By Accommodation Times News Services
The law relating to Thika Tenancies in relation to Calcutta and Howrah, as it existed prior to the Acquisition Act of 1981, was the Calcutta Thika Tenancy Act, 1949, which excluded leases of land exceeding 12 years’ duration. The instant lease being one for 20 years, the same stood excluded from the operation of the 1949 Act, when it was executed. In any event, having been granted a lease for a period of twenty one years in respect of the building standing on the suit premises, comprising premises No.91-A, Mahatma Gandhi Road and 6-A, Sambhu Chatterjee Street, Kolkata, in which the Grace Cinema was located, the Appellant could never claim to be a Thika Tenant in respect of the suit premises as defined either under the Calcutta Thika Tenancy Act, the Calcutta Thika and other Tenancies and Lands (Acquisition and Regulation) Act, 1981, as well as The West Bengal (Acquisition and Regulation) Act, 2001. [Para 30] [605-H; 606-A-C]. A “Thika Tenant” under the Calcutta Thika Tenancy Act, 1949, was defined to mean any person who, inter alia, held, whether under a written lease or otherwise, land under another person and has erected or acquired by purchase or gift any structure on such land for a residential, manufacturing or business purpose and includes the successors-in-interest of such person, except for the exceptions indicated in Sub-Section (5) of Section 2 of the said Act. As also indicated hereinbefore, the aforesaid Act stood repealed by the Calcutta Thika Tenancy and Other Tenancies and Lands (Acquisition and Regulation) Act, 1981, which provided for the acquisition of interest of landlords in respect of lands comprised in Thika Tenancies and certain other tenancies and other lands in Kolkata and Howrah for development and equitable utilization of such lands. In the said Act, a “Thika Tenant” has been defined to mean any person who occupies, whether under a written lease or otherwise land under another person and is or but for a special contract liable to pay rent, at a monthly or periodical rate, for the land to the said person and has erected or acquired by purchase or gift any structure on such land for residential, manufacturing or business purpose and includes the successors-in-interest of such person. What is significant in the definition of Thika Tenant under the 1981 Act is the persons who had been excluded from the definition in the 1949 Act, were also brought within the ambit of the 1981 Act. Consequently, certain lands which were earlier excluded from the definition of “Thika Tenancy”, were now brought within its ambit. [Para 31] [606-D-H; 607-A]. The circumstances were further altered with the enactment of the West Bengal Thika Tenancy (Acquisition & Regulation) Act, 2001, to provide for the acquisition of interests of landlords in respect of lands comprised in Thika Tenancies and certain other tenancies in Kolkata and Howrah and other Municipalities of West Bengal for development and equitable utilization of such lands with a view to sub-serve the common good. It is clear that the main object of the 2001 Act was to extend the acquisition of lands beyond Kolkata and Howrah, in other Municipalities of West Bengal, for development and proper utilization of such lands. [Para 32] [607-B-C].