Monday, 19 February 2018

Whether objection that execution of decree is barred provisions of by Slum Act can be taken in execution proceeding?

We are, therefore, of the considered view that it was necessary for the respondent/tenant to have raised an objection regarding the applicability of the provisions of Section 22 of the Slums Act at the stage of suit and upon raising such an objection the Court could have come to the conclusion as to whether the suit property was in fact situated it the slum area or not. We find that since the objection, which is raised by the respondent/tenant, requires determination of an issue dependent upon the examination of the facts, which can be done only after leading evidence, such an objection cannot be permitted to be raised for the first time, in the Execution Proceedings. At the cost of repetition, it may be stated that the decree in question is not passed by a Court lacking inherent jurisdiction or it cannot be said that the objection is such which is apparent on the face of the record.
23. In that view of the matter, we are of the considered view that the objection, which was sought to be raised by the respondent/tenant at the stage of execution proceedings, requires examination of the questions on the basis of the evidence which is required to be led by the parties. We find that the present case is not a case of inherent lack of jurisdiction or an objection which is apparent on the face of record which does not require examination of any issues. We are of the considered view that the questions which have been raised by the respondent/tenant at the stage of execution proceedings, which he has failed to raise in the suit before the trial Court or in an appeal before the District Judge or in a petition before this Court or in a special leave petition before the Apex Court, cannot be permitted to be raised at the stage of execution proceedings for the first time. In that view of the matter, we find that the learned trial Judge has rightly rejected the objection of the respondent/tenant. We are of the considered view that the learned Single Judge has erred in interfering with the order of the Executing Court. In that view of the matter, the appeal succeeds.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY (NAGPUR BENCH)

Letters Patent Appeal No. 300/2011 in Writ Petition No. 176/2011 (D)

Decided On: 20.08.2013

 Chandrashekhar Vs.  Pandharinath

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
B.R. Gavai and P.N. Deshmukh, JJ.

Citation: 2013(6) MHLJ 377,2013(6) ALLMR 311


1. The appeal challenges the judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge in Writ Petition No. 176/2011 thereby allowing the writ petition filed by the respondent/tenant herein. The facts, in brief, giving rise to the present appeal, are as under:-

The appellant/landlord filed a suit being R.C.S. No. 473/2002 against the respondent/tenant in the Court of Small Causes, Nagpur for possession of the suit premises under Section 16(1)(a), (b), (c) and (g) of the Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999. The suit was resisted by the respondent/defendant. The learned trial Judge vide judgment and order dated 27th November, 2006 decreed the suit. It is not in dispute that the said decree has been affirmed up to the Apex Court. After the decree was passed, the execution proceedings vide Special Darkhast No. 2/2007 came to be filed by the appellant before the Additional Small Causes Court, Nagpur. In the said proceedings, on 20 January, 2010 an application vide Exh. 52 came to be filed by the respondent under Section 47 of the Civil Procedure Code objecting that since the suit property was notified as a slum area vide notification dated 24 January, 1976, in view of Section 22 of the Maharashtra Slum Area (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as Slums Act for short), no suit or proceedings for obtaining any decree or order for eviction of an occupier from any building or land in slum area is maintainable unless prior permission is obtained from the Competent Authority under Section 22 of the Slums Act. A reply was filed below Exh. 53 by the appellant disputing that the suit property falls within the slum area, as notified by the notification dated 24th January, 1976. A further objection was also raised that since it was a disputed question of facts, it would not be permissible for Executing Court to investigate into the said issue. However, the learned trial Judge permitted the respondent/tenant to lead evidence in that regard. In the meantime, the respondent/tenant had approached the Competent Authority with an application seeking a finding that the permission of the Competent Authority was required under Section 22 of the Slums Act. An order came to be passed by the Competent Authority on 14th October, 2010 thereby directing the appellant to obtain previous permission in writing from the Competent Authority for executing the decree. The learned trial Judge vide judgment and order dated 20th December, 2010 rejected the objection. The learned trial Judge held that an objection of the nature, which was raised by the respondent/tenant, could not have been raised for the first time in the execution proceedings. Being aggrieved thereby, the respondent/tenant filed writ petition being Writ Petition No. 176/2011. The learned Single Judge vide judgment and order dated 13th April, 2011 partly allowed the said writ petition. The learned Single Judge remanded the matter to the Executing Court to decide the application filed by the writ petitioner. The learned Single Judge further observed that it is necessary for the Executing Court to consider the effect of the order passed by the Competent Authority dated 14th October, 2010 along with other documents placed on record by the parties. Being aggrieved thereby, the present appeal.
2. Shri Bhangde, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant, submits that the Single Judge has grossly erred in allowing the writ petition. The learned counsel submits that the learned Single Judge has not taken into consideration the fact that the order, which is passed by the learned Single Judge, is in fact in the nature of permitting the Executing Court to go beyond the decree, which is not permissible in the execution proceedings. It is submitted that the learned trial Judge has rightly relied on the judgment of this Court in case of Fattechand Murlidhar Shop, Sitabuldi, Nagpur V/s. Shrikrishna Tejmalji Chandak reported in MANU/MH/0315/1984 : AIR 1984 Bombay 428 and rightly held that an objection to the executability of the decree on the ground that the suit filed without taking requisite permission not having raised during the trial, could not have been raised in the execution proceedings for the first time and had rightly rejected the application. The learned counsel relying on the judgment of the Apex Court in case of Vasudev Dhanjibhai Modi V/s. Rajabhai Abdul Rehman and others reported in MANU/SC/0531/1970 : 1970 (1) SCC 670, wherein it is held that unless a decree passed by the Court is passed by a Court lacking inherent jurisdiction, or unless it is found that there is an error apparent on the face of the record, submits that an objection to the executability of the same could not be permitted to be raised at the stage of the execution proceedings.

