Madras High Court Endorses the Corporation’s ‘Non-Interference’ in Tenant-Landlord Disputes in Continuum of Writ Petitions

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Two Writ Petitions of a continuum were filed under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. The Respondent in the first Petition is a Petitioner in the other petition. It arose out of a landlord-tenant dispute and ‘practice of trade’ by the tenant without a trade license. They were heard together and decided upon by Hon’ble Justice N. Anand Venkatesh. 

Facts of the Case

In WP No.870 of 2020, the tenant is the subject property. The Petitioner CMR. Varma challenged the sealing of his medical shop through the impugned notice dated 18.12.2019. He consequently demands that the Revenue Officer, Corporation of Chennai grant him trade license without insisting for a No objection Certificate (NOC) from the landlord to enable him to carry on with the business in the Medical shop. 

In WP No.3098 of 2020, the Petitioner Mr Palanivel sought the issuance of Mandamus forbearing the Respondent Mr.Varma from removing the seal from the subject property and not permitting him from doing business without the trade license. 

The Petitioner CMR Varma was inducted as a tenant in the subject property in 1985 and has been running a Medical Shop. A dispute arose between him and his landlord. This resulted in the filing of an eviction petition by the landlord. However, both of them entered into a compromise, the terms of which were settled and recorded. An award to such effect was passed in the Lok Adalat in 2011. As per the award, the Petitioner Mr Varma had to pay a rent of Rs. 8,500/- which as per him was passed without default. 

Sometime later, a disagreement arose between Mr Varma and the Respondent Mr Palanivel. Mr Palanivel made a representation to Corporation of Chennai to the effect that the Petitioner was running his shop without a license. This representation was acted upon and the Petitioner was issued with a notice and the shop was sealed in 2019. 

Arguments before the Court

The counsel for the Petitioner Mr Varma maintained that the Petitioner had applied for a renewal of his trade license. However, it was not acted upon and he did not get a NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the landlord. 

The counsel for the respondent Mr Palanivel submitted that there no longer existed any tenancy agreement between him and the Petitioner. Thus, the Petitioner was not qualified for trade license to carry on with the business. The counsel further submitted that the building was in a dilapidated condition and it was unsafe to run the business in the subject property. 

The Corporation of Chennai filed a counter-affidavit. Through this affidavit, the counsel for Corporation maintained that the Petitioner must submit all the necessary documents for obtaining trade license. The Corporation would not go into a landlord and tenant dispute. The Corporation further submitted that it will insist for a NOC only if a new application is submitted for a trade license. 

Court’s Observations and Decision

The Court noted that the Petitioner originally had trade license to run the medical shop and it was also renewed from time to time. The whole dispute began after the Petitioner Mr Varma and Respondent Mr Palanivel were at odds. The Court noted and resonated the Corporation’s stand regarding ‘tenant-landlord’ disputes. 

The Court left it for the Petitioner Mr Varma to file a fresh application for trade license by attaching all the relevant documents. 

The Court also observed that the Petitioner would be entitled to run his business when he gets his license. 

The Court further noted that the Order passed in the Petition would not stand in the way of the Respondent for taking appropriate action for the eviction of the Petitioner in accordance with law if he so decides. 

The Court, therefore, rejected both the Writ Petitions.

Read the original judgment here.


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