West Bengal Small Industries … vs M/S. Sona Promoters Pvt. Ltd. And … on 18 March, 2020


Supreme Court of India

West Bengal Small Industries … vs M/S. Sona Promoters Pvt. Ltd. And … on 18 March, 2020

Author: S. Abdul Nazeer

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer

                                                    1


                                                                      REPORTABLE

                                 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                  CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                  CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2201 OF 2020
                           (Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No. 36170 of 2014)


         WEST BENGAL SMALL INDUSTRIES
         DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION LTD.
         & ORS.                                                  … APPELLANTS

                                                VERSUS

         M/S. SONA PROMOTERS PVT. LTD.
         & ORS.                                                  … RESPONDENTS




                                    J U D G M E N T

S. ABDUL NAZEER, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. This appeal is directed against the order dated 19.09.2014 in

G.A. 1172/2014, A.P.O.T. No.175/2014 with Writ Petition No. 36 of
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by

2014, whereby the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court has
ANITA MALHOTRA
Date: 2020.03.18
16:46:54 IST
Reason:

2

allowed the Writ Petition and has quashed the order of eviction

passed by appellant No.5 against respondent No.1.

3. Appellant No.1 herein, namely, the West Bengal Small

Industries Development Corporation Ltd. (for short ‘the

Corporation’) is a government of West Bengal undertaking engaged

in developing, assisting and encouraging growth of small­scale

industries within the State of West Bengal. It is a government

company as defined under Section 617 of the Companies Act, 1956.

The entire shareholding of the Corporation is held by the State

Government and/or its nominees. The Directors appointed by the

Corporation are the nominees of the State Government. The other

appellants are the functionaries of the first appellant­Corporation.

4. Registered small­scale industries apply to the Corporation for

allotment of industrial plots which are allotted at concessional rates

to assist the small­scale industries to set up factories and to

operate thereon. The Corporation acts as an arm of the State

Government in providing industrial plots to small­scale industries.

Whenever an allottee remains a non­starter or its production closes

down, after giving reasonable opportunity to re­start/re­open, the
3

plots of land and in some cases the structures, are resumed by the

Corporation. The resumed plots/structures thereafter are re­

allotted to other small­scale industries which are in the waitlist.

5. Bengal Potteries Limited, a company registered under the

Companies Act, owned land with factory standing thereon situated

at Tangra in the city of Calcutta. The company went into liquidation

and all its immovable properties, including the factory with land

were put up for auction by the Calcutta High Court on “as is where

is basis”. The Corporation participated in the auction and its bid

was accepted by the company court. The Corporation became the

owner of all the buildings and structures along with all lands

appurtenant thereto and all assets therein.

6. After purchase of the said property, the Corporation decided to

set up a small­scale industrial zone according to the site plan which

was sanctioned by the concerned authorities.

7. Thereafter, the Corporation, after demolition of the existing

structure, wherever necessary, constructed an administrative block,

set up adequate infrastructure, divided the area into small plots

and invited applications from small­scale industrial units for
4

leasing out of such plots and for construction of small­scale

industrial units.

8. On an application by respondent No.1, the Corporation

executed a first lease deed dated 14.12.2007 in favour of the said

respondent in respect of plot Nos. 7 and 15 being part of Tangra

Industrial Estate, Phase­II for setting up of a small­scale industry

on the terms and conditions mentioned therein. On 17.01.2008, the

possession of these two plots was handed over to respondent No.1.

Another lease deed dated 04.03.2009, in respect of plot No.8 was

executed in the same industrial area in favour of respondent No.1.

Mutation process of the said three plots was completed on

26.09.2012 by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.

9. On 10.10.2012, the Corporation issued a notice calling upon

respondent No.1 to show­cause as to why the tenancy should not

be terminated for violation of the terms of the lease. This notice

was issued invoking clause 3 of the lease deed. Respondent No.1

submitted a reply dated 06.11.2012 to the show­cause notice. After

hearing, respondent No.1 was informed by a letter dated

12.12.2015 that three months’ time had been extended to
5

commence construction work at the plots. Since nothing was done,

the prescribed authority, by notice dated 09.11.2013, terminated

the lease deed in accordance with Section 3(2) of the West Bengal

Government Premises (Tenancy Regulation) Act, 1976, (for short

‘the Act’) read with Rule 3(1) of the West Bengal Government

Premises (Tenancy and Regulation) Rules, 1976 (for short ‘the

Rules’). The ground of termination was violation of clauses 2(c) and

(g) of the lease deed, i.e. for not taking steps for construction of the

factory building. By the said notice, respondent No.1 was directed

to vacate the premises within 30 days.

10. Respondent No.1 preferred an appeal before the Managing

Director of the Corporation, who is the designated Appellate

Authority against the order of the prescribed authority.

