Rachpal Singh &
Etc. Vs. Gurmit Kumar & Etc.  INSC 919 (8 May 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NOS.3402-3404 OF 2009
(Arising out of SLP(C) Nos. 23399-23401 of 2008) Rachpal Singh & Ors.
..........Appellants Versus Gurmit Kaur & Ors. ........Respondents
is a petition for special leave to appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution
from the judgment and order dated 28.4.2008 of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana,
at Chandigarh. We grant special leave and dispose of this appeal.
the judgment and the order impugned, High Court has allowed and remanded all
the three Revision Petitions to the Rent Controller, Nakodar, to reconsider all
the issues raised in the application filed under Section 18-A of the Act in
accordance with law.
factual matrix as asserted by the respondent /landlady are; the respondent/
Gurmit Kaur is the owner/landlady of the disputed property which was purchased
by her vide registered sale deed dated 16.4.1971. The building has four shops
and three of which has been let out to the appellants and the fourth shop to
one Sri Vijay Kumar. The respondent claiming to be an NRI and being desirous of
having possession of the tenanted premises so as to settle down in India,
sought eviction of tenants by filing separate petitions under section 13-B of
the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 against all the four tenants.
tenants appeared in all the four eviction petitions, out of which three are
pending before the Rent Controller, Nakodar. The tenants have filed
applications for leave to contest under section 18-A of the act, wherein, they
dispute the landlord and tenant relationship and according to them the shops
were let out to them by one Gurbachan Singh and not by respondent and the
tenants are paying rents regularly to him. Secondly, the respondent was not an
NRI at the time of letting out the shop premises and has not acquired the
status of an NRI even till today.
the eviction petition filed against one another tenant Vijay Kumar, the
respondent had claimed that she is an NRI and has leased out one of the shops
in the building owned by her to Vijay Kumar in the year 1990. Since, she has
come back to India, she requires the shop premises for her own use and
occupation. By way of defence, it was alleged by Vijay Kumar that he is not the
tenant of the disputed shop, and it is his brother Vipin Kumar is the tenant
and is running the shop in his own name and, therefore, the proceedings filed
under section 13-B of the Rent Act is not maintainable for non-joinder of
necessary and proper parties.
Rent Controller, Nakodar, vide its order dated 15.6.2007, without giving any
finding with regard to the status of the respondent/Gurmit Kaur being NRI or
not, had concluded that the tenancy created in favour of Vijay Kumar stands
prima facie proved from the rent deed dated 7.7.1993 and as such there is no
tenancy created in favour of Vipin Kumar and therefore, the petition filed
under Section 13-B of the Rent Act by the landlady deserves to be allowed and,
accordingly, has directed Vijaya Kumar to deliver the immediate possession of
the shop premises to the landlady.
respect of other three petitions, Rent Controller vide its order dated
15.6.2007, has granted to the tenants leave to defend the petition filed by the
landlady under Section 13-B of the Rent Act.
by the aforementioned order, the respondent landlady had filed revision
petitions before the High Court, inter alia, asserting that the learned Rent
Controller in the case of Gurmit Kaur v. Vijay Kumar, has found the
respondent/landlady is an NRI after looking into her passport and the sale deed
dated 16.4.1971, and the same Rent Controller in other three petitions has
taken a different view and has allowed the application for leave to defend and,
therefore, the order passed is arbitrary and impermissible in law.
High Court, while allowing the petitions has observed, that, the Rent Controller
would be justified in permitting the tenants leave to defend, if it is of the
opinion that some triable issue would arise in view of the contentions raised
in the application filed under Section 18-A of the Act and at any rate, not on
the ground that the respondent is not an NRI and that would lead to incongruous
situation in view of the conflicting orders passed by the same court on the
status of the respondent, and accordingly, has set aside the impugned orders
and has remitted back to the Rent Controller, Nakodar, to reconsider the
application filed by the tenants under Section 18-A of the Act in accordance
with law. Aggrieved by the order of remand so passed, the appellants are before
us in this appeal.
Learned Counsel for the appellants has argued that the order in Vijay Kumar's
case does not even record a finding to the effect that the respondent is an
NRI; hence the inferential finding in Vijay Kumar's case could not be binding
in the cases of the appellants. It is further submitted that the Rent
Controller in Vijay Kumar's case has accepted the claim of the respondent on
the ground that Vijay Kumar in order to avoid the order of eviction had stated
that his brother Vipin Kumar is the tenant of the shop premises, but in fact it
was Vijay Kumar in whose name rent deed was executed, and the Rent Controller
has just made a passing reference to the passport and sale deed of the
respondent without deciding whether the respondent is an NRI. Therefore, in the
instant Revision Petitions the High Court has erred in giving a finding that
the learned Rent Controller has considered the respondent as an NRI.
genesis of our procedural laws is to be traced to principles of natural
justice, the principal amongst them being that no one shall suffer civil or
evil or pecuniary consequence at his back without giving him an adequate and
effective opportunity to participate to disprove the case against him and prove
his own case. (See Charan Dass Duggal v. Brahma Nand, (1983) 1 SCC 301)
some triable issues are raised then the controversy can be properly adjudicated
after ascertainment of truth through cross-examination of witnesses who have
filed their affidavits and other material documents.
Burden is on the
landlord to prove his requirements and his assertion is required to be tested
more so when the status of the respondent has been specifically challenged and
also when the landlord-tenant relationship is in question. Therefore, we do not
see any infirmity in the common order passed by the High Court in Civil
Revision Petitions 4096 of 2007 and connected matters dated 28.04.2008.
accordingly, dismiss these appeals and sustain the impugned order passed by the
High Court. However, we direct the Rent Controller to independently examine the
applications filed by the appellants under Section 18-A of the Act in
accordance with law and also if there are any triable issues between the
parties, decide the same in accordance with law as expeditiously as possible,
at any rate within an outer limit of nine months from the date of receipt of
this Court's order and while doing so, the Rent Controller need not be
influenced by any of the observations made by the High Court while disposing of
Civil Revision Petitions. In the facts and circumstances of the case, parties
are directed to bear their own costs.
[ H.L. DATTU ]