(1.) The question is whether the religious order known as the Third Order Apostolic of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Teresa having its headquarters at Ernakulam (for short, the Order) is entitled to the benefit of sub-s.(7) of S.11 of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1959 (the Act) which runs thus:
"Where the landlord of a building is a religious, charitable, educational or other public institution, it may, if the building is needed for the purposes of the institution, apply to the Rent Control Court, for an order directing the tenant to put the institution in possession of the building."
The Rent Control Court held that it was, and allowed the applications brought by its Assistant Mother General on its behalf for the eviction of two of its tenants. The appellate authority, and the District Court in revision, however, took the contrary view and dismissed the applications. Hence these petitions by the Order (represented by its Assistant Mother General) under Art.226 and 227 of the Constitution for quashing the orders of the appellate authority and the District Court.
(2.) The punctuation adopted by the sub-section (or rather the want of it) admits of its being read in two ways. The first and, we think, the correct way as if there were a comma after the word, "educational" and also after the word, "other" so that the adjectives, "religious", "charitable", "educational" and, "other" would qualify the term, "public institution" and the relevant clause of the sub-section would read, "religious public institution, charitable public institution, educational public institution, or other public institution". The second, as if there were a comma after the word, "educational" and after the word, "public", so that the adjectives "religious", "charitable", "educational", and, ''other public" would qualify the word, "institution" and the clause would read, "religious institution, charitable institution, educational institution, or other public institution" as if on the assumption that all religious, charitable and educational institutions were public institutions. On the first construction it would be necessary for the Order to show that it is a public institution; on the second it need only show that it is a religious institution, and, that not being disputed, there would be an end of the matter.
(3.) The word, "institution" is wide enough to cover an organisation which is in no sense public
'a society or organisation established for some object, especially cultural, charitable or beneficient"
is how Chambers's, Twentieth Century Dictionary defines the word and it is not difficult to conceive of institutions that are purely private in that they are concerned only with a family or other groups of persons too narrow to constitute the public or a section of the public. Having regard to the purpose of the Act we can think of no reason why a purely private institution (even if it be a religious, charitable or educational institution) should be placed in a more favoured position than a private person, and, if the intention was that all religious, charitable and educational institutions should be regarded as public institutions whether, in fact, they are so or not, the proper and usual way of ensuring this would be to so define, "public institution" as to include all institutions that are religious, charitable or educational. As we have already said, we think that an institution must be a public institution to get the benefit of the sub-section and in our view the words, "religious", "charitable" and "educational" are used in the sub-section only illustratively in order to show what public institutions the Legislature had in mind in enacting the sub-section. The use of those words might be some indication that such institutions are generally speaking public institutions, but we do not think that it is conclusive of the matter.;