w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Food Corporation of India v/s State of Bihar

    C.W.J.C. 3178 Of 2001, Alongwith C.W.J.C. 8272 Of 2001

    Decided On, 10 January 2007

    At, High Court of Bihar

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S.N. HUSSAIN

    For the Appearing Parties: K.N. Chaubey, A.N. Choubey, S.S. Dwivedi, R.S. Dwivedi, R.K. Dubey, P. Tekriwal, Anshuman Singh, Advocates.



Judgment Text

S.N. HUSSAIN, J.

(1.) Heard learned Counsel for the Food Corporation of India, learned Counsel for M/s Shri Bhagwati Hosiery Pvt. Limited, Bhagalpur as well as learned Counsel for the State of Bihar and its authorities. Both the writ petitions, namely, (i) C.W.J.C. No. 3178 of 2001 and (ii) C.W.J.C. No. 8272 of 2001 have been heard together and are being decided by this common order as both of them have arisen out of the said order dated 18.12.2000 passed by the learned Commissioner, Bhagalpur Division, disposing of House Control Revision No. 03/1994-95 filed by the Food Corporation of India under the provision of Section 26 of the Bihar Building (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control, 1982 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act' for the sake of brevity.

(2.) Admittedly, M/s Shri Bhagwati Hosiery Pvt. Limited (hereinafter referred to as 'the Mills' for the sake of brevity) is a registered limited firm and is the owner of the godowns in question, whereas, the Food Corporation of India (hereinafter referred to as 'the Corporation' for the sake of brevity) is a Public Sector corporate Body established under the Food Corporation of India Act, 1964 and is the tenant of 'the Mills' for the said godowns vide agreement of tenancy dated 06.09.1979 between them fixing the rent of Rs. 0.50 per sq. ft. per month for five years.

(3.) Later on 11.09.1987, 'the Mills', which is admittedly the landlord of the Corporation, filed House Control Case No. 40 of 1987 under the provision of Section 8 of the Act before the Hou

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se Controller-cum-Sub-Divisional Officer, Sadar Bhagalpur, for determination of fair rent. The said House Controller asked the Executive Magistrate, Bhagalpur, to make spot verification of the godowns in question and enquire into the matter of fair rent. The said Executive Magistrate made an enquiry about the prevalent rent in the area and submitted his report dated 29.12.1987 stating that although Rs. 2.00 per sq. ft. per month was the prevalent rate in the area but at least Rs. 1.60 per sq. ft. per month would be fare rent of the rented premises at present. Considering the said report and the respective claims of the parties, the House Controller disposed of the said case by his order dated 16.03.1988 fixing the fare rent of the premises at the rate of Rs. 1.15 per sq. ft. per month. Against the said order, no appeal was filed by the landlord, namely, 'the Mills', whereas Appeal No. 199 of 1990 was filed under Section 24 of the Act by the tenant, namely, the Corporation, which was dismissed by the Collector, Bhagalpur, by his order dated 10.05.1994 upholding the rent fixed by the House Controller after considering all the points raised by the parties. The said orders were challenged by the Corporation by way of Revision No. 3 of 1994-95 filed under Section 26 of the Act before the Commissioner, Bhagalpur Division, Bhagalpur, who by his order dated 19.06.1995 allowed the revision and reduced the rate of rent to Rs. 0.62 1/2 per sq. ft. per month merely on the assumption that the rent can be enhanced only by 25%. The said revisional order was challenged by the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' before this Court vide C.W.J.C. No. 4568 of 1995, which was allowed by this Court on 14.05.1997 referring to the decision of this Court in case of Saraswati Devi and Ors. v. commissioner of Bhagalpur Division reported in 1996(1) P.L.J.R. 924 and remanded the matter to the revisional authority, namely, the Commissioner for reconsideration of the entire matter after hearing the claims of both the parties afresh. Against the said order of this Court, the tenant, namely, the corporation moved the Hon'ble Apex Court vide S.L.P. (Civil) No. 12902 of 1997, which was dismissed on 03.07.1997 affirming the order of remand passed by this Court.

(4.) On remand the revisional authority, namely, the learned Commissioner heard the parties afresh, considered the matter in detail and decided the revision by his impugned order dated 18.12.2000 upholding the fare rent at the rate of Rs. 1.15 per sq. ft. per month with effect from the date of the order of the House controller passed in 1988 and, thereafter, enhancing it by 25% after each three years. However, the claim of the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' with respect to fixation of rent for office block also, and with respect to the rent of godown No. 9 till 31.07.1996 and also with respect to allowing the arrears of balance amount of rent to be paid with interest at the rate of 18% per annum, was not allowed by the revisional authority.

