It is common knowledge that whenever a landlord moves in the Court for
ejection of a tenant, on the ground of ' Personal Need', the tenant invariably
takes a plea that the landlord already has sufficient space and therefore the
plea of the landlord is unsustainable. Recently, the Apex Court in Civil Appeal
Nos. 231-232 OF 2021 Balwant Singh @ Bsnt Singh & Anr. vs. Sudarshan Kumar &
. on 27 January, 2021 has finally set to rest the said controversy.
The brief facts of the case that the appellants/landlords initiated eviction
proceedings against the tenants in respect of shops on the ground floor of the
building in Khanna, Punjab. The appellants are NRI and sought immediate recovery
of possession of the rented premises by invoking the provisions of Section 13B
read with Section 18A of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 Act
claiming that they desired to start the business of sale, purchase and
manufacture of furniture and the property already in possession of the landlord,
is insufficient for the proposed business.
The two tenants pleaded before the Rent Controller that the landlords have
already secured possession of the two shops through litigations and the
furniture business can be conveniently conducted in the already available space.
The Rent Controller considered the rival submissions and observed that the three
necessary ingredients for initiating proceedings under Section 13B of the Act
were satisfied by the landlords. The Rent Controller accordingly rejected the
objections of the tenants that a portion of the premises would be sufficient for
the proposed business & ordered for eviction of the tenants.
Aggrieved by the said order, the tenants filed Revisions before the High Court
to challenge the orders of the Rent Controller. The High Court was impressed by
the arguments of the tenants and the order passed by the Rent Controller was
then set aside. The said order of the High Court was assailed in the Apex Court.
Before the Apex Court, it was argued that the landlord has sufficient space
available in their possession for the proposed furniture business and there was
no bona fide need of the tenanted portion by the landlords. It was also pleaded
that the landlords are aged people and therefore there was no bonafide need of
the landlords for the proposed business venture.
The Apex Court was not satisfied with the logic & reasoning of the Respondents/
Tenants that the
landlords have adequate space and held that the tenants cannot dictate the
adequacy of space required by the landlords for their proposed business and held
On the above aspect, it is not for the tenant to dictate how much space is
adequate for the proposed business venture or to suggest that the available
space with the landlord will be adequate. Insofar as the earlier eviction
proceeding, the concerned vacant shops under possession of the landlords were
duly disclosed, but the case of the landlord is that the premises/space under
their possession is insufficient for the proposed furniture business.
On the age
aspect, it is seen that the respondents are also senior citizens but that has
not affected their desire to continue their business in the tenanted premises.
Therefore, age cannot be factored against the landlords in their proposed
On consideration of the above aspects, the genuine need of the appellants to
secure vacant possession of the premises for the proposed business is found to
be established. According to us, the adequacy or otherwise of the space
available with the landlord for the business in mind is not for the tenant to
dictate. The special procedure for NRI landlord was deliberately designed by the
Legislature to speedily secure possession of tenanted premises for bona fide
need of the NRI landlords and such legislative intent to confer the right of
summary eviction, as a onetime measure cannot be frustrated, without strong
The Apex Court accordingly set aside the impugned judgment and order of the High
Court and ordered the respondents to handover vacant physical possession of the
premises by 31 December, 2021.
It would be trite to refer to the case of the Apex Court in M/S.Sait Nagjee
Purushotham & ... vs Vimalabai Prabhulal & Ors ( 2005)
8 SCC 252 which held as
It is true that the landlords have their business spreading over Chennai and
Hyderabad and if they wanted to expand their business at Calicut it cannot be
said to be unnatural thereby denying the eviction of the tenant from the
premises in question. It is always the prerogative of the landlord that if he
requires the premises in question for his bona fide use for expansion of
business this is no ground to say that the landlords are already having their
business at Chennai and Hyderabad therefore, it is not genuine need. It is not
the tenant who can dictate the terms to the landlords and advise him what he
should do and what he should not. It is always the privilege of the landlord to
choose the nature of the business and the place of business.
It would be apposite to refer to the case of the Apex Court in Dinesh Kumar v.
Yusuf Ali AIR 2010 SC 2679 wherein the Court has held that the landlord is the
best judge of his need and has observed thus:
In Prativa Devi Vs. T.V. Krishnan (1996)
5 SCC 353, this Court held that
the landlord is the best judge of his requirement and courts have no concern to
dictate the landlord as to how and in what manner he should live.
