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H.S. Gupta Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectProperty
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal Nos. 68 and 69 of 1975
Judge
Reported in1983(5)DRJ14; 1983RLR290
ActsPublic Premises (Eviction of Unanthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 - Sections 7
AppellantH.S. Gupta
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Advocates: Madan Bhatia and; C.L. Choudhry, Advs
Cases ReferredFateh Singh v. Union of Inda
Excerpt:
.....occupants) act, is a special legislation with regard to government buildings and the principles of delhi rent control act cannot be invoked in this case. under this act, the authorities are required to change not reasonable rent but damages or a punitive payment awarded by a court for any less or injury. - - the learned additional district judge also agreed with him and observed that this rate for a house in a central locality like irwin road was not excessive and represented market rate during the relevant period. the estate officer did nothing but endorse the formula and failed to determine the damages judicially and independently in accordance with the guidelines provided in the rules. that the petition must fail because the petitioner's appeal was dismissed as. he, thereforee,..........which means an equivalent of standard rent arrived at in accordance with the provisions of the delhi rent control act, 1958. it does not envisage nor can any government charge, an unreasonable or 'black market' rent. it was canvassed that the estate officer should now be directed to fix the standard rent because the government cannot be permitted to charge anything in excess of that. the rule contemplates a hypothetical rent which a landlord may reasonably be expected to get in the open market. such rent cannot exceed standard rent because standard rent represents reasonable rent: the standard of reasonableness having been laid by the legislature itself. the. learned counsel relies for this proposition upon the corporation of calcutta v. smt. padma debi and others, air 1951 sc 151,.....
Judgment:

M.L. Jain, J.

(1) This order will deal with two writ petitions Nos. 63 and 69 of 1973.

(2) The petitioner H.S. Gupta in petition No. C.W. 8/73 was an Assistant in the Ministry of Communication. He was in occupation of Type V quarter No. 35-C, Irwin Road, New Delhi. On account of his retirement, his allotment was cancelled with e:Tect from 12-12-1965, but the petitioner did not vacate. Proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1958 (which was later on replaced by the Act of 1971), were taken and he was directed to vacate the premises on 28-9-1969. He filed an appeal against the order of eviction which was dismissed by the Additional District Judge. Thereupon, he filed a writ petition in this court which too was dismissed on 6-9-1972 and he was finally directed to vacate the premises by 15-1 1-1972. He was asked to pay damages from 1-1-1968 to 31-3-1968, 1-7-1968 to 22-10-1968 and 1-2-1969 to 30-9-1969 at the rate of Rs. 141.40 per month, in all Rs. 2079.95. After considering the matter, the learned Estate Officer upheld the claim of the Directorate of Estate and held that the petitoner was liable to pay the said amount of damages calculated at the rate of Rs. 141.40 per month. His order is dated 16-3-1972. The petitioner went in appeal to the Additional District Judge, but the same was dismissed on 11-10-1972 because firstly, it was barred by limitation and secondly it was without any merit.

(3) Meanwhile, another order was passed by the Estate Officer on 26-4-1972 in which he directed the petitioner to pay damages at the increased rate of Rs. 189.25 per month for the period 1-10-1969 to 31-10-1971 to the tune of Rs. 4444.15.

(4) It should be noted that the Directorate of Estates claims the damages at the aforesaid rates for the aforesaid periods under Sr 317-B 22 which entitles the Government to charge damages equal to the market license fee as may be determined by the Government from time to time. The Estate Officer fixes the damages under Section 7(2) of the said Act in accordance with Rule 8 of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Rules, 1971. The Estate Officer after inquiry found that the damages claimed by the Government in this case were reasonable and upheld the same.

(5) By the present petition, the petitioner prays that the orders dated 19-4-1972 and 26-4-1972 of the Estate Officer and 11-10-1972 of the Addl. District Judge be quashed.

(6) The fixation of damages of Rs. 141.40 per month and Rs. 189.25 per month for various periods after the cancellation of the allotment and concessional period was done as presently stated under the Allotment of Government Residences (General Pool in Delhi) Rules, 1963, Sr 317-B-22. In order to fix such damages uniformly and not whimsically, the department works out them on the basis of a formula evolved for the purpose. It is twice the pooled rent plus 17 '% thereof as departmental charges. The pooled rent of the quarter during the relevant period was Rs. 65.00 per month and the market rate of license fee had been calculated on the basis of the said formula. The learned Estate Officer found that according to this formula the rate of damages fixed by the department was correct. But he was not bound by this assessment and he had to examine the matter in the light of the guidelines laid down under rule 8 to which I have already made a reference. As per this rule one of the factors for consideration for determination of the damages is the rent that could be realised if the premises had been let on rent for the period of unauthorised occupation, to a private person. Upon the evidence led before him, he held that the damages charged by the department would not exceed the amount of rate which could be realised if these premises were let out to a private person. No evidence was let by the petitioner to prove otherwise. The learned Additional District Judge also agreed with him and observed that this rate for a house in a central locality like Irwin Road was not excessive and represented market rate during the relevant period.

