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Surinder Nath Vs. P.N. Dhawan - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectTenancy
CourtHimachal Pradesh High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 241 of 1980
Judge
Reported inAIR1981HP68
ActsHimachal Pradesh Urban Rent Control Act, 1971 - Section 13(2)
AppellantSurinder Nath
RespondentP.N. Dhawan
Appellant Advocate Chhabil Dass and; Arun Kumar Goel, Advs.
Respondent Advocate Kamlesh Sharma, Adv.
DispositionRevision dismissed
Cases ReferredIn Smt. Bhagwanti v. Yashodha Devi
Excerpt:
tenancy - eviction - himachal pradesh urban rent control act, 1971 - rent control act, petitioner landlord sought eviction on ground that building had become unfit for human habitation for purpose of building and rebuilding - facts revealed that petitioner wanted to put up new building to enable him to earn more money - rent control act does not allow landlords to pull down building on this consideration - nothing on record to show that tenanted premises had became unfit or unsafe for human habitation - appeal dismissed. - .....ex. px to the respondent that due to incessant rains the building had become unfit and unsafe for human habitation and asked him to vacate the buildins and hand over is possession to the landlord. the respondent sent his reply ex. d-1. he stated that the suite occupied by him was habitable, was in perfect good condition, and that the notice had been sent in order to make him agree to the enhanced rent demanded by the landlord. no further step was taken by the landlord and the matter stood closed.4. after a period of about two years the landlord sent notice ex. p. w. 6/a dated 13th june, 1973, once again asking the respondent to vacate the building since it had become unsafe and unfit for human habitation and the landlord required the same bona fide for the purpose of building and.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Vyas Dev Misra, C.J.

1. This revision is directed asainst the iudgmenl of Appellate Authority Simla, dismissing the landlord's petition for eviction of the tenant.

2. The petitioner-landlord is the owner of a building known as 'Charlie Mount'. It had eight sets. AD were rented out to the tenant. The respondent is occupying set No. 8.

3. On 22-3 0-1971 the landlord sent notice Ex. PX to the respondent that due to incessant rains the building had become unfit and unsafe for human habitation and asked him to vacate the buildins and hand over is possession to the landlord. The respondent sent his reply Ex. D-1. He stated that the suite occupied by him was habitable, was in perfect good condition, and that the notice had been sent in order to make him agree to the enhanced rent demanded by the landlord. No further step was taken by the landlord and the matter stood closed.

4. After a period of about two years the landlord sent notice Ex. P. W. 6/A dated 13th June, 1973, once again asking the respondent to vacate the building since it had become unsafe and unfit for human habitation and the landlord required the same bona fide for the purpose of building and rebuilding which could not be carried out unless the respondent vacated the suite in his possession. The respondent sent his reply Ex. D-2 dated 2nd July, 1973. It was stated that though the landlord had not been carrying out the annual repairs for the last so many years, the respondent at this own costs had been maintaining the premises.

5. On 4th September, 1973 the landlord filed a petition for the eviction of the respondent. It may be noticed that he had filed similar eviction petitions against other tenants of this building. Whereas the other tenants entered into a compromise and vacated their premises, the respondent resisted the eviction.

6. On the pleadings of the parties, the following issues were framed :--

1. Whether the petitioner requires the premises bona fide for building/rebuilding which cannot be carried out without get-ting the premises vacated as alleged OPP.

2. Whether the demised premises have become unsafe and unfit for human habitation as alleged, if so, its effect? OPP.

3. Whether no valid and legal notice was served upon the respondent before filing the petition, if so, its effect? OPR.

4. Relief.

7. The Appellate Authority found that the landlord had not led any evidence to show that he had sufficient means for reconstructing the building. It also held that the premises in dispute had not become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. The appeal was, therefore, dismissed.

8. Before me the learned counsel for the landlord has addressed his arguments only on issue No. 2. He has ex-pressly given up issue No. 1 and I had, therefore, not allowed the learned counsel for the respondent to address me on that issue.

9. I have been taken through the evidence on record. It has been submitted on behalf of the landlord that he stopped spending on the repairs of the building when it had become uneconomical to him. For him the only economic proposition is to out up a new building.

10. In order to prove the condition of the building, the landlord produced two engineers as well as other tenants of the building who had vacated it. Shri S. K. Mitra (P. W. 1) is a retired Municipal Engineer. He has admittedly not seen the premises in dispute from inside. He had seen the building from outside. When he came in the witness box on 2nd September, 1976, he could not say when he had visited the building. He deposed that the building has 'outlived its economic life and has entered the age of obsolescence'. He went on to depose that the Municipal Corporation had also issued notices that the building is in a dilapidated condition. Now. no such notices have been proved on record. The landlord admitted that no such notice was ever received. In case any such notices about the dilapidated condition of the building were issued by the Municipal Corporation, those would have been proved. On the other hand it shows the anxiety of this witness to ensure eviction of the tenant. He is admittedly a tenant of the petitioner-landlord in another building owned by the latter. The landlord, 1 am told by his learned counsel owns various buildings and rent is the source of his income. It may be notice that this witness along with the other engineer, Shri Surjit Singh, had been engaged by the landlord for the reconstruction of this building. It may be that the building has outlived its economic life but that does not mean that the premises in occupation of the respondent have become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. It may be profitable for the landlord to put up a new building so that he can make more money out of it, But then this is not a ground for evicting tenants.

