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The Supreme Court has held that even an unauthorized occupant of a house in a slum is treated as a tenant and permission of competent authorities is needed to initiate eviction proceedings against him.

By no stretch of imagination can a trespasser (unauthorised occupant) be taken out of the definition of occupier (tenant) under the Maharashtra Slum Area (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, said judges Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Lodha said once it was held that a trespasser was included in the definition of occupier, then it was mandatory to take permission of the competent authority ‘before initiation of any suit or proceedings for the eviction of such trespasser’.

The court said the definition of an occupier would also include a person who held land or a building even after its owner revoked the permission for such an occupation.

The judgment, delivered Dec 1, said that under the act an occupier was one who paid damages for the use of land and building to the owner.

The court said this while allowing an appeal by Laxmi Ram Pawar who challenged a Bombay High Court ruling holding that a trespasser could not be treated as an occupier and no permission was needed for initiating eviction proceedings against him.

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