It would be worthwhile to refer to the case of Ram Narain v. Lakshmi Dass Kundra
AIR 1971 Delhi 268 wherein the landlord lived on the first floor and wanted the
additional accommodation from the tenant on the first floor while the ground
floor was being used for commercial purposes. The landlord did not convert the
accommodation on ground floor into residential purpose but required residential
accommodation on the first floor adjoining his own accommodation for a
The Delhi High Court held that a landlord cannot be precluded from
claiming back possession of a portion of his property merely because he has
lived uncomfortably in the past and has decided to now live more comfortably,
leading to the institution of a petition for eviction by him on the ground of
The most important limb of the ‘personal need’ of a landlord under the Rent
Control Act is ‘Bonafide’ & ‘Need’.It is relevant to refer to the case of Shiv
Sarup Gupta vs Dr. Mahesh Chand Gupta
AIR 1999 SC 2507 wherein the Apex Court
elucidated the true meaning of ' Bonafide' & 'Need' and held thus:
12. A perusal of Section 14 of the Act shows that the law has imposed
restrictions on the recovery of possession, of any premises by landlord from a
tenant notwithstanding any law or contract to the contrary. However, an order
for recovery of possession is permissible on one or more of the specified
ground. One such ground is the premises let for residential purposes being
required bona fide by the landlord for occupation as residence for himself or
for any member of his family dependent on him.
What is a bona fide requirement
is not defined in the Act. The words 'need' and 'require' both denote a certain
degree of want with a thrust within demanding fulfilment. 'Need' or
'requirement' qualified by word 'bonafide' or 'genuine' preceding as an
adjective - is an expression often used in Rent Control Laws
genuine need' of the landlord or that the landlord 'genuinely requires' or
requires bona fide an accommodation for occupation by or use for himself is an
accepted ground for eviction and such expression is often employed by Rent
Control legislation draftsman. The two expressions are interchangeable in practise and carry the same meaning.
13. Chambers 20th Century Dictionary defines bonafide to mean 'in good faith:
genuine'. The word 'genuine' means 'natural; not spurious; real: pure: sincere'.
In Law Dictionary, Mozley and Whitley define bonafide to mean 'good faith,
without fraud or deceit'. Thus the term bonafide or genuinely refers to a state
of mind. Requirement is not a mere desire. The degree of intensity contemplated
by 'requires' is much more higher than in mere desire.
The phrase 'required bonafide
' is suggestive of legislative intent that a
mere desire which is outcome of whim or fancy is not taken note of by the Rent
Control Legislation. A requirement in the sense of felt need which is an outcome
of a sincere, honest desire, in contra-distinction with a mere pretence or
pretext to evict a tenant, on the part of the landlord claiming to occupy the
premises for himself or for any member of the family would entitle him to seek
ejectment of the tenant.
Looked at from this angle, any setting of the facts and circumstances protruding
the need of landlord and its bonafides would be capable of successfully
withstanding the test of objective determination by the Court. The Judge of
facts should place himself in the arm chair of the landlord and then ask the
question to himself-whether in the given facts substantiated by the landlord the
need to occupy the premises can be said to be natural, real, sincere, honest.
If the answer be in the positive, the need is bonafide. The failure on the part
of the landlord to substantiate the pleaded need, or, in a given case, positive
material brought on record by the tenant enabling the court drawing an inference
that the reality was to the contrary and the landlord was merely attempting at
finding out a pretence or pretext for getting rid of the tenant, would be enough
to persuade the Court certainly to deny its judicial assistance to the landlord.
Once the court is satisfied of the bonafides of the need of the landlord for
premises or additional premises by applying objective standards then in the
matter of choosing out of more than one accommodation available to the landlord
his subjective choice shall be respected by the court.
The court would permit the landlord to satisfy the proven need by choosing the
accommodation which the landlord feels would be most suited for the purpose; the
court would not in such a case thrust its own wisdom upon the choice of the
landlord by holding that not one but the other accommodation must be accepted by
the landlord to satisfy his such need. In short, the concept of bonafide need or
genuine requirement needs a practical approach instructed by realities of life.
An approach either too liberal or two conservative or pedantic must be guarded
Thus it is no longer Res Integra that if a landlord is in Genuine & Bonafide
need of a tenanted portion, the tenant cannot legally raise the issue that the
space available with the landlord is adequate. The Courts have ruled that the
tenants cannot dictate upon the landlord's personal need of the tenanted
Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Ph no: 8279945021, Email: [email protected]