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Friday, April 28, 2017

The suit was for respondent's eviction from the quarter in question and also for claiming damages for its use and occupation payable from 30.06.1992. = The law on this question is well settled. A contract of tenancy created between the employer and employee in relation to any accommodation terminates on the cessation of the employment of an employee. In other words, such tenancy is only for the period of employment and comes to an end on termination of the contract of employment. Such employee then has no right to remain in occupation of the accommodation once he ceases to be in the employment of his employer. He has to then surrender the accommodation to his employer.

           REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL No.  5335  OF 2017
                   (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.11472/2013)

M/s Unichem Laboratories Ltd.            ….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Rani Devi & Anr.                    …Respondent(s)

                       WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL No.  5336  OF 2017
                   (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.13070/2013)

M/s Unichem Laboratories Ltd.            ….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Amar Kaur & Anr.                    …Respondent(s)

                                     AND

                       CIVIL APPEAL No.  5337 OF 2017
                   (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.27328/2014)

M/s Unichem Laboratories Ltd.            ….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Rajesh Mohan Kapil                       …Respondent(s)
J U D G M E N T

Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
S.L.P.(c) No. 11472 of 2013
1)    Leave granted.
2)    This appeal is filed  against  the  final  judgment  and  order  dated
15.10.2012 passed by the High Court of  Judicature  at  Allahabad  in  Civil
Revision No. 441 of 2012 whereby the High Court  allowed  the  revision  and
set aside the judgment/decree dated  30.07.2012  passed  by  the  Additional
District and Sessions Judge, Small Causes Court, Ghaziabad, U.P. in SCC  No.
39 of 2001.
3)    The appellant  is  the  plaintiff  whereas  the  respondents  are  the
defendants in the civil suit out of which this appeal arises.
4)    The appellant  is  a  Public  Limited  Company  registered  under  the
Companies Act. Its registered office is at Mumbai.  The  appellant  has  one
industrial unit at Industrial Area, Meerut Road in Ghaziabad (UP).
5)    The State of U.P.  has  enacted  an  Act  called  "The  Uttar  Pradesh
Industrial Housing Act, 1955" (hereinafter referred to as  "the  Act”).  The
object of this Act is to provide housing to industrial workers by the  State
or local authorities working in the industries in the State of UP.
6)    Some Sections of the Act, which  are  relevant  for  this  case,  need
mention. Section 3 provides that the Act shall apply to those  houses  which
are constructed by the State or the authorities  specified  in  the  Section
for the occupation of the Industrial workers under  the  Industrial  Housing
Scheme subsidized by the Central Government or any Scheme  notified  in  the
Official Gazette. Section 4 empowers the State Government to appoint  Labour
Commissioner to exercise the powers under the Act in relation to the  houses
and other matters specified therein. Section 7 specifies the duties  of  the
Labour Commissioner. Sections 10 and 11 deal with allotment  of  houses  and
the manner in which the allotment is to be made. Section  12  specifies  the
conditions of occupation of the houses by the allottees.  Section  13  deals
with the bar of jurisdiction of the Court and provides that  no  order  made
by the State or Labour  Commissioner  under  the  Act  would  be  called  in
question in any Court and no injunction shall be granted  by  any  Court  or
any authority in respect of any action  taken  in  pursuance  of  any  power
conferred by or under the  Act.  Sections  15  and  16  empower  the  Labour
Commissioner to fix the rates  of  rent  and  the  manner  of  its  payment.
Section 18 empowers the Labour Commissioner to enter into any house for  the
purpose of administering or carrying out the provisions of the Act.  Section
20 enables the employer of the allottee to enter into an agreement with  the
Labour Commissioner for recovery of rent every  month  from  the  salary  of
their employee(allottee). Section 21 so long as it was a  part  of  the  Act
(since deleted w.e.f 28.4.72)  had  empowered  the  Labour  Commissioner  to
evict any  allottee  from  the  allotted  house  on  the  grounds  specified
therein. Section 22 provides a right of appeal  to  the  State  against  the
