P. Venkatarama Reddi, J.
1. In these revision petitions preferred under Section 22 of the Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), the only question that arises for consideration is whether the Appellate Authority constituted under Section 20 of the Act is empowered to condone the delay in filing appeals on sufficient cause being shown by the appellants by invoking Section 5 of the (Indian) Limitation Act, 1963. The Chief Judge, City Small Causes Court (FAC) acting as an appellate authority under the Act, took the view that Section 5 of the Limitation Act does not apply and he, therefore, summarily rejected the un-numbered appeals by a common order passed in 19 cases. The aggrieved parties most of whom are tenants are questioning the correctness of the order passed by the appellate authority.
2. There is no uniformity in the views expressed in various judgments of the A.P. High Court. In some decisions, it was held that the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority under the Act were 'persona designate but not a 'Court' and the Act being a special legislation on the subject of lease, rent and eviction, the general provisions contained in the Limitation Act have no application. A contrary view was expressed in certain other decisions. In the context of Industrial Disputes Act, a Full Bench of this Court in The Nalgonda Co-operative Market Society Ltd. v. Labour Court, Hyderabad,
(F.B.), took the view that the Labour Court which is constituted as an Appellate Authority under the A.P. Shops & Establishments Act is not a 'Court' within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. It was held that judicial functions performed by a Labour Court are different from those performed by an ordinary Court of law. It was pointed out that the provisions of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act make Section 5 of the Act applicable to an appeal filed under special or local law in a civil or criminal Court insofar as Section 5 is not expressly excluded. The Labour Court, it was pointed out, cannot be rega rded as an ordinary Court of law though it has certain trappings of a Court. Reliance was placed on the decision of the Supreme Court in Towm Municipal Council, Athany v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, . Purporting to follow the above judgment, the learned appellate authority-Chief Judge, City Small Causes Court, held that the earlier decisions of this Court viz.,(1) GDM Rao v. Ranga Panaiah ; (2) P. Bhaskar Rao v. Subbaraju (1967 (2) An.W.R. 58); (3) M. Jagannadham v. N. Rangaiah (1983 (1) ALT 106 SN); (4) Vinok Kumar v. Ravindernath (1985 (1) APLJ 57); and (5) Srinivasa Rao v. High Court of A.P. which arose under the Rent Control Act must be deemed to have been overruled by the Full Bench decision. He therefore, rejected the applications for condonation of delay in limine on the ground that there was no provision for condonation.
3. It is unnecessary to deal with the question whether the ratio of the Full Bench judgment which concerned itself with the powers of the Labour Court under A.P. Shops and Establishment Act is applicable to the present case and whether the earlier decisions of this Court must be deemed to have been overruled by the Full Bench. The recent judgment of the Supreme Court furnishes a complete answer to the issue on hand. The issue is no more res integra in view of that decision. But, on utterly untenable grounds, the appellate authority distinguished the judgment of the Supreme Court and declined to follow the same, though it is a direct decision rendered with reference to an analogous enactment. In order to dispel the doubts in regard to the applicability of the latest judgment of the Supreme Court in Mukri Gopalan v. Cheppilat Puthanpurayil Aboobacker, . and to expose the untenability of the reasoning of the appellate authority, what all is required to be done is an analysis and reiteration of the principles laid down in the said Judgment of the Supreme Court.
4. In Mukri Gopalan's case, ., the following question was posed for consideration by Majmudar, J. speaking for the Division Bench of the Supreme Court:
"Whether the Appellate Authority constituted under Section 18 of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent:) Control Act, 1965 has power to condone the delay in the filing of the appeal before it under the said Section."
