10 October 1996
Supreme Court


Case number: C.A. No.-005948-005950 / 1990
Diary number: 76278 / 1990



CASE NO.: Appeal (civil)  5948 of 1990



DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/10/1996




N.P. Singh, J.      These appeal  have been  filed on behalf of the tenants of premises  bearing No.  76 in Car street, Thirupapuliyur i the State  of Tamil  Nadu. According  to the appellants, the said premises  had been  let out for no-residential purposes and  the   appellants  had  been  paying  the  monthly  rent regularly. The  respondent, who is the landlady (hereinafter referred to  as the ’respondent’) filed petitions before the Rent Controller  for  eviction  of  the    appellants  under Section 14  (1)(b) of  the Tamil  Nadu Buildings  (Lease and Rent Control)  Act, 1960  (hereinafter referred  to  as  the ’Act’). It  was alleged  in the petitions aforesaid that the building in  question was  an old  one and was situated in a very busy  locality of  the town where a number of buildings in and  around the  building in question had been demolished and shopping  complex and  had been  constructed with modern amenities,  and  as  such  the  respondent  also  wanted  to demolished the  entire building in order the construct a new shopping  complex   for  which  necessary  permissions  from municipal authorities and already been obtained. It was also claimed on behalfs of the respondent that she had sufficient financial resources for construction of the new building. An undertaking was  given on  behalf of the respondent that the work of demolition of the building would commence within one month and  would be  completed before  the expiry  of  three month from  the date the said respondent recovery possession of the building those petitions were rested on behalf of the appellants saying  that the  building was not an old one and it can  stand fort  many more  years to  come. It  was  also denied  that   the  respondent   had  sufficient   financial resources to  construct a  new shopping complex. By a common order the  Rent Controller  came to  the conclusion that the requirement of the entire building for purpose of demolition and reconstruction  by the  respondent was  bonafide and  as such the respondent was entitled to and order of eviction of the  appellants   from  the  respective  portions  in  their possession.  Appeals  filed  on  behalf  of  the  appellants against the  said order  were  dismissed  by  the  appellant



authority  affirming  the  findings  recorded  by  the  Rent Controller. Civil  revision applications  filed on behalf of the appellants  before the  High Court were dismissed at the stage of  admission  itself  saying  that  in  view  of  the concurrent findings  of the  courts below  in respect of the bonafide  requirement  of  the  respondent  for  purpose  of demolition and  reconstruction there  was  no  occasion  for interference  by  the  High  Court  on  the  civil  revision petitions filed on behalf of the appellants.      The aforesaid  orders are  being  questioned  in  these appeals on  the ground  that the  Rent Controller  could not have  directed  eviction  merely  on  the  ground  that  the respondent wanted  to demolish  the building in question for reconstruction of  a new  shopping complex;  any such  order could  have  been  passed  only  after  the  respondent  had satisfied the  Rent Controller,  that the  requirements  and conditions prescribed under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act have been fulfilled. The relevant portion of section 14 provides:      "14.  Recovery   of  possession  by      landlord   for   repairs   or   for      reconstruction.-      (1)    Notwithstanding     anything      contained in  this Act, but subject      to the provisions of Section 12 and      13, on  and application  made by  a      landlord, the  Controller shall, if      he is satisfied-           (a) That  the building is bona      fide required  by the  landlord for      carrying out  repairs which  cannot      be carried out without the building      being vacated.           (b) that  the building is bona      fide required  by the  landlord for      the    immediate     purpose     of      demolishing it  and such demolition      is to  be made  for the  purpose of      erecting a new building on the site      of  the   building  sought   to  be      demolished, pass an order directing      the tenant to deliver possession of      the building to the landlord before      a specified date.      (2) No  order directing  the tenant      to  deliver   possession   of   the      building under  this section  shall      be passed-           (a) On the ground specified in      clause  (a)   of  sub-section  (1),      unless  the   landlord   gives   an      undertaking   that   the   building      shall,   on   completion   of   the      repairs, be  offered to the tenant,      who   delivered    possession    in      pursuance of  an order  under  sub-      section (1)  for his  re-occupation      before the  expiry of  three months      from    the  date  of  recovery  of      possession  by   the  landlord,  or      before the  expiry of  such further      period as  the Controller  may, for      reasons to  be recorded in writing,      allow; or           (b) on the ground specified in      clause  (b)   of  sub-section  (1),



