3 Oct 2010

Landlord's needs to be duly considered: Supreme Court

Traditionally the inclination of the Indian laws as well as the judicial attitude has been influenced by a socialist setup in stark contrast to capitalism. Most of the laws as well the decisions of the Supreme Court in the 1950, 60 and 70s clearly illustrate this inclination in no uncertain terms. Rent control legislations are a pointer to this understanding where the State came to protect the tenant against the landlord both in terms of the rent levels as well as the eviction of the tenant. It has been incumbent upon the landlord to establish the need to use his own premises in order to evict the tenant from such let out premises. The trend, it seems, is reversing. 

The Supreme Court in a recently reported decision [Dinesh Kumar v. Yusuf Ali, AIR 2010 SC 2679] has declared that the needs of the landlord requiring the eviction of the tenant need to be considered in the correct perspective. The Court emphasised upon the need to allow the landlord to live in the manner as desired unless being vindictive against the tenant. The decision inter alia notes;
8. In Prativa Devi Vs. T.V. Krishnan (1996) 5 SCC 353, this Court held that the landlord is the best judge of his requirement and courts have no concern to dictate the landlord as to how and in what manner he should live.
9. However, in Ram Dass Vs. Ishwar Chander & Ors. AIR 1988 SC 1422, this Court held that ‘bona fide need’ should be genuine, honest and conceived in good faith. Landlord’s desire for possession, however honest it might otherwise be, has, inevitably, a subjective element in it. The “desire” to become “requirement” must have the objective element of a “need” which can be  decided only by taking all relevant circumstances into consideration so that the protection afforded to tenant is not rendered illusory or whittled down. The tenant cannot be evicted on a false plea of requirement or “feigned requirement”. (See also Rahabhar Productions Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Rajendra K. Tandon AIR 1998 SC 1639; and Shiv Sarup Gupta Vs. Dr. Mahesh Chand Gupta AIR 1999 SC 2507). 
10. In Malpe Vishwanath Acharya & Ors. Vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. AIR 1998 SC 602, this Court emphasised the need for social legislations like the Rent Control Act striking a balance between rival interests so as to be just to law. “The law ought not to be unjust to one and give a disproportionate benefit or protection to another section of the society.”
11. In Siddalingamma & Anr. Vs. Mamtha Shenoy AIR 2001 SC 2896, this Court held that while determining the case of eviction of the tenant, an approach either too liberal or too conservative  or pedantic must be guarded against. If the landlord wishes to live with comfort in a house of his own, the law does not command or compel him to squeeze himself and dwell in lesser premises so as to protect the tenant’s continued occupation in tenancy premises. However, the bona fide requirement of the landlord must be distinguished from a mere whim or fanciful desire. It must be manifested in actual need so as to convince the Court that it is not a mere fanciful or whimsical desire. The need should be bona fide and not arbitrary and the requirement pleaded and proved must neither be a pretext nor a ruse adopted by the landlord for evicting the tenant. Therefore, the Court must take relevant circumstances into consideration while determining the issue of bona fide need so that the protection afforded to a tenant is not rendered illusory or whittled down.

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