Tuesday, 13 June 2017

When civil court will have jurisdiction to try rent case?

i) Rights of the parties stand crystallised on the date of the institution of the
suit and, therefore, the law applicable on the date of filing of the suit will
continue to apply until suit is disposed of or adjudicated.
ii) If during the pendency of the suit, Rent Act becomes applicable to the
premises in question, that would be of no consequence and it would not
take away the jurisdiction of civil court to dispose of a suit validly
instituted.
iii) In order to oust the jurisdiction of civil court, there must be a specific
provision in the Act taking away the jurisdiction of the civil court in
respect of those cases also which were validly instituted before the date
when protection of Rent Act became available in respect of the said
area/premises/tenancy.
iv) In case aforesaid position is not accepted and the protection of the Rent
Act is extended even in respect of suit validly instituted prior in point of
time when there was no such protection under the Act, it will have the
consequence of making the decree, that is obtained prior to the Rent Act
becoming applicable to the said area/premises, inexecutable after the
application of these Rent Act in respect of such premises. This would
not be in consonance with the legislative intent.
17) In laying down the aforesaid dicta, the Court also took support of two
well known maxims viz. (i) ubi jus ibi remedium which lays down the
principle that where there is a right there is a remedy and it can be
excluded only by substantial legislation expressly extinguishing the said
right AND (ii) actus curiae neminem gravabit, which means that nobody
should be allowed to suffer because of the act of the Court. Here the act
attributed is delay in disposal of the case. Additionally, the Court took aid
of purposive interpretation i.e. legislative intent in not making Rent Act
applicable to new constructions for a period of ten years. 
18) What we notice is that in the impugned judgment, the High Court has
divided the cases into two categories and restricted the law laid down in
the aforesaid judgments only in respect of those category of cases
where Rent Act exempts from its applicability newly constructed
properties for a period of ten years. Second category of cases carved
out covers those cases where the Rent Act was not applicable when the
suit was filed but extended to the area/premises in question during the
pendency of the suit. In respect of later category the High Court held
that the dicta in the aforesaid judgments would not be applicable and the
moment Rent Act is extended to such areas where the premises are
situate, civil court shall cease to have jurisdiction to continue with the
suits though instituted even at a point of time when Rent Act was not
applicable. This distinction, according to us, is illusory. The principles of
law laid down in the aforesaid judgment as culled out above would apply
in equal force to second category of cases as well inasmuch as the basic
principle which is laid down in the aforesaid judgments is that rights of
the parties get crystallised on the date of the institution of the suit and
the law applicable on the date of filing the suit would continue to govern
such suit.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8194 OF 2016
RAJENDER BANSAL & ORS. 
V
BHURU (D) THR. LRS. & ORS.
Dated:OCTOBER 18, 2016.
Citation: (2017) 4 SCC 202

The appellants in this appeal are the landlords who had filed suit
for eviction of the respondents herein, their tenants. Suit was filed in the
Civil Court. The premises in-question were outside the ambit of rent
legislation. It is because of this reason that civil suit for
possession/ejectment was filed. However, during the pendency of the
suit and before it could be finally decided, the area in question was
brought within the sweep of rent legislations by requisite notifications.
The effect of such coverage was to give protective umbrella to the
tenants. As a fortiorari, the landlord can now evict the tenant only by
taking recourse to the rent legislation, that too, by filing the petition for
eviction under the Rent Act before the Rent Controller/Tribunal
constituted under the said Acts. Civil Court ceases to have jurisdiction
over the matter insofar as eviction/ejectment of tenant is concerned.
In this backdrop, the question that has arisen for consideration is
as to whether the Civil Court would cease to have jurisdiction to try the
suit of eviction if the suit property came under notified area during
pendency of the suit? To put it differently, the question is : whether Rent
Act would apply even to the pending suits or it will be enforced only from
the date when notification covering the area in-question is issued and,
therefore, will have no effect on the suits which are already pending
before the civil courts?
