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Indian Case Summary

Smt. Gian Devi Anand vs Jeeevan Kumar And Others on 1 May, 1985 – Case Summary

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In the case of Smt. Gian Devi Anand vs Jeeevan Kumar And Others on 1 May, 1985, the Supreme Court of India was called upon to make a significant ruling regarding the rights of tenants and their heirs under the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of Chandrachud, Y.V. (CJ), Bhagwati, P.N., Fazalali, Syed Murtaza, Sen, Amarendra Nath (J), and Eradi, V. Balakrishna (J).

Facts of the Case

The appellant, Smt. Gian Devi Anand, was the widow of a tenant who had rented a shop from the respondent, Jeeevan Kumar, since 1979. In 1970, the respondent served a notice to the appellant’s husband, terminating the tenancy. The respondent then filed a petition under section 14 of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, seeking eviction of the tenant on several grounds, including nonpayment of rent and sub-letting. The Rent Controller dismissed the petition. During the appeal process, