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Himachal Pradesh HC disposes of plea by man to clear rent arrears

The Court said this while disposing of a Civil Revision Petition filed by a man, whose application seeking permission to deposit rent in court was dismissed by the Rent Controller, Shimla.

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday held that once the application, seeking permission to deposit rent in the court is rejected, any amount sought to be deposited or tendered in the court by way of demand draft, cannot be said to be valid tender of arrears of rent. The Court said this while disposing of a Civil Revision Petition filed by a man, whose application seeking permission to deposit rent in court was dismissed by the Rent Controller, Shimla.

The petitioner, Chaman Thakur, has filed a Civil Revision Petition under S.24(5) of the Himachal Pradesh Urban Rent Control Act, 1987 challenging the order dated 17.12.2019 passed by Additional District Judge-I-cum-appellate authority, Shimla, affirming the order dated 13.11.2018 passed by Rent Controller, Shimla, whereby an application under S.21 of the Act read with Rule 8 of the Himachal Pradesh Urban Rent Control Rules, 1990 having been filed by the petitioner-tenant, seeking permission to deposit the rent in the court, came to be dismissed.

The facts of the case is that the respondent (landlord) refused to accept the rent from the tenant and withheld water supply. The tenant allegedly made an attempt to give a cheque amounting to Rs 32,000 to the landlord on account of arrears, which the landlord refused to accept. Since the landlord refused to accept the cheque of Rs 32,000, the tenant by way of petition under Section 21 of the Act, sought permission of the learned Rent Controller, Shimla to deposit the amount in court by way of a demand draft. Since, an application having been filed by the tenant came to be rejected, the petitioner approached the High Court.

Hitender Thakur, Advocate for the Petitioner, laid emphasis that that once the application seeking permission to deposit rent in the court was dismissed by Rent Controller Shimla, demand draft annexed with the application ought to have been returned to the Petitioner.

A Single-Judge Bench of Justice Sandeep Sharma while considering the Petition, noted that the tenant in his application neither specifically pleaded about the mode and manner in which he made an attempt to pay the sum of Rs 32,000 nor proved the same by leading cogent and convincing evidence, this Court finds no illegality or infirmity in the order passed by Rent Controller, Shimla in as much as rejection of prayer made on behalf of the petitioner qua deposit of arrears of rent in the court is concerned.

The Court, while perusing the order dated 13.11.2018 passed by Rent Controller, held that though the Rent Controller dismissed the application, he directed the Nazir to keep the amount in fixed deposit. Once, no eviction proceedings, if any, were pending in the Rent Controller court, that too, on account of arrears of rent, there was no occasion for the Rent Controller Court to retain the amount, especially when prayer having been made on behalf of tenant for deposit of rent in the Rent Controller court was rejected. In the normal circumstances, the court, after rejection of application, ought to have ordered a refund of the amount to the tenant.

“Revision petition is disposed of with the observation that the amount ordered to be deposited by the Court vide impugned order dated 13.11.2019, shall be considered to be deposited towards arrears of rent, if so, held by learned Rent Controller in the eviction proceedings, if any, initiated at the behest of landlord on the ground of arrears of rent,” the order reads.

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