06 November 1964
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 833 of 1962






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/11/1964


CITATION:  1965 AIR 1491            1965 SCR  (2)  36

ACT: The  Punjab  Security of Land Tenures Act (10 of 1953),  ss. 9(1) (ii) and 14A (1) and (ii) -Non-payment of  rent-Whether without sufficient cause Determination--If conduct prior  to Act can be considered.

HEADNOTE: The  appellant and respondent were the tenant and  land-lord of  certain agricultural lands to which the Punjab  Security of  Land Tenures Act, 1953 applied.  The appellant tried  to avoid  payment  of rent for each year of  the  lease  period (1951-1955),  under one pretext or the other, and for  every year  recoveries of rent were only made through  the  court. After  the period of lease expired, the appellant  continued to  hold over without paying rent.  So the respondent  filed two  applications  to the appropriate authorities,  one  for arrears of rent under s. 14A(ii) and the other for  eviction under s. 14A(1), on the ground, inter alia, specified in  s’ 9(1)  (ii)  that the appellant had failed to  pay  the  rent regularly, without sufficient cause.  On the application for rent,  the appellant was asked to pay the arrears  which  he did within the time fixed.  The application for eviction was dismissed,  but on appeal by the respondent,  the  appellant was  ordered to be evicted.  The appellant’s further  appeal application  for  revision and petition to  the  High  Court under  Arts.  226  and  227 of  the  Constitution  were  all dismissed. In  the appeal to the Supreme Court it was  contended  that, (i)  s. 9(1) (ii) applies only prospectively  and  therefore the conduct of the tenant, prior to the enactment of s.  14A in  1955,  could not be taken into account  for  determining that  there  was not sufficient cause for  non-payment,  and (ii)  as the appellant had paid the arrears within the  time fixed he could not be ,evicted. HELD  : Though the appellant could not be evicted  under  s. 14A(ii)  his case was covered by s. 14A(1) and his  eviction could  be ordered because, the irregularity in  payment  was patent and there was no sufficient cause. [42 A] The necessary condition for the application of s. 9 (1) (ii) may  commence even before the Act came into force  and  past conduct which is as relevant for the clause as conduct after



the  coming into force of the Act, cannot be overlooked.   A statute is not applied retrospectively merely because a part of  the  requisites for its action is drawn- from  a  moment prior to its passing. [41 A-C] The scheme of the Act shows that cls. (1) and (ii) of s. 14A are  entirely different and that there is  no  inconsistency between them.  Clause (ii) deals with eviction as punishment for non-compliance with an order to deposit arrears of  rent within  the  time fixed for payment, whereas cl.  (1)  deals with eviction for any of ’,he reasons given in s. 9(1),  one of which is non-payment of rent regularly without sufficient cause, under s.     9(1) (ii) [41 D-E]

JUDGMENT: CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal No. 833 of 1962. Appeal by special leave from the order, dated March 9, 1961 of the Punjab High Court in Civil Writ No. 291 of 1961. 37 B. R. L. Iyengar and T. S. Venkataraman, for the appellant. Bishan  Narain, S. K. Mehta and K. L. Mehta, for  respondent No. 4. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Hidayatullah,  J. The appellant obtained on lease  from  the 4th   respondent  (Raja  Charanjit  Singh)  208  canals   of agricultural  land for five years commencing from Rabi  1951 to  Kharif 1955 on an annual rent of Rs. 7,500.   The  lease deed  was registered and was executed on November 20,  1950. The  appellant paid a sum of Rs. 7,500 as advance  rent  for one year.  There was a tube well on the land and one of  the terms of the lease was that the Raja would put the tube well into working order and the lease was to commence on the  day this was done.  The tube well was repaired on July 11,  1951 and  the  lease  is  said to have  commenced  on  that  day. According to the appellant the tube well did not deliver the right quantity of water and that led to certain disputes. The appellant did not pay rent for the subsequent years.  On August  15, 1952 the Raja filed a suit for recovery  of  Rs. 7,500  as rent for Rabi and Kharif, 1951.  He  claimed  that Rs.  7,500 paid to him was to be retained as deposit  to  be adjusted towards the final payment.  The appellant  resisted this demand mainly on the ground that the tube well was  not functioning  as required by the lease deed.  This  suit  was decreed  on March 23, 1957 and an amount of Rs. 859-4-0  was found  due.  This was because on April 15, 1953  the  Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 came into force and under s.  12 of that Act the maximum rent payable by a tenant  for any land held by him was not to exceed 1/3rd of the crop  of such  land  or of the value of the crop  determined  in  the manner to be prescribed by Rules.  For this period an amount of  Rs.  4,313 was held to be the value of the  produce  and after  making deduction for sundry payments to the Raja  the decree  was for the amount stated.  The appellant paid  that amount  forthwith.  The appellant did not pay the  rent  for the  years  1952, 1953 and 1954 and on January 5,  1955  the Raja brought another suit for the recovery of Rs. 22,500  as arrears of rent for these three years and on October 8, 1956 filed  a  revised application under s. 14-A(ii)  added  from 1955  to  the  Act.  During the pendency of  this  suit  the appellant  was asked to deposit a sum of Rs. 7,000 which  he did on January 22, 1957.  Later, the amount payable under s. 12 of the Act was found to be Rs. 13,378-2-0 and on June 21, 1957 the appellant deposited the balance.  The appellant did not pay



