ABID-UL-ISLAM VS INDER SAIN DUA

ABID-UL-ISLAM VS INDER SAIN DUA - Supreme Court Case

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9444 OF 2016
ABID-UL-ISLAM .. APPELLANT
VERSUS
INDER SAIN DUA .. RESPONDENT
J U D G M E N T
M. M. Sundresh, J.
1. Focus in this appeal is on the exercise of the revisional power by the High Court
of Delhi in its invocation of proviso to Section 25B(8) of the Delhi Rent Control
Act, 1958 (for short “the Act”).
2. Heard Mr. Amit Andley, learned counsel for the appellant and the respondent,
party-in-person. We have perused all the documents filed along with written
arguments.
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BRIEF FACTS:
3. Shri Haji Badrul Islam (since deceased) was the original owner of the two shops
leased out to the respondent orally way back in the year 1970. The lease
continued for decades. After the demise of the original landlord, his son Shri
Sajid-Ul-Islam became the owner both by inheritance and by virtue of an award
dated 11.03.1980. He too expired on 21.11.1986 and the appellant, who claims
through the award and inheritance by operation of law, filed the eviction petition
under Section 14(1)(e) read with Section 25B of the Act in the year 2014.
4. The respondent filed an application seeking leave to defend, inter alia, raising
three primary contentions, namely, (i) the appellant is not having title over the
property; (ii) the property actually belongs to the Government of India under the
Enemy Property Act, 1968 (hereinafter referred to as “Enemy Property Act”)
and (iii) there are alternative accommodations by way of other properties
available for carrying out the business of the appellant as such the need of the
appellant is not bona fide.
5. The learned Rent Controller dismissed the application holding that the title of
the appellant cannot be questioned by the respondent, the averments regarding
the suitability of alternative accommodation are vague and the embargo under
the Enemy Property Act would not be made applicable to the properties in
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question. Incidentally, the bona fide need of the appellant has also been
discussed by the learned Rent Controller.
6. The respondent, being dissatisfied with the said decision of the learned Rent
Controller, approached the High Court of Delhi invoking the proviso to Section
25B(8) of the Act. Despite holding that the respondent cannot question the title
of the appellant, having filed a suit acknowledging the said factum, the revision
was allowed on the premise that there are triable issues as the denial of the
appellant on the defence of the appellant qua the issue of alternative
accommodation is vague.
7. Assailing the aforesaid decision rendered by the High Court, the present appeal
is before us.
SUBMISSIONS OF THE APPELLANT:
8. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the jurisdiction available to the
High Court being limited and restrictive, the decision made without a specific
finding on the reasoning of the learned Rent Controller would amount to
exercising a jurisdiction not vested. The respondent has not made out a case
even on facts. It is not for the respondent being a tenant to insist upon a
particular property, especially when a clear statement has been made on
possession. The appellant has specifically denied ownership of any alternate
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properties mentioned by the respondent in his application seeking leave to
defend.
9. On the additional documents filed by the respondent, it is submitted that the
subsequent proceeding initiated under the Enemy Property (Amendment and
Validation) Act, 2017 (hereinafter referred to as the “Amended Act”) was one
without jurisdiction, especially when the earlier one was closed after conducting
a preliminary inquiry. To substantiate the same, reliance is made on the report
dated 04.11.2015. The learned counsel has also stated that the proceedings
challenging the subsequent notices are pending before the High Court of Delhi
wherein an order of “no coercive steps should be taken” has been passed. In the
aforesaid proceedings the application filed by the respondent to implead himself
was rejected for want of bona fides, which stood confirmed by this Court.
10. To buttress the submissions, learned counsel has relied on the following
judgments rendered by this Court:
 Anil Bajaj and Anr. v. Vinod Ahuja (2014) 15 SCC 610
 Balwant Singh alias Bant Singh and Anr. v. Sudarshan Kumar and Anr.
2021 SCC OnLine SC 114
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SUBMISSIONS OF THE RESPONDENT:
11.The respondent, who appears as a party-in-person, submitted that there are
triable issues involved and, therefore, the High Court was right in allowing the
revision. There is a serious cloud over the title of the appellant as some of the
owners of the properties are living in the neighbouring country of Pakistan. The
award obtained on 11.03.1980 is under cloud and thus liable to be ignored. The
authority constituted under the Amended Act has recognized the status of the
respondent as its tenant. It was further submitted that the appellant is in
possession of alternative accommodations available for running the business.