5. Just as in the present case, there, the Kerala High Court held that application for condonation of delay was not maintainable before the Appellate Authority. The Supreme Court disapproved that view and concluded as follows:
"As a result of the aforesaid discussion, it must be held that appellate authority constituted under Section 18 of the Kerala Rent Act, 1965, functions as a Court and the period of limitation prescribed therein under Section 18 governing appeals by aggrieved parties will be computed keeping in view the provisions of Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act 1963. Such proceedings will attract Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act and consequently Section 5 of the Limitation Act would also be applicable to such proceedings. Appellate authority will have ample jurisdiction to consider the question whether delay in filing such appeals could be condoned on sufficient cause being made out by the applicant concerned for the delay in filing such appeals. The decision rendered by the High Court in the present case as well as by the appellate authority taking contrary view are quashed and set aside. The proceedings are remanded to the Court of the appellate authority, that is, District Judge, Thalassery. Rent Control Appeal No. 9 of 1994 filed before the said authority by the appellant is resotred to its file with a direction that the appellate authority shall consider LA. No. 56 of 1994 filed by the applicant for condonation of delay on its own merits and then proceed further in accordance with law."
6. Before going into the details of the judgment, it is necessary to extract Section 18 of the Kerala Act and Section 20 of the A.P. Act dealing with appeals and then to make a brief survey of the provisions of the Act in so far as they are relevant. Section 18 of the Kerala Act is as follows:
"18. Appeal:- (1) (a) The Government may, by general or special order notified in the Gazette, confer on such officers and authorities not below the rank of a Subordinate Judge the powers of appellate authorities for the purposes of this Act in such areas or in such classes of cases as may be specified in the order.
(b) Any person aggrieved by an order passed by the Rent Control Court may, within thirty days from the date of such order, prefer an appeal in writing to the appellate authority having jurisdiction. In computing the thirty days aforesaid, the time taken to obtain a certified copy of the order appealed against shall be excluded.
(2) On such appeal being preferred, the appellate authority may order stay of further proceedings in the matter pending decision on the appeal.
(3) The appellate authority shall send for the records of the case from the Rent Control Court and after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard and, if necessary, after making such further inquiry as it thinks fit either directly or through the Rent Control Court, shall decide the appeal.
Explanation:-The appellate authority may, while confirming the order of eviction passed by the Rent Control Court, grant an extension of time to the tenant for putting the landlord in possession of the building.
(4) The appellate authority shall have all the powers of the Rent Control Court including the fixing of arrears of rent.
(5) The decision of the appellate authority, and subject to such decision, an order of the Rent Control Court shall be final and shall not be liable to be called in question in any Court of law, except as provided in Section 20."
Section 20 of the Andhra Pradesh Act reads as under:
"20. Appeal; (1) Any person aggrieved by an order passed by the Controller may, within thirty days from the date of such order, prefer an appeal in writing to the Chief Judge, Small Causes Court in the cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad elsewhere to the Subordinate Judge, or if there are more than one Subordinate Judge, to the Principal Subordinate Judge having original jurisdiction over the area aforesaid. In computing the said period of thirty days, the time taken to obtain a certified copy of the order appealed against shall be excluded.
(2) On such appeal being preferred, the appellate authority may order stay of further proceedings in the matter pending decision on the appeal.
(3) The appellate authority shall send for the records of the case from the Controller and after giving the parties an opportunity of being heard, and if necessary, after making such furthr enquiry as he thinks fit either personally or through the Controller, shall decide the appeal.
Explanation:- The appellate authority may, while confirming the order of eviction passed by the Controller grant an extension of time to the tenant for putting the landlord in possession of the building.
(4) The decision of the appellate authority and subject to such decision, an order of the Controller shall be final and shall not be liable to be called in question in any Court of law, except as provided in Section 22."
7. Thus, it is seen that the Kerala Act as well as the Andhra Pradesh Act confers powers of an appellate authority on the Presiding Officer of a Court of a specified rank or designation. Such Judicial Officer is constituted as an appellate authority by virtue of the office he holds as a Presiding Officer of the Court. Whereas in the Kerala Act, the Government by a notification in the Gazette has to confer the appellate powers on the officers or authorities not below the rank of a Subordinate Judge, the Andhra Pradesh Act is more categorical and expressive in nominating certain categories of Judicial Officers manning the Civil Courts as appellate authorities. In the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, it is the Chief Judge, City Small Causes Court who is designated as the appellate authority under the Act. The expression 'Chief Judge' undoubtedly includes Additional Chief Judge and there is no controversy on this aspect. Elsewhere in the State, the Subordinate Judge having original jurisdiction over the concerned area is specified as the appellate authority; and if there is more than one Subordinate Judge at the same place, the Principal Subordinate Judge will exercise the powers of appellate authority. In Kerala State, the Government, in exercise of powers under Section 18(1) (a), conferred the powers of appellate authorities on the District Judges having jurisdiction over the areas covered by the Act. As regards the width and content of the appellate powers, there is no substantial difference between the Kerala Act and Andhra Pradesh Act as discussed hereinafter.