38 rent  for  the year 1955 and though his lease  expired  with Kharif, 1955 he continued holding over and did not pay  rent for Rabi 1956.  The Raja made an application on October  10, 1956  under s. 14-A(1) for the eviction of the appellant  on the  ground  inter  alia  that he had  failed  to  pay  rent regularly  without sufficient cause.  Under s.  14-A(1)  the application for eviction lay before an Assistant  Collector, First  Grade,  while under s. 14-A(ii) the  application  for recovery of arrears of rent (to which category belonged  the revised  application  dated October 8, 1956, which  we  have mentioned  before) lay before an Assistant Collector  Second Grade.   As  a result the question of the  eviction  of  the tenant  on  the ground that he was irregular in  payment  of rent  was  tried in one court and the  recovery  proceedings were  tried in another court.  The proceedings under s.  14- A(1)  terminated in favour of the appellant on December  24, 1958,  the  Assistant  Collector,  First  Grade,   Jullundur holding that the tenant had sufficient cause not to pay rent fixed by the lease deed and the Raja could not claim  eject- ment  on  that ground.  The Raja appealed.   The  Collector, Jullundur District, on May 20, 1959, reversed the order  and directed  that the appellant be evicted.  An appeal  by  the appellant before the Commissioner, Jullundur Division failed as  also  an application for revision before  the  Financial Commissioner,  Punjab.   The appellant then moved  the  High Court of Punjab at Chandigarh under Articles 226 and 227  of the Constitution.  His petition was summarily dismissed by a Division  Bench  on March 9, 1961. The appellant  has  filed this appeal by special leave. Section  14-A  of the Punjab Security of Land  Tenures  Act, 1953 reads as follows :-               "14-A.    Notwithstanding  anything   to   the               contrary  contained in any other law  for  the               time  being  in  force,  and  subject  to  the               provisions of section 9-A,-               (i)a land-owner desiring to eject a  tenant               under  this Act shall apply in writing to  the               Assistant   Collector,  First  Grade,   having               jurisdiction, who shall thereafter proceed  as               provided for in sub-section (2) of section  10               of this Act, and the provisions of sub-section               (3)  of the said section shall also  apply  in               relation  to such application,  provided  that               the  tenants’  rights  to  compensation,   and               acquisition of occupancy rights, if any, under               the  Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887 (X-VI of  1887),               shall not be affected;               (ii)a landowner desiring to recover  arrears               of  rent from a tenant shall apply in  writing               to the Assistant Col-               39               lector, Second Grade, having jurisdiction, who               shall  thereupon  send a notice, in  the  form               prescribed,  to the tenant either  to  deposit               the rent or value thereof, if payable in kind,               or give proof of having paid it or of the fact               that he is not liable to pay the whole or part               of the rent, or of the fact of the  landlord’s               refusal  to  receive  the same or  to  give  a               receipt,  within the period specified  in  the               notice.   Where, after summary  determination,               as provided for in sub-section (2) of  section               10 of this Act, the Assistant Collector  finds               that the tenant has not paid or deposited  the



             rent, he shall eject the tenant summarily  and               put  the land-owner in possession of the  land               concerned;               (iii)(a)  if  a land-lord refuses  to  accept               rent from his tenant or demands rent in excess               of  what he is entitled to under this Act,  or               refuses  to give a receipt, the tenant may  in               writing inform the Assistant Collector, Second               Grade, having jurisdiction of the fact;               (b)on   receiving  such   application   the               Assistant Collector shall by a written  notice               require  the  landlord  to  accept  the   rent               payable  in  accordance with this Act,  or  to               give  a receipt, as the case may be, or  both,               within 60 days of the receipt of the notice."               In  this connection we may quote the  relevant               provisions of s. 9               "9(1)  Notwithstanding anything  contained  in               any other law for the time being in force,  no               land-owner  shall  be  competent  to  eject  a               tenant except when such tenant-               (i)   is  a tenant on the area reserved  under               this Act or is a tenant of a small land-owner;               or               (ii)fails  to  pay  rent  regularly  without               sufficient cause; or               (iii)is   in   arrears   of   rent   at   the               commencement of this Act; or               (iv)               (v)               (vi)               (Vii)               Explanation.-For the purposes of clause (iii),               a  tenant shall be deemed to be in arrears  of               rent at the               40               commencement of this Act, only if the  payment               of arrears is not made by the tenant within  a               period  of two months from the date of  notice               of the execution of decree or order, directing               him to pay such arrears of rent." Section  10 provides the procedure which has to be  followed when  the  landlord  makes an  application.   That  section, however,  need not be quoted because no question  about  the right procedure arises here. It  will  be  noticed that the first clause of  s.  14-A  is general.  It enables a land-owner to apply for the  eviction of his tenant on any of the grounds stated in the Act in  s. 9.  The  second clause is designed primarily to  enable  the land-owner to recover arrears of rent from a tenant but  the tenant   may  be  ordered  to  be  evicted  if   after   the determination of the rent be does not pay it within the time fixed  by the Collector.  Clause (iii) enables a  tenant  to inform  the  Collector of the landlord’s refusal  to  accept rent  from him or of a demand of rent in excess of  what  it should be under the Act. -The Rules for the determination of the value of the produce under  s. 12 did not come into existence till May 19,  1953. The  appellant has taken advantage of this  circumstance  to plead before us that his failure to pay the rent was  solely due  to  his inability to determine the exact  rent  in  the manner contemplated in s. 12 and the Rules.  This belies his statement  that he took the amount to the landlord  but  the landlord  refused to receive it.  His statement was  rightly not believed because if the landlord had refused to  receive



