IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY AT GOA
Second Appeal No. 88/2003
Decided On: 07.09.2012
Appellants: Escolastico Mazarello
Respondent: Stacey Moraes
on’ble Judges/Coram:U.V. Bakre, J.
1. This is plaintiff’s Second Appeal. The plaintiff had filed Special Civil Suit No. 237/91/A for declaration that the defendant has no right to occupy the room of the flat on the first floor of the northern block belonging to the plaintiff in the building named “Bela Vista Apartments” after revocation of the licence and expiry of 30 days time given to him to quit and vacate the said room; for direction to the defendant to quit and vacate the said room and lastly for recovery of monthly fee of Rs. 250/- from December, 1990 to May, 1991 and for payment of compensation of Rs. 1000/- per month by the defendant from June 1991 for illegal possession of the said room till the same is restored to the plaintiff.
2. Case of the plaintiff, in short, was as follows:
He is the owner of a flat located on the first floor of the northern block facing the Luiz Miranda Road, Margao in the building known as “Belavista Apartments”. The second floor of the said northern block is owned by the defendant and he used to stay there with his family. The flat of plaintiff on the first floor was ready for use and occupation in May 1978, but the same was kept vacant in order to give it for use of any of his sons who might get married. However, since the construction work of the second floor of the defendant was going on, the defendant and his father requested the plaintiff to allow the defendant, who is a consulting physician and cardiologist, to have his consulting room in the living room of his flat on the first floor, pending the completion of the second floor. The plaintiff acceded to the request since their relations were cordial and the plaintiff had no doubt that the defendant would honour his promise to vacate the said living room once the second floor was ready. Accordingly, in October 1978, the plaintiff granted licence simply on parol to the defendant to use the said room as his consulting room. The defendant took endorsement of the plaintiff as “consent granted” on the letter dated 23/5/1978 addressed by the defendant to the plaintiff, but subsequently, the defendant added the words namely “consenting to the agreed lease” and the same addition must have been done after the filing of the suit. The plaintiff discovered this during his cross-examination when the letter was showed to him. The plaintiff never intended to lease out the said room. The defendant initially offered the fee of Rs. 250/- per month and from May, 1980 till November 1990 paid the same by cheques, but subsequently failed to pay the monthly fee. Though the defendant started his clinic in the said room in October 1978, however, in the year 1982 he engaged himself in building construction activities and totally neglected his medical practice and thus the said room was being used for business activities. One of the sons of the plaintiff got married in the year 1982 and started residing in the said flat on the first floor since 1983. The said son has two children and all are huddled in one bed-room without even a dining room. Son of the defendant went to reside in his flat on the second floor by the end of 1980 and the plaintiff has been urging the defendant to shift his consulting room to his own place, but the defendant stated that he was planning to construct a bungalow after which he would shift his consulting room to the flat on the second floor. The construction of the bungalow of the defendant was completed in September 1990 and the defendant shifted his family to the bungalow and kept the flat on the second floor closed. In the month of May 1991, the defendant cut the grills and frames of one of the windows in the said room to fix air conditioner which gave indication that he wants to remain in the said room. On 5/6/1991, the plaintiff gave notice of revocation of licence to the defendant and sufficient time of 30 days to quit and vacate the said room. The defendant replied the notice thereby claiming tenancy. Hence, the suit.
3. The defendant, by way of written statement, pleaded as under:
The Civil Court has no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit since the same is filed in the wrong Court. When the flat of the plaintiff on the first floor was ready for occupation in May 1978, the defendant was in need of a room to start consulting room on the ground floor or on the first floor in Margao city and, therefore, he requested the plaintiff to grant lease of the said room, which was forming an independent and separate premises. The plaintiff agreed to grant said lease on monthly rent of Rs. 250/- from 1/6/1978. Since the plaintiff did not execute any lease deed, the defendant wrote a letter dated 23/5/1978 to the plaintiff requesting to endorse on the same for the said lease or to issue separate letter by signing at its bottom. The said room was taken by the defendant from the plaintiff on permanent basis and is in his exclusive possession since June 1978. The fact of grant of lease is clear from the letter dated 23/5/1978. The defendant is the tenant of the said room on payment of monthly rent of Rs. 250/-. Since May 1991, the plaintiff refused to accept the rent by refusing the cheques and the money orders. In August 1978, one Smt. Maria do Carmo Silva Lourenco alias Delfina Souza Lourenco who resides adjoining to the said room filed civil suit against the defendant, plaintiff and others being Special Civil Suit No. 135/1978 in the Court of Civil Judge, Senior Division, Margao for letting out the said room to the defendant. The said suit was dismissed and even the appeal preferred against the judgment passed in that suit was dismissed. In the said suit No. 135/78, the plaintiff admitted that the defendant was lessee of the said room. The construction activities, development, etc. is the family business, looked after by his father and upon the death of the father, the defendant helps his family in looking after the same. The family firm is having office on the second floor. The plaintiff has leased out other flats to some third persons. Since the defendant is lessee of the said room, the question of vacating the same does not arise. The said room forms an independent premises and has separate meter. The defendant had applied for separate electricity connection to the said room, since the plaintiff started using electricity in the remaining part of the flat and started misusing the same due to which he started getting exorbitant bills. The defendant did not add the words “consenting to the agreed lease” and that the same were existing when the plaintiff endorsed the said letter.