11. Shri Surjit Singh (P. W. 5) is an Architect-Engineer. He had prepared the plan Ex. P. W. 5/A. He also deposed that the repairs of the building in question were not economical since the building had outlived its life and that the proposed reconstruction could not be carried out without the respondent's vacating his premises. He had seen the building from outside and had not seen the premises in dispute from inside.

12. In my opinion there was nothing wrong in the Appellate Authority not placing any reliance on the evidence of these two engineers,

13. The witnesses who were erstwhile tenants of the landlord are Bhola Ram P. W. 2, and Jagdish Joshi P. W. 3. One of the erstwhile tenants, Shri Durga Dutt Visht R. W. 3, was examined by the respondent. These persons had voluntarily vacated their premises after entering into a compromise with the landlord and not because the building had become unsafe or unfit for habitation.

14. Much stress has been laid by learned counsel for the landlord about the present condition of the building. One thing may be noticed straightway. It was in 1971 when the landlord served the first notice of eviction alleging that the building had become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. Ten long years have rolled by but nothing has happened to the premises occupied by the respondent despite heavy rains of each year. I have been informed that the suite on the upper floor is lying vacant and even a portion of that is hanging. It is also submitted that the boundary walls etc. have cracked. But these are not the portions occupied by the respondent. Indeed, the landlord himself is responsible for this situation of the building. After getting vacant possession from other tenants of this building, the landlord started dismantling the same. The staircases were dismantled. P. W. 2 tells us that in order to fill the foundation, stones from the retaining walls of the building were removed.

15. It may be noticed at this stage that in the middle of 1976 a suit was filed by the respondent against the landlord praying for permanent injunction. An application under Order 39, Rules I and 2 of the Civil Procedure Code was also filed. It was decided on 19th June. 1976 (Ex. A-l). By this order the landlord was allowed to 'carry on the construction on the compound in such a way not to blockade the approaches to the suite of the plaintiff. Further not to take any demolishing or any other work in such a manner as to cause disturbance in the peaceful possession of the plaintiff in the suite tenanted to him'. Another order in the suit is dated 26-9-1977 (Ex. A-3). This reveals that the learned Sub-Judge had inspected the spot on the request of the parties. He had observed that the premises of the present respondent had not been damaged due to collapse of the rest of the building.

16. The learned counsel for the landlord has cited (1970) 72 Pun LR 411, Dr. Piara Lal Kapur v. Shmt. Kaushalva Devi. I find that a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ruled that the question whether a building, that is the demised premises. are unfit or unsafe for human habitation, is necessarily a question of fact to be decided on the basis of evidence led in a given case. In that case a part of the demised premises had admittedly become unsafe and dangerous and it was held that simply because the unsafe portions had been demolished, it did not mean that the tenant could not be evicted on the ground that the remaining portion of the demised premises were not unsafe. It was also observed that each case has to be decided on its own merits. Indeed the facts of that case have no relevance to the facts of the case in hand, It may be noticed that Section 13 (3) (a) (iii) of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 is pari materia with Section 14 of the Himachal Pradesh Urban Rent Control Act, 1971.

17. The learned counsel for the peti-. tioner has also relied on Sham Dass v. Sunder Dass, 1978 (1) RCJ 217 (Punj & Har). In that case two of the rooms had fallen and a number of cracks had developed in the third room. In these cir-cumstances it was held that the building required reconstruction and not repairs onlv. This is of no help to the landlord,

18. In Smt. Bhagwanti v. Yashodha Devi, (1980) 1 Ren CR 574 (Punj & Har) it was ruled that when a part of the building becomes unsafe, ejectment of the tenant can be had from the entire building. In that case the whole of the building was under the tenancy of one person. The Barasati had admittedly become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. It was contended by the tenant that he could not be ejected from the remaining part of tha building which was not unsafe or unfit for human habitation. Again, the decision turned on its own facts and has no relevance to the facts of the present case.

19. In the instant case the mala fides of the landlord is writ large. His only consideration was to have the whole building demolished and to put up a new building. This was planned because not the building was unsafe or unfit for human habitation but because it was profitable for the landlord to put up a new building to enable him to earn more money. It is a notorious fact that old buildings are fetching comparatively a nominal rent whereas even the cost of annual repairs is exorbitant. One of the economic proposition is to demolish such buildings and replace them by new ones. But then that is not the intention of the Rent Control Act. It does not allow landlords to pull down buildings on this consideration. It is by that reason that the poor tenants can still continue to have roofs over their heads in the cities. It ts sometimes easy for a greedy landlord to create a situation where it can be shown that a particular building is unsafe or unfit for human habitation when the real purpose of the landlord is to put up a new structure for the sake of making more money. In these circumstances the courts have to be cautious.

20. It is true that 'Charlie Mount' building is an old building having what is known as Dhejji walls'. New buildings are coming around fast at various places at Simla. This building is also at a strategic place. A cement and concrete building with many storeys can fetch a lot of money. It is these considerations which seem to have weighed with the landlord. By dismantling other suites which he got vacated after persuading his tenants, and after removing the stones from the retaining walls to put them in the foundation, it is tried to be shown that the premises in dispute have become unsafe or unfit for human habitation. There is nothing on record to show that any part of the tenanted premises has developed cracks or has otherwise become unsafe or unfit for human habitation.

21. The revision is, therefore, dismissed with costs.


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