Sunday, 7 October 2018

Whether licensee will become tenant if his license was not subsisting on the date when S 15A Bombay rent Act came in to force?

 Defendants 2 and 3 came to the suit flat by virtue of Ex. 20-1 dt. 9-10-1967. Under Ex. P-7 the licence granted to defendant 1 stood terminated as from the last day of June 1966. Of course, defendant 1 did not comply with the demand to vacate and deliver possession of the flat. Would continuance in occupation authorise defendant 1 to create a sub-licence and would the beneficiary of the said sub-licence get the benefit of section 15-A of the Rent Act ? Ex. 2-D-1 was for a period of 11 months as from 9-10-1967, with the licensee having an option to renew it for a further eleven months period. Thus the extended period would end in about September 1969. There was no further extension. The argument is that defendants 2 and 3 continued in occupation and defendant 1 accepted the compensation. This would therefore make the license a subsisting one on the day section 15-A came into the statute book by virtue of Mah. Act XVII of 1973. It is not possible to accept this contention. Section 15-A conferred protection upon a specified class of licensees. As section 5(4-A) makes clear the expression 'licensee' referred to is "a person in occupation under a subsisting agreement for a licence". Now on 1-2-1973 neither defendant 1 nor defendant 2 and 3 could be said to be in occupation as licensees whose licence was subsisting. Defendant 1's licence had been expressly determined and the licence in favour of defendant 2 ended by efflux of time. Licence is a matter of agreement and cannot be left to inferencesThis is all the more so when Ex. 2-D-1 specifies a period of 22 months as the termination point, and, as reckoned from 9-10-1967. If there had been a renewal it would have been in writing. Reliance is placed upon Sanwarmal Kejriwal v. Vishwa Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. and others, Civil Appeal No. 1369 of 1990 decided by the Supreme Court on 8-3-1990: 1990(1) B.C.R. (S.C.)796. Far from that decision supporting the contention of defendants 2/3, it reaffirmed the view taken in earlier decisions that a person not in occupation of the premises under a subsisting licence as on 1-2-1973, could not invoke the protection of section 15-A of the Rent Act. Quoted with approval in the other case relied upon by defendants 2/3 i.e. A.V.R. and Co. and others v. Fairfield Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. 1989(1) B.C.R. 325 : 1989 M.R.C.J. 103 : is this passage from D.H. Maniar v. Waman Laxman Kudav, MANU/SC/0350/1976 : [1977]1SCR403

"In order to get the advantage of section 15-A of the Bombay Rent Act, the occupant must be in occupation of the premises as a licensee as defined in section 5(4-A) on February 1, 1973. If he be such a licensee the non-obstante clause of section 15-A(1) gives him the status and protection of a tenant in spite of there being anything to the contrary in any other law or in any contract ......... But if he is not a licensee under a subsisting agreement on February 1, 1973, then he does not get the advantage of the amended provision of the Bombay Rent Act."
10-A. To sum up, the plea that defendant 1 was a tenant of the society is not true on facts and is barred by res judicata on the competing claims of defendant 1 and Sadashiv vis-a-vis title as tenant members, the matter has to be found in favour of the latter-again on facts and by virtue of an earlier decision. Lastly, and on the same basis, is the finding that defendant 1 was inducted into the flat as a licensee by Sadashiv and was therefore estopped from questioning his licensor's title. The claim to protection under section 15-A of the Rent Act is not available to defendants 1 to 3. In fact defendant 1 does not make that claim in the proper sense of the concept for he has set up an adverse title to his licensor. A licensee recognises the superior title of his licensor and where the claim set up by him conflicts with the licensor's title, he is not a licensee or entitled to the benefit of section 15-A. I emphasise this for defendants 2/3 have pleaded that defendant 1 was or had represented himself to be a tenant that it was on this representation that they had entered into the licence transaction with him. In Ex. 2-D-1 there is an averment about defendant 1 being a tenant. This of course has to be construed as a reference to his claiming to be a tenant-member from the society and not a tenant of Sadashiv. I deduce this from the contents of Ex. P-8 which is defendant 1's reply to plaintiff's quit notice Ex. P-7. In Ex. P 8 appears the assertion that defendant 1 is a yearly tenant of the society. It is doubtful if a licence created by a sub licensor setting up a title hostile to the head tenant, even though in force on 1-2-1973, can get the protection of section 15-A. But it is not necessary to go further into the matter for on the facts proved no licence subsisted on 1-2-1973 in favour of either set of defendants. And that suffices to find the issues against defendants.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY

Suit No. 595 of 1976

Decided On: 16.04.1990

 Narayan Sadashiv Bhalerao Vs.  Navnitdas Narayandas Barshikar and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
S.M. Daud, J.


Citation: 1990(2) BomCR 483.
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