11. While the appeal was pending, respondent Nos. 1 and 2 filed

the writ petition in the High Court seeking, inter alia, setting aside

of the termination notice dated 09.11.2013. The Appellate Authority

by order dated 16.01.2014, upheld the order of the prescribed

authority. By this order, respondent No.1 was asked to vacate the

plots in question by 15.02.2014.

6

12. Being aggrieved by the order of the Appellate Authority,

respondent No.1 filed a general application in the pending writ

petition, inter alia, seeking to set aside and/or quash the order of

the Appellate Authority dated 16.01.2014.

13. The learned Single Judge, considering the writ petition along

with general application, passed ad­interim order restraining the

Corporation from taking any steps for eviction of the writ­

petitioners from the disputed plots of land until the disposal of the

application. While passing the impugned order, the Learned Single

Judge recorded that the issue involved in the writ petition relates to

the applicability of the provisions of the Act in respect of the lease

executed by the Corporation for plots of land without any structure

thereon. It was therefore, held that there was, prima facie, case

made out by the writ­petitioners and the balance of convenience lay

in granting interim protection.

14. Being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the said order of the

learned Single Judge, the Corporation and its functionaries

preferred an appeal before the Division Bench. In addition, they
7

sought stay of the order of the learned Single Judge by filing a

separate application.

15. The Division Bench disposed of the appeal, as well as the writ

petition by the impugned order holding that the Corporation is not

a government undertaking and further held that the premises is not

a government premises. Therefore, on both counts the Division

Bench concluded that the Act did not apply to the premises in

question. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed and the writ

petition was allowed.

16. Appearing for the appellants, Shri Bhaskar P. Gupta, learned

Senior Counsel submits that the High Court has committed grave

error in holding that the Corporation is not a Government

undertaking. He submits that the appellant­Corporation is a

Government company registered under the Companies Act, 1956.

Hence, it owes its status as a body corporate to the Companies Act,

1956. The Memorandum and Article of Association of the

Corporation demonstrated that it is fully under the administrative

and financial control of the State Government. It is further

contended that the High Court was not right in holding that the
8

premises in question is not a Government premises within the

meaning of Section 2(a) of the Act. The plot leased out to

respondent No.1 was a part of the larger premises which included

office building, etc. The entirety of the land, as well as the building

must be construed as one unit which clearly falls within the

definition of “Government premises”.

17. On the other hand, Shri Debal Banerjee, learned Senior

Counsel appearing for respondent Nos. 1 and 2 submits that the

appellant­Corporation does not satisfy the definition of

“Government undertaking” in Section 2(b) of the Act. Secondly, it

is contended that the premises which is the subject matter of this

appeal is not covered under the provisions of the Act. Bare land

was leased out by the Corporation to respondent No.1. The said

plot of land did not contain any structure. The expression “any

premises” in Section 2(a) would by itself be wide enough to cover

even bare land but since the term “premises” is defined in Section

2(c) of the Act, that definition would have to be inserted into the

expression “Government premises” in Section 2(a). Otherwise,
9

there would be repugnancy between Sections 2(a) and 2(c), which

is to be avoided. Therefore, he prays for dismissal of the appeal.

18. Before considering the rival contentions of the parties, let us

find out the object and purpose of the Act. Normally, the rights of

the lessor and the lessee and the incidence of tenancy are governed

by the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. The provision relating to

termination of tenancy in case of breach of the conditions of the

lease and recovery of possession from the lessee under the Transfer

of Property Act is very time­consuming. Even, the execution of

decree for possession is a complicated and time­consuming process.

In order to avoid all these hurdles and to expedite the recovery of

possession, the Legislature has enacted the Act. The preamble of

the Act makes it clear that it has been enacted to provide for

regulation of certain incidences of tenancy in relation to government

premises in West Bengal and for matters connected therewith or

incidental thereto.

19. Section 3 of the Act provides for termination of tenancy, which

is as under:

“3. Termination of tenancy.­ (1) Every tenancy held
by a tenant in respect of a Government premises shall
10

stand terminated upon the expiry of the period
referred to in a notice to quit served upon such tenant
in the prescribed manner.

(2) A tenancy in respect of a Government premises
shall stand automatically terminated without any
notice to quit where the tenant has,­

(i) violated the terms of the lease, or
[(ia) subsequently built a house or acquired (by
purchase, gift, inheritance, lease, exchange or
otherwise) a house or an apartment, either in his
own name or in the name of any member of his
family, within a reasonable distance from such
Government premises.

Explanation.­ For the purposes of this section and
section 3A,­

(a) “apartment” shall have the same meaning
as in the West Bengal Apartment Ownership
Act, 1972;

(b) “family” shall include parents and other
relations of the tenant who ordinarily reside
with him and are dependant on him;

(c) “reasonable distance” shall mean any
distance not exceeding twenty­five kilometers,
or]

(ii) made default in payment of rent for three
consecutive months”.