    unless  the   landlord   gives   an      undertaking  that   the   work   of      demolishing any material portion of      the building shall be substantially      commenced by him nor later than one      month and shall be completed before      the expiry of three months from the      date he  recovers possession of the      entire  building   or  before   the      expiry of  such further  period  as      the Controller  may, for reasons to      be recorded in writing, allow."      It may be mentioned that Sections 12 and 13 referred to in sub-section  (1) of  Section 14  relate to  buildings  in respect of  which their Government shall be deemed to be the tenant and  the authorised  officer has been vested with the power to  pass an  order directing  the allottee  to deliver possession  of   the  building  to  the  landlord  before  a specified date.  We are not concerned with the provisions of Sections 12 and 13 so far the present appeals are concerned.      On a  plain reading of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 14  it  appears  that  it  is  applicable  when  the landlord requires possession of the building of carrying out repairs which  cannot be  carried out  without the  building being vacated.  so far  clause (b)  of  sub-section  (1)  of Section 14  is concerned  it contemplates  a situating where there is  a bonafide  requirement of  the  building  by  the landlord ’for  the immediate  purpose of demolishing it’ and ’such demolition is to be made for purpose of erecting a new building on the site’. It may be pointed out that in view of clause (a)  of sub-section  (2) of  Section  14,  where  the building by  the landlord  ’for  the  immediate  purpose  of erecting a  new building on the site’. It may be pointed out that in  view of  clause (a) of a sub-section (2) of section 14, where  the building  has been  vacated for  repairs  the building has  to be  ordered to the tenant who had delivered possession in  pursuance of  an order of the Rent Controller for re-occupation.  No such  condition has  been  prescribed where order  of eviction has been passed under clause (a) of sub-section (1)  of Section  14. i.e.. for immediate purpose of demolishing  it in  order to  erect a new building on the site. In  other words, once the Rent Controller is satisfied that the  requirement of  the landlord  of the  building for immediate  purpose  of  demolition  and  reconstruction  was bonafide, there  is no  scope for passing an order directing the  landlord  to  allow  any  portion  of  the  constructed building to  be re-occupied  by  the  tenant  who  had  been evicted. In  this background,  the question which  falls for consideration is an to whether for eviction of the tenant of the building  under section  14(1)(b) the  landlord  has  to satisfy the  Rent  Controller  that  the  condition  of  the building is  such that  it is  immediately  required  to  be demolished. whether  the expression  ’immediate  purpose  of demolishing’ has any nexus with the age and condition of the building or it indicates only the immediate need and urgency of the  landlord to  demolish  such  building  in  order  to reconstruct a  new one  on the same site. It it is held that section 14  (1)(b) vest  power in  the  Rent  Controller  to direct the  tenant to  deliver possession of the building to the landlord no sooner the Rent Controller is satisfied that the landlord  is in  a position  to immediately demolish the building in question in order to construct a new building on the said site, it will go against the fundamental concept of statutory regulation  of the landlord-tenant relationship in urban  areas,   where  special   provision  have  been  made



