Chand Bhandari (D) by LRS. & ANR. Vs. National Engineering Industry Ltd.
 INSC 1602 (17 September 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.
1320 OF 2005 Rishab Chand Bhandari (D) by .... Appellants Lrs. & Anr.
National Engineering Industry .... Respondent Ltd.
O R D E R
Heard learned counsel for the parties.
This appeal has been filed against the judgment and order dated
17.01.2005 of the Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Rajasthan
Bench at Jaipur whereby the learned Division Bench has set aside the order of
the learned Single Judge dated 23.08.2001 and restored that of the Trial Court,
i.e., the Addl. District Judge No. 5, Jaipur City, Jaipur dated 31.07.1993.
The respondent-plaintiff filed a suit for eviction against the
appellants-defendants and for deposit of arrears of rent. The said suit was
decreed by the Trial Court. In appeal the said decree was set aside by the
learned Single Judge of the High Court, which order has been set aside by the
learned Division Bench by the impugned order. Hence, 2 this appeal by special
The facts in brief are that the suit premises admittedly belonged
to Sitaram Bhandar Trust (hereinafter for short 'the Trust') and the Trust is
the owner of the suit premises. The respondent, claiming that it was authorized
by the Trust to do so, alleged that it had let out the premises in dispute to
appellant No.2 (defendant No. 1 in the suit) and was collecting rent from it.
However, thereafter, the defendant No. 1 started paying rent to one Ram Das
Modani who claimed to be an employee of the Trust.
respondent then filed a suit for eviction and arrears of rent against the
appellants alleging that the appellants had committed default in payment of
Under the Rajasthan Premises (Control of Rent & Eviction) Act,
1950, under Section 3(iii) the word 'landlord' has been defined as under:-
"landlord" means any person who for the time being is receiving or is
entitled to receive the rent of any premises, whether on his own account or as
an agent, trustee, guardian or receiver or any other person or who would so
receive or be entitled to receive the rent if the premises were let to a
tenant; it includes a tenant in relation 3 to a sub-tenant".
Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that there were no
arrears of rent as rent was being paid to Ram Das Modani, who was collecting
rent on behalf of the Trust.
submitted that there was no default in payment of rent.
On the other hand learned counsel for the respondent submitted
that the respondent company was the landlord and hence rent should have been
paid to it and thus there was default in payment of rent. He further submitted
that it was the respondent who had let out the premises and accordingly in
terms of the Act it was entitled to receive rent.
We have heard learned counsel for the parties. We are required to
interpret the word 'landlord' as provided under the Act.
In our opinion a purposive, and not literal interpretation has to
be given to the definition of 'landlord' in the Act.
The natural landlord of a premises is ordinarily the owner.
However, an expanded definition has been given in various rent statutes of many
States for the reason that sometimes the owner may not himself be in a position
to 4 collect the rent and may hence appoint an agent or authorize any person to
collect rent on his behalf because he may be abroad or is unable to do so for
any other reason. This does not mean that the natural meaning of the word
'landlord', who is the owner of the premises, would disappear and that the
owner goes out of the picture altogether. This is the view taken by the Delhi
High Court RLR, 641. We approve of the view taken in the said decision. If we
interpret the definition of 'landlord' in the Act literally it will result in
mean that even if the owner, who is the natural landlord, does not want to
evict a tenant, his agent may do so. Surely this is an absurd situation. It is
well settled that if a literal interpretation leads to absurd consequences, it
should be avoided, and a purposive interpretation be given.
In the present case the respondent has not been able to show that
it was authorized in writing to act on behalf of the Trust either by a power of
attorney or any other written document. Unless there is some documentary proof
that the Trust had authorized its agent to file a suit for eviction on its
behalf, it cannot be said that the 5 respondent had any right to file such a
suit, even though it had actually let out the premises to the appellant and
collected rent. The respondent is admittedly not the owner of the premises, and
only claims to be the agent of the Trust.
On the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the opinion
that this aspect of the matter needs to be gone into by the Trial Court.
Accordingly, we allow this appeal and set aside the impugned judgment and order
of the Division Bench and that of the learned Single Judge and remand the
matter to the Trial Court. Before the Trial Court, the respondent will have
liberty to produce any documentary evidence to show that the Trust had
authorized it in writing to receive rent and file suit for eviction on behalf
of the Trust. The respondent-plaintiff shall also implead the Trust as
proforma-defendant before the Trial Court.
The Trial Court shall decide the suit uninfluenced by any
observations made by us in our order or the observations made by the Division
Bench and learned Single Judge of the High Court or the earlier decree of the
Trial Court. All contentions are left open to the parties to be urged before
the Trial Court.
Appeal allowed. No order as to the costs.
.....................J. (MARKANDEY KATJU)
.....................J. (ASOK KUMAR GANGULY)