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TECHNICAL WORKS AND INDUSTRIAL LINK LIMITED VERSUS RAJESHWARI HOOJA

    Civil No. 529 of 1993

    Decided On, 04 March 1994

    At, High Court of Delhi

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE SUNANDA BHANDARE

    For the Appearing Parties: Amarjit Singh, P.C.Chopra, Pushpender Jain, Ravinder Nath, Advocates.



Judgment Text

SUNANDA BHANDARE, J.


( 1 ) THIS revision petition under Section 25-B (8) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, hereinafter referred to as the Act is filed against the order of the Additional Rent Controller, Delhi dated 11. 5. 1993 whereby the application for leave to defend filed by the petitioners herein was rejected and a decree for eviction was passed in favour of respondent No. 1 under Section 14 dread with Section 25b of the Act.


( 2 ) THE brief facts relevant for the decision of this petition are as follows: property bearing No. D-10 (Front Portion) Vasant Vihar, New Delhi was letout to the petitioners herein by respondent No. 1 and her late husband Shrim. M. L. Hooja on 8. 10. 1992 vide lease dead dated 31. 10. 1972. The lease was subsequently renewed on 13/05/1975, 29/12/1978, 8/10/1979,23 rd, December, 198 1/11/1984, 6/06/1988 and lastly on 6/07/1987. The husband of respondent No. 1 after his retirement from government service had moved to Calcutta where he got employment as director in M/s. B. N. Elias and Company in 1974. Respondent No. 1 also left for Calcutta alongwith her late husband. The appointment of the husband of respondent No. w with M/s B. N. Elias and Company was initially for a period of five years but it was later extended twice for a further period of five years each. The late husband of respondent No. 1 filed an eviction petition under section 14c of Delhi Rent Control Act since he wanted to come and live in his house at Delhi. However, he died during the pendency of the petition and the said petition was dismissed. Thereafter, respondent No. 1 herein filed the present petition under Sec. 14d of the Act.


( 3 ) RESPONDENT No. 1 sought eviction of the petitioners on the ground that she needed the premises bona fide for her residence inasmuch as she had no interest or reason to stay in Calcutta in her old age and wants to reside in her premises in New Delhi where she has her roots having spent nearly 29 years of her married life. She also alleged that her close relatives are residing in Delhi and she would be comfortable to live in Delhi where her relations reside. Respondent No. 1 herein stated in the petition that her mother Smt. Radha Bai Bhagat, aged about 93 years was residing in a rented house at 14 Ramakishoreroad, Delhi, her real sister Smt. Kanta Grover married to Mr. Justice A. N. Grover resided alongwith her husband in a rented house at 123 Sunder Nagar, Newdelhi, her husband's real sister Smt;pushpa Chopra also resided in Vasant Vihar,new Delhi and her brother Shri Lalit Mohan Bhagat resided at Kingsway Camp, delhi and her other brother Shri Man Mohan Bhagat resided at I Tees January Lane, new Delhi. She stated that she came from a respectable family of status and standing as her father late Rai Bahadur Jagan Nath Bhagat retired as the District and Sessions Judge at Jullundur in 1941 after which he was Chief Justice, State of kota, Rajasthan for six years. She has her independent source of income of approximately Rs. 45,000. 00 per month apart from the fact that she is also receiving rs. 9,000. 00 per month as rental income from the rear portion of the suit property. She is accustomed to live in spacious bungalows with spacious lawns particularly because spacious accommodation was allotted to her husband who was an IFS Officer of 1939 batch and who retired as Vice Chairman, Committee on Police training, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi on 3 1/12/1972. She stated that the premises on occupation of the petitioners herein were let out to them for residential purpose and she now required them bona fide for her own residence. She further stated that her eldest son Shri Anupam Hooja is now in U. S. A. , her second son Shri Pawan Hooja is doing business at Bombay and her third son Shri Alok Hooja is also doing business at Bombay. Herhusband executed a will on. 6. 3. 1987 bequeathing his share in the suit property to respondent No. l herein. As such, respondent No. 1 had become owner/landlord of the suit premises. Respondent No. 1 thus sought eviction of the petitioners under Section 14d read with Section 25 B of the Act.