different from  the rights  and obligations  of the landlord and tenant  number the  Transfer of Properties Act. With the Population explosion  and  cry for a roof in the urban areas a situation  was created where the legislatures of different States had  to enact Acts regulating the conditions on which premises in  such areas are to be let out and tenants are to be evicted.  By and  large there  is no  uniformity  in  the provisions applicable to different States. as such from time to time  this Court  has to  construe the  scope of  special provisions of  a particular  state and  to say  what is  the object  behind   the  same.   So  far  Section  14(1)(b)  is concerned, in the case of Metalware and Co. etc. v. Bansilal Sarma and Co. etc. (1979) 3 SCC 398 it was said:           "As stated  earlier it  cannot      be disputed that the phrase used in      Section 14(1)(b) of The Act is "the      building is  bona fide required buy      The  landlord"  for  the  immediate      purpose    of     demolition    and      reconstruction and the same clearly      refers to  the bonafide requirement      of The  landlord, it  is also  true      that the  requirement in  terms  is      not that  the building  should  nee      immediate      demolition       and      reconstruction.  But   we  fail  to      appreciate   how   The   state   of      condition of  the building  and the      extent  to  which  it  could  stand      without  immediate  demolition  and      reconstruction in future would be a      totally  irrelevant   factor  while      determining "the   Rent  Controller      will have  to take into account all      The    surrounding    circumstances      including not  merely the factor of      the  landlord  being  possessed  of      sufficient means  or funds to under      take The  project and step taken by      him in  that regard  but  also  the      existing condition of The building,      its   age    and   situation    and      possibility  of  otherwise  of  its      being put  to a more profitable use      after  reconstruction.   All  these      factors being  relevant must  enter      the verdict  of the Rent Controller      on the  question  of  the  bonafide      requirement of  The landlord  under      Section 14(1)(b). In a sense if the      building happens  to be decrepit or      dilapidated it  will redially  make      for the  bona fide  requirement  of      the landlord  though that by itself      in the  absence of  any means being      possessed by the landlord would not      be   sufficient.    Conversely    a      landlord   being    possessed    of      sufficient means  to undertake  The      project    to     demolition    and      reconstruction by itself may not be      sufficient   to    establish    his      bonafide   requirement    if    the      building  happens   to  be  a  very      relevant    construction    in    a



    perfectly sound  condition and  its      situation may prevent its being put      to  a  more  profitable  use  after      reconstruction. In  any case  these      latter factors  may  cast a serious      doubt on  the landlord’s  bona fide      requirement.  It   is,   Therefore,      cleared to  us  that  the  age  and      condition  of  the  building  would      certainly  be   a  relevant  factor      which will  have to  be taken  into      count while  pronouncing  upon  the      bona  fide   requirement   of   the      landlord under  Section 14(1)(b) of      The act  and  the  same  cannot  be      ignored."      Again a  three judges  Bench in  the case  of P.Orr and sons (p)  Ltd. V.  Associated  Publisher  (Madras)  Limited, (1991) 1 SCC 301 Said:           "Section 14(1)(b)  in terms of      which a  tenant is  evicted  -  and      perhaps permanently  speaks of  the      "immediate" Means "at once’ without      delay",  "Immediate"   also   means      "directly connected;  not secondary      or remote",  "not separated  by any      intervening  medium"  (Black’s  Las      Dictionary,   5th   edn.)   Concise      Oxford Dictionary,  New 7th  edn.).      This  clause   no   doubt   denotes      urgency.      Section      14(2)(b)      stipulates  that   the  land   lord      should  give   and  undertaking  to      substantially  commerce  demolition      of  any  material  portion  of  the      building  within   one  month   and      complete  the   same  within  three      months from the date of recovery of      possession  of   the  building   or      within such  further  time  as  the      Controller  may  allow.  Breach  of      this undertaking or a consequential      order   under   Section   16(1)(b),      however, does  not require  instant      demolition, but  demolition  within      the   specified   time.   Immediate      purpose", in  the context  in which      the expression  appears, relates to      directness   rather   than   speed,      although  absence   of  the  latter      negatives the  former.  It  denotes      connection and  timely action,  but      not  instant  action;  yet  delayed      action is  a sign  of remoteness of      purpose.  The  expression  must  be      understood as  a directly connected      and  timely   purpose,  and  not  a      secondary or  remote  or  premature      purpose. Significantly,  the clause      does not  say "for  the purpose  of      immediately   demolishing",   which      word  might   have  dented  instant      demolition. What  Section  14(1)(b)      says  is   "immediate  purpose   of      demolishing".    The    legislative