2) In the instant case, the premises in-question were in rural area in respect
of which suit was filed by the appellants on February 11, 2002. These
premises consist of a shop (suit property) which is situate at Barkali
Hodal Road, Punhana, Tehsil Punhana, District Gurgaon, Haryana. In
the State of Haryana, Rent Act, known as Haryana Rent Urban (Control
of Rent and Eviction) Act, 1973 (for short, 'Rent Act, 1973') is
promulgated. Its sweep, however, is over the urban areas of Haryana,
as defined in the Act. As pointed out above, at the relevant time suit
property was in rural area and, therefore, not covered by the said Rent
Act, 1973. This suit was filed, after terminating the tenancy, by the
landlord, namely, father of the appellants (predecessor of the appellants)
under Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. The ground
taken was that shop was let out to one Rehmat who inducted his son
(respondent/defendant herein) as a sub-tenant without the consent of
the landlords. Rehmat passed away in the year 1997 and had not even
paid rent for 10 years. Therefore, possession of the respondent as
sub-tenant was unauthorised and illegal. Notice of vacating the
premises and handing over the possession was given on October 22,
2001 and as the respondent failed to vacate the premises, suit was filed
on February 11, 2002. In the suit, brother of the respondent, Yasin, was
also impleaded as a defendant, who did not appear and was proceeded
ex-parte. Insofar as, Respondent No. 1 is concerned, though he had
appeared but did not pay any rent for more than 14 years and, therefore,
his defence was struck off by the civil court vide order dated May 26,
2008.
3) Five months thereafter, i.e., on October 29, 2008, notification was issued
whereby the area where the suit premises situate was declared as
urbanised area and, thus, was brought within the fold of Rent Act, 1973.
The Trial Court, however, after striking off defence of Respondent No. 1
continued with the suit, recorded the evidence of the plaintiff and
ultimately decreed the suit vide judgment and decree dated December
12, 2008. Against this decree, respondent no. 1 filed Civil Appeal No.
11/9 in the Court of Additional District Judge, Nuh taking the plea that the
Civil Judge ceases to have jurisdiction over the matter from October 29,
2008 when Municipal Committee, Punhana came into existence vide
notification dated October 29, 2008 and the area in-question was
included in municipal limits because of which Rent Act, 1973 became
applicable to the suit premises. This contention found favour with the
learned Additional District Judge who allowed the appeal vide judgment
dated March 16, 2009. Aggrieved by that judgment, the appellants
herein preferred second appeal under Section 100 CPC, being RSA No.
3963 of 2009 in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, but
unsuccessfully inasmuch as the High Court has dismissed the appeal
vide judgment dated February 10, 2014. It is this judgment which is
impugned in the present proceedings giving rise to the question of law
that has been noticed in the earlier portion of this judgment.
4) Learned counsel for the appellants has argued that law applicable on the
date of institution of the suit would govern the suit. On that basis, it is
submitted that since on the date when the suits were filed by the
appellants in these appeals, the suit properties were not covered by the
Rent Act which legislation came into effect on a subsequent date, when
the law applicable on the date of institution is to be applied, Civil Court
would have the jurisdiction in the matter in the vein and taking this line of
argument further, it was submitted that the Notification which is issued in
respect of an area in-question, notifying the same to be municipality, is to
take effect only from the date of such a Notification and such an
Order/Notification cannot be given retrospective operation. In support of
the aforesaid submission, counsel for the appellants relied upon the
following judgments:
(i) Ramesh Chandra Vs. III Addl. Distt. Judge & Ors.1
(ii) Mansoor Khan Vs. Moti Ram & Anr.2
(iii) Nand Kishore Marwah & Ors. Vs. Samundri Devi3
; AND
(iv) Harijeet Kaur Vs. Sarabjit Kaur4
[P&H High Court]
5) The argument canvassed by the learned counsel for the respondents, on
the other hand, was that having regard to the nature and scheme of the
two legislations in-question, viz., Rent Act, 1973 and Haryana
Municipality Act, one has to keep in mind that the scheme contemplates
two types of cases: (i) where the premises are covered by the Rent Act,
1973 but exemption in terms of Section 1(3) of the Rent Act is provided
for a period of 10 years to certain kinds of premises. It was argued that
in respect of such premises which are enjoying protection and during
1
(1992) 1 SCC 751
2
(2002) 5 SCC 462
3
(1987) 4 SCC 382
4 2013 (1) RCR (Rent) 74
that period suit is filed in the Civil Court, the rights of the parties to the
suit would be seen on the date on which the suit was filed and even if
the period of exemption expires during the pendency of the suit, Civil
Court would continue to have the jurisdiction to try the said suit, and (ii)
Other cases were those where the particular premises are notified as
coming within the municipal area under the provisions of Haryana
Municipal Act, which had the effect of covering these premises under the
Rent Act as well. It was argued that in such cases the moment such an
Order/Notification is passed and the premises get covered by the Rent
Act, from the date of such a Notification, Civil Court will cease to have
jurisdiction and it will apply even to the pending suits by relegating the
parties to the Court of Rent Controller/Tribunal created under the Rent
Act.