8. In the background of the provisions adverted to above, I shall now proceed to analyse the Judgment of the Supreme Court in more detail. The first aspect considered by the Supreme Court was whether the District Judge exercising the appellate powers by virtue of the notification issued by the Kerala Government is 'persona designata'. The Supreme Court had this to say on this point (vide paragraph 7):
"It is now well settled that an authority can be styled to be persona designata if powers are conferred on a named person or authority and such powers cannot be exercised by anyone else. The scheme of the Act to which we have referred earlier contraindicates such appellate authority to be a persona designata. It is clear that the appellate authority constituted under Section 18(1) has to decide lis between parties in a judicial manner and subject to the revision of its order, the decision would remain final between the parties. Such an authority is constituted by designation as the District Judge of the district having jurisdiction over the area over which the said Act has been extended. It becomes obvious that even though the District Judge concerned might retire or get transferred or may otherwise cease to hold the office of the District Judge, his successor-in-office can pick up the thread of the proceedings from the stage where it was left by his predecessor and can function as an appellate authority under Section 18. If the District Judge was constituted as an appellate authority being a persona designata or as a named person being the appellate authority as assumed in the present case, such a consequence, on the scheme of the Act would not follow."
The Supreme Court cited with approval the observations of Hidayatullah, J., in the case of Central Talkies Limited v. Dwarka Prasad, . Hidayatullah, J., in his turn referred to the dictum of Schwabe, C.J. in Parthasaradhi Naidu v. Koteswara Rao, AIR 1924 Madras 561 (F.B.) to the effect that persona designata are persons selected to act in their private capacity and not in their capacity as Judges.
Then, the Supreme Court concluded:
"Applying the said test to the facts of the present case, it becomes obvious that appellate authorities as constituted under Section 18 of the Rent Act being the District Judges, they constituted a class and cannot be considered to be persona designata."
It was then observed by Majmudar, J. speaking for the Supreme Court:
"Once it is held that the appellate authority functioning under Section 18 of the Rent Act is not a persona designata, it becomes obvious that it functions as a Court."
It was then pointed out that all the essential trappings of a Court were present in the powers and functions of the appellate authority. The Supreme Court also noted the concession made by the learned counsel for the respondent in that case that the appellate authority is a Court and not persona designata. The Supreme Court then proceeded to examine the contention of the respondents counsel whether such Courts should be in the nature of civil Courts constituted and functioning under the Code of Civil Procedure so as to fall within the sweep of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act. The twin requirements of Section 29(2) were reiterated in the following terms:
(i) There must be a provision for period of limitation under any special or local law in connection with any suit, appeal or application,
(ii) The said prescription of period of limitation under such special or local law should be different from the period prescribed by the Schedule to the Limitation Act.
It was then observed:
"If the aforesaid two requirements are satisfied, the consequences contemplated by Section 29(2) would automatically follow. These consequences are as under:
(i) In such a case Section 3 of the Limitation Act would apply as if the period prescribed by the special or local law was the period prescribed by the Schedule.
(ii) For determining any period of limitation prescribed by such special or local law for a suit, appeal or application, all the provisions containing Sections 4 to 24 (inclusive) would apply in sofar as and to the extent to which they are not expressly excluded by such special or local law."