    intent is  that the  purpose should      be  immediate  or  direct  and  not      mediate or  remote or  indirect  or      secondary.  The  condition  of  the      building need  not be  such  as  to      warrant instant  demolition, but it      must be grave enough to need timely      action  and   rule  out   undue  or      protracted delay.  The landlord  is      not  expected   to  wait  till  the      building   is    in   imminent   or      immediate danger  of crumbling down      so as  to necessitate  recovery  of      possession for  instant demolition.      The purpose  of demolition  must of      course be  immediately or  directly      connected with  the requirement  so      as  not  to  be  separated  by  any      intervening          consideration.      Demolition  for   the  purpose   of      erection of  a new building must be      the direct,  immediate, genuine and      real requirement  of the  landlord.      The  bona  fide  character  of  the      requirement  is   proved   by   the      appropriateness  of  time  and  the      absence   of    any   ulterior   or      irrelevant consideration separating      the requirement  from the statutory      of permitted  purpose.  The  direct      and immediate nexuses between these      two  elements   is  proved  by  the      conditions  of   the  building  and      other    relevant    circumstances.      Absence of  any need for urgency by      reason  of  the  strong  and  sound      condition  of   the  building  will      negative the  bonafide character of      the requirement. What is the degree      of urgency warranted by what extent      of  damage  to  the  building  that      makes the  requirement directly and      immediately  connected   with   the      statutory purpose  is a question of      fact which  must be decided in each      case on  evidence, But  a  building      which is  sound and  safe does  not      qualify for  demolition in terms of      Section 14(1)(b). Any such building      falls totally outside its ambit."      The framers of the Act should have made their intention more specific  and clear  while enacting Section 14(1)(b) of the Act,  instead of  leaving it  to the Courts to interpret the same  from time  to time.  It is  not clear and specific whether the expression ’Immediate purpose of demolishing’ is linked with the condition of the building or wit the need of the landlord  to demolish  an existing  building in order to erect a  new building  on that  site. As the Act purports to give protection  to the  tenants from  eviction it cannot be held that the time for eviction is to be decided at the will and  desire   of  the  landlord.  Therefore  the  expression ’immediate purpose  for demolishing’  cannot be read to mean the immediate  need and  urgency of the landlord. But at the same time  it cannot be linked only with the dilapidated and dangerous condition  of the building.  the age and condition



of the  buildings has  to be taken note of while judging the question of  bona fide  requirement of  the  landlord  under Section 14  (1)(b). But the question is as  to where to draw the line?  Whether it should not only be old but dilapidated at the  same time being unsafe for human habitation? If that was the  requirement for  passing an order of eviction, then why the  framer of the Act have put the other condition that such demolition  is to be made for purpose of erecting a new building on  the site  ? There are Acts in some States where one of  the grounds  for eviction  of  the  tenant  is  that condition of  the  building  is  such  that  it  has  to  be demolished. But  in those  Acts there  is no  requirement or condition to  erect a  new building on the same site. But in the Present  Act the condition of erecting a building on the site of  the old building is a must. The Rent controller has been vested  with the  power to direct the tenant to deliver the possession of the building to the landlord only after he is satisfied that after demolition of the old building a new building shall  be erected.  That is  apparent not only from section 14(1)(b) but form Section 16 also which provides:           "16. Tenant  to occupy  if the      building is not demolished-      (1)  where   an   order   directing      delivery  of  possession  has  been      passed  by   the  Controller  under      clause (b)  of sub-section  (1)  of      section  14   and   the   work   of      demolishing any material portion of      the   building    has   not    been      substantially  commenced   by   the      landlord within  the period  of one      month  in   accordance   with   his      undertaking  under  clause  (b)  of      sub-section (2)  of section  14 the      tenet may  give the landlord notice      of  his  intention  to  occupy  the      building the possession of which he      delivered. I  within  fifteen  days      from the  date of  receipt of  such      notice, the  landlord does  not but      him possession  of the  building on      the original  terms and conditions,      the tenant  may make an application      to the  Controller with eight weeks      of the  date on  which he  but  the      landlord  in   possession  of   the      building.    The  Controller  shall      order  the   landlord  to  put  the      tenant   in   possession   of   the      building on  the original terms and      conditions.      (2) where  in pursuance of an order      passed  by   the  Controller  under      clause (b)  of sub-section  (1)  of      section 14, any building is totally      demolished and  a new  building  is      erected  in   its  place,  all  the      provisions of  this Act shall cease      to apply to such new building for a      period of  five years from the date      on which  the construction  of such      new  building   is  completed   and      notified  to  the  local  authority      concerned.      In view of sub-section (1) of Section 16 if the work of



