Rafeeqan (Dead) by LRS.
Vs. Hussan Bano  INSC 704 (6 September 2010)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.2126 OF 2004 Smt.
Rafeeqan (Dead) by Lr. ...Appellant(s) - Versus - Smt. Hussan Bano
appeal is directed against the judgment and order dated 27th May 2003 passed by
the Delhi High Court in Civil Revision No.754 of 2002. By the impugned judgment
and order, the High Court affirmed the order of the Additional Rent Controller
dated 27th May, 2002 by which the Additional 1 Rent Controller dismissed the
application of the appellant for leave to defend in the eviction proceeding
filed against her by the respondent under Section 14-D of the Delhi Rent
Control Act (hereinafter, `the said Act').
material facts of the case are that the respondent, a widow, filed a petition
under Section 14-D of the said Act to recover immediate possession of the
premises of which the appellant is a tenant in one room, kitchen, bathroom,
latrine and courtyard on the first floor of property No.4899-A Gali Maulvi
Abdul Rahim, Bara Hindu Rao, Dehli at a rent of Rs.100/- per month and other
the respondent purchased the property in question by a registered sale deed
dated 31.10.1961 and the appellant was inducted as a tenant in the said
property by the previous owner. In the eviction petition it was stated by the
respondent- landlord that she and her family require the tenanted premises for
her own residential purposes. When such eviction petition came before the Court
of the Additional Rent Controller, Delhi the Court recorded that nobody
appeared on behalf of the appellant in spite of notice in the newspaper and no
leave application was filed. However, the Additional Rent Controller, Delhi by
judgment and order dated 18.3.1999 dismissed the eviction petition filed by the
respondent herein, inter alia, on the ground that the tenanted premises was let
out by the previous owner from whom the respondent herein purchased the
tenanted premises. It was not let out either by the respondent herein or by her
husband or by any of her blood relations 3 and the Additional Rent Controller
held that Section 14-B of the said Act does not apply.
the said order a revision petition was filed by the respondent herein. In such
revision petition, the Delhi High Court vide order dated 11.9.2000 was pleased
to set aside the order dated 18.3.1999 passed by the Additional Rent
Controller, Delhi and the Delhi High Court was pleased to direct the Additional
Rent Controller to decide the eviction petition on merits. The Delhi High Court
was pleased to hold as follows:- "Admit.
The petitioner is
aggrieved by an order dated 18th March, 1999 passed by the learned Additional
Rent Controller, Delhi.
The petitioner was
non-suited on the ground that the suit premises were not let out by her husband
or by her but were in fact let out by the predecessor-in- interest of the
The admitted position
is that the suit premises were purchased by the petitioner some time in 1961.
She, unfortunately, became a widow in 1980.
It has been held by
various judgments Union of India and others, 1990 (18) DRJ Tools (India) Pvt.
Ltd., 1993 (25) DRJ 52 (47) DRJ 789 that the provisions of Section 14-D of the
Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 cannot be given restricted meaning. It is
immaterial that the suit premises were let out by the predecessor- in-interest
or the widow. The expression "letting out by her or by her husband"
has to be given a wider meaning including therein the predecessor-in-interest
of the widow.
circumstances, I am of the view that the impugned order passed by the learned
Additional Rent Controller cannot be sustained.
Additional Rent Controller should now decide the eviction petition on merits.
The parties will
appear before the learned Additional Rent Controller on 25th September,
counsel appearing for the appellant in this case mainly argued on two points.
His first submission
is that the decision of the Delhi High Court quoted above is erroneous in view
of subsequent Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Nathi Devi vs. Radha
Devi Gupta - (2005) 2 SCC 271.
Constitution Bench in Nathi Devi (supra) was formed in view of divergence of
opinion between two Benches of this Court on the interpretation of Section 14-D
of the said Act.
proper appreciation of the points at issue, the provision of Section 14-D of
the said Act is set out below:- 14D. 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, or by her 6 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 he open to her to make an application under that sub-section in respect
of any one of the premises chosen by her."
Nathi Devi (supra) this Court noticed the difference of opinion between the
decision of this Court in the case of Surjit Singh Kalra vs. Union of India,
(1991) 2 SCC 87, and the decision of this Court in Kanta Goel vs. B.P. Pathak,
(1977) 2 SCC 814.
Constitution Bench of this Court in Nathi Devi (supra), upholding the reasoning
given by this Court in Surjit Singh Kalra (supra) held as follows:
expression "let out by her, or by her husband" is not an expression
which 7 permits of any ambiguity. We must, therefore, give it its normal
meaning. So understood the conclusion is inescapable that the legislative
intent was only to confer a special right on a limited class of widows viz. the
widow who let the premises or whose husband had let the premises before his
death, and which premises the widow requires for her own use." (Para 28,
page 284 of the report)
Constitution Bench made the position further clear in paragraph 32, in the
following words:- "...Section 14-D benefits only a class of widows viz. a
widow who or whose husband had let out the premises. If the intention was to
benefit all widows, the section would have provided that a widow is entitled to
obtain immediate possession of the premises owned by her and the expressions
"let out by her or by her husband" and "such premises" in
Section 14-D would be redundant...."
in the same paragraph it was held as follows:
view, Section 14-D insists that the premises must be one let out by her or by
her husband. A widow or her late husband who acquired a tenanted premises by
sale or transfer cannot invoke the provisions of Section 14-D to evict a pre-
view of the aforesaid clear enunciation of law by the Constitution Bench of
this Court on Section 14-D of the said Act, the judgment of the Delhi High
Court, extracted above, is clearly erroneous.
may be true that the decision of the Delhi High Court, extracted above, giving
a different interpretation of Section 14-D was not challenged by the appellant
But the High Court
judgment on interpretation of Section 14-D is clearly erroneous in view of the
subsequent Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Nathi Devi (supra). The
Constitution Bench decision in Nathi Devi (supra), in view of the mandate of
Article 141 of the Constitution is binding on all subordinate Courts and Delhi
High Court and the rights of the parties in a pending proceeding 9 under
Section 14-D of the said Act must be governed by the law laid down in Nathi
learned counsel for the appellant has, however, argued another point, namely,
that there is no relationship of landlord and tenant between the appellant and
view of the decision of this Court in Nathi Devi (supra), this Court need not
go into the aforesaid question.
the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in Nathi Devi (supra) this Court
allows the appeal and holds that provision of Section 14-D is not applicable
for eviction of the appellant in this case, since she is admittedly a
pre-existing tenant on the premises prior to the 10 purchase of the property
by the husband of the respondent landlord.
Court, however, makes it clear that the respondent-landlord, if so advised, is
at liberty to initiate eviction proceedings against the appellant in accordance
with law. The appeal is, thus, allowed. The impugned order of the High Court is
set aside. No order as to costs.