V.N. SARAIN V AJIT KUMAR POPLAI (1996) by MAHEK UPADHAYAY @LexCliq

FACTS:  The premises in question was a bungalow that originally belonged to the Joint Hindu Family consisting of Mr. BS Poplai (R2) and his two sons, Major Ajit Kumar (R1) and Vinod Kumar Poplai and Vinod Kumar Poplai. The three members of this HUF partitioned their coparcenary property and as a result of the said partition, the present premises fell to the share of R1. The appellant VN Sarin had been induced into the premises as a tenant by R2 before partition. After R1 got this property by partition, he applied to the Rent Controller for the eviction of the appellant on the ground that he required the premises bona fide for his own residence and that of his wife and children who are dependent on him.

APPELLANT CONTENTIONS: He contested the claim of R1 based on three grounds:

  1. R1 was not the landlord inasmuch as he was not aware of the partition and did not know what it contained.
  2. Even if R1 was his landlord, he did not require the premises bona fide, and so, the requirements of s 14(1)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act were not satisfied.
  3. If the r1 got the property in suit by partition, in law it meant that he had acquired the premises by transfer within the meaning of section 14(6) of the Act and the provisos of the said section make the present suit incompetent.

DECISIONS OF LOWER COURTS: DECISION OF RENT CONTROLLER

  1. R1 was the exclusive owner of the premises in suit by virtue of partition and that he needed the premises bona fide.
  2. that the acquisition premises by partition cannot be said to be acquisition by transfer within the meaning of the section 14(6), thus the application for eviction failed.

DECISION OF RENT CONTROL TRIBUNAL ON APPEAL

  1. R1 had not acquired the said premises by transfer.
  2. But, nevertheless, R1 was the owner of the premises and he needed the premises bona fide for his personal use as prescribed buy the said provision. Thus the appeal was allowed and the eviction was ordered.

DECISION OF HIGH COURT ON SECOND APPEAL

  1. R1 was the landlord of the premises and even though he had acquired the property not by transfer within the meaning of s 14(6), he needed the premises bona fide justified under s 14(1)(e) and hence claim of eviction was upheld.

RELEVANT PROVISIONS INVOLVED

Section 14 (1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other law or contract, no order or decree for the recovery of possession of any premises shall be made by any court or Controller in favour of the landlord against a tenant:  Provided that the Controller may, on an application made to him in the prescribed manner, make an order for the recovery of possession of the premises on one or more of the following grounds only, namely: — 

      (e) that the premises let for residential purposes are required bona fide by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or for any member of his family dependent on him, if he is the owner thereof, or for any person for whose benefit the premises are held and that the landlord or such person has no other reasonably suitable residential accommodation.

Section 14(6) Where a landlord has acquired any premises by transfer, no application for the recovery of possession of such premises shall lie under sub-section (1) on the ground specified in clause (e) of the proviso thereto, unless a period of five years has elapsed from the date of the acquisition. 

DECISON OF SUPREME COURT

What happens at a partition is that in lieu of the property allotted to the individual coparceners they, in substance, renounce their right in respect of the other properties, they get exclusive title to the properties allotted to them and as consequence, they renounce their exclusive right in respect of the rest of the property. the process of partition, therefore involves the transfer of joint enjoyment of the properties by all the coparceners into an enjoyment in severalty by them of the respective properties allotted to their shares.

What s 14(6) provides is that the purchaser should acquire the premises by transfer and that necessarily assumes that the title of the property which the purchaser acquires by transfer did not vest him prior to such transfer. Where a property belongs to an UHF and on partition it falls to the share of one of the coparceners of the family, there is a change of the landlord of the said premises, but the said change is not of the same character as the change which is effected by transfer of premises to which s 14(6) refers.

In the present suit, when the appellant was inducted into the premises, the premises belonged to the UHF consisting of R1 and his father and his brother. after partition, instead of the UHF, R1 alone had become landlord of the premises. Since the acquisition of such kind does not falls within the category of transfer as referred u/s 14(6) of said act, therefore section 14(6) did not create a bar against the institution of the application by R1 for evicting the appellant.

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