3. The learned counsel further submits that the learned Single Judge has grossly erred in relying on the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in case of Taj Mohamed Yakub V/s. Abdul Gani Bhikan reported in MANU/MH/0976/1990 : 1991 (1) Mh.L.J. 263. The learned counsel submits that the said judgment arises out of the reference on account of conflict of views between two learned Single Judges. The learned counsel submits that the issue in the said proceeding was limited only to the question as to whether the expression occupier also includes trespasser or not. The learned counsel further submits that the learned single Judge has also erroneously construed the ratio laid down in the case of Laxmi Ram Pawar V/s Sitabai Balu Dhotre and another reported in MANU/SC/1014/2010 : (2011) 1 SCC 356. He submits that in the said proceedings also, the question that arose for consideration was as to whether the definition of occupier includes a trespasser or not. The learned counsel submits that the question as to whether the objection not having being taken suit can be allowed to be taken in the execution proceedings for the first time, when the Court passing the decree did not lack inherent jurisdiction, did not arise for consideration in the said judgment. The learned counsel further submits that an objection regarding the jurisdiction is required to be taken at the earliest opportunity. The learned counsel submits that the respondent/tenant having failed to take an objection in that regard, at the stage of suit and also in the subsequent proceedings arising out of the decree before the learned District Judge, this Court and the Apex Court, cannot be permitted to raise that ground in the execution proceedings. The learned counsel further submits that the objection is also hit by constructive res judicata. He relies on the judgment of the Apex Court in case of Kamlabai and others V/s. Mangilal Dhulichand Mantri reported in MANU/SC/1027/1987 : (1987) 4 SCC 585 in support of the said proposition. The learned counsel, therefore, submits that the impugned judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge is not sustainable in law.

4. Shri Bhandarkar, the learned counsel for the respondent/tenant, on the contrary, submits that the power of the Civil court to exercise jurisdiction is dependent upon the compliance of the mandatory provisions as provided under Section 22 of the Slums Act. The learned counsel submits that in view of Section 22, unless the previous permission in writing was obtained by the appellant for filing the suit, the Civil Court will have no jurisdiction for entertaining the suit. The learned counsel, therefore, submits that the decree passed by the learned trial Judge was passed by exercising jurisdiction not vested in it. The learned counsel, therefore, submits that the decree passed, which is sought to be executed, is a decree which is void-ab-initio and therefore, an objection to the executability of the same can be raised at any stage. The learned counsel relies on the judgment of the Apex court in case of Sarwan Kumar and another V/s. Madan Lal Agrawal reported in MANU/SC/0083/2003 : AIR 2003 SCC 1475, in case of Urban Improvement Trust, Jodhpur V/s. Gokul Narain (dead) by Lrs. and another reported in MANU/SC/0461/1996 : (1996) 4 SCC 178, in case of Sunder Dass V/s. Ram Prakash reported in MANU/SC/0368/1977 : (1977) 2 SCC 662, in case of Sushil Kumar Mehta V/s. Gobind Ram Bohra (Dead) through his Lrs. reported in MANU/SC/0593/1989 : (1990) 1 SCC 193, on the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in case of Taj Mohamed Yakub V/s. Abdul Gani Bhikan reported in 1991 (1) Mh.L.J. 263 (which is sought to be distinguished by the learned counsel for appellant), on the judgment of the Single Judge of this Court in case of Kalawatibai Wd/o Lokumal Sindhi and others V/s. Gopala Ganpati Bhanarkar and others reported in MANU/MH/0688/1984 : 1984 Mh.L.J. 261 and in case of Sarup Singh and another V/s. Union of India and another reported in MANU/SC/0982/2010 : (2011) 11 SCC 198.

