Corp. Ltd. Vs. Rajkumari Padma Kumari & ANR.  INSC 1811 (22 October
JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6190 OF 2008 (Arising out of S.L.P.(C)
No.17110/2007) Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. ...Appellant(s) Versus
Rajkumari Padma Kumari & Anr. ...Respondent(s) ORDER Leave granted.
An application under
Section 29-A(5) of the U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and
Eviction) Act, 1972 was filed by the predecessor of the respondents herein
praying for determination of standard rent of the property in question. On that
application, Case No.10/1999 was registered in the Court of District Magistrate,
Dehradun. In the said application, it was stated that by a registered deed
dated 11th January, 1971, a piece of land situate at Gandhi Road, Dehradun
stood let out to Esso Eastern Inc. Under the said deed, the tenant had a right
to install, erect and maintain underground tanks, delivery pumps connected
thereto and building to be constructed for the purposes of storing, selling or
otherwise carrying on trade petrol or petroleum products. The lease was for ten
years from 15th March, 1970 at a monthly rent of Rs.450/-.
Esso Eastern Inc.
stood acquired by Government of India under the provisions of Esso (Acquisition
of Undertaking in India) Act, 1974. Consequently, Hindustan Petroleum
Corporation Ltd. (HPCL), the appellant before us, came into picture in the said
proceedings. HPCL thereafter filed its written statement in which, inter alia,
it was contended that in the lease, there was a term for renewal for a further
period of ten years at the option of the lessee, that during the said term of
the lease, M/s. Esso Eastern Inc. stood acquired under the 1974 Act and,
consequently, the lease stood transferred to HPCL. It was pleaded that
consequent to the passing of the 1974 Act, under Section 5(2) of the said Act,
such lease was to be renewed on the same terms and conditions on which the
lease or tenancy was held by Esso Eastern Inc. According to HPCL, before expiry
of the total term of twenty years, the lessee had availed of its statutory
right for renewal of lease for a further term beyond 14th March, 1990 on the
same terms and conditions as mentioned in the lease agreement.
To complete the
chronology of events, the District Magistrate, Dehradun, in the above
proceedings called for the valuation report of the Tehsildar. The report was
given on 27th December, 2002 stating that the value of the property on the
basis of circle rate as well as on the basis of market value should be fixed at
the rate of Rs.50,000/- per month. The District Magistrate has assessed and
fixed the standard rent at the rate of Rs.50,000/- per month. This rate has
been confirmed by the High Court vide its impugned judgment. Hence, this Civil
Appeal by HPCL.
Two points arise for
determination in this case. Firstly, the date from which the rent of
Rs.50,000/- per month should be made applicable to the premises in question
and, secondly, whether the High Court was right in confirming the standard rent
fixed by the District Magistrate at the rate of Rs.50,000/- per month.
In the course of
hearing, an argument was advanced on the first point by the learned counsel for
HPCL that HPCL had exercised its option for renewal of lease for a further
period of ten years commencing from 15th March, 1990 on the same terms and
conditions on which it held the lease before 15th March, 1990. There is merit in
this contention. We find from the correspondence annexed to the paper book at
page 227 onwards and, particularly, in the context of the letter dated 15th
May, 1990 at page 234, that the appellant herein had exercised its statutory
right for renewal of the above lease upto 14th March, 2000 under Sections 5 and
7(3) of the 1974 Acquisition Act. Therefore, on the first point, we hold that
the District Magistrate had erred in determining the standard rent from 15th
March, 1990 at the rate of Rs.50,000/- per month because the period from 15th
March, 1990 to 14th March, 2000 came within the statutory right of the
appellant under the 1974 Act.
However, we do not
find fault in the Order of the District Magistrate as HPCL did not produce the
correspondence which is now placed on record before us by the landlord.
On the second point,
we find that HPCL did not lead any evidence in the form of valuation report
challenging the rate of standard rent proposed by the Tehsildar in its report
to the District Magistrate. After the expiry of the contractual lease and
particularly from the period 15th March, 2000, HPCL claims to be a statutory
tenant under the U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and
Eviction) Act, 1972. Under Section 9(2), the District Magistrate is required to
fix the standard rent in accordance with certain parameters indicated and
provided for therein. One of the parameters refers to prevailing rents for
similar buildings in the locality. No evidence has been led by the HPCL in this
regard. For the afore stated reasons, on the second question regarding fixation
of standard rent fixed at Rs.50,000/- per month, we see no infirmity in the
impugned judgment of the High Court and the District Magistrate. Consequently,
we hereby declare that the respondent-lessor would be entitled to charge, levy
and recover standard rent at the rate of Rs.50,000/- per months with effect
from 15th March, 2000 and not from 15th March, 1990, as directed by the
District Magistrate. The question as to whether HPCL is protected under the
1972 Act or not does not arise for consideration in this Civil Appeal.
We are informed that
an eviction suit is also filed by the tenant herein under the Transfer of
Property Act, which is pending before the trial court. We express no opinion
regarding that suit. All contentions available to the parties in that suit are
expressly kept open. Any observation made in the present order regarding claim
to protection under the Rent Act will not bind the trial court in that suit.
Appeal stands partly allowed, with no order as to costs.
(B. SUDERSHAN REDDY)
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