HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
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(1.) The present petition under article 227 of the Constitution of India arises in the following circumstances. The applicants are owners of a shop which, it is alleged by them, was constructed according to the design given by one Ishar Lal to whom it was given on lease in 1949 at Rs. 150 per mensem. It appears that Ishar Lal was working in partnership with Khushi Ram and was using the premises as a hotel. On 26th May, 1950 Ishar Lal applied under Section 4 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act 1949, for fixation of fair rent. Before the Controller could fix the rent in accordance with the Act, the parties compromised and on 27th July, 1950 a consent order was passed to the effect that the fair rent of the premises was Rs. 80 per mensem. Three years later i.e., on 18th August, 1953, Khushi Ram again applied for fixation of fair rent. The Rent Controller came to the conclusion that the fair rent had already been fixed at Rs. 80 per mensem in the previous proceedings and, therefore, dismissed the petition. On appeal, however, the Additional District Judge held that the parties could not by compromise fix fair rent of any premises under the Rent Control Act and, therefore, remanded the case for further enquiry by the Controller. The landlords have filed this petition against the order of the Additional District Judge and the only point that requires decision is whether the fixation of fair rent on compromise on 7th July, 1950 can be construed to be fair rent of the premises in dispute.
(2.) The learned counsel for the respondent has raised a preliminary objection that no petition lies against an order of remand and the petition for revision under Section 115, Civil Procedure Code, is not maintainable as held in Messrs Pitman s Shorthand Academy v. Messrs B. Lila Ram and Sons,1950 52 PunLR 1 (F.B.). It is, however, not necessary to decide this point as in my opinion the petition has no force on merits.
(3.) When there is a serious shortage of accommodation, tenants are at the mercy of landlords and the Legislature has generally found it necessary and expedient to protect the tenants from the landlords and various States have passed what may in general be called Rent Control Acts. The object of these Acts, generally speaking, is inter alia to restrict increase in rents and also to restrict the landlords rights to eject tenants. In the case of rents, a standard is fixed and any rent in excess of that standard is declared by the statute to be irrecoverable from the tenants notwithstanding any contract to the contrary between the landlord and the tenant. Now, the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 lays down in Section 1 that on an application by the landlord or the tenant for fixation of fair rent the Controller shall, after holding such inquiry as he considers fit, fix the basic rent as defined in the Act and then increase it by certain percentage as laid down in this section. This section in fact provides machinery for the purpose of deciding questions as to the amount of fair rent. It is a jurisdiction which enables the Controller to decide without reference to any existing claim for rent or possession the question as to the amount which should be considered fair rent for the premises in question. An order obtained under this section can be used in subsequent proceedings. It is then provided in Section 5 that once fair rent is fixed it cannot be increased unless some addition, improvement or alteration has been carried out in the premises at the expense of the landlord. Section 6 then reads -
"6. Landlord not to claim anything in excess of fair rent. -
(1) Save as provided in Section 5, which the Controller has fixed the fair rent of a building or rented land under Section 4 -
(a) the landlord shall not claim or receive any premium or other like sum in addition to fair rent or any rent in excess of such fair rent, but the landlord may stipulate for and receive in advance an amount not exceeding one month's rent;
(b) any agreement for the payment of any sum in addition to rent or of rent in excess of such fair rent shall be null and void.
(2) Nothing in this section shall apply to the recovery of any rent which became due before the 1st day of January, 1939.";
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