Decided on October 21,1963

Tahsildar And Accommodation Controller, Ernakulam And Another Respondents


Vaidialingam, J. - (1.)IN this writ petition Mr. V. Rama Shenoi, learned counsel for " the petitioner, who is the landlord of the premises in question, challenges the order of the Accommodation Controller, Ext. P7. The 2nd respondent in these proceedings, who is the tenant of the premises and who is represented by learned counsel Mr. T.M. Mahalinga Iyer, appears to have invoked the Jurisdiction of the Accommodation Controller under Section 17(2) of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1959 (Act XVI of 1959), as amended by Act 29 of 1961. Under that section, it will be seen that a Landlord is bound to attend to the periodical maintenance and necessary repairs of the building. That Section also provides that if a landlord fails to attend to such maintenance or repairs to the building and amenities thereto, within a reasonable time after notice is given by the tenant, it shall be competent for the Accommodation Controller, when so invited by the tenant, to permit the tenant himself to effect the necessary repairs and also to direct that the cost thereof may be deducted with interest at 6% per annum from the rent which is payable by him. In this case that is exactly the direction that has been given in favour of the 2nd respondent by the Accommodation Controller.
(2.)MR . Rama Shenoi, learned counsel for the petitioner, urged that his client has had no opportunity at all of sustaining the objections taken by him before the Accommodation Controller to the application filed by the 2nd respondent in these proceedings. So far as the records go, it is not possible to categorically find that the petitioner can be considered to have had that effective opportunity before the authority concerned. In this connection, it is also necessary to advert to rule 13 of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent control) Rules, 1959. That rule provides that so far as the Accommodation Controller is concerned, when an application is presented to that officer, he shall fix the date on which and the place at which the inquiry in respect of the application will be held. The rule also provides for sending notices to all the parties, namely the applicant or applicants as well as to the respondent or respondents mentioned in the application. In the said rule there is also a further provision to the effect that, along with the notice a copy of the application is to be sent to the respondent or respondents.
In this case, the main grievance of the petitioner, as placed before me by Mr. Rama Shenoi, learned counsel for the petitioner, is that no copy of the application filed by the respondent before the Accommodation Controller has been sent to his client. On the other hand, the stand that is taken by Mr. Mahalinga Iyer, learned counsel for the respondent, appears to be that his client under the letter Ext. R1 has categorically stated the necessary repairs that had to be effected to the building and that the landlord must be fully aware of the items of work and of the expenses for such repairs. Whatever it may be, I am only adverting to the material rule to show that apart from complying with the various other requirements, there is also an obligation on the part of the Accommodation Controller to send along with the notice to the respondent, a copy of the application filed by the 2nd respondent, in these proceedings. There is also a further provision in sub -rule (2) of rule 13 to the effect that the Accommodation Controller shall give to the parties a reasonable opportunity to state their case, and he is also to record a brief note of the evidence of the parties and witnesses, if any, examined on their side. I am only referring to these aspects to show that it is not as if a sort of summary procedure or inquiry has been indicated in the rule. On the other hand, in as much as the party will have to be made liable for incurring the expenses, there are adequate provisions made in the rules to the effect that that party must be given an opportunity of placing those objections and also an opportunity of sustaining those objections before the authority concerned. In this case, no such procedure appears to have been followed by the Accommodation Controller.

(3.)THEREFORE , without in any manner going into the merits of the claim that appears to have been made by the 2nd respondent in the application filed by him before the Accommodation Controller under Section 17(2), which is a matter which exclusively arises for consideration by that authority, and also without expressing any opinion on the stand that has been taken by the petitioner in these proceedings, which is again a matter which has to be decided by the Rent Controller, the order under attack, namely Ext. P7, will have to be set aside and the Accommodation Controller directed to follow the procedure indicated in rule 13 of the rules referred to above, before finally adjudicating one way or the other on the points arising for consideration in these proceedings.

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