Read Order: Manjeet Singh v. Manveer Pal Singh Gill

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 12, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently clarified that Section 38(4) of the Punjab Rent Act, 1995 (Rent Act) states that summons are to be issued in the format as prescribed in Schedule III of the Act and if the tenant-petitioner caused appearance and filed his written statement, then the fact that the mandatory provisions of law as laid down in Section 38(4) of the Rent Act were not followed can not be overlooked. 

In this case, the summons which were sent to the tenant-petitioner did not state anywhere that the reply was to be filed within 15 days and after expiry of which eviction from the premises in dispute would follow, rather, the summons only stated that he was required to come present and file his reply failing which he would be proceeded against ex parte. 

Thus, the Bench of Justice Alka Sarin held, “The summons having not been sent in consonance with Schedule III of the Rent Act, it cannot be said that no prejudice has been caused to the tenant-petitioner.”

The present petition was filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India impugning the orders of the Rent Controller and the Appellate Authority, respectively whereby eviction of the tenant-petitioner from the premises in dispute was ordered.  

Essentially, in this case, an eviction petition was filed by the landlord-respondent under Section 24 (3) of the Rent Act for eviction of the tenant-petitioner from a shop, on the ground of personal necessity. The landlord-respondent was a permanent resident of Canada (since 2013). Summons were issued to him mentioning that a petition was under Section 24(3) of the Rent Act was filed. 

On the date mentioned in the summons, the tenant-petitioner put in appearance and requested for an adjournment for filing the written statement. The said request was acceded to and after two adjournments, the Written Statement was filed on July 12, 2017 and the case was set for assessment of rent. 

After the case was adjourned twice, on October 11, 2017 an application was filed by the landlord-respondent for passing eviction order against the tenant-petitioner on the ground that the petition was filed under Section 24(3) of the Rent Act for eviction of the respondent and 15 days’ period had elapsed since the date of service of summons and no application for leave to contest was filed by the tenant-petitioner. 

Vide impugned order, the eviction of the tenant-petitioner was ordered. This order was challenged in an appeal, however the same was dismissed leading to the filing of the present revision petition.  

The counsel for the tenant-petitioner contended that as per Section 38(4) of the Rent Act, it has mandatorily been laid down that the summons shall be issued as specified in Schedule III of the Rent Act. It was further contended that that the summons were not issued in the correct form and the summons that were issued only stated that tenant-petitioner was to put in appearance and file the written statement, failing which he would be proceeded against ex parte

It was also the case of the Counsel that as per the zimini orders from May 19, 2017 (date of appearance mentioned in summons) to September 07, 2017, the Rent Controller itself was treating the petition as under Section 20 of the Rent Act and not under Section 24 of the Rent Act. Lastly, it was argued that once the summons were not issued in the prescribed format, the tenant-petitioner could not have been proceeded against and eviction ordered. 

Per contra, the Counsel for the landlord submitted that two petitions were filed by the landlord-respondent, one under Section 24 of the Rent Act (present petition) and another petition under Section 20 of the Rent Act for eviction of the tenant-petitioner on the ground of arrears of rent wherein eviction order was already passed due to the failure of the tenant-petitioner in paying the rent as assessed. 

The Counsel further argued that merely because the summons were not issued in the prescribed format, no prejudice was caused to the tenant-petitioner. Lastly, it was contended that the object of the provisions of the Rent Act is to grant the tenant an opportunity to file his/her response as also to prevent any sort of delay as far as the landlord is concerned.

At the very outset the Court noted that in this case, an eviction petition was filed by the landlord-respondent under Section 24 of the Rent Act; the summons were not in the format as prescribed in Schedule III of the Rent Act. The Court added that Section 38(4) of the Rent Act clearly states that notices are to be issued in the format as prescribed in Schedule III of the Rent Act, and that undoubtedly the tenant-petitioner caused appearance and filed his written statement, however, the fact that the mandatory provisions of law as laid down in Section 38(4) of the Rent Act were not followed could not be overlooked. 

Further, it came to the notice of the Court that a copy of the petition was given to the tenant-petitioner only on the date when he caused his appearance. The argument raised by counsel for the landlord-respondent that no prejudice was caused to the tenant-petitioner, was not acceptable by the Court inasmuch as the Court was of the view that the provisions of Section 38(4) of the Rent Act mandate that the summons in relation to every application under this Act would be in the form specified in Schedule III of the Rent Act.

“However, in the present case there has been a clear violation of provisions of Section 38(4) of the Rent Act”, opined the bench. 

Against this backdrop, the Court opined that the summons were not sent in consonance with Schedule III of the Rent Act, it could not be said that no prejudice was caused to the tenant-petitioner. Justice Sarin further asserted that the summons which were sent to the tenant-petitioner did not state anywhere that the reply was to be filed within 15 days and after expiry of which eviction from the premises in dispute would follow. Rather, the summons which were served upon the tenant-petitioner only stated that he was required to come present and file his reply failing which he would be proceeded against ex parte. 

In view of the above, the present petition was allowed and the impugned orders were set aside and consequently the tenant-petitioner was granted time to file his application for leave to contest, if he so desires. It was made clear that in case the application for leave to contest was not filed by the tenant-petitioner within a the time specified by the Court, the landlord-respondent was held to be entitled to execute the eviction order passed in his favour. 

“Since the eviction petition was filed in the year 2017, the Rent Controller is requested to decide the application for leave to contest, if any is filed within the time mentioned above, within a period of three months from the date of filing of the said application for leave to contest”, held the Court. 

0 CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment