Read Judgment: SAMARPAN VARISHTHA JAN PARISAR & ORS Vs. RAJENDRA PRASAD AGARWAL AND ORS. 

Mansimran Kaur

New Delhi, May 07, 2022: Holding that the respondents-inmates of the old age home as licensees have a legal right to stay in the room of the old age home only so long as they comply with the terms and conditions of such license, the Supreme Court has held that the possession of the respondents in a room of an old age home is that of a licensee permitted to enjoy the possession, but without creating any interest in the property. 

A Division Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice V. Ramasubramanian allowed the  appeal  instituted for assailing the order of the High Court whereby the revision petition filed by the respondents was allowed and the order of interim injunction was restored as passed by the Trial Court by observing that the  inmates in the old age home are licensees and are expected to maintain a minimum level of discipline and good behavior and not to cause disturbance to the fellow inmates who are also senior citizen.

The present appeal was instituted against an order passed by the High Court of Allahabad dated January 10, 2021 whereby the revision petition filed by the plaintiffs-respondents was allowed and interim injunction was restored, as granted by the Trial Court. 

Factual matrix of the case was that the Municipal Corporation, Lucknow constructed an old aged home. Thereafter, as per the terms of the advertisement published on December 5, 2004, the appellant was granted lease for running the said old age home for 15 years with an attached condition of renewal for a further period of 15 years.  One of the conditions in the lease was that the Advisory Board shall be framed by the lessee, that is the appellant. 

Thereafter, the appellant formulated  rules and regulations for grant of services at the old age home.  The rules stipulated that the cooperation fund deposited by the inmates shall be used for accommodation, food , bed and other essential services of living and general treatment. However, the expensive medical treatment shall be taken up  by the inmates themselves.

It was also mentioned that if any of the inmates act in contrary to the aforesaid rules, then the Administration possesses the right to terminate the membership of the inmate in question.  

Subsequently, on April 24, 2016, the plaintiffs- respondents filled the admission form of the respective old age home. The dispute in the instant case was pertaining to the misbehavior of the second plaintiff with the staff and the other inmates and the question that was posed was whether it was right of the inhabitant of an old age home to stay in such an old age home. 

Thereafter as stated in terms of the conditions of lease, the Committee held its meeting and decided to give one month’s time to plaintiffs to improve their behavior and if there was  no  improvisation found then they would have to  leave the premises in terms of Rule 21. 

Since no reform was seen, the appellant canceled the membership of the plaintiffs on November 22, 2019. In pursuance of the same, the plaintiffs filed a suit for injunction before the Civil Court, accompanied by an application for ad- interim injunction. On such application for interim injunction, the Trial Court passed an order stating that the plaintiffs shall not be dispossessed during the pendency of the suit.   However, in appeal the aforesaid order was vacated by the Court Additional District Judge, Lucknow. In further revisions preferred by the plaintiffs, the order was set aside. The same was challenged in the form of appeal by the appellants in the instant case. 

The question that was posed for consideration before the present Court was to determine the status of the inmates in the age old home, are they licensee and/ or  they have the right to stay in the old age home for the lifetime as a matter of right. 

To answer the same, the Court opined that there are three types of possession acknowledged by law, one as that of an owner, second as a tenant and third as permissive possession. In the instant case, the Court observed that the possession fits in the third category. 

Reliance was placed on the case of  Associated Hotels of India v. R.N. Kapoor, wherein the Court held that in case of a licensee, the legal possession continues with  the owner in terms of Section 52 of the Indian Easements Act, 1882, grant of a mere right to do upon the property of another, something which would in the absence of such right be unlawful. Thus, this is the essential characteristic which distinguishes a license from a lease.

Further in the case of Sohan Lal Naraindas v. Laxmidas Raghunath Gadit it was held that it was held that a lease creates an interest in the property whereas a license creates no estate or interest in the immovable property of the grantor.

Another judgment of this Court in the case of   Rame Gowda (Dead) by LRs. v. M. Varadappa Naidu (Dead) by LRs. & Anr, was relied upon  wherein it was held that the person in peaceful possession is entitled to retain his possession and in order to protect such possession, he may even use reasonable force to keep out a trespasser.

In view of such a finding, the appeal was allowed and the possession of the suit premises was directed to be handed over to the appellant, the owner. 

In view of the above findings, the Court considered the facts of the present case and in view of the same observed that the plaintiffs were permitted to stay in the old age home subject to certain payments to meet the requirements of day to day.  It was further observed that the possession of the respondents- plaintiffs in the premises of old age home was that of a licensee permitted to enjoy the permission, but without catering any interest in the property.

It was noted that respondents- plaintiffs possessed a legal right to stay in the old age home as long as they adhered with the terms and conditions of such license. In pursuance of the same it was observed that since the plaintiffs did not have the right to protect their possession without conceding with the correspondence obligations, as their possession was not a legal right a possession permissive in nature, therefore they cannot seek any injunction in order to restrain the management of the old age from dispossessing them. 

However, the Court also noted the plight of the parents who are abandoned by their children and observed that such parents are already subject to perpetual sufferance and mental trauma; however the same shall not mean that the peace of other inmates shall be destroyed. It was further observed that the inmates of the old age home are licensee and thus are expected to maintain decorum and decent behavior in order to not cause disturbance to other inmates who are also senior citizens. 

Thus, the Court delivered the judgment keeping in view the emotional quantum which was reflected in the case and submitted that the appellants shall arrange alternative old age homes for the respondents. Further directions were issued to the Uttar Pradesh Legal Service Authority to appoint a para – legal volunteer to visit the old age home on regular intervals and make a note of difficulties faced by the inmates. 

Consequently, the appeals were allowed and the ad-interim injunction sought by the plaintiffs- respondents was set aside. 

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