The Cantonments (House Accommodation) Act, 1923

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An Act no. 6 of the year 1923 being the Cantonments (House Accommodation) Act, 1923, which was enacted at the time when British ruling was existing in India. The purpose and object shown, for which the same was provided is for amending and consolidating the Laws dealing with provisions of House- Accommodation in the Cantonment for the Military Officers. The present Act was assented on 5th day of March, 1923. And the provisions of the Act are divided into several chapters and amongst them, the first one is relating to the preliminary provisions like, short titling of the Act, its extension, i.e. to entire India, and also about enforcement date of the Act, i.e. the 1st day of April, 1923, however for having operative effect in any Cantonment or its part, separate notification will be required. Further, certain important definitions of the terms, like ‘Brigade area’ which (as amended by the Act no. 9 of 1930) is one from the areas here which are dividing India for the Military purposes and the areas which are declared as brigade areas by the Central Government by notifying the same in the official Gazette. And also other definitions of the term’s like ‘Cantonment Board’, ‘Command’, etc. are also provided in this chapter.

In so far as the application of the provisions of the Act is concerned, the chapter II from the Act provides authority with the Central Government, which was however, earlier provided with the Lieutenant Governor with the previous sanction from the Governor General in Council, to declare the operation of this to any Cantonment or any part thereof by notifying in the Official Gazette. However, the provision restricts the Central Government from making operative the provisions herein the Act, to the Cantonment located within the local limits of a Presidency- town. Such declaration can only be made by the Central Government after causing the making of local inquiry in relation to the determining the expediency of such declaration. Also provisions of any written Contract with the Government are protected against the effect of such declaration, however, if all parties to such Contract if consenting that to be bound to this Act then such protection will not be applicable.

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Chapter III of the Act makes provisions as to entitlement of the Central Government in relation to appropriation on the lease of the Houses located in the Cantonment to which the declaration in this Act was notified. Such appropriation will be in the given manner and terms and conditions. The Act also contemplates provisions as to the conditions on which such appropriation of the houses are to be made, where it is specifically given that in case of the military officer stationed or posted to the Cantonment, or even the president of military mess in the Cantonment, who is applying to the Commanding Officer for secure suitable accommodation in that Cantonment. On such application after necessary enquiries, the Commanding Officer of the station can issue the notice to the owner of the House which he deems suitable for that purpose, to require that owner to permit the inspection of that house. And, thereafter, on the inspection report such Commanding Officer after being satisfied that the house is suitable for that purpose, then the owner thereof will be required to execute a lease of the house to the Central Government for specified period of time not less than 5 years. Such notice requiring the execution of the lease, should also include the annual rent amount. Further provisions have also provided in relation to occupying the houses as hospitals, schools, hotel, etc. and also in relation to taking possession the time limits are also provided. And when the possession of the House so declared, was not delivered by the owner or existing occupier within the prescribed time, then the surrender of the house will be enforced by the District Magistrate upon entering in that premises. While so, the provision is also made for providing an option to the Owner of such house to call upon the Government to purchase such house. However, it is only when, the said house was erected under any conditions, rules, regulations, etc. existed in Bengal prior to the 18th day of December, 1864 or was erected under any conditions, rules, regulations, etc. existed in Bombay prior to the 1st day of June, 1875 and conferred on the owner the option of offering such sale. Further the question of rent fixed for such lease and also question of repairs required to be done by the Commanding Officer under the notice, can be referred by the Owner to the Civil Court under this Act within 30 days of service of notice of such lease. In relation to such references, the Court of District Judge is provided with the Jurisdiction under the first provisions from the chapter IV of the Act and for its procedure and powers, it is provided that such reference should be treated as proceedings within the meaning of section 141 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and should exercise the powers under that Code. And as per next Chapter, the appellate jurisdiction is vested with the High Court against the decision of earlier Court within the period of 30 days thereof. The Act under its last chapter makes certain supplemental provisions relating to the service of notices under this Act, limitation period’s computation, etc. And besides this, the Act empowers the Central Government for making rules for carrying out the purposes and objects of this Act and also on the given matter. Also it is made clear that the Judges or Magistrates should not taken as party or having any personal interest in the prosecution of Offence under this Act. And persons are protected against legal actions in relation to their actions taken in good faith by them or sought to be taken under this Act or notices, orders thereof.

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