5. The learned counsel submits that the learned Single Judge has rightly passed the impugned order taking into consideration the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in case of Taj Mohamed Yakub (supra), the order passed by the Division Bench in L.P.A. No. 577/2010 dated 18th January, 2011 and the judgment of the Apex Court in case of Laxmi Ram Pawar (supra). The learned counsel, therefore, submits that no interference would be warranted in the present case.

6. The Civil Application No. 426/2012 for intervention was rejected vide order dated 1st October, 2012 but leave was granted to the intervenor to address the Court. Hence the intervenor is heard on the legal submissions. Shri Shelat, the learned counsel for the intervenor, supports the submissions made on behalf of the respondent/tenant.

7. For appreciating the rival controversy, it would be necessary to refer to Section 22 of the Slums Act.

22. Proceedings for eviction of occupiers [or for issue of distress warrant] not to be taken without permission of competent Authority.

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, no person shall except with the previous permission in writing of the Competent Authority,-

(a) institute, after commencement of the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, any suit or proceeding for obtaining any decree or order for the eviction of an occupier from any building or land [in a slum area or for recovery of any arrears of rent or compensation from any such occupier, or for both; or]

(b) when any decree or order is obtained in any suit or proceeding instituted before such commencement for the eviction of an occupier from any building or land in such area [or for recovery of any arrears of rent or compensation from such occupier, or for both] execute such decree [or order; or]

[(c) apply to any Judge or the Registrar of the Small Cause Court under Chapter VIII of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act, 1882, in its application to the State of Maharashtra, or to any Court of Small Causes under Chapter IV-A of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887, in its application to the State of Maharashtra, for a distress warrant for arrears of rent against any occupier of a house or premises in a slum area.]

[(1A) Notwithstanding anything contained in subsection (1) as in force before the commencement of the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) (Amendment) Act, 1986 (hereinafter in this section referred to as "the Amendment Act") or in any other law for the time being in force, no person shall, except with the previous permission in writing of the Competent Authority,-

(a) execute any decree or order obtained in any suit or proceeding instituted during the period commencing from the 30th day of September 1985 being the date of the expiry of the Maharashtra Vacant Lands (Further Interim Protection to Occupiers from Eviction and Recovery of Arrears of Rent Act, 1980) and the date of commencement of the amendment Act, for eviction of an occupier from any building or land in a slum area (which area was earlier purported to be covered by the definition of "Vacant land" in clause (f) of section (2) of the Maharashtra Vacant Lands (Prohibition of Unauthorized Occupation and Summary Eviction) Act, 1975 or for recovery of any arrears of rent or compensation from such occupier, or for both; or

(b) apply to any Judge or the Registrar of the Small Cause Court under Chapter VIII of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act, 1882, in its application to the State of Maharashtra, or to any Court of Small Causes under Chapter IV-A of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887, in its application to the State of Maharashtra, for a distress warrant for arrears of rent against any such occupier of a house or premises in any such slum area.]

(2) Every person desiring to obtain the permission referred to in sub-section (1) [or (1-A)] shall make an application in writing to the Competent Authority in such form and containing such particulars as may be prescribed.

(3) On receipt of such application, the Competent Authority, after giving an opportunity to the parties of being heard and after making such summary inquiry into the circumstances of the case as it thinks fit, shall, by order in writing, either grant or refuse to grant such permission.