Thus, while confirming the order of the High Court, the subsequent events
having taken place as evidenced by the documents filed, will have to be taken
note of. The respondent sought the dismissal of the present appeal. Seeking to
strengthen his case further, the respondent took us through the following
judgments of this Court:
 M.M. Quasim v. Manohar Lal Sharma and Ors. (1981) 3 SCC 36
 P.V. Papanna and Ors. v. K. Padmanabhaiah (1994) 2 SCC 316
 Amarjit Singh v. Khatoon Quamarain (1986) 4 SCC 736
 D. Satyanarayana v. P. Jagadish (1987) 4 SCC424
 Precision Steel and Engineering Works v. Prem Deva (1982) 3 SCC 270
5
 Liaq Ahmed and Ors. v. Habeeb-Ur-Rehman (2000) 5 SCC 708
 India Umbrella Manufacturing Co. and Ors. v. Bhagabandei Agarwalla
(Dead) by LRs and Ors. (2004) 3 SCC 178
 Gram Panchayat v. Ujagar Singh and Ors. (2000) 7 SCC 543
DISCUSSION
Relevant Provisions of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958:
Section 14(1)(e):
“14. Protection of tenant against eviction: (1) Notwithstanding
anything to the contrary contained in any other law or contract, no order or
decree for the recovery of possession of any premises shall be made by any
court or Controller in favour of the landlord against a tenant:
Provided that the Controller may, on an application made to him in the
prescribed manner, make an order for the recovery of possession of the
premises on one or more of the following grounds only, namely:-
xxx xxx xxx
(e) that the premises let for residential purposes are required bona fide by
the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or for any
member of his family dependent on him, if he is the owner thereof, or
for any person for whose benefit the premises are held and that the
landlord or such person has no other reasonably suitable residential
accommodation.
Explanation.-For the purposes of this clause, "premises let for
residential purposes" include any premises which having been let for
use as a residence are, without the consent of the landlord, used
incidentally for commercial or other purposes;”
 SECTION 19:
“19. Recovery of possession for occupation and re-entry: (1) Where a
landlord recovers possession of any premises from the tenant in pursuance
of an order made under clause (c) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of section
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14, Ins. By Act 57 of 1988, sec. 10 (w.e.f.1-12-1988) [or under sections
14A, 14B, 14C, 14D and 21], the landlord shall not, except with the
permission of the Controller obtained in the prescribed manner, re-let the
whole or any part of the premises within three years from the date of
obtaining such possession, and in granting such permission the Controller
may direct the landlord to put such evicted tenant in possession of the
premises.
(2) Where a landlord recovers possession of any premises as aforesaid and
the premises are not occupied by the landlord or by the person for whose
benefit the premises are held, within two months of obtaining such
possession, or the premises having been so occupied are, at any time within
three years from the date of obtaining possession, re-let to any person other
than the evicted tenant without obtaining the permission of the Controller
under sub-section (1) or the possession of such premises is transferred to
another person for reasons which do not appear to the! Controller to be
bona fide, the Controller may, on an application made to him in this behalf
by such evicted tenant within such time as may be prescribed, direct the
landlord to put the tenant in possession of the premises or to pay him such
compensation as the Controller thinks fit.”
Section 25B
 “25B. Special procedure for the disposal of applications for eviction on
the ground of bona fide requirement:
xxx xxx xxx
(5) The Controller shall give to the tenant leave to contest the application if
the affidavit filed by the tenant discloses such facts as would disentitle the
landlord from obtaining an order for the recovery of possession of the
premises on the ground specified in clause (c) of the proviso to sub-section
(1) of section 14, or under section 14A.
xxx xxx xxx
(8) No appeal or second appeal shall lie against an order for the recovery of
possession of any premises made by the Controller in accordance with the
procedure specified in this section:
Provided that the High Court may, for the purpose of satisfying itself that an
order made by the Controller under this section is according to law, call for
the records of the case and pass such order in respect thereto as it thinks fit.”
Requirement Under Section 14(1)(e):
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12. Section 14(1)(e) carves out an exception to the regular mode of eviction. Thus,
in a case where a landlord makes an application seeking possession of the
tenanted premises for his bona fide requirement, the learned Rent Controller
may dispense with the protection prescribed under the Act and then grant an
order of eviction. Requirement is the existence of bona fide need, when there is
no other “reasonably suitable accommodation”. Therefore, there has to be
satisfaction on two grounds, namely, (i) the requirement being bona fide and (ii)
the non-availability of a reasonably suitable residential accommodation. Such
reasonableness along with suitability is to be seen from the perspective of the
landlord and not the tenant. When the learned Rent Controller comes to the
conclusion that there exists a bona fide need coupled with the satisfaction that
there is no reasonably suitable residential accommodation, the twin conditions
mandated under Section 14(1)(e) stand satisfied.
13. We may usefully refer to the decision of this Court in Inderjeet Kaur v. Nirpal
Singh, (2001) 1 SCC 706:
“9. Chapter III-A deals with summary trial of certain applications expressly
stating that every application by a landlord for recovery of possession on the
ground specified in clause (e) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 14
of the Act, or under Section 14-A or 14-B or 14-C or 14-D shall be dealt
with in accordance with the special provisions prescribed in Section 25-B of
the Act. As per the broad scheme of this Chapter a tenant is precluded from
contesting an application filed for eviction on the grounds mentioned in the
aforementioned provisions unless he obtains leave from the Controller to
contest the eviction petition. In default of obtaining leave to defend or leave
8
is refused to him an order of eviction follows. It appears recourse to
summary trial is adopted having due regard to nature of the grounds on
which the eviction is sought with a view to avoid delay so that the landlord
should not be deprived or denied of his right to immediate possession of
premises for his bona fide use.
