13 March 2022 6:00 AM GMT
The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on 23rd February, held that the High Court while exercise powers of a supervisory Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India cannot act as an appellate body to re-appreciate evidence.The High Court, under Article 227, can interfere with the decisions of a fact-finding forum only when its findings are perverse i.e. Erroneous on account...
The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on 23rd February, held that the High Court while exercise powers of a supervisory Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India cannot act as an appellate body to re-appreciate evidence.
The High Court, under Article 227, can interfere with the decisions of a fact-finding forum only when its findings are perverse i.e.
A Bench comprising Justices Vineet Saran and Aniruddha Bose allowed an appeal assailing the order of the Delhi High Court, which, it opined, had gone beyond its limited scope of interference as a supervisory Court.
The respondents were running a chemist shop from a shop room premise ("subject premise") owned by the appellant-landlord. The appellant initiated eviction proceedings before the Additional Rent Controller, Delhi under Section 14 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 alleging certain portions of the subject premise was sub-let to three medical practitioners and two other firms without consent of the landlord. The Additional Rent Controller dismissed the petition on the ground that the appellant could not establish that the premise was sub-let in favour of the medical practitioners and the firms. The Appellate Tribunal accepted that the facts of the case disclosed subletting. On the basis of the same, it reversed the decision of the Rent Controller and allowed eviction. Invoking power under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the respondent approached the Delhi High Court, which decided against the appellant-landlord.
Contentions raised by the appellants
Senior Advocate, Mr. Dhruv Mehta appearing with Advocate, Mr. Jeevesh Nagrath on behalf of the landlord submitted that when the final fact-finding forum had found that there was sub-letting of the subject premise, the High Court exercising its supervisory jurisdiction ought not to have reversed it. It was asserted that the findings of the Appellate Tribunal was based on evidence and ought not to have been interfered with by the High Court exercising power under Article 227. Mr. Mehta relied on a catena of judgments dealing with the nature and scope of occupation in a rented property of persons not being tenants but inducted by the latter which would attract the mischief of sub-letting.
Contentions raised by the respondents
Senior Advocate, Rana Mukherjee, appearing on behalf of the respondents placed reliance on several judgements to argue that the onus to prove sub-letting is on the landlord. He argued that the full control over the entry and exit of the premises was with the tenant and not the medical practitioners.
Analysis by the Supreme Court
The Court determined the scope of the issue in the present matter as whether the decision of the High Court in upsetting the order of eviction passed by the Appellate Tribunal suffered from any element of perversity or not. It was observed that there is no contention with respect to occupation of a portion of the subject premise by the medical practitioners. The High Court had noted that it is duty bound to interfere with the decision of the Appellate forum only when its findings are held to be perverse. The Apex Court agreed with the High Court's observations on the scope of interference by the supervisory Court with the decision of the fact-finding forum.
"The High Court was conscious of the restrictive nature of jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India."
However, the Apex Court was of the opinion that the High Court had overstepped by re-appreciating evidence, while considering the perversity of the findings of the Appellate Tribunal.
"In our opinion, the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India in the judgment under appeal had gone deep into the factual arena to disagree with the final fact-finding forum."
The Supreme Court noted that once it was admitted that the medical practitioners occupied a part of the subject premises, the onus was on the respondents to negate the allegation of sub-letting. On perusal of the evidence on record it was observed that the medical practitioners had individual cabins and telephone connections in the premises. It held that there was no perversity in the order of the Appellate Tribunal, in fact, the finding of the High Court was itself perverse.
"There was no perversity in the order of the Appellate Tribunal on the basis of which the High Court could have interfered. In our view, the High Court tested the legality of the order of the Tribunal through the lens of an appellate body and not as a supervisory Court in adjudicating the application under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. This is impermissible. The finding of the High Court that the appellate forum's decision was perverse and the manner in which such finding was arrived at was itself perverse."
The Court directed the respondents to pay the appellant rent at the rate of Rs. 30,000/month from 14.11.2018 till they vacate the premises. It directed the respondents to vacate the subject premises within 53 weeks. In the interim, they were not to create any third-party rights. They were asked to submit an affidavit undertaking to vacate the premises on or before 28.02.2023. They were also directed to make further payment of Rs. 1 lakh within one month and Rs. 12 lakh within six months.
Case Name: M/s. Puri Investments v. M/s. Young Friends And Co. And Ors.
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 279
Case No. and Date: Civil Appeal No 1609 of 2022 | 23 Feb 2022
Corum: Justices Vineet Sarani and Aniruddha Bose
Article 227 of the Constitution of India, 1950 - Supervisory jurisdiction - Scope of interference by the supervisory Court on decisions of the fact-finding forum is limited - Supreme Court was of the view that there was overstepping of this boundary by the High Court - in its exercise of scrutinising the evidence to find perversity in the order of the Appellate Tribunal, there was re-appreciation of evidence itself by the High Court - the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 227 had gone deep into the factual arena to disagree with the final fact-finding forum - the High Court tested the legality of the order of the Tribunal through the lens of an appellate body and not as a supervisory Court exercising powers under Article 227 of the Constitution of India.
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