The rented land as defined in Section 2(f) of the Punjab Act is pari materia with definition of rented land in the Act. It has been held that the expression “business” appearing in Section 2(f) need not necessarily be commercial business carried on with a profit motive. The word includes within its scope a charitable business or a dealing in the interest of public or a section of the public. Therefore, use of land as club for a pavilion is in interest of section of the public. The aforesaid has been held by the Supreme Court of India while adjudicating the case of Rajinder Kumar Bansal & Ors v. Municipal Committee & Ors. [CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8238 OF 2013] which was decided upon by the single judge bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta on 17th August 2021.
The facts leading to the present appeals are that one Telu Ram was the original owner of the property. Bhagwan Dass held occupancy rights in terms of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887. Bhagwan Dass earlier executed a gift deed in favour of Louis club on 16.01.1909 for the purpose of running a club only after construction of a building thereon. Bhagwan Dass had doubt about the gift since he had only occupancy rights and therefore, a lease deed was executed, after cancelling the gift deed, in favour of the Respondent No. 2 herein on 03.03.1909. The rent was Rs. 10/- per year besides land revenue. The tenant was given authority to use land for the purpose of club. It further provided that if there is any construction, the landlord will pay market price of it. It is an admitted fact that a pavilion was constructed, which was used for the purpose of club only. The Respondent No. 2 herein created a sub-lease in favour of Ladies Tandon Club. Later, one portion of the property was transferred to the Municipal Committee. The Municipal Committee changed the use of the property by sinking a tubewell for the use of residents of the town. Therefore, the appellants filed a petition for ejectment inter alia on the ground of non-payment of rent; (2) subletting of the premises without the consent of the landlord; and (3) that the property had been abandoned by the first respondent which had ceased to exist and the premises were now being used for the offices of different departments that is the property has been put to unauthorized use.
The courts perused the facts and arguments presented. it relied on several judgments to arrive at a decision that “The Tenant has constructed a pavilion in the year 1911 and the said pavilion was mortgaged to the District Board. The District Boards were constituted as part of local self-Government under the Punjab District Boards Act, 1883. The said Act was repealed when the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911 was enacted. The only question requires to be examined was whether such sports activity can be said to be either business or trade. The Full Bench of the High Court was erroneous in holding that the land let out to the club used for pavilion is not for the purpose of business. Learned Counsel for the State raised an argument that the huge amount of property tax has not been paid by the lessee or the successor. The fact is wholly inconsequential. Since the finding of fact was recorded by the learned Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority has not been disputed, therefore, the order of the eviction was rightfully passed against the respondents. Consequently, the present appeals are allowed. The order passed by the High Court is set aside. The respondents are given three months’ time to vacate the premises and handover the possession to the appellants. It is needless to say that the appellants have to pay all taxes which are due on the land before they are permitted to use the premises for their purposes.”