Sunday, December 10, 2023

Allahabad High Court takes serious view of the non-payment of rent and electricity bills in Mirzapur for seven years

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The Allahabad High Court has taken a serious view of the non-payment of rent and electricity bills for seven years after taking the building for the Consolidation Office and Court at Mirzapur. The Court directed to pay interest at the rate of 8 percent per month by redetermining the rent at the market rate.

The Division Bench of Justice Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Justice Anish Kumar Gupta passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Meghnath Chaurasiya.

The petitioner is owner and landlord of a house situated at Rateh Chauraha, Village Semara Kalan, Tehsil Lalganj, District Mirzapur.

The private respondent has taken three accommodations in the said house measuring 484 square feet for office of Consolidation Officer, 220 square feet for office of Assistant Consolidation Officer, Kshetra Rateh and 374 square feet for office of Assistant Consolidation Officer, Kshetra Ooty.

All these three accommodations were taken on rent w.e.f 20.12.2015. On being insisted to pay rent, the private respondent passed an order dated 03.07.2017 affirming that the aforesaid accommodations have been taken on rent w.e.f 20.12.2015 but the matter of fixation of rent/ rate of rent is pending for sanction before the Divisional Commissioner.

By letter dated 22.08.2022, the private respondent has apprised to the son of the petitioner namely Ram Sakal Chaurasia that proposal has been sent to the Divisional Commissioner and on receipt of sanction, rent shall be paid on priority basis.

On a complaint made by the petitioner, the concerned authority submitted a report dated 11.01.2023 that the payment of rent shall be made on sanction by the Divisional Commissioner, Mirzapur.

The petitioner again wrote a letter dated 02.02.2023 to the private respondent stating that neither rent is being paid nor payment of electricity being consumed in the offices, is being made. He requested that the payment of electricity dues and arrears of rent be made immediately with interest. When no action was taken by the respondents, the petitioner filed the petition.

On May 8, a counter affidavit on behalf of the respondent No 1 by means of a personal affidavit, dated 03.05.2023 of Prabhu N Singh, Secretary, Revenue/Consolidation Commissioner, Government of UP Lucknow, was filed.

In his personal affidavit/counter affidavit, the respondent no 1 has stated that in absence of any Government accommodation for the Office/Courts for Consolidation Officer/Assistant Consolidation Officer, the house of the petitioner was taken on rent on 20.12.2015 for establishment of the aforesaid Office/Courts.

A request was made by the Settlement Officer, Consolidation, Mirzapur to the District Magistrate, Mirzapur and pursuant thereto the District Magistrate, Mirzapur provided the rent/Auchitya Praman Patra vide his letter dated February 4, 2021 fixing the rent as Rs 968, Rs 440 and Rs 492 per month, respectively for three Offices.

It has been further stated that since the Divisional Commissioner rejected the request to sanction the rent for not following the guideline provided in the GO dated 25.11.2011, therefore, the District Magistrate, Mirzapur, sent a DO letter dated 29.04.2023 requesting to relax the requirement prescribed in the GO dated 25.11.2011 and thereupon the respondent no 1 passed an order dated 01.05.2023 sanctioning the rent and for payment of electricity dues to the petitioner and allocated the budget of Rs 5,20,000 vide letter dated 01.05.2023 which has been transferred to Mirzapur, Treasury on the same day.

Additional Chief Standing Counsel has stated that the rent for accommodation of three offices for the period from 20.12.2015 to 30.04.2023 i.e for 88 months and 12 days, was computed at Rs 1,67,934, which has been transferred in the bank account of the petitioner on 03.05.2023.

Additional Chief Standing Counsel further states on instructions of the respondent no 2 that the payment of electricity dues shall be made to the petitioner soon.

Counsel for the petitioner submitted that the respondents have firstly not paid the rent for three accommodation for more than 88 months and after filing of the petition, they have paid a meagre amount towards rent ignoring the market rate and thus the petitioner has been befooled on one hand by paying very little amount of rent and on the other hand even no interest has been paid on the rent amount withheld for more than seven years.

“We have carefully considered the submissions of the counsels for the parties and we find that the respondents have undisputedly taken three accommodation on rent from the petitioner w.e.f 20.12.2015 to establish the Offices/Courts for Consolidation Officer/Assistant Consolidation Officer.

The rent was not paid by the respondents to the petitioner for more than 7 years and it is only when we called upon the respondent no 1 to file a counter affidavit by means of his personal affidavit only then the respondents have paid the rent as per their own calculation which is stated to be not the fair market rent.

They have neither paid interest on the rent calculated on their own nor they have paid any amount towards electricity dues for consumption of electricity for more than 7 years.

This shows that the respondents have acted arbitrarily and illegally and are continuously harassing the petitioner for more than 7 years. After the Court passed the order dated 25.04.2023, the rent was determined arbitrarily on 01.05.2023 even without any provision for enhancement in rent after an interval of 2 or 3 years.

For three accommodations a meagre amount of rent of Rs 968, Rs 440 and Rs 492 per month has been fixed, the Court observed.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case and conduct of the respondents, the Court allowed the petition with a direction to the respondent nos 1 & 3 to redetermine the rent at the market rate and pay it to the petitioner within a month.

The Court further directed the Respondents to pay simple interest @ 8% per month for delay in payment of the rent amount. They are also directed to pay the entire electricity dues within two weeks.

The Court allowed the petition with cost of Rs 50,000, which the private respondent shall pay to the petitioner within two weeks from today by means of an account payee bank draft/bankers cheque.

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