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By Merely Denying Landlord-Tenant Relationship, Defendant In Eviction Suit Can't Enjoy Property During Pendency Without Depositing Rent

Anila Sabu ,
  19 July 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
Civil Appeal No. 4682 of 2022

Case Title:
Asha Rani Gupta Vs Sir Vineet Kumar

Date Of Order:
14th July 2022

Judge:
Dinesh Maheshwari J.

Parties:
Petitioner: Asha Rani Gupta
Respondent: Sir Vineet Kumar

SUBJECT

Just contesting the plaintiff's title or the landlord-tenant relationship between the plaintiff and defendant does not exempt the lessee or tenant from paying the required rent or damages for use and possession.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

1. Order XV Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure –

Rent arrears not paid in a timely manner while a lawsuit is pending; court may dismiss defence.

BRIEF FACTS

  • Asha Rani Gupta, the appellant, sued respondent Sri Vineet Kumar under the allegations that, among other things, she is the owner of a store that she acquired from Rajiv Kant Sharma through a registered sale deed.
  • Sri Vineet Kumar, according to Asha Rani Gupta, is a tenant in the suit store. It was claimed that he was a persistent non-payer of rent and taxes; despite her demands, he was said to have been delinquent since May 2010.
  • Although he did not dispute his status as a tenant at the suit business, Sri Vineet Kumar in his written statement disputed the plaintiff and himself having a landlord-tenant relationship. He claimed that the purported sale deed was invalid and illegal.
  • He asserted that Shri Rajiv Kant Sharma, the putative transferor of the plaintiff, did not lease the shop to him; rather, his wife Sudha Sharma did. Additionally, he said that Sudha Sharma had previously provided rent receipts but stopped doing so after collecting monthly rent.
  • In her plea, Asha Rani Gupta cited Order XV Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) and requested that the defence of the defendant-respondent be dismissed because neither party had paid any rent and neither party had shown any proof to support such a payment.
  • With the argument that the terms of Order XV Rule 5 CPC were only applicable to a case where the defendant would accept the plaintiff as his landlord, Sri Vineet Kumar opposed this application.
  • In the current case, he asserted explicitly that there was no landlord-tenant relationship between the plaintiff and defendant and that Asha Rani Gupta was neither the landlord nor the owner of the suit shop.
  • The Trial Court determined that there was no evidence submitted to the record by the defendant demonstrating his payment of rent to the plaintiff and noted that the application under Order XV Rule 5 CPC was maintainable even if the tenant denied the existence of a landlord-tenant relationship.

QUESTIONS RAISED

I. Whether the suit for eviction and recovery of arrears of rent as well as damages for use and occupation should be allowed.

II. Whether the High Court was right in reversing the order striking off defence in terms of Order XV Rule 5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT

  • The appellant had strongly argued that the High Court handled the case in a rather hasty manner and had incorrectly overturned the carefully considered orders dated 1st March 2017 and 18th January 2018, as made by the Trial Court and the Revisional Court, respectively, and striking off the defence of the defendant-respondent in accordance with Order XV Rule 5 CPC for failure to pay the required amount of rent/damages.
  • The appellant further argued that the High Court erred in its interpretation and application of Order XV Rule 5 CPC, allowing the defendant's petition by simply concluding that he was entitled to some leeway without providing any additional justification or finding to overturn the carefully considered decisions made by the lower courts.
  • The appellant argues that even if the defendant-respondent had entered a plea suggesting a denial of the plaintiff's title and a denial of the tenant-landlord relationship, he would still be responsible for paying rent. If he failed to do so, the consequences outlined in Order XV Rule 5 CPC would result, and he would not be eligible for any alleged indulgence.
  • The appellant also reffered to an affidavit that the defendant-respondent filed in 1990 admitting Shri Rajiv Kant Sharma was the original owner of the property that was the subject of the lawsuit and who the plaintiff appellant had purchased under a registered sale deed dated 10th May 2010.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT

  • The respondent claimed that there was no need to intervene with the High Court's position. According to his argument, the defendant-respondent was not required to deposit any rent in accordance with Order XV Rule 5 CPC since the defendant-respondent had made a specific plea on the nonexistence of a landlord-tenant relationship.
  • He argued that the word "may" in sub-rule (1) of Rule 5 of Order XV only grants the Court the discretionary right to do so and does not require the Court to do so in every instance of default or non-payment of rent.

ANALYSIS BY THE COURT

  • The Court highlighted that the right to strike off a defence is discretionary and should only be used sparingly when a genuinely fide tenant is involved.
  • The Court noted that it was essential that the defendant, who had not denied his identity as the lessee, had strictly followed the law's requirements and had deposited the arrears of rent due.
  • The court further held that defendant in the current-nature litigation cannot use the property while the claim is pending without depositing the appropriate amount of rent or damages.
  • This is because the plaintiff's title is only denied, as is the landlord-tenant or lessor-lessee connection.
  • The Court further, noted that despite being the lessee of the suit shop, the defendant-words respondent's and actions demonstrate that he was resolute in refusing to pay rent or damages.
  • According to the court, Order XV Rule 5 CPC contains the fundamental idea that a tenant is not allowed to "holiday" from paying rent or compensatory damages for use and occupancy, regardless of whether the lease is still in effect or has been terminated.

CONCLUSION

In light of all the relevant facts and circumstances, the court concluded that there was absolutely no justification for the High Court to intervene in this case, where the Trial Court had dismissed the defence after concluding that there was no evidence in the file to support the defendant-payment respondent's or deposit of rent in the plaintiff's favour.

As a result, the court reversed the High Court's decision and reinstated the Trial Court's ruling.

Learn the practical aspects of CrPC HERE, CPC HERE, IPC HERE, Evidence Act HERE, Family Laws HERE, DV Act HERE

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

 
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