Supreme Court Of India

Kundan Lal V. Angan Lal

Civil Appeal No. 2797 Of 1982. 02-02-1993

JUDGMENT

1. This appeal by the tenant rises out of a proceeding of eviction commenced by the sole respondent-landlord on three grounds, namely, non payment of rent, non-occupancy of the suit premises and acquisition of another place of residence. The suit has been decreed by all the three courts but on different grounds. Ultimately, the decree which stands today is based on the ground of non-occupancy of the residence under Section 14(1) (d) of the Delhi Rent Control Act

2. The learned counsel for the appellant has contended that the appellant has suffered grave prejudice on account of his defence being struck off under Section 15(7) read with Section 15(1). He submits that the courts below have ultimately rejected the landlord's case of default (on the part of tenant) in the main case. In such case, he says, it was obligatory on the courts below to have recalled the order striking out the defence and given an opportunity to the tenant to put forward his defence in the normal way. Referring to the language of sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 15, he has urged that as the respondent-landlord had not made any application for directing the tenant-petitioner to deposit rent under sub-section (2) of Section 15 - but only under sub-section (1) of Section 15, which applies only in the case of default in payment of rent - and also because the ground of default has ultimately failed, the order striking out defence under Section 15(7) read with Section 15(1) should have been recalled and the defendant given a full opportunity to put forward his defence

3. Sub-sections (1) and (2) of Section 15 do contemplate two distinct situations. Sub-section (1) applies where the ground for eviction alleged is default in payment of rent within the meaning of clause (a) of the proviso to sub-section (1) of Section 14 while sub-section (1) [sic (2)] of Section 15 is relatable to other grounds for eviction. Both sub-sections provide for deposit of rent by tenant - in one case arrears and future rent and in the other future rent Where therefore eviction is sought for on ground of default as well as other ground(s) [mentioned in clause (b) and succeeding clauses], a direction for deposit may be relatable to both sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) of Section 15. Even if the direction to deposit pertains to arrears - and therefore relatable to sub-section (1) of Section 15 -and in order under sub-section (7) of Section 15 is made striking out defence for non-compliance with such order, it does not follow that the order under Section 15(7) is liable to be revoked in case the ground of default fails ultimately, the Act does not provide for such a consequence. A perusal of the section makes it clear that the application of one sub-section or the other is not dependent on the final finding of the court recorded after holding the trial. The stage of striking off the defence is before the hearing of the case is taken up and it cannot, therefore, be referable to the result in the case which remains unknown at that stage. Thus the fact that the ground under clause (a) of Section 14(1) of the Act has ultimately failed in this case is wholly immaterial. We, therefore, do not find any merit in the contention of the learned counsel for the appellant and hold that the defence was correctly struck off under Section 15(7) of the Act4. The learned counsel for the appellant has not raised any other point in support of the appeal. The appeal is accordingly dismissed. However, having regard to the fact that the appellant has not been in a position to prosecute his case at his own cost and the appeal was filed through legal aid, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.

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