The Supreme Court has reiterated that the High Court, in its revisional jurisdiction conferred by Section 20 of the Kerala Building (Lease and Rent Control) Act, cannot interfere with the finding of fact by Appellate Authority, unless there is perversity or misappreciation of evidence by it.
In this case, the eviction petitions were filed by the landlord on three grounds, namely, arrears of rent, bonafide requirement for additional accommodation for the landlord's business, and material damage to the premises, under Sections 11(2)(b), 11(8) and 11(4)(ii), respectively, of of the Rent Control Act. The eviction petitions were decreed under Section 11(8) of the Kerala Rent Control Act. The Appellate Authority reversed the order of the Rent Control Court. In Revision, the High Court set aside the Appellate Authority Order and restored the eviction order passed by Rent Control Court.
The Apex Court bench noted that the High Court has interfered with the findings of fact by the First Appellate Authority. Interfering with this finding of fact, again, without any perversity or misappreciation of evidence by the Appellate Authority would clearly be outside the High Court's ken in its revisional jurisdiction, the bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai said.
The bench referred to following observations made by the Constitution bench in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Dilbahar Singh (2014) 9 SCC 78:
We hold, as we must, that none of the above Rent Control Acts entitles the High Court to interfere with the findings of fact recorded by the first appellate court/first appellate authority because on reappreciation of the evidence, its view is different from the court/authority below. The consideration or examination of the evidence by the High Court in revisional jurisdiction under these Acts is confined to find out that finding of facts recorded by the court/authority below is according to law and does not suffer from any error of law. A finding of fact recorded by court/authority below, if perverse or has been arrived at without consideration of the material evidence or such finding is based on no evidence or misreading of the evidence or is grossly erroneous that, if allowed to stand, it would result in gross miscarriage of justice, is open to correction because it is not treated as a finding according to law. In that event, the High Court in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction under the above Rent Control Acts shall be entitled to set aside the impugned order as being not legal or proper. The High Court is entitled to satisfy itself as to the correctness or legality or propriety of any decision or order impugned before it as indicated above. However, to satisfy itself to the regularity, correctness, legality or propriety of the impugned decision or the order, the High Court shall not exercise its power as an appellate power to reappreciate or reassess the evidence for coming to a different finding on facts. Revisional power is not and cannot be equated with the power of reconsideration of all questions of fact as a court of first appeal. Where the High Court is required to be satisfied that the decision is according to law, it may examine whether the order impugned before it suffers from procedural illegality or irregularity.
Allowing the appeal, the Court also noted that the Section 11(8) of the Kerala Rent Act is materially different from Section 13(2) of the Bombay Rent Act in that it does not provide for partial eviction if comparative hardship of a landlord and a tenant are to be weighed against each other.
Case no.: CIVIL APPEAL NOs. 2528-29 OF 2020 Case name: Addissery Raghavan vs. Cheruvalath KrishnadasanCoram: Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai
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