Sunday, 4 March 2018

Relevant date for ascertaining applicability of Rent Act is date on which suit was filed and not date of letting

In Davies v. Gilbert, (1955)1 All E.R. 415, the Court of Appeal was dealing with the question whether a cottage and a certain extent of woodland attached thereto were within the protection of the Rent Restrictions Act. In 1937, the then owner let the cottage and the woodland to the defendant. The cottage, at that time was rated at £4 per year; the woodland had not been rated. In 1938, the defendant cleared the undergrowth and opened a caravan-site. In 1953, the caravan site was rated at £9 a year, but the cottage continued to be rated at £4 a year. Plaintiff, who was the transferee of the landlord's interest, sought possession seeking to put the land for agricultural use. Denning, L.J., upholding the order denying protection to the tenant under the statute and granting possession stated :---

"The first question is whether on September 1, 1939, the property came within the old control. If it came within the old control, it remains governed by the Acts relating to old control and is not governed by the Rent and Mortgage Interest Restrictions Act, 1939. The question whether it came within old control in 1939 depends on this : What was the rateable value of the cottage?


What, however, is the effect of the new rating in 1953? This caravan site has now been rated at L9 a year. That is more than a quarter of the rateable value of the cottage, which remains at £4. Does this new rating take the premises out of old control? This raises the question : What is the proper time for the test of rateable value? Is it the initial date of the letting or is it the date when possession is sought by the landlord?

In my judgment the test of rateable value under the old control is to be determined when the landlord seeks to enforce his rights. At the time when these proceedings were brought the rateable value of this woodland of caravan site was £9 and the ratable value of the cottage was £4: therefore, the whole ceased to be within the Rent Restrictions Acts, and the plaintiff is entitled to possession ...."

The principle stated above applied to the case on hand as well.

13. I may add that Mr. Chhatrapati had vehemently contended that the judgment of the Supreme Court in Subhadra's case, is a judgment by four Judges' Bench and the subsequent judgment in Vasudev's case, is by three Judges' Bench and as such the decision of the Subhadra's case should be preferred as the same has been rendered by a larger Bench. In support of his contention, Mr. Chhatrapati placed reliance upon the decisions of the Supreme Court in Mattulal v. Radhe Lal, MANU/SC/0010/1974 : [1975]1SCR127 and Union of India and another v. Raghubir Singh (dead) by Lrs. etc., MANU/SC/0619/1989 : [1989]178ITR548(SC) . It is not possible to accede to the contentions of Mr. Chhatrapati. When the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court has been considered by a later decision of the same Court in Vasudev's case, this Court will be bound by the said decision in Vasudev's case. As pointed out by the Full Bench of Karnataka High Court, if the Supreme Court itself in a later decision adverts to its earlier decision and lays down the import of the former on any aspect, such later decision is conclusive so far as the High Court is concerned. The learned Judge of the City Civil Court was thus clearly in error in holding that the provisions of the said Act are not applicable on the ground that the property was an agricultural land on the date of letting. It may be mentioned that Mr. Abhyankar also challenged the finding of the City Civil Court that the land was an agricultural land on the date of letting. But it is not necessary to express any opinion on this aspect, as I am of the opinion that the relevant date in order to ascertaining the applicability of the said Act is the date on which the suit was filed and not the date of letting.


Civil Revision Application No. 864 of 1990

Decided On: 08.07.1994

 Govindram Bros. Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. Vs. Alexander Benedict Joseph Pereira

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
A.P. Shah, J.
Citation: 1995(1) MHLJ115,1995(2) Bom CR 531.
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