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Non-Resident Indian can recover immediate possession of the building – East Punjab Urban Rent

RAM KRISHAN GROVER AND OTHERS VS UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8597 OF 2019 (ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 26925 OF 2011)

The Bench Comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Nageswara Rao, Justice Sanjiv Khanna upheld the Constitutional validity of Section 13-B of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 (for short, the ‘Rent Act’) and its extension to the Union Territory of Chandigarh by the Central Government vide Notification dated 09.10.2009 in exercise of powers under Section 87 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 (for short, the ‘Reorganisation Act’).

Section 13-B of the Rent Act gives a right to Non-Resident Indians to recover immediate possession of residential/ scheduled/non-residential buildings situated in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and urban areas in the State of Punjab on the satisfaction of the conditions stated.

The apex court while rejecting the contention of the appellants observed that, Once a policy of extension of laws has been laid down by the Parliament and is clear and permissible, it would only seem as an inevitable fallout that the executive should be permitted to extend future amendments to the existing laws. Therefore, the challenge predicated on the doctrine of excessive delegation, separation of powers, doctrine of the law of agency, fails and must be rejected. Such challenge must also be rejected in view of the large number of eviction suits filed by Non-Resident Indian landlords on the strength of Notification dated 09.10.2009 who would be left remediless if contentions to the contrary are accepted.

The court further observed that:

‘We would, however, note that in the context of the Union Territory of Chandigarh and as the subject matter falls within the Concurrent List, it will be immaterial to decide on the competence of the legislating body. The power to make laws in respect of a Union Territory vests with the Parliament under Article 246(4). In terms of Section 87 of the Reorganisation Act, the power to extend laws to the Union Territory of Chandigarh vests with the Central Government, that is the Parliament or the Central Executive, as the case may be, and is permissible.’

Supreme Court while upholding the Constitutional validity of section 13B it states that it cannot be treated as an arbitrary classification that infringes and violates Article 14 of the Constitution. The challenge predicated on the basis of unconstitutionality of the classification is rejected. It further noted that

‘These pre-conditions and post possession restrictions suggest that Section 13-B serves a specific policy objective to ensure the right of Non-Resident Indians to occupy their property in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and the State of Punjab as the case may be, after “returning” to their country. This right has to be balanced with the right of the tenants to establish their case on merits by disproving the genuine requirement of the Non-Resident Indians.’

The court observed the requirement should arise from a genuine need of the Non-Resident Indian landlord or his dependent. Such landlord should be an owner for five years preceding the date of filing of the eviction petition. There is a cap on permitting the use of the provision which is available only once in a lifetime and only in respect of one building.  The apex court Dismissed the appeals by the tenants.

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