The learned counsel further argued that the aforesaid distinction was
discerned by the learned High Court in the impugned judgment after
scanning through the various judgments of the High Court as well as this
Court. It was argued that such a distinction can be found after reading
those judgments and the attention of this Court was drawn to the
following judgments, in particular:
(i) Mani Subrat Jain Vs. Raja Ram Vohra5
(ii) Lakshmi Narayan Guin and Others Vs. Niranjan Modak6
5
(1980) 1 SCC 1
6
(1985) 1 SCC 270
6) In order to find out the veracity of the aforesaid arguments and position
taken by the learned counsel on either side and to give answer to the
question that has arisen for determination, it becomes necessary to
traverse through the judgments cited inasmuch as reading thereof would
help in deciding as to on which side the scales are tilted. We would be
going through these judgments in chronological order. In that order, first
case that needs our attention is Mani Subrat Jain5
. In this case, the
landlord had filed a suit for ejectment in Civil Court in the absence of any
rent legislation at the relevant time when the suit was filed. The
compromise decree was passed against the tenant. After the said
decree was passed, East Punjab Rent Restriction Act, 1949 was
extended to Chandigarh vide Notification issued on November 04, 1972.
House in dispute was situate in Chandigarh. By that time, the Act was
extended to Chandigarh, the tenant had already suffered a decree but
he was still in possession of the tenanted premises when the execution
petition was filed by the landlord seeking execution of the said decree.
The tenant resisted the same claiming the protection of Section 13(1) of
East Punjab Rent Restriction Act, 1949 which provided that a tenant
could not be evicted in execution of a decree passed before or after the
commencement of the said Act or otherwise and whether before or after
the termination of the tenancy, except in accordance with the said or in
pursuance of an Order under Section 13 of the Rent Restriction Act.
This Court held that even an ex-tenant will continue to be a tenant. A
reading of the judgment, however, would show that the Court went by
the definition of “tenant” contained in Section 2(i) of the Rent Restriction
Act which included an ex-tenant also and more importantly the
provisions of Section 13 of the Rent Restriction Act which specifically
provided that a tenant will not be evicted even in execution of a decree
passed either before or after the commencement of the Rent Restriction
Act, except in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 or in
pursuance of the order passed under Section 13 of the Rent Restriction
Act.
7) In Lakshmi Narayan Guin6
, ejectment decree was passed by the Civil
Court against which appeal was pending. During the pendency of the
appeal, Rent Act was made applicable to the area where the premises
in-question situate. This Court took the view that since appeal was in
continuation of the suit having regard to the fact that premises were now
covered by the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, protection of the
said Act would become available to the tenant having regard to the
provisions of Section 13(1) of that Act which was of the same nature, as
noticed in Mani Subrat Jain5 case.
8) Judgment in Atma Ram Mittal Vs. Ishwar Singh Punia7
, related to the
situation where the premises in-question though covered by the Rent
Control Act, were exempted from the provisions of the said Act for a
7
(1988) 4 SCC 284
particular period. That case arose under the same Haryana Act of 1973
which we are dealing with. It may be pointed out, at this stage, that
Section 1(3) of the Act, 1973 provides the exemption in the following
manner: “Nothing in this Act shall apply to any building the construction
of which is completed on or after the commencement of this Act, for a
period of ten years from the date of its completion”.