Provisos to Section 3 and the other sub­sections are not relevant for

the purpose of this case.

11

20. The definition of the expressions “Government Premises”,

“Government undertaking” and “Premises” are relevant. They are

as under:

“2. Definitions.­

(a) “Government premises” means any premises
which is owned by the State Government or by a
Government undertaking but does not include the
official residence of any person authorized to
occupy and premises in consideration of the office
which he holds under the State Government or a
Government undertaking for the time being;

(b) “Government undertaking” means a body
corporate constituted by or under a Central or
State Act which is under the administrative control
of the State Government or in which the State
Government has exclusive proprietary interest;

(c) “premises” means any building or hut and
includes part of a building or hut and a seat in a
room, let separately, and also includes,­

(i) the gardens, grounds and out­houses, if any,
appurtenant thereto,

(ii) any furniture supplied or any fittings or
fixtures affixed for the use of the tenant in
such building, hut or seat in, as the case
may be.”

21. In the present case, the premises in question are not owned by

the government. It is owned by the appellant­Corporation, which is

a government company incorporated under the Companies Act,
12

1956. Therefore, the first question for consideration is whether the

Corporation can be regarded as a “Government undertaking” so as

to attract the applicability of the provisions of the Act in respect of

the premises held by it.

22. It is an admitted position that the Corporation is registered

under the Companies Act, 1956. The Corporation is under the

administrative control of the State Government and almost all the

shares of the Corporation, are held by the State Government, apart

from a few shares which are held by IAS officers in their official

capacity. It owes its status as a body corporate to the Companies

Act enacted by the Parliament. In our considered view, the

appellant­company is a “Government undertaking” as defined in

Section 2(b) of the Act.

23. The second question for consideration is whether the premises

owned by the Corporation and let out to respondent No.1 are

government premises within the meaning of Section 2(a) of the Act.

The term “Government premises” is defined in Section 2(a) as any

premises which is owned by the State Government or by a

Government undertaking but does not include the official residence
13

of any person authorized to occupy the premises in consideration of

the office which he holds under the State Government or a

Government undertaking for the time being. It is clear from this

definition that, it refers to any premises owned by the Government

or a Government undertaking except those which are official

residences of the persons authorized to occupy the said premises in

consideration of the office which the government official holds

under the State Government or under any Government undertaking

for the time being.

24. The expression “premises” is defined in Section 2(c) of the Act.

Therefore, a premises can be regarded as “Government premises”

only when it satisfies the definition of “Government premises” under

Section 2(a) of the Act read conjointly with the definition of

“premises” under Section 2(c) of the Act. Government premises

defined in Section 2(a) cannot be read in isolation of the definition

of “premises” under Section 2(c) of the Act. In order to give complete

meaning to the expression “Government premises”, we should first

implant the definition of “premises” under Section 2(c) in the place

of the “premises” appearing in Section 2(a) and then consider as to
14

whether a premises is a Government premises or not. It is an

undisputable canon of construction that when an expression is

defined in the statute, unless there is anything repugnant in the

subject or context, the expression has to be construed as having the

same meaning assigned to it in the dictionary clause of the statute.

Therefore, the definition “premises” under Section 2(c) has to be

read into the definition of “Government premises” under Section

2(a).

25. Thus, if we read the definition of “Government premises”

appearing in Section 2(a) of the said Act conjointly with the

definition of “premises” appearing in Section 2(c) of the said Act, it

not only includes a building or a part of it or a hut or a part of it

but also includes a seat in a room, let separately, and also includes

the gardens, grounds and out­houses, if any, appurtenant thereto

together with the furniture, all fittings and fixtures provided for the

use of the tenant in such building, hut or a seat in a room let

separately. Thus, when a seat in a room of a Government premises

is let out to a tenant, certainly it will be a Government premises.

Again, if a seat in a room is let out together with the gardens;
15

grounds and out­houses, if any, appurtenant to a seat in a room,

such tenancy will be of a “Government premises”.

26. The point for consideration before us is when neither a

building nor a part of the building nor a hut nor a part of the hut

nor a seat in a room is let out to a tenant but only bare land is let

out to a tenant, can such tenancy be regarded as relating to a

“Government premises” to attract the provisions of the Act. The

expression “includes” is used in two places of the definition of

“premises” in Section 2(c) and the expression “includes” which was

used for the second time in the said definition without any doubt

was included to expand the ambit of “Government premises” so as

to attract the provisions of the said Act. The expression

“appurtenant to it” carries special significance. We cannot read the

definition of “premises” bereft of the expression “appurtenant to it”.

