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No law to decide how landlord should live in his residential house:Allahabad High Court

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The Allahabad High Court has observed that in rent disputes,there is no law to decide how a landlord should live in his residential house.

A Single Bench of Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal passed this order while hearing a petition filed by  Gopal Krishna Shankdhar @ Krishna Gopal Shankdhar.

The petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India assailing the order dated 21.12.2021 passed by Prescribed Authority/ Additional District Judge, Badaun allowing the release application filed by the respondents and setting aside the order dated 23.04.2011 passed by Prescribed Authority/Civil Judge (Senior Division), Badaun dismissing the release application of the landlord respondents.

The facts of the case are that the landlord-respondents filed a Rent Case under Section 21(1)(a) of The U.P. Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act No 13 of 1972, for releasing the accommodation in dispute which is a residential portion purchased by the landlord-respondents on 06.06.2006 from its previous owner Arun Kumar Tondon.

The landlord-respondents claimed themselves to be the grand-sons of one Lala Brij Lal. The entire family of Late Brij Lal consists of 27 members. The landlord-respondents are the sons of one Anand Prakash Agrawal. Lala Brij Lal had a double storey ancestral house at Mohalla Khandsari, District Badaun which consists of one gallery, verandah, two rooms on ground floor and three rooms on the first floor. As the family of the landlord-respondents was growing up, there stood personal need for the landlord and their family members, as each one of them required a separate room for living. The accommodation in dispute is in the tenancy of the tenant-petitioner who is a practising lawyer at Badaun.

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The said release application was filed on 03rd July, 2009 and the same was contested by the tenant-petitioner by filing his objection / reply, wherein it was denied that there existed any need of the landlord and they were having other accommodation, wherein their need could be satisfied.

After exchange of pleadings and affidavits, the trial Court on 23.04.2011 found that the need of the landlord-respondents was not genuine and bona fide and the comparative hardship tilted in favour of the tenant. The release application filed under Section 21 (1) (a) of U.P Act No13 of 1972 was rejected.

Aggrieved by the order of the Court of first instance, a Rent Appeal was filed by the landlord-respondents, wherein, the appellate Court found that the Court of first instance had wrongly recorded finding that the landlord had other accommodation in their possession and the said fact having been conceded, the release application was wrongly rejected and the need of the landlord was genuine and bona fide and comparative hardship tilted in favour of the landlord as no effort was made by the tenant-petitioner to search alternative accommodation during the pendency of the release application.

The order dated 21.12.2021, the appeal was allowed and the order passed by the Court of first instance was set aside, hence the writ petition.

A.P Tewari, counsel for the petitioner submitted that the appellate Court had wrongly reversed the finding recorded by the Prescribed Authority and without examining the material on record held the need of the landlord as genuine and bona fide.

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He further contended that the trial Court had recorded categorical finding that the landlord had concealed material fact that they were having other accommodation and the trial Court had recorded categorical finding to the effect relying upon the affidavit filed in favour of the tenant-petitioner. He then contended that while re-appreciating the evidence the appellate Court was duty bound to meet the finding returned by the Court of first instance and also while deferring from the finding and conclusion drawn by Court of first instance, specific finding should have been recorded, but the appellate Court failed to do so.

He next contended that the landlord had purchased the western portion of the accommodation in the year 2013 and was residing in the same and the trial Court had rightly repelled the argument of the landlord and rejected his application on the ground that there was genuine and bona fide need.

Tewari, counsel next tried to impress the Court upon the finding of the trial Court that landlord-respondents were having alternative accommodation with them, wherein their need could be satisfied and these facts were deliberately concealed by the landlord while filing the release application and only averment, to the extent that there was an ancestral house at Mohalla Khandsari, Badaun, was made in the release application.

Rama Goel Bansal, counsel appearing for the landlord respondents submitted that the appellate Court had recorded a categorical finding of fact that the other accommodation as disclosed by the trial Court was not in the exclusive ownership of the respondents-landlord and, in fact, was owned and in possession of father of the landlord. She further contended that in the house situated at Mohalla Khandsari, the landlord respondents were only having ancestral right and it was a small house wherein the legal heirs of late Brij Lal were residing and all of them had share in it.

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Bansal, further contended that a house adjoining the ancestral house was purchased by the father of the landlord and in the said house Anand Prakash was carrying on business of manufacturing of edible products. She further contended that the house which was willed in favour of the father of the landlord by one Vedwati, a civil litigation is going on before the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Badaun.

Thus, the Court found that as the appellate Court had recorded a categorical finding to the effect that landlord-respondents were in fact, not having any alternative accommodation in their exclusive possession and the alternative accommodation as has been brought on record by the tenant-petitioner was, in fact, in the exclusive ownership of Anand Prakash, father of the landlord-respondents and one of the accommodation was under the dispute.

The Court held that the finding recorded by the appellate Court cannot be re-appreciated and the evidence cannot be re-assessed by this Court exercising extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

No material irregularity has been pointed out by the petitioner to demonstrate that there was any failure on the part of the appellate Court while considering the appeal of the respondents. The argument raised at the bar was only to the effect that the finding returned by the appellate Court was not specific while reversing the finding of the trial Court.

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The Court further held that, it is clear that on each and every aspect, the appellate Court has dealt with the matter as regards the alternate accommodation alleged to be with the landlord-respondents by the tenant. The appellate Court had recorded specific finding on each aspect and found the need of the landlord respondents to be genuine and bona fide as the family are growing up and consisted of 9 members, while in his possession only the western portion of the accommodation which was purchased in the year 2013 was there and accommodation was needed for the family members. The finding recorded by the Court below is the finding of fact which needs no interference by this Court.

As far as the finding recorded as to the comparative hardship is concerned, the Court found that the tenant-petitioner had only got published an advertisement on 27.05.2008 in a local newspaper in Badaun, for which, finding has been recorded that it does not have much circulation in the city, otherwise, no effort has been made for searching an alternate accommodation. Thus, the comparative hardship tilts in favour of the landlords. The finding recorded as to the comparative hardship also needs no interference by the Court.

“Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, this Court finds that no interference is required in the finding recorded by the Court below in the order dated 21.12.2021″

-the Court observed while dismissing the petition.

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However, considering the facts and circumstances the facts that the tenant-petitioner is a practising lawyer at Badaun and residing in the disputed accommodation since long, the Court granted six months’ time to vacate the premises in question subject to the following conditions:-

(a) The tenants-petitioner shall file an undertaking before court below that they shall hand over peaceful possession of the premises in question to the landlord-respondents on or before 28.09.2022;

(b) The said undertaking shall be filed before the court below within two weeks from today;

(c) The tenant-petitioner shall pay entire decretal amount within a period of one month from today;

(d) The tenant-petitioner shall pay damages at the rate of Rs.2000/- per month by 7th day of every succeeding month and continue to deposit the same in the Court below till 28.09.2022, or till the date he vacates the premises, whichever is earlier and the landlord is at liberty to withdraw the said amount;

(e) In the undertaking, the tenant-petitioner shall also state that he will not create any interest in favour of the third party in the premises in dispute;

(f) It is made clear that in case of default of any of the conditions mentioned herein-above, the protection granted by this Court shall stand vacated automatically.

(g) In case the premises is not vacated as per the undertaking given by the tenant-petitioner, he shall also be liable for contempt.

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