demolishing any  material portion  of the  building  is  not substantially commenced by the landlord within the period of one month  in accordance  with his under taking under clause (b) of  sub-section (2)  of Section  14, the tenant may give landlord notice  of his intention to occupy the building the possession of which he has delivered. Thereafter  Controller can direct  the landlord  to put the tenant in possession of the building  on  the  original  terms  and  conditions.  If Section 14  (1)(b) of  Act  is  interpreted  to  cover  only buildings which  are dilapidated  and  dangerous  for  human habitation, sub-section  (1) of Section 16 not have provided for reinduction of the tenant in such a building on original terms and conditions.      From sub-section (2) of Section 16 which was introduced by Act  23 of  1973 it  appears that  the framers of the Act desired to  encourage erection  of new buildings in place of the buildings which had been totally demolished on  basis of the order  passed by  the Controller under Section 14(1)(b), otherwise there was not occasion to make a provision that if any building  is totally  demolished and  a new  building is created in  its place,  all provisions of the said Act shall cease to  apply to  such new  building for  a period of five years from  the date  on which  the construction of new such building is  completed and  notified to  the local authority concerned. It  can be said that object of sub-section (2) of Section 16  is that  for five  years the  landlord should be free   from the restrictive provisions of the Act in respect of letting  out the  premises. There  is  no  provision  for reinduction of  the tenant  who had been evicted on basis of the  order   passed  under  Section  14(1)(b)  by  the  Rent Controller after erection of the new building.      The Madras  High Court which had occasions to deal with the said  Section has  not expressed  opinions which  can be said to be unanimous on the nature of requirement of section 14(1)(b). In  the case  of R.P. David v. N. Daniel, (1967) 1 Mad LJ  110, Chandra  Reddy, C.J., speaking for the Bench of two Judges stated :      "The only  requirement  of  Section      14(1)(b) is  the honest  desire  of      the  landlord   to   demolish   the      building and  such demolition is to      be made for the purpose of erecting      a new  building on  the site of the      building sought  to be  demolished.      There is nothing in the language of      this clause  to  warrant  the  view      that the building should be old and      decrepit......"      In Mahboob  Badsha v.  M. Manga  Devi, (1965)  2 Mad LJ 209, the learned judge stated:           "In  may  opinion  the  proper      view to  take of  this provision is      that whenever  the condition of the      building is  not such as to require      immediate demolition  the  case  of      the landlord  should be scrutinised      to find  out whether  he bona  fide      intends to immediately provision is      invoked merely with a view to evict      the tenant....."      In K.J. Sivalingam v. S. Guruswamy, (1983) 2 Mad LJ. 85 The Learned judge said:           "While the  age and  condition      of  the   buildings  are   relevant      factors to  be taken  into account,



