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Pankaj Bhargava Vs. Mohinder Nath [1994] INSC 446 (2 September 1994)

Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J) Sen, S.C. (J)

CITATION: 1994 SCC (6) 4 JT 1994 (5) 468 1994 SCALE (3)946

ACT:

HEAD NOTE:

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by B.P JEEVAN REDDY, J.- This contempt petition is filed by the appellant-landlords in Pankaj Bhargava v. Mohinder Nath1 complaining that the respondents, Shri Ram Prakash and Shri Mohinder Nath have violated the undertaking given by them to this Court by not vacating the house as undertaken by them.

2. The petitioners (landlords) applied under Section 21 of the Delhi Rent Control Act on 5-4-1978 seeking permission for creating tenancy for a limited period of five years which was allowed on 6-4-1978. Since the tenants failed to vacate at the end of five years' period, the landlords applied to the Rent Controller for putting them in possession of the premises. The respondent-tenants contested the said application inter alia on the ground that a new tenancy was created with effect from 6-4-1983 immediately upon the expiry of the original five years' period. The Rent Controller rejected all the defences taken by the respondent-tenants and allowed the petitioners' application which was affirmed by the Rent Control Tribunal on appeal. However, on second appeal, the High Court reversed the orders of the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority holding that the very creation of the original tenancy was an illegal one. Accordingly, it dismissed the landlords' application for possession. The petitioner- landlords approached this Court by 1 (1991) 1 SCC 556 6 way of the aforesaid civil appeal which was allowed by a Division Bench of this Court by its judgment and order dated 11 12-1990.

3. On 17-12-1990, the respondent-tenants applied for time to vacate the premises. They were permitted to continue to occupy the premises till 30-4-1991 subject to the usual undertaking to be filed within two weeks. The respondent, Ram Prakash executed and furnished an undertaking to this Court to vacate the premises and to hand over the same to the landlords on or before 30-4-1991.

4. On 3-5-1991, the landlords filed the present contempt petition complaining that the tenants have failed to vacate and hand over the .premises by 30-4-1991 as per their undertaking. Notices were issued and served upon the respondents. Mohinder Nath took up the plea that he had vacated the premises as far back as 1982 and was no longer concerned with the premises since then. The respondent, Ram Prakash took up the plea that a new tenancy was created between the parties by mutual agreement on 15-4-1991 where under not only the rent was enhanced but certain amounts were also paid to the landlords by him. The petitioners denied any such agreement and the receipt of monies. They characterised it as a forgery and fabrication. Inasmuch as the respondent, Ram Prakash filed certain affidavits in support of his plea, this Court by its order dated 20-8-1991 directed the District Judge to enquire into the truth of the claim put forward by respondent, Ram Prakash, and to record and submit a firm finding in that behalf. Accordingly, the learned District Judge took up the enquiry. The respondent, Ram Prakash examined as many as 19 witnesses before the learned District Judge and filed a good number of documents.

The petitioner land lords also examined several witnesses and produced certain documents in support of their case.

After an elaborate consideration of the said material, the learned District Judge submitted his findings. His report runs into as many as 71 pages. He found that the claim set up by respondent, Ram Prakash, was false, that no such fresh tenancy was created on 15-4-1991 nor any amount paid by him to the landlords as alleged by him.

5. Respondent, Ram Prakash filed objections to the said report. We have heard the learned counsel for the petitioner-landlords and Shri Ram Prakash, appearing in person.

6. It may be noticed that this is not the first occasion that the tenant has set up a new tenancy. A similar plea was set up by him in the Rent Control proceedings, as stated hereinbefore, which was rejected by both the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority. The High Court no doubt held in favour of the tenants but on a different ground altogether. It did not uphold the plea of fresh tenancy.

The judgment of this Court in Pankaj Bhargava v. Mohinder Nath1 shows that the said plea of new tenancy (said to have been created with effect from 6-4-1983) was not ever, pressed or argued.

