SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
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R. C. Lahoti, J. -
(1.)The suit premises are a residential house comprised in CTS Nos. 936 and 939 of Ward II of Hubli City. The premises are owned by a temple - a religious institution but not under the management of the State Government. The adoptive father of the respondent, Late Shankarbhat, was Pujari and Manager of the temple. The appellant was inducted as a tenant in the suit premises by Late Shankarbhat. Shankarbhat has, through a registered deed of adoption, adopted the respondent as his son who is presently Pujari and Manager of the temple. The appellant has been paying rent to the respondent. It is not in doubt, nor in dispute, that whatever be the ownership of the suit premises the respondent is certainly the Rent Collector.
(2.)The respondent claiming himself to be the owner of the premises filed a suit for eviction of the tenant-appellant on the grounds available under Clauses (h) and (p) of sub-section (1) of Section 21 of the Karnataka Rent Control Act, 1961 (hereinafter the Act for short). Availability of ground under clause (h) has been negated while the Court of Munsif upheld the entitlement of respondent to a decree under Clause (p). The appellant preferred a revision before the first Additional District Judge, Dharwad under S. 50(2) of the Act and subsequently a revision petition to the High Court under Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Both have been dismissed conforming the decree for eviction under Clause (p) abovesaid. The finding arrived at by all the Courts is that the tenant has built or acquired vacant possession of a suitable building. The tenant has preferred the present appeal by special leave.
(3.)The principal submission of Ms. Kiran Suri, the learned counsel for the appellant, centres around an amendment made in the Act by Karnataka Act No. 32 of 1994. It was submitted by the learned counsel for the appellant that the suit premises belong to a temple which is a religious institution. The Karnataka Rent Control Act, 1961 was enacted inter alia to control evictions of tenants. The Act has a wide application. However, sub-section (7) of Section 2 provides that nothing in this Act shall apply to certain premises specified in the several clauses therein. One of the categories of the premises, excepted from the application of the Act, was any premises belonging to a religious or charitable institution under the management of the State Government. By the Karnataka Rent Control (Amendment) Act, 1994 (Act No. 32 of 1994) which came into force with effect from 18th May, 1994, the words "under the management of the State Government" were deleted. The effect of the amendment is that while earlier only the premises belonging to a religious or charitable institution under the management of the State Government were exempted from the operation of the Act now subsequent to the amendment, the scope of excepted category has been enlarged so as to cover all premises belonging to a religious or charitable institution without regard to the fact whether they are under the management of the State Government or not. The proceedings for eviction of a tenant under S. 21 of the Act are maintainable in a Court which, as defined in Clause (d) of Section 3, is the Court of Munsif. So far as the suit premises are concerned, the proceedings were initiated in the year 1986 in the Court of Munsif. Revision petition before Additional District Judge was filed in the year 1990 and came to be decided on 14th September, 1995. During the pendency of the revision, the 1994 Amendment came into force. The effect of the amendment is that the suit premises were taken out of the operation of the Act and therefore the Munsif lost jurisdiction to try a case for eviction over such premises. The learned Additional District Judge ought to have taken note of this change in law and directed the proceedings held before the Munsif to be a nullity for want of jurisdiction in view of the change in law.
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