Supreme Court of India
West Bengal Small Industries … vs M/S. Sona Promoters Pvt. Ltd. And … on 18 March, 2020Author: S. Abdul Nazeer
Bench: Ashok Bhushan, S. Abdul Nazeer
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
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
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
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
leasing out of such plots and for construction of smallscale
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
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.
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
sought stay of the order of the learned Single Judge by filing a
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
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,
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
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
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
Explanation. For the purposes of this section and
(a) “apartment” shall have the same meaning
as in the West Bengal Apartment Ownership
(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,
(ii) made default in payment of rent for three
Provisos to Section 3 and the other subsections are not relevant for
the purpose of this case.
20. The definition of the expressions “Government Premises”,
“Government undertaking” and “Premises” are relevant. They are
(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,
(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
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,
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
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
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
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;
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
(S. ABDUL NAZEER)
March 18, 2020.