Karnataka High Court: Krishna S. Dixit, J. dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.
The facts of the case are such that the property in question belongs to the ownership of the respondent-plaintiff–“Mutt” and the husband of the petitioner-defendant during his life had taken the same on lease vide registered lease deed for the purpose of erecting a building for a period of 99 years on a yearly rent of Rs. 50 and delayed payment of rent at a rate of 6% p.a. so that after the expiry of the tenure, the respondent-plaintiff shall put the same to the use of its pilgrims. The petitioner, however, remained in the arrears of rent for years, hence a legal notice was issued by the respondent-plaintiff terminating the lease for non payment of rents. The petitioner thereby replied that the office of the respondent Mutt declined to accept the tender of rental amount since 2009 stating that the land has vested in the State Government under the provisions of the Karnataka land Reforms Act, 1961. A suit was filed seeking an order for relieving her from forfeiture of the lease which was rejected. Aggrieved thereby the petitioner filed application in Form 7A seeking grant of the land under the provisions of the Karnataka land Reforms Act, 1961.
Observations and Decision
The Court observed that the text and content of Section 114 require bonafide on the part of the tenant who has been remaining in arrears of rent; if that is lacking, a tenant cannot be permitted to seek refuge under the umbrella of this provision; otherwise this provision runs the risk of being used as an instrument of unconscionability to defeat the accrued right of re-entry accruing to the landlord; in deciding whether there is bonafide facts and circumstances of the case need to be kept in view.
The Court analyses that in the case at hand, the petitioner lacks bonafide because she has filed the application seeking grant of the land under Section 77 A of the Karnataka land Reforms Act, 1961 as amended; nothing prevented her even then, from making payment of arrears of rent particularly when the rate of rent is apparently frugal, still the petitioner chose to remain in arrears having built a huge building. This clearly shows the incongruity on the part of the petitioner in somehow squatting on the property of the respondent without complying with the agreed covenants of tenancy.
The Court observed that it is true that Section 114 of T.P. Act gives right to apply for such a grant merely because a tenant can so apply, it cannot be readily inferred that his of act of remaining in arrears of rent n that found should be treated as bonafide an act contrary to law may still lack bona fide depending upon the circumstances of a case; for an act being bona fide, one has to show that it is done in good faith i.e. with honesty, sincerity and genuineness and without any element of culpability from this inarticulate premise.
The Court held “the writ petition being devoid of merits is liable to be dismissed” [Velthoria Sequiera v. Sode Vadiraja Mutt, Writ petition No. 30053 of 2019, decided on 16-03-2021]
Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.