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Indian Case Summary

Precision Steel And Engineering … vs Prem Deva Niranjan Deva Tayal on 7 October, 1982 – Case Summary

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In the case of Precision Steel and Engineering Works and Another vs. Prem Deva Niranjan Deva Tayal, the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment on 7th October 1982, which has since become a significant reference in the interpretation of the Delhi Rent Control Act 1958. The case revolved around the jurisdiction of the Controller in granting leave to a tenant to contest a landlord’s application for eviction.

Facts of the Case

The respondent, a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), filed a petition under Clause (e) of proviso to Section 14(1) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, through the constituted attorney of its Karta for an order for recovery of possession of the premises. The premises had initially been given to the appellant on leave and licence. The landlord, who had gone out of the country, had since settled down in Delhi and required the premises for his personal occupation. The appellant sought leave to contest the petition and filed an affidavit denying the allegation that it had entered the premises initially as a licensee and contending that according to clause 6 of the lease agreement, the premises were let for residential as well as commercial purposes.

Issues and Court Observations

The primary issue before the court was the jurisdiction of the Controller under Sub-section (5) of Section 25B while dealing with an affidavit of the tenant seeking leave to contest an application for eviction filed by a landlord under clause (e) of the proviso to Section 14(1). The court observed that the Controller has to confine himself to the affidavit filed by the tenant under sub-section (4) of Section 25B and the reply, if any. On perusing these, he has to pose to himself the only question: Does the affidavit disclose, not prove, facts as would disentitle the landlord from obtaining an order for the recovery of possession on the ground specified in Section 14(1)(e)?

The court further noted that the Controller is not to record a finding on disputed questions of facts or his preference of one set of affidavits against another set of affidavits. It is wholly impermissible for the Controller to proceed to examine the rival contentions on the basis of affidavits untested by cross-examination and unproved documents.

Conclusion

The court concluded that the Controller had overlooked disclosure of important facts which put the bona fides of the landlord in issue and necessitated the grant of leave to the appellant. The court also noted that the High Court had adopted an incorrect approach as to how the matter had to be examined at the stage of granting or refusing to grant leave under sub-section (5) of Section 25B. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, ruling that leave to contest the petition for eviction under clause (e) of proviso to Section 14(1) must be granted to the appellant under sub-section (5) of Section 25B of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958.