    it is  not possible  to insist that      the condition  of the building must      be  such  that  there  is  imminent      threat of  the same  crumbling down      in the near future and only in such      a  contingency , the landlord could      resort to the process under Section      14(1)(b) of the Act......."      In The  case of  K.  Ramachandra  Rao  V.  Krishnaswami Iyengar, (1976) 1 mad LJ 267 it was observed:           "....In my  view,  it  is  not      possible   to    hold   that    the      requirement of  a landlord  who has      not  doubt   the  means   and   has      obtained the necessary licence from      the concerned  authorities is  bona      fide where his case in the petition      for eviction  is that  the building      is  old   and  in   a   dilapidated      condition  and  that  he  therefore      requires   it    for   purpose   of      immediate      demolition       and      reconstruction and  that allegation      has not  been substantiated but has      been found to be other wise in that      the building  has been  found to be      in a sound condition although it is      about 50 years old....."      On reading  Section 14(1)(b)  along with  Section 16 it can be  said that  for eviction of a tenant on the ground of demolition for  the building for erecting a new building the building need  not be  dilapidated or  dangerous  for  human habitation. It that was the requirement there is no occasion to put  a condition to demolish within a specified time, and to erect a new building on the same site. Sub-section (1) of Section 16  contemplates that permission has been granted by the Rent Controller under Section 14(1)(b) for demolition of the building,  but if  such demolition is not carried out in terms of the order and undertaking, then Rent Controller can order the  landlord to  put the  tenant in possession of the building on  the  original  terms  and  conditions.  It  the building is  dangerous and  dilapidated requiring  immediate demolition for  safety, then  there is  no question  of Rent Controller  direction   landlord  to   put  the   tenant  in possession of  such  building  on  the  original  terms  and conditions, on  account of  the failure  of the  landlord to commerce  the   demolition  within  the  period  prescribed. Similarly, there  was no  occasion to link the demolition of such building with erection of new building and then to give the landlord  freedom from the restrictive provisions of the Act for  a period  of five  years from the date on which the construction of  such new building is completed and notified to the  local authorities  concerned. In this background, it has to be held that neither of the extreme position taken by the local  authorities concerned. In this background, it has to be held that neither of the extreme position taken by the respondent or  the appellants  can be  accepted.  Permission under Section  14 (1)(b)  cannot  be  granted  by  the  Rent Controller on  mere asking of the landlord, that he proposes to immediately  demolish the building in question to erect a new building. At the same time it is difficult to accept the stand  of   the  appellants   that  the   building  must  be dilapidated and  dangerous, unfit  for human habitation. For granting  permission   under  Section   14(1)(b)  the   Rent Controller is  expected to  consider all  relevant materials



for recording  a finding  whether  the  requirement  of  the landlord for  demolition of  the building  and erection of a new building  on the  same site  is  bonafide  or  not.  For recording a  finding that  requirement  for  demolition  was bonafide, the Rent Controller has to take into account : (1) bonafide intention  of the landlord for from the sole object only to get rid of the tenants; (2) the age and condition of the building ; (3) the financial position of the landlord to demolish and erect a new building according to the statutory requirements of  the Act. These are some of the illustrative factors which  have to be taken into consideration before an order is passed under Section 14(1)(b). NO court can fix any limit in  respect of  the age and condition of the building. That factor  has to  be taken  into consideration along with other factors and then a conclusion one way or the other has to be arrived at by the Rent Controller.      It appear from the facts of the present appeal that the building in  question was  an old  one and was situated in a very busy  locality of  the down where a number of buildings in and  around the  building in question had been demolished and  shopping  complex  had  been  constructed  with  modern amenities. The respondent also wanted to demolish the entire building in  order to  construct a  new shopping complex for which necessary  permission from  the municipal  authorities had already  been obtained.  It had  also  been  claimed  on behalf of  the respondent  that she had sufficient financial resources  for   constructions  for   the  new  building  An undertaking had  also been given on behalf of the respondent that the  work of  demolition of the building would commence within one month and would be completed before the expiry of the three months from the date the said respondent recovered possession of  the building.  Taking all  the  circumstances into consideration,  the Controller  had passed  an order in terms of  Section  14  (1)(b)  for  the  Act  directing  the appellants who  were tenants  in the building in question to deliver  possession  of  the  building  to  the  respondent. According to  us, all  relevant factors have been taken into consideration and there is not scope for any interference by this Court. As such we are left wit no option but to dismiss these appeals.  The appeals are accordingly dismissed. There shall be no order as to costs.