Having held that Section 18 of the Kerala Rent Act satisfies the aforesaid conditions laid down in Section 29(2), it was observed:
"It is also obvious that once the aforesaid two conditions are satisfied, Section 29(2) on its own force will get attracted to appeals filed before appellate authority under Section 18 of the Rent Act. When Section 29(2) applies to appeals under Section 18 of the Rent Act, for computing the period of limitation prescribed for appeals under that Section, all the provisions of Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act would apply. Section 5 being one of them would therefore get attracted. It is also obvious that there is no express exclusion any where in the Rent Act taking out the applicability of Section 5 of the Limitation Act to appeals filed before appellate authority under Section 18 of the Act. Consequently, all the legal requirements for applicability of Section 5 of the Limitation Act to such appeals in the light of Section 29(2) of Limitation Act can be said to have been satisfied."
The Supreme Court commented that the Kerala High Court's view was vitiated by a wrong supposition that the appellate authority functioning under Section 18 was a persona designata.
9. Referring to the fundamental change made in Section 29(2) by the Limitation Act of 1963, the Supreme Court pointed out:
"By this change, it is not necessary to expressly state in a special law that the provisions contained in Section 5 of the Limitation Act shall apply to the determination of the periods under it. By the general provision contained in Section 29(2), this provision is made applicable to the periods prescribed under the special laws. An express mention in the special law is necessary only for any exclusion."
It may be noted that in the Andhra Pradesh Act, just as in the Kerala Act, there is no express provision excluding Section 5 of the Limitation Act.
10. Coming back to the argument advanced by Mr. Nariman on behalf of the respondent that Section 29(2) (a) read with Section 5 of the Limitation Act would apply only to the Courts constituted under the Civil Procedure Code, the Supreme Court repelled the argument in these emphatic terms:
"This submission is required to be stated to be rejected as it would amount to moving in a circle. If according to Mr. Nariman Section 29(2) can apply to only those Courts which are constituted under the Civil Procedure Code, then the entire scheme of Limitation Act from Sections 3 to 24 onwards would apply to proceedings of such Courts on its own force and it that eventuality,provisions contained in Section 29(2) for applying Sections 4 to 24 of Limitation Act, 1963 to such Court proceedings would be rendered otiose and redundant."
"The express language of Section 29(2) clearly indicates that such special or local law must provide for period of limitation for suit, appeal or application entertainable under such laws and for computing period of limitation under such special or local law, the legislature has made available the machinery of Sections 4 to 24 inclusive as found in Limitation Act. Nowhere is it indicated that as per Section 29(2) the Courts functioning under such special or local law must be governed whole hog by Civil Procedure Code."
11. At paragraph 17, the Supreme Court proceeded to examine the submission on the assumption that the Rent Controller or the appellate authority adjudicating disputes between landlords and tenants in a judicial manner may not be considered strictly as civil Courts fully governed by the Civil Procedure Code. Then, the following question was posed:
"Still the question remains whether only beause of that, their proceedings will go out of the provision of Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act."
Their Lordships then considered the Judgments of the Supreme Court in Town Municipal Council, Athani v. Presiding Officer, Labour Courts (2 supra); Nityananda M. Joshi v. L.I.C., . and Kerala Seb v. T.P. Kunhaliumma, , and pointed out that the ratio of those Judgments should be confined to Article 137 of the Limitation Act and made the following clarificatory observations:
".................. the entire Schedule to the Limitation Act prescribes various periods of limitation for suit, appeal or application to be moved before full-fledged civil or criminal Courts. As Article 137 deals with one of such applications as found in third division, this Court held in the case of Town Municipal Council v. Presiding Officer, Labour Court, that the said article could apply only to application before full-fledged civil Court and as Labour Court was not one of such Courts though established under special or local law, Article 137 could not apply to govern proceedings before it. Such is not the case before us. We are not concerned with the applicability of any of the articles of the Schedule for governing period of limitation as prescribed by Section 18 of the Rent Control Act. That period of limitation is prescribed not by Article 137 or any other article under the Schedule but by Section 18 itself which is a part and parcel of special or local law. So far as that period of limitation is concerned, Section 29(2) is the only Section which can apply."
It may be mentioned at this juncture that the Full Bench of this Court in Nalgonda Co-operative Marketing Society Limited's case (1 supra) placed strong reliance on the decision in Town Municipal Council, Athani's case (2 supra).
