Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Whether landlord has unfettered discretion in the matter of his bonafide need for seeking eviction of tenant?

The two Courts have further held that the landlord, is the final arbiter in the matter of his need and it is neither for the Courts, much less the tenant to dictate any terms. There can be no quarrel with the proposition per se. However, the intention of the legislature is surely not to vest in a landlord some sort of unfettered discretion in the matter. The Apex Court, in the case of M.M. Quasim v. Manohar Lal Sharma MANU/SC/0473/1981 : (1981) 2 SCC 36, at paragraph 19, has observed thus:

"19. ............ This approach betrays a woeful lack of consciousness relatable to circumstances leading to enactment of Rent Acts in almost all States in the country. The time honoured notion that the right of re-entry is unfettered and that the owner landlord is the sole judge of his requirement has been made to yield to the needs of the society which had to enact the Rent Acts specifically devised to curb and fetter the unrestricted right of re-entry and to pro comparative hardship vide that only on proving some enabling grounds set out in the Rent Act the landlord can re-enter. One such ground is of personal requirement of landlord. When examining a case of personal requirement, if it is pointed out that there is some vacant premises with the landlord which he can conveniently occupy, the element of need in his requirement would be absent. To reject this aspect by saying that the landlord has an unfettered right to choose the premises is to negative the very raison d'etre of the Rent Act. Undoubtedly, if it is shown by the tenant that the landlord has some other vacant premises in his possession, that by itself may not be sufficient to negative the landlord's claim but in such a situation the Court would expect the landlord to establish that the premises which is vacant is not suitable for the purpose of his occupation or for the purpose for which he requires the premises in respect of which the action is commenced in the Court. It would, however, be a bald statement unsupported by the Rent Act to say that the landlord has an unfettered right to choose whatever premises he wants and that too irrespective of the fact that he has some vacant premises in possession which he would not occupy and try to seek to remove the tenant. This approach would put a premium on the landlord's greed to throw out tenants paying lower rent in the name of personal occupation and rent out the premises in his possession at the market rate. To curb this very tendency the Rent Act was enacted and, therefore, it becomes the duty of the Court administering the Rent Act to bear in mind the object and intendment of the legislature in enacting the same. The Court must understand and appreciate the relationship between legal rules and one of necessities of life shelter and the way in which one part of the society exacts tribute from another for permission to inhabit a portion of the globe.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY

Civil Revision Application No. 770 of 2013, 

Decided On: 04.08.2015

 Vasant Mahadeo Gujar and Ors. Vs.  Baitulla Ismail Shaikh and Ors.


Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
M.S. Sonak, J.

Citation: 2016(4) ALLMR 174.
Read full judgment here: Click here


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