9) Though, the area where the building is situate comes under the
protected umbrella of the Act, 1973, still for a period of 10 years the said
protection is not available to the tenant in respect of a newly constructed
building, which is completed on or after the commencement of the Act.
In such a case the tenancy in respect of that particular building shall be
governed by contractual terms and under the provisions of the Transfer
of Property Act. On the termination of tenancy in any of the manners
stipulated in the Transfer of Property Act, the landlord is entitled to file
suit for possession in the Civil Court. In this backdrop, in Atma Ram
Mittal8
, this Court was concerned with a situation where such a suit was
filed by the landlord in respect of newly constructed premises during the
period of exemption by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Rent Act of 1973.
However, when the suit was still pending period of 10 years expired.
The Court held that on this basis, the tenant argued that since the
exemption period had expired, the effect thereof was that the Rent Act
had also become applicable to the building in-question and, therefore,
Civil Court ceased to have jurisdiction to try even the pending suit. This
contention was repelled by the Court holding that the Civil Court will
continue to have the jurisdiction. For coming to this conclusion, the
Court relied upon its earlier judgments in Vineet Kumar Vs. Mangal
Sain Wadhera8 and Ram Saroop Rai Vs. Smt. Lilawati9
.
10) After referring to the aforesaid two judgments, the Court gave the
following reasons in support of its conclusion:
“It is well-settled that no man should suffer because of the
fault of the court or delay in the procedure. Broom has
stated the maxim “actus curiae neminem gravabit”—an act
of court shallprejudice no man. Therefore, having regard to
the time normally consumed for adjudication, the ten
years’ exemption or holiday from the application of the
Rent Act would become illusory, if the suit has to be filed
within that time and be disposed of finally. It is common
knowledge that unless a suit is instituted soon after the
date of letting it would never be disposed of within ten
years and even then within that time it may not be
disposed of. That will make the ten years holiday from the
Rent Act illusory and provide no incentive to the landlords
to build new houses to solve problem of shortages of
houses. The purpose of legislation would thus be
defeated. Purposive interpretation in a social amelioration
legislation is an imperative irrespective of anything else.
9. Judicial time and energy is more often than not
consumed in finding what is the intention of Parliament or
in other words, the will of the people. Blackstone tells us
that the fairest and most rational method to interpret the
will of the legislator is by exploring his intentions at the
time when the law was made, by signs most natural and
probable. And these signs are either the words, the
context, the subject-matter, the effects and consequence,
or the spirit and reason of the law (emphasis by the court)
See Commentaries on the Laws of England (facsimile of
1st Edn. of 1765, University of Chicago Press, 1979, Vol.
1, p. 59). Mukherjea, J. as the learned Chief Justice then
8
(1984) 3 SCC 352
9
(1980) 3 SCC 452Page 11
11
was, in Poppatlal Shah v. State of Madras (1953 SCR 677)
said that each word, phrase or sentence was to be
construed in the light of purpose of the Act itself. But words
must be construed with imagination of purpose behind
them said Judge Learned Hand, a long time ago. It
appears, therefore, that though we are concerned with
seeking of intention, we are rather looking to the meaning
of the words that the legislature has used and the true
meaning of what words as was said by Lord Reid in
Black- Clawson International Ltd. v. Papierwerke Waldhof
-Aschaffenburg A.G. We are clearly of the opinion that
having regard to the language we must find the reason
and the spirit of the law. If the immunity from the operation
of the Rent Act is made and depended upon that ultimate
disposal of the case within the period of exemption of ten
years which is in reality an impossibility, then there would
be empty reasons. In our opinion, bearing in mind the
well-settled principle that the rights of the parties crystallise
 to ( sic) on the date of the institution of the suit as
enunciated by this Court in Om Prakash Gupta v.
 Digvijendrapal Gupta, the meaningful construction must be
that the exemption would apply for a period of ten years
and will continue to be available until suit is disposed of or
adjudicated. Such suit or proceeding must be instituted
within the stipulated period of ten years. Once rights
crystallise the adjudication must be in accordance with
law.”