order of Labour Commissioner.  Section  28  provides  rule-making  power  to
carry out the provisions of the Act. This, in substance, is  the  Scheme  of
the Act.
7)    The State Government constructed several  houses  in  accordance  with
the provisions of the Act and allotted, quarter Nos. 5,6,7,8,11  and  12  in
Block No. 59 at Industrial Labour Colony, Ghaziabad to  the  appellant  vide
order dated 29.04.1971  so  as  to  enable  the  appellant  to  allot  these
houses/quarters to the workers for their use and occupation while they  were
in the appellant's employment. The allotment  order  issued  by  the  State,
inter alia, provided that,  (1) monthly rent of each quarter  would  be  Rs.
23/-; (2) The quarters would be used only  for  residence  by  the  eligible
worker; (3) The allottee of the quarter shall deposit security money of  Rs.
46/- per quarter and  will  also  execute  agreement  as  prescribed  before
occupying the quarter; and (4) In the event, it is found that the  allotment
is made to ineligible worker,  his  tenancy  shall  cease  attracting  penal
action as provided under the Act/Rules etc.
8)    Respondent No.1's husband-Dharam Dev Yadav was in  the  employment  of
the appellant as industrial  worker.  He  was  working  in  the  appellant's
industrial unit. On 11.05.1971, he applied to the  appellant  for  allotment
of one quarter for his use and occupation. The appellant, vide  order  dated
12.05.71, allotted quarter No.5 in Block No. 59 in the industrial colony  at
Ghaziabad to Dharam Dev Yadav. On allotment, Dharam  Dev  Yadav  executed  a
declaration as required under the Act/Rule.
9)    Dharam Dev Yadav retired from the appellant's service  on  12.01.1992.
He, however, made request to the appellant vide his  letter  dated  11.01.92
to allow him to remain in occupation of the quarter  for  a  period  of  six
months. The appellant acceded to his request  and  accordingly  granted  him
time to vacate the quarter on or before 30.06.1992 on  humanitarian  ground.
Dharam Dev Yadav did not vacate the quarter after expiry of six  months  and
continued to remain in its occupation. In  the  meantime,  he  died  leaving
behind his wife (respondent No. 1 herein) who also continued  to  remain  in
the occupation of the quarter along with her family members.
10)   The appellant, therefore, filed a civil suit in the  year  2001  being
S.C.C.  No  39/2001  before  the  Additional  District  &  Sessions   Judge,
Ghaziabad against the respondents. The suit was  for  respondent's  eviction
from the quarter in question and also for claiming damages for its  use  and
occupation payable from  30.06.1992.  It  was  alleged  that  the  allotment
period having come to an end on the date of retirement of Dharam  Dev  Yadav
on 12.01.1992 and  the  same  having  been  extended  for  six  months  till
30.06.1992, he was under legal as well as contractual obligation  to  vacate
the quarter on and after 30.06.1992. It was alleged  that  the  respondents,
who claim through Dharam Dev Yadav had no independent  right  to  remain  in
occupation of the quarter because  they  were  neither  in  the  appellant's
employment and nor any allotment order had  been  issued  by  the  appellant
or/and the State in their favour in  relation  to  quarter  No.  5.  It  was
alleged that the respondents are, therefore, in illegal  occupation  of  the
quarter in question as trespasser and hence were liable to be  evicted  from
the said quarter.
11)   The respondents filed their written statement  and  denied  the  claim
made by the appellant. It was alleged that the  appellant  being  a  Company
had no right to file a suit unless resolution had  been  passed  authorizing
the plaintiff-Company to file the  suit  against  the  respondents.  It  was
alleged that the appellant not being the owner of the  quarter  in  question
had no right to file a civil suit seeking  respondent's  eviction  from  the
quarter. The respondents then alleged that they were in  occupation  of  the
suit house as tenant. The respondents also alleged that the suit was  barred
by virtue of Section 13 of the Act read with Section 23 of the  Small  Cause
Courts Act and hence it was liable to be dismissed as being barred.
12)   The Trial Court framed 9 issues. Parties adduced evidence.  The  Trial
Court, vide judgment/decree dated 30.07.2012 decreed  the  appellant’s  suit
and passed eviction decree against the respondents. It was  held  that,  (i)
the suit is maintainable; (ii) there existed a relationship of landlord  and
tenant between the plaintiff and Dharam Dev Yadav; (iii)  the  monthly  rent
of suit house is Rs 34/-; (iv) the suit is not barred by Section 13  of  the
Act read with Section 23 of the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act;  (v)  the