7. After failing in this Court in the said civil appeal, the respondent, Ram Prakash applied for extension of time to vacate the premises which was granted, as aforesaid, till 30-4-1991 subject to filing of usual undertaking, 7 which he did, whereunder he undertook to vacate and deliver possession to the landlords on or before 30-4-1991. If indeed a fresh tenancy agreement was arrived at between the parties on 15-4-1991, as alleged by him, the most natural thing would have been to report the said fact to this Court and to request that he may be discharged from the obligation undertaken by him in the undertaking furnished by him. Ram Prakash did nothing to this sort. Only after the contempt petition was filed and notice was served upon him (the notice was admittedly served upon him on 4-6-1991) he came forward with the plea on 1-7-1991 that a new tenancy agreement was arrived at between the parties and that certain payments were made by him to the landlords. The landlords have denied the same; they say that certain amounts were credited in their bank account without their knowledge and consent. After an elaborate enquiry, the learned District Judge has recorded the following findings:,

"(1) Petitioners or O.P Bhargava had never given any advertisement on or about 17-3-1991 for reletting the premises;

(2) The petitioners or O.P. Bhargava had not entered into any agreement for reletting the premises to respondent Ram Prakash on or about 11-4-1991 or on 15-4-1991;

(3) Pankaj Bhargava or O.P. Bhargava has not executed lease deed dated 15-4-1991 photostat copy of which is marked D or carbon copy marked E on 15-4-1991 and these are not signed by him at any of the places purported to be signed by them;

(4) They had not received any payments by cash or by cheque from Ram Prakash on 15-4- 1991;

(5) Receipts Exts. R-5 to R-8 had not been signed either by Pankaj Bhargava or by O.P. Bhargava.

(6) Affidavit Ext. R- 12 is not signed by O.P. Bhargava at points PA- 1, PA-2 and PA-3 and was not sworn by him before the Executive Magistrate.

(7) O.P. Bhargava had not purchased the stamp papers used in lease deed marked D and marked E and had not signed either in the stamp vendor's register or on the back of the stamps;

(8) Documents marked D and marked E have been fabricated by Ram Prakash in collusion with RW-11 Sukhdev Raj and they also had filed false affidavits in support thereof in the Supreme Court of India." The respondent, Ram Prakash has filed his objections to the said report and has reiterated the same before us.

8. It must be remembered that contempt proceedings are summary proceedings. We have gone through the report of the learned District Judge which is an elaborate and well considered one. He has given elaborate reasons for rejecting the case set up by respondent, Ram Prakash. No acceptable objections or reasons have been assigned by the respondent not to 8 accept the report of the learned District Judge. The respondent merely reiterated that his own evidence and that of his witnesses should be believed in preference to the evidence of the petitioner-landlords, their father, Dr O.P Bhargava or their witnesses. We are not prepared to agree.

The findings recorded by the learned District Judge show that not only the respondent has fabricated the so-called agreement but has also tried to support it by producing other false documents and witnesses. Even the affidavit said to have been sworn to by Dr O.P Bhargava (father of the landlords) before the Executive Magistrate has been disbelieved by the learned District Judge. The Advocate, Shri J.P Singh who is said to have identified Dr O.P. Bhargava before the Executive Magistrate was examined as RW- 3 before the learned District Judge but his evidence too has not been accepted.

9. The several submissions made by Shri Ram Prakash before us were also urged before the learned District Judge and have been rejected and, in our opinion, rightly. It is not without significance that none of the advocates who appeared for the parties in the original or appellate court or in the High Court and Supreme Court have been apprised of the said tenancy agreement. The agreement is put forward for the first time on 1-7-199 1. The whole story appears to be a made-up one and is unacceptable.

10. It may be noticed that by the aforesaid order dated 20- 8-1991 made in these proceedings, this Court had directed the respondent, Ram Prakash to vacate the suit premises and to hand over the vacant possession of the tenanted premises to the landlord within three weeks from the date of the said order. It was, however, directed that the landlords shall, after getting vacant possession of the premises, keep the same vacant and shall not let out or transfer or part with the possession of the suit premises in any manner whatsoever until further orders of this Court. It is stated before us that the respondent vacated the premises accordingly and the landlords have taken possession thereof. In the circumstances, no directions are necessary with respect to the delivery of the possession.

11. Inasmuch as the respondent, Ram Prakash has violated the order of this Court dated 17-12-1990 and came forward with a false case and tried to support the same by producing fabricated documents, he is held guilty of contempt of court. Having regard to all the facts and circumstances of the case, the respondent, Ram Prakash is sentenced to two weeks' imprisonment in addition to a fine of Rs 2000. In case, the fine is not paid within 15 days from today, he shall suffer further imprisonment for another two weeks.

12. Contempt Petition is ordered accordingly.

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