(4) In granting or refusing to grant the permission [under clause (a) or (b) of sub section (1)] [or clause (a) of sub-section (1-A)] the Competent Authority shall take into account the following factors, namely:-

(a) whether alternative accommodation within the means of the occupier would be available to him, if he were evicted;

(b) whether the eviction is in the interest of improvement and clearance of the slum area;

[(b-1) whether, having regard to the relevant circumstances of each case, the total-amount of arrears of rent or compensation and the period for which it is due and the capacity of the occupier to pay the same, the occupier is ready and willing to pay the whole of the amount of arrears of rent or compensation by reasonable installments within a stipulated time;]

(c) any other factors, if any, as may be prescribed.

[(4A) (a) In granting or refusing to grant the permission under clause (c) of subsection (1) [or clause (b) of sub-section (1A)] the Competent Authority shall take into account the following factors, namely:-

(i) what is the amount of rent and for what period it is due;

(ii) whether a notice of demand referred to in the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 53 of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act, 1882 or in the proviso to the sub-section (1) of section 27B of the Provisional Small Cause Courts Act, 1887, as the case may be, has been duly given to the occupier liable to pay the arrears of rent;

(iii) whether the occupier is willing to pay arrears within a stipulated time;

(iv) any other factors, if any, as may be prescribed.

(b) If, within a period of [six months] from the date of receipt of any application for permission under clause (c) of sub-section (1), [or clause (b) of section (1A)] the Competent Authority does not refuse to grant the permission, it shall be deemed to have been granted at the expiration of such period.]

(5) Where the Competent Authority refuses to grant the permission [under any of the clauses of subsection (1)] [or (1A)] it shall record a brief statement of the reasons for such refusal, and furnish a copy thereof to applicant.

8. It can, thus, be seen from the perusal of sub-section (1) of Section 22 of the Slums Act that no person shall except the previous permission in writing of Competent Authority institute after the commencement of the Maharashtra Slums Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, any suit or proceeding for obtaining any decree or order for the eviction of an occupier from any building or land in a slum area or for recovery of any arrears of rent or compensation from any such occupier, or for both. Clause (b) of Section 22 provides that when any decree or order is obtained in any suit or proceeding instituted before such commencement for the eviction of an occupier from any building or land in such area or for recovery of any arrears of rent or compensation from such occupier, or for both, he shall not apply for execution of such a decree except the previous permission from the Competent Authority. Sub-section 1A would not be relevant for the purposes of deciding the issue before us. Sub-section 2 requires a person desiring to obtain a permission referred to in sub-section (1) to make an application in writing to the Competent Authority. Sub-section (3) of the said section, requires the Competent Authority to give an hearing to the parties and after making such summary inquiry, either grant or refuse to grant such permission. Sub-section (4) provides for the factors, which are to be taken into consideration, while granting or refusing the permission under clause (a) or (b) of sub-section (1) or clause (a) of sub-section 1A. Sub-section 4A provides for factors to be taken into consideration while granting permission under clause (c) of sub-section (1) or clause (b) of sub-section 1A. Sub-section (5) requires the Competent Authority to record a brief statement of reasons while refusing to grant a permission.

9. The perusal of sub-section (1), Clauses (a) and (b) of Section 22 of the Slums Act would reveal that for obtaining any decree or order for the eviction of an occupier from the building or land in a slum area after the commencement of the said Act, it is necessary to obtain the permission from the Competent Authority. However, perusal of clause (b) of Section 22 reveals that where any decree or order is obtained in any suit or proceeding instituted before such commencement for the eviction of an occupier from any building or land in such area, then unless a previous permission of the Competent Authority is obtained, such a decree cannot be put into execution. Undisputedly, the present suit is filed after the commencement of the Slums Act. Not only that, but the present suit is filed after the period of at least 25 years from the publication of notification dated 24th January, 1976, on which the respondent/tenant relies in support of the proposition that the suit property is governed by the said notification. We will have to consider the present appeal in the background of this position.

