- (1.)The appellant sued the respondent for the realisation of rent due for the year 1133 M. E. corresponding to 1957-58 under a lease. Her case was, that the property had been outstanding on lease with the respondent on a lease of the year 1127 M. E. corresponding to 1951-52, at an annual rent of 21 parahs of paddy, and that from the year 1130 M. E. corresponding to 1954-55, the rent was enhanced by agreement to 35 parahs of paddy per annum. The respondent contended that the original lease was of the year 1122 M. E. corresponding to 1946-47 at an annual rent of 10 parahs of paddy which was afterwards enhanced to 14 parahs and that he had been paying accordingly. The two courts have found the lease of the year 1127, and the enhancement of rent from the year 1130, to be true; but while the Munsiff decreed the appellant's claim in full the District Judge on appeal, decreed the claim only at the rate of 21 parahs of paddy.
(2.)The enhancement of rent to 35 parahs in the year 1130 was in consequence of additional irrigation facilities becoming available from the Malampuzha reservoir. For refusing to give a decree at the enhanced rate, the District Judge relied on S.14 of the Malabar Irrigation Works (Construction and Levy of Cess) Act, Act VII of 1947, which is in the following terms:
"Save as provided in the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1929, any increase in the yield of the land or in the extent of land cultivated by reason of the supply of water from any irrigation work shall not entitle a landlord as defined in that Act to claim any enhancement of the rent payable to him or (ii) be taken into account in determining 'fair rent' under that Act."

The Judge held that this amounted to a prohibition against any enhancement of rent on this account, whether contractual or otherwise, and that therefore the contract to pay the enhanced rent was not legally enforceable. On plain reading it seems to me, that the bar under S.14 is against the landlord seeking the help of the court for relief by way of enhancing the rent payable and against the Rent Court taking the ground specified into consideration for fixing the fair rent; the object of the section is not to prohibit the making of a contract for enhanced rent. This seems to follow from the words "shall not entitle a landlord ... to claim any enhancement of the rent payable to him." A somewhat analogous case is reported in Ukkah v. Krishna Iyer 1961 KLJ 854.

(3.)However, in the section itself, there is a saving of the provisions of the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1929, which are therefore left unaffected. If the appellant's claim is well founded on the provisions of that Act, that is to say, if the freedom of contract in this respect is recognised by the Act, the bar under S.14 aforesaid does not come into play. So to read and understand S.14 is not, as contended for the respondent, to violate any canon of interpretation of the proviso to a section. That canon is couched thus by Maxwell in his work on Interpretation of Statutes, 10th edition, page 162:
"The proper course is to apply the broad general rule of construction, which is that a section or enactment must be construed as a whole, each portion throwing light if need be on the rest.

The true principle undoubtedly is, that the sound interpretation and meaning of the statute, on a view of the enacting clause, saving clause, and proviso, taken and construed together is to prevail."

In Tahsildar Singh v. State of U.P. AIR 1959 SC 1012 , the Supreme Court endorsing the above observed thus:

"Unless the words are clear, the Court should not so construe the proviso as to attribute an intention to the legislature to give with one hand and take away with another. To put it in other words, a sincere attempt should be made to reconcile the enacting clause and the proviso and to avoid repugnancy between the two."

I am clear in my mind that my reading of S.14 does not offend these principles. It was suggested, that the saving made by S.14 was only of enhancement of rent on other grounds, recognised or sanctioned by the provisions of the Malabar Tenancy Act, 1929, that is, grounds other than additional irrigation facilities becoming available; but counsel for the respondent was unable to point to any such provision in the Act. In my judgment, the intendment of S.14 is to defeat a claim for enhancement when it has no other basis than that additional irrigation facilities became available, and not when it falls squarely within any of the provisions of the Malabar Tenancy Act.


Click here to view full judgement.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.