(Emphasis added)
11) Judgment in Ramesh Chandra1
, falls in the category of Atma Ram
Mittal8 case. In that case also Court was dealing with the case of newly
constructed property exempted from operation of U.P. Rent Act and the
decision was on the same lines as noted in Atma Ram Mittal8
.
12) At this juncture, we would like to discuss another judgment of this Court
rendered by a three Judge Bench in the case of Shri Kishan alias
Krishna Kumar & Ors. v. Manoj Kumar & Ors.10 At the outset, it needs
to be emphasised that it was also a case under the same very
10 (1998) 2 SCC 710Page 12
12
enactment of Haryana, i.e. Rent Act, 1973, and this case also dealt with
a newly constructed property which was exempted from operation of the
said Act for a period of 10 years and the suit was filed by the landlord
during the exempted period. In this case also, the Court held that the law
applicable on the date of the institution of the suit would govern and as
at that time the protection of the Rent Control Act was not available and
thus Civil Court had the jurisdiction, the Civil Court will continue to have
the jurisdiction even after the expiry of the said period of 10 years. While
coming to this conclusion, the Court had relied upon Ramesh Chandra1
,
Atma Ram Mittal8 and other such cases. The learned
counsel appearing for the appellants heavily relied upon the reasons
given by the Court in taking the aforesaid view and on that basis it was
argued that the principle laid down should be made applicable even in
those cases where the protection of the Rent Control Act is extended in
respect of the area in question after the filing of the suit, in an attempt to
impress upon this Court to take the view that even in such cases the
Civil Court should not be deprived of its jurisdiction in respect of pending
cases, when on the date of institution of the suit the Civil Court had the
requisite jurisdiction to entertain the same. For this purpose, the learned
counsel referred to the arguments of the tenant in that case recorded in
paragraph 5 thereof with the submission that this very argument was
specifically rejected. Paragraph 5 thereof reads as under:
“5. It is argued that the Act is intended to be beneficial to
the tenants and special protection is afforded to them.
According to the learned counsel for the purpose of the Act
the expression “tenant” includes a tenant continuing in
possession after the termination of his tenancy and at the
expiry of period of ten years as set out in Section 1(3) of
the Act, the “building” comes within the fold of the Act and
the tenant in occupation will automatically have the
protection afforded by the Act. Emphasis is laid on the
wordings of Section 13(1) which prevents eviction of a
tenant in possession except in accordance with the
provisions of the section. According to the learned counsel
the moment the Act becomes applicable to the building in
question, the suit in relation thereto has to abate and the
remedy of the landlord is to approach the Controller with
an application for eviction on any of the grounds set out in
the section. According to him even if a decree is passed
by the civil court it will not be enforceable and the tenant
cannot be evicted from the building pursuant to the decree
as the bar in Section 13(1) is absolute. In support of this
contention, learned counsel has placed reliance on some
of the rulings of this Court which will be adverted to a little
later.”
13) In order to appreciate this argument, we will have to notice the
contention which was advanced by the counsel for the landlord in the
said case as the judgment is ultimately passed on the acceptance of
those submissions. These are contained in paragraph 6 and we
reproduce below that paragraph as well:
“6. On the other hand, learned counsel for the
respondents has placed before us the following
proposition:
(a) On the date when the suit was instituted it was to
enforce a legal right which had already accrued to the
plaintiff and stood crystallized under the law applicable to
the building at that time. In the absence of any specific
provision in the Act to deprive the Court of its jurisdiction to
determine the issue pertaining to that right, it cannot be
contended that by efflux of ten-year period mentioned in
Section 1(3) the Court would lose its jurisdiction.
(b) The maxim ubi jus, ibi remedium can be excluded only
by a substantive legislation expressly extinguishing the
said right. The Act does not contain any such provision to
bring to an end the right of the plaintiff which had already
accrued and put in issue in the suit. A judicial vacuum
cannot be created by preventing the Court from deciding
an issue which has arisen before it unless the right which
had accrued in favour of one party is taken away by the
legislation.
