Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Supreme Court: Crucial date for deciding bonafide need of landlord is date of filing of eviction petition

Further the High Court has also erroneously
arrived at the conclusion that the bonafide occupation as
sought should be not only on the date of the petition but
it should continue to be there on the date of final
adjudication of rights. Firstly, there is no material on
record to indicate that the need as pleaded at the time of
filing the petition does not subsist at this point. Even
otherwise such conclusion cannot be reached, when it
cannot be lost sight that the very judicial process
consumes a long period and because of the delay in the
process if the benefit is declined it would only encourage
the tenants to protract the litigation so as to defeat the
right. In the instant case it is noticed that the petition
filed by the landlord is of the year 2004 which was
disposed of by the Rent Controller only in the year 2011.
The appeal was thereafter disposed of by the Appellate

Authority in the year 2013. The High Court had itself
taken time to dispose of the Revision Petition, only on
06.03.2017. The entire delay cannot be attributed to the
landlord and deny the relief. If as on the date of filing the
petition the requirement subsists and it is proved, the
same would be sufficient irrespective of the time lapse in
the judicial process coming to an end. This Court in the
case of Gaya Prasad vs. Pradeep Srivastava, (2001) 2
SCC 604 has held that the landlord should not be
penalised for the slowness of the legal system and the
crucial date for deciding the bonafide requirement of
landlord is the date of application for eviction, which we
hereby reiterate.
NONREPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 75467547
OF 2019

D. Sasi Kumar Vs Soundararajan 
Coram:
A.S. Bopanna,J.
Dated:September 23, 2019

Leave granted.
2. The appellant herein was the petitioner before the
Principal District Munsif/Rent Controller in the petition
seeking eviction of the respondent therein. The said
proceedings resulted in an appeal filed by the appellant
herein before the Rent Control Appellate Authority (subCourt)
which upheld the decision of the Rent Controller.
Against the said concurrent orders the respondent herein
approached the High Court of Judicature at Madras in

the Civil Revision Petition. The High Court reversed the
concurrent decisions, which is assailed by the appellant
herein. Since the rank assigned to the parties is different
in the various proceedings, for the sake of convenience
and clarity the appellant herein who was the original
petitioner before the Rent Control Court would be
referred to as the ‘landlord’, while the respondent therein
would be referred to as the ‘tenant’.
3. The brief facts are that the landlord contending to
be the owner of the petition schedule premises had filed
the petition under Sections 10(3)(a)(iii) and 14(1)(b) of the
Tamil Nadu Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1960
(‘Act’, 1960’ for short) seeking for an order to direct the
tenant to vacate and deliver the peaceful possession of
the petition schedule property to the landlord. The
manner in which the landlord had become the owner of
the property based on a partition deed dated 24.02.1997
was referred. The tenant was in occupation of the
premises for nonresidential
purpose on a monthly rental
of Rs.600/.
The landlord contended that the premises is

bonafide required by him for setting up a garment shop
and in that regard had further contended that since the
premises requires alterations to be made in that regard,
the landlord also intended to demolish the existing
structure and put up a construction suitable for his
purpose. The tenant had appeared and opposed the said
petition by filing his objection statement, denying the
entire case of the landlord including his claim to
ownership over the property as well as the jural
relationship. It was contended that the intention of the
landlord is only to secure higher rent and as such the
claim cannot be considered as a bonafide requirement.
4. The Rent Control Court on having taken note of the
rival contentions had framed two points for its
consideration. The entire consideration revolved on the
claim made by the landlord for own use and occupation
as also the alternate premises available to the tenant. In
order to establish the claim, the landlord examined
himself as PW1
and marked the documents at Exhibits
P1 to P5. The tenant, on the other hand, examined three

witnesses and relied upon the documents at Exhibits R1
to R9. The Court of the Rent Controller on analysing the
documents and the evidence of the parties arrived at the
conclusion that the claim as put forth by the landlord is
established and accordingly on allowing the petition had
directed eviction of the tenant by granting two months
time to vacate.
5. The tenant claiming to be aggrieved was before the
Appellate Authority in the statutory appeal provided
under Section 23 of the Act, 1960. The Appellate
Authority having adverted to the contentions has
reappreciated the oral as well as the documentary
evidence. In that background making detailed reference
to the legal position from the decisions cited before it had
upheld the order dated 19.01.2011 passed by the Rent
Control Court and had dismissed the appeal. Against
such concurrent orders the tenant approached the High
Court in the Civil Revision Petition. The High Court once
again referring to the evidence and the conclusion
reached by the courts below had differed from the same

and accordingly allowed the petition by holding that the
bonafide requirement as claimed by the landlord had not
been proved. It is in that view the landlord claiming to be
aggrieved is before this Court in this appeal.
6. Heard Shri R. Balasubramanium, learned senior
counsel appearing for the landlord and Shri R.
Gopalakrishnan, learned counsel for the tenant and
perused the appeal papers.
7. At the outset it is to be taken note that the Civil
Revision Petition before the High Court is not to be
considered as in the nature of an appeal. The scope of
consideration is only to take note as to whether there is
any perversity in the satisfaction recorded by the original
Court, namely, the Rent Controller and in that light as to
whether the Appellate Authority under the statute has
considered the aspect in the background of the evidence
to arrive at the conclusion to its satisfaction. The
reappreciation of the evidence in the Civil Revision
Petition to indicate that another view is possible would
not arise. To that extent, a perusal of the impugned

