Delhi High Court: In a matter with regard to the grant of leave to defend, Subramonium Prasad, J., expressed that, the tenant cannot merely make allegations that the landlord has other premises without producing some material to substantiate the same.

On being aggrieved by the order of the Additional Rent Controller rejecting the leave to defend application filed by the petitioner and resultantly allowing the eviction petition filed by the respondent (landlord), the tenant approached this, Court.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court expressed that, it is a well-settled position that a tenant may take all kinds of pleas in its application for leave to defend but the Rent Controller has to ensure that the purpose of Chapter III of the Rent Control Act is not defeated by granting leave to defend in every frivolous plea raised by the tenant which may result in protracting the case.

“Where the tenant seeks leave to contest the application for eviction, he must file an affidavit under sub-section (4) of Section 25-B raising his defence and this defence must be clear, specific and positive. Defences of negative character which are intended to put the landlord to proof or are vague or are raised mala fide only to gain time and protract the proceedings, must not be taken into account by the Rent Controller and such applications must be rejected.”

It was noted that, in the present case the tenant had itself produced the Will under which the landlord had claimed rent and the tenant had started paying rent and after having started paying rent to the landlord, it was not open for the tenant to turn around and challenge the title of the landlord.

“…Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act as an estoppel on the Tenant to challenge the title of the Landlord during the continuation of the tenancy.”

Further, it was also settled that mere assertions made by tenant with respect to landlord’s ownership of other buildings and with respect to alternate accommodations were not to be considered sufficient for grant of leave to defend.

Supreme Court’s decision in, Abid-ul-Islam v. Inder Sain Dua, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 419 was referred.

Observing further, the Court stated that it is well settled that at the time of filing an eviction petition the landlord need not have a degree in the trade he/she wants to embark upon.

“…this Court does not deem it prudent, in consonance with settled law, to displace the needs of the Landlord with its own Judgment of how the Landlord should conduct its business or utilise their premises.”

In Court’s opinion, the order of Rent Controller did not suffer from legal infirmities, hence the present petition was dismissed. [Department of Posts v. Surinder Babu Jain, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 1565, decided on 25-5-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioners:

Ms. Anju Gupta, Mr. Roshan Lal Goel, Advocates

For the Respondent:

Mr. Ajay Gupta, Ms. Surbhi Gupta, Mr. Aishwary Jain, Mr. Anant Gupta, Advocates

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