24 Oct 2009

Speedy decisions based on admissions permissible

In a recent decision the Delhi High Court has invoked the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure (1908) to hold that once a party admits to a fact in its submissions, decision of the court can be based solely upon that to grant relief to the other party. The case related to a claim by the land-owner of the non-payment of the lease-rent and unauthorized possession by the lessee. "According to the plaintiff, the total monthly rent payable was Rs. 2,16,000/-. It is contended that in terms of the lease deed, the defendant’s lease was to end on 31-12-2004; they could, however, continue in the premises on payment of enhanced rent. It is submitted that the defendant continued in the premises for a further period of 27 ½ months, without existence of a valid lease deed, since the lease period was never extended", the decision notes.

On been served notice, the lessee/defendant claimed that "the plaintiff had been instrumental in causing mischief to it, by blocking water supply and electricity from the generator installed on the top floor, in spite of the previous owners (of the premises) not objecting to the activity. It is contended that the defendant spent more than Rs. 4.4 crores in renovating the premises. The defendant sets up a case of “suspension” of its liability to pay rent, saying that the plaintiff’s acts disentitled it to payment of any amount, since the amenities were intentionally denied to it." 

Upon the perusal of the submissions made by the rival parties, the court found that the lessee/defendant did not deny claims of the land-owner/plaintiff but only made allegations not related to the claims of the land-owner. It noted, "the defendant does not deny having executed the lease deed; it does not also deny that the lease period ended in December 2004. In the circumstances, the lease ended by efflux of time. Its main defence is that the plaintiff’s predecessor – and also the plaintiff agreed to sell the suit property to it. No details are given in support; even the date is not averred. Instead, the defendant banks on copies of demand drafts supposed to have been prepared, to be given for the agreement to purchase, and photocopies of stamp paper, said to have been purchased by it. However, the defendant has not set up any substantive claim in this regard; concededly, the period of limitation to enforce such a claim has ended. Equally, the plea about it having spent Rs. 4.4 crores, appears to have been made casually; there is no claim for that amount. Assuming that such amount was spent, at the time the defendant secured the premises, the period for recovering it has long since expired. As regards the plea of “suspension of rent” apart from the averment, there is no basis; no letter or document, entitling the defendant to withhold such rents, has been brought to this court’s notice. In view of the above circumstances, the court is of the opinion that the written statement contains unambiguous admissions about the lawful tenancy of the defendant having expired on 31-12-2004; there has been no extension of the lease arrangement, which ended by efflux of time, and the plaintiff sent notices asking the defendant to vacate the premises."

In this factual matrix, the High Court relied upon the stipulations of Order XXII, Rule 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure will grant the Court liberty to pass judgments based solely upon the admissions made by the parties. The said provision states;
6(1) Where admissions of fact have been made either in pleadings or otherwise, whether orally or in writing the court may at any stage of the suit, either on the application of any party or of its motion and without waiting for the determination of any other question between the parties, make such order or give such judgment as it may think fit having regard to such admissions.
The Court also noted a decision of the Supreme Court on similar lines which noted that "As to the object of the Order 12 Rule 6, we need not say anything more than what the Legislature itself has said when the said provision came to be amended. In the objects and reasons set out while amending the said rule, it is stated that ‘where a claim ia admitted, the Court has jurisdiction to enter a judgment for the plaintiff and to pass a decree on admitted claim. The object of the rule is to enable the party to obtain a speedy judgment at least to the extent of the relief to which according to the admission of the defendant, the plaintiff is entitled.’ We should not unduly narrow down the meaning of this Rule as the object is to enable a party to obtain speedy judgment. Where other party has made a plain admission entitling the former to succeed, it should apply and also wherever there is a clear admission of facts in the face of which, it is impossible for the party making such admission to succeed."

In view thereof, the High Court allowed the claim of the land-owner based solely upon the admission made by the lessee/defendant and order for the arrears of rent to be paid and possession of property be delivered. 

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