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Written/oral evidence of tenancy is required to prove the relationship between landlord and tenant

Madan Mohan Singh v. Ved Prakash Arya

Civil Appeal no. 814-815 of 2021(arising out of SLP(C)Nos.11009-11010 of 2019)

Decided on March 5, 2021.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice R. Subhash Reddy decided the case. The court not only allowed the appeal but also reinstated the judgment given by the first appellate court. The Court delivered the judgment that the appellant must be put into possession of the said premises and to recover any damage and mesne profit from the defendant.

The appellant was allotted booth number 186 in Sector 35-D, Chandigarh vide Allotment Letter dated 20.06.1972, on the condition that he will not sublet the booth or any part of the booth and the booth will be used only for cattle poultry feed and nothing else. The appellant has no right to transfer his right directly or indirectly. On 18.12.1976, the appellant entered into a partnership deed with the respondent on booth no.186 in Sector 35-D, Chandigarh, for carrying out the business of cycle repairing and on 4.10.1979 the respondent, Ved Prakash dissolved the deed and henceforward became an employee of the appellant.

The Estate Officer on 09.09.1980/15.04.1982 passed an order terminating the hire-purchase agreement on the ground that the booth was not being used as it was stated in the conditions of the allotment letter dated 20.06.1972, further giving the orders that booth no.186 was to be evicted under Public Premises( Eviction of unauthorized Occupant) Act, 1971. The appellant then filed an appeal before the Chief Administrator, Union territory, Chandigarh, stating that the order passed by the Estate Officer on 15.04.1982 was illegal and wrong. The appellate court observed that the booth belonged to the appellant and that the respondent, Ved Prakash was an employee of the appellant.

The appellant, who was not able to take ownership of the premises filed an appeal before the trial court stating that after the order passed by the chief administrator, the appellant was the owner of the premises and the defendant after the dissolution of the partnership deed was to use the premises as an employee, but after the termination of the services of the respondent, he was asked to hand over the premises to the appellant, but the possession of the premises was never handed over to the appellant. The respondent stated that he was living on the premises as a tenant. The Trial Court dismissed the appeal and held that the respondent is the tenant despite the respondent producing no receipts of the rent. The appeal was filed before the first appellate court by the appellant, and the court allowed the appeal revoking the decision by the trial court was based on surmises and conjuncture, stating that the respondent was not the tenant but was working as an employee. The respondent filed an appeal before the High Court challenging the judgement of the first appellate court, where the court ruled in the favour of the respondent. Aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the appellant filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

The Court reiterated the three main clause; No12, No.13 and No.19, of the Allotment letter. The main issue was whether the respondent was living on the premises as a tenant or not. Although the respondent failed to produce any documents which would support the claim of tenancy, which can be both oral or written, in both cases the court has to look into the circumstances and the intention of both the parties and conclude whether it was a tenancy or not, as relied on in C.M. Beena and another vs. P.N. Ramachandra Rao, 2004 (3) SCC 595, where to find out the intention of the parties, their conduct is to be noted before and after signing the contract.

The Court noted that the respondent was not able to produce any documents relating to tenancy and stated:

When there is no evidence of taking premises on rent and it is admitted by DW-2 that he had not maintained any record of accounts of payment of rent, there is no base for holding that relationship of landlord and tenant is proved. The trial court itself has held that defendant had failed to prove any documents pertaining to tenancy. The First Appellate Court, thus, has rightly come to the conclusion that findings of the trial court that the defendant is a tenant is based on the surmises and conjectures. (Para 19)

The Court further stated:

When the parties signed a document and entered into a partnership deed, they cannot wish away the consequences which flow from the signing of the deed. The plaintiff having categorically denied the tenanacy and there being no evidence with regard to the tenancy, we do not find any error in the judgment of the First Appellate Court that defendant was not a tenant of the premises. (Para 20)

The Court noted:

As noted above, Chief Administrator in its order dated 04.03.1986 21 which was passed in the appeal filed by the defendant himself, has concluded that the Ved Prakash-defendant (respondent herein) was a servant of the hirer. The said decision by clause 12 is final between the parties and it is not open for the defendant to plead contrary to the above. Both the trial court and the High Court have erred in not taking in consideration Clause 12 and finding of the Chief Administrator in its order dated 04.03.1986. The finding of the Chief Administrator dated 04.03.1986 which was passed after the order of the Estate Officer cannot be wished away by the defendant nor can be ignored while deciding the question as to whether the premises were sublet to the defendant or not. (Para 21)

The Court allowed the appeal and reinstated the decision of the First Appellate Court, revoking the judgments given by the High Court and the Trial Court of Chandigarh; the appellant would also recover any damages from the respondent and mesne profit.

View/Download Judgement: Madan Mohan Singh v. Ved Prakash Arya

Utkarsh Kumar Jayaswal



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