10. The perusal of Section 22 and the clause 1(a) thereof would reveal that the permission to institute a suit after the commencement of the Slums Act would be required for eviction of an occupier from any building or land in a slum area. Clause (ga) of Section 2 defines the slum area as under:

slum area means any area declared as such by the Competent Authority under sub-section (1) of section 4 and includes any area deemed to be slum area under Section 4A.
11. Section 4 of the said Act provides for a declaration of the slum areas. Since it is nobody's case that the suit property is governed by a declaration issued under the provisions of Maharashtra Slum Improvement Board Act, 973, reference to Section 4A of the Slums Act would not be necessary. It can, thus, clearly be seen that so as to get the protection to an occupier under Section 22 of the Slums Act, it is necessary that building or land occupied by such an occupier falls within the slum area as defined in the said Act. It can, thus, be seen that the applicability of provisions of Section 22 of the Slums Act, would be dependent on the question as to whether the said land or building occupied by an occupier falls within a slum area or not. If the land or building falls within a slum area, it would be necessary that prior to institution of a suit for eviction of an occupier from any building or land, a permission in writing of the Competent Authority is obtained. However, if such a building or land does not fall in a slum area, such permission would not be necessary. In either of the cases, it is only the competent court of Small Causes which will have the jurisdiction to entertain a suit. It is not that if the land or building falls in a slum area, the Court of Small Causes will have no jurisdiction to entertain the suit and some other Authority is designated to entertain such a suit. The only requirement in such a case for exercise of jurisdiction by the Court of Small Causes would be obtaining a prior permission of the Competent Authority by a person instituting a suit. The question as to whether the area of land or building falls within the slum area or not, is a question of fact which has to be established by leading evidence in that regard.

12. In case of Vasudev Dhanjibhai Modi (supra), a decree was passed at the instance of landlord Vasudev for ejectment and payment of arrears of rent against one Munshi by the Appellate Court. The said decree was confirmed by the High Court. A leave, which was granted by the Apex Court in a petition for special leave, was later on vacated when it was found that Munshi had made a false statement. In the meantime, the landlord Modi applied for execution of the decree. An objection was raised by the tenant Munshi that suit premises were governed by the Bombay Rents Hotel and Lodging House Rates (Control) Act, and as such the decree of the High Court confirming the decree of the District Judge was without jurisdiction. The said objection was rejected by the Executing Court. An appeal preferred before the Bench of the Small Causes Court was also rejected. However, in a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution, the High Court of Gujarat reversed the order and dismissed the execution. Being aggrieved thereby, the landlord had approached the Apex Court by filing a Special Leave Petition. The Apex Court reversed the view taken by the High Court. It will be relevant to refer to the following observations of the Apex Court in the said case.

5. In this case the suit for ejectment against Munshi was instituted by Modi in the Court of Small Causes. No objection was raised that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit. The objection was not raised even in appeal, nor before the High Court. The Trial Court dismissed the suit on merits: the decree was reversed by the District Court and that decree was confirmed by the High Court. The objection was raised for the first time when the decree was sought to be executed.

6. A Court executing a decree cannot go behind the decree: between the parties or their representatives it must take the decree according to its tenor, and cannot entertain any objection that the decree was incorrect in law or on facts. Until it is set aside by an appropriate proceeding in appeal or revision, a decree even if it be erroneous is still binding between the parties.

7. When a decree which is a nullity, for instance, where it is passed without bringing the legal representative on the record of a person who was dead at the date of the decree, or against a ruling prince without a certificate, is sought to be executed an objection in that behalf may be raised in a proceeding for execution. Again, when the decree is made by a Court which has no inherent jurisdiction to make it, objection as to its validity may be raised in an execution proceeding if the objection appears on the face of the record: where the objection as to the jurisdiction of the Court to pass the decree does not appear on the face of the record and requires examination of the questions raised and decided at the trial or which could have been but have not been raised, the executing Court will have no jurisdiction to entertain an objection as to the validity of the decree even on the ground of absence of jurisdiction. In Jnanendra Mohan Bhaduri and another v. Rabindra Nath Chakravarti2, the Judicial Committee held that where a decree was passed upon an award made under the provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1899, an objection in the course of the execution proceeding that the decree was made without jurisdiction, since under the Indian Arbitration Act, 1899, there is no provision for making a decree upon an award, was competent. That was a case in which the decree was on the face of the record without jurisdiction.

8. In the present case the question whether the Court of Small Causes had jurisdiction to entertain the suit against Munshi depended upon the interpretation of the terms of the agreement of lease, and the user to which the land was put at the date of the grant of the lease. These questions cannot be permitted to be raised in an execution proceeding so as to displace the jurisdiction of the Court which passed the decree. If the decree is on the face of the record without jurisdiction and the question does not relate to the territorial jurisdiction or under Section 11 of the Suits Valuation Act, objection to the jurisdiction of the Court to make the decree may be raised; where it is necessary to investigate facts in order to determine whether the Court which had passed the decree had no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit, the objection cannot be raised in the execution proceeding.

