1.The short point for decision in the present case is whether the lower appellate Court was justified in ordering the eviction of the tenant on the ground only that the premises had become unsafe or unfit for human habitation.
2. In April 1952 one Chuni Lal, who is the owner of a certain house in Delhi, brought a suit for ejectment of his tenant Ghansham Das on three grounds, namely, (a) that the defendant had failed to pay the rent in respect of the premises, (b) that the house was unfit for human habitation and (c) that the defendant had sublet the premises without the permission of the landlord. The trial Court dismissed the suit in regard to (a) and (c) and its decision in this behalf was upheld by the Senior Subordinate Judge in appeal. In regard to the question as to whether the premises were or were not fit for human habitation, the trial Court found in favour of the tenant while the lower appellate Court found in favour of the landlord. The tenant was accordingly ordered to be evicted on the ground that the premises had become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. It is against this order that the present petition has been filed.
2a. Clause (j) of Sub-section (1) of Section 9, Delhi and Ajmer-Merwara Rant Control Act empowers the Court to order the eviction of a tenant on the ground that the landlord requires the premises in order to carry out any building work because the premises have become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. In other words, a landlord can obtain a decree for eviction if he establishes (a) that the premises have become unsafe or unfit for human habitation and (b) that he requires the premises for carrying out the necessary repairs. Each of these two conditions must be satisfied before a landlord can be granted a decree for ejectment under Clause (j) of Sub-section (1) of Section 9.
3. The burden of proof as to whether the premises are unsafe or unfit for human habitation is always on the landlord who wishes to secure the eviction of his tenant. This onus has been discharged in the present case by at least two circumstances. The first circumstance is that in July 1950 the tenant himself sent a notice to the landlord in which he informed the landlord that a part of the premises was in a dilapidated condition, that a roof of the house had fallen and that although the tenant had paid a sum of Rs. 100/- to the landlord for having the necessary repairs effected, the landlord had taken no action in the matter. The landlord ignored this notice and the tenant accordingly carried out the repairs at his own response.
The trial Court came to the conclusion that the house was fit for human habitation as the tenant had carried out the necessary repairs. The Senior Subordinate Judge, however, came to a contrary conclusion. He held that the house was in a dilapidated condition as was admitted by the tenant in his notice to the landlord but that there was no satisfactory evidence in support of the contention that the tenant had carried out any repairs himself. He accordingly came to theconclusion that the house was not fit for human habitation and granted a decree for eviction in favour of the landlord. This finding is clearly a finding of fact which cannot be contested in revision.
4. No specific finding has, however, been recorded as to whether the landlord required the premises in order to carry out any building work. The learned counsel for the landlord states that this condition has also been satisfied inasmuchas the landlord came into the witness-box and stated on oath that he wanted to carry out repairs to the building. I am not quite certain whether a statement of this kind made by an interested party should be accepted by the Courtas gospel truth. In any case, there are reasons to indicate that this statement should not have been accepted at its face value. In the first place, the plaint which was presented by the landlord does not contain any allegation that the house was required by him for the purpose of carryingout any repairs. Secondly, the Court did not frame any issue on the point. Thirdly, the statement of the landlord has not been supported by the production of any plans prepared by him and presented to the municipal committee for the renovation or reconstruction of the house. This evidence was almost certain to be produced if the landlord was genuinely anxious to obtain possession of the premises with the object of carrying out repairs.
5. The Delhi and Ajmer-Merwara Rent Control Act was enacted for the benefit of tenants and with the object of preventing landlords from evicting them on flimsy grounds. It is therefore of the utmost importance that every tenantshould be given the necessary protection and thathe should be evicted if, and only if, the conditionslaid down by the Legislature for his eviction arefully satisfied. In the present case, only one of the two conditions mentioned in Clause (j) has been fulfilled the other condition, namely, that the landlord requires the premises in order to carry out repairs has not been satisfied.
6. For these reasons, I would accept the petition, set aside the order of the Court below anddismiss the plaintiff's suit. There will be no orderas to costs, here or below.