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Supreme Court says not paying rent not a penal offence, quashes FIR

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The Supreme Court has recently said that failure to pay rent may have civil consequences, but is not a penal offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, while quashing an FIR registered against a woman and others for allegedly not vacating a property in dispute.

A Division Bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi was considering an appeal assailing an order of the Allahabad High Court that had refused to quash the FIR against the appellant under Section 415 (cheating) and Section 403 (dishonest misappropriation of property) of the IPC.

The Court opined  that no criminal offence is made out, even if it accepts the factual assertions made in the complaint, which was registered as the First Information Report.

“Failure to pay rent may have civil consequences, but is not a penal offence under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (for short, “IPC”). Mandatory legal requirements for the offence of cheating under Section 415 and that of misappropriation under Section 403 IPC are missing”

-the Court observed.

In view of the aforesaid position, the Apex Court quashed the FIR. On the question being put to the counsel for the appellants, it has been stated that the appellants have vacated the property. Counsel for the de facto complainant (respondent No.3) disputed  this statement, and stated that the appellants have not handed over physical vacant possession of the property to respondent No.3.

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In view of the statement made by the counsel for the appellants,  the Court granted liberty to  respondent No.3 to enter into possession of the property without violating any law.

The counsel for respondent No.3 stated that there are huge arrears of rent which have to be recovered.  The Apex  Court left it open to them to take recourse to available civil remedies.

“Recording the above, the impugned order is set aside and the appeal is allowed to quash the First Information Report. The question when the appellant vacated the property and arrears of rent, etc. are left open to be decided in civil proceedings. All pending applications are also disposed of”

-the order reads.

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