Decided on March 04,1986

J.AND K.BANK LTD. Appellant


ANAND, C.J. - (1.) The constitutional validity of S.1(3)(iii) of the Jammu and Kashmir Houses and Shops Rent Control Act, has been called in question through this writ petition. According to the learned counsel for the petitioner the said Section is ultra vires on the ground that the protection of the Act is available only to those tenants whose annual income is less than Rs. 40,000/- and not to the tenants whose income is Rs. 40,000/- per annum or more. Submitted the learned Counsel that the classification of two groups of tenants is bad and that the classification defeats the object of the Act.
(2.) In our opinion, the challenge to vires of S.1(3)(iii) of the Act is not well founded. Undoubtedly, the Act is a piece of social and beneficial legislation. The Legislature known and correctly appreciates the needs of its people. In its supreme wisdom it denied the protection of the Act to tenants whose annual income exceeds Rs. 40,000/-. Social legislation of this type is designed to protect the interest of a class of society who, because of their economic conditions, deserves such protection against their arbitrary eviction. The legislation is intended to protect weaker and poorer classes of the tenants and there is, therefore, an intelligible differentia between the tenants whose annual income is Rs. 40,000/- and those whose annual income is more than Rs. 40,000/-. In construing Art.14, the aid whereof has been pressed into service by the learned counsel, the Court is not required to adopt a doctrinaire approach which would choke the beneficial legislation. It is open to the legislature to recognise the degree of harm and while doing so it can always make reasonable classification. Article 14 forbids class legislation but no reasonable classification. With a view to pass the test of reasonable classification, there must exist intelligible differentia between persons or things grouped together from those who have been left out and there must be a reasonable nexus with the object to be achieved by the legislation. Keeping in view the object which the legislation seeks to achieve, it can be safely said that there is reasonable nexus between the classification made by the legislature in the impugned Section and the object sought to be achieved. We also find that there is an intelligible differentia between the tenants who are sought to be protected by the Act from those who are denied the protection of the Act. (See in this connection with advantage AIR 1955 SC 191).
(3.) In AIR 1955 SC 166, it was held by the Constitution Bench that the classification to pass the test of Art.14 must rest upon some real and substantial distinction bearing a reasonable and just relation to the things in respect of which the classification is made. Their Lordships went on to observe :- "Legislation enacted for the achievement of a particular object or purpose need not be all embracing. It is for the Legislature to determine what categories it would embrace within the scope of legislation and merely because certain categories which would stand on the same footing as those which are covered by the Legislation are left out would not render legislation which has been enacted in any manner discriminatory and violative of the fundamental right guaranteed by Art.14." Again, in AIR 1958 SC 538, their Lordships laid down the following principles for determining the validity of a legislation :- "(a) that a law may be constitutional even though it relates to a single individual. If on account of some special circumstances or reasons applicable to him and not applicable to others, that single individual may be treated as a class by himself; (b) that there is always a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment and the burden is upon him who attacks it to show that there has been a clear transgression of the constitutional principles; (c) that it must be presumed that the legislature understands and correctly appreciates the need of its own people, that its laws are directed to problems made manifest by experience and that its discriminations are based on adequate grounds; (d) that the legislature is free to recognise degrees of harm and may confine its restrictions to those cases where the need is deemed to be clearest; (e) that in order to sustain the presumption of constitutionality the Court may take into consideration matters of common knowledge, matters of common report, the history of the times and may assume every state of facts which can be conceived existing at the time of legislation; and (f) that while good faith and knowledge of the existing conditions on the part of a legislature are to be presumed, if there is nothing on the face of the law or the surrounding circumstances brought to the notice of the Court on which the classification may reasonably be regarded as based, the presumption of constitutionality cannot be carried to the extent of always holding that there must be some undisclosed an unknown reasons for subjecting certain individuals or corporations to hostile or discriminating legislation. The above principles will have to be constantly borne in mind by the Court when it is called upon to adjudge the constitutionality of any particular law attacked as discriminatory and violative of the equal protection of the laws." In AIR 1977 SC 1825, their Lordships of the Supreme Court recognize, once again, that it was open to the legislature to show concern for weaker Sections and that legislation would not become bad because it benefits only a bulk of the society and not every one.;

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