|CITATION||AIR 1990 SC 897|
|COURT||Supreme Court of India|
|JUDGES/CORAM||Justice A.M. Ahmadi|
|DATE OF JUDGEMENT||30.01.1990|
The present case deals with The U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972. It was an appeal against the decisions of the lower courts. It was a suit for eviction filed by the landlord Suresh Chand and contested by the tenant Gulam Chisti. It dealt with the idea of “interpretation of statutes”.
The facts of the case are as follows: In the present case, Suresh Chand who happened to be the landlord of the property, had given it on rent to one Gulam Chisti, in the year 1967, the very year the property had seen completion of construction.
The Appellant, Mr Chand had then in the year 1972, before the The U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 had commenced, filed a suit for eviction of the tenant Mr Gulam Chisti from the aforementioned property. Meanwhile in order to extract benefit out of the provisos of the said act of 1972, the tenant-respondent deposited on September 2, 1977 an amount of Rs 4005 being the arrears of rent inclusive of interest and cost. Such payment was made within one month after the expiry of the period of ten years stipulated in Section 2(2) of the Act to take advantage of Section 39 of the Act. The eviction suit was admittedly filed on May 27, 1972 i.e. before the commencement of the Act i.e. July 15, 1972. The provisions of the old Act did not apply to the suit. This appeal had been filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court against the Judgment of the High Court.
The main issue in the case was: Whether or not a tenant of a premise constructed in 1967 would be entitled to the privilege under Section 39 of the U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 in the eviction suit instituted before the Act came into being?
Summary of court decision and judgment
The trial court gave the benefit to the tenant and did not order for any eviction. The Second Additional District Judge rejected the revision petition and thus the appellant approached the High Court, who stayed the order of the lower courts. The High Court in its decision put reliance on the judgment of R.D. Ram Nath & Co. v. Girdhari Lal thus rejecting the appellant-landlord’s review application.
In the appeal, the Hon’ble Apex Court acknowledged the fact that the dispute is regarding the interpretation of Section 39 of the Act and thus proceeded to hear both the counsels regarding the same. The said Section has been extracted hereunder:
“39. Pending suits for eviction relating to building brought under regulation for the first time.—In any suit for eviction of a tenant from any building to which the old Act did not apply, pending on the date of commencement of this Act, where the tenant within one month from such date of commencement or from the date of his knowledge of the pendency of the suit, whichever be later, deposits in the court before which the suit is pending, the entire amount of rent and damages for use and occupation (such damages for use and occupation being calculated at the same rate as rent) together with interest thereon at the rate of 9 per cent per annum and the landlord’s full cost of the suit, no decree for eviction shall be passed except on any of the grounds mentioned in the proviso to sub-section (1) or in clauses (b) to (g) of sub-section (2) of Section 20, and parties shall be entitled to make necessary amendment in their pleadings and to adduce additional evidence where necessary.”
After going through the provisos, it was clear that the Section had been so drafted by the legislature to prevent the eviction of a tenant only on the grounds of failure to pay rent if in such a case the tenant deposits the amount due with the said interest within the stipulated time frame as mentioned in the provision.
The Hon’ble Court thus observed that legislature intended to limit the range of the appliance of Sections 39 and 40 to suits, appeals and revisions until on the date of initiation of the Act, i.e. July 15, 1972, in regard to such buildings to which the previous Act did not apply and to which the new Act was to apply forthwith and not later.
The Court further observed that it was clear from the fact that the aforementioned section seeked for the deposition of amount overdue of rent and damages both with interest at a rate of 9% within a month from ‘such date of commencement’ meaning the date of commencement of the Act. To put it in simpler language and for better understanding, the aforementioned section expected the tenant to make the deposit within one month from July 15, 1972. This would not have been doable unless the said Act was to apply to the building forthwith. It was further observed that the benefit of such extended date was to be given to those cases where the information about the pendency of the Court proceedings was gained after July 15, 1972.
For instance in a case where the suit had been filed in a court of law before July 15 1972, but however the summons had been made by the Court in a month later than the said date, say in November 1972, the tenant would have to make the required deposit within and under one month from the execution of such summon by the Court, in order to gain the privilege under Section 39 of the Act.
Thus the Court made it very clear that The expression ‘such’ preceding the word ‘commencement’ in the said section was very evidently evocative of the fact that it a reference was being made to the date of commencement of the Act and any such payment should be completed within and under a month from the commencement of the Act. The Hon’ble Court also put emphasis on the ratio of the Hon’ble Court in Ram Swaroop Rai case.
The Court was thus of the belief that the courts below had erred in their judgments while giving meaning to Section 39 of the Act and thus while giving the benefit to the tenant. The facts of the case clearly showed that the tenant had not in any case made such payment to the appellant landlord within a month of the commencement of the Act, and had instead made it sometime in 1977, and thus he would not be able to extract the privilege under Section 39 of the Act. The Hon’ble Supreme Court thus set aside the judgments of the Courts below and allowed the appeal of the landlord.
It was also argued by the counsel for the appellant that the phrase ‘commencement of this Act’ should be read down as to be understood as the date on which the moratorium period expired. But the Court specified that the Court would refrain from allotting varied meanings to the same expression appearing at two places in the same section. The Court was also of the view that allowing such things to happen would lead to the tenant extending the litigation period purposefully with intent to acquire the privilege under Section 39, which would be out rightly unjust.
I am of the view that the Court’s decision was appropriate and correct. The Hon’ble Court did not leave any doubt at all regarding its stand as it gave a very lengthy and a detailed judgment after having had relied on several other Judgments. The judgment also conforms to the existing laws and the Court in its judgment gave excellent reasoning and analysis for the judgment.
To conclude, I am of the belief that when it comes to matters relating to disputes between Landlord and Tenant, the present case stands out as an excellent case of application of the law and interpretation of the statute. By the facts of the case, it looked very clear that the appellant’s claim was bound to see the same fate it had seen in the Courts below, as Section 39 of the UP Rent Act clearly granted the privilege under such circumstances to the tenant. But in what can be termed as an excellent application of logic to law, the Supreme Court interpreted the said section very correctly and gave every reason for doing so. Thus, I am of the belief that the Court was very reasonable in setting aside the orders of the Court below and allowing the appeal of the Landlord and thus ensuring that justice was meted out.
 1975 All LJ 1.
 (1980) 3 SCC 452.