4. Upon analysis of the entire evidence on record, the learned Civil Judge, Senior Division, Margao (trial Court) found that the plaintiff could not prove that the defendant was licencee and that the defendant has proved that he is the tenant of the said room and that the civil court had no jurisdiction to try the suit.
5. The plaintiff filed Regular Civil Appeal No. 171/2002 against the judgment and decree of the trial Court. Vide the judgment and decree dated 28/2/2003, the learned Additional District Judge (I), Margao (first Appellate Court) also held that the plaintiff could not prove that the defendant is licensee. The first Appellate court held that though no inference of lease can be drawn on the basis of the disputed writing in the letter dated 23/5/1978 (Exhibit 20) to the effect “consenting to the agreed lease”, however, the undisputed part of that letter reveals that the plaintiff had allowed the defendant to use the said room as his consulting room. The learned first Appellate Court further held that the plaintiff had admitted the defendant as his tenant in Special Suit No. 135/78. The first Appellate Court further found that the said room has an independent entrance from the main staircase; that the defendant has his own lock and key for entering the said room; that the defendant has put his board on the said room; has made partition and has fixed machinery in his clinic and that the possession and control of the said room never remained with the plaintiff. The learned first Appellate Court therefore concluded that the defendant was put in exclusive possession of the said room and he cannot be considered as licensee. The appeal, therefore, came to be dismissed.
6. The plaintiff has filed the present second appeal, which has been admitted on the following substantial questions of law:
(i) Whether the Court below could have considered an averment in written statement in an earlier suit against the appellant and a material fact for considering that transaction is that of a lease?
(ii) Whether the Court below could not have relied upon the written statement and specially the averment which was made by the respondent himself claiming tenancy?
7. Mr. S.S. Kantak, the learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the plaintiff, argued that the plaintiff had simply permitted the defendant to occupy the said room and there was no document of lease. He further argued that there were only two documents on record on the basis of which the defendant had claimed that lease was created. Insofar as the first document i.e. the letter dated 23/5/1978 is concerned, the learned Senior Counsel argued that the evidence on record duly proves that the words “consenting to the agreed lease” were not existing on the said letter when the plaintiff had endorsed the said letter and that subsequent addition of the said words is itself sufficient to prove that the case of the defendant is false, since otherwise there was no need for the defendant to put a forged document in evidence. The learned Senior Counsel further argued that in the previous suit No. 135/78, the question of lease or licence of the suit room or the status of the defendant or the capacity in which the defendant was occupying the said room was not involved and that the said suit was for some other purposes. He invited my attention to the written statement filed in that suit and more particularly, to paragraph 6 wherein it was specifically pleaded that the defendant No. 5 says that he took on lease his consulting room from the defendant No. 2 who owns the flat wherein the same is located. He pointed out that this written statement has been verified by the defendant No. 1 of that suit, namely Inizio Almeida Coutinho and, therefore, the said averment made by defendant No. 5 cannot bind the present plaintiff. He, further argued that the said written statement was not produced by the defendant in the cross-examination of the plaintiff and that the plaintiff (P.W. 1) was not confronted with the alleged admission of tenancy, in terms of section 145 of the Evidence Act seeking explanation about the same. He, therefore, contended that there is no admission made by the plaintiff and that even if it is there the same is not proved and lastly if the same is taken to be proved, then the same is not binding on the plaintiff. According to the learned Senior Counsel, therefore, the said averment in the written statement made by the defendant No. 5 cannot be considered against the plaintiff to hold that the transaction is that of a lease. He, therefore, prayed that the appeal be allowed and the suit be decreed.