( 4 ) SUMMONS in Schedule III Form were issued and the petitioners herein filed their common application for leave to defend on 1. 10. 1990. Respondent No. 1herein filed the reply on 10. 1. 1991. The application for leave to defend filed by the petitioners was dismissed in default and the restoration application filed by them was also dismissed by the Trial Court on 26. 8. 1992 and an eviction order in favour of respondent No. 1 was passed. However, the order of eviction was set aside by the High Court on 6. 1. 1993 in a revision petition filed by the petitioners herein being C. R. No. 738 of 1992. On remand the Trial Court again heard the parties. In the meanwhile, the petitioners filed a fresh application under Order VII Rule 7 read with Section 151 Civil Procedure Code on 24. 2. 1993 with a prayer to bring on record subsequent events regarding the death of the mother and sister of respondent No. I and also that one Mr. Cristates, a foreign national who was occupying the rearportion of the premises had vacated the unit on 31. 10. 1992 and the said portion wasre-let by respondent No. 1 herein to one Mr. Agnitapolis, a Greek national from November 1992 at exorbitant rate of rent. It was stated in the application that respondent No. 1 having failed to occupy the rear portion which had fallen vacant during the pendency of the eviction petition had disentitled herself from getting eviction of the petitioners under Section 14d of the Act.


( 5 ) RESPONDENT No. 1 herein filed a reply to that application and stated that therear portion of the suit premises was let out to Embassy of Greece and though Mr. Cristates had vacated the premises, another Greek gentlement Mr. Agnitapolis occupied the premises and continued the lease. She denied that the premises had fallen vacant or that she had re-let the premises to a new tenant. Alongwith her reply she filed a letter dated 22. 10. 1992 of the Embassy of Greece which reads thus:


"22. 10. 1992mrs. Rajeshwari Hoojan-122, Geater Kailash INew Delhi. C-10 Paschimi Marg, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. Mr. Gerassimos Christatos has been residing in your above premises since August 1989. His tenure in India is over and in his place Mr. G. Anagnos to poulos from our Embassy will now be staying at C-IO Paschimimarg, Vasant Vihar, from early November 1992 and he will continue the lease. Yours sincerely,sd/-Evangelos Theophilouattache"


to show that it was Embassy of Greece which was the tenant and there wasno fresh letting of the premises to a new tenant, respondent No. 1 also moved another application bringing on record another letter dated 19. 3. 1993 written by the Embassy of Greece which reads thus:151"19. 3. 1993mrs. Rajeshwari Hooja,n-122, Greater Kailash INew Delhi. C-10 Paschimi Marg, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. Dear Madam, the above mentioned premises has been rented by the Embassy of greece for the residence of the diplomatic staff since August 1989 and will continue to do so on the basis of the same lease. "yours sincerely, sd/-Evangelos Theophilouattache"


This application was filed by the respondent No. 1 after the hearing of the case was concluded but before the judgment was delivered. The petitioners herein filed their reply to the said application and reiterated that the premises were re-let and the plea taken by the respondent No. 1 that the Embassy ofgreece was the tenant is incorrect.


( 6 ) THE Trial Court considered both the letters filed by respondent No. I herein and came to the conclusion that there was no re-letting of the premises toa new tenant. The Trial Court held that no ground for leave to defend was made out by the tenants and accordingly dismissed the application for leave to defend. The Trial Court further came to the conclusion that respondent No. 1 requires the suit premises for her bona fide use for her own residence and, therefore, passed the eviction order by way of the impugned judgment.


( 7 ) IT was contended by the learned Counsel for the petitioners that the Trial court erred in taking into consideration the facts stated by the respondent in the second application filed by her after the hearing had been concluded. It was submitted that the Trial Court should not have taken into consideration the letter of Embassy of Greece filed alongwith that application because no arguments were advanced on that application. He further submitted that respondent No. 1 having failed to produce the lease deed entered into with the Embassy of Greece, adverse inference ought to have been drawn against her and no credence could be placed on the letters. Learned Counsel further submitted that respondent no. 1 having re-let the premises which had fallen vacant, her need for the suit premises was not genuine and bona fide and thus the order of eviction ought to beset aside on that ground. Learned Counsel relied on the judgments of the Supremecourt in Precision Steel and Engineering Works and Anr. v Prem Deva Niranjan Deva Tyal, AIR 1982 SC 1518, Gulab Bai v. Nalni Narsi Vohra 6 Ors. , 1991 Volume 2rcr 453 and Surjit Singh Kalrav. Union of India and Anr. , 1991 (1) RCR 347 and submitted that since a triable issue had been raised by the petitioners, leave to defend ought to have been granted. He submitted that it was not open to the Trial court to look beyond the application filed by the petitioners for leave to defendant the documents placed by the respondent on record ought to have beenignored. He further submitted that as held by the Supreme Court in Surjit Singhkalra's case (supra) it was imperative for respondent No. 1 to prove her bona fideneed and since she did not occupy the rear portion which fell vacant, her need was not bona fide and eviction petition ought to be dismissed on that ground alone. Learned Counsel did not assail the impugned order on any other ground.


