Date of Order:
11th July 2023
Justice [Sanjay Kishan]
Justice [Ahsanuddin Amanullah]
M/S. TALUKA STORES
- The respondent, a tenant in Jaipur, evicted the appellant, who had purchased the property in 1985. The appellant filed an eviction suit, but it was dismissed due to non-compliance with Section 14(3) of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 1950.
- The court ruled that a quietus should be placed on the dispute, requiring the respondent to hand over vacant possession and file an undertaking for further occupation. The parties were left to bear their own costs.
Section 14(3) of the Rajasthan Premises (Control of Rent and Eviction) Act, 1950
- The respondent is the tenant of a shop in Jaipur, with the appellant as the landlord. The appellant purchased the property from the respondent on 30.01.1985, but the tenanted premises were already under the respondent's tenancy.
- The appellant filed a suit for eviction, but the suit was dismissed on 30.10.2002, citing non-compliance with Section 14(3) of the Rajasthan Premises (Control of Rent and Eviction) Act, 1950.
- The respondent evicted the appellant from a shop in Jaipur, but the premises were already under the tenant’s tenancy. The appellant appealed, arguing that the lease deed had not been adduced before the trial court. The court disagreed with the respondent’s claim that the premises were leased on 08.06.1982, and the appellant’s second appeal was rejected.
- The Single Judge referred the matter to a Larger Bench to determine whether the five-year limitation in Section 14(3) of the Rajasthan Premises (Control of Rent and Eviction) Act, 1950 bars the institution of a suit itself or only considers the suit and passes a decree.
- The Division Bench agreed with the former interpretation, finding no ambiguity in the language of Section 14(3), which created a complete bar to the filing of the suit.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT
- The appellant argues that interpreting Section 14(3) of the Act as literal would be absurd and should be applied as a purposive rule. The intent is to grant protection to tenants against eviction for five years, but a literal interpretation would grant protection after 38 years. The court supports this argument, citing a case in B. Banerjee v. Smt. Anita Pan.
- Section 14(3) of the Act uses the term’shall lie’ instead of ’shall be instituted’. The appellant argued that the term implies a suit would be defective for five years and then stand cured.
- They cited Martin & Harris Ltd. V. VIth Additional Distt. Judge and Ors., where the bar was only on deciding the suit, and Vithalbhai (P) Ltd. V. Union Bank of India, where a premature suit does not affect the court’s jurisdiction.
- The observations in R. Rajagopal Reddy v. Padmini Chandrasekharan were not applicable, as the case dealt with Section 4(1) of the Benami Transactions Act, 1988.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENT
- The respondent argued that the word ‘lie’ in Section 14(3) of the Act was not defined, meaning it could not be maintainable or admissible. The legislature’s intention to pass an eviction decree after five years would have impacted the wording of the Act.
- The legislature’s intention to pass eviction decree after five-year expiry was questioned, and the judgment in B. Banerjee’s case aimed to determine constitutional validity of retrospective amendment in West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1956.
- The suit may have been defectively initiated within five years of tenancy, but over 38 years have passed since its filing. The respondent's plea suggests the appellant should file a fresh suit, possibly due to the possibility of a similar scenario occurring if the tenant has already prolonged proceedings.
- The interpretation of the initial restriction on suit filing is unjustified, as it would travesty justice. The objective is to impediment the institution and trial of the suit for a specified period. The spirit of protection is fulfilled with the prescribed time period, and filing a fresh suit would lead to unnecessary litigation.
- The objective of Section 14(3) of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, which safeguards tenants for five years, was subserved by the proceedings for 38 years. The Act was abrogated in 2001, and a new statute, the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001, does not create a similar bar.
- The court ruled that a quietus should be placed on a 38-year dispute over tenancy and proceedings. They affirmed the eviction decree and requested the respondent to hand over vacant possession by 30.09.2023, and file an undertaking for further occupation until 30.9.2023. The appeal was allowed, leaving the parties to bear their own costs.