13 Dec 2009

Landlord can evict anyone having possession: Supreme Court

In a recent decision, referring to the provisions of the Bihar Building (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1982, the Supreme Court has held that once the right of the landlord to obtain the premises is established then the landlord can get anyone who is in possession of the premises evicted even though the relationship between such other persons and the landlord may not be of landlord-tenant. 

In this peculiar case which came up before the Supreme Court, the landlord had given on rent their house to one person claiming to possess spiritual powers to drive away the evil spirits that had found home at that place. While initially rent was paid by such person later even rent was not paid. Meanwhile, it was argued, that at the behest of the landlord such person had found an prospective purchaser for the house and such person had also been staying at the house. The eviction proceedings brought at the behest of the landlord culminated in the landlord's favour in as much as the person claiming to possess spiritual powers was directed to vacate the premises. The prospective purchaser, however, object to his own eviction. It was argued by him that since he was not a tenant, no eviction proceedings would lie against him. The argument, however, did not find favour with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court referred to Section 12 of the 1982 Act which reads as follows, to conclude in the favour of the landlord;
12. Binding nature of the order of the Court on all persons in occupation of the building – Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, where the interest of tenant, in any premises is determined for any reason, whatsoever, and any order is made by the Court under this Act, for the recovery of possession of such premises, the order shall be binding on all persons who may be in occupation of the premises and vacant possession thereof shall be given to the landlord by evicting all such persons therefrom:
Provided that nothing in this section shall apply to any person who has an independent title to such a premises or to tenant who has been inducted with the express written permission of the landlord himself personally.
In this premise, the Court concluded;
By enacting the above reproduced provision, the legislature has ensured that an order made by the court for recovery of possession should be executed in a wholesome manner and the landlord should not be compelled to enter into further prolonged litigation for the purpose of getting possession of the suit premises simply because the tenant may have, without the knowledge or permission of the landlord, inducted some other person in the tenanted premises. This is the reason why Section 12 begins with a non obstante clause and lays that where the interest of tenant is determined and an order is made by the court for recovery of possession of the premises, such order shall be binding on all persons, who may be in occupation of the premises, and vacant possession thereof shall be given to the landlord by evicting all such persons therefrom. The use of the words “all persons” in the substantive part of Section 12 signifies the legislative intendment that the order passed by the court for the recovery of possession of the tenanted premises should bind everyone who may be occupying the premises irrespective of his status. To put it differently, Section 12 seeks to ensure delivery of vacant possession of the premises to the landlord by evicting not only the tenant but any other person who may be occupying the premises. The proviso to Section 12 protects the person who has independent title to such premises or the tenant who has been inducted with the express written permission of the landlord himself personally.
14. If the case in hand is examined in the light of the plain language of Section 12 and keeping in view the fact that while deciding the suit for specific performance filed by respondent No.1, the trial Court recorded an unequivocal finding that Syed Mohammed Jalaluddin had not put respondent No.1 in possession of the suit premises and the said finding has been confirmed by the High Court, his continued occupation thereof has to be treated as unauthorized and Section 12 of the Act is clearly attracted in his case.

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