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Eviction of Tenant and Tenancy Disputes Some Latest Judgements

The articles compile the latest judgements involving Landlord-Tenant disputes. The nature of disputes generally involves eviction of the tenant from the premises and the dispute involving thereof. The law protects the tenant for accommodation and the landlord has to be genuine with reason to evict a tenant from possession. The Landlord should produce valid reasons for eviction as per the law and if found otherwise the tenancy remains with the tenant.

This article produces some legal questions arising from the three recent cases in relation to tenancy and accommodation laws in India.

Case 1: Mahesh Kumar Modi vs Mahendra Kumar Jain

A reasonable accommodation of the premises must be understood through the requirement of the landlord and not on the grounds produced by the defendant.

[Bench: Hon’ble Justice Shri Rohit Arya of High Court of Madhya Pradesh in S.A No. 664 of 2012]

The case involves the question of interference of the courts in determining the plaintiffs bona fied requirement of the property and therefore eviction of the tenant. It also discusses the appellants/tenants raising issues by filing cross-objection under Order 41 Rule 22 of the CPC.

Facts- The second appeal filed by the appellant/tenant before the High Court of Madhya Pradesh whereby, the decision of the First Appellate Court confirmed the eviction of Appellant as passed by the Trial Court.

The Court framed the following question of laws–

Whether lower appellate Court was justified to decree the suit filed by the plaintiff on the ground of bona fide need without recording the finding to that effect and also without considering the cross objection filed in this regard by the defendant, however, the judgment and decree passed by lower appellate Court is vitiated on this ground?

The judgment is delivered in two parts, first on the application under O 41 R 22, the cross objection relied by the Appellant in the proceedings before the first appellate court, where the Appellant alleged that, though the First Appellant Court in its Judgement has relied on its objection but has not fully considered the facts raised with it.

Secondly, the judgement on the bona fied requirement of the suit premises by the respondent no 1.in expansion of her son’s business.

The appellant in its cross alleges that the bona fied use of the premises is barred by res judicata, where a similar suit was filed by the respondent for bona fied use for himself and also on the ground that, Respondent had an agreement with Prakash Agarwal, an alleged prospective tenant whereby, the Appellant received Rs 50,000 for placing him in the suit premises, which makes the claim of bona fied use to sham.

Held- The Court referred to the findings in First Appellate Court judgment where the question of res judicata was rejected on the ground that the previous suit is not of similar nature. In the previous suit the eviction was sought for bona fied use of the respondent himself whereas, in the present case, the bona use of the son of the respondent is pleaded. Thus, the ground for res judicata was rightly rejected.

On the question of agreement of tenancy with  Prakash Agarwal, the First Appellate Court relied on the evidence given by DW-3 Prakash Agarwal, that he himself did not knew the address of the premises of which he had made an agreement for tenancy and also that he being an Accountant by profession, practicing under a CA, should have the basic knowledge that receipt of money above Rs. 20,000 should be through electronic payment method. Thus, objection of agreement of tenancy with the respondent was also rejected.

The Court also observed the merits on the bona fied use of the respondent/landlord for her son’s business expansion. The First Appellate Court in its judgement relied on the testimony of Mahendra Kumar (PW-1) and his son Praduman Kumar (PW-2) where it was clear that the plaintiff needs the adjacent suit shop for further expansion of the shop run by his son, (PW-2). The frontage of the shop is 7 feet. After reducing the space used for counter in front of the shop the remaining space 3 feet for customers to enter and come out of the shop. The appellate court relied upon the S.C judgment of Shiv Sarup Gupta vs. Dr Mahesh Chanda Gupta, [1999 AIR SCW 2666] that reasonable suitable accommodation must be understood in the context of requirement of the plaintiff and not on the selection either of defendant or of the court. It is not the Court’s business to advise the plaintiff to use his space for running his business.

Thus, in the bona fied use of the premises by the respondent son for his business was well established in the Judgement before the First Appellate Court and the court dismissed the second appeal upholding the appellate courts judgment.

Case 2: Mohd. Shakeel vs Surjeet Kaur

A Co-owner ‘s no objection in the applicaion for eviction of tenant makes a presumption as to agreement for the application filed by the other co-owner.

[Bench: Hon’ble Justice Shri Vivek Rusia of High Court of Madhya Pradesh in CR No. 118/2015]

A revision application filed by a tenant aggrieved by the order of eviction passed by Rent Control Authority (RCA) as per Section 23-A of the M.P Accommodation Control Act, 1961 and Section 114 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908.