payment,  the  appellant would have informed  the  Assistant Collector  under s. 14-A(iii) and asked for protection.   He did  nothing  of the kind.  It is quite clear that  he  took advantage of the new Act to avoid payment of rent.  For  the first  year he did so on the ground that the tube  well  was not  functioning  according  to  the  agreement.   For   the subsequent  years he avoided payment on the ground  that  he was only required to pay 1/3rd of the produce or its  value. For  every year a suit had to be filed and  recoveries  were only made through the court.  This establishes the very kind of conduct which is contemplated by S. 9 (1 ) (ii) and which furnishes  a ground for eviction of the tenant under s.  14- A(1). Mr.  Iyengar argues that s. 9(1)(ii)  applies  prospectively and  the conduct of the tenant prior to the enactment of  S. 14-A cannot 41 be  taken into account.  In our opinion, the conduct of  the tenant prior to the coming into force of the new section can be  taken into account.  No doubt a statute must be  applied prospectively.  But a statute is not applied retrospectively because  a  part of the requisites for its action  is  drawn from  a moment of time prior to its passing.  The clause  in question  makes  a  particular conduct  the  -round  for  an application  for eviction.  The necessary condition for  the application  of s. 9 (1) (ii) may commence even  before  the Act  came into force and past conduct which is  as  relevant for the clause as conduct after the coming into force of the Act,  cannot  be overlooked.  The Tribunals  were  therefore right  in considering conduct of the appellant prior to  the coming  into force of s. 14-A while determining whether  the appellant was irregular in paying the rent. Mr. Iyengar next contends that as under cl. (ii) of s.  14-A the  appellant was asked to pay the arrears of rent  and  he paid them within the time fixed, no eviction can be ordered. Clause  (ii)  deals  with eviction as  punishment  for  non- compliance  with the orders of the court.  Clause (1)  deals with evictions for any of the reasons given in s. 9 (1). One such  reason  is  that the tenant has  failed  to  pay  rent regularly  without  sufficient cause.   Eviction  under  the second  clause  is for failure to carry out  the  orders  to deposit  arrears of rent within the time fixed  for  payment and  eviction  under the first clause is a penalty  for  not paying  the  rent regularly without sufficient  cause.   The clauses  are on different footing and as the scheme  of  the Act  itself  shows  different Tribunals  determine  the  two issues.  The appellant tried to have the various proceedings consolidated  in  the same court, but  curiously  enough  he asked  that the proceedings for the recovery of  arrears  of rent  should  be stayed. His motive is  quite  apparent.  He wanted to defend himself against liability arising tinder s. 0 (Ion  the  ground that he could not pay the rent  till  1 1/3rd of the or its value was determined under the Rules. We above that his statement was that he wanted to pay the extra amount  but  the landlord did not receive it.  It  is  quite obviously  that he avoided Payment over the years under  one pretext  or  the  other and the  Tribunal-,  were  right  in holding that be had failed to make out sufficient cause  for non-payment.   Indeed such a finding giving concurrently  by the  High  Court  and the three  Tribunals  below  would  be sufficient  for  the  disposal of the case.   We  have  only allowed the argument to be used because Mr. Iyengar  claimed that  conditions on which persons can be evicted  under  the two clauses of s. 14-A were inconsistent.  On examination it is  apparent  that the reasons for eviction  under  the  two



clauses are 3Sup.165 4 42 entirely  different.   The appellant could  not  be  evicted under  the second clause of S. 14-A but it is  obvious  that his  case is covered by the first clause.  The  irregularity in payment is patent and there was no sufficient cause. The  appeal  fails and it is dismissed  with  costs.  Appeal dismissed. 43