(5.) Under the said circumstances, both the parties became aggrieved by different parts of the said order. C.W.J.C. No. 3178 of 2001 was filed by the Lenant, namely, the Corporation with respect to that part of the aforesaid impugned revisional order, by which the rent wan fixed at the rate of Rs. 1.15 per sq. ft. per month from the date of order of the House Controller passed in 1988 and thereafter enhancing it by 25% alter each three years. Whereas, the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' filed C.W.J.C. No. 8272 of 2001 against that part of the aforesaid impugned regional order, by which is prayer for fixing rent for office block and for direction for payment of rent for godown No. 9 till 31.7.1996 and also for allowing interest at the rate of 18% per annum on the arrears of balance amount of rent Lo be paid by the Lenant, were refused.

(6.) After hearing learned Counsel for the parties and after perusing the materials on record and the provisions of law, it is quite apparent that admittedly the Corporation is the Lenant of 'the Mills', which is the owner of the premises in question and is the landlord of the Corporation since the first agreement dated 30.12.1976, whereafter, fresh agreement of lease was executed by the parties on 06.09.1979 for a period of five years fixing the rent at the rate of Rs. 0.50 per sq. ft. per month. However, since the Corporation continued in tenancy even beyond the aforesaid period of five years, the Mills sent a letter to the Corporation on 17.01.1986 for enhancement of rent, upon which the corporation sent letters dated 11.05.1987 and 18.06.1987 informing that the said matter was under consideration and it was advised that 'the Mills' could approach the concerned House Controller i.e. the Sub-Divisional Officer for determination of rent. The Corporation also sent letter dated 06.07.1987 to the House Controller-cum-Sub-Divisional Officer, Sadar Bhagalpur, for informing about the prevailing market rate of rent of the godowns in question.

(7.) Thus, it is clear that on the advise of the Corporation itself, 'the Mills' filed House Control Case No. 40 of 1987 before the House controller on 11.09.1987 for fixation of fare rent of the premises in question. It is also apparent that the House Controller took precaution and ordered an enquiry to be held in the matter by the Executive Officer, whereafter, on 29.12.1987 the enquiry officer after full investigation reported that for the present rate of fare rent would be Rs. 1.60 per sq. ft. per month although the market rate was Rs. 2/- per sq. ft. per month. Considering the said report as well as the facts and circumstances, the House Controller by his order dated 16.03.1988 took further precaution and fixed the fare rent of the godowns in question at the rate of Rs. 1.15 per sq. ft. per month. This order, which was passed without any delay within one year of the filing of the case after a proper enquiry and after considering the entire matter in detail, appears to be a legal, justified and proper order specially when the Corporation itself got an advertisement issued in the Hindustan Times on 06.12.1985 that it will pay a monthly rent of Rs. 10.70 per sq. meter and Rs. 12.30 per sq. meter per month for rural and urban areas, respectively. Although this advertisement is said to have been much subsequently withdrawn but the same clearly indicates the legality and validity of the order of the House Controller.

(8.) From 1988 to 2000 i.e. for about 12 years the matter was unnecessarily dragged by the corporation behaving like a typical ordinary tenant/litigant much to the chagrin of the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' by way of filing appeal, revision, writ petition, S.L.P. before each of the courts the matter could be dragged up to the supreme court, considering which the Hon'ble supreme court while rejecting the S.L.P. of the corporation by order dated 30.07.1997 observed as follows:

We are unable to appreciate such an SLP being filed by a public sector undertaking as to agitate a point which on the facts of this case should not have been a matter of serious concern for a public sector undertaking. It would not be surprising if the expense incurred by the public sector undertaking in this litigation is worth the relief which is sought. Even otherwise, the decision does appear to be fair at least factually.

(9.) In the said circumstances, there appears to be no illegality in the impugned revisional order dated 18.12.2000 fixing the rate of rent at the rate of Rs. 1.15 per sq. ft. per month from the date of the order of the House Controller passed in the year 1988. However, earlier revisional order dated 19.06.1995, fixing the rate of rent of the godowns in question at the rate of Rs. 0.62 1/2 per sq. ft. per month on the assumption that the rent can be enhanced only by 1/4th at a time was absolutely baseless, perverse and against the specific provisions of law.