8. The learned Senior Counsel, appearing for the plaintiff, has relied upon the following Judgments:
(i) “Raj Kumar and Anr. Vs. Gopi Nath Varman (MANU/UP/0064/1971 : AIR 1971 ALL 273).
(ii) “Shriram Sardarmal Didwani Vs. Gourishankar alias Rameshwar Joharmal” (MANU/MH/0035/1961 : AIR 1961 Bom. 136.)
(iii) “Sita Ram Bhau Patil Vs. Ramchandra Nago Patil (dead) By L.Rs.. And anr. [MANU/SC/0285/1977 : (1977) 2 SCC 49].
(iv) “Shankarrao Dejisaheb Shinde (since deceased), By Heirs Vs. Vithalrao Ganpatrao Shinde and others.MANU/SC/0495/1989 : [1989 Supp. (2) SCC 162].
9. Per contra, Mr. Coutinho, the Learned Counsel appearing for the defendant, argued that the substantial question of law at serial No. (i) covers the other one and even if answers to these questions are in favour of the plaintiff, the same are not sufficient to reverse the final decree of the first appellate court and of the trial Court and hence are useless. He pointed out that in terms of Order 6 of the Civil Procedure Code, all the defendants have to sign the written statement, but one of them can verify the same. Therefore, according to the Learned Counsel, a written statement verified by one of the defendants is binding on all the defendants. He further argued that the question of opportunity to cross-examine on the said written statement had to be raised first before the trial court and then before the first appellate court, but the same has not been raised at all. Mr. Coutinho, the Learned Counsel appearing for the defendant, therefore, contended that the plaintiff cannot now be allowed to raise such a ground of lack of opportunity to afford explanation or to cross-examine the defendant on the said written statement. He pointed out that it was not at at all the stand of the plaintiff that the said written statement is not proved. He also pointed out that the said written statement was produced by the defendant (D.W. 1) on record as Exhibit 50 and the plaintiff had all the opportunity to rebut the same. According to the Learned Counsel for the defendant, the averment made in the written statement filed in special Suit No. 135/1978 that the defendant is a tenant has been proved as an admission made by the defendants in that Suit and, therefore, the substantial questions deserve to be answered against the plaintiff.
10. Learned Counsel appearing for the defendant further submitted that it is not singularly on the basis of the written statement in Special Suit No. 135/1978 that the plaintiff has been knocked out. He pointed out that the said room leased out to the defendant has a totally separate entrance and has nothing to do with the other part of the flat. He further pointed out that the defendant has his own lock and key for entering the said room. He also contended that the defendant has a sign board and fixed machinery in that room. He also contended that the exclusive possession and control of the said room is with the defendant, from the beginning. Lastly, the Learned Counsel argued that this exclusive possession is for a long period. He, therefore, submitted that all these circumstances led the first Appellate Court to hold that there was lease. He argued that absolutely no case has been made out by the plaintiff for interference with the impugned Judgments of the lower Courts.
11. Mr. Coutinho, Learned Counsel appearing for the defendant, has relied upon various judgments, namely:
(i) “Bishwanath Prasad and Others Vs. Dwarka Prasad and Others(MANU/SC/0006/1973 : AIR 1974 SC 117)
(ii) ” Union of India Vs. Moksh Builders and Financiers Ltd. And ors.” (MANU/SC/0057/1976 : AIR 1977 SC 409)
(iii) ” Bharat Singh and Anr. Vs. Bhagirathi” (MANU/SC/0362/1965 : AIR 1966 SC 405)
(iv) “Aninha D’Costa Vs. Parvatibai M. Thakur” (MANU/MH/0051/1966 : AIR 1966 Bom. 113).
(v) “Divisional Manager, United India Insurance Co. Ltd. And Anr. Vs. Samir Chandra Chaudhary” [MANU/SC/0414/2005]
(vi) ” Mr. Guy Vigney Athanasius D’Melo Vs. The Government of Goa, Daman and Diu” [MANU/MH/1663/2011].
(vii) “Shanti Sarup Vs. Radhaswami Satsang Sabha, Dayalbagh Agra and Others” (MANU/UP/0052/1969 : AIR 1969 ALL 248).