District Judge has jurisdiction to try  the  suit;  (vi)  the  plaintiff  is
authorized and hence competent to file the  civil  suit;  (vii)  Dharam  Dev
Yadav was under contractual and legal obligation to vacate  the  suit  house
no sooner he retired from service;  (viii) the tenancy  in  respect  of  the
quarter came to end on termination of the employment of  Dharam  Dev;   (ix)
defendant No. 1 being  wife of the original allottee had no right to  occupy
the quarter in question because she  was  neither  a  workman  and  nor  the
allottee; and (x) the plaintiff was entitled to claim Rs. 1000/-  per  month
from the defendants from 25.9.1998 till the date of filing the suit and  Rs.
1000/- per month during the pendency of suit till  possession  is  taken  of
the suit house from the defendants.
13)   Felt aggrieved, the defendants filed revision before  the  High  Court
under Section 25 of the Small Cause Courts Act. By impugned order, the  High
Court allowed the revision, set  aside  the  judgment/decree  of  the  Trial
Court and dismissed the appellant's suit. The High Court held that, (i)  the
civil suit at the instance of the plaintiff (appellant) is not  maintainable
for want of plaintiff's (appellant’s) locus; (ii) the suit, however, is  not
barred by Section 13 of the Act;  (iii) such suit, however, could  be  filed
by the State Government or/and Labour Commissioner; and (iv)  there  was  no
relationship of landlord and tenant between the appellant and  the  original
allottee. The High Court then proceeded to give directions to the  Principal
Secretary, Labour to take action against the erring officials who failed  to
take  any  action  to  obtain  possession  of  the  quarters  from   illegal
occupants.
14)   Felt aggrieved, the plaintiff filed present appeal by way  of  special
leave before this Court.
15)   Heard Mr. Sudhir Chandra, learned senior  counsel  for  the  appellant
and Mr. Jay Savla, learned counsel for respondent No.2.
16)   Having heard  learned counsel for the parties and on  perusal  of  the
record of the case, we are inclined to allow the appeal  and  while  setting
aside  the impugned order and  restore  the  judgment/decree  of  the  Trial
Court, which rightly decreed appellant’s suit against the respondents.
17)   In our considered opinion, both  the  Courts  rightly  held  that  the
Civil Suit is not barred under Section 13 of the Act. The  reasons  are  not
far to seek.
18)   As would be clear from the provisions of the Act, the power to  decide
the eviction cases  under  the  Act  was  earlier  vested  with  the  Labour
Commissioner under Section 21 of the Act. However, by U.P. Act No.  22/1972,
Section 21  was  deleted  with  effect  from  28.04.1972.  This  necessarily
resulted in restoring the power to try the eviction suit by the Civil  Court
under general law in terms of Section 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure  1908
(hereinafter referred to as “the Code”).
19)    Section  9  of  the  Code  provides  that  the  Courts   shall   have
jurisdiction to try all suits of a "civil nature" excepting suits  of  which
their cognizance is either expressly or impliedly barred. A  suit  filed  to
claim eviction from any accommodation is  a  suit  of  "civil  nature"  and,
therefore, the Civil Court is competent to  take  cognizance  of  such  suit
unless its jurisdiction is expressly or impliedly barred by  virtue  of  any
special Enactment.  It is not so here.
20)   As mentioned above, the jurisdiction of the Civil  Court  to  try  the
eviction cases arising under the Act was barred  by  virtue  of  Section  21
till 28.04.1972 because the power to try such cases  was  vested  in  Labour
Commissioner. It was permissible for the Legislature to do so.  However,  on
and after 28.04.1972, Labour Commissioner was divested  with  the  power  to
try the eviction cases by reason of deletion of Section  21  from  the  Act.
The jurisdiction to try the suits arising under the Act,  therefore,   stood
restored to the Civil Court by virtue of Section 9 of the Code  because  the
Legislature then did not confer such  powers  to  try  the  matters  arising
under the Act on other specified authority on and after  28.04.1972.  It  is
for these reasons, we are of the considered opinion  that  the  Civil  Court
was justified in trying and deciding the  suit  out  of  which  this  appeal
arises.
21)   So far as rigour of Section  13  of  the  Act  is  concerned,  in  our
opinion, it does not put any fetter on the powers of the Civil Court to  try
and decide the eviction cases  filed  by  the  State  or  any  authority  or
allotee of the houses against the person in possession  of  the  quarter  on
and after 28.04.1972.
22)   Section 13 only provides that if any order  is  passed  by  the  State
Government or Labour Commissioner under the Act,  it shall not be called  in