10. At the same time, it is well settled and accepted position in law that no
one shall be subjected to suffer a civil consequence like eviction from a
premises resulting in hardship to him without providing adequate and
effective opportunity to disprove the case against him and establish his case
as pleaded.
11. As is evident from Sections 25-B(4) and (5) of the Act, burden placed on
a tenant is light and limited in that if the affidavit filed by him discloses
such facts as would disentitle the landlord from obtaining an order for the
recovery of the possession of the premises on the ground specified in clause
(e) of the proviso to Section 14(1) of the Act, with which we are concerned
in this case, are good enough to grant leave to defend.
12. A landlord, who bonafidely requires a premises for his residence and
occupation should not suffer for long, waiting for eviction of a tenant. At the
same time a tenant cannot be thrown out from a premises summarily, even
though prima facie he is able to say that the claim of the landlord is not bona
fide or untenable and as such not entitled to obtain an order of eviction.
Hence the approach has to be cautious and judicious in granting or refusing
leave to defend to a tenant to contest an eviction petition within the broad
scheme of Chapter III-A and in particular having regard to the clear terms
and language of Section 25-B(5).
13. We are of the considered view that at a stage when the tenant seeks leave
to defend, it is enough if he prima facie makes out a case by disclosing such
facts as would disentitle the landlord from obtaining an order of eviction. It
would not be a right approach to say that unless the tenant at that stage itself
establishes a strong case as would non-suit the landlord, leave to defend
should not be granted when it is not the requirement of Section 25-B(5). A
leave to defend sought for cannot also be granted for mere asking or in a
routine manner which will defeat the very object of the special provisions
contained in Chapter III-A of the Act. Leave to defend cannot be refused
where an eviction petition is filed on a mere design or desire of a landlord to
recover possession of the premises from a tenant under clause (e) of the
proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 14, when as a matter of fact the
requirement may not be bona fide. Refusing to grant leave in such a case
leads to eviction of a tenant summarily resulting in great hardship to him
and his family members, if any, although he could establish if only leave is
granted that a landlord would be disentitled for an order of eviction. At the
stage of granting leave to defend, parties rely on affidavits in support of the
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rival contentions. Assertions and counter-assertions made in affidavits may
not afford safe and acceptable evidence so as to arrive at an affirmative
conclusion one way or the other unless there is a strong and acceptable
evidence available to show that the facts disclosed in the application filed by
the tenant seeking leave to defend were either frivolous, untenable or most
unreasonable. Take a case when possession is sought on the ground of
personal requirement, a landlord has to establish his need and not his mere
desire. The ground under clause (e) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of
Section 14 enables a landlord to recover possession of the tenanted premises
on the ground of his bona fide requirement. This being an enabling
provision, essentially the burden is on the landlord to establish his case
affirmatively. In short and substance, a wholly frivolous and totally
untenable defence may not entitle a tenant to leave to defend, but when a
triable issue is raised a duty is placed on the Rent Controller by the statute
itself to grant leave. At the stage of granting leave the real test should be
whether facts disclosed in the affidavit filed seeking leave to defend prima
facie show that the landlord would be disentitled from obtaining an order of
eviction and not whether at the end defence may fail. It is well to remember
that when leave to defend is refused, serious consequences of eviction shall
follow and the party seeking leave is denied an opportunity to test the truth
of the averments made in the eviction petition by cross-examination. It may
also be noticed that even in cases where leave is granted provisions are
made in this very Chapter for expeditious disposal of eviction petitions.
Section 25-B(6) states that where leave is granted to a tenant to contest the
eviction application, the Controller shall commence the hearing of the
application as early as practicable. Section 25-B(7) speaks of the procedure
to be followed in such cases. Section 25-B(8) bars the appeals against an
order of recovery of possession except a provision of revision to the High
Court. Thus a combined effect of Sections 25-B(6), (7) and (8) would lead
to expeditious disposal of eviction petitions so that a landlord need not wait
and suffer for a long time. On the other hand, when a tenant is denied leave
to defend although he had fair chance to prove his defence, will suffer great
hardship. In this view a balanced view is to be taken having regard to
competing claims.”
