Decided on September 05,1957



Falshaw, J. - (1.) The question whether the Government Premises (Eviction) Act 27 of 1950 is ultra vires of the Legislature on the ground that it offends certain principles laid down in the Constitution of India has arisen in a large number of cases pending in this Court, including a number of writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution as well as in a reference by a Subordinate Judge to the High Court under the provisions of Section 113, Civil Procedure Code. Several of these cases, including the reference, have been placed before the Bench for hearing today and we have decided that the best method of dealing with the matter is to answer the question referred to the Court by the Subordinate Judge under Section 113, civil Procedure Code, and to leave the writ petitions to be decided by Single Judges in accordance with the answer given to the question referred to us and any special features which may arise in the individual cases.
(2.) The suit in which the reference has been made was filed by two brothers, Satish Chandar and Suresh Chandar, against the Delhi improvement Trust and certain pro forma defendants, who are apparently related to the plaintiffs, on the allegation that some land belonging to the Government situated inside Ajmeri Gate, Delhi, had been leased for 90 years to the predecessor-in-interest of the plaintiffs and pro forma defendants for the purpose of building ships and subsequently on a partition among the descendants of Bengali Mal the lease-hold rights had become the exclusive property of the plaintiffs. Shortly before the suit was instituted, however, the Chairman of the Delhi Improvement Trust acting as a Competent Authority under the Government Premises (Eviction) Act issued a notice under Section 3 of the Act calling on the plaintiffs to surrender possession of the land within fifteen days on the ground that the lease had been terminated by the Delhi Improvement Trust which was managing the property. The suit was instituted for a declaration that the notice issued by the Chairman of the Trust as competent authority was invalid and illegal on various grounds one of which was that the Government Premises (Eviction) Act was ultra vires as it offended the provisions of the Constitution. At the same time the defendant raised the plea based on Section 6 of the Act that the civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the suit, and preliminary issues were framed on these two points. The learned Subordinate Judge has only dealt with the question of the validity of the Act, which apparently has already been held to be ultra vires by a learned Judge of the Calcutta High Court in the case Jagu Singh v. Shaukat Ali, 58 Cal W. N. 1066 (A) and also by a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court in the case Brigade Commander, Meerut Sub-Area v. Ganga Prasad, (S) AIR 1956 Ml. 507 (B). In the circumstances, with the agreement of the learned counsel for the defendant in the suit, he framed the question. "Is the Government Premises (Eviction) Act or any provisions thereof ultra vires of the Constitution?" and has referred it to this Court under the provisions of Section 113, Civil Procedure Code.
(3.) In dealing with the matter it is necessary first to give some description of the impugned Act which begins with the words "Act to provide for the eviction of certain persons from Government Premises and for certain matters connected, therewith.'' The following abstract from the statement of objects and reasons appears to be relevant. "In Bombay and Calcutta there are many cases of unauthorised occupation of accommodation requisitioned/hired/owned by Government. The local military authorities who have sought the assistance of the Provincial Government in securing the eviction of unauthorised occupants have been advised to file ejectment suits. The occupation of these unauthorised occupants extends in many cases to considerable periods and Government has been put to loss in having to pay rent for requisitioned/hired premises without being able to use them or to recover rent. Government has also been advised against acceptance of rent as such acceptance would amount to recognition of tenancy. Eviction by resort to the civil Court in which several cases were filed has not yielded results for obvious reasons. In these circumstances the only remedy is legislation to provide Government with powers of eviction of unauthorised occupants corresponding to similar provision made under the Delhi Premises (Requisition and Eviction) Act, 1947." Section 2 of the Act contains definitions, and Section 3 reads - "Power to evict certain persons from Government premises. -- (1) If the competent authority is satisfied - (a) that the person authorised to occupy any Government premises has, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, --- (i) sub-let, without the permission of the Central Government or of the competent authority, the whole or any part of such premises, or (ii) otherwise acted in contravention of any of the terms, express or implied, under which he is authorised to occupy such premises, or (b) that any person is in unauthorised occupation of any Government premises, the competent authority may, by notice served by post or otherwise, order that that person as well as any other person who may be in occupation of the whole or any part of the premises, shall vacate them within fifteen days of the date of the service of the notice. (2) If any person refuses or fails to comply with an order made under Sub-section (1), the competent authority may evict that person from, and take possession of, the premises, and may for that purpose use such force as may be necessary." Section 4 reads - "Power to recover damages. -- (1) Where any person is in unauthorised occupation of any Government premises, the competent authority may, in the prescribed manner, assess such damages on account of the use and occupation of the premises as it may deem fit, and may, by notice served by post or otherwise, order that person to pay the damages within such time as may be specified in the notice. (2) If any person refuses or fails to pay the damages within the time specified in the notice, the damages may be recovered as arrears of land revenue." Section 5 deals with appeals and reads - "(1) Any person aggrieved by an order of the competent authority under Section 3 or Section 4 may, within ten days of the date of the service of the notice under Section 3 or Section 4, as the case may be, prefer an appeal to the Central Government: Provided that the Central Government may entertain the appeal after the expiry of the said period of ten days, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time. (2) On receipt of an appeal under Sub-section (1), the Central Government may, after calling for a report from the competent authority, and after making such further inquiry, if any, as may be necessary, pass such orders as it thinks fit, and the order of the Central Government shall be final.........." Section 6 bars the jurisdiction of Civil Courts in the following terms - "No order made by the Central Government or the competent authority in the exercise of any power conferred by or under this Act shall be called in question in any Court and no injunction shall be granted by any Court or other authority in respect of any action taken or to be taken in pursuance of any power conferred by or under this Act." Section 7 bars suits, prosecution or other legal proceeding against the Central Government or the competent authority in respect of acts done in good faith in pursuance of the Act. Section 8 provides for the delegation of its powers under the Act to a specially empowered officer. Section 9 provides a Satish Chander and Anr. vs. Delhi Improvement Trust, etc. (05.09.1957 -PHHC) Page 5 of 8 provement Trust, etc. (05.09.1957 -PHHC) Page 5 of 8 punishment up to a fine of Rs. 1,000 for contravention of the provisions of the Act or rules or orders made thereunder or obstruction of the lawful exercise of any power, and the last Section No. 10 is the usual section empowering the Central Government to frame rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act.;

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