(viii) ” Sohan Lal Naraindas Vs. Laximidas Raghunath Gadit” [MANU/SC/0593/1971 : 1971(1) SCC 276]
12. I have gone through the record and proceedings.
13. Insofar as the letter dated 23/5/1978, at Exhibit P.W. 1/C, is concerned, it may be true that since the disputed expression “consenting to the agreed lease” has been subsequently added, the same may not prove lease in respect of the premises. However, as has been rightly held by the learned first Appellate Court, the undisputed part of that letter indicates that the defendant sought written permission from the plaintiff to enter and occupy the said room and the plaintiff allowed the defendant to use the said room as his consulting room. Therefore, the entry of the defendant in the said room is legal.
14. The defendant has pleaded the relevant facts of the said Special Suit No. 135/1978, in the written statement. The defendant(D.W. 1) has produced the copy of the plaint in Special Civil Suit No. 135/1978, as Exhibit 49. The said suit was filed by one Smt. Maria Do Carmo Delfina Da Silva Lourenco against 5 defendants, namely, Inizio Almeida Coutinho, Santana Escolastico Mazarelo, Mrs. Matilda Mazarelo, Margao Municipal Council and Dr. S. Moraes. Various reliefs were sought, one of which was to direct the defendants No. 1, 2 and 3 to discontinue the use of adjoining flat in the first floor of Bela Vista Apartments (Flat adjoining the Apartment A-2 of the plaintiff) as a Medical Dispensary or consulting room. Thus, the consulting room of the defendant was directly in issue in that suit, though the question of tenancy was not involved. In that suit, the defendants No. 1, 2, 3 and 5 had filed a common written statement. The said written statement is produced by D.W. 1 as Exhibit 50. In paragraph 5 thereof, it was averred that the defendant No. 5 says that he took on lease his consulting room from the defendant No. 2 who owns the flat, wherein the same is located. Defendant No. 2 of that Special Civil Suit is the plaintiff of the present case, whereas defendant No. 5 of the said Special civil suit is the defendant of the present case. There is no averment in the said written statement filed in Special civil suit No. 135/1978 that the defendant No. 2 says that he had not given the said room to the defendant No. 5 on lease but had allowed him to occupy it as licensee. As per Order 6, Rule 14 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), inter alia, every pleading shall be signed by the party and his pleader whereas in terms of Rule 15 of Order 6 of CPC, every pleading shall be verified at the foot by the party or by one of the parties pleading or by some other person proved to the satisfaction of the Court to be acquainted with the facts of the case. Therefore, a written statement which is signed by all the defendants and verified by one of them is binding on all the defendants named therein. Nothing had prevented the defendants to file separate written statements in the said Special suit No. 135/78, if there was no consensus. In the case of “Shanti Sarup”(supra), the defendants had in an earlier litigation admitted the valid registration of the society. The Income Tax officer Agra, treating all the contributions made by the Dayal Bagh Satsangis and all the properties which had been acquired from those contributions as also of the income which arose out of such properties as the personal property of Shri Sahabji Maharaj started proceedings against him for assessment of income. The Sabha filed suit No. 4 of 1937 against the Secretary of State for India in Council and also impleaded Shri Sahabji Maharaj as a defendant. It was alleged in paragraph 1 of the plaint(Ext. 157) that the plaintiff Sabha was a valid registered society under Act No. 21 of 1860. Shri Sahabji Maharaj filed a written statement (Ext. 19) on 14th April 1937, admitting paragraphs 1 to 11 of the plaint. Shri Sahabji Maharaj died during the pendency of the suit, and one Prem Swarup and both the defendants of the suit were impleaded as his heirs. It was clear from the statement made by Shanti Swarup(defendant No. 2) that he and the other heirs of Shri Sahabji Maharaj had adopted the same written statement which had been filed by Shri Sahabji Maharaj. The Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court, in the facts and circumstances above, held that the defendant’s own admission can be regarded as evidence of the fact that the plaintiff Sabha had been duly registered under Act No. 21 of 1860. I am unable to subscribe to the contention of the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the plaintiff that the said pleading is made only by the defendant No. 5 and is not binding on the other defendants.
