Mansimran Kaur

New Delhi, May 28, 2022: The Delhi High Court has held that a tenant may take all kinds of pleas in its application for leave to defend but the Rent Controller has to ensure that the purpose of Chapter III of the Rent Control Act is not defeated by granting leave to defend in every frivolous plea raised by the tenant which may result in protracting the case. 

A Single Bench of Justice Subromanian Prasad observed that mere assertions made by the tenant with respect to landlord’s ownership of the buildings and with respect to alternate accommodations were not sufficient for grant of leave to defend. In view of the same, the petition was dismissed which was filed against the judgment of the Rent Controller whereby the Rent Controller  rejected the leave to defend application filed by the petitioner and the judgment of the Rent Controller was restored. 

Factual background of the case was such that an eviction petition was filed by the landlord for evicting the tenant from the tenanted premises. In the said eviction petition,  an application for leave to defend was filed by the tenant.  The case of the landlord was that in the premises in question some of the floors were used for running the hotel and the  the daughter- in-law required the premises of the land-lord to carry out her business. It was further stated that the same premises in question were also required by the landlord for having a reception at his hotel. On the contrary, it was the case of the tenant that he was running a Post Office in the said premises in question and that the Post Office was serving the masses since a long period of time and the Department of Posts was not in a position to vacate the premises. 

In view of the same the Court also observed that defences  of negative character which are intended to put the landlord to proof or are vague, or are raised mala fide only to gain time and protract the proceedings, must not be taken into account by the Rent Controller and such applications must be rejected. Thus, in light of the aforesaid observation the question of law that was posed for consideration before the Court was whether the Tenant had raised such pleas which would entitle the Tenant the leave to defend.

On analyzing the submissions of the tenant, the Court observed that it is well settled that once the tenant starts paying the rent to the landlord, it is not open for the tenant to assail the title of the landlord. Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 acts as an estoppel on the tenant to challenge the title of the landlord during the continuance of tenancy. 

It was opined by the Court that the tenant cannot simply make allegations that the landlord has other premises without producing some material to corroborate the same.  Reliance was placed on the judgment of the Top Court inAbid-ul-Islam v. Inder Sain Dua. The Court further noted that the landlord in his reply to the application for leave to defend refuted all the allegations made by the tenant. Further reliance was placed on the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Shiv Sarup Gupta v. Dr. Mahesh Chand Gupta, 

Adverting to the facts of the present case, the Court noted that the premises in question are situated in the heart of commercial centre of Delhi i.e. Chandani Chowk. In furtherance of the same, the Court observed that the place was apposite for the daughter-in law of the landlord to start a boutique. Indeed, the landlord provided sufficient material to show that none of his premises were available for the purpose of the daughter-in law, the Court noted.

The Bench also said,  “This Court does not deem it prudent, in consonance with settled law, to displace the needs of the landlord with its own Judgment of how the landlord should conduct its business or utilize their premises”. Thus, the Court opined that judgment of the Rent Controller needed no interference. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. 

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