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Indian Case Summary

Gill & Co. And Ors. vs Bimla Kumari Jolly on 13 February, 1986 – Case Summary

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In the case of Gill & Co. And Ors. vs Bimla Kumari Jolly on 13 February 1986, the Delhi High Court was presented with a complex legal dispute involving tenancy laws, eviction, and the interpretation of subletting and parting with possession. The case was brought before the court as a second appeal by the tenant, M/s. Gill and Company Pvt. Ltd., and Sohan Lal Ahuja, against an eviction order issued by an Additional Rent Controller, Delhi.

Facts of the Case

The premises in question, a portion of property No. A-41, Kirti Nagar, New Delhi, were let to Gill and Company Pvt. Ltd. (appellant No. 1) at a monthly rate of Rs. 750.00 in 1966. Sohan Lal Ahuja (appellant No. 2), who was employed as a Manager at Delhi with Gill and Company, was put into occupation of the premises for residence. On 12th February 1975, the respondent landlady moved an application for eviction of the appellants on the grounds of non-payment of rent, misuse, bonafide requirement as residence for herself and members of her family, and sub-letting, assignment or parting with possession of the demised premises by appellant No. 1 in favor of appellant No. 2.

Issues Raised

The eviction petition was contested by the appellants on various grounds. However, an order of eviction was made by the Additional Rent Controller, Delhi on 20th November 1979 only on the ground that appellant No. 1 had parted with possession of the premises in question in favor of appellant No. 2 without the consent of the respondent landlady. The eviction petition on other grounds was dismissed. The appellants appealed against this order, but the appeal was dismissed by the Rent Control Tribunal. Still not satisfied, they brought the case to the High Court in a second appeal.

Court’s Observations

The High Court observed that the only ground which survives for determination was with regard to the sub-letting, assignment or parting with possession of the premises in question by appellant No. 1 in favor of appellant No. 2. The court noted that appellant No. 2 had been occupying the premises in question in his capacity as Manager of appellant No 1 from the very inception of the tenancy. The cause of action for eviction on ground under clause (b) of the proviso to Section 14(1) allegedly arose because the service of appellant No. 2 was terminated on 31st March 1972 but he was allowed to continue in occupation of the premises in question unauthorisedly by appellant No 1 even thereafter.

The court also examined the appellants’ application for permission to produce some additional evidence, which was opposed by the respondent. The court found that the appellants had not made sufficient efforts to produce the said evidence or cause the same to be produced through the income-tax department, despite several opportunities being afforded to them. The court concluded that the appellants were simply adopting dilatory tactics and trying to fill up the gaps in their evidence which they deliberately omitted to produce in the trial Court.

The court also examined the service of notice under Order Xii Rule 8 of the Code read with Section 66 of the Evidence Act and found that both the courts below slipped into a grave error in assuming that the said notice was duly served on appellant No. 1. The court concluded that no adverse inference can be drawn against the appellants that they withheld the documents which they were called upon to produce.

In conclusion, the court found that the evidence already on record was quite sufficient for recording a proper and satisfactory judgment and found no

justification for permitting the additional evidence. The court also found that the appellants had not sublet, assigned or otherwise parted with possession of the premises in question in favor of appellant No. 2 as contemplated in Clause (b) of the proviso to Sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the Act.

Key Legal Principles

The case highlighted several key legal principles. First, it underscored the importance of producing all relevant evidence at the trial stage and not withholding any documents that could be crucial to the case. Second, it emphasized the importance of due diligence in producing evidence and the consequences of failing to do so. Third, it clarified the interpretation of subletting, assignment, or parting with possession under the Delhi Rent Control Act. The court held that merely allowing an employee to continue to occupy premises after termination of service does not amount to parting with possession.

The case also highlighted the importance of proper service of notice under Order Xii Rule 8 of the Code read with Section 66 of the Evidence Act. The court found that both the lower courts had erred in assuming that the said notice was duly served on appellant No. 1. The court held that a mere presumption of service based on postal receipts was not sufficient, and it was incumbent on the appellants to adduce evidence to the effect that the registered letter contained the notice.

In conclusion, the case of Gill & Co. And Ors. vs Bimla Kumari Jolly is a significant judgment in the realm of tenancy laws, particularly in relation to the interpretation of subletting, assignment, or parting with possession under the Delhi Rent Control Act. It also underscores the importance of due diligence in producing evidence and the consequences of failing to do so.