The Supreme Court has held that the judgment of Satyawati Sharma Vs. Union of India which held that Section 14(1)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act is unconstitutional to the extent it discriminates between the premises let for residential and non-residential purposes, cannot be held to be per incuriam.
The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph also rejected the request that Satyawati Sharma judgment needs to be referred to a larger Bench for reconsideration.(Vinod Kumar vs. Ashok Kumar Gandhi)
In Satyawati Sharma, it was held that Section 14(1) (e) of Act is violative of the doctrine of equality embodied in Article 14 of the Constitution in so far as it discriminates between the premises let for residential and non-residential purposes when the same are required bonafide by the landlord for occupation for himself or for any member of his family dependent on him and restricts the landlord's right to seek eviction of the tenant from the premises let for residential purposes only. It also clarified that it is not totally striking down of Section 14(1)(e) of the Act in its entirety but it has struck down only the discriminatory portion of Section 14(1)(e).
To hold that Satyawati Sharma, is not per-incuriam, the bench noted that the Constitution Bench in Gian Devi Anand did not declare provisions of Section 14(1)(e) unconstitutional rather left it to the Legislature to amend the law. It said:
"The observation in paragraph of Gian Devi Anand's case itself suggest that the Constitution Bench was satisfied that a ground for eviction of tenant of commercial premises on bona fide requirement of landlord should also be provided for. The basis for what has been done in Satyawati Sharma was clearly laid down in Gian Devi Anand for striking down the unconstitutional part in Section 14(1)(e). We fail to see that how can Satyawati Sharma judgment be said as per incuriam."
The bench then considered whether there is any ground or basis on which the judgment of Satyawati Sharma can be referred for re-consideration. It noticed the new Act viz. Delhi Rent Act, 1995 and observed:
"The Legislature itself notices the need for providing a ground for eviction to landlord on bona fide need with regard to residential as well as nonresidential premises. Thus, what was said in Gian Devi Anand in paragraph was duly accepted by Legislature. It is another matter that Delhi Rent Act, 1995 even though it received assent of the President could not be enforced. Section 1(3) provided that it shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint. Central Government did not issue any notification in the Official Gazette for enforcement of the Act. Writ Petition was filed in Delhi High Court for issuance of mandamus to Central Government to enforce Act, 1995 which was dismissed. From the above, it is clear that what was observed by Gian Devi Anand was also accepted by the Legislature in providing for eviction from both the residential and non-residential premises on the ground of bona fide need in Act, 1995. Although, said Act could not be enforced, the Legislation is complete when the Act is passed by the Legislature and receives the assent of the President."
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