12. At paragraph 19, the Supreme Court referred to two decisions of the Supreme Court which, according to thier Lordships, "have directly spoken on the point". The first decision was in the case of CST v. Madan Lal Das & Sons, . and Sahkari Ganna Vikas Samiti Ltd. v. Mahabir Sugar Mills (P) Ltd. . Referring to the first decision, Majumdar, J. observed:
"It becomes therefore obvious that the aforesaid decision clearly applied Section 29(2) to the revision petitions filed before revision authorities under a special law like U.P. Sales Tax Act and via Section 29(2) applied Section 12(2) of the Limitation Act to such revisional proceedings."
The Judgment in Commissioner of Sales Tax v. Parson Tools and Plants, . was distinguished. The case of Madanlal Das
was considered to be a direct decision on the point of applicability of Section 29(2) for computing periods of limitation prescribed by local or special law "even though the authority before which such proceedings may be filed under the local or special law may not be full-fledged civil Courts."
13. In the second case (9 supra), Section 5 of the limitation Act was applied to appeals before the Divisional Commissioner acting as a Revenue Court under the U.P. Sugar Cane (Regulation of Supply and Purchase) Act.
14. The legal position was succinctly laid down at paragraph 20 by observing that if the pre-requisites for the applicability of Section 29(2) are satisfied, the provisions contained in Sections 4 to 24 of the Limitation Act will apply to such proceedings "meaning thereby the procedural scheme contemplated by these Sections of the Limitation Act would get telescoped into such provisions of special or local law."Such a consequence was described as a "legislative shorthand".
15. To sum up, the Supreme Court laid down the following propositions:
(i) Appellate authority under the Kerala Rent Act is not 'persona designata' but acts as a 'Court';
(ii) Provisions of Section 29(2) read with Sections 4 to 24 Limitation Act, 1963, are attracted to the proceedings before the appellate authority; and
(iii) It is not necessary for the applicability of Section 29(2) or Section 5 that the Court called upon to decide the dispute must be a Court in stricto sensu -constituted under the Code of Civil Procedure.
16. An exhaustive analysis of Supreme Court decision is considered necessary because the appellate Judge tried to find some way of distinguishing that Judgment and to sully its binding force. The learned appellate Judge observed that the scheme of A.P. Act No. 15 of 1960 and the Rules framed thereunder are in several respects different from the provisions of the Kerala Rent Act. The first point of distinction which has been pointed out by the appellate Judge is that the Andhra Pradesh Act was enacted prior to 1-1-1964 on which date the Limitation Act, 1963, came into force and therefore, 'by any stretch of imagination" it cannot be said that the intention of the Parliament was to extend Section 29(2) of the Limitation Act to any special or local law enacted prior to 1-1-1964. This point of distinction does not stand a moment's scrutiny. An unwarranted limitation is sought to be placed on the scope and operation of Section 29 (2) of the Limitation Act. If the interpretation sought to be placed by the appellate authority is to be accepted and the operation of Section 29(2) is to be confined only to the pre-existing enactments, it amounts to depriving Section 29(2) of its efficacy and intended effect. I have, therefore, no hesitation in disapproving the distinction sought to be made out by the appellate authority.
17. The second point of distinction pointed out is equally untenable. The learned appellate Judge observed at paragraph 49 that the Kerala Rent Act of 1959, which was the fore-runner to the present Act of 1965, contained a provision which extended Section 5 of the Limitation Act to all proceedings under the Act. It is pointed out that such a provision is lacking in Andhra Pradesh Act No. 15 of 1960. The fact that there was such a provision in the old Kerala Act is wholly irrelavent as the Supreme Court was not concerned with the old Act. The new Act does not contain a provision similar to Section 32 of the repealed Act.
