SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS EVICTION OF TENANTS FOR CAUSING MALAFIDE DENIAL OF TITLE OF LANDLORD IN RESPECT OF LEASED OUT PREMISES
Recently, a two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice C.T. Ravikumar passed a Judgment dated 22-09-2022 in the matter of Gopi @ Goverdhannath (d) by LRs. & Ors. Vs Sri Ballabh Vyas Civil Appeal No. of 2022 and observed that the Appellants-Tenants denied the Respondent-Landlord’s title in respect of the leased out premises with malafide intention and thus, upheld the lower Courts’ Order for eviction of Tenants.
In the present case, one, Ms Phool Kumari let out the Schedule Property, which is a small shop at Mangalhat, Hyderabad (Schedule Property), to one, Shri Balaraju. The Respondent’s father thereafter purchased the Schedule Property from Ms Phool Kumari under a Registered Sale Deed dated 27-06-1985, in the name of the Respondent, Shri Ballabh Vyas, who was a minor at that time. Thereafter, the Respondent executed a Rental Deed in favor of Shri Balaraju. In the year 1996, Shri Balaraju passed away, leaving behind his wife and children who continued the tenancy. The Respondent-Landlord then issued a Legal Notice dated 30-05-2008 to the family of Shri Balaraju to vacate the Schedule Property as they defaulted in payment of rent, to which the Appellants replied denying Respondent’s title with respect to Schedule Property and further denying any landlord-tenant relationship between them.
Hence, the Respondent-Landlord filed a case bearing R.C. No. 262 of 2008 before the IV Additional Rent Controller, City Small Causes Court, Hyderabad under Section 10(2)(i), 10(2)(vi) and 10(3)(a) (Eviction of tenants) of the Andhra Pradesh Buildings (Lease, Rent and Eviction) Control Act, 1960 (Act). The Respondent-Landlord sought eviction of Shri Balaraju’s wife and children, i.e. the Appellants-Tenants, from the Schedule Property, on the grounds of (a) non-payment of rent under Section 10(2)(i) of the Act, (b) Tenant’s denial of Landlord’s title to the Schedule Property not being bonafide under Section 10(2)(vi) of the Act and (c) Landlord’s right to take possession of the Schedule Property for his own business use under Section 10(3)(a) of the Act.
The Appellants-Tenants claimed that the Respondent was not the owner of the Schedule Property and in fact, the Appellants claimed that their father had purchased the Schedule Property and entrusted the original sale deed to the Respondent’s father as a security. Hence, the Appellants being owners of the Schedule Property, no rent was paid to the Respondent-Landlord.
The Ld. Rent Controller passed an Order dated 07-11-2015 thereby directing eviction of the Appellants-Tenants from the Schedule Property and handover of vacant physical possession of the same to the Respondent-Landlord.
Aggrieved, the Appellants-Tenants preferred R.A.No.57 of 2016 before the Chief Judge, City Small Causes Court, Hyderabad (Trial Court), which dismissed the Appeal, vide Order dated 20-03-2018.
Aggrieved, the Appellants-Tenants filed a Civil Revision Petition No. 2752 of 2018 before the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The High Court observed that (i) the sale deed contains Respondent’s signature and that the rental deed was executed both by the Respondent and the Appellants’ father, which implies latter’s acceptance of Respondent’s title to Schedule Property. (ii) Further, if at all the Appellants’ father had purchased the Schedule Property, there is no documentary evidence to that effect and no steps / efforts had been taken by the Appellants’ father to take back the sale deed from the Respondent. (iii) Also, as per witness testimonies, it was established that the Appellants’ father used to pay rent to the Respondent’s father till he was alive until 1996.
Thus, the aforesaid facts and circumstances prove that the Appellants’ denial of Respondent’s title to the Schedule Property was made with a malafide intention and the High Court further held that Denial of the title of landlord by the tenant with mala fide intention itself is a sufficient ground to evict the tenant from the plaint schedule property.
As a result, the Civil Revision Petition was dismissed by the High Court, vide Order dated 10-07-2018.
Aggrieved, the Appellants-Tenants approached the Supreme Court, which passed a Judgment dated 22-09-2022 and made the following observations:
1) That the Respondent-Landlord produced his Registered Sale Deed dated 27-06-1985 to prove that the denial of Respondent’s title by Appellants-Tenants is not bona fide.
2) That as per Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act 1882 (Sale) read with Section 17 of the Registration Act 1908 (Documents of which registration is compulsory) an instrument recording the sale of an immovable property of a value more than Rs. 100 is to be compulsorily registered. The real purpose of the said Section is to secure that every person dealing with the property, where such documents require registration, may rely with confidence upon statements contained in the register as a full and complete account of all transactions by which title may be affected.
3) That the genuineness of denial of Respondent’s title cannot be based on presumptions and oral assertations of the Appellants. The Appellants have not produced any document to show that they have title to the Schedule Property. Even though the Appellants claim that their father had paid so-called consideration for the alleged sale done in his favor, such a sale could have happened only through a registered deed of conveyance, which is not produced in this case.
4) That further, in terms of Section 109 of the Transfer of Property Act (Rights of lessor’s transferee), when Ms. Phool Kumari transferred the leased out-Schedule Property in favor of the Respondent-Transferee, the latter stepped into the shoes of the original landlord. Any specific attornment / formal transfer of rights and liabilities in respect of lease to the Respondent-Transferee is not required. Thus, it is clear that jural relationship of landlord and tenant existed between the Respondent and the Appellants.
Thus, based on the aforesaid grounds, the Apex Court held that the title of the Respondent was malafidely denied by the Appellants and as such they do not deserve any grant of time to vacate the Schedule Property, but in the interest of justice, two months’ time was granted to the Appellants-Tenants for handing over of vacant possession of Schedule Property to the Respondent and for such period, they would pay rent of Rs. 3000/- to the Respondent.
Senior Legal Associate
The Indian Lawyer