DASARI VENKATADRI AND OTHERS Vs. TENALI MUNICIPALITY AND ANOTHER
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Dasari Venkatadri And Others
Tenali Municipality And Another
Click here to view full judgement.
Umamaheswaram, J. -
(1.)THE petitioners in both the applications are the lessees of the municipal market godowns and the Gandhi Market in Tenali. The main question raised by the petitioners is that the notification issued by the Government of Madras in G. O. Ms No. 3741 dated 30 -9 -1946 exempting all buildings owned by municipal councils under S. 13, Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act 1948 (Madras Act 15 of 1946) violates the principles of equality before law and equal protection of the law laid down in Art. 14 of the Constitution.
The respondents contended that the questions sought to be raised in the applications are concluded by two decisions of the Madras High Court in - 'Dr. K. C. Nambiar v. State of Madras,' : AIR 1953 Mad 351 (A) and - 'Globe Theatres Ltd., v. State of Madras,' : AIR 1954 Mad 690 (B).
(2.)SO the question for consideration is, whether the exemption of the Municipal Buildings under S. 13 of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act of 1946 is inconsistent with Article 14 and therefore void under Article 13 of the Constitution.
In : AIR 1953 Mad 351 (A), Subba Rao J. (As he then was) held that an order of the Government exempting a house from the operation of the provisions of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act is an administrative order not open to judicial review and that such an order does not affect the fundamental rights of a tenant under Art. 14 of the constitution or violate the provisions of Article 19.
Subsequent to this decision, a Bench of the Madras High Court held in : AIR 1954 Mad 690 (B), that the discretion given to the Government under S. 13 is not an unguided and arbitrary discretion and that if it be shown in any given case that the discretion has been exercised in disregard of the standard or contrary to the declared policy and object of the legislature or arbitrarily or mala fide, then such exercise of discretion can be challenged and declared void under Art. 14 of the Constitution.
Having regard to this Bench decision, it must be held that the view of Subba Rao J. (as he then was) that the order of the Government under S. 13 of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1946 is not open to judicial review and is not liable to the challenged as violating Arts. 14 and 19 of the Constitution, is no longer right and each case has to be examined on its merits.
(3.)UNDER the notification issued by the Government of Madras on 30 -9 -1946. exemption is granted to all buildings owned by (i) Municipal Councils (ii) Local Boards and (iii) the Corporation of Madras. The petitioners who challenge the notification have to satisfy me that the discretion give to the Government was exercised arbitrarily, or mala fide.
The allegations in the affidavits do not disclose that in exempting the buildings belonging to the Municipal Councils or Local Boards, the State of Madras abused its powers or acted arbitrarily or mala fide. What is contended is that by exempting the municipal buildings from the operation of the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act of 1946, the municipal council is enabled to lease out the Godowns in open auction under the rules framed under the District Municipalities Act and thereby realise rents higher than what the petitioners were paying.
It, is also urged that the tenants occupying the municipal buildings are discriminated against the tenants occupying the other buildings and that the benefits conferred by the Madras Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1946 upon the other tenants are taken away or denied to them by reason of the exemption. A similar contention was raised before the Supreme Court in - 'Babu Rao Shantaram More v. Bombay Housing Board', : AIR 1954 SC 153 (C) and was negatived by Das. J. in the following terms:
The contention is that Section 4 discriminates against the tenants of properties belonging to the Government, local authority or the Board in that these tenants are denied the benefits of the Bombay Rent Act which are available to all other tenants in Bombay. There can be no question that this exemption is given by Section 4 to certain classes of tenants and this classification is based on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes them from other tenants and this differentia has a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the Act.
It is the business of the Government to solve the accommodation problem and satisfy the public need of housing accommodation. It was for the purpose of achieving this object that the Board was incorporated and established. It is not to be expected that the Government or local authority or the Board would be actuated by any profit -making motive so as to unduly enhance the rents or eject the tenants from their respective properties as private landlords are or are likely to be.
Therefore, the tenants of the Government or local authority or the Board are not in need of such protection as the tenants of private landlords are and this circumstance is a cogent basis for differentiation. The two classes of tenants are not by force of circumstances placed on an equal footing and the tenants of the Government or local authority or the Board cannot, therefore, complain of any denial of equality before the law or of equal protection of the law.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.