Decided on April 11,1950

Ramkumar Gourishankar Appellant
Bholanath Gopiram Respondents


Panigrahi, J. - (1.) THE facts giving rise to these two Petitioners are simple. The Petitioner, Ramkumar Gourishankar owns a house which was let out to the opposite party, Bholanath Gopiram, on a monthly rental of Rs. 46/ -. He applied to the House Rent Controller for determination of fair and equitable rent, under Section 6 of the Orissa House Rent Control Act, read with Sub -section (b) of Section 7 of the Act. The Controller fixed the rent at Rs. 70/ - per month by his order dated 17 -11.48. Both parties preferred appeals to the District Collector against this order. The appeal preferred by Ramkumar Gourishankar (Petitioner) was numbered as H.R.C. Appeal No. 151 of 1948, while that preferred by Bholanath Gopiram (opposite party) was numbered as H.R.C. Appeal No. 157 of 1948. The District Collector, by an order dated 13 -1 -49, confirmed the order of the House Rent Controller, in the absence of the opposite party; but on the application of the opposite party on 31 -1 -49, the District Collector reheard the appeals, after hearing both parties, and passed an order in both the appeals, whereby he reversed the order of the House Rent Controller.
(2.) MR . B.N. Mohanty, learned Counsel appearing for the landlord Petitioner raises three points before me: (1) that the District Collector had no jurisdiction to re -open the matter and re -hear the parties and that he had become functus officio after passing his order dated 13 -1 -49; (2) that as the opposite party had filed only an application to re -hear H.R.C. Appeal No. 157 of 1948, in which he was the Appellant, the District Collector went beyond his jurisdiction and acted with material irregularity in re -opening the other appeal No. 151 of 1948 in which the present Petitioner was the Appellant; and (3) that the House Rent Controller had no power to determine a fair and equitable rent in the present case. Various questions were agitated at the Bar with regard to the revisional jurisdiction of the Court over the order of the District Collector. It was contended that the rules framed under the House Rent Control Act, prescribed a judicial hearing of the controversies between the parties and that, therefore, the order of the Controller is not a purely administrative order and that, accordingly, this Court would have revisional powers over that order. It is not necessary however to go into the merits of this contention as these petitions can be disposed of on merits of the third point raised by Mr. Mohanty.
(3.) IT is admitted that the opposite party was in occupation of the house at the time of the commencement of the Orissa Rent House Control Act (Act V of 1947). Section 5 of the Act expressly provides that where the tenant, on a tenancy from month to month is on the date of commencement of this Act is in possession of any house the land lord shall not be entitled to increase the rent, which was on the date of commencement of this Act payable for such house. The Legislature has thus put an express limitation on the power of the landlord to claim a rent higher than what he was getting at the date of commencement of the Act. Mr. Mohanty relied upon the language of Sections 6 and 7. Sections 6 enables the Controller to determine the fair rent of any house but the proviso to that section expressly imposes a restriction on the exercise of that power in the cases of houses referred to in Section 5. The proviso reads thus: "Provided that in the case of a house referred to in Section 5 the rent shall not be determined at a figure in excess of the rent which was payable at the date of commencement of this Act save as provided in the first proviso of the said Section." In other words the rent which was prevailing in respect of a home that had been let out to a tenant and had been in his occupation at the date of commencement of the Act shall not be increased except under circumstances mentioned in the first proviso to Section 5. That proviso enables enhancement of the rent if there have been some additions, improvements or alterations, as specified in Section 9 of the Act. If the house is one which has been let out for rent subsequent to the passing of the Act, the landlord will be entitled to apply for the fixation of a fair and equitable rent by the Collector, under Section 6 read with Section 7, but not otherwise.;

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