This is a special case filed under Section 23-A and such cases are dealt by the Rent Control Authority. The revision here challenged the decision of the RCA. It is also to be noted the H.C itself has maintained that it has very limited power under such revision petition.

Facts:- The non-applicant/landlord is a widow filed the application for eviction for bona fied purpose of premises whereby her son, a doctor, will use the premises as a clinic. The husband of the non-applicant/landlord was the original owner and received the premises from Indore Development Authority through a license dated 06.02.1989 and after his death, the non-applicant is the landowner of the property.

The appellant allegations were that the respondent/landlord had shown herself as a widow but she hasn’t filed any document in support of her claim, also that the reason for eviction for bona fied need of her son’s clinic was false because the wife of the doctor son has a property of her own on which he can establish his clinic. The applicant also alleges that the license in the name of respondent’s husband is unregistered and there is ambiguity to whether the said document is a license or a lease.

The appellant also alleged that the owner has made an oral agreement of transfer of the premises to the appellant.

The appellant in support of its argument has citing the case of Sushila Devi Somani (Smt.) vs. Kedarnath Gupta 1987 JLJ 450 on the point that the RCA has no jurisdiction to decide the application for eviction under section 23 of the Act of 1961 because after the death of Amarnath Saluja the suit accommodation was devolved upon Smt.Surjeet Kaur as well as upon her major son, therefore, she alone is not an exclusive owner under the special category of landlord to invoke the jurisdiction of the RCA.

Held: The respondent put forward many arguments and the Court accepted the respondent arguments on various question raised by the applicant.

The respondent pointed out the appellant relied on an overruled judgement which as per the judgment passed in Shivraj Jat vs. Smt.Asha Lata Yadav and others 1989 JLJ 336 has been overruled the judgement in Sushila Devi Somani (Smt.) vs. Kedarnath Gupta 1987 JLJ 450.

The applicant/tenant alleged the aforesaid application for eviction before the RCA comes under the special category landowner under Section 25-J of the Act. Since, after the death of the Shri Amarnath Saluja, respondent Smt. Surjeet Kaur and her only son has the right of the property. Thus, she does not have the only right to make an application before the RCA.

The above question was answered by the judgement produced by the respondent in Ratnaprabha Nazan (Smt.) vs. Kalyansingh, 2010 (2) JLJ 282 which held that, application for eviction is filed by one of the owners and the other co-owners are not objecting, hence their consent can be presumed and one co-owner can file the eviction application. Also as per Section 23-D(3) of the Act, a presumption in landlords application for eviction has to be taken unless a contrary object is proved. This means a landlord’s application under Section 23-A subclause (a) and (b) for bona fied eviction, the burden of proving the contrary is upon the tenant to prove that there was no bona fied need for an application before RCA, which the applicant is unable to discharge.

The accommodation is required by the landlord’s son to start a clinic and has approached under the Section 23-A (a) and (b) of the Act. The landlord also comes under the special category of landowners to appear before RCA as per Section 23-J of the Act. The legislation itself gives the right to landlord in bona fied requirement of her son and he also happens to be the co-owner of the property. Thus, as per the Supreme Court in Kanai Lal Sur. vs. Paramnidhi Sadhukhan [AIR 1957 SC 907], if the words used are capable of one construction only, then it would not be open to the Courts to adopt any other hypothetical construction on the ground that such construction is more consistent with the alleged objects and policy of the Act.

The Court also held on the issues of oral agreement by which in 162 installments the respondent/landlord has transferred the property and is not the owner of the property. The Court negated the argument that as per the Section 54 of Transfer of Property Act a sale of property of value more than 100/- has to be by way of registered document and not by oral agreement. Thus, the installments of 162 is nothing but the rent paid by the applicant. Therefore the revision of dismissed for no grounds for interference was made out.

Case 3: Manoj Notwani vs Smt. Varsha Chandani

A Landlord is the best Judge and the Courts should not interfere with the bonafied requirement of the landlord.

[Bench: Hon’ble Justice Smt. Anjuli Pali of High Court of Madhya Pradesh in F.A 752/2013]

The first appeal filed before the Single Bench of M.P High Court, against the order passed by the trial Additional District Judge court at District Satna whereby, an order dated 21.09.2013 for eviction was passed against the appellant/tenant under S.12(1)(e) of the M.P Accommodation Act, 1961 for bona fied requirement of the suit property by the respondent/landlord for establishing her own business.

The case primilarly discusses the key legal aspect of establishing a bona fied need and the legislation of tenancy on how it tests the bona fied view of the landlord and the material evidence to support the case.