(7) It is contended by the petitioner that the formula upon which the department can assess damages was an ad hoc formula and no damages can be ascertained on that basis. The Estate Officer did nothing but endorse the formula and failed to determine the damages judicially and independently in accordance with the guidelines provided in the rules. It was urged on behalf of the petitioner that clause (c) of rule 8 aforesaid envisages a reasonable rate of rent which means an equivalent of standard rent arrived at in accordance with the provisions of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. It does not envisage nor can any Government charge, an unreasonable or 'black market' rent. It was canvassed that the Estate Officer should now be directed to fix the standard rent because the Government cannot be permitted to charge anything in excess of that. The rule contemplates a hypothetical rent which a landlord may reasonably be expected to get in the open market. Such rent cannot exceed standard rent because standard rent represents reasonable rent: the standard of reasonableness having been laid by the legislature itself. The. learned counsel relies for this proposition upon the Corporation of Calcutta v. Smt. Padma Debi and others, Air 1951 Sc 151, Corpration of Calcutta v Life Insurance Corporation of India, : [1971]1SCR249 , Devan Daulat Rai Kapoor etc. v. New Delhi Municipal Comnitti, : [1980]122ITR700(SC) . The petitioner further maintains that Fr 45A-II provides that in the case of residences owned by Government, the standard rent shall be a certain percentage of capital cost equal to such rate of interest as may from time to time be fixed by the Government plus an addition of municipal and other taxes payable by the Government in respect of the residence for both ordinary and special maintenance and repairs or 6% of the capital cost whichever is less. The capital cost includes the cost of construction including the cost of site and any capital expenditure incurred after construction. The damages payable by the petitioner cannot exceed the fee so determined.

(8) On the other hand, it is contended on behalf of the respondents. that the petition must fail because the petitioner's appeal was dismissed as. barred by time. He, thereforee, failed to avail of the most efficacious remedy provided by law. On merits it was contended that the damages fixed by the Government are nothing but reasonable. The period of unauthorised occupation is from 12-12-1965 to 15-11-1972. The pooled rent in respect of the aforesaid quarter was Rs.65.00 up to 31-3-1970 and 87.00 from 1-4-1970, due: to the quinquennial revision of rent. The actual cost of land had not been; taken into account while determining the amount of rent for the premises in dispute. The national value of the land wa.s taken into account and. not actual price prevailing while fixing the amount of rent of the premises. They also point out that the standard rent is nothing but a measure of maximum license fee charged from an officer licensee for authorised occupation and not for an unauthorised occupation.

(9) The learned counsel for the respondents further urged that the cases cited by the petitioner do not apply to this case because the Government owned premises are exempt from rent legislation, while the cases relied upon by the petitioner relate to the premises which are governed by such legislation. That apart, the Estate Officer has found the rate of damages reasonable in view of the situation of the building in question There is nothing to indicate that there was no evidence before the Estate Officer of the prevailing rental value of the houses in the locality. As a matter of facts the petitioner shied away from leading any evidence to the contrary. The damages awarded, thereforee, called for no interference : Vide Rattan Chand v. The Delhi Develop- ment Authority, : AIR1974Delhi26 .

(10) I have considered over the matter and it appears to me that the petition must fail. Even if we ignore the question of limitation with regard to the appeal filed by the petitioner, I find he has no case on merits. The matter of determination of damages is a question of fact and the Estate Officer and the learned Additional District Judge have examined the evidence on record and have come to the conclusion that the damages have been correctly calculated. There can be no reappraisal of evidence in this court. The petitioner has nowhere stated that according to the formula given in the Delhi Rent Control Act, the rent will be less than 141.40 or Rs. 189.25 per month. Even in the period in question, the premises would have fetched more rent if they were let out to a private person. The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1958/1971 is a special legislation with regard to Government buildings in an unauthorised occupation and the principles of Delhi Rent Control Act cannot be invoked in this case. One cannot lose sight of the fact that it is not the reasonable rent or rental value which the authorities are required to assess as was in the cases in the rulings relied upon by the learned counsel. What the authorities here are required to charge are damages and damages are a compensatory or a punitive payment awarded by a court for any loss. detriment or injury suffered by a person to his person, property or rights through illegal act or omission or negligence of another or as punishment for outrageous or wicked conduct of that other to deter future transgression. But the courts even while awarding punitive damages have got to be reasonable by their very situation in the society. They cannot award damages which are unreasonable or outrageously excessive. Apply any standard and the damages in this case fixed under a uniform rule by the Government and tested by evidence and the prescribed guidelines by the Estate Officer and the District Judge, will be found nothing but reasonable. The Government residences are not let out but are given on license on concessional fees during employment and during some period of postretirement rehabilitation on the clear understanding that the allottee will vacate the residence without any hesitation in time so that the others waiting for allotment are allowed to get the benefit. But if the allottee violates this undertaking, he deserves to be dealt with by forcible eviction and by payment of damages for use and occupation the license for which he has forfeited.

(11) I, thereforee, see no merit in the petition (CW 68/73) and dismiss it. However, in view of the Government leniency, I too refrain from awarding any costs.

(12) In Cw 69 of 1973 Fateh Singh v. Union of Inda, the petitioner was in occupation of Government accommodation No. 55-C, Irwin Road, New Delhi. He retired on 13-3-1964 and the allotment was cancelled after a period of four months of his retirement. The petitioner had not paid damages from 1-7-1969 to 30-9-1971. The Estate Officer fixed the damages to the tune of Rs. 4488.45. The petitioner filed an appeal which was dismissed by the Additional District Judge on 4-11-1972. Hence, this petition.

(13) For submissions and the reasons stated in detail in the connected Cw 68/73, I do not find any scope for interference with the impugned order and this petition is also dismissed. No costs.


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