9. The High Court was of the view that where there is lack of inherent jurisdiction in the Court which passed the decree, the executing Court must refuse to execute it on the ground that the decree is a nullity. But, in our judgment, for the purpose of determining whether the Court which passed the decree had jurisdiction to try the suit, it is necessary to determine facts on the decision of which the question depends, and the objection does not appear on the face of the record, the executing Court cannot enter upon and enquiry into those facts. In the view of the High Court since the land leased was at the date of the lease used for agricultural purposes and that it so appeared on investigation of the terms of the lease and other relevant evidence, it was open to the Court to hold that the decree was without jurisdiction and on that account a nullity. The view taken by the High Court, in our judgment, cannot be sustained.

13. It can, thus, be seen that the Apex Court has held that where it is necessary to investigate the facts in order to determine whether the Court which has passed the decree, had no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit, the objection cannot be raised in the execution proceedings. It has further been held that when it is necessary to determine facts on the decision of which the question depends, and the objection does not appear on the face of the record, the Executing Court cannot enter upon an enquiry into those facts. The facts of the present case are almost similar. The plaintiff in the suit has specifically averred in the plaint regarding the jurisdiction of the Court. In the written statement, filed on behalf of the respondent/tenant, he had admitted that the Court had a jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit. The notification, on which the respondent/tenant relies, is published on 24th January, 1976. The suit is filed in the year 2002. As such, the respondent/tenant could have very well taken an objection regarding the applicability of the provisions of Section 22 of the Slums Act. If such an issue was raised, the parties could have led an evidence so as to enable the learned trial Judge to decide as to whether the land or building in respect of which the execution proceedings were initiated falls within the slum area or not. If such an objection was raised, it could have been decided in the trial itself. However, the respondent/tenant, for the reasons best known to him, has not raised aforesaid issue either in the trial or before the District Judge or this Court or the Apex Court. We are of the considered view that such an issue, which requires decision on appreciation of factual matrix, could not have been permitted to be raised for the first time before the Executing Court. As already discussed hereinabove, it cannot be said that the decree, which is passed by the trial Court, has not been passed by the Court which lacks inherent jurisdiction. It also cannot be said that the objection, which is raised by the respondent/tenant, appears on the face of the record. Undisputedly, such an objection requires examination of the question which could have been raised and decided at the trial itself. The Apex Court in the case of Vasudev (supra) has held that the Executing Court will have no jurisdiction to entertain such an objection as to the validity of decree even on the ground of absence of jurisdiction, if such an objection could have been, but have not been raised in the trial.

14. Learned Single Judge of this Court had an occasion to consider a similar situation in case of Fattechand Murlidhar Shop, Sitabuldi, Nagpur (supra). It will be appropriate to refer to the following observations of the learned Single Judge.

In the present case, as I have already pointed out, S. 22 of Act 28 of 1971 does not create a jurisdictional bar to the civil court's entertaining the suit but only places restrictions on the persons who propose to institute a suit. If the suit is instituted without the permission of the competent authority, on an objection being raised or the court noticing the non-compliance thereof, the suit will not be entertained. It is true that the permission, as held in Kalawatibai Lokumal Sindhi v. Gopala Ganpati Bhanarkar (MANU/MH/0688/1984 : 1984 Mah LJ 261), must be obtained before instituting the suit. No post facto permission can be granted. That would not, however, clothe the court at the stage of execution, with the power of investigate into the facts, when they are not apparent from the face of the record, for deciding whether the suit could have been entertained at all. In view of the observations of the Supreme Court, such a course would be impermissible. I, therefore, find that the learned Judge of the Court of Small Causes was in error in entertaining and allowing the objection to the executability of the decree in the circumstances of the present case. The executing court was bound to execute the decree as it stood.

15. We are in respectful agreement with the learned Single Judge that Section 22 of the Slums Act does not create a jurisdictional bar to the Civil Court to entertain a suit, it only places restriction on the person who proposes to institute a suit. We are of the considered view that the objection, which was raised at the stage of execution, which requires investigation into the facts especially when they were not apparent from the face of could not have been raised for the first time in the absence of such an objection being raised at the stage of the suit.

