A Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court, on Friday, referred to the Division Bench several questions of relationship and interplay between Section 14(1)(e) and Section 22 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958.
Under section 14(1)(e) of the Act, if a landlord can show that he has no other reasonably suitable residential accommodation and that the tenanted premises is, in fact, required by the landlord for his own purposes, then he can apply to the relevant authority for eviction of a tenant. Section 22 also makes "requirement of the premises for self use of the landlord" a ground of eviction. However, while Section 14(1)(e) does not restrict categories of 'landlords' who can invoke the remedy, Section 22, as per its language, restricts invocation only by a landlord who is a 'company or other body corporate or any local authority or any public institution'.
Explaining the provisions, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw opined that the doubts basically pertained to the rights of natural persons and juristic persons to invoke the two specific provisions.
The Court then referred to several precedents, and examined the view taken by a Division Bench of the Court in the case of Canara Bank v. T.T. Limited, (2014) 214 DLT 526, wherein the question was whether Section 22 was available to a company when the requirement posed by it was the residential use of its employees.
The Court noted that the Petition was held to be non- maintainable, even though in an earlier judgment in Madan Mohan Lal Sri Ram Pvt. Ltd. vs. P. Tandon (1981) 2 DRJ 308 it was unequivocally held that whenever any landlord which is a company requires the premises for use of its employees, it is only Section 22 that would be applicable and not Section 14(1)(e). It is this inconsistency between the coordinate benches of the Court that the reference intends to resolve.
The Court also noted that the cases at hand concerned two other kinds of landlords which are a juristic entities, namely, trusts and societies. It explained, "Even otherwise, Section 22, as per its language, applies to a landlord who / which is a 'company' or 'other body corporate' or 'any local authority' or any 'public institution'. Though a trust may not qualify as a 'other body corporate' and for which reason Section 22 of the Act may not be applicable to it but a society would certainly qualify as a „other body corporate‟ within the meaning of Section 22 of the Act. A question may however arise, whether a public charitable trust carrying on organized activity, though not a 'other body corporate', would qualify as a 'public institution'."
It then referred the following list of questions to the Division Bench:
"(i) Where the landlord is a company or other body corporate or any local authority or any public institution and the premises are required for the use of employees of such landlord, whether such landlord has a choice, whether to invoke Section 14(1)(e) or Section 22 of the Act.
(ii) Whether the Chairman, Directors, Trustees, members of the governing body and office bearers, of a company or other body corporate or any local authority or any public institution qualify as "employees", within the meaning of Section 22 of the Act and if not whether such landlord for requirement of such persons is entitled to invoke Section 14(1)(e) of the Act.
(iii) Whether the tenant of such a landlord can be construed as having acted in contravention of the terms under which he was authorized to occupy the premises or be construed as in unauthorized occupation of the premises, within the meaning of Section 22(b) and (c) of the Act, on continuing in occupation after determination of his tenancy under Section 106 of the Transfer of property Act, 1882.
(iv) Whether the commercial or industrial or other requirement of a landlord, which / who is a company or other body corporate or any local authority or any public institution, of premises, by allowing its employees to work or carry on its activities therein is within the ambit of Section 22 of the Act and if not, whether for such requirement such a landlord can invoke Section 14(1)(e) of the Act.
(v) Whether a public charitable trust carrying on public activities qualifies as a public institution.
(vi) Whether a deity in a temple owning properties or a trust or a society managing a place of worship qualifies as a public institution.
(vii) Whether the choice if any with such a landlord, to invoke either Section 14(1)(e) or Section 22 of the Act, is to the detriment of the tenant and if so to what effect."
Read the Judgment Here