JAGDISH RAMNARAIN Vs. NARAINBHAI MOTIBHAI VALAND
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
NARAINBHAI MOTIBHAI VALAND
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S. H. SHETH -
(1.) This Revision Application arises out of distress warrant proceedings. The landlord applied under sec. 53 of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act 1882 for issuance of a distress warrant in order to realise the arrears of rent amounting to Rs. 630.00. Registrar of the Court of Small Causes at Ahmedabad issued notice to the tenant to show cause why distress warrant should not be levied. The tenant appeared and contested the application. Thereafter the application was heard by the Court of Small Causes. By its order dated 23rd December 1977 it held that distress warrant could not be issued to attach movable property of the tenant lying not at the premises let out to him by the landlord but at some other premises. It also held that the tenant to whom the premises have been let out by the landlord cannot be made liable to distress warr- ant if he has been residing elsewhere. On these findings the learned Judge dismissed the application for issuance of distress warrant. It is that order which is challenged in this Civil Revision Application.
(2.) Mr. Vyas who appears on behalf of the landlord has invited my attention to sec. 57 of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act 1882 which inter alia provides as follows :
" In pursuance of the warrant aforesaid the bailiff shall seize the movable property found in or upon the house or premises mentioned in the warrant and belonging to the person from whom the rent is claimed (hereinafter called the debtor) or such part thereof as may in the bailiffs judgment be sufficient to cover the amount of the said rent together with the costs of the said distress..... "
He has argued that the trial Court was bound to issue distress warrant to seize movable property found in or upon the house or premises mentioned in the warrant. According to him the landlord had specified in his application the house or premises where the movable property of the tenant was lying and that house or premises in ordinary course would have been mentioned in the distress warrant. He has further argued that sec. 57 does not require that distress warrant shall be levied only to seize movable property found in or upon the house or premises let out by the landlord to the tenant and not elsewhere. He has emphasised that sec. 57 does not circumscribe or confine the levy of distress warrant upon the movable property found in or upon the house or premises let out by the landlord to the tenant.
(3.) In order to appreciate the contention which he has raised it is necessary to turn to sec. 53 which provides for making an application for distress warrant. It inter alia provides as follows :
" Any person claiming to be entitled to arrears of rent of any house or premises to which this Chapter extends or his duly constituted attorney may apply to any Judge of the Small Causes Court or to the Registrar of the Small Causes Court for such warrant as is hereinafter mentioned...... " Sec. 53 specifically refers to house or promises in respect of which arrears of rent are due. The expression house or premises used in sec. 57 cannot have a meaning different from the expression house or premises used in sec. 53. Therefore when sec. 53 and sec 57 are read together it becomes very clear that movable property of the tenant found in or upon the house or premises in respect of which arrears of rent are due alone can be seized under sec. 57. In that view of the matter the expression house or premises mentioned in the warrant and belonging to the person from whom the rent is claimed means that house or premises in respect of which arrears of rent are due and which is mentioned in the warrant and it further means that movable property belonging to the tenant lying in such a house or premises alone can be seized by levying the distress warrant. Levy of a distress warrant is a summary remedy - Often it is issued at the instance of a landlord to recover arrears of rent without issuing notice to a tenant. It often happens that if a tenant is aggrieved by the levy of such a distress warrant he later goes to the Court and challenges its validity. Such a summary remedy provided by legislature in Chapter VIII of the Presidency Small Cause Courts Act 1882 cannot be enlarged so as to bring within its sweep movable property of the tenant lying anywhere within the territorial limits of the Court issuing it. It must be circumscribed to seizure of movable property found in or upon the house or premises let out by the landlord to the tenant such movable property belonging to the tenant against whom distress warrant is issued. In my opinion therefore the Court of Small Causes was justified in rejecting the application.;
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