Facts- The Landlord in its petition before the trial court has alleged that, the tenant has not paid rent from September 2009 and has an outstanding payment for rent. The landlord also alleged that the tenant made construction in the premises without the landlords consent. Thus landlord filed the application for eviction from the suit property for starting a new business which is the bona fied reason to evict the tenant from the property.

Therefore, the respondent/landlord filed the suit under Section 12 (1) (e) of the M.P Accommodation Control Act, 1962.

The major defence of the tenant is that, the landlord had 27 shops and out of which 2 shops were vacant, therefore the bona fied requirement for the landlord does not arise to vacant the tenant from the suit property.

The defendant also argued that, respondent is not the landlord of the suit property but in is evidence has provided that he used to pay rent to Haridas Chandani who acted as the muneem for the landlords. Though, the respondent its affidavit has proved that the respondent has become the owner of the property by buying the property from Harsh Chandani.

Held- The Court through this judgement majorly derived the method of determining the bona fied requirement of the landlord and has relied on several judgements

The court relied on the these judgments, that is The Namamlal vs. Prakash Chand Jain (2009) 1 MPLJ 313, Ragavendra Kumar vs. Firm Prem Machinery (2000) 1 SCC 679, Yadavendra Arya vs. Mukesh Kumar Gupta (2008) 2 SCC :4: F.A.No. 752/2013 144 and Ms/ Baghel Prasad Dharam Chand Jewellers vs. Chandra Prakash Vaidya 2002(4) MPHT 18 (CG).

In Ragvendra Kumar vs Firm Prem Machinery [(2000) 1 SCC 679], it was settled in this judgement that though the plantiff-landlord have other shops and houses belonging to him but a categorical statement that said shops are not vacant and the suit premises is suitable for his business purpose is important. It became settled position of law that the landlord is best judge of his requirement for residential or business purpose and he has go complete freedom in the matter.

In referent to Rishi Kapoor Govil v Maqsoodan & Ors [(2007) 4 SCC 465] The Hon’ble S.C has made its observation through several cases such as Ragvendra Kumar(supra), Gaya Prasad v Padeep Shrivastava [AIR (2001) SC 803] and Prativa Devi (Smt) vs T.V Krishnan [(1996) 5 SCC] that, the landlord has the sole choice to choose its place for the business which arises from the need from the date of application for eviction and that the landlord is the best Judge of his requirement and Courts have no concern to dictate the landlord as to how and in what manner he should live.

Then the Court discusses on how the bona fied nature of an issue is to be decided, for this it relied on the judgment of S.C in Shiv Sarup Gupta vs Dr. Mahes Chanda Gupta[(1999) 6 SCC 222], where the legislative phrase for ‘required bonafied’ was described and it was meant, a requirement in the sense of felt need which is an outcome of sicere, honest desire and is above the pretext to evict a tenant, on the part of the landlord and is claiming to occupy the premises for himself or for any member of the family that would entitle him to seek ejectment of the tenant.

So the landlord has to convince the court the an alternate residential accommodation though available is not reasonably suitable to satisfy the need of the landlord and has to succeed in demonstrating objectively to it.

The court also referred to a contrary Division Bench judgement in the of Madhya Bharat High Court in Motilal Vs. Badrilal – ILR 1954 MB the evidence of ‘want’ has to be proven by the landlord and conclusion of the evidence of “want” is unreliable then the landlord did not genuinely intend to occupy the premises.

This was again reiterated in the Full Bench Judgement of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh in Damodar Sharma & Anr.Vs. Nandram Deviram – AIR 1960 MP wherein a  Distinction between the ‘genuinly requires’ and ‘reasonably requires’ was made the judgement quoted that- “Genuine requirement would vary according to the idiosyncrasy of the individual and the time and circumstances in which he lives and thinks. Reasonable requirement belongs to the “knowledge of the law” and means reasonable not in the mind of the person requiring the accommodation but reasonable according to the actual facts.

Thus, if the Court comes to a conclusion that, the ‘want’ must be such that other dwelling of the Landlord does not satisfy the need required to fulfil its object with which the eviction is done, for this the landlord has to be genuine through its evidence which it puts forward to the Court.

The landlord in her evidence has corroborated the fact she had a vacant shop, but as the principle law has been laid down by the above judgments and it has to became the opinion of the court that landlord is the best judge to choose better and suitable option for her business.

Thus, the court dismissed the appeal on the ground that the appellant has failed to establish that the respondent bonafied requirement of the suit shop can be suitable to other vacant shops to attain her commercial interest.

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