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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

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?= 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.- 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.


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8194 OF 2016

|RAJENDER BANSAL & ORS.                     |.....APPELLANT(S)            |
|                                           |                             |
|VERSUS                                     |                             |
|                                           |.....RESPONDENT(S)           |
|BHURU (D) THR. LRS. & ORS.                 |                             |

                               J U D G M E N T


                 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?
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.
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.
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 Devi[3]; AND
(iv)  Harijeet Kaur Vs. Sarabjit Kaur[4] [P&H High Court]
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 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 Vohra[5]
(ii)  Lakshmi Narayan Guin and Others Vs. Niranjan Modak[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.
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.
Judgment in Atma Ram Mittal  Vs.  Ishwar  Singh  Punia[7],  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  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”.
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  Wadhera[8]  and
Ram Saroop Rai Vs. Smt. Lilawati[9].
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

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 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)

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.
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  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.”

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
“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.”

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
                                                         (emphasis supplied)

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. Lilavati[11],  as  can  be  seen  from  paragraph  10  of  the
“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.”

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
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
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.
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.
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

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.

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.

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

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.

                                                                (A.K. SIKRI)

                                                               (N.V. RAMANA)

OCTOBER 18, 2016.

      (1992) 1 SCC 751
[2]   (2002) 5 SCC 462
[3]   (1987) 4 SCC 382
[4]   2013 (1) RCR (Rent) 74
[5]   (1980) 1 SCC 1
[6]   (1985) 1 SCC 270
[7]   (1988) 4 SCC 284
[8]   (1984) 3 SCC 352
[9]   (1980) 3 SCC 452
[10]  (1998) 2 SCC 710
[11]  (1980) 3 SCC 452

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