In the present case, the Petitioner Gulam Mohammad Wani was the tenant, and the Respondents were the landlords of the tenanted premises known as “Fay Lodge, Circular Road, Shimla.” It was claimed to be under the Petitioner’s tenancy at a rental of Rs.200/- per month.
The Respondents Patu Devi and Rajinder Sharma moved an application under Section 14 of the H.P. Urban Rent Control Act 1987, seeking the Petitioner’s eviction from the sub-basement in the tenanted building on the ground that he was in arrears of rent since January 2004. Further, the tenanted premises had become unsafe and unfit for human habitation, and the landlords required the premises for reconstruction purposes which cannot be carried out without vacating the same. They further contended that he had sub-let the premises to other persons. Tenant Gulam Mohammad opposed the petition on the ground that the landlords had no title to land underneath the tenanted premises and, therefore, no right was available to them. It was, however, undisputed that Smt. Patu Devi was the landlord of the premises, and further, so far as the identity of the premises was concerned, there was no dispute. The tenant averred that he had been paying rent to Ratni Devi, and thereafter, Atul Sharma received the rent. Since there was a dispute qua title of the property, rent was not received by the landlords. He further contended that the building was fit and suitable for human habitation and it did not require any reconstruction, and the landlords’ requirement for reconstruction was not bona fide. According to him, minor repairs were required, and there was no sub-letting.
The landlords filed rejoinder, and the averments made in the reply were controverted. After recording evidence and evaluating the same, the learned Rent Controller vide order dated 20.08.2010 allowed the petition filed by the landlords on the ground of arrears of rent and that the building was required bona fide by them for reconstruction purposes. Feeling aggrieved by the learned Rent Controller order, two separate appeals were preferred before the learned Appellate Authority. The tenant challenged the eviction order on the grounds of arrears of rent and the premises being required bona fide for reconstruction and rebuilding. The landlords preferred an appeal on the ground that the learned Rent Controller ought to have passed eviction on the ground that the premises had become unfit and unsafe for human habitation. The learned Appellate Authority, via its judgment dated 09.06.2011, dismissed the appeal preferred by the tenant and allowed the appeal preferred by the landlords on the ground that the premises were required bona fide for reconstruction and on the ground that the tenanted premises had become unsafe and unfit for human habitation. Feeling aggrieved by the judgment passed by the learned Appellate Authority, the tenant filed the present revision petition.
Arguments Before the Court
Mr Neeraj Gupta, the learned counsel for the Petitioner contended that the findings rendered by the learned Appellate Authority regarding the condition of the building were perverse. Besides, he argued that the Petitioner has a right of re-entry even if the findings rendered by both the learned Authorities below did not interfere.
Mr Sumit Sood, learned counsel for Respondent No.1, argued that taking into consideration the scope of the revisional jurisdiction as laid down in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited’s case, no case for interference was made out as the findings cannot be said to be perverse as the same was based on the material placed on record. Regarding the contention of re-entry, he argued that the right of re-entry was available to the Petitioner only when the vacation of the premises was sought on the ground of rebuilding and not when the eviction was sought on any other ground(s).
The Court heard the learned counsel for the parties and went through the records of the case. It also went through several case laws like Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited v. Dilbahar Singh, whereby certain broad principles for the exercise of revisional jurisdiction were laid down. The Court further considered the contentions of the learned counsels of both the Petitioner and the Respondent.
Furthermore, the Court observed that regarding the condition of the building, there was a piece of overwhelming evidence available on record to prove that the building had outlived its life and was unsafe and unfit for human habitation. The Court also considered the reports of several authorities regarding the building’s condition and found that the landlord required the premises for rebuilding and reconstruction and that the premises had otherwise become unsafe and unfit for human habitation. The Court thereby affirmed the findings recorded by the learned Appellate Authority to this effect.
Further, concerning the right of re-entry, the Court referred to Section 14(3)(c) of the H.P. Urban Rent Control Act 1987 and found that a tenant ordered to be evicted under the provisions of Section 14(3)(c) has a right of re-entry on new terms of tenancy and not merely because the proviso was contained as an expression in the rebuilt building. Further, the Court observed that the same nowhere goes to indicate or establish that the right of re-entry was available only when the eviction was sought for the purpose of building or rebuilding, as contended by Shri Sumit Sood, Advocate, because the proviso appeared after the entire sub-section and, therefore, did not apply only to the last part of the subsection when the eviction was sought on the ground of rebuilding.
Considering the discussion above, the Court upheld the findings of the learned Appellate Authority, however, with the modification that the tenant shall have a right of re-entry. For this purpose, the tenant was given time up to 31.05.2021 to hand over vacant possession of the premises in question to the landlord to enable him to commence construction. The tenant was also required to file an undertaking on affidavit within two weeks from the day of the judgement that in any eventuality, he would hand over the vacant possession to the landlord within the aforesaid stipulated time, failing which he would render himself liable for penal consequences and will have a right of re-entry in the premises after it rebuilt. The petition was disposed of with the modification above. The Court further directed that the Petitioner has a right of re-entry following the proviso as aforesaid.
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