14.We further wish to place reliance on the judgment of this Court in Anil Bajaj
and Anr. v. Vinod Ahuja, (2014) 15 SCC 610:
“6. In the present case it is clear that while the landlord (Appellant 1) is
carrying on his business from a shop premise located in a narrow lane, the
tenant is in occupation of the premises located on the main road which the
landlord considers to be more suitable for his own business. The materials
on record, in fact, disclose that the landlord had offered to the tenant the
premises located in the narrow lane in exchange for the tenanted premises
which offer was declined by the tenant. It is not the tenant's case that the
10
landlord, Appellant 1, does not propose to utilise the tenanted premises from
which eviction is sought for the purposes of his business. It is also not the
tenant's case that the landlord proposes to rent out/keep vacant the tenanted
premises after obtaining possession thereof or to use the same is any way
inconsistent with the need of the landlord. What the tenant contends is that
the landlord has several other shop houses from which he is carrying on
different businesses and further that the landlord has other premises from
where the business proposed from the tenanted premises can be effectively
carried out. It would hardly require any reiteration of the settled principle of
law that it is not for the tenant to dictate to the landlord as to how the
property belonging to the landlord should be utilised by him for the purpose
of his business. Also, the fact that the landlord is doing business from
various other premises cannot foreclose his right to seek eviction from the
tenanted premises so long as he intends to use the said tenanted premises for
his own business.”
15.For availing the leave to defend as envisaged under Section 25B(5), a mere
assertion per se would not suffice as Section 14(1)(e) creates a presumption
subject to the satisfaction of the learned Rent Controller qua bona fide need in
favour of the landlord which is obviously rebuttable with some material of
substance to the extent of raising a triable issue. The satisfaction of the Rent
Controller in deciding on an application seeking leave to defend is obviously
subjective. The degree of probability is one of preponderance forming the
subjective satisfaction of the Rent Controller. Thus, the quality of adjudication is
between a mere moonshine and adequate material and evidence meant for the
rejection of a normal application for eviction.
16.Before a presumption is drawn, the landlord is duty bound to place prima facie
material supported by the adequate averments. It is only thereafter, the
presumption gets attracted and the onus shifts on the tenant. The object of
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Section 14(1)(e) vis a vis Section 25B has to be seen in the light of yet another
provision contained under Section 19. Section 19 gives a right to the
dispossessed tenant for repossession if there is a non-compliance on the part of
the landlord albeit after eviction, to put the premises to use for the intended
purpose. Such a right is available only to a tenant who stood dispossessed on the
application filed by the landlord invoking Section 14(1)(e) being allowed. Thus,
Section 19 inter alia throws more light on the legislative objective facilitating a
speedy possession. The object is also reflected in the proviso to Section 25B(8),
denying a right of appeal.
17. Dealing with a pari materia provision, this Court in Baldev Singh Bajwa v.
Monish Saini, (2005) 12 SCC 778, was pleased to clarify the aforesaid position
holding the procedure as summary. In such a case, the tenant is expected to put
in adequate and reasonable materials in support of the facts pleaded in the form
of a declaration sufficient to raise a triable issue. One cannot lose sight of the
object behind Section 25B in facilitating not only the expeditious but effective
remedy for a class of landlords, sans the normal procedural route. In this regard,
we wish to quote the decision of this court in Baldev Singh (supra):
“14. The phrase “bona fide requirement” or “bona fide need” or “required
reasonably in good faith” or “required”, occurs in almost all Rent Control
Acts with the underlying legislative intent which has been considered and
demonstrated innumerable times by various High Courts as also by this
Court, some of which we would like to refer to. In Ram Dass v. Ishwar
Chander [(1988) 3 SCC 131] it is said that the bona fide need should be
12
genuine and honest, conceived in good faith. It was also indicated that the
landlord's desire for possession, however honest it might otherwise be, has
inevitably a subjective element in it, and that desire, to become a
“requirement” in law must have the objective element of a “need”, which
can be decided only by taking all the relevant circumstances into
consideration so that the protection afforded to a tenant is not rendered
illusory or whittled down.
15. In Bega Begum v. Abdul Ahad Khan [(1979) 1 SCC 273] it was held by
this Court that the words “reasonable requirement” undoubtedly postulate
that there must be an element of need as opposed to a mere desire or wish.
The distinction between desire and need should doubtless be kept in mind
but not so as to make even the genuine need as nothing but a desire.
16. In Surjit Singh Kalra v. Union of India [(1991) 2 SCC 87] a three-Judge
Bench of this Court has held as under: (SCC p. 99, para 20)
“20. The tenant of course is entitled to raise all relevant contentions as
against the claim of the classified landlords. The fact that there is no
reference to the words bona fide requirement in Sections 14-B to 14-D
does not absolve the landlord from proving that his requirement is
bona fide or the tenant from showing that it is not bona fide. In fact
every claim for eviction against a tenant must be a bona fide one.
There is also enough indication in support of this construction from
the title of Section 25-B which states ‘special procedure for the
disposal of applications for eviction on the ground of bona fide
requirement’.”
