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Prem Ghandra Sharma Vs. V.S. Talwar - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revision Appeal No. 336 of 1979
Judge
Reported in17(1980)DLT572
ActsDelhi Rent Control Act, 1958 - Sections 25B
AppellantPrem Ghandra Sharma
RespondentV.S. Talwar
Advocates: R.K. Makhija,; Alakh Kumar,; S.L.Bhatia and;
Excerpt:
tenancy - letting purpose - sections 14 (1) and 25 b of delhi rent control act, 1958 - letting purpose more than residential and has all ingredients of composite purpose - section 14 (1) (e) available as ground to seek eviction of tenants if premises let out for residence only - eviction petition under section 14 (1) (e) must fail once letting purpose shown to be composite. - - (e)the premises were let-out to the applicant/tenant for residence as well as personal office as would be clear from the lease-deed,referred to above. ' it is so clearly mentioned inthe rent deed. (8) the agreement of letting clearly shows that the letting purpose wasmore than residential and has all the ingredients of a composite purpose. (9) it is well known that premises may be let out for residence..........the finding about the bonafiderequirement but i cannot say the same about the conclusion- on the lettingpurpose.(8) the agreement of letting clearly shows that the letting purpose wasmore than residential and has all the ingredients of a composite purpose.the specific mention of personal office as a purpose of letting speaks eloquently about the intention of parties and the phrase 'and not for commercial purposes' does not take away the effect of what is specifically includedin the purpose of letting.(9) it is well known that premises may be let out for residence only,for use as an office, for use as a shop and for other commercial purpose.once any of the latter purposes is combined with the purpose of use as residence, the premises are let out for a composite purpose and for.....
Judgment:

Hish Chandra, J.

(1) The petitioner before me is a tenant whochallenges an order of eviction passed against him by the learned AdditionalRent Controller on grounds covered by clause (e) of Section 14(1) of theDelhi Rent Control Act, 1958.

(2) The premises were let out by the landlord to the tenant under an agreement proved by the landlord and marked Ex. AW1/4. This agreement is on page 81 of the records of the Lower Court. Para 7 of the agreement provided as under :

'THATthe Lesser shall pay all the taxes of any kind whatsoeverincluding house tax ground rent as are or may hereinafter be assessedon the demised premises by the municipality or any other authoritywhatsoever provided the premises are used for residence only.'Para 12, towards the end of the agreement, provides as under :'That the Lessee shall use the premises for the purpose of Residential/Personal Office only and not for commercial purposes.'In the application for eviction in para 18 (a) the landlord averred that :'That the petitioner who is the owner of the premises, whichwere let out to the respondent for residence, bonafide requires thesame for residence for his wife and his son Shri Ashok Kumar Talwar.......................'

(3) In response to a notice of the eviction petition under the provisions of Section 25B of the Act, the tenant filed an application for leave todefend and set out 9 grounds therein. Ground number 3 was set out in thefollowing words:

'(E)The premises were let-out to the applicant/tenant for residence as well as personal office as would be clear from the lease-deed,referred to above. No application for eviction from such premises ongrounds of personal bonafide need is contemplated under Section 14(l)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. The petition for eviction is liable to rejection on this ground alone.'

In reply to the ground of the application, the landlord stated :

3(C)'PARAS(C)OFthe respondent's application as stated is incorrect except that the premises were Jet out to the respondent for the purpose of residential/personal office only andnot for commercial purposes.' It is so clearly mentioned inthe Rent deed. Such letting purpose covers up the groundof eviction under Section 14(l)(e) of Delhi Rent Control Act the premises are being used by the respondent for residentialpurpose only. It is not even his case that he is using thesame for any commercial purpose. '

(4) Having regard to the clause in the agreement to let, quoted above the learned Rent Controller gave leave to contest.

(5) Similar averments were made by the tenant in the reply to theeviction petition where the averment that the premises were let for residencewas emphatically denied and it was asserted that the premises were let bothfor residence and office. In the replication, on this point, the landlord emphasised that the premises were admittedly residential. The landlord explained that the user as 'personal office' is an incidence of residential purposeonly and permission in this behalf does not alter the letting purpose whichremains for residence only.

(6) The landlord appeared as his own witness and examined sevenother witnesses. Four witnesses were examined by the tenant and the RentController proceeded to judgment, holding the purpose of letting as purelyresidential and the bonafide requirement of the landlord as having beenproved and ordered eviction of the tenant.

(7) I do not find any infirmity in the finding about the bonafiderequirement but I cannot say the same about the conclusion- on the lettingpurpose.