15. It is seen that the facts of the said suit No. 135/78 and the concerned pleading in the written statement filed therein were brought to the notice of the plaintiff (P.W. 1), in his cross-examination. P.W. 1 has admitted that Maria Delfina Da Carmo Lorenco had filed said suit bearing No. 135/1978 against the defendant and Inizio Almeida Coutinho and that he had filed written statement in the said suit. He has admitted that in that suit himself, the defendant and others were defended by advocate Shri J.F. Borges. However, to the suggestion that in the written statement filed in that suit, he has described the defendant as his tenant, he has conveniently answered that he does not remember. Thus, the plaintiff has not denied that he has described the defendant as tenant. D.W. 1, the defendant has produced the plaint in the said suit No. 135/78 as Exhibit 49. He has produced the said written statement as Exhibit 50. D.W. 1 has stated that Smt. Maria Delfina Da Carmo Lorenco had filed the said suit as the said room was converted for commercial use and that in the said suit a common written statement was filed. D.W. 1 has stated in the said written statement it was disclosed that he has been occupying the suit room as a lessee. D.W. 1 has stated that the said suit was dismissed by the trial Court and the plaintiff had preferred appeal before the Hon’ble High Court which was also dismissed. D.W. 1 has produced the judgment passed in the said suit which is at Exhibit 52. It is seen from the said judgment that issue No. 2 framed therein was as follows:
Whether the plaintiff proves that the defendant nos. 1, 2 and 3 again in contravention of the above said agreements and municipal licences have allowed the defendant No. 5 to use the flat adjoining to the apartment A-2 of the plaintiff as consulting room or dispensary from 15/6/1978 on all days between hours 9.30 a.m. to 1. p.m.?
The learned Civil Judge, Senior Division while answering the said issue No. 2 has observed that the defendant No. 2 (the plaintiff of the present case) kept for himself the flat adjoining to the apartment given to Maria Do Carmo Delfina Da Silva and it was he who rented one of the rooms to the defendant No. 5 (defendant of the present case) to open his consulting room. It has been further observed by the learned Civil Judge, Senior Division that the defendant No. 2 (plaintiff of the present case) gave that room to the defendant No. 5 (defendant of the present case) after obtaining licence from the Municipal Council to convert the use of that room from residential to consulting room, (Exhibit 27 colly) and the defendant No. 5 was even authorized to display a board advertising his name. There is absolutely nothing in the cross-examination of D.W. 1 denying the said pleadings made in the common written statement filed in the said special suit No. 135/78 and the observations made by the learned Civil Judge Senior Division in the final judgment, as above.
16. It is true that the said written statement has not been produced by the defendant in cross-examination of the plaintiff (P.W. 1), to confront him with the said admission. However, the same was produced by the defendant in his examination-in-chief as Exhibit 50. The plaintiff had therefore, all the opportunity to cross-examine the defendant with regard to the said admission contained in the said written statement. If wanted, the plaintiff could have even prayed before the court to permit him to lead additional evidence with regard to the said written statement in order to deny that there was any admission made therein or to give any explanation regarding the same. The plaintiff did not find it necessary to do so. Since the plaintiff had not denied the pleadings made in the said written statement, the question of confronting him with the written statement, in terms of Section 145 of the Evidence Act, did not arise.
17. In the case of “Raj Kumar and Anr.”,(supra), relied upon by the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the plaintiff, the suit was for dispossession of the defendants from a shop. The defence of the defendants was that they were tenants. Some statement was made by the predecessors of the defendants in their written statement in an earlier suit filed by the plaintiff for recovery of arrears of rent, that they had already left the shop. The statement was “Chor diya”. The learned Single Judge of the Allahabad High Court has observed that a statement in a pleading cannot be evidence in subsequent proceedings before a Court of law unless it amounts to an admission. It is further observed that the earlier suit was merely for recovery of sum of money and not a suit for declaration of a title or for enforcement of a title on any property and hence even if the statements made in paragraphs 5 and 8 of the written statement are assumed to be admissions of the predecessors of the defendants, they would not be binding as the suit itself was not one for a declaration of a title or for claiming any relief of that nature. However, the learned Single Judge further found that paragraphs 8 and 9 of the written statement did not contain any admission on the part of the predecessors of the defendants that they surrendered the tenancy. As already stated above, the words used in the written statement were “Chor diya” and the learned Single judge has held that there are no words which can be construed as showing an intention on the part of the defendants’ predecessors to have given up the tenancy. The ratio of this Judgment does not advance the case of the plaintiff. In the present case, in the written statement filed in Suit No. 135/78, the words used are unambiguous to the effect that the defendant claims to be the tenant of plaintiff, in respect of the said room. Besides the above, in the present case, the pleadings in the earlier suit were not of the predecessor of the plaintiff or the defendant but were of the plaintiff and the defendant themselves.
