Steel Limited, Calcutta Vs. Union of India & Anr  INSC 35 (13 February 1991)
P.B. Sawant, P.B. Shetty, K.J. (J) Sharma, L.M. (J)
1991 SCR (1) 381 1991 SCC (2) 101 JT 1991 (1) 447 1991 SCALE (1)206
Rent Control Act, 1958: Section 14D-Landlady-A widow's right to seek eviction
of tenant for own residence.
appeal has been filed against the judgment of the Delhi High Court whereby the
High Court gave the widow- landlady the benefit of section 14-D of the Delhi
Rent Control Act, 1958 and accordingly granted her the Possession of the
premises in question.
this Court it was inter alia contended on behalf of the appellant that the
relief under section 14-D was available only to a landlady who had become a
Widow after the premises were let out either by herself or her husband.
further contended that if the benefit given by section 14-D was allowed to be
availed by all widows, they may make a business of it.
the appeal, this Court,
(1) The legislature w anted to give a special privilege to the landlady who is
a widow notwithstanding whether the Premises were let out before or after she
became widow. Such conferment of special benefit on a widow landlady is
permissible even under the provisions of Article 15(3) of the Constitution
which is an express exception to the provisions of sub-clauses (1) and (2) of
that Article. A widow is undoubtedly a vulnerable person in our society and
requires special protection. [383H-384B]
14-D can be availed of by the widow only once. That is a sufficient guarantee
against the abuse of the privilege granted by the section. Secondly, she has to
prove her bona fide need for the occupation of the Premises in question for her
own residence like any other landlord.
the provisions of section 19 of the Delhi Rent Control Act come to play in her
case also, when the order for possession on the ground of bona fide requirement
for occupation as residence is made in her favour. [384C] 382
P. Kapur v. Union of India & Ors. Delhi High
Court, Civil Writ No. 2686 of 1989 overruled.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 710 of 1991.
the Judgment and Order dated 8.5.1990 of the Delhi High Court in Civil Writ No.
3257 of 1989.
Harish N. Salve, H.K. Puri, Rajeev Sharma, Ravinder Nath, V.B. Saharya, P.K.
Jain and Prem Malhotra for the Appellants.
T.S. Krishnamurthy Iyer, R.L. Jain, S.K. Tredal, Kitty Kumarmanglam, R.P. Dave
and Ashok Mathur for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by SAWANT, J. SLP (C) No. 12 1 11 of 1990.
This appeal raises the question of the validity and interpretation of Section
14-D of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 (hereinafter referred to as the
"Act"). In companion matters, we have already pronounced upon the
validity and interpretation of Section 14-B of the Act.
it is not necessary to discuss in this judgment the points which are common to
both sections. These points will be deemed to have been concluded by the said
only point which remains to be dealt with and is peculiar to Section 14-D is
whether to claim possession of such premises under the said Section, the
landlady must become a widow after the premises are let out either by herself
or her husband.
Section 14-D of the Act reads as follows:
Right to recover immediate possession of premises to accrue to a widow-(1)
Where the landlord is a widow and the premises let out by her (2) or by her
husband, are required by her for her own residence, she may apply to the
Controller for recovering the immediate possession of such premises.
(2) Where the landlord referred to in sub-section (1) has let out more than one
premises, it shall be open to her to make an application under that sub-section
in respect of any one of the premises chosen by her.
object of the Act, as stated in its preamble, is to provide for the control of
rents and evictions, and of rates of hotels and lodging houses, and for the
lease of vacant premises to Government, in certain areas in the Union Territory
of Delhi. The original Act came into force on February 9, 1959 having received the assent of the President on December 31, 1958. The working of the Act disclosed certain
deficiencies, inconveniences and hardships both to the landlords and the
tenants. Their associations, therefore, made representations. Various
committees and commissions also recommended amendments of certain provisions of
the Act. Considering the grievances of the landlords and the tenants as well as
the recommendations of the committees/commissions, the Act was amended in 1988
with the object of (a) rationalising the law by bringing out the balance
between the interests of landlords and tenants, (b) giving a boost to house
building activity and maintaining the existing housing stock in a reasonable
state of repairs, (c) reducing litigation between landlords and tenants and of
ensuring expeditious disposal of disputes between them. By this amendment Sections
14-B to 14-D were added. The object of Section 14-D is obvious. It is to assist
a vulnerable and needy section of the Society to recover possession of the
premises as expeditiously as Possible and without the usual trials and
6. We have
already held in the accompanying judgment that classified landlords such as the
widow landlady under Section 14-D can apply for possession of the premises
under the respective provisions even if the premises are not let for residence.
It is not necessary to repeat the said discussion in this judgment. Section
14-D makes no distinction between the landladies who become widows before and
after letting out of the premises. It merely says that where the landlady is a
widow and the premises are let out by her or by her- husband, are required by
her for her own residence, she may apply to the Controller for recovering the
immediate possession of such premises. The language of the section in that
respect is very clear. The premises might have been let out by her as a widow
or they might have been let out by her husband or even by herself before she
had become widow. The legislature wanted to give a special privilege to the
landlady who is a widow notwithstanding whether the premises were let out
before or after she became widow. Such conferment of special benefit on a 384
widow-landlady is permissible even under the provisions of Article 15(3) of the
Constitution which is an express exception to the provisions of sub-clauses (1)
and (2) of that Article. It states that nothing in the said Article shall
prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children. A
widow is undoubtedly a vulnerable person in our society and requires special
protection. We further see no merit in the contention that if the benefit given
by Section 14-D is allowed to be availed of by widows, they may make a business
of it. There is no warrant for such apprehension. For, in the first instance,
the right to recover possession under Section 14-D can be availed of by the widow
only once. That is a sufficient guarantee against the abuse of the privilege
granted by the section.
she has to prove her bona fide need for the occupation of the premises in
question for her own residence like any other landlord. Thirdly, the provisions
of Section 19 of the Act come into play in her case also, when the order for
possession on the ground of bona fide requirement for occupation as residence
is made in her favour.
this view of the matter, we find no substance in this appeal and the same is
dismissed with no order as to costs.
Petition No. 902 of 1990
the view that we have taken above, it is not necessary to admit this writ
petition. The authorities under the Act while disposing of the applications
under Section 14-D will have to abide by this decision and not by the decision
of the Delhi High Court in Civil Writ No. 2686 of 1989 in the matter of Dr.
P.P. Kapur v. Union of India & Ors. which was brought to our notice and