After 40 Yrs of Litigation a Landlord gets relief ; SC comes down heavily on HC reversing the concurrent finding on a ‘pure question of fact’
A Land Lord in Rajasthan can finally evict his tenants from his property after 40 years of litigation. The Supreme Court has put an end to a 4 decade long litigation by setting aside the High Court judgment which had reversed the concurrent finding of the courts below it, by allowing a Second Appeal against the Land Lord.
The Judgment delivered by Apex Court bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Kurian Joseph begins with these remarks “The facts unfold the plight of a poor landlord languishing in courts for over forty years. The case gets sadder when we note that appellant had been successful both in the trial court and the first appellate court and the saddest part is that the High Court in second appeal, went against him on a pure question of fact.”
Suit filed by the Plaintiff for eviction in 1974 on the ground of unauthorized construction/material alteration, was decided by Munsiff Court in 1989. The District court confirmed this judgment after 11 years. The High Court, in the second appeal, came to the conclusion that the concurrent finding on structural change, in the absence of the statement of the plaintiff before the court, cannot be treated to be trustworthy. The High Court also held that adverse inference should have drawn for the non-appearance of the plaintiff in the witness box, and in such circumstances, the finding on material alteration is totally perverse. This judgment of High Court in the year 2012 is assailed in Supreme Court.
Structural alteration can be proved by any admissible evidence
The Court said that question whether there is a structural alteration in a tenanted premises is not a fact limited to the personal knowledge of the owner and it can be proved by any admissible and reliable evidence. That burden has been successfully discharged by the plaintiff by examining PWs-1 and 2. The defendants could not shake that evidence. In fact, that fact is proved partially from the evidence of the defendants themselves, as an admitted fact, the Court said.
Test of ‘Perversity’
The Court holding that the Court cannot interfere with facts unless it is perverse said “Safest approach on perversity is the classic approach on the reasonable man’s inference on the facts. To him, if the conclusion on the facts in evidence made by the court below is possible, there is no perversity. If not, the finding is perverse. Inadequacy of evidence or a different reading of evidence is not perversity.”
The Court added that approach made by the High Court has been wholly wrong, if not, perverse. “It should not have interfered with concurrent findings of the trial court and first appellate court on a pure question of fact. Their inference on facts is certainly reasonable. The strained effort made by the High Court in second appeal to arrive at a different finding is wholly unwarranted apart from being impermissible under law”, the Bench said. The Court however granted the tenants time up to March, 2017 to continue in the premises by paying a monthly rent of 10,000 Rupees.
Read the Judgment here.