18. The next point of distinction which the appellate Judge pointed out was that the primary authority under the Kerala Rent Act as well as the appellate authority were constituted as 'Courts' by the Act itself. The same argument was put forward by Sri M. Venkateswarlu, appearing for the respondent in one of the cases before me, but in my view, this so called distinguishing feature cannot be considered to be the basis or ratio of the Supreme Court decision. It is true that the authority deciding the dispute in the first instance is known as the 'Rent Control Court' by virtue of Section 2(5) read with Section 3 of the Kerala Rent ' Act. It is equally true that the appellate authority has all the powers of the Rent Control Court as laid down in sub-section (4) of Section 18. Under Section 23, the Rent Control Court and the appellate authority can exercise the powers vested in a Court under the Code of Civil Procedure in respect of specified matters, viz, discovery and inspection, enforcing the attendance of witnesses, ' compelling the production of documents, examining witnesses on oath, reception of affidavit evidence, issuing commissions, setting aside ex parte orders, enlargement of time, power to amend any defect or error and power to review its own order. Most or many of these powers are conferred on the Rent Controller and the appellate authority under the Andhra Pradesh Act also. I ' shall now refer to those provisions.
19. Section 17 of the Andhra Pradesh Act lays down that every order passed by the Controller or an appellate or revisional authority under the Act shall be pronounced in 'open Court'. This gives an indicia that the Act treats the Controller as well as the appellate and revisional authorities as Courts. It is similar to Section 16 of the Kerala Act. Proceeding further in comparison of the provisions of the Kerala and Andhra Pradesh Acts, sub-section (3) of Section 20 needs to be mentioned. Under that provision, the appellate authority may, in the course of hearing of the appeal, make such further enquiry as he thinks fit, either personally or through the Controller. The same provision is contained in sub-section (3) of Sectionl8 of the Kerala Act. Then, the provisions contained in the Andhra Pradesh Rent Control Rules derserve notice. Rule 22 assimilates the procedural provisions contained in Civil Procedure Code and Civil Rules of Practice as regards requiring the attendance of parties concerned and witnesses and requiring the production of all books and documents relating to the matter in dispute. Under sub-Rule (7), the Controller or appellate authority have power to administer oaths. Sub-rule (8) of Rule 22 read with sub-rule (3) of Rule 11 confers a power on the appellate authority to dismiss a case for default or to decide the matter ex parte. In Rule 11 (3), provision is made to set aside the ex parte order or order of dismissal for default on sufficient cause being shown. Sub-rule (2) of Rule 11 specifically confers the power to take additional evidence in case the appellate authority decided to make further enquiry. Specific provisions are made vide Section 24 and Rule 19 for bringing the legal representatives on record and the procedure prescribed in this behalf is akin to the Code of Civil Procedure. Sub-rule (7) of Rule 23 of the A.P. Rent Control Rules provides for a procedure similar to the one contained in Order 21 Rules 97 to 99 of the C.P.C in case the execution is resisted and obstructed by any person. Sub-rule (8) of Rule 23 enjoins that if an order passed under Section 14 (restoration of amenities) or Section 21 (Payment of costs) has not been complied with by the party concerned, the same may be enforced by the attachment of property or by detention in civil prison. These provisions, by and large, are similar to those contained in the Kerala Act. However, the Kerala Act is more specific and enumerates more number of subjects to which the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure could be applied. Power of remand and power of review are also conferred specifically on the primary as well as appellate authority. But I do not think that the conferment of certain specific and wider powers on the appellate authority in accordance with the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure makes the appellate authority under the Kerala Act a Court and the absence thereof in the A.P. Act impresses the appellate authority with the character of tribunal only. There is enough indicia in the Andhra Pradesh Act and the Rules that the appellate authority was constituted arming it with all the essential attributes of a Court. The mere designation of the primary authority as the Rent Control Court and conferment of the powers of the Rent Control Court on the appellate authority under the Kerala Act do not, in my view, make a qualitative difference in the character and functioning of the appellate authority. It is not as if under the Kerala Rent Act, the appellate authority itself is designated as Rent Control Court. Only the powers vested in the Rent Control Court are confided to the appellate authority as well. That does not mean that the Act itself designated the appellate authority as a Court. Even assuming that the Kerala Act has specifically treated the appellate authority as a Court, it does not mean that in the absence of a specific designation to that effect in the Andha Pradesh Act, the appellate authority cannot be treated as a Court on the parity of reasoning and ratio contained in Mukri Gopalan's case (3 supra). As I said earlier, the decision in Mukri Gopalan's case (3 supra) does not rest on the definition of Rent Control Court and the specific conferment of such powers on the appellate authority. To say so would be misinterpreting the Judgment of the Supreme Court.
