.94 dated February 3, 1996 confirming the order of the learned
Rent Controller dated April
appellant is the tenant of a portion of the first floor of 'shop-cum-flat',
S.C.F.No.14, Sector 22, Chandigarh (hereinafter referred to as 'the
premises') of which the respondents are the landlords. The relationship between
the appellant and the respondents is governed by the provisions of the East
Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 which was extended to Chandigarh by the
East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction (Extension to Chandigarh) Act, 1974 and
subsequently amended by the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction (Chandigarh
Amendment) Act, 1982 (for short 'the Act').
respondents filed a petition for eviction of the appellant on two grounds but
what survives for consideration is the ground of bona fide requirement of the
respondents for residential purposes, under Section 13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act.
appellant contested the eviction petition, inter alia, on the ground that the
premises let out to him is a non-residential building and, therefore, his
eviction cannot be sought under the said provision. The learned Rent Controller
found the ground of bona fide requirement in favour of the respondents and
recorded the finding that the premises is a part of a residential building.
Accordingly, it ordered eviction of the appellant by its order dated April 6, 1994. The appellant's appeal before the
Appellate Authority having been dismissed on February 3, 1996, he filed Civil Revision No.872 of 1996 in the High Court
which was also dismissed by an order dated May 28, 1998 in terms of the judgment in Civil
Revision No.1085 of 1995. That order of the High Court is under challenge in
the learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant, has contended that the
courts below recorded an erroneous finding that the premises which is a part of
'shop- cum-flat', is a residential building. He argued that the letter of
allotment, the conveyance deed and the plan would clearly show that the
building was a non-residential building, as such the eviction petition ought to
have been dismissed by all the courts. Mr.Manoj Swarup, the learned counsel
appearing for the respondents, relying on the same documents has submitted that
the first floor of the 'shop-cum-flat' is a residential building and this is
evident from the fact that it is termed as shop-cum-flat; the learned Rent
Controller, the Appellate Authority as well as the High Court rightly held the
premises to be a residential building.
short question that arises for consideration is :
the respondents are entitled to seek eviction of the appellant under Section
13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act.
as the respondents' petition was filed under Section 13(3)(a)(i)(a) of the Act
it would be appropriate to quote it here :
Eviction of tenants - (3)(a). A landlord may apply to the Controller for an
order directing the tenant to put the landlord in possession -- (i) in the case
of a residential [* * *] building if –
requires it for his own occupation;
(d) *** *** *** *** Proviso *** *** *** ***." A plain reading of the
provision shows that a landlord is enabled to apply to the Rent Controller for
an order directing the tenant to put the landlord in possession in case of a
residential building if he requires it for his own occupation. It is manifest
that the aforementioned provision can be invoked only in case of a residential
building. The controversy in this case centers round the question, whether the
premises is a residential building. The ground floor is admittedly a shop
portion. The dispute is about the first floor. If the first floor of the
'shop-cum-flat' is held to be a residential building, the answer to the
question must be in the affirmative but if it is held to be non-residential
building, the answer should be in the negative. It will be useful to refer to
the definition of the expression "residential building" in clause (g)
of Section 2 of the Act which reads :
"residential building" means any building which is not a
non-residential building." This definition is somewhat circular. It
defines the said expression in terms of 'non-residential building' which is
defined in clause (d) as follows :
"non-residential building" means a building being used solely for the
purpose of business or trade." It is thus clear that if a building is
being used solely for the purpose of business or trade, it is a non-residential
building and a building other than a non-residential building is a residential
building. In this case the appellant has been using the premises solely for the
purpose of running a Hair Dressing Saloon from the inception of the tenancy, from
July 22, 1974. This should, if nothing more is
required to be considered, answer the question in the negative. But we have to
ascertain the import of the expression 'shop-cum-flat' on the facts of this
courts below as well as the High Court having regard to the meaning of the word
'flat' in that expression treated the ground floor as a shop and the first
floor as a flat and on that basis held that the premises is a residential
building. In our view, the approach in interpreting the expression 'shop-cum-
flat' having regard to the dictionary meaning of the word 'flat' is not proper.
Courts ought not to be unmindful of the consequence of too much reliance on the
dictionaries and Lexicons lest they go astray in interpreting recitals in a
deed or document or provisions in a Statute. In Commissioner of Income Tax, Orissa
& Ors. vs. M/s.N.C. Budharaja and Company & Ors. (1994 Supp. (1) SCC
280)], this Court observed :
words are : "construction, manufacture or production of any one or more of
the articles and things....." and "construction, manufacture or
production of any articles and things......" respectively. It is equally
evident that in these sub- clauses as well as in the IXth Schedule and XIth
Schedule, the words 'articles' and 'things' are used inter-changeably. In the
scheme and context of the provision, it would not be right to isolate the word
"thing", ascertain its meaning with reference to Law Lexicons and
attach to it a meaning which it was never intended to bear. A statute cannot always
be construed with the dictionary in one hand and the statute in the other.
Regard must also be had to the scheme, context and -- as in this case -- to the
legislative history of the provision." [See also : State Bank of India vs.
