Whether writ proceedings are maintainable against oil companies for eviction and compensation in view of BPCL case? Supreme Court to decide

oil companies

Supreme Court: In a special leave petition challenging the Division bench judgment and order passed by Calcutta High Court, wherein the Court overturned a Single Judge judgment, and molded the relief on the issue of mesne profits while relegating the matter to the Civil Court (alternative remedy), the division bench of J.K. Maheshwari and K.V. Viswanathan, JJ. issued notice to the oil companies and directed them to file a counter affidavit within 6 weeks and directed the petitioners to file the rejoinder within two weeks thereafter.

The issue was whether writ proceedings are maintainable against oil companies for eviction and compensation in view of National Co. v. Bharat Petroleum Corpn. Ltd., (2021) 13 SCC 121

In the present case, a land was leased out to Indian Oil Corporation Limited (‘IOCL’) for 10 years with renewal clauses for 20 years thereafter. The lease had expired on in 1995.A registered deed of partition dated 15-03-1969 was executed between the co-owners, thereby dividing the property into two equal parts, whereby one owner got Lot ‘A’ and ‘C’ and mother-in-law of the petitioner got Lot ‘B’, ‘D’ and ‘E’ in their exclusive possession. The petrol pump business is situated in both Lot ‘A’ and Lot ‘B’ of the partitioned property. Both the co-owners acquired absolute title in respect of 50% of the property.

In 1994, IOCL sent a letter to the petitioners expressing willingness to exercise their option for purchasing the land in question and requested both the owners to make out the marketable title and take further action in terms of the lease deed. However, the co-owners refused to renew or continue with the lease and the respondents were requested to vacate the premises. However, the respondent company continued to enjoy the property without renewing the lease deed and paying any occupational charges since 1995.

The petitioners before the High Court has sought handover of vacant and peaceful possession of the land and payment of occupational charges of the land for the period from 30-06-1995 till the date of handing over of possession of the premises with admissible rate of interest.

The petitioner submitted that the Division Bench interfered with the well- reasoned judgment of the Single Judge on the premise that disputed questions of fact is to be adjudicated by way of a Civil Suit. This judgment is in the teeth of the settled law, that if a landlord wishes to terminate the lease for petrol pumps with the Oil Companies like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (‘BPCL’) / IOCL etc, then landlords cannot be forced to continue with the lease and the oil companies need to surrender the premises back to the landlord without any demur/condition.

The matter will next be taken after eight weeks.

[Sikha Ghosh v Indian Oil Corporation, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1609, Order dated 28-11-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner(s): Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, Advocate-On-Record Swarnendu Chatterjee, Advocate Nilay Sengupta, Advocate Sujit Banerjee, Advocate Ankit Agarwal, Advocate Deepakshi Garg, Advocate Nanakey Kalra, Advocate Yashwardhan Singh

For Respondent(s): Advocate Amit Meharia, Advocate Tannishtha Singh, Advocate Abinash Agarwal

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