Cycle Stores & Ors Vs. Smt. Gita Devi Sultania & Ors  INSC 17 (25 January 1990)
T.K. (J) Thommen, T.K. (J) Shetty, K.J. (J)
1990 AIR 656 1990 SCR (1) 152 1990 SCC (1) 586 JT 1990 (1) 79 1990 SCALE (1)70
Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1947.' S. 11(1)(d)--Tenant--Eviction
of on grounds of wilful default--Held on facts that no reason seen to suspect
rent remained in arrears.
appellant-defendants fell in arrears of rent for the months of February and May
to August 1974 for the demised premises. The respondent-plaintiffs sought their
eviction under s. 11(1)(d) of the Bihar Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction)
Control Act, 1947 on the grounds of default.
the suit, the trial court found that rent for the said five months had not been
paid. The decree was affirmed by the appellate court in part, that is, in
respect of May and June, 1974. That finding was affirmed by the High Court.
the appeal by special leave, the Court,
The Supreme Court does not ordinarily interfere in proceedings under Article
136 of the Constitution particu- larly when all the courts below had reached
the same conclu- sion. But where the finding of fact is based on no evidence or
opposed to the totality of evidence and contrary to the rational conclusion to
which the state of evidence must reasonably lead, then the Court will in the
exercise of its discretion intervene to prevent miscarriage of justice.
In the instant case, there was no reliable oral evidence on the side of the
plaintiffs to support the allegation that rents were in arrears. Nor was there
any documentary evi- dence in support of their case. Neither the first
plaintiff, the widow nor the other two plaintiffs, her children, testi- fied in
support of the allegation PW-4, who verified the plaint on behalf of the
plaintiffs admittedly had no person- al knowledge that the defendants were in
arrears of rent or whether the first plaintiff or anybody else had demanded
rent from the defendants. [156F-G] On the other hand, DW-8, one of the
defendants, stated that for the months of May and June 1974 he had paid the
rent in June 1974 by 153 handing over the amount to the first plaintiff's
daughter when she went to his shop tO collect the rent. Since she was a minor
he accompanied her to her house to make sure that the amount was received by
her mother, the first plaintiff.
evidence has been supported by DW-7. He was the Ac- countant of the first
defendant firm. DW-6 also spoke of the fact that in June 1974 the defendants
had given Rs.200 as rent to the younger daughter of the plaintiff. These state-
ments of defence witnesses were categoric and clear. There was no contradiction
in term for there was no evidence on the side of the plaintiffs to the
contrary. The conclusion arrived at by the courts below that rents remained in ar-
rears was, therefore, perverse and totally unjustified. [155A-B, E; 156D, F, G]
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 652 of 1982.
the Judgment and Order dated 22.8.1980 of the Patna High Court in Second Appeal
No. 125 of 1977 (R).
K. Sen and D.P. Mukherjee for the Appellants.
Ms. Kapila Hingorani and R.P. Wadhwani for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by THOMMEN, J. This civil appeal by special
leave is brought by the defendants against the judgment of the Patna High
Court, Ranchi Bench, in Second Appeal No. 125 of 1977 dismissing in limine
their appeal against the judgment of the learned District Judge in Title Appeal
No. 2/5 of 1977 whereby the decree for eviction granted by the learned Munsiff
in Title Suit No. 3 of 1975 was in part affirmed.
plaintiffs (respondents) instituted the suit against the defendants
(appellants) for eviction under Section 11(1)(d) of the Bihar Buildings (Lease,
Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1947 on the ground that the defendants were in
arrears of rent for the months of February 1974 and May 1974 to August 1974.
The defendants contested the suit on various grounds. Their main defence was
that they were not in ar- rears of rent as alleged by the plaintiffs. Decreeing
the suit, the learned Munsiff found that rent for the months of February 1974
and May 1974 to August 1974 had not been paid by the defendants. This decree
was affirmed by the learned District Judge in part, that is, in respect of the
alleged arrears for the months of May 154 and June 1974, and not for any other
period. The finding of the First Appellate Court was affirmed by the High Court
by dismissing the defendants' appeal in limine.
question which arises for consideration is whether the courts below were
justified in coming to-the conclusion, which they did, and whether the impugned
judgment of the High Court is liable to be interfered with in the present
appeal brought by special leave under Article 136 of the Constitution.
or not rent for the two months in question had been duly paid by the defendants
is a question of fact, and with a finding of such fact, this Court does not ordinarily
interfere in proceedings under Article 136 of the Constitu- tion, particularly
when all the courts below reached the same conclusion. But where the finding of
fact is based on no evidence or opposed to the totality of evidence and
contrary to the rational conclusion to which the state of evidence must
reasonably lead, then this Court will in the exercise of its discretion
intervene to prevent miscarriage of justice.
