Owner should have good reasons to evict tenant
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.