Upholding a needy landlord’s right to evict a tenant, the Supreme Court has set aside an Uttarakhand High Court order which said that “greater comparative hardship” would be caused to a tenant, as compared to his landlord, if a decree of eviction was passed against him.
The apex bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.P. Desai, in a recent judgment, described as erroneous the Sep 12, 2005 verdict of the high court.
The judges said: “It is well settled (that) the landlord’s requirements”, seeking eviction of a tenant, “need not be a dire necessity”.
“In our opinion, the hardship the appellant (owner of the rented premises) would suffer by not occupying their own premises would be greater than the hardship the respondent (tenant) would suffer by having to move out to another place,” said the apex court.
Holding that the circumstances of comparative hardship could not be the sole determinative factor in deciding tenancy disputes, the apex court said: “We are mindful of the fact that whenever a tenant is asked to move out of the premises some hardship is inherent.”
If comparative hardships of the landlord and the tenant were the right approach in deciding tenancy disputes, then “an affluent landlord can never get possession of his premises even if he proves all the bona fide requirements”.
A tenant’s hardship could be mitigated by granting him a longer period to move out of the premises so that he can make alternative arrangements.
The high court while holding that the requirements of the premises owner Mohammad Ayub were bona fide, yet it granted him a partial relief holding that tenant Mukesh Chand would suffer a “greater comparative hardship” if he was evicted.
Ayub purchased the house in question, Chand was already in tenancy of the earlier owner. Chand was occupying two shops facing the road and two rooms in the rear at a monthly rent of Rs.35.
Over the years Ayub’s family grew and consequently requirements for more space was felt by him. For residential purposes and needs of livelihood, he asked Chand to vacate the premises.
While holding that the requirements of Ayub were bona fide, the high court gave just one room to Ayub and allowed Chand to continue occupying the other three.
“The court cannot direct the landlord to do a particular business or imagine that he could profitably do a particular business rather than the business he proposes to start,” the judgment said adding, that “it was for the landlord to which business he wants to do”.
It was “not uncommon for a Muslim family to do the business of non-vegetarian food”, the court said that the district court was wrong in holding as “pretence” Ayub’s plea that his sons wanted to start the general merchant business because they were already dealing in eggs.
The apex court also noted that Chand did not give any satisfactory answer to the court’s query whether he made any “genuine efforts to find an alternative accommodation during the pendency of litigation”.
“The high court has not given any reason why only the partial relief was being granted to the appellant (Ayub),” said the apex court.