The Supreme Court has held that it is not necessary for the landlord to make out all the grounds which he has taken in the plaint for claiming eviction of the tenant under the Rent Act. There can be no dispute to the legal proposition that even if the landlord is able to make out only one ground out of several grounds of the eviction, he is entitled to seek the eviction of his tenant from the suit premises on the basis of that sole ground which he has made out under the Rent Act. In other words, if one ground of eviction is held made out against the tenant, that ground is sufficient to evict the tenant from the suit premises.
It was so held by the Supreme Court in the matter titled as Flora Elias Nahoum Vs. Idrish Ali Laskar, Civil Appeal no. 4189 of 2007, decided on 25th January, 2018.
The landlord had sought eviction on two grounds against the tenant namely, sub-letting and unauthorized construction made by him in the suit shop. The question before the Court whether it was necessary for the landlord to succeed on all grounds to seek eviction of the tenant.
The Supreme Court held that in a case of sub-letting, if the tenant is able to prove that he continues to retain the exclusive possession over the tenanted premises notwithstanding any third party’s induction in the tenanted premises, no case of sub-letting is made out against such tenant. In other words, the sin qua non for proving the case of the sub-letting is that the tenant has either whole or in part transferred or/and parted with the possession of the tenanted premises in favour of any third person without landlord’s consent.
Reliance was placed on the judgment of the SC in Bharat Sales Ltd. v. Life Insurance Corporation of India (1998) 3 SCC 1, while dealing with the case of sub-letting succinctly explained the concept of sub-letting and what are its attributes. Sub-tenancy or sub-letting comes into existence when the tenant gives up possession of the tenanted accommodation, wholly or in part, and puts another person in exclusive possession thereof. This arrangement comes about obviously under a mutual agreement or understanding between the tenant and the person to whom the possession is so delivered. In this process, the landlord is kept out of the scene.
It is the actual, physical and exclusive possession of that person, instead of the tenant, which ultimately reveals to the landlord that the tenant to whom the property was let out has put some other person into possession of that property. In such a situation, it would be difficult for the landlord to prove, by direct evidence, the contract or agreement or understanding between the tenant and the sub-tenant. It would also be difficult for the landlord to prove, by direct evidence, that the person to whom the property had been sub-let had paid monetary consideration to the tenant. Payment of rent, undoubtedly, is an essential element of lease or sub-lease. It may be paid in cash or in kind or may have been paid or promised to be paid. It may have been paid in lump sum in advance covering the period for which the premises is let out or sub-let or it may have been paid or promised to be paid periodically.