17. In Shiv Sarup Gupta v. Dr. Mahesh Chand Gupta [(1999) 6 SCC 222]
this Court while dealing with the aspect of bona fide requirement has said
that the sense of felt need which is an outcome of a sincere, honest desire, in
contradistinction with a mere pretence or pretext to evict a tenant, refers to a
state of mind prevailing with the landlord. The only way of peeping into the
mind of the landlord is an exercise undertaken by the judge of facts by
placing himself in the armchair of the landlord and then posing a question to
himself — whether in the given facts, substantiated by the landlord, the need
to occupy the premises can be said to be natural, real, sincere and honest.
xxx xxx xxx
19. … In our view there are inbuilt protections in the relevant provisions for
the tenants that whenever the landlord would approach the court he would
approach when his need is genuine and bona fide. It is, of course, subject to
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the tenant's right to rebut it but with strong and cogent evidence. In our
view, in the proceeding taken up under Section 13-B by the NRI landlords
for the ejectment of the tenant, the court shall presume that the landlord's
need pleaded in the petition is genuine and bona fide. But this would not
disentitle the tenant from proving that in fact and in law the requirement of
the landlord is not genuine. A heavy burden would lie on the tenant to prove
that the requirement of the landlord is not genuine. To prove this fact the
tenant will be called upon to give all the necessary facts and particulars
supported by documentary evidence, if available, to support his plea in the
affidavit itself so that the Controller will be in a position to adjudicate and
decide the question of genuine or bona fide requirement of the landlord. A
mere assertion on the part of the tenant would not be sufficient to rebut the
strong presumption in the landlord's favour that his requirement of
occupation of the premises is real and genuine.”
18.We further wish to place reliance upon a recent decision of this Court in Ram
Krishan Grover v. Union of India, (2020) 12 SCC 506, wherein this Court
considered the aforesaid decisions in Inderjeet Kaur (supra) and Baldev Singh
(supra) and interpreted the burden on the tenant to be rebutted at the stage of
leave to defend and observed:
“39. The requirement of a “strong case” for obtaining leave to defend means
a good case that brings to fore reasonable and well-grounded basis on which
the tenant seeks leave to contest the eviction proceedings. It does not mean
setting up and establishing at that stage a case beyond any scintilla of doubt
and debate. The grounds and pleas raised should reflect clear and strong
defence and relate to the grounds mentioned in para 25 in Baldev Singh
Bajwa [Baldev Singh Bajwa v. Monish Saini, (2005) 12 SCC 778] . The
standard applied is similar to parameters elucidated in Inderjeet
Kaur v. Nirpal Singh [(2001) 1 SCC 706], in which this Court had held that
the leave to defend should not be granted on mere asking but when the pleas
and contentions raise triable issues and the dispute on facts demands that the
matter be properly adjudicated after ascertaining the truth of affidavits filed
by the witnesses in their cross-examination. Each case has to be decided on
its merits and not on the basis of any preconceived suppositions and
presumptions. By providing for a simplified procedure of eviction by the
Non-Resident Indians, Section 13-B does not dilute the rights of tenants. It
gives a chance to the tenants on merits to establish their case and when
justified and necessary to take the matter to trial. By no means, therefore,
Section 13-B can be held to be arbitrary and unreasonable.”
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SCOPE OF REVISION
19. We are, in fact, more concerned with the scope and ambit of the proviso to
Section 25B(8). The proviso creates a distinct and unequivocal embargo by not
providing an appeal against the order passed by the learned Rent Controller over
an application filed under sub-section (5). The intendment of the legislature is
very clear, which is to remove the appellate remedy and thereafter, a further
second appeal. It is a clear omission that is done by the legislature consciously
through a covenant removing the right of two stages of appeals.
20. Proviso to Section 25B(8) gives the High Court exclusive power of revision
against an order of the learned Rent Controller, being in the nature of
superintendence over an inferior court on the decision making process, inclusive
of procedural compliance. Thus, the High Court is not expected to substitute and
supplant its views with that of the trial Court by exercising the appellate
jurisdiction. Its role is to satisfy itself on the process adopted. The scope of
interference by the High Court is very restrictive and except in cases where there
is an error apparent on the face of the record, which would only mean that in the
absence of any adjudication per se, the High Court should not venture to disturb
such a decision. There is no need for holding a roving inquiry in such matters
which would otherwise amount to converting the power of superintendence into
that of a regular first appeal, an act, totally forbidden by the legislature. We do
15
not wish to go further on this settled proposition of law, except by quoting the
decision of this Court in Sarla Ahuja v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd.,
(1998) 8 SCC 119:
“5. Section 25-B of the Act lays down “special procedure for the disposal of
application for eviction on the ground of bona fide requirement”. Subsection (1) says that every application for recovery of possession on the
ground specified in Section 14(1)(e) of the Act shall be dealt with in
accordance with the procedure specified in Section 25-B. Sub-section (8)
says that no appeal or second appeal shall lie against an order for the
recovery of possession of any premises made by the Rent Controller in
accordance with the procedure specified in this section. The proviso to that
sub-section reads thus:
“Provided that the High Court may, for the purpose of satisfying itself that
an order made by the Controller under this section is according to law, call
for the records of the case and pass such order in respect thereto as it thinks
fit.”
