SC order a boost to shop owners who want to evict tenants

SC order a boost to shop owners who want to evict tenants

New Delhi: In a major boost to owners of rented shops and commercial properties, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that a landlord can evict a tenant from the premises for ‘his own use’ which would include requirements of his son and daughter.

In other words, a tenant do not have the option of taking the plea that he can be evicted only if the landlord is able to prove that he or she requires the premises back for using it himself or herself.

The apex court passed the ruling while setting aside an order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had quashed the eviction proceedings ordered by the appellate court in Punjab against the tenant.

The rent control court and the appellate court had ruled in favour of the owner Ajit Singh as he required the premises for his own use and directed the eviction of tenant Jit Ram.

The high court, however, took a contrary view and on an appeal filed by Jit Ram and quashed the eviction proceedings on the reasoning that the plea for ‘his own use’ could not be justified, as the disputed premises was sought to be occupied by Singh’s son and not by him.

Aggrieved by the high court’s reasoning, Ajit Singh and his son filed the appeal in the apex court.

Interpreting section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949, the apex court said the landlord can seek eviction of a tenant form a commercial premises for his own requirement as long as he or she is not alternatively occupying in the said urban area any other commercial building or land on rent.

Referring to the word ‘his own use’ used in the Act, the apex court, citing its earlier judgement in the Joginder Pal case, said the phrase should receive a wide, liberal and useful meaning rather than a strict or narrow construction.

“The expression — landlord for his own use — is not confined in its meaning to actual physical use by the landlord personally. The requirement not only of the landlord himself but also of the normal ‘emanations’ of the landlord is included therein," a bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee said quoting the earlier judgement.

According to the apex court all the cases and circumstances in which actual physical occupation or use by someone else would amount to occupation or use by the landlord himself, cannot be exhaustively enumerated.

It will depend on a variety of factors such as inter-relationship and interdependence between the landlord and the person for whose sake he or she is seeking the premises.

Such relationship would depend on various factors like social, socio-religious, local customs and obligations of the society or region to which they belong, the apex court said.

In the present case since father (landlord) has been able to prove that he required the premises for the use of his son, there was no embargo under the act to seek eviction of the tenant, the apex court.

However, since Jit Ram has been using the said commercial premises, the apex court granted him nine months to vacate it.