Supreme Court: Court Cannot Interfere in Finding of Fact Unless Perversity or Misappreciation of Evidence Is Clear

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The appellant, in this case, is the tenant of the respondent-landlord. The respondent-landlord filed three Eviction Petitions on three separate grounds. Arrears of rent, accommodation for the landlord’s business, and damage to the premises. under Sections 11(2)(b), 11(8), and 11(4)(ii), of the Kerala Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act, 1965.

The Trial Court in its judgment held against the landlord on the first and the third ground. For the third ground, the Trial Court held that being the partner of a firm; he would need the other two rooms. As for evidence, the Court said that the commissioner’s report didn’t show that any rooms were vacant. The Building Tax Assessment Register recorded that some rooms of the landlord are vacant. This Court could not rely upon this.

These findings were, inter alia reversed by the Rent Control Appellate Authority. The High Court interfered with the fact-findings of the Appellate Authority. The High Court, in turn, upheld the Trial Court’s decision. The Commissioner had not reported the availability of any vacant room. The Court cannot take the entries in Building Tax Assessment Register as conclusive proof.

Petitioner’s Contentions

The High Court, in its revisional jurisdiction, cannot act as if it is the Second Court of the first appeal. That is by setting aside findings of fact by the Appellate Authority. Further, it was submitted that for the High Court to interfere with the finding of a fact, there must be some perversity. In the present case, the Appellate Authority gave detailed and reasoned findings. The High Court exceeded its jurisdiction by substituting the findings of the Trial Court for those of the Appellate Authority. The counsel relied upon the case law Badrinarayan Chunilal Bhutada v. Govindram Ramgopal Mundada, (2003) 2 SCC 320 (Badrinarayan).

Respondent’s Contentions

The counsel for the respondent relied on the Trial Court judgment. Further, he stated that the Appellate Authority dealt with material facts on the record. He further stated that the High Court set aside the order since there was a degree of perversity in it. Further, he relied particularly on paragraphs 10 & 13 of the judgment in Badrinarayan.

Court’s Observations

Firstly, the High Court has interfered with the finding of fact recorded by the first appellate authority. Moreover, this is without any perversion or misappreciation of evidence by the Authority. The High Court has exceeded its revisional jurisdiction by doing so, the Court said. Further, the bench referred to SC in its judgment in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Dilbahar Singh (2014) 9 SCC 78. The Constitution Bench, in this case, had held that the Rent Control Act allows the High Court to interfere with the finding of fact by a first Appellate Authority. But it can only be done if, on the reappreciation of evidence, the High Court is of a different view. But the High Court should not use its power to reassess the evidence for coming to a different finding on facts.

Court’s Decision

The Court allowed the appeal of the judgment. In addition, it held that the High Court of Kerala has exceeded its Revisional Jurisdiction. It was by setting aside the findings of the Rent Control Appellate Authority.


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