KAMMANCHERI JANAKI Vs. KARATTU GOVINDAN NAIR
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
KARATTU GOVINDAN NAIR
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(1.) Original tenant died. Revision petitioners are the legal heirs of the original tenant. Original landlord also died and her legal heirs are the respondents herein.
(2.) For the disposal of this case we may refer the parties according to their status in the rent control court. Rent control petition was filed by the landlord for eviction under S.11(2) and 11(3) of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1965. Building was rented out to the original tenant in the year 1972 and monthly rent fixed was Rs.55/-. Tenant defaulted payment of rent from 4.6.1995. Though demand was made rent was kept in arrears by the tenant. Consequently petition was preferred under S.11(2) for arrears of rent. Eviction was also sought for under S.11(3) of the Act. Landlord's daughter inlaw by name Kusum Menon is an ayurvedic medical practitioner. She is the wife of landlord's son Baby Sankar. She is a B.A.M.S. degree holder and has been practising along with the petitioner. She wanted to start independent practice in a separate consultation centre. daughter inlaw has to rely upon the father inlaw who is the landlord. father inlaw, the petitioner is an ayurvedic physician who is following traditional system of ayurvedic treatment. On the other hand, daughter inlaw is qualified to conduct ayurvedic clinic under the modern system. daughter inlaw wanted to have separate practice and consulting centre so that without any hindrance she could practice modern system. Tenant resisted the petition stating that this is only a ruse to evict the tenant and there is no necessity to start separate consulting centre for the daughter inlaw. Further it is stated by the tenant that daughter inlaw will not come within the definition of "family" dependent on the landlord and consequently eviction petition under S.11(2) will not lie. Further it was also stated that behind the petition schedule room there are two other rooms available where daughter inlaw can practice ayurveda. Benefit of the provisos was also sought for by the tenant. Rent Control Court after considering the evidence came to the conclusion that the need alleged is bona fide and consequently allowed the petition. However prayer for eviction under S.11(2) was dismissed. Appellate Authority confirmed the order against which this Revision Petition has been preferred.
(3.) The crucial point to be considered in this case is as to whether daughter inlaw will come within the expression of family dependent of the landlord under S.11(2) of the Act. Learned Single Judge of this Court in Muhammad and others v. Sinnamalu Amma ( 1977 KLT 795 ) held that the expression "family" has to be given a wider meaning. Another learned Judge of this Court in Balakrishna Menon v. District Judge ( 1994 (1) KLT 102 ) held that sister of the husband of the landlady will come within the meaning of the expression "any member of the family of the landlord". Learned Single Judge in Muhammad's case (1977 KLT 795) as well as in Balakrishna Menon's case (1994 (1) KLT 102) exhaustively dealt with various decisions on the point. Reference was made to English decisions as well. The cases referred to by the learned Judge are Price v. Gould ((1930) 46 TLR 411), Brock v. Wollams ((1949) 2 KB 388), Standingford v. Probert ((1950) 1 KB 377), Jones v. Whitchill ((1950) 1 All. E.R. 71), Govind Dass v. Kuldip Singh (AIR 1971 Delhi 151), Balabhadra v. Premchand ( AIR 1953 Nag. 144 ) and Rajamma v. Leela ( 1991 (2) KLT 862 ). These decisions were also referred to in Balakrishna Menon's case also. We are not reiterating the dictum laid down in those decisions. All the same we may refer to the decision of the Apex Court in Baldev Sahai Bangia v. R. C. Bhasin ( 1982 (2) SCC 210 ). The Apex Court has examined the scope of the expression "family" within the meaning of S.14(1) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. The Apex Court referred to the dictionary meaning of the word "family" which appears in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary and Concise Oxford Dictionary and so on. Ultimately it was held as follows:
"A conspectus of the connotation of the term 'family' which emerges from a reference to the aforesaid dictionaries clearly shows that the word 'family' has to be given not a restricted but a wider meaning so as to include not only the head of the family but all members of descendants from the common ancestors who are actually living with the same head. More particularly, in our country, blood relations do not evaporate merely because a member of the family - the father, the brother or the son - leaves his household and goes out for some time. Furthermore, in our opinion, the Legislature has advisedly used the term that any member of the family residing therein for a period of six months immediately before the date of the filing of the action would be treated as a tenant."
The Apex Court in K. V. Muthu v. Angamuthu Ammal ( AIR 1997 SC 628 ) examined the scope of the expression "family" occurring in Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act and held that foster son could be treated as member of landlord's family. What emerges from the above mentioned decisions is that concept of what constitutes a family when number of persons are related or living together is not something static or capable of concise definition. What constitutes a family in a given set of circumstances or in a particular society depends upon the habits and ideas of persons constituting that society and the religious and socio religious customs of the community to which such persons may belong. The expression "family" as such is not defined in the Rent Control Act.;
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