(10.) So far the order of the revisional authority that the rent fixed would be enhanced by 25% after each three years from 1988 is concerned, it may be noted that after the order of the House Controller dated 16.03.1988, the land lord, namely, 'the Mills' filed another H.C. case No. 35 of 1991 for fixing of further fare rent, which was allowed by the House Controller by order dated 18.07.1994 fixing rent at the rate of Rs. 1.44 per sq. ft. per month from the date of filing of the case in the year 1991. This order was affirmed by the collector by order dated 25.05.2001, passed in Appeal No. 6 of 1994-95 filed by the tenant, namely, the corporation, who again filed Revision No. 6 of 2004-2005 against the said orders, which is still pending and three more forums, namely, writ, L.P.A. and S.L.P. an still left for the Corporation to approach for apparent reasons, although it has been depreciated by the Hon'ble Supreme court in the above mentioned order. Hence, it is apparent that when after the lapse of 15 years the second set of such unnecessary litigation is being continued at the instance of the Corporation (tenant).

(11.) In my view, a Public Sector undertaking cannot be allowed to harass a landlord, in an admitted case of tenancy in such a manner for more than two decades, which has already been deprecated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court as stated above. Furthermore, the revisional court is the highest statutory authority and had all the powers of the House Controller and hence in the aforesaid circumstances, he had passed the impugned order shortening the unnecessary litigation, which is being lingered by a Public Sector Undertaking harassing the landlord for twenty years in first ease and for fifteen years in the second case and even thereafter the matter is still pending, with further scope of prolonging the litigation.

(12.) Hence such an order as passed by the revisional authority was clearly necessary fur preventing unnecessary litigations and multiplicity of proceedings, which would not have been adopted by a Public Sector Undertaking, namely, the Corporation misusing the process of law for depriving its landlord from getting the rent to which it is legally entitled. Furthermore, the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' has produced several deeds of lease with respect to the adjacent godowns proved by the boundaries given in them, which showed that a much higher rate of rent is being paid for the said adjacent godowns al present. Even earlier also, the enquiry officer had found in the year 1987 that the prevalent market rate of rent was Rs. 2 per sq. ft. per month. Furthermore, it has been stated on behalf of the Mills, namely, the landlord that it has to pay loan and interest also for the amount taken by it for constructions of the godowns.

(13.) The provision of Section 8(1)(c) of the Act and its proviso as well as Rule 3 of the Rules framed thereunder are beneficial provisions of law, which must not be construed very regidly and restrictively rather it has to be construed liberally, in favour of the person for whose benefit the particular provision has been enacted it may be noted here that the Act contains several beneficial provisions, out of which Sections 5, 7 and 8 of the Act are beneficial provisions for the landlords and out of them Section 8 of the Act has a predominantly social nature, particularly in favour of the landlord and hence a purposive approach has to be made with special care so that the main object of the legislature in favour of the landlord may not be defeated. The said provisions are couched in language having very wide sweep keeping in view the wet of the landlord and hence they have to be interpreted keeping in view the dominant purpose of the said provision and not in a restrictive manner. This view finds support from a decision of a Division Bench of this Court in the case of Saraswati Devi and Ors. (supra).

(14.) It is quite apparent from the materials on record that rent fixed in the year 1988 by the House Controller was even below the rate prevalent in the area at that time, whereas, even giving the enhancement as per the revisional order, the present rate so fixed would also be lower than the rate prevalent in the area presently. In the said circumstances, there is no illegality in the impugned order with respect to the enhancement of rent at the rate of 25% after each three years, which apart from being in accordance with the prolonging the litigation and multiplicity of the proceedings to the utter loss and harassment of the landlord, namely, 'the Mill' for several decades.

(15.) So far as the objection raised by 'the Mills' with regard to not fixing any rent for office block and not directing payment of rent for godown No. 9 till 31.7.1996 are concerned, the said objections have not been raised by the landlord at the time of filing of the case under Section 8 of the Act in the year 1987 nor has the landlord challenged the order of the House Controller dated 16.03.1988 in which the said matters were not considered. Hence, no such relief can be legally granted to the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' at this stage.

(16.) Furthermore so far the question raised by the landlord, namely, 'the Mills' with respect to the rate of interest is concerned, the revisional court has rightly directed in the impugned order that while paying the dues, the tenant should pay simple interest as applicable in the State Bank of India or in any other Commercial Bank as no valid material or provision of law could be placed by the landlord to show that either the said order was inadequate or there was any occasion for enhancing the same.

(17.) Considering the facts and circumstances mentioned above, this Court finds no illegality, arbitrariness or perversity in the impugned order dated 18.12.2000 passed by the Commissioner, Bhagalpur Division, in House Control Revision No. 03 of 1994-95 and hence it does not require any interference. Accordingly, both the aforesaid writ petitions, namely, (i) C.W.J.C. No. 3178 of 2001 and (ii) C.W.J.C. No. 8272/2001 are hereby dismissed. However, there shall be no order as to costs
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