Grant of leave to defend under Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958

Principles of grant of leave to defend in summary procedure proceedings of DRCA

In the recent judgment of Delhi High Court in Aero Traders Pvt. Ltd. vs. Mohan Singh and Anr., dated 02.01.2014, Hon’ble Justice Manmohan Singh while adjudicating issue pertaining to bonafide requirement of premises under the provisions of Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 opined that, “it is not permissible for the tenant to raise such issues pertaining to the age of the landlord, his experience and financial status. These issues are not much relevant for the purpose of deciding the application for leave to defend in the eviction petition if it is established prima facie that the requirement of the landlord is genuine and bonafide and no triable issues are raised by the tenant.” Hon’ble Justice referred to case laws under claimed circumstances like – old age, start of new business/ no experiences required, financial status of the landlord not relevant and bonafide requirement. It would be worth reproducing the cases referred in this category as timeless ratio. Old Age (i) In Dev Raj Bajaj vs. R.K. Khanna, 1996 RLR 125, it was observed that “Where a landlord or his wife were unable to climb the stairs due to old age ailments and wanted to shift to the ground floor, such a need of the landlord was bonafide. A landlord can ask for ground floor for his convenience and comfort of his health.” (ii) In Kuldip Mahajan vs. Krishna Uppal and Ors., 97 (2002) DLT 619, this Court has observed that “Where landlady filed a petition on the ground of bona fide requirement as she and her husband are of old age and landlady’s intention was to shift residence for better medical treatment of her husband, no malafide was attributed and it was held that a period afflicted by Arthritis would not find it convenient to reside on first floor when ground floor is also owned by her.” Start new business/no experience required (i) In Ram Babu Agarwal vs. Jay Kishan Das, (2010) 1 SCC 164, it was observed that “A person can start a new business even if he has no experience in the new business that does not mean that his claim for starting new business must be rejected on the ground that it is a false claim. many people start new businesses even if they do not have experience in the new business and sometimes they are successful in the new business also.” (ii) In Tarsem Singh vs. Gurvinder Singh, RCR 137/2010, it was observed that “If the landlord wants to start his own business in the premises owned by him then by no stretch of imagination, it can be said that the requirement of the landlord for the premises is neither bonafide nor genuine.” (iii) In Balwant Singh Chowdhary & Anr. vs. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd., 2004 (1) RCR 487, it was held that “It is not necessary for the landlord to plead and prove the specific business he wants to set up, if the landlord wanted the premises for business purposes.” (iv) In Gurcharan Lal Kumar vs. Srimati Satyawati & Ors., RC. Rev. No. 285/2012 and C.M. No.11263/2012 dated 25th April, 2013 it was observed that “Merely because the exact nature of business has not been described would not take away their bonafide need to carry out a business (when admittedly both the sons are dependent upon petitioner for this need). It was observed that if the business need is not disclosed this would not wipe away the bonafide need of the landlord as has been pressed under Section 14(1)(e) of the DRCA,1958.” (v) In Raj Kumar Khaitan & Ors. vs. Bibi Zubaida Khatun & Anr., AIR 1995 SC 576, it was observed that “It was not necessary for the appellants-landlords to indicate the precise nature of the business which they intended to start in the premises. Even if the nature of business would have been indicated nobody would bind the landlords to start the same business in the premises after it was vacated.” Financial status of the landlord not relevant In Shamshed Ahmad & Ors. vs. Tilak Raj Bajaj (deceased), 152 (2008) DLT 301 (SC), the Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court which was reversed by the HC, that “The requirement of section 14(1)(e) is ‘bonafide requirement’ and it has to be seen as per the requirement of the petitioner(landlord) , even if the petitioner is very rich and having other properties at different places that does not affect his requirement of the premises, as alleged in the petition.” And the leave to defend application was dismissed. Bonafide Requirement In Satyawati Sharma vs. Union of India & Anr., 2008 (5) SCC 287, it was held that “Section 14(1)(e) of the 1958 Act is violative of the doctrine of equality embodied in Article 14 of the Constitution of India insofar as it discriminates between the premises let for residential and non-residential purposes when the same are required bona fide by the landlord for occupation for himself or for any member of his family dependent on him and restricts the latter’s right to seek eviction of the tenant from the premises let for residential purposes only.” The Supreme Court further opined that “Ends of justice will be met by striking down the discriminatory portion of Section 14(1)(e) so that the remaining part thereof may read as under: “The premises are required bona fide by the landlord for himself or for any member of his family dependent on him, if he is the owner thereof, or for any person for whose benefit the premises are held and that the landlord or such person has no other reasonably suitable accommodation.”