suit was instituted by the widow of Rameswarlal Sultania. The plaint was verified
by Rameswarlal Sultania's nephew on behalf of the plaintiffs, and he deposed as
the first plaintiff, the widow nor the other two plaintiffs, her children
testified in support of the plaint allegations. The nephew, PW-4 frankly
admitted in the box that he had no personal knowledge of the facts alleged in
the plaint. He did not know if the defendants were in arrears of rent or
whether his aunt, the first plaintiffs or anybody else had demanded rent from
the defendants. None of the witnesses on the side of the plaintiffs had any
personal knowledge of the facts alleged by the plaintiffs in regard to the
arrears of rent. PW-4 is, amongst the plaintiff's witnesses, the only person
who speaks to this fact, but admittedly speaks without any claim of personal
circumstances, there is no reliable oral evidence on the side of the plaintiffs
to support the plaint allegation regarding the arrears of rent. Nor is there
any documentary evidence in support of their case.
other hand, the defendants categorically stated that they had paid the rent for
the two months in question to the first plaintiff. At that time her husband was
alive, but he was in no condition, on account of poor health, to give a receipt
for the rents paid. The defendants, in view of their personal relationship with
him, did not insist upon a receipt.
DW-8 is one of the defendants. He categorically stated that for the months of
May and June 1974 he paid the rent in June 1974 by handing over the amount to
the first plain- tiff's daughter when she went to his shop to collect the rent.
Since she was a minor he accompanied her to her house to make sure that the
amount was received by her mother, the first plaintiff. His evidence on the
point is in the follow- ing words:
is incorrect to say that I have not paid the rent for May-June 1974. In June,
the daughter of Rameshwar Babu had come to demand Rs.200 towards the rent for
May-June 1974 and I had given the (Illegible) at that time. I had demanded the
receipt,_ but he was unwell and as such did not give it".
Babu was not living in his senses in June, 74.
brain was not in proper condition. In June, 74 I gave Rs.200 to his wife
(plaintiff), after taking the same to his house. Even subsequently my brother
had gone to pay the rent to the plaintiff, Gita Devi for two-three times."
This evidence is supported by DW-7. He is the Accountant of the first
defendant-firm of which defendants Nos. 2 and 3 who are brothers are partners.
Referring to these partners, and a neighbour by name Nandi (DW-6), this is what
June 74, the defendants, Bibhuti and Prahalad Chandra Dutta had given Rs.200
two hundred rupees to the daughter of Rameshwar Babu. Nandi Babu, Bibhuti Babu
and I were (present) in the shop, at that time. This money was paid towards the
rent of the house".
(DW-6) also speaks on this point:
defendants always used to pay the rent in my presence ....... In June, 1974,
they had given Rs.200 as rent to the younger daughter of Ramesh Babu in my
(them) that as she was a small girl, they should also accompany her. Then Bibhuti
Bhusan Dutta reached the girl." The evidence of these three defence
witnesses is that the rent for the months of May and June. 1974 had been duly
paid in June 1974 in 156 the sum of Rs.200 by the second defendant (DW-8) to
the landlord, Rameswarlal Sultania by handing over the amount to his minor
daughter who went to the defendants' shop to collect the same and by
accompanying her to her house to see to the safe delivery of the same to the
first plaintiff, her mother who obviously received it on behalf of her husband,
the landlord. The evidence seems to be clear on the point and we see no
contradiction in this.
courts below did not appreciate that this much evidence was staring in the
face, and there was total ab- sence of evidence on the point on the side of the
plantiffs to contradict the defence evidence. The plaint allegation regarding
arrears was not spoken to on the plaintiffs' side by any person having personal
knowledge. The plaintiffs made no attempt to let in any reliable evidence on
the point. The evidence of PW-4 who admittedly had no personal knowledge on the
point is no evidence at all. On the other hand, the evidence of DW-8, supported
by the evidence of his Account- ant (DW-7) and his neighbour (DW-6) is categoric
learned District Judge disbelieved this evidence on the assumption that DW-6
contradicted himself when he stated that the amount was paid to the daughter
and also to her monther. In his written statement he stated that the amount had
been paid to the landlord, Rameswarlal Sultania.
light of what we have stated above, we see no contradiction in these
statements. The amount was, in our view, rightly stated to have been paid to Rameswarlal
Sulta- nia when it was handed over to the daughter to be paid over to her monther,
viz., the first plaintiff who was reasonably understood to have received it for
and on behalf of her husband. If the statement is true, there is no
contradiction in it and it is categoric and clear. We see no reason to suspect
that it is not true for there is no evidence on the side of the plantiffs to
the contrary. As stated earlier, there is no evidence at all on the side of the
plaintiffs that rents were in arrears. In the absence of any reason to
disbelieve the clear and categoric testimony of the defence witnesses on the
point, we see no reason to suspect that the rents remained in arrears. In the
circumstances, we are of the view that the courts came to the conclusion, as
they did, without any evidence whatsoever to support it and contrary to the
available evidence let in by the defence.
conclusion was, therefore, perverse, irrational and totally unjustified. For
this reason, we set aside the impugned decree and judgment of the courts below.
The appeal is allowed with costs.