( 8 ) LEARNED Counsel for the respondent however contended that respondent no. 1 being a widow requires the premises for her own residence as she had no other premises in her occupation when she filed the petition for eviction undersection 14d of the Act. He reiterated that the rear portion of the premises neverfell vacant and the second Greek gentleman occupied the premises because therear portion was let out to the Embassy of Greece and the Embassy of Greece could induct an imployee of the Embassy in the rear portion without respondent No. 1 signing any fresh lease to that effect. He further submitted that no written lease was executed by respondent No. 1 or her late husband with the Embassy of Greeceand thus there was no question of producing the lease deed. The second Greekgentlement occupied the premises in the rear portion immediately and the possession was never handed over to respondent No. 1 after the first Greekgentleman vacated the premises. He further submitted that in any event, respondent No. 1 had a choice of selecting the premises more convenient to herunder Section 14d (2) of the Act. It was submitted that respondent No. 1 had made that choice when she filed the petition and the rear portion was not vacant then and even on the date the decree was passed the Embassy of Greece continued to occupy the same. Thus the requirement of the premises in possession of the petitioner was genuine and the Trial Court rightly dismissed the application for leave to defend and ordered eviction of the petitioners. Section 14 D of the Act reads thus:


"14-D. Right to recover immediate possession of premises to accrue to awidow:- (1) Where the landlord is a widow and the premises let out by her, or by her husband, are required by her for her own residence, she may apply to the Controller for recovering the immediate possession of such premises. (2) Where the landlord referred to in Sub-section (1) has let out more than one premises, it shall be open to her to make an application under that Subsection in respect of any one of the premises chosen by her. "


Section 14d (1) requires that the landlord is a widow and the premises let out by her or by her husband are required by her for her own residence. The Sectionprovides that in such a case she can apply to the Controller for recoveringimmediate possession of Such premises.


( 9 ) IN the present case it is not in dispute that respondent No. 1 is a widow. It is also not in dispute that she is the landlord. The only question, therefore, to be seen is whether respondent No. 1 requires the premises for her own residence.


( 10 ) THE Supreme Court in Surjit Singh Kalra's case (supra) has held that atenant is entitled to raise all relavent contentions as against the claim of theclassified landlords and the fact that no reference to the word bona fiderequirement is made in Section 14-D does not absolve the landlord from provingthat his requirement is bona fide or the tenant from showing that it is not boanfide. The Supreme Court observed as follows:


". . . . . If the application is filed under Section 14-B, the summons should state that the application is filed under Section 14-B and not under Section 14 (l) (e) or l4-A. Likewise if the applications are under Sections 14-C to 14-D, the summons should state accordingly. That would indicate me scope of the defence of the tenant for obtaining leave referred to in Sub-section (5) of section 25-B. Under Sub-section (5), the tenant could contest the application by obtaining leave with reference to the particular claim in the application of the landlord depending upon whether it is under Section 14-A, 14-B, 14-C or 14-D or under Section 14 (l) (e ). The tenant cannot be allowed to takeup defence under Section 14 (l) (e) as against an application under Section14-B. There cannot be any defence unconnected with or unrelated to the claim or right of the plaintiff or applicant. That would be against our jurispru-dence. It is unlikely that the Legislature intended the result for which the counsel for the tenant contended. It will be mechanical interpretation of the enactment defeating its purpose. Such an interpretation has never found favour with the Courts which have always adopted a purposive approach to the interpretation of statutes. Section 14-8 and other allied provision sought to receive a purposeful construction and Sub-section (5) of Section 25-B should be so construed as to implement the object and purpose of Section14-B to 14-D. It is the duty of the Court to give effect to the intention of the legislature as expressed in Section 14-B to 14-D. . . "


"the tenant of course is entitled to raise all relevant contentions as against the claim of the classified landlords. The fact that there is no reference to the word bona fide requirement in Sections 14-B to 14-D does not absolve the landlord from proving that tenant from showing that it is not bona fide. In fact every claim for eviction against a tenant must be a bona fide one. There is also enough indication in support of this construction from the titleof Section 25 (B) which states "special procedure for the disposal of applications for eviction on the ground of bona fide requirement. "


". . . . . . . . . The social setting demanding summary proceeding, the nature of the subject matter and above all the legialative diction which has been deliberately designed, differ in two provisions. The Controller's power to give leave to contest the application filed under Section 14 (l) (e) or Section 14a is cribbed by the condition that the affidavit filed by the tenant discloses such facts and would dis-entitle the landlord from obtaining an order for recovery of possession of the premises on the ground specified in the respective sections. Needless to state, therefore, if an application is filed under Section 14b or 14c or 14d the tenant's right to contest the application is narrowed down and is restricted to the parameters of the respective sections. He cannot widen the scope of his defence by relying upon Section 14 (l) (e ). We find nothing contrary to our view in Precision Steel and Engineering Works and Anr. v Prem Deva Niranjan Deva Tyal, 1982 Vol. 3 SCC 270. Sub-section (5) of Section 25 is self contained and Order 37 Rule 3 Civil Procedure Code has no part to play there. We, therefore, reiterate the view expressed in Bushingschmitz Pvt. Ltd. case. "


Thus, the parameters for deciding the question of bona fide need of the landlords provided in Section 14d have to be considered by the Rent Controller before passing an eviction order undersection 14d of the Act. Whereas Section 14 (l) (e)of the Act provides that the premise let out for residential purposes are required bona fide by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or any member of his family dependent on him, he has also to prove that he is the owner there of and no other reasonably suitable residential accommodation is available with him. Under Section 14d it is not necessary that the premises occupied by the tenant were let out only for residential purpose. Section 14d does not require the landlord to prove that no reasonably suitable residential accommodation is available with the landlord before she seeks eviction under Section 14d of the Act. However, for showing the bona fide requirement that would be relevant consideration because if the landlord who is a widow has accommodation in her possession which is reasonably suitable, her need of the premises in possession of the tenant may or may not be necessarily genuine and bona fide. That of course will depend on facts of each case. What is important is that the Controller has to be satisfied about the genuineness of the claim established from all surrounding circumstances. If the Controller is satisfied that the widow is not seeking eviction for ulterior purpose, then an order of eviction must follow. Furthermore, if the widow does not have suitable accommodation in her possession and there waremore than one premises let out to tenants, she has a choice under Sub-section (2)of Section 14d to choose any of the premises let out by her. In such a case, it is not open to the tenant to contend that the premises in occupation of another tenant would be more suitable for her than the premises in respect of which eviction petition has been filed.


