The Supreme Court has held that a farmer, who is in possession of leased land even after expiry of the lease period, cannot be evicted if the owner either acknowledges the tenancy or is accepting the rent.
Referring to a provision of the Transfer of Property Act, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi set aside the judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had ordered the eviction of a farmer after expiry of the lease period of the land.
“The operation of section 116 of the Transfer of Property Act would confer legitimacy to the possession of the tenant even after the termination or expiration of the deemed period of the lease so as to confer on him a status akin to that of a statutory tenant and hence protection from eviction as envisaged by the provisions of the Act (Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act) of 1953,” the bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and P C Pant, said.
The bench said there was no legal provision to evict the farmers as the eviction conditions laid down in the Punjab Security of Land Tenure Act 1953 and Punjab Tenancy Act 1887 do not include a tenant whose lease has expired.
“It would necessarily follow that to be entitled to protection from eviction under the 1953 Act, any person claiming such protection has to come within the fold of the expression ‘tenant’ under the 1953 Act read with the relevant provisions of the 1887 Act.
“Statutory protection would be available only to a statutory tenant, namely a tenant under the Act. The Punjab Act of 1953 read with the relevant provisions of the 1887 Act do not include a tenant whose lease has expired,” the bench noted in its judgement.
The apex court said the continuance of occupancy even after expiry of deemed period of the lease under the Transfer of Property Act “would clothe the occupant with the status of a tenant under the Act in view of section 116 of the Transfer of Property Act which deals with the consequences of holding over.