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Where a tenant repudiates the title of the landlord, the protection from eviction under Delhi Rent Control Act cannot be given to him: High Court of Delhi

A tenant can be given protection under Delhi Rent Control Act from eviction only where the jurial relationship of tenant and landlord is not disputed. A perusal of Section 14 of the Act, which gives protection to a tenant against eviction, clearly shows that this protection is available only to the person who is undisputedly a tenant and does not claim himself to be the owner of the premises. The moment a person refuses the title of the landlord and claims title in himself he ceases to be a tenant in the eyes of law and the protection of Delhi Rent Control Act is not available to him. These were stated by High Court of Delhi consisting, Justice Amit Bansal in the case of Indra Kumari (deceased) vs. Bimla Rani (deceased) [CM(M) 964/2019] on 25.01.2022.

The facts of the case are that the demised premises were let out by the deceased landlady, Lt. Smt. Indira Kumari by way of rent deed in favour of Sh. Manmohan Singh Sarna, the deceased husband of Lt. Smt. Bimla Rani. After the death of Sh. Manmohan Singh Sarna in 1995, the tenancy devolved upon Lt. Smt. Bimla Rani and other legal heirs of Sh. Manmohan Singh Sarna. Since rent in respect of the demised premises was not paid by the tenant to the landlady with effect from July, 1995, a legal notice was served by the landlady upon the legal heirs of deceased Sh. Manmohan Singh Sarna. The said notice was duly replied wherein the factum of tenancy was admitted. On 3rd September, 1997 the deceased landlady filed eviction petitions before the Rent Controller under Section 14 (1) (a) of the DRC Act against the legal heirs of Sh. Manmohan Singh Sarna.

 The Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the landlady had entered into an agreement to sell in respect of the demised premises and therefore, there was no relationship of landlord and tenant between the parties. It was further contended that in 1998, the deceased landlady filed a criminal complaint against the tenants and chargesheet in respect thereof has been filed before the competent Court. In the said criminal proceedings, the police also filed report of the FSL which shows that the signature of deceased landlady has been forged on the agreement to sell and other documents relied upon by the tenants.

The Counsel for the respondent submitted that the tenants purchased the demised premises from the deceased landlady by their predecessor Lt. Sh. Manmohan Singh Sarna vide agreement to sell and all the ingredients of Section 14 (1) (a) of the DRC Act have been proved by the landlord and that the respondent is entitled to recovery of arrears of rent from July, 1995 till date of the judgment of the Rent Controller as also of future rent till the date of eviction the tenants from the demised premises.

The High Court of Delhi held that a tenant has been given protection under Delhi Rent Control Act from eviction only where the jurial relationship of tenant and landlord was not disputed and the tenant claims himself to be the tenant and not the owner. A perusal of Section 14, which gives protection to a tenant against eviction, clearly shows that this protection is available only to the person who is undisputedly a tenant and does not claim himself to be the owner of the premises. The moment a person refuses the title of the landlord and claims title in himself he ceases to be a tenant in the eyes of law and the protection of Delhi Rent Control Act is not available to him. The landlord can recover possession only if the case falls within the ambit of Section 14 of DRC Act. Where a tenant repudiates the title of the landlord and does not recognize him as landlord or as an owner of the premises, the protection from eviction under Delhi Rent Control Act is not available to him. In view of the above, the Court observed that that the benefit under Section 14(2) of the DRC Act cannot be given to the tenants in this case and there was no infirmity in the impugned judgment passed by the Tribunal that requires interference by this Court in exercise of its powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the petitions were dismissed.

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Judgment reviewed by Shristi Suman.

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