Civil Court has no jurisdiction in dispute relating to property governed by the Haryana (Control of Rent & Eviction) Act, 1973: SC

Supreme Court: The bench of Ajay Rastogi* and Abhay S. Oka, JJ has held that jurisdiction of the Civil Court is impliedly barred under the Haryana (Control of Rent & Eviction) Act, 1973 and a tenant can only be evicted under the provisions of the said Act.

Factual Background

The Court was deciding the dispute relating to suit property situated within the municipal limits of Kaithal which is governed by the Haryana (Control of Rent & Eviction) Act, 1973.

The said property was leased to Burmah Shell Oil Storage Distributing Company Ltd. for a fixed period of 20 years at the rate of Rs.35/¬ per month vide lease dated 4th June, 1958 with effect from 1st April, 1958. The lease period initially was for 20 years and the lease further contemplated renewal of the lease once for another 20 years. The lease period commenced from 1st  April, 1958 for a period of 20 years expired on 1st April, 1978 and after that renewal option for another period of 20 years was availed and that lease period also expired on 1st April, 1998. Before expiry of the period of lease of 20 years, the Central Government enacted Burmah Shell (Acquisition of Undertakings) Act, 1976, pursuant to which the leasehold rights were taken over by the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (the respondents).

The appellants then served a legal notice on the respondents dated 30th January, 1998 in which although Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 was not specifically mentioned, but in pith and substance the notice was served for terminating tenancy of the respondents and later a civil suit was filed for possession of the subject land on 7th August, 1998.

The respondents argued that on expiry of the lease period, the respondents became the statutory tenant of the suit property and the appellants had been receiving rent from the respondents without any demur and further averred that the Civil Court has no jurisdiction to entertain and try the suit as the same is specifically barred by the provisions of the Act 1973.

Analysis

The Court noticed that by virtue of the statutory enactment of Act 1976, the preexisting tenancy rights held by Burmah Shell with the appellants stood transferred and vested with the Central Government and thereafter by operation of Section 7, the said rights in turn stood transposed and vested in the Government Company (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.) as the Government Company statutorily became the tenant of the appellants/plaintiffs.

In V. Dhanapal Chettiar v. Yesodai Amma, (1979) 4 SCC 214 had an occasion to examine the controversy as to whether in order to get a decree/order of eviction against the tenant in the State Rent Control Act, it is necessary to give a notice under Section 106 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882. It was held in that judgment that  even if the lease period is determined by forfeiture under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, still the tenant continues to be a tenant that is to say that there is no forfeiture in the eyes of law and the tenant becomes liable to be evicted and the forfeiture comes into play only if he has incurred a liability to be evicted under the State Rent Act and not otherwise and further held that even after the expiry of the period of contractual tenancy, the tenant can be evicted only in terms of provisions of the State Rent Act which is applicable in reference the subject property in question.

Further, perusing the scheme of the Act 1976, the Court noticed that from the appointed day, right, title and interest of Burmah Shell with effect to Section 5(1) stood transferred and vested with the Central Government and by virtue of Section 7(2), the vesting of tenancy rights with the Central Government stood further transposed and vested in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and that became a statutory tenant by virtue of Section 7(3) of the Act. To that extent, Section 11 of the Act has an overriding effect to the provisions of other laws.

That being so, the jurisdiction indeed of a civil Court is impliedly barred from the field covered specifically by the provisions of the Act 1973 and that being the complete code determining the rights of a tenant/landlord to the exclusion of the other laws.

The Court, hence, found no error in the view expressed by the High Court in the impugned judgment holding that the jurisdiction of the Civil Court is held to be barred and remedial mechanism for ejectment could be possible only under the provisions of the Act 1973.

[Subhash Chander v. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 98, decided on 28.01.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi


Counsels

For appellant: Senior Advocate Manoj Swarup

For respondent: Senior Advocate V. Giri

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