( 11 ) IT is not disputed that in the present case when the eviction petition was filed there was no vacant accommodation available with respondent No. 1 for her occupation. In fact, a choice had been made by her late husband when he filed the petition under Section 14c of the Act. Both, respondent No. 1 and her late husband had considered that the front portion of the premises would more suitable for their occupation. Respondent No. 1, therefore, filed the petition undersection 14d in respect of the premises after her husband died because the petition filed by her husband under Section 14c had to be dismissed on his death. It is also not disputed by the petitioners that the rear portion of the premises was let out toa Greek gentleman. The question is whether that original tenant had vacated the premises during the pendency of the petition and respondent No. 1 inducted a new tenant in the rear portion and this fact disentitled her from getting eviction of the petitioners from the front portion of the premises. It is also not disputed that in the rear protion now another Greek gentleman from the Embassy of Greece is living. The moot question is whether a fresh lease was executed with the second greek gentleman and, therefore, there was afresh letting of the rear portion. Apartfrom the averments made by her in the reply filed by respondent No. 1 to the application of the petitioners under Order VII Rule 7 read with Sec. 151 CPCbringing subsequent events on record, respondent No. 1 had filed a letter dated 22. 10. 92 given by the Embassy of Greece which clearly states that the tenure ofmr. Gerassimos Christatos is over and in his place Mr. G. Anagnostopoulos from the Embassy of Greece will now be staying in the premises owned by respondent no. 1 from early November 1992. Now even if the second letter filed byrespondent No. 1 dated 19. 3. 1993 is not taken into consideration, on a plain reading of letter dated 22. 10. 1992 it is clear that the premises, which were earlier occupied by Mr. Gerassimos Christatos fell vacant on the conclusion of his tenurein India and the Embassy of Greece allotted the said premises to Mr. G. Anagnostopoulos for his occupation from November 1992. It is interesting to find that the petitioners herein had not filed any rejoinder to the reply filed by respondent No. I to the application for leave to defend filed by the petitioners and it was only after the order of eviction passed by the Trial Court on 26. 8. 1992 was set aside by thehigh Court and the case again came up before the Trial Court on remand that the petitioners moved the application on 24. 2. 1993 bringing the subsequent events of change of tenancy of the rear portion of the premises on record. Thus, it is alleged that the rear portion fell vacant in October 1992 and a new tenant was inducted on 1. 11. 1992. No such allegation was made by the petitioners till february 1993. In fact, as stated hereinabove an eviction order was passed by the trial Court in favour of respondent No. 1 on 26. 8. 1992 itself and on that date no new tenant as alleged was inducted in the rear portion. The petitioners have not challenged before me any of the other averments made by respondent No. 1 regarding her bona fide need of the premises for her own residence. The petitioners have not challenged that respondent No. 1 is a widow, a landlord, that at present she has no other accommodation, she is a lady of status and that her other relations are staying in Delhi.


( 12 ) ON consideration of the facts placed on record by the parties it appears that the rear portion of the premises is let out to the Embassy of Greece and not to in individual Greek tenant. If a new tenant had been inducted in the rear portion he would not have occupied the premises immediately on the next day after the previous tenant vacated the premises. Such a thing could be possible because the premises were in possession of the Embassy of Greece and both S/shirgerassimos Christatos and G. Anagnostopoulos were employees of the Embassy. It is commonly known that as and when a new tenant is inducted, the landlo

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rd is expected to at least white-wash the premises before the new tenant occupies the premises. That would take at least sometime. The fact that on the very next day, the second Greek gentleman occupied the premises shows that the rear portion was never handed over to respondent No. 1 by the Embassy. Furthermore, sub-section (2) of Sec. 14d provides that when more than one premises are let out by a widowed landlord, it is open to her to make an application in respect of anyone of the premises which is owned by her. From the facts of the present case it is clear that respondent No. 1 always preferred to have the front portion for herown residence and she had made that choice when she filed her petition undersection 14d. Not only that, her late husband had also filed a petition under Sec. 14 C in respect of these very premises. It appears that respondent No. 1 and her late husband have been trying to get the front portion vacated for their occupation for more than five years because the front portion was more suitable for their occupation. ( 13 ) AS observed by the Supreme Court in M/s. E. M. . C. Steel Limited, Calcuttav. Union of India and Another 1991 (1) RCJ 321, Section 14d was introduced to assist a vulnerable and needy Section of the society to recover possession of the premises as expeditiously as possible without the usual trial and tribulations. In the overall view of the matter and consideration ail the aspects it appears that the need of respondent No. 1 to get the premises in occupation of the petitioner vacated for her own residence is genuine and bona fide and as such she is entitled to get an order of eviction for. recovering immediate possession of the said premises. The revision petition is dismissed. ( 14 ) THE Trial Court by way of the impugned order had given the petitioners six months time to vacate the premises from ll. 5. 1993 which expired in November 1993. However, the petitioners continue to be in possession of the premises because of the stay of dispossession ordered by this Court. The petitioners have already enjoyed the premises even after the eviction order was passed by the Trial court for a considerable long time. ( 15 ) THERESPONDENTNO. LISNEARING70 years of age. Her husband died during the pendency of the petition under Section 14c of the Act and thus could not get the accommodation owned by him in his old age. However, in the interest of justice, time is granted till 31/03/1994 to vacate the premises.
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