question in any Court and no Court shall grant any injunction in respect  of
any action taken or to be taken under the Act.
23)   This, in our opinion, only means that  no  industrial  worker  or  any
person alike him, if feels aggrieved of any order passed under  the  Act  by
the specified authority, will have a right to file any  case  in  the  Civil
Court to challenge the legality of any such order or/and action taken  under
the Act. In other words, it only restricts the rights of  the  worker/person
in approaching the Courts to question  the  legality  of  the  action  taken
under the Act. This  Section  unlike  Section  21  cannot  be  construed  as
ousting the jurisdiction of the Civil Court to try the eviction  suit  filed
by the employer under the Act.
24)   It is a settled principle of law that  exclusion  of  jurisdiction  of
the Civil Court is not to be readily inferred and such exclusion  is  either
be “explicitly expressed or clearly implied”.   It  is  a  principle  by  no
means to be whittled down and has been referred to as a “fundamental  rule”.
 As a necessary corollary of this rule,  provisions  excluding  jurisdiction
of Civil Courts are required to be construed strictly.  In other  words,  it
is trite rule of interpretation that  existence  of  jurisdiction  in  Civil
Courts to decide questions of civil nature is a  general  rule  whereas  the
exclusion is an exception.  The burden  is,  therefore,  on  the  party  who
raises such a contention to prove such exclusion.   (See  Interpretation  of
Statutes by G.P. Singh, 12th Edition, pages 747-748).  It is not so in  this
case.
25)   It is for these reasons, we are of  the  view  that  both  the  Courts
below were right in holding that the suit is not hit by  rigors  of  Section
13 of the Act.
26)   This takes us to examine the next question, namely, whether  the  High
Court was justified in holding that the appellant (company) had no right  to
file the suit for want of any locus qua the defendants in  relation  to  the
quarter or in other words, whether the High Court was justified  in  holding
that there was no privity of contract of any nature  between  the  appellant
and Dharam Das Yadav in relation to the quarter and,  therefore,  they  were
not competent to file a suit under the  Act  to  seek  respondents  eviction
from the quarter and such suit could be filed either  by  the  State  or/and
Labour Commissioner? Yet another question as to whether the High  Court  was
justified in holding that there  did  not  exist  any  tenancy  between  the
appellant and the worker in respect of the quarter?  We do  not  agree  with
the view taken by the High Court  as,  in  our  view,  the  questions  posed
deserve to be answered in appellant’s favour  and  against  the  respondents
for the reasons mentioned infra.
27)   It is not in dispute that the State had allotted the quarters  to  the
appellant under the Act by issuing an allotment order.  It is  also  not  in
dispute that the allotment of quarters was made by the  appellant  to  their
workers for their use and occupation, who were  in  their  employment.  That
apart and as would be clear, the Act enabled the  appellant  to  deduct  the
rent every month from the monthly salary of the workers under  the  Act  and
lastly, there existed a  relationship  of  the  employer  and  the  employee
between the appellant  and  the  allottee-worker  due  to  which  only,  the
workers were eligible to secure the quarter under  the  Act  as  a  part  of
their service conditions.
28)   In  our  considered  opinion,  the  aforesaid  undisputed  facts  were
sufficient to hold that contractual relationship between the  appellant  and
the allottee-worker in relation to the quarter for deciding their  inter  se
rights had come into  existence.   It  could  be,  therefore,  construed  as
tenancy agreement  between  the  parties.   The  appellant  was,  therefore,
competent  to file the civil suit against the worker for his  eviction  from
the quarter allotted to him on the strength  of  such  agreement  by  taking
recourse to the  provisions  of  the  Act.   The  breaches  alleged  by  the
appellant against the respondents in the suit rendered the  worker  and  all
those claiming through him liable to suffer the eviction order because  such
breaches were rightly held proved by the Trial Court.
29)   This  takes  us  to  examine  one  more  question,  which  arises  for
consideration, namely, status of the allottee-worker qua  the  appellant  on
his ceasing to be in the appellant’s employment in relation to the  quarter.
It is not in dispute that the quarter in question  was  allotted  to  Dharam
Dev Yadav by virtue of he being in the appellant's employment.  It  is  also
not in dispute that he retired from  the  service  on  12.01.1992.  He  was,
