Sunday, 31 December 2017

Whether directory provisions of Rent Act can be reduced to a dead letter?

The Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 (hereinafter “the Act of 2001”) was intended to expedite the adjudication of landlord-tenant disputes. Section 15(5) of the Act of 2001 even though directory in nature requires that the eviction petition be disposed of within 240 days of the service on the opposite party. But even the directory provisions of Act of 2001 cannot be reduced to a dead letter and eviction petitions allowed to remain pending for years, as in the instant case.
In the High Court of Rajasthan at Jaipur
(Before Alok Sharma, J.)
 Smt. Kamla Devi Bohrav. Bhagvan Das Bhatia, 
S.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 16303/2017
Decided on October 3, 2017
2017 SCC OnLine Raj 2570


Alok Sharma, J.:— It has been submitted that an eviction petition was filed by the landlord-applicants-petitioners (hereinafter “the landlord”) on the ground of personal and bonafide necessity before the Rent Tribunal-3, Jaipur Metropolitan, Jaipur in the year 2010. and despite 7 years having lapsed, it continues to languish at the stage of the landlord's evidence for reason of stalling tactics by the respondent - defendant-tenant (hereinafter “the tenant”).
2. Heard. Considered.
3. The Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 (hereinafter “the Act of 2001”) was intended to expedite the adjudication of landlord-tenant disputes. Section 15(5) of the Act of 2001 even though directory in nature requires that the eviction petition be disposed of within 240 days of the service on the opposite party. But even the directory provisions of Act of 2001 cannot be reduced to a dead letter and eviction petitions allowed to remain pending for years, as in the instant case. It is thus disconcerting to note that an eviction petition filed under the Act of 2001 has remained pending for last about 7 years. Such delays destroy the confidence of the litigating public in the administration of injustice and belittles the rule of law. No doubt that the tenant has a right to file applications but has no right to file frivolous applications. The Code of Civil Procedure except to the very limited extent set out in the Act of 2001, does not attract to proceedings before the Rent Tribunal. Only principles of natural Justice have to be complied with by the Rent Tribunal/Appellate Rent Tribunal. There is thus no conceivable reason as to why repeated applications without a substantial cause should be filed before the Rent Tribunal to defeat the object and purpose of the Act of 2001.
4. Adrian Zuckerman in his book Zuckerman on Civil Procedure: Principles and Practice, 3 rd Edition, 2013 states that the object of adjudication is public services to enforce rights and reach the correct decisions within constraints of time and costs. (emphasis mine). Like, no person can be entitled to the best possible medical service regardless of costs, no one can be similarly entitled to best possible adjudicatory outcome without regard to the time and costs. It has been further stated that when delays in adjudication occur they entail time and expenses for the courts and consequently, the public. The opposing party and other litigants whose time before the court is resultantly reduced are the suffering party. In the aforesaid legal philosophy relating to adjudicatory mechanism of the courts with which I fully affirm, repeated miscellaneous applications in the course of trials more particularly in the course of summary trials such as under the Rent Control Act, 2001 are an unacceptable obstruction to the public service of adjudication. In a similar term, the Apex Court has staled in State of U.P. v. Chhotey Lal [(2011) 2 SCC 550] that when adjournments become routine, justice is a casualty. Consequently, it is directed that the eviction petition laid by the landlord before the Rent Tribunal be finally disposed of within a period of three months from the date of presentation of certified copy of this order. Miscellaneous applications when filed be disposed of within three days of filing and with costs when warranted. The Rent Tribunal shallialso have the discretion to decide any miscellaneous application it deems fit alongwith the final order in the eviction petition.
5. The petition stands accordingly disposed of.

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