16. A similar view has been taken by another learned Single Judge of this Court in case of Bhaurao V/s. Smt. Savitribai and others reported in MANU/MH/0013/1991 : AIR 1991 Bombay 55.

17. The learned counsel for the respondent/tenant has heavily relied on the judgment of the Apex Court in case of Laxmi Ram Pawar (supra). It has to be noted that in the said case, an objection regarding the property being situated in the slum area was raised by the occupier in the written statement itself. In view of the rival pleadings, the learned trial Judge had specifically raised the following issues.

2. Does the plaintiff further prove that the Defendant 1 is residing in the said hutment? and

4. Whether the suit is tenable without permission of the competent authority?

The trial Judge had specifically held that the defendant had proved that she was residing in the hutment and the suit was not tenable and as such the suit was dismissed. However, the said finding was reversed by the learned Appellate Judge holding that the suit filed by the landlord was maintainable without permission of the Competent Authority as she was a trespasser and the benefit under the Slums Act is not available to a trespasser. In this factual background, the Apex Court held that even a trespasser was included in the definition of an occupier within the meaning of Section 2(e) of the Slums Act and as such the suit without permission of the Competent Authority was not maintainable. It can, thus, clearly be seen that the objection regarding the land/building being situated in a slum area was specifically raised in the suit itself and the trial Court after coming to the conclusion that it was so situated, had dismissed the suit for want of proper permission. In this factual background, the Apex court held that the order of the learned trial Judge was correct whereas the order of the learned Appellate Court holding the suit to be maintainable since occupier was a trespasser was not correct. The question as to whether an objection to the executability of the decree, when such a decree cannot be said to be passed by the Court lacking inherent jurisdiction or when an objection so raised is not apparent on the face of the record can be raised for the first time in execution proceedings having not raised in the trial, did not fall for consideration before the Apex Court in the case of Laxmi Ram Pawar (supra). The said question fell directly for consideration before the Apex Court in the case of Vasudev (supra). In that view of the matter, the reliance on the said judgment could not be of any assistance to the case of the respondent/tenant. Insofar as the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in case of Taj Mohamed Yakub (supra) is concerned, the said judgment arises out of the reference to the Division Bench in view of the conflict of opinion as to whether the expression occupier, as defined under Section 2(e), includes a person who is in occupation of the premises as trespasser or not. The Division Bench has answered the issue holding that the term occupier also includes the trespasser in its definition. From the perusal of the judgment it would be clear that the question as to whether an objection which could have been raised at the stage of the suit and not raised and when such an objection does not pertain to exercise of jurisdiction by a Court lacking inherent jurisdiction or when such an objection is not apparent on the face of the record, did not fall for consideration in the said case also.

18. What constitutes the ratio decidendi has been succinctly observed by the Apex Court in the case of Regional Manager and another V/s. Pawan Kumar Dubey as under:-

It is the rule deducible from the application of law to the facts and circumstances of a case which constitutes its ratio decidendi and not some conclusion based upon facts which may appear to be similar. One additional or different fact can make a world of difference between conclusions in two cases even when the same principles are applied in each case to similar facts.

It can thus be seen that the Apex Court defined ratio decidendi as a rule deducible from the application of law to the facts and circumstances of the case and not some conclusion based upon facts which may appear to be similar. It can further be seen that the Apex Court has held that one additional or different fact can make a world of difference between the conclusions in two cases even when the same principles are applied in each case to similar facts. We are of the considered view that the question which falls for our consideration was a question which directly fell for consideration before the Apex Court in the case of Vasudev (supra). However, the said issue did not fall for consideration before the Apex Court in the case of Laxmi Ram Pawar (supra) or a Division Bench of this Court in the case of Taj Mohamed Yakub (supra).