6. The above proviso indicates that power of the High Court is supervisory
in nature and it is intended to ensure that the Rent Controller conforms to
law when he passes the order. The satisfaction of the High Court when
perusing the records of the case must be confined to the limited sphere that
the order of the Rent Controller is “according to the law”. In other words,
the High Court shall scrutinize the records to ascertain whether any
illegality has been committed by the Rent Controller in passing the order
under Section 25-B. It is not permissible for the High Court in that exercise
to come to a different fact finding unless the finding arrived at by the Rent
Controller on the facts is so unreasonable that no Rent Controller should
have reached such a finding on the materials available.
7. Although, the word “revision” is not employed in the proviso to Section
25-B(8) of the Act, it is evident from the language used therein that the
power conferred is revisional power. In legal parlance, distinction between
appellate and revisional jurisdiction is well understood. Ordinarily, appellate
jurisdiction is wide enough to afford a rehearing of the whole case for
enabling the appellate forum to arrive at fresh conclusions untrammelled by
the conclusions reached in the order challenged before it. Of course, the
statute which provides appeal provision can circumscribe or limit the width
of such appellate powers. Revisional power, on the contrary, is ordinarily a
power of supervision keeping subordinate tribunals within the bounds of
law. Expansion or constriction of such revisional power would depend upon
how the statute has couched such power therein. In some legislations,
revisional jurisdiction is meant for satisfying itself as to the regularity,
16
legality or propriety of proceedings or decisions of the subordinate court.
In Sri Raja Lakshmi Dyeing Works v. Rangaswamy Chettiar [(1980) 4 SCC
259] this Court considered the scope of the words (“the High Court may call
for and examine the records … to satisfy itself as to the regularity of such
proceedings or the correctness, legality or propriety of any decision or order
…”) by which power of revision has been conferred by a particular statute.
Dealing with the contention that the above words indicated conferment of a
very wide power on the revisional authority, this Court has observed thus in
the said decision: (SCC p. 262, para 3)
“The dominant idea conveyed by the incorporation of the words ‘to
satisfy itself’ under Section 25 appears to be that the power conferred
on the High Court under Section 25 is essentially a power of
superintendence. Therefore, despite the wide language employed in
Section 25 the High Court quite obviously should not interfere with
findings of fact merely because it does not agree with the finding of
the subordinate authority.”
8. Dealing with Section 32, the Delhi and Ajmer Rent (Control) Act, 1952,
which is almost identically worded as in the proviso to Section 25-B(8) of
the Act, a three-Judge Bench of this Court has stated thus in Hari
Shankar v. Rao Girdhari Lal Chowdhury [AIR 1963 SC 698 : 1962 Supp (1)
SCR 933] :
“The section is thus framed to confer larger powers than the power to
correct error of jurisdiction to which Section 115 is limited. But it
must not be overlooked that the section — in spite of its apparent
width of language where it confers a power on the High Court to pass
such order as the High Court might think fit, — is controlled by the
opening words, where it says that the High Court may send for the
record of the case to satisfy itself that the decision is ‘according to
law’. It stands to reason that if it was considered necessary that there
should be a rehearing, a right of appeal would be a more appropriate
remedy, but the Act says that there is to be no further appeal.”
9. In Malini Ayyappa Naicker v. Seth Manghraj Udhavadas [(1969) 1 SCC
688] another three-Judge Bench of this Court was considering a similarly
worded proviso in Section 75(1) of the Provincial Insolvency Act, 1920.
Though, learned Judges did not give an exhaustive definition of the
expression “according to law”, a catalogue of instance in which the High
Court may interfere under the said proviso was given in the decision as the
following [Ed.: The passage quoted is an extract from Beaumont, C.J.'s
judgment in Bell & Co. Ltd. v. Wamen Hemrai, (1938) 40 Bom LR 125
17
which was approved by the Supreme Court in the case cited.]: (SCC p. 691,
para 7)
“They are cases in which the Court which made the order had no
jurisdiction or in which the Court has based its decision on evidence
which should not have been admitted, or cases where the unsuccessful
party has not been given a proper opportunity of being heard, or the
burden of proof has been placed on the wrong shoulders. Wherever
the Court comes to the conclusion that the unsuccessful party has not
had a proper trial according to law, then the Court can interfere.”
10. The Bench has, however, cautioned that the High Court should not
interfere merely because it considered that “possibly the Judge who heard
the case may have arrived at a conclusion which the High Court would not
have arrived at”.
