Owner should have good rea­sons to evict ten­ant

HT Estates - - HTESTATES -

Ihad, in the last col­umn, elab­o­rated on the rights of statu­tory ten­ants. Such ten­ants fall un­der the Delhi Rent Con­trol Act of 1958 and en­joy pro­tec­tion from evic­tion by land­lords. How­ever, the land­lord can seek re­cov­ery of pos­ses­sion un­der limited grounds and bona fide need is one such ground. The ten­ant can avoid evic­tion if he or she can ef­fec­tively demon­strate to the court that the land­lord’s need is not bona fide.

I had ex­plained this in de­tail. How­ever, there are cer­tain sen­si­tiv­i­ties that the ten­ant should be ap­prised of. In the mat­ter of Sar­wan Dass Bange vs. Ram Prakash, in 2010, the court held that the onus was on the ten­ant to re­but the pre­sump­tion, that the land­lord’s re­quire­ment for oc­cu­pa­tion was real and gen­uine.

While the onus is clearly on the ten­ant, the land­lord can­not take un­due ad­van­tage of his rights un­der law. The Supreme Court in the mat­ter of PS Pa­reed Kaka and oth­ers vs Shafee Ahmed Sa­heb, in 2004, has ap­plied the prin­ci­ple of bal­ance of eq­ui­ties and held, “that where on facts it can be shown that the land­lord is put to hard­ship by not us­ing his own premises and the ten­ants on the other hand are not put to hard­ship by be­ing evicted, the need of the land­lord is bona fide”. This judg­ment has been af­firmed in Raje Lal Parmesh­wari Dass vs Shashi Sharma, in 2013, by the Delhi High Court.

Since the bur­den is on the ten­ant, he must be able to cast a doubt on the ve­rac­ity of the case put forth by the land­lord. Es­sen­tially, the ten­ant must be able to show the court that is­sue is a tri­able one. In the mat­ter of Kuldeep Ma­ha­jan vs Kr­ishna Upal, in 2002, the land­lady’s case was found to be bona fide as she was suf­fer­ing from arthri­tis and needed to live in her ground floor res­i­dence.

In the Chan­dan Beri vs Av­inash Mit­tal case, in 1997, t he l and­lord had sought re­cov­ery of pos­ses­sion on the ground that he wished to re­turn to In­dia and set­tle down. Con­se­quently, an order of evic­tion was passed by the ad­di­tional rent con­troller. How­ever, in ap­peal the order of the Ad­di­tional Rent Con­troller was set aside. An op­por­tu­nity was given to the ten­ant to prove or dis­prove the in­ten­tion of the land­lord to set­tle in In­dia.

The pro­ce­dure for evic­tion on the ground of bona fide re­quire­ment is a sum­mary pro­ce­dure in­stead of a full-blown trial. A sum­mary pro­ce­dure is a le­gal pro­ce­dure by which a right is en­forced faster than in a nor­mal trial pro­ce­dure. It is faster, con­ve­nient and def­i­nitely more ef­fi­cient. There­fore, evic­tion can hap­pen as quickly as un­der a year, un­less the ten­ant can demon­strate the need for a com­plete trial.

In­ter­est­ingly, as a rule of thumb, high courts gen­er­ally re­frain from in­ter­fer­ing with the rul­ing of the rent con­trollers. How­ever, with re­gard to the fac­tual con­tro­versy, rent con­trollers are au­to­mat­i­cally ex­pected to fol­low the guide­lines laid down by the high courts. This was clearly demon­strated in the mat­ter of Shiv Sarup Gupta vs Ma­hesh Chand Gupta, in 1999. The court held: “In short, the con­cept of bona fide need or gen­uine re­quire­ment needs prac­ti­cal ap­proach in­structed by the re­al­i­ties of life. An ap­proach ei­ther too lib­eral or too con­struc­tive or pedan­tic must be guarded against”.

Go­ing by the above ex­am­ples it is ev­i­dent that the bonafide need of a land­lord has to be es­tab­lished through a process of fac­tual de­ter­mi­na­tion. Es­sen­tially, a land­lord must be care­ful to en­sure that the case in hand is a gen­uine one.

THINKSTOCK

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