20. That the Supreme Court did not give much importance to the so called distinguishing feature of constitution of a Rent Control Court and conferment of its powers on the appellate authority also and that their Lordships have taken a broad view consistent with the tenor and objective of Section 18 of the Kerala Act read with the notification conferring powers of appellate authority on the District Judges as a class, is clear from the fact that the Supreme Court approved the Division Bench decision of Madras High Court in Rethinasamy v. Komalavalli, . in unequivocal terms. It is necessary to mention that the Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease & Rent Control) Act is in pari materia with the Andhra Pradesh Act and the expression 'Rent Control Court' is not contained in that Act. Even the Rules are more or less similar to the Andhra Pradesh Act. The Madras High Court held that the appellate authority was a 'Court' and it was governed by Section 5 of Limitation Act in view of Section 29(2) thereof. The Madras High Court pointed out the changes brought about in the new Limitation Act to highlight the point. The very approval of the Madras High Court's view by the Supreme Court would demonstrate beyond a cavil of doubt that none of the distinguishing features pointed out by the appellate Judge in the instant case had appealed to their Lordships of the Supreme Court.
21. The learned appellate Judge has extracted a notification issued by the State Government empowering the judicial officer by name to exercise the powers of the Controller under Section 2(4) to show that the Controller acts as a persona designata. 'Controller' is defined to mean as any person not below the rank of a Tahsildar appointed by the Government to perform the functions of a Controller under the Act. It may be that the notification had to be issued in that manner as the powers of Rent Controller were not conferred on the Judges of City Civil Court already functioning but the Government wanted to invest those powers on judicial officers of the rank of District Munsif separately drafted and posted for this purpose in the city. Be that as it may, we are not concerned with the role of Rent Controller, but we are only concerned here with the appellate authority. As far as the appellate authority is concerned, the notification does not specify the name of the officer. The Act itself confers the powers of appellate authority on the Chief Judge, City Small Causes Court, Hyderabad and the Subordinate Judges in the Districts. Therefore, the reference to the notification appointing the Rent Controllers is not much of relevance here.
22. Viewed from any angle, the view taken by the learned appellate Judge is, therefore, clearly unsustainable and I set aside the orders passed in each of the matters before me. As a result of setting aside the impugned order, in the normal course, I would have directed the appellate Court to take up the I.As. for condonation of delay and decide the same on merits. But such a course, I feel, is a fruitless exercise inasmuch as the delay involved in each of these cases is not much and the learned counsel for the respondents could not seriously oppose the petitions for condonation of delay. To remit the I.As. for fresh consideration by the appellate Court would only cause further delay and would not subserve the ends of justice. Having considered the facts stated in the affidavits filed in support of the I.As. for condonation of delay and having heard the learned counsel for both sides, I deem it fit to condone the delay of 14 days each in C.R.P Nos. 2666 and 2706 of 1995,3 days in C.R.P. No. 2668 of 1995 and 8 days each in C.R.P. Nos. 2734 and 2742 of 1995 and to direct the numbering of appeals if there is no other objection for registration of the appeals. The appeals shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible. It is open to the petitioners-tenants herein to seek appropriate interim orders from the appellate Court. In order to enable the petitioners to do so, the stay of eviction already granted by me will remain in force for a further period of six weeks on condition of the petitioners paying to the respondent's counsel in each case a sum of Rs. 200/- towards costs within two weeks from today. The C.R.Ps. are accordingly allowed. No costs.
Note:- The conditional orders of this Court, dt.20-10-1995 and passed in the C.R.Ps. have been complied with. Vide S.R. Nos. 2500, 2499, 2668, 2734 & 2407/95 respectively.