(c) The principle of the maxim actus curiae neminem
gravabit would apply and because the Court had taken a
long time to dispose of the matter before it, the party which
had approached it cannot be made to suffer.
(d) The provisions of Section 1(3) and Section 13(1)
should be so construed as to advance the legislative
intention and if the contention of the appellants is accepted
it would defeat the purpose of the moratorium and make it
futile.
In support of the above contentions learned counsel has
referred to several rulings of this Court and submitted that
the consistent view taken by this Court is in his favour.”
14) Arguments of both sides have been dealt with by the Court, thereafter, in
the following manner:
“7. Before referring to the decisions cited before us it is
necessary to advert to the provisions of the Act. We have
already quoted Sections 1(3) and 13(1). Apart from the
legislative exemption contained in Section 1(3) there is a
provision in Section 3 of the Act enabling the State
Government to exclude any building or any class of
buildings from the purview of the Act. Sections 4 to 8 deal
with fair rent, deposit of rent etc. Sections 9 and 10 refer
to the amenities to be provided to the tenant. Section 11
prevents conversion of a residential building into a
non-residential building except with the permission in
writing of the Controller. Section 12 deals with the
situation where a landlord fails to make the necessary
repairs. Section 13 sets out the grounds on which eviction
can be sought by a landlord. Section 13-A prescribes
special procedure for disposal of the application by a
landlord in certain cases such as members of the Armed
Forces, government employees etc. Section 14 prevents
reopening of decisions which have become final. Section
15 prescribes appellate and revisional authorities. Section
16 provides that an authority exercising powers under the
Act shall have the same powers of summoning and
enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the
production of evidence as are vested in a court under the
Civil Procedure Code. Sections 17 to 23 deal with order
as to costs, execution, power to transfer proceedings,
penalties etc. Section 24 repeals the East Punjab Urban
Rent Restriction Act, 1949 (East Punjab Act 3 of 1949).
8. There is no provision in the Act taking away the
jurisdiction of a civil court to dispose of a suit validly
instituted. There is also no provision preventing the
execution of a decree passed in such a suit. Section 13(1)
does not expressly refer to execution of a decree for
possession. On a reading of all the provisions of the Act, it
is evident that it has not prevented a civil court from
adjudicating the rights accrued and the liabilities incurred
prior to the date on which the Act became applicable to the
building in question. If the legislature had intended to take
away the jurisdiction of the civil court to decide a suit which
had been validly instituted, it would have been worded
differently. The purpose for which the exemption is granted
statutorily under Section 1(3) is to encourage construction
of new buildings. That purpose would be defeated if the
owner of the building is deprived of his right to get
possession of the building unless he gets a decree within a
period of ten years from the date of its completion. In fact
the logical consequence of the argument of the appellants
if accepted would be that even if a decree is obtained by
the landlord within ten years from its completion it cannot
be executed after the expiry of the said period of ten years
as such execution would not be in accordance with the
provisions of the Act. It is common knowledge that a
proceeding in a civil court for recovery of immovable
property could be dragged on by the defendant easily for a
period of ten years or more and thereby any tenant whose
tenancy had been terminated validly before the suit would
successfully make the proceeding infructuous by
prolonging the litigation. The argument of the appellants
cannot be accepted as otherwise the purpose of
exemption would get defeated.”
