“A classical case of how civil proceedings can be prolonged ad infinitum”, SC imposes costs of Rs. 1 lakh for dragging execution proceedings in an eviction case for 12 years

Supreme Court: The Division Bench comprising of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., addressed the instant petition regarding landlord-tenant dispute, wherein the petitioner had challenged the judgment of Civil Judge by which the Court had affirmed the execution proceedings for evicting the petitioner. The Bench remarked,

This is a classical case of how civil proceedings can be prolonged ad infinitum, causing grave injustice to one of the parties.”

The facts of the case relate back to the case of Debashish Sinha v. Sreejib Sinha, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 7890. One Rabindra Nath Sinha, the original tenant was inducted as a lessee by the respondent under an agreement for 21 years in 1967. After expiry of the said period the respondent filed a suit for eviction against the original tenant which was decreed in favour of the respondent by the decree dated 17-08-2005. The original tenant challenged the judgment and decree passed by the Trial Court successively up to the Supreme Court. However, the appeals were dismissed on contest, affirming the decree of eviction.

However, after conclusion of initial legal battle, the respondent put the decree in execution in the year 2009. It was at that stage that the present petitioner, Debashish Sinha entered appearance claiming himself to be a nephew of the original tenant and filed an application under Order XXI Rule 97, 99 and 100 read with Sections 47 and 151 of the CPC contending, inter alia, that he had been running a business in a decreetal shop room under the name and style “The Wardrope” since 1977 with the original tenant. It was also pleaded that the agreement of partnership in respect of the said business was executed in the year 1980. On the basis of said partnership agreement the petitioner claimed independent title over the decreetal property as that of a tenant.

The petitioner contended that the decree passed against the original tenant was not binding upon the petitioner and it could not be executed against him. The Executing Court by an order dated 20-09-2011 dismissed the said objection. The petitioner preferred an appeal against the said judgment before Civil Judge (Senior Division), which was again dismissed and the judgment of the Execution Court was affirmed.

The Supreme Court observed, there being no privity of contract between the decree holder and the petitioner with regard to tenancy in respect of decreetal shop room, the Courts below rightly dismissed the application filed by the petitioner under Order XXI Rule 97, 99, 100 read with Sections 47 and 151 of the CPC. The Bench, while dismissing the appeal, remarked,

“The landlord filed suit for possession which succeeded right till this Court. The execution proceedings filed in the year 2009 has dragged on for 12 years. This application filed by the petitioner itself was an abuse of process of law.”

The Bench opined that merely dismissing the petition would not suffice as some signal must be sent to discourage this nature of litigation. Thus, while dismissing the SLP the Bench imposed the following directions:

1) The execution should be satisfied within a period of 15 days from this order being placed before the Trial Court.

2) Damages should be computed by the Executing Court at the market rates against the petitioner from the date of filing the objection i.e. 26-03-2010 till possession gets transferred.

3) For wastage of judicial time and for dragging on the proceedings, the petitioner should be burdened with costs of Rs. 1 lakh to be paid to the respondent within the period of three months.

[Debashish Sinha v. Sreejib Sinha, SLP No. 4148 of 2020, 08-03-2021]


*Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For Petitioner: Adv. S.K. Bhattacharya, Adv. Anindo Mukherjee and AOR  Sarla Chandra,

For Respondent:  Adv. Pijush K Roy, Adv. Sudipa Roy, Adv. Kakali Roy and AOR Rajan K. Chourasia

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