18. In the case of “Shriram Sardarmal Didwani” (supra), it has been observed that admissions made in a suit have special value in view of the provisions of section 58 of the Evidence Act. It has been held that admissions made in other proceedings, though relevant would not be conclusive and it can be shown that the admissions made are incorrect or based on a misunderstanding. In the present case, the plaintiff has not shown that the admission made in the written statement filed in Special Suit No. 135/1978 is incorrect or is based on a misunderstanding.
19. In the case of “Bharat Singh and Anr.” (supra), relied upon by the Learned Counsel appearing for the defendant, it has been held as follows:
Admissions have to be clear if they are to be used against the person making them. Admissions are substantive evidence by themselves, in view of Sections 17 and 21 of the Indian Evidence Act, though they are not conclusive proof of the matters admitted. We are of opinion that the admissions duly proved are admissible evidence irrespective of whether the party making them appeared in the witness box or not and whether that party when appearing as witness was confronted with those statements in case it made a statement contrary to those admissions. The purpose of contradicting the witness under S. 45 of the Evidence Act is very much different from the purpose of proving the admission. Admission is substantive evidence of the fact admitted while a previous statement used to contradict a witness does not become substantive evidence and merely serves the purpose of throwing doubt on the veracity of the witness. What weight is to be attached to an admission made by a party is a matter different from its use as admissible evidence.
20. Subsequently, in the case of “Sita Ram Bhau Patil” (supra), after referring to its decision in the case of “Bharat Singh and Anr” (supra), the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held that a statement in relation to fact not in issue and neither relevant is not an admission. The Apex Court has further held that an admission before being used against any person must not only be proved but also the party must be confronted at the stage of cross-examination with its previous admission. First of all, in the case supra, the evidence, containing the alleged admission, in its entirety was not an admission at all. Secondly, it was not even a relevant fact. Thirdly, when the respondent was under cross-examination, it was not brought to his notice. In the present case, in the cross-examination of the plaintiff (P.W. 1), it was brought to his notice that in the suit No. 135/78 filed by Maria Delphina de Carmo Lourenco, he, defendant and others had filed written statement. P.W. 1 has admitted that he had filed the written statement in that suit. P.W. 1 did not deny the suggestion that in the said written statement he has described the defendant as his tenant. To the above suggestion, he answered that he does not remember. Since the plaintiff (P.W. 1) did not deny that he had described the defendant as his tenant, the question of producing the said written statement in the cross-examination of P.W. 1 and confronting him with the said admission, in terms of Section 145 of the Evidence Act, did not arise. The defendant subsequently, in his own evidence, produced the plaint, written statement and the judgment in the said suit No. 135/1978 and offered himself for cross-examination on the same. The standard of proof in civil suits is “preponderance of probabilities” and not “beyond reasonable doubt”. Therefore, in my considered opinion, the ratio of the judgment in “Sita Ram Bhau Patil”(supra) also does not advance the case of the plaintiff.
21. In the case of “Shankarrao Dejisaheb Shinde”, (supra), it has been held that an admission in written statement of another suit is an important piece of evidence carrying permissible weight, however, it is not conclusive and the party making it can rebut it by acceptable evidence including admission by opposite party. The plaintiff, in the present case, has not rebutted the said admission by acceptable evidence.
22. In the case of “Bishwanath Prasad and others”, (supra), it has been held as follows:
There is no merit even in the contention that because these three statements-Exs. G, G2 and H- had not been put to the first plaintiff when he was in the witness box or to the eighth defendant although he had discreetly kept away from giving evidence, they cannot be used against him. Counsel drew our attention to S. 145 of the Indian Evidence Act. There is a cardinal distinction between a party who is the author of a prior statement and a witness who is examined and is sought to be discredited by use of his prior statement. In the former case, an admission by a party is substantive evidence if it fulfills the requirements of S. 21 of the Evidence Act; in the latter case a prior statement is used to discredit the credibility of the witness and does not become substantive evidence. In the former there is no necessary requirement of the statement containing the admission having to be put to the party because it is evidence proprio vigore : in the latter case the Court cannot be invited to disbelieve a witness on the strength of a prior contradictory statement unless it has been put to him, as required by S. 145 of the Evidence Act. This distinction has been clearly brought out in the ruling in Bharat Singh v. Bhagirathi MANU/SC/0362/1965:(1966) 1 SCR 606.