11. Learned Single Judge of the High Court in the present case has
reassessed and reappraised the evidence afresh to reach a different finding
as though it was exercising appellate jurisdiction. No doubt even while
exercising revisional jurisdiction, a reappraisal of evidence can be made, but
that should be for the limited purpose to ascertain whether the conclusion
arrived at by the fact-finding court is wholly unreasonable. A reading of the
impugned order shows that the High Court has overstepped the limit of its
power as a revisional court. The order impugned on that score is hence
vitiated by jurisdictional deficiency.
12. Clause (e) of the proviso to Section 14(1) of the Act affords one of the
grounds to the landlord to seek recovery of possession of the building
leased. The said clause reads thus:
“14. (1)(e) that the premises let for residential purposes are required
bona fide by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or
for any member of his family dependent on him, if he is the owner
thereof, or for any person for whose benefit the premises are held and
that the landlord or such person has no other reasonably suitable
residential accommodation;
Explanation.—For the purposes of this clause, ‘premises let for
residential purposes’ include any premises which having been let for
use as a residence are, without the consent of the landlord, used
incidentally for commercial or other purposes;”
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13. If the landlord has another residential accommodation which is
reasonably suitable, he is not permitted to avail himself of the benefit
afforded in the ground set out in the clause. Learned Single Judge of the
High Court has noted that the landlord in this case has “admitted in her
deposition that the house in Calcutta was a 3-bedroom house with
drawing/dining room and one of the bedrooms was used by her, another by
her son with his wife and another bedroom was kept for her daughter who
used to come and stay”. This was one of the reasons which persuaded the
learned Single Judge to interfere with the order of eviction. To deprive a
landlord of the benefit of the ground mentioned in Section 14(1)(e) on
account of availability of alternative residential accommodation, it is not
enough that such alternative accommodation is in a far different State. Such
accommodation must be available in the same city or town, or at least within
reasonable proximity thereof if it is outside the limits of the city. The said
limb of clause (e) cannot be interpreted as to mean that if the landlord has
another house anywhere in the world, he cannot seek recovery of possession
of his building under clause (e). The High Court therefore went wrong in
observing that since the landlord has possession of another flat at Calcutta
she is disentitled to seek recovery of possession of the tenanted premises
situated at Delhi.
14. The crux of the ground envisaged in clause (e) of Section 14(1) of the
Act is that the requirement of the landlord for occupation of the tenanted
premises must be bona fide. When a landlord asserts that he requires his
building for his own occupation, the Rent Controller shall not proceed on
the presumption that the requirement is not bona fide. When other
conditions of the clause are satisfied and when the landlord shows a prima
facie case, it is open to the Rent Controller to draw a presumption that the
requirement of the landlord is bona fide. It is often said by courts that it is
not for the tenant to dictate terms to the landlord as to how else he can adjust
himself without getting possession of the tenanted premises. While deciding
the question of bona fides of the requirement of the landlord, it is quite
unnecessary to make an endeavour as to how else the landlord could have
adjusted himself.”
21. The aforesaid decision has been recently considered and approved by this Court
in the case of Mohd. Inam v. Sanjay Kumar Singhal, (2020) 7 SCC 327:
“22. This Court in Sarla Ahuja v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. [(1998) 8
SCC 119] had an occasion to consider the scope of proviso to Section 25-
B(8) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. This Court found, that though the
word “revision” was not employed in the said proviso, from the language
used therein, the legislative intent was clear that the power conferred was
revisional power. This Court observed thus: (SCC p. 124, para 11)
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“11. The learned Single Judge of the High Court in the present case
has reassessed and reappraised the evidence afresh to reach a different
finding as though it was exercising appellate jurisdiction. No doubt
even while exercising revisional jurisdiction, a reappraisal of evidence
can be made, but that should be for the limited purpose to ascertain
whether the conclusion arrived at by the fact-finding court is wholly
unreasonable.”
It could thus be seen, that this Court has held, that the High Court while
exercising the revisional powers under the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958
though could not reassess and reappraise the evidence, as if it was
exercising appellate jurisdiction, however, it was empowered to reappraise
the evidence for the limited purpose so as to ascertain whether the
conclusion arrived at by the fact-finding court is wholly unreasonable.
23. Again in Ram Narain Arora v. Asha Rani [(1999) 1 SCC 141], this Court
had an occasion to consider the aforesaid powers under the Delhi Rent
Control Act, 1958. This Court observed thus: (SCC p. 148, para 12)
“12. It is no doubt true that the scope of a revision petition under
Section 25-B(8) proviso of the Delhi Rent Control Act is a very
limited one, but even so in examining the legality or propriety of the
proceedings before the Rent Controller, the High Court could examine
the facts available in order to find out whether he had correctly or on a
firm legal basis approached the matters on record to decide the case.
Pure findings of fact may not be open to be interfered with, but (sic if)
in a given case, the finding of fact is given on a wrong premise of law,
certainly it would be open to the Revisional Court to interfere with
such a matter.”
