P&H HC | There could be no blanket rule that concurrent findings cannot be interfered with in the second appeal; It is more a rule of caution and less a rule of law; HC explains

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Rajbir Sehrawat, J., allowed the instant second appeal challenging the concurrent judgments and decrees passed by the trial Court and district judge for recovery of arrears of rent and the electricity charges for the premises which had been leased out to the appellant bank.

Brief facts of the case follows as, the plaintiff was the owner in possession of SCO No.147-148, Sector 17-C, Chandigarh which was leased out to the appellant. When the said lease came to end the appellant issued a notice intimating the plaintiff to take possession of the premises. However, the plaintiff insisted upon the bank to first clear the water and electricity dues; and further vaguely insisted to ensure the handing over of the said property in the same condition in which it was handed over to the appellant.

Appellant contended that the plaintiff never approached the appellant formally, instead filed a police complaint stating that the appellant is restraining them from committing civil work in their premises, which was sought only to create proofs of appellant’s possession as the complaint was withdrawn when the bank admitted its possession over the premises as the plaintiff has not formally accepted the possession. Later on, the plaintiff preferred a rent petition before the Rent Controller, Chandigarh for eviction of the appellant on the ground of non-payment of rent, that too, when the appellant was already willing to hand over the possession. Hence, it is clear that the plaintiff was avoiding taking possession of the property only to prolong the matter so as to raise the claim of rent at a very hefty amount of about 12 lakhs per month.

The plaintiff preferred the present suit before the Civil Court on 18-02-2014 seeking recovery of amount of 1,27,96,137 rupees on account of arrears of rent which was decreed in his favour. The contentions of the petitioner were that he could not take possession of the premises since the appellant had not removed the construction of RCC. It was further stated that since, the appellant had paid complete rent; therefore, the security deposits, which were lying with the plaintiff, are to be adjusted towards the outstanding rent. The counsel further argued that both the courts below have recorded concurrent findings of facts against the appellant. Therefore, in second appeal the appellant cannot be permitted to raise the same issue once again.

The Court while reversing the decrees of lower Courts held that lease deed specifically shows that it was the sole responsibility of the plaintiff to raise the RCC construction. Therefore, the appellant could not be fastened with any liability to remove the same. It was observed that the plaintiff had no right to refuse taking over of possession of the premises in question for any reason whatsoever. Also, the delay in transfer of possession was only creation of the plaintiff themselves. Therefore, they are not entitled to claim any compensation or arrears.

The Court further established that there could not be any blanket rule that the concurrent findings cannot be interfered with in second appeal. It would depend upon the facts of the case, if the courts below record a finding in ignorance or against the evidence on the file, then the Court in second appeal should not only interfere with such findings, rather, it is the legal duty cast upon such a court to bring the same in consonance with the evidence led on file. [HDFC Bank Ltd. v. Sanjiv Kumar Jain, 2020 SCC OnLine P&H 2253, decided on 02-12-2020]

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