23. In the case of “Moksh Builders and Financiers Ltd. And others”(supra), it was found that the defendant No. 3 had full opportunity to appear and defend himself but he did not do so and the case proceeded ex-parte against him. The plaintiff had even tried to examine defendant No. 3 as his own witness, but his appearance could not be secured. Therefore, it was held that there is no force in the argument that the admissions or statements of defendant No. 3 could not be read against him as they were not adverse to his interest when made. The Apex Court has further held that there is no such requirement of the Evidence Act and the argument is untenable as it unreasonably restricts the opportunity to prove the true state of affairs on the party’s own showing and to demolish his subsequent claim as self contradictory.
24. From all that is discussed above, it is clear that the admission in Special Civil Suit No. 135/1978 to the effect that the defendant is the tenant of the said room is binding on the plaintiff. In the circumstances above, the plaintiff cannot now deny his own admission about tenancy of the defendant made in the said Special Civil Suit No. 135/1978. Both the substantial questions of law are, therefore, answered against the plaintiff.
25. Further, it should be kept in mind that it is not only the said admission in the written statement in Special Civil Suit No. 135/1978 which led the first Appellate Court to hold that the transaction is of lease. There are various other criteria considered by the first Appellate Court.
26. The above admission has to be read along with the following facts proved by the evidence on record:
(i) According to the plaintiff, the room was allowed to be occupied by the defendant in the year 1978 till his flat on the second floor was ready. Admittedly, the said flat of the defendant on the second floor became ready in 1980. However, there is no explanation from the plaintiff as to why the suit is filed in the year 1991 i.e. after 11 years.
(ii) The evidence on record reveals that there is an independent entry to the suit room from the main entrance.
(iii) There is board of the defendant on the suit room and also there is a partition made by the defendant inside that room and machinery of the defendant has been fixed in his clinic.
(iv) Though it is the case of the plaintiff that the said flat was kept vacant by him to give it for use of any of his sons who might get married and that one of his sons got married in 1982 and went to reside in the said flat in 1983 and that he has now two children and are huddled in one room without even a dinning room, however, the evidence on record reveals that after giving the said room to the defendant, the plaintiff has leased out different premises to different parties in the same vicinity, namely to Vijaya Bank, Centurian Bank and others.
(v) The exclusive possession of the said room is with the defendant for the last more than 12 years.
(vi) The defendant has his own lock and keys for entering the suit room.
(vii) There is nothing on record to suggest that the plaintiff exercised any act of possession or interfered with the possession of the defendant in respect of the said room.
27. In the case of “Sohan Lal Naraindas” (supra), the Hon’ble Apex Court has held thus:
By the terms of the agreement an interest was created in the loft in favour of the respondent (defendant). A licence confers a right to do or continue to do something in or upon immovable property of grantor which but for the grant of the right may be unlawful, but it creates no estate or interest in the immovable property of the grantor. A lease on the other hand creates an interest in the property demised.
Intention of the parties to an instrument must be gathered from the terms of the agreement examined in the light of the surrounding circumstances. The description given by the parties may be evidence of the intention but is not decisive. Mere use of the words appropriate to the creation of a lease will not preclude the agreement operating as a licence. A recital that the agreement does not create a tenancy is also not decisive. The crucial test in each case is whether the instrument is intended to create or not to create an interest in the property the subject-matter of the agreement. If it is in fact intended to create an interest in the property it is a lease, if it does not, it is a licence. In determining whether the agreement creates a lease or a licence the test of exclusive possession, though not decisive, is of significance.
28. On account of the above, as has been rightly contended by the Learned Counsel appearing for the defendant, even if it is held that the admission made in the written statement cannot be relied upon, then also that would not be sufficient for reversing the order of dismissal of the suit. The finding that the transaction is of a lease is based on various other material on record which has been stated above and more particularly on the fact that the defendant is in exclusive possession of the said room, for a very long period. It is, therefore, clear that there is no merit in this second appeal. In the result, the appeal is dismissed, however, with no order as to costs.