CASE: Balwant Singh @ Bant Singh & Anr. V Sudarshan Kumar & Anr.
CITATION: [SLP (C) Nos. 10793-10794/2020]
CORAM: Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon’ble Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Hon’ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy
A tenant cannot dictate how much space is adequate for the business venture proposed or suggest that the space available with the landlord would be adequate. This was observed by the Supreme Court while upholding an eviction order passed under the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 in favour of an NRI landlord.
In the instant case, the landlords had moved the rent controller seeking immediate recovery of the possessions of the premises rented by invoking provisions of Section 13B r/w Section 18A of the Act.
The landlord claimed that he wanted to start a business of sale, purchase, and manufacture of furniture. For the purpose of this business, the property in possession of the landlord was not sufficient. The rent controller allowed the petition.
Punjab and Haryana High Court allowed the revision petition which was filed by the tenants and set aside the eviction order. The direction was given to the rent controller to decide the case with a grant of leave to contest to the tenants.
The tenants did not challenge the NRI status of the landlord in the appeal before the Apex Court but, they contended that the space with the landlord was sufficient for the business proposed. They contended that there was no need to seek eviction.
The bench observed that “On the above aspect, it is not for the tenant to dictate how much space is adequate for the proposed business venture or to suggest that the available space with the landlord will be adequate. Insofar as the earlier eviction proceeding, the concerned vacant shops under possession of the landlords were duly disclosed, but the case of the landlord is that the premises/space under their possession is insufficient for the proposed furniture business. On the age aspect, it is seen that the respondents are also senior citizens but that has not affected their desire to continue their business in the tenanted premises. Therefore, age cannot be factored against the landlords in their proposed business.”
The right to contest to tenants was denied by the rent controller as the landlord had returned and needed the premises for his bona fide use. The bench while upholding the summary proceedings under Section 13B for recovery of possession stated “The special procedure for NRI landlord was deliberately designed by the Legislature to speedily secure possession of tenanted premises for bona fide need of the NRI landlords and such legislative intent to confer the right of summary eviction, as a one time measure cannot be frustrated, without a strong reason. Having regard to the contentions raised by the tenants to oppose the Section 13B applications, we feel that the tenants have failed to provide an adequate reason to secure the right to contest the summary proceedings and they should not be allowed to widen the scope of the limited defense under Section 13B. To fulfil their bona fide requirement, the landlords have availed only one opportunity under the summary procedure of Section 13B and their business requirement is not seriously contested by the tenants. Moreover, the required safeguard measures to prevent misuse of the special provisions are also found to be satisfied and that is why the leave to contest was denied to the tenants.”