Shri N. Sundara Money (1976 (3) SCR 160)].
said expression is not defined in the Act. It is not a technical expression and
not a term of art; so it has to be understood in its popular sense, that is, as
commonly understood. In that sense it is capable of being understood both as a
'residential' as well as a 'non-residential' building.
the expression 'shop-cum-flat' does not always mean that the ground floor of
the building is meant for shops and the first and the higher floors are
residential accommodation in the building. The correct approach would be to
refer to the context in which the expression appears and then construe it.
Undoubtedly, dictionaries including law dictionaries will be useful guides in
the task of interpretation deeds and statutes provided appropriate meaning
which fits in the context is chosen; otherwise it will be a fruitless exercise
nay misleading course if a meaning de hors the context in which it appears,
were to be opted. [See : Mangoo Singh vs. The Election Tribunal, Bareilly & Ors. (1958 SCR 418)].
Narain vs. The State of Uttar
Pradesh & Ors. [AIR
1957 SC 18], a Constitution Bench of this Court laid down that the meanings of
the words and phrases in an Act must take their colour from the context in
which they appear.
learned counsel for the parties relied upon the following recitals in the
letter of allotment and the deed of conveyance in support of their respective
contentions - Mr.Mahajan to dislodge the conclusion arrived at and Mr.Swarup to
support the impugned order of the High Court.
letter of allotment provides :
following commercial site is hereby allotted to you on the conditions mentioned
hereunder :- -------------------------------------------------------------
Sector Serial No. Approximate Price Remarks of site dimensions
------------------------------------------------------------- 22-D 14 33.70
26,000/- S.C.F. 256 .667 sq. yards
------------------------------------------------------------" This shows
that even at the time of allotment of the site itself, it was shown as
commercial. A reading of clause 18 of the letter of allotment would be
The site is classed as 'commercial' and the building to be erected on it shall
not be used for the residential purpose unless otherwise specified in the plans
supplied by the Government." (emphasis supplied) This clause places the
position beyond any doubt. It puts an embargo on the use of the building for
residential purpose unless the plan supplied by the Government specified it as
a residential building. Clause 6 directs that the building shall have to be
constructed in accordance with the design which will be supplied by the
Government after the building plans have been sanctioned. We have also perused
the plan of the first floor (Annexure P-5). The design of the plan does not
provide for bed-rooms etc. We find no provision for bathroom and no provision
for kitchen, on the contrary a room is shown as 'office'. There is nothing in
the plan which indicates that a residential accommodation is specified therein.
perusal of Clause 20 which says that the shop-cum-flat constructed on a site
sold for general trade, will be a shop for trades (except those excluded
therein) and prohibits cooking and use of fire among other things, also
suggests that residential building was not contemplated.
attention was invited to the following recitals in the deed of conveyance
OF CONVEYANCE of a site at Chandigarh
sold by auction to be used as a site for commercial purpose in the New Capital
of Punjab at Chandigarh." (emphasis added) They also emphasise
the commercial aspect of the building.
whereas the Punjab Government has sanctioned the sale of the site to the
transferee in consideration of the sum of Rs.26,000/- (Rupees Twenty six
thousand only) for the purpose of building shop-cum-flat and using the same
exclusively for general trade (or restaurant i.e.
portions)." (emphasis added) From these recitals, in the deed of conveynace,
the letter of allotment of the site, the plan and the agreement of tenancy it
is evident that 'shop-cum-flat' is a non-residential building within the
meaning of the Act and we have absolutely no doubt that the premises is a part
of a non-residential building and in view of the embargo, noticed above, cannot
be used for residential purposes. The High Court was, therefore, not correct to
construe the word 'flat' in the expression 'shop-cum- flat' out of context with
reference to the dictionary meaning of the word.
relied on the judgment of this Court in Chandigarh Housing Board & Anr. vs.
Narinder Kaur Makol [2000 (6) SCC 415] to show that in the expression
'shop-cum- flat', the first floor is meant for residential purposes. In the
light of the above discussion, it is too broad a proposition to merit
acceptance. In that case, the building was in a different sector and the
requirement of the Chief Architect and the Secretary of the Board was that the
ground floor should be the shop and the first and second floors should be
constructed as residential flats, therefore, the said judgment is clearly
distinguishable on the facts of that case. In the instant case, we have already
held, the first floor is meant for non-residential purposes and cannot be
treated as residential building.
relied on Section 11 of the Act to contend that the first floor cannot be
allowed to be converted into a non- residential building. It is recorded to be
rejected. Section 11 of the Act prohibits conversion of a residential building
into a non-residential building. In the case on hand, a non-residential
building is sought to be converted into a residential building, Section 11 has,
therefore, no application.
the above reasons, the order of the High Court under challenge cannot be
sustained; it is accordingly set aside. The eviction petition filed by the
respondents is liable to be dismissed. Accordingly, we allow the appeal and
dismiss the application of the respondents for eviction of the appellant. In
the facts and circumstances of the case, we make no order as to costs.
Shah Mohammed Quadri] .................................................J.
February 8, 2002.