order indicates that the High Court in fact has proceeded
as if the entire evidence required reappreciation by it. In
that background what is necessary to be taken note at
this juncture is as to whether the Rent Controller has
considered the matter in its correct perspective by
satisfying himself of the bonafide claim, as required
under Section 10(3)(e) of the Act, 1960 and the hardship
if any to the tenant as contemplated under the proviso
thereto.
8. In the instant case what is necessary to be taken
note is that the tenant despite being in possession and
knowing the ownership of the property and also paying
the rent, has sought to urge a contention denying the
jural relationship. The said aspect has been taken note
by the Rent Controller and taking into consideration the
partition deed dated 24.02.1997 and further taking into
account the fact that the rent was being paid, has
answered the said issue in favour of the landlord. Insofar
as the requirement of the premises by the landlord the
evidence as tendered has been taken note. In that regard

the claim put forth is that the landlord intends to run a
garment shop for which the premises is required and he
also intends to demolish and reconstruct. It is no doubt
true that in an appropriate case when eviction is sought
under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act, in proof thereof the
approved plan for construction and financial capacity to
construct is to be established. However, in the instant
facts it is noticed that the eviction sought is not just for
demolition and construction but is also for the bonafide
use to set up a garment shop. The landlord, in that
direction had also contended that the shop would require
alteration and, in that view, he has decided to demolish
and reconstruct. When that be the case even if not
demolished and reconstructed the requirement of the
premises is to run a garment shop even if it be by altering
the premises to that extent. In that circumstance the
eviction was also sought under Section 10(3)(a)(iii) of the
Act, 1960.
9. Since the tenant was running a metal shop, the
fact that the premises was suitable for running a garment

shop cannot be in dispute. That apart what is also to be
kept in view is, apart from the bonafide requirement of
the landlord the consideration relating to hardship of
the tenant, even if kept in view, in the instant case the
Rent Controller has referred to the cross examination of
the tenant who was examined as RW1
wherein he has
admitted that he has two buildings as business places in
addition to the business being run in the petition
schedule premises. Though he states that one floor is
used as a godown and the other is in the name of his
wife, the fact remains that he is running the business in
the other shop for the benefit of his family. In that
circumstance when the need of the landlord was weighed
in the background of the fact that the tenant had another
premises wherein he is carrying on the business the Rent
Controller as a statutory authority under the Act was of
the opinion that the evidence available on record would
be sufficient and recorded the satisfaction as provided
under Section 10(3)(e) of the Act, 1960 and arrived at the
conclusion that the landlord requires the premises for his
bonafide occupation. Such conclusion while being taken

note by the Appellate Authority has also received a
similar consideration. In that light the nature of findings
as recorded by the High Court is not appropriate in the
facts and circumstance of the present case.
10. It is no doubt true that as observed by the High
Court the plan for construction and the financial capacity
to construct has not been placed as evidence. However,
as already indicated above, the nature of the requirement
as stated by the landlord would be for running a garment
shop which in any event could be run in the premises as
it exists with minor alterations though the desire of the
landlord is also to demolish and reconstruct. Therefore,
in that circumstance the mere nonproduction
of the
approved plan or the documents to indicate financial
capacity at this juncture cannot be held fatal in the
instant facts. That apart as indicated above, the need of
the landlord while being examined has been weighed in
the background of the fact that the tenant owns two
other premises and no hardship will be caused. Though
the High Court has in that regard also recorded that no

documentary evidence is placed, the fact of possession of
alternate premises has been admitted by the tenant in
his cross examination. There can be no better proof than
admission.
11. Further the High Court has also erroneously
arrived at the conclusion that the bonafide occupation as
sought should be not only on the date of the petition but
it should continue to be there on the date of final
adjudication of rights. Firstly, there is no material on
record to indicate that the need as pleaded at the time of
filing the petition does not subsist at this point. Even
otherwise such conclusion cannot be reached, when it
cannot be lost sight that the very judicial process
consumes a long period and because of the delay in the
process if the benefit is declined it would only encourage
the tenants to protract the litigation so as to defeat the
right. In the instant case it is noticed that the petition
filed by the landlord is of the year 2004 which was
disposed of by the Rent Controller only in the year 2011.
The appeal was thereafter disposed of by the Appellate

Authority in the year 2013. The High Court had itself
taken time to dispose of the Revision Petition, only on
06.03.2017. The entire delay cannot be attributed to the
landlord and deny the relief. If as on the date of filing the
petition the requirement subsists and it is proved, the
same would be sufficient irrespective of the time lapse in
the judicial process coming to an end. This Court in the
case of Gaya Prasad vs. Pradeep Srivastava, (2001) 2
SCC 604 has held that the landlord should not be
penalised for the slowness of the legal system and the
crucial date for deciding the bonafide requirement of
landlord is the date of application for eviction, which we
hereby reiterate.
12. Therefore, in the present facts the bonafide
requirement as claimed by the landlord stands
established. The learned counsel for the tenant as an
alternative submission had sought for sufficient time to
vacate and handover the vacant possession if the tenant
was required to vacate the premises, which also needs to
be addressed in the order.

13. In the result the order dated 06.03.2017 passed
by the High Court in CRP (NPD) No. 3754/2013 and MP
No. 1/2013 is set aside. The order dated 19.01.2011
passed by the Principal District Munsif/Rent Controller,
Vellore, Vellore District in Rent Control Original Petition
No.43/2004 is restored. Taking into consideration all
aspects, the tenant is granted time till 31.01.2021 to
vacate and handover vacant possession of the premises
to the landlord subject to the undertaking being filed in
four weeks, wherein it be undertaken to voluntarily
vacate and handover possession on or before 31.01.2021,
without creating any thirdparty
rights or damage to the
property. The rents shall also be paid without default.
14. Accordingly, the appeals are allowed with no order
as to costs. All pending applications shall stand disposed
of.
……………………….J.
(R. BANUMATHI)
……………………….J.
(A.S. BOPANNA)
New Delhi,
September 23, 2019

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