19. Insofar as the judgment of the Apex Court in case of Sarvan Kumar and another (supra) is concerned, in the said case undisputedly a decree of eviction was passed by Civil Court in respect of premises to which the provisions of Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 apply. In view of the provisions of Section 14 of the said Act, it was only the Rent Controller appointed under the said Act, who had Authority to pass a decree for ejectment of the tenanted premises. In view of the provisions of Section 50 of the said Act, there was a specific bar regarding the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to entertain any suit or proceedings insofar it relates to the eviction of any tenant from the premises which were governed by the Delhi Rent Control Act. In that view of the matter, the Apex Court held that the Civil Court lacks inherent jurisdiction to take cognizance of the case and to pass a decree. It has been further held that the challenge to such a decree on the ground of nullity could be raised at any stage including the execution proceedings. Such is not the case here. Even after a written permission from the Competent Authority, it is only the Court of Small Causes which will have jurisdiction to entertain the suit. It is not a case of inherent lack of jurisdiction. As such, the said judgment would not be applicable to the facts of the present case. All the other judgments of the Apex Court, which are pressed into service by the appellant, are pertaining to the cases wherein the Courts which had passed the decrees, were the Courts which lacked inherent jurisdiction to take cognizance of the matters specified in the Statute, which fell for consideration in those cases. As such, the said judgments would not be applicable to the facts of the present case.

20. The learned Single Judge in the judgment and order has also directed the learned trial Judge to consider the order passed by the Competent Authority on 14th October, 2010. By the said order, the Competent Authority has held that it is necessary for the landlord to obtain its prior permission before institution of the suit. The learned counsel for the parties have not been in a position to point out any provision which permits the Competent Authority to pass an order of the nature, which has been passed by it. It appears that incumbent in the office of the Competent Authority was too eager to pass an order in favour of a particular party. In any case, we find that the said question has already been rightly considered by the learned Single Judge in case of Fattechand (supra), with which we agree. It will be appropriate to refer to the following observations of the learned Single in case of Fattechand (supra).

The question whether certain property came within the area declared as slum improvement area or a slum area, is not a matter which is left for the determination of the authorities under the Act and it is difficult to agree with the submission of the learned advocate of the opponent that it was not open to the civil court to consider whether the suit property came within the area declared to be slum improvement area. It is difficult to accept the submission that merely due to the production of a certificate issued by the Chief Engineer, City Municipal Corporation, Nagpur, the court had no option but to hold that the property in dispute fell within the area notified as a slum improvement area. There is no provision in either of the two Acts which requires any of the authorities under those Acts to issue such a certificate. The provisions to which reference was made and which have been referred to above, only speak of a declaration of that area and that declaration is to be made in the manner provided by the Act.

(Emphasis Supplied)

21. We are, therefore, of the considered view that it was necessary for the respondent/tenant to have raised an objection regarding the applicability of the provisions of Section 22 of the Slums Act at the stage of suit and upon raising such an objection the Court could have come to the conclusion as to whether the suit property was in fact situated it the slum area or not. We find that since the objection, which is raised by the respondent/tenant, requires determination of an issue dependent upon the examination of the facts, which can be done only after leading evidence, such an objection cannot be permitted to be raised for the first time, in the Execution Proceedings. At the cost of repetition, it may be stated that the decree in question is not passed by a Court lacking inherent jurisdiction or it cannot be said that the objection is such which is apparent on the face of the record.

22. Insofar as the orders passed by the Division Bench in two letter patent appeals are concerned, the said orders are merely some orders inter se between the parties issuing directions and do not lay down any proposition of law and as such the reliance on the said orders is of no assistance to the case of the respondent/tenant.

23. In that view of the matter, we are of the considered view that the objection, which was sought to be raised by the respondent/tenant at the stage of execution proceedings, requires examination of the questions on the basis of the evidence which is required to be led by the parties. We find that the present case is not a case of inherent lack of jurisdiction or an objection which is apparent on the face of record which does not require examination of any issues. We are of the considered view that the questions which have been raised by the respondent/tenant at the stage of execution proceedings, which he has failed to raise in the suit before the trial Court or in an appeal before the District Judge or in a petition before this Court or in a special leave petition before the Apex Court, cannot be permitted to be raised at the stage of execution proceedings for the first time. In that view of the matter, we find that the learned trial Judge has rightly rejected the objection of the respondent/tenant. We are of the considered view that the learned Single Judge has erred in interfering with the order of the Executing Court. In that view of the matter, the appeal succeeds.

(a) The letter patents appeal is allowed.

(b) The impugned order passed by the learned Single Judge is quashed and set aside.

(c) The petition filed by the respondent/tenant is dismissed.

(d) The order passed by the Executing Court dated 20th December, 2010 is upheld. However, in the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.


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