The rule of ejusdem generis is intended to be applied where general words have been used following particular and specific words of the same nature on the established rule of construction that the legislature presumed to use the general words in a restricted sense
|Case name:||Lilavati Bai V/s. The State Of Bombay|
|Case number:||Petition No. 119 of 1955 with Petition for Special Leave to Appeal No. 140 of 1955.|
|Court:||Supreme Court Of India|
|Bench:||Sinha, Bhuvneshwar P Das, Sudhi Ranjan (Cj) Aiyyar, T.L. Venkatarama Das, S.K. Gajendragadkar, P.B.|
|Relevant Act/Sections:||Constitutional law|
BRIEF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
The petitioner was the widow of one Dharamdas Chellaram, who was a tenant of the premises in question. The said Dharamdas Chellaram died in November 1953, leaving him surviving his widow and a daughter.
The petitioner alleged that she had been occupying the premises in question as a member of her husband’s family since 1938.
She also alleged that one Narottam Das Dharamsey Patel was a mere lodger who was, occupying a portion of the premises by leave and licence of her husband.
The said Narottamdas had vacated the portion in his occupation sometime in the year 1953. On behalf of the State of Bombay, the respondent it was alleged that it was not a fact that at the time of her husband’s death in November 1953 the petitioner was residing in the premises in question.
The petitioner moved to High Court of Bombay for a writ of mandamus against the State of Bombay and challenged the constitutional validity of the Bombay Land Requisition Act,1948, as amended by the two amending Acts of 1950, and the enforceability of an order of requisition made by the Governor of Bombay under s. 6 (4) (a) of the Act.
The same was dismissed by the High Court and thus the petitioner moved this Court for an appropriate writ, direction or order under Art. 32 of the Constitution, challenging the vires of the Act, as also the legal efficacy of the Order impugned. She also filed a petition praying for special leave to appeal from the judgment aforesaid of the Bombay High Court.
ISSUE BEFORE THE COURT:
Whether the Special Leave Petition should be upheld or not.
- RATIO OF THE COURT
- The court firstly overruled all the contentions made on the constitutionality of the Act based on such fundamental rights as are recognised by Arts. 19(1)(f) and 31(2) of the Constitution as these were already dealt by the court in its judgements of State of Bombay V Bhanji Munji.
- The Court further stated that it was certain that the Act which -was good law before the commencement of the Constitution did not become void under Art. 13 of the Constitution, because there was nothing in the Act which was inconsistent with the provisions of Part III of the Constitution. If the Act was good law after the commencement of the Constitution, it follows that the amendments aforesaid made in 1950, were equally good law, even though the assent of the President had not been obtained.
- The court further went on to consider the other arguments advanced on behalf of the petitioner which had a bearing on the petition for special leave to appeal from the judgment of the Bombay High Court.
- It was contended that ss. 5 and 6 of the Act have made certain matters conclusive, so that the High Court or even this Court could not go behind the order of the State Government. It was also contended that the legislature had, by making those provisions rendering those matters conclusively proved, impaired the powers of the High Court under Art. 226 and of this Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution. Along with this it was also contended that it was still open to the courts to find whether the facts found constituted in law “vacancy” as defined in the Act, with strong reliance on the Hubli electricity co. V Province of Bombay.
- The court answered these contentions together.
While referring to case of Hubli electricity co. V Province of Bombay the court stated that it is well settled that observations made with reference to the construction of one statute cannot be applied with reference to the provisions of another statute which is not in pari materia with the statute which forms the subject matter of the previous decision. The Judicial Committee was dealing with the provisions of s. 4(1) of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, which did not contain the words “conclusive evidence” or any words to that effect.
- Those words or words of similar import appear in the beginning of s. 5. In the words of the Judicial Committee, those words signify the subjective opinion of the Government and not an opinion subject to objective tests.
- Further it was contended that the finding on the question of vacancy by the State Government was a “jurisdictional fact” in the sense that unless it was found that there was a vacancy, the jurisdiction of the State Government to make the declaration and to requisition the permises could not arise. To which the Court while taking the case of Rai Brij Raj Krishna v. S. K. Shau & Brothers as an apt illustration explained: The Act has made a specific provision to the effect that the determination on the questions referred to in ss. 5 and 6 of the Act by the State Government shall be conclusive evidence of the declaration so made. But that does not mean that the jurisdiction of the High Court under Art. 226 or of this Court under Art. 32 or on appeal has been impaired. In a proper case the High Court or this Court in the exercise of its special jurisdiction under the Constitution has the power to determine how far the provisions of the statute have or have not been complied with. But the special powers aforesaid of this Court or of the High Court cannot extend to reopening a finding by the State Government under s. 5 of the Act that the tenant has not actually resided in the premises for a continuous period of six months.
- Lastly, it was contended that there was no termination, eviction, assignment or transfer and that the words ” or otherwise ” must be construed as ejusdem generis with the, words immediately preceding them: and that therefore on the facts as admitted even in the affidavit filed on behalf of the Government there was in law no vacancy.
- The Court stated that the rule of ejusdem generis sought to be pressed in aid of the petitioner can possibly have no application. The legislature has been cautious and thorough-going enough to bar all avenues of escape by using the words ” or otherwise “. Those words are not words of limitation but of extension so as to cover all possible ways in which a vacancy may occur. Generally speaking, a tenant’s occupation of his premises ceases when his tenancy is terminated by acts of parties or by operation of law or by eviction by the landlord or by assignment or transfer of the tenant’s interest. But the legislature, when it used the words ” or otherwise “, apparently intended to cover other cases which may not come within the. meaning of the preceding clauses, for example, a case where the tenant’s occupation has ceased as a result of trespass by a third party. The legislature, in our opinion, intended to cover all possible cases of vacancy occurring due to any reasons whatsoever.
- The Court concluded by stating that the vacancy as declared by the order impugned in this case, even though it may not be covered by the specific words used, is certainly covered by the legal import of the words “or otherwise”.
- DECISION HELD BY COURT:
- The court held that there was no need to apply the rule of conclusive proof as laid down in sub-s. (2) of s. 13.
- In any event, as the concluding words of the section have provided, any irregularity or failure to comply with the-requirements of the section cannot “affect the validity of the order”.
- The petition was dismissed with costs.