1. The principal question that this petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India by a tenant raises is whether the -application of the landlord under Section 19(1)(a) of the Slum Areas (Improvement & Clearance) Act, 1956, hereinafter called 'the Act', for leave to evict the tenant is barred by the principle of rest judicata, because an earlier application for the same relief had been 'dismissed as withdrawn'. This question, on account of which apparently the petition had been admitted, however, does not survive and was, thereforee, not pressed on behalf of the tenant in view of a decision of the Division Bench of this Court in Civil Writ No. 1059 of 1972 decided on 12-3-1975 = (Reported in 1975 Lab Ic 1715, where a similar question arising under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, was answered, in the negative.
2. At the hearing of the petition, however, learned counsel for the tenant made a feeble attempt to assail the order of the Authority under the Act, granting permission to the landlord to evict the tenant on the ground, that the finding of the Authority on the question of the status of the tenant was either based on evidence or was otherwise perverse and would not be justified on the material on record. It, however, appears to me that the impugned order does not suffer from any infirmity which would justify interference in the exercise of the limited jurisdiction of this Court under Art. 227 of the Constitution of India.
3. Leave of the Authority was sought to evict the tenant from a room on the ground floor of a house said to have been let out to the tenant for residence but was allegedly misused by the tenant for the purpose of his business. On the question of the status of the tenant, it was alleged on behalf of the landlord that the tenant was carrying on the business of manufacturing imitation jewellery in the premises in dispute, as also in another premises, on Bahadur Garh Road; that the tenant had installed 13 punching machines for the purpose of the business, 9 being in the premises in dispute and 4 of them in the other premises and that in both the places about 13 employees were working for the tenant, who was making out of the business an income of about Rs. 1,500 per month. It was further alleged that for the purpose of operating the machines, the tenant had also installed electricity and maintained a bank account. The allegation with regard to the status of the tenant was sought to be supported besides the affidavit of the landlord by the affidavits of Mohan Lal, Hira Lal and Mubarak Ali, who had, by and, large, supported the allegations of the landlord.
4. The allegations were denied by the tenant and it was alleged that his income from the manufacture of ladies ornaments like ear-rings did not exceed Rs. 200 per month. There was a vague and evasive denial with regard to the installation of the machines and the employment of a number of persons in the premises in dispute and elsewhere. The tenant filed his own affidavit besides that of Dharam Pal and Ram Saran, who, by and large, supported the case of the tenant.
5. By the impugned order, the Authority, after considering the rival contentions of the parties and the material placed on the record by them in support of their respective contentions, granted the requisite permission holding that, on the material, it was satisfied that the tenant had sufficient means so that, if evicted, he would be in a position to have alternative accommodation within his means without creating a further slum. In the course of the impugned order the Authority pointed out that the allegation had, been made by the landlord in his affidavit and in the supporting affidavits that the tenant had been carrying on business with the aid of machines and employed about 13 persons and that the tenant had not specifically denied the allegation of installation of machines and employment of persons nor has he denied that he maintained a Bank account. It was further pointed out that the tenant had admittedly a municipal license to carry on the business and had got an electric connection in 1965 and that the tenant had failed to produce his account books, Bank records etc. and has even otherwise failed to establish that his income was so meagre that, if evicted, he was bound to create a further slum.
6. In examining the question if the impugned order suffers from any infirmity which may justify an interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, it is necessary to bear in mind the law relating to burden of proof and the limited nature of the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.
7. As for the burden of proof, although it is the landlord who approaches the Authority for leave to evict the tenant and must, thereforee, satisfy the Authority that there is ground for leave, the burden is a very light one and would shift if the landlord places all such material as may ordinarily be available with him to show the status of the tenant and it is then for the tenant who, in any case would be the best person to disclose his income and resources to justify the conclusion that, if evicted, he was bound to create a further slum.
8. As for the jurisdiction of this Court, it is beyond doubt that it is limited in nature, and it has been held by the Supreme Court that the power of superintendence of High Courts under the aforesaid Article, being of an extraordinary nature, must be exercised sparingly and could not be invoked to correct an error of fact which only a superior Court could do on appeal. It was further pointed out that the High Court could not, in the guise of exercising its jurisdiction under Article 227, convert itself into a Court of Appeal. It was, thereforee, held that while exercising such jurisdiction the High Court could not interfere with the finding of fact recorded by the subordinate Court or Tribunal and its function was limited to ensuring that the Subordinate Court, or Tribunal functions within the limits of its authority and that it could not correct mere errors of fact by examining the evidence end re-appraising it. It was further pointed out that the High Court could not interfere in the finding of fact even where the Court below had misread a part of evidence and ignored another.
9. On an examination of the findings of the Authority in the present case, in the face of the material on the record, in the context of the aforesaid principles, I do not see any infirmity in the impugned order which would justify interference under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. The Authority had before it positive evidence on behalf of the landlord as to the status of the tenant in the course of which specific allegations were made, as to the extent of the business of the tenant, the manner in which it was being carried on, the number of machines involved in it, the number of persons the tenant employed and the extent of his income. The fact that the tenant had obtained a municipal license to carry on the business and, had an electric connection for the purpose of running the machines was also on record. The allegations of the landlord on affidavit were supported by three persons. As against this, the tenant not only failed to specifically deny the allegations of the installation of the machines and employment of various persons but failed to produce either any record or other material which could satisfy the Authority as to the true status of the tenant. in any view of the matter, it was open to the Authority to assess for itself the material placed on the record by both the parties, take into account the failure of the tenant to produce satisfactory evidence, draw his own inference from the material on record and other circumstances and come to a conclusion on the question in controversy before it and that is exactly what the Authority has done in the present case. It is, thereforee, not possible for this Court to either re-appraise the evidence or to substitute its own conclusion for that of the Authority on the material on record. There is, thereforee, no infirmity in the impugned order which would justify interference in the present proceedings.
10. In the result, the petition fails and is hereby dismissed but, in the circumstances, without costs.
11. Petition dismissed.