It was thus held, that though the scope of revisional powers of the High
Court was very limited one, but even so in examining the legality or
propriety of the proceedings before the Rent Controller, the High Court
could examine the facts available in order, to find out whether he had
correctly or on a firm legal basis approached the matters on record to decide
the case. It has also been held, that pure findings of fact may not be open to
be interfered with, but in a given case, if the finding of fact is given on a
wrong premise of law, it would be open to the Revisional Court to interfere
with the same.”
ON MERITS:
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22. Learned Rent Controller passed a detailed speaking order. On undertaking such
an exercise, he found that the bona fide need is satisfied; the averments of the
respondent regarding alternative accommodation are vague; the title of the
appellant cannot be questioned; and the embargo under the Enemy Property Act
does not get attracted. Thus, having found that the defense set up by the
respondent is only a moonshine, the application filed seeking leave to defend
was accordingly rejected.
23. After completing the aforesaid process, the Court made certain observations in
addition to the order on merits, giving its indictment on the conduct of the
respondent, who dropped the names of not only a District Judge but also a High
Court Judge, certainly not germane to the case.
24. The High Court, while ignoring the aforesaid conduct of the respondent, as
noted by the learned Rent Controller, proceeded to allow the revision by treating
it like an appeal. It did not even reverse the findings of the learned Rent
Controller, but proceeded to hold that the denials of the appellant in his reply to
the application seeking leave to defend are vague, qua the plea of alternative
accommodation, notwithstanding the rejection of the contention of the
respondent that he cannot question the title. This approach, in our considered
view, cannot be sustained in the eye of law.
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25. Section 14(1)(e) deals with only the requirement of a bona fide purpose. The
contention regarding alternative accommodation can at best be only an
incidental one. Such a requirement has not been found to be incorrect by the
High Court, though it is not even open to it to do so, in view of the limited
jurisdiction which it was supposed to exercise. Therefore, the very basis upon
which the revision was allowed is obviously wrong being contrary to the very
provision contained in Section 14(1)(e) and Section 25B(8).
26. We have already discussed the scope of Section 14(1)(e) vis a vis Section
25B(8) of the Act. Therefore, the mere existence of the other properties which
are, in fact, denied by the appellant would not enure to the benefit of the
respondent in the absence of any pleadings and supporting material before the
learned Rent Controller to the effect that they are reasonably suitable for
accommodation.
27.The respondent made substantial claims on the judgment of this Court in
Precision Steel (supra). We do not find the said decision helping the case of the
respondent, in the light of the discussion made on the scope of the relevant
provisions, as leave to defend cannot be granted on mere asking. We can only
reiterate that we do not find any perversity in the decision rendered by the
22
learned Rent Controller and the High Court has not only certainly abdicated its
jurisdiction, but also exceeded in a way.
28. We are constrained to note that the respondent continued to drop the names of
persons holding high offices even before us. He proudly proclaimed during his
argument that the proceedings under the Enemy Property Act, as amended, were
initiated only at his instance on his personally meeting with an Hon’ble Union
Minister. We can only adopt the process undertaken by the learned Rent
Controller by not letting the said statement come in the way of deciding the
matter on merits, despite it being unconscionable and shockingly brazen.
29. Much reliance has been made on the documents indicating the re-creation of
tenancy right in favour of the respondent by the authority constituted under the
Amended Act. We do not wish to state anything on that, nor the said
communication would have an impact on our order. Neither the said Authority is
before us, nor its existence or viability can be gone into in these proceedings.
The scope of the Enemy Property Act, as amended, vis a vis the proceedings for
eviction was already dealt with by the learned Rent Controller, though not
touched upon by the High Court. Further, the attempt of the respondent to
implead himself in a pending case before the High Court of Delhi on a challenge
made to the notices passed under the Amended Act got miserably failed with an
23
observation by the High Court that it smacked of mala fides. We may further
note, notwithstanding the earlier conclusion by way of a report dated 04.11.2015
wherein the Assistant Custodian of Enemy Property under the Enemy Property
Act has observed that the predecessors of the appellant are non-evacuees and
that the properties owned by them by no stretch of imagination can be termed as
enemy property, there is another action initiated on which we don’t wish to
express any view. The decision of the High Court rejecting the respondent’s
impleadment was not only confirmed by the dismissal of the intra-court appeal,
but also that of the rejection of the special leave petition by this Court. On fact,
the proceedings initiated under the Enemy Property Act, as amended, are also
stayed by the High Court having considered the report dated 04.11.2015, by a
reasoned order.
30. On the aforesaid analysis, we have no hesitation in setting aside the order of the
High Court by restoring the order passed by the learned Rent Controller. The
appeal stands allowed. No costs.
…….………………………J.
(SANJAY KISHAN KAUL)
……………………………J.
 (M.M. SUNDRESH)
New Delhi
April 07, 2022
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