therefore, under  contractual  obligation  to  vacate  the  quarter  on  his
retirement.  He did not do so and instead sought  extension  to  vacate  the
quarter after six  months.  The  appellant  granted  it.  Despite  grant  of
extension, he did not vacate after expiry of six months.  In  the  meantime,
he died and his family members (respondents)  continued  to  remain  in  its
occupation.
30)   The law on this question  is  well  settled.  A  contract  of  tenancy
created between the employer and employee in relation to  any  accommodation
terminates on the cessation of the  employment  of  an  employee.  In  other
words, such tenancy is only for the period of employment  and  comes  to  an
end on termination of the contract of employment.  Such  employee  then  has
no right to remain in occupation of the accommodation once he ceases  to  be
in  the  employment  of  his  employer.   He   has  to  then  surrender  the
accommodation to his employer.
31)   In this case, the possession  of  the  original  allottee  Dharam  Dev
Yadav became illegal on and after 12.01.1992 when he  retired  from  service
because on this date, tenancy in relation to suit quarter also  came  to  an
end.  In any event, it became unauthorized  on  and  after  30.06.1992.  The
respondents too had no independent right to  remain  in  occupation  of  the
quarter in question because they were  neither  in  the  employment  of  the
appellant and nor were the allottees under the Act so as to entitle them  to
remain in possession on their own rights.
32)   The Trial Court was, therefore, justified in recording  the  aforesaid
findings against the respondents and was also justified  in  passing  decree
for  eviction  and  recovery  of  rent  by  way  of  damages   against   the
respondents. We find no good ground to interfere in any of  these  findings.
They are accordingly upheld.
33)   We may mention here that Section 630 of the Companies Act  also  deals
with such type of cases arising between the Company  and  its  employees  to
whom the Company has provided the  accommodation  as  part  of  his  service
conditions.
34)   The Section enables the Company to  file  a  complaint  against  their
employee, if he fails to vacate the accommodation allotted  to  him  by  the
Company by virtue of his employment on termination of his employment.   Such
complaint can be filed by the Company in the  competent  Court  wherein  the
Company can seek employee's prosecution,  eviction  from  the  accommodation
and also for imposition of the fine as specified in the Section.
35)   The appellant-Company,  in  this  case  could,  therefore,  also  take
recourse to invoke the remedy available against the  respondents  under  the
Companies Act.  It was legally permissible for them to  do  so  because  the
Act did not bar the applicability of Companies Act  for  resorting  to  such
remedy against the respondents. Be that as it may.
36)    Learned  counsel  for  the  respondents  lastly  submitted  that  the
State/Central Government has issued some  G.Os.  which,  according  to  him,
enable the workers occupying  the  quarters  after  ceasing  to  be  in  the
employment to purchase the quarters as per the procedure prescribed  in  the
G.Os.
37)    It  is  not  for  this  Court  to  examine  this  question  in  these
proceedings for the simple reason that  this  appeal  is  confined  only  to
examine the legality of an order passed by the High Court  in  the  eviction
suit. We, therefore, express no opinion on this question.
38)   In the light of  foregoing  discussion,  we  cannot  concur  with  the
reasoning and the conclusion of the High Court.  The  appeal  thus  succeeds
and is allowed. The impugned order is set aside and that of the Trial  Court
is restored.
39)   The respondents are granted 3 months’ time to vacate the suit  quarter
provided they deposit the entire  decreetal  amount  awarded  by  the  Trial
Court and also deposit the three months’ rent by way of damages for use  and
occupation at the same rate determined by the Trial Court.
40)   Let the decretal amount be deposited  in  the  concerned  Trial  Court
within one month. Failure to  deposit  the  amount  within  one  month  will
entitle the appellant to execute the decree forthwith.
In S.L.P.(c) Nos. 13070 of 2013 and 27328 of 2014
      Leave granted.
      In view of the aforesaid judgment passed  in  appeal  arising  out  of
S.L.P.(c) No. 11472 of 2013, these appeals are  also  allowed  on  the  same
terms and conditions.

………...................................J.
                                  [R.K. AGRAWAL]


…...……..................................J.
                                [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]
      New Delhi;
      April 18, 2017

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