Tenant eviction-Landlord to establish only reasonable requirement which should be a genuine need and not simple desire – Supreme Court

Tenant eviction-Landlord to establish only reasonable requirement which should be a genuine need and not simple desire – Supreme Court

Tenant eviction

The eviction of the tenant from the rented house/shop (property) has always given rise to controversies. One of the common clause in almost all the Rent Control Acts of the various states the property can be evicted for the reasonable or bona fide requirement of the property by the land lord for his/her own occupation or member of family.

In a recent judgment, Hon’ble the Supreme Court has held that for eviction, the landlord needs to establish only a reasonable requirement which should not be simple desire but a genuine need.

ABCAUS Case Law Citation:
ABCAUS 1131 (2017) (02) SC

Question for determination:
Whether the requirement of the landlord for own occupation could also mean occupation by a member of the family?

Brief Facts of the Case:
The appellant filed a Civil Suit seeking eviction of the respondent from the premises let out to him. Besides the ground on expiry of the period for which property was let out, the appellant’s case was  that the premises was required for her own use.  

As per the grounds raised by the appellant, she was deserted by her husband and had no source of income and her elder sons was unemployed.  Because the son was simply a matriculate and the appellant being the house lady and intended to use the rental premises for her personal use enabling her elder son to establish the business therein. Therefore, the rental premises was required for her son who can support the family in the long run.

In the Trial Court, the suit was decreed in favour of the appellant.

However, a single judge Bench of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar allowed the appeal of the respondent. The Hon’ble High Court observed that the son of the respondent (present appellant) had not been examined as witness before the Trial Court. The Court also held that there was nothing in the statement of the respondent which could even indirectly suggest the nature of the business that her son intends to carry on this property, his resources to carry on the business and his aptitude and physical strength and other facts requisite for such a purpose. Thus the evidence was so vague that no reliance can be placed on it.

The Court held that though reasonable requirement as stipulated in the J&K Houses and Shops Rent Control Act (“the Act”) is a question of law but whether the landlord has proved it or not is essentially a question of fact. If the very person who needs the shop for his use is reluctant to appear before the Court, the Court would not extend any help to him and would not grant any relief in his favour.

In the intra-court appeal, the Division Bench also concurred with the learned Single Judge and held that the appellant had failed to prove that the premises was required for own occupation.

Out of the six questions framed by the Trial Court, the Hon’ble Supreme Court was concerned mainly with the requirement on the ground of own occupation.

Observations made by the Supreme Court:
The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the trial court had meticulously analyzed and appreciated the reasonableness of the requirement of the premises under dispute for the business to be managed by the son of the appellant especially in her peculiar family circumstances. The Trial court had appreciated the evidence in the right perspective and held that it was not mere desire but genuine need. 

The finding of the trial court was challenged mainly on the ground that the son, for whose benefit the eviction is sought, has not been examined.  However, the Hon’ble Apex Court observed that mere non-examination of the family member who intends to do the business could be taken as a ground for repelling the reasonable requirement of the landlord.

It was observed that Under the Act, the landlord needs to establish only a reasonable requirement which should not be simple desire but a genuine need. Whether the requirement is based on a desire or need, will depend on the facts of each case.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court quoted its earlier judgments

Bega Begum and others v. Abdul Ahad Khan (dead) by Lrs. and others (1979) 1 SCC 273 the requirement only connotes an element of genuine need
Joginder Pal v. Naval Kishore Behal (2002) 5 SCC 397 in interpreting “own use”, the court should adopt a practical and meaningful approach guided by realities of life.

Ajit Singh and another v. Jit Ram and another  (2008) 9 SCC 699

a non-residential premises, if required by a son for user by him would cover the requirement of the words used in the section i.e. “for his own use” in reference to a landlord

C. Karunkaran (dead) by Lrs. v. T. Meenakshi Civil Appeal No. 2773 of 2002 mere non-examination of the person for whose need the building was required by itself was no ground to non-suit the landlady
Gulraj Singh Grewal v. Dr. Harbans Singh and another (1993) 2 SCC 68 whether a landlord can be non-suited on the ground of non-examination of the son for whose benefit the premises is sought to be vacated?

in case the need has otherwise been established in evidence, the non-examination is not material. At the best, it is only a matter of appreciation of evidence.

It was observed that the question whether there is a reasonable requirement by the landlord of the premises would depend on whether the landlord has been able to establish a genuine element of need for the premises. What is a genuine need would depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. Merely because the landlord has not examined the member of the family who intends to do business in the premises, he cannot be non-suited in case he has otherwise established a genuine need. The need is a matter of appreciation of evidence, and once there is no perversity in the appreciation of evidence on the need, the said finding of fact cannot be reopened.

The Hon’ble Court noted that in the instant case, the eviction was not sought for the occupation of any person for whose benefit the house or shop was held. The premises sought to be evicted was not held for the benefit of the son alone; but the whole family. It was for the own occupation of the landlord.

It was further observed that it was established that the landlord was not happy and content with the paltry rent received. It was for the landlord to decide as to the best use the premises should be put to. There is nothing wrong on the part of a landlord in making plans for a better living by doing business engaging her son.

It was observed that having regard to the background of the son who was unemployed and undereducated, the appellant was able to establish that business was the available option and the tenanted premises was the only space available.

It was held that the genuine need for the premises had been established. The appellant having established a reasonable requirement of the tenanted premises for own occupation, the appeals was allowed. The judgment(s) of the High Court were set aside and jhe judgment and decree of the trial court was restored. The respondent was granted a period of three months to surrender vacant possession.

Tenant eviction

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