3 Aug 2021 9:15 AM GMT
A Full Bench of the Rajasthan High Court has held that orders passed by Rent Tribunal are not amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. They can be challenged only by invoking the power of superintendence of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution.Since the orders of Rent Tribunal can be challenged only under Article 227,...
A Full Bench of the Rajasthan High Court has held that orders passed by Rent Tribunal are not amenable to the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution. They can be challenged only by invoking the power of superintendence of the High Court under Article 227 of the Constitution.
Since the orders of Rent Tribunal can be challenged only under Article 227, no intra-court appeal is maintainable against them, the Court added.
A three-judge bench of Justices Sangeet Lodha, Inderjeet Singh and Mahendra Kumar Goyal noted that the Rent Tribunal and the Appellate Tribunal, while adjudicating disputes, exercise the judicial power the State discharging judicial functions, akin to judicial functions of the civil Courts.
The Court relied on the Supreme Court decision in Radhey Shyam & Ors. Vs. Chhabi Nath & Ors (2015), wherein it has been categorically held that the judicial orders of the civil court are not amenable to writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
The bench was considering two issues referred to it :
I) Whether the appeal against the judgement of the Single Bench, reversing/upholding the judgement of the Appellate Rent Tribunal and/or the Rent Tribunal, would be maintainable before the Division Bench of this court under Rule 134 of the Rajasthan High Court Rules of 1952?
II) Whether the writ petition filed against the judgement of the Appellate Rent Tribunal and the Rent Tribunal by very nature of the dispute, would be considered to have been filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, irrespective of invocation of Article 226 of the Constitution of India in the pleadings?
The appellant-tenant was in possession of a commercial premise since October 2001 owned by the respondent-landlords. The respondent-landlords filed a petition under Section 9 of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 before the Rent Tribunal, Ajmer, seeking eviction of the appellant-tenant from the rented premises, on the ground of default in payment of rent for three months in 2005.
The Rent Tribunal held that the appellant-tenant had committed default in payment of rent, and accordingly, he was directed to be evicted from the premises in question. The appellant-tenant preferred an appeal under Section 19(6) of the Act before the Appellate Rent Tribunal, Ajmer, which was also dismissed.
Thereby assailing the legality of the judgments of the Rent Tribunal and the Appellate Rent Tribunal, the appellant preferred a writ petition purportedly under Article 226 & 227 of the Constitution of India before this Court, which was dismissed.
The appellant-respondent is now challenging the legality of the judgment passed by the Single Judge of this Court by way of intra-Court appeal under Rule 134 of the Rules of High Court of Rajasthan, 1952.
Advocate Puru Malik, appearing for respondent-landlords argue against the maintainability of an appeal assailing am order of the High Court rendered in the exercise of its power of superintendence. Therefore, an appeal to the Division Bench of High Court from the judgment of the Single Judge is not maintainable, they argued.
On the contrary, the argument put forth by Senior Advocate Ajeet Kumar Bhandari, appearing for the appellant-tenant, is three-fold:
(a) The power conferred upon High Courts under Article 226 can only be fettered based on provision of the Constitution, and the Constitution does not place any constraint on the exercise of this discretionary and equitable extraordinary jurisdiction;
(b) A High Court can exercise its certiorari jurisdiction on all the inferior courts or judicial and quasi-judicial tribunal when the subordinate court or tribunal is found to have acted without jurisdiction or in excess of its jurisdiction or flagrant disregard of the law or the rules of procedure or violation of the principles of natural justice.
(c) If the facts justify filing a petition under Article 226 or 227 of the Constitution and the party chooses to file the petition for both the provisions; the Court must treat the petition as made under Article 226, and a party aggrieved cannot be deprived of the right of intra-court appeal.
The Court categorically laid that there is no dispute that all inferior, quasi-judicial and judicial courts are amenable to the certiorari writ jurisdiction of the High Court when the subordinate Court has acted without jurisdiction, in excess of jurisdiction or violation of principles of natural justice. It also noted that the power of superintendence of the High Court over the afore-mentioned subordinate courts could be exercised to keep them in the bounds of their authority.
Referring to a plethora of judgements, it decided on two important questions of law: (a) Whether a right to intra-court appeal lies in assailing the decision of a Single Bench of the High Court before the Division Bench; and (b) Whether the Rent Tribunal & Rent Appellate Tribunal are akin to Civil Courts and the judicial orders passed by them are not amenable to writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226.
Maintainability of Intra-Court Appeals:
On the question of the right to intra-court appeal, the Court held that the civil courts' judicial orders are not amenable to a writ of certiorari under Article 226 of the Constitution. The same can only be challenged under Article 227 of the Constitution. Therefore, no intra-Court would be maintainable against the order passed by the Single Jude of the High Court in the proceedings challenging the judicial orders passed by the civil Court. It relied on the Supreme Court judgement in the case of Radhey Shyam & Ors. Vs. Chhabi Nath & Ors (2015) where it was held as under:
"There are no precedents in India for the High Courts to issue writs to the subordinate courts. Control of working of the subordinate courts in dealing with their judicial orders is exercised by way of appellate or revisional powers or power of superintendence under Article 227. Orders of the civil Court stand on a different footing from the orders of authorities or tribunals or courts other than judicial/civil courts. While appellate or revisional jurisdiction is regulated by the statutes, the power of superintendence under Article 227 is constitutional. The expression 'inferior court' is not referable to the judicial courts, as rightly observed in the referring in para 26 and 27 quoted above."
Rent Tribunal & Rent Appellate Tribunal Akin To Civil Courts?
To answer the second question, the Court studied the statutory scheme of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001, including the provision to appeal, a bar on the second appeal, the scope of review, constitution of Rent Tribunal & Appellate Tribunal and procedure to decide claims. It concluded that the Rent Tribunal and Appellate Rent Tribunal share the judicial power inherently vested in the State and have all the trappings/attributes of civil Court. The judicial functions discharged by them are akin to the judicial functions discharged by Civil Courts.
In conclusion, the Court rejected the argument of the appellant that the Rent Tribunal & Appellate Tribunal is mandated to be presided over by a designated officer of the rank of Civil Judge (Sr. Division) and District Judge Cadre, respectively and thus, they being persona designate not conferred with the jurisdiction of any pre-existing Court, could not be construed to be Civil Courts. It relied on the Life Insurance Corporation of India Vs. Nandini J. Shah and Others(2018) where it was held,
"Being part of the district judiciary, the judge acts as a court and the order passed by him will be an order of the subordinate court against which remedy under Article 227 of the Constitution of India can be availed on the matters delineated; for the exercise of such jurisdiction."
Title: Mahendra Kumar Jain v. Appellate Rent Tribunal & Ors.
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