(emphasis supplied)
15) Thereafter, the Court has referred to various earlier judgments and all
these judgments are concerned with the provision of exemption
contained in such Rent Acts. Therefore, all these judgments are
authority on the issue that in those cases where exemption from
operation of Rent Control Acts is provided for a particular period and suit
for eviction is filed during the said period of exemption, the Civil Court
shall continue to have the jurisdiction to adjudicate the rights of the
parties under the said suit even where the period of exemption has
expired during the pendency of the suit. The reason was that as on the
date of the institution of the suit legal right in favour of the landlord had
already accrued and it stood crystallised under the law applicable to the
building at that time. The Court was also influenced by the consideration
that the maxim ubi jus, ibi remedium can be excluded only by substantial
legislation expressing extinguishing the said right. If the delay in
disposal of the said suit had occurred, that was because of the Court
where the suit kept pending and the principle of the maxim actus curiae
neminem gravabit shall apply. In this context, the Court interpreted the
provisions of Section 1(3) and Section 13(1) of the Act pointing out the
purpose for which the Legislature had exempted the newly constructed
buildings from the operation of the Rent Act. For this, the object of such
an exemption from the applicability of the Act was specifically taken note
of by extracting a passage from Ram Saroop Rai v. Lilavati11, as can be
seen from paragraph 10 of the judgment:
11 (1980) 3 SCC 452Page 17
17
“10. In Ram Saroop Rai v. Lilavati while dealing with a
case under the U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of
Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972, Justice Krishna Iyer
referred to the object of exemption from the applicability of
the Act in the following words: (SCC p. 453, para 1)
“… Chronic scarcity of accommodation in almost
every part of the country has made ‘eviction’ litigation
explosively considerable, and the strict protection
against ejectment, save upon restricted grounds, has
become the policy of the State. Rent control
legislation to give effect to this policy exists
everywhere, and we are concerned with one such in
the State of U.P. (U.P. Act 13 of 1972). The legislature
found that rent control law has a chilling effect on new
building construction, and so, to encourage more
building operations, amended the statute to release,
from the shackles of legislative restriction, ‘new
constructions’ for a period of ten years. So much so, a
landlord who has let out his new building could
recover possession without impediment if he instituted
such proceeding within ten years of completion.”
The aforesaid observations would apply in the present
case too.”
16) From the aforesaid discussion in Atma Ram Mittal, Vineet Kumar,
Ram Saroop Rai, Ramesh Chandra and Shri Kishan alias Krishna
Kumar cases, the apparent principles which can be culled out, forming
the ratio decidendi of those cases, are as under:
i) Rights of the parties stand crystallised on the date of the institution of the
suit and, therefore, the law applicable on the date of filing of the suit will
continue to apply until suit is disposed of or adjudicated.
ii) If during the pendency of the suit, Rent Act becomes applicable to the
premises in question, that would be of no consequence and it would not
take away the jurisdiction of civil court to dispose of a suit validly
instituted.
iii) In order to oust the jurisdiction of civil court, there must be a specific
provision in the Act taking away the jurisdiction of the civil court in
respect of those cases also which were validly instituted before the date
when protection of Rent Act became available in respect of the said
area/premises/tenancy.
iv) In case aforesaid position is not accepted and the protection of the Rent
Act is extended even in respect of suit validly instituted prior in point of
time when there was no such protection under the Act, it will have the
consequence of making the decree, that is obtained prior to the Rent Act
becoming applicable to the said area/premises, inexecutable after the
application of these Rent Act in respect of such premises. This would
not be in consonance with the legislative intent.
17) In laying down the aforesaid dicta, the Court also took support of two
well known maxims viz. (i) ubi jus ibi remedium which lays down the
principle that where there is a right there is a remedy and it can be
excluded only by substantial legislation expressly extinguishing the said
right AND (ii) actus curiae neminem gravabit, which means that nobody
should be allowed to suffer because of the act of the Court. Here the act
attributed is delay in disposal of the case. Additionally, the Court took aid
of purposive interpretation i.e. legislative intent in not making Rent Act
applicable to new constructions for a period of ten years. 
18) What we notice is that in the impugned judgment, the High Court has
divided the cases into two categories and restricted the law laid down in
the aforesaid judgments only in respect of those category of cases
where Rent Act exempts from its applicability newly constructed
properties for a period of ten years. Second category of cases carved
out covers those cases where the Rent Act was not applicable when the
suit was filed but extended to the area/premises in question during the
pendency of the suit. In respect of later category the High Court held
that the dicta in the aforesaid judgments would not be applicable and the
moment Rent Act is extended to such areas where the premises are
situate, civil court shall cease to have jurisdiction to continue with the
suits though instituted even at a point of time when Rent Act was not
applicable. This distinction, according to us, is illusory. The principles of
law laid down in the aforesaid judgment as culled out above would apply
in equal force to second category of cases as well inasmuch as the basic
principle which is laid down in the aforesaid judgments is that rights of
the parties get crystallised on the date of the institution of the suit and
the law applicable on the date of filing the suit would continue to govern
such suit.