(8) The agreement of letting clearly shows that the letting purpose wasmore than residential and has all the ingredients of a composite purpose.The specific mention of personal office as a purpose of letting speaks eloquently about the intention of parties and the phrase 'and not for commercial purposes' does not take away the effect of what is specifically includedin the purpose of letting.

(9) It is well known that premises may be let out for residence only,for use as an office, for use as a shop and for other commercial purpose.Once any of the latter purposes is combined with the purpose of use as residence, the premises are let out for a composite purpose and for residenceonly.

(10) The meaning of the word 'office', not defined in the Act, in theChamber's dictionary is a place where business is carried on. Office is certainly not residence and a Jetting purpose which includes office must beunderstood to include a purpose other than residence only.

(11) The learned counsel for the respondent has laid great stress onthe qualifying prefix 'personal' to the word 'office' in the agreement.'Personal office' can only mean his office i. e. office of the tenant as differentfrom, let us say, the office of the firm in which the tenant may be a partneror of the Company in which the tenant may be a shareholder. The phrase'personal office' used in addition to residential and conjuncted by a strokewhich means this or that, one or the other, cannot be stretched to mean, assuggested by the learned counsel for the landlord, a study in a residence or aplace in a house where one may keep a table and chair and files.

(12) Does a tenant ever need express permission of the landlord to usea part of the premises for reading a book or keeping a file or even a table todo writing work? The suggestion is too weak-kneed to detain me much onit and can be sustained only on an argument of the type that the landlordsays (in the agreement of letting) what he means not or means what he saysnot.

(13) Reference may also be made to the earlier clause, i.e., clause 7in the agreement of letting. By this clause the landlord agrees to pay taxeson the house provided the premises are used for residence only. This clause,if it stood by itself, could have been interpreted to mean that the landlord issecuring itself from payment of taxes and imposition arising out of the misuserof premises by user other than for residence only but read with the latterclause, it can only mean that the user other than for residence only is permitted but with additional liabilities on the tenant.

(14) Assuming that the description of the letting purpose, 'residential/personal office only and not for commercial purposes' is not plain andunambiguous and admits of proving the intention of parties by evidence.What is the evidence led on the issue Even though, as noted above, thelandlord did plead that what he meant by above-described letting purposewas residence only but there is not a whisper of it in his statement on oath orin that of any of the seven other witnesses examined by him.

(15) Clause (e) of Section 14(l) is available as a ground to seek eviction of tenants only, among other requirements, if the premises were let outfor residence only and once the letting purpose is shown to be composite, aneviction petition under Section 14(l)(e), without more, must fail.Before concluding I may say a word about the great exercise undertaken in proving (1) that the premises are residential (2) that the premiseshave been used for residence only. The first of the two propositions of factwas admitted by the tenant but the second vehemently denied. The learnedRent Controller went into this aspect in some detail and acted against law inletting all this enter his consideration for a decision in favor of the landlord.

(16) It is settled law that if the agreed original letting purpose or anagreed novation and variation of the same is provable by documentary orclear evidence, it is only such proved purpose which is decisive and thenature of the premises or the purpose for which the same have been used forlong or for short, has no relevance. This state of law flows from such elementary propositions as (1) a residential premises can be let out for composite or commercial purpose (2) a premises let out for residential purpose canbe misused for composite or commercial purposes but such misuse does notchange the letting purpose which is in the domain of the landlord or at anyrate his concurrence for a user is necessary for the user to be indicative ofletting purpose (3) premises let out for composite purpose have never beenused for such permitted purposes and have been used for residence only. Innone of these three situations) the actual user is decisive of the letting purpose.Equally irrelevant is the exercise to prove the dominant user as against theincidental user as indicative of letting purpose because to come within themischief of composite purpose, i. e., a purpose other than for residence onlythe 'non-dominant or the incidental user for office or commercial purpose isenough.

(17) Reference to the nature of the premises and their long user canbe relevant in determining letting purpose only in the absence of direct anddefinite evidence of the letting purpose and the learned Rent Controllercould not, with any justification in law, stray into such an enquiry in the face of the agreement of letting describing the letting purpose.

(18) In conclusion I hold that the decision of the learned Rent Controller on the letting purpose is not accordance with law. I hold that the letting purpose is composite and not for residence only and thereforee, the eviction application under Section 14(l)(e) was not maintainable and liable to be dismissed. In the result, the petition is allowed, the judgment dated 28/02/1979 of Shri R. L. Chugn in Suit No. 566 of 1976 is set aside and the said suit is dismissed. In the special circumstances of the case, I make no order as to costs.


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