The expression “appurtenant” in the context means ‘relating to’,

‘usually enjoyed’, ‘occupied with’ or ‘adjoining’. Therefore, if a

garden, ground, or an out­house is let out along with building or

hut or a seat in a room, such a garden, ground or an out­house

becomes part of the “premises”. However, bare land has not been
16

independently included in the definition of “premises”. Therefore,

we have no hesitation to hold that if bare land is let out by the

government and/or the government undertaking to its tenant, the

incidence of such tenancy cannot be governed by the provisions of

the Act and as such a tenant cannot be evicted by taking aid of the

provisions of the Act.

27. In the instant case, it is an admitted position that the

Corporation had purchased immovable properties including a

factory with land belonging to the Bengal Potteries Ltd. The

Corporation had become the owner of all the building and

structures along with the land appurtenant thereto belonging to the

said company. After purchase of the land, the Corporation decided

to set up a small­scale industrial zone according to the site plan.

The Corporation constructed an administrative block after

demolition of the existing structure and wherever necessary, it

divided the area into small plots. Respondent No.1 was allotted

three plots of land, which did not contain any structure at the time

of lease.

17

28. The lease in respect of these three plots of land was

terminated for violation of clauses 2(c) and 2(g) of the lease deed. It

is alleged in the show­cause notice at Annexure P­3 dated

10.10.2012, that respondent No.1 failed to take any steps for

construction of the factory building as per clause 2(c) of the lease

deed since taking over possession of the said plot. By letter dated

19.12.2012 (Annexure P­5), three months’ further time was

extended for starting construction work on the plots in question.

However, respondent No.1 failed to start the construction of the

factory building even during this extended period. Consequently,

the tenancy in respect of these plots of land was terminated.

29. Thus, when the eviction proceedings were initiated,

admittedly, the land in question did not contain any structures. If

the bare land is let out by the government undertaking and it

continues to be a bare land as on the date of initiation of eviction

proceedings, the incidence of such tenancy cannot be governed by

the provisions of the Act and such a tenant cannot be evicted by

taking aid of the provisions of the Act. The material date is the date

of initiation of the eviction proceedings. Had respondent No.1 put
18

up the construction on the plots of land leased to it, and if the

eviction is sought under Section 3 of the Act for violation of some

other clauses of the lease deed or upon satisfaction of the

conditions mentioned in sub­sections (1) and (2) of Section 3, the

proceedings would have been maintainable. As noted above, the

subject matter of this appeal continues to be a bare land as on the

date of initiation of the proceedings.

30. Learned Senior Counsel for the appellants has laid emphasis

on the fact that the plots leased to respondent No.1 were a part of

the larger premises which included office building etc. and that the

plots leased cannot be treated separately since it is a part of larger

plot of land including building. The entirety of the land as well as

building must be construed as one unit which clearly falls within

the definition of “Government premises”. Hence, the eviction

proceedings clearly fall within the ambit of the Act.

31. It is true that, after purchase of the property from Bengal

Potteries Limited, the old buildings were demolished, wherever it

was necessary, and the administrative block was constructed. Rest

of the area was divided into small plots of land. Three such plots
19

were leased to respondent No.1. The plots leased did not contain

any structures. The eviction proceedings was in respect of these

plots of land and not the entire property purchased by the

Corporation from Bengal Potteries Limited. Therefore, we are not in

agreement with the learned senior counsel for the Corporation that

the entire land as well as building are to be construed as one unit

because the entire land with the building has not been leased to

respondent No.1. The lease was in respect of three plots of land

which did not contain any building and these plots of land do not

satisfy the requirements of definition of “Government premises”

within the meaning of Section 2(a) read with Section 2(c) of the Act.

32. Therefore, we hold that the eviction proceedings initiated by

the Corporation against respondent No.1 under the Act was without

jurisdiction.

33. The High Court, in the concluding paragraph of the impugned

judgment, has held that the Corporation has to seek eviction of

respondent No.1 from the premises in question under the

provisions of the West Bengal Public Land (Eviction of Unauthorized
20

Occupants) Act, 1962. We are entirely in agreement with this view

of the High Court.

34. To conclude, while holding that the appellant­Corporation is a

government undertaking within the meaning of Section 2(b) of the

Act, we further hold that the premises in question does not come

within the definition of Section 2(a) of the Act. Reserving liberty to

the appellants to seek eviction of respondent Nos. 1 and 2 from the

land in question under West Bengal Public Land (Eviction of

Unauthorized Occupants) Act, 1962, we dismiss this appeal.

However, there will be no order as to costs.

…………………………………………J.

(S. ABDUL NAZEER)

…………………………………………J.

(DEEPAK GUPTA)
New Delhi;

March 18, 2020.



Source link