19) At the juncture, we take note of the law laid down in Mansoor Khan2
which is in tune with what we have stated above. That was a case which
arose out of Central Provinces and Berar Letting of Houses and Rent
Control Order, 1949. Clause 13 thereof provided protection to the
tenants against eviction and stipulated grounds which would entitle a
landlord to seek eviction of the tenant by filing a petition before the
Controller appointed under the said Act. This Order was applicable to
certain areas but did not include city of Risod. The said area of Risod in
the erstwhile province of C.P. and Berar was covered under the Order,
1949 by Notification dated October 09, 2010. However, much before this
Notification, the landlord in that case had filed the suit for possession in
the Civil Court after the lease had been determined. This Court held that
Civil Court shall continue to have jurisdiction as Order, 1949 was not
retrospective in operation and where the eviction suit had already been
initiated and was pending on the date when order became applicable to
the area in which the suit premises was situate, provisions of the order
would not affect validity of previously instituted proceedings and the
Court was competent to pass eviction decree under the Transfer of
Property Act.
20) A significant question would be as to how we need to read judgments in
Mani Subrat Jain and Laxmi Narayan Guin cases, the outcome
whereof went in other direction. However, when we understand the ratio
of the aforesaid two cases appropriately, we find no contradiction
between these two cases and other line of cases like Atma Ram Mittal
etc. discussed above. Insofar as judgments in Mani Subrat Jain and
Laxmi Narayan Guin are concerned, these were rendered keeping in
view the definition of “tenant” appearing in the rent legislations therein,
namely, East Punjab Rent Restriction Act and West Bengal Premises
Tenancy Act. What was found that definition of tenant in those
enactments included even an ex-tenant. This coupled with the fact that
there was specific provision laying down that a tenant will not be evicted
even in execution of a decree passed either before or after the
commencement of the enactment, except in accordance with the
provisions contained in the Rent Act, impelled the Court to take the view
that the moment Rent Act became applicable to the area in question, the
tenant or even ex-tenant stood protected and could be evicted only
under the said Rent Acts. Therefore, the principles which we have culled
out above in para 16 would be subject to one exception. In case
definition of 'tenant' and provisions pertaining to eviction of tenants
contained in Rent Acts cover even those cases where the tenancy has
been terminated (or depending upon the provisions of the Rent Act, even
when Civil Court has passed the decree) the protection provided under
such provision would come to the rescue of the tenant even in respect of
pending cases. It is because of the reason that such a Rent Act
specifically provides for protection of this nature and bars the jurisdiction
of civil court even in respect of pending cases. On the other hand,
where there is no such specific protection given under the provisions of
the said Rent Act, the principle as laid down in Mansoor Khan2 will be
applicable.
21) When we apply the principles laid down above to the instant case, we
find that this case would fall in the category of Atma Ram Mittal and
Mansoor Khan etc. as under the scheme of the Rent Act, no protection
to the ex-tenants is provided and no provision is made excluding the
jurisdiction of civil courts in respect of pending cases, expressly or
impliedly. On the other hand, in the facts of the present case, it needs to
be highlighted again that the respondents had not only sublet the
premises but had not paid rent for a period of 14 years. His defence was
struck off by the civil court and ultimately suit was even decreed. It is
only during the pendency of the appeal that the notification was issued
covering the area where suit premises are situate under the Rent Act. It
will be travesty of justice if the appellants/landlords are deprived of the
fruits of the said decree.
22) We are, thus, unable to accept the view taken by the High Court.
Accordingly, this appeal is allowed and the judgment of the First
Appellate Court as well as High Court is set aside. As the only
contention which was taken by the respondents before the First
Appellate Court, challenging the decree of the trial court, was that civil
court ceased to have jurisdiction, the said first appeal preferred by the
respondents stands dismissed thereby restoring the decree passed by
the trial court.
There shall, however, be no order as to cost.
.............................................J.
(A.K. SIKRI)
.............................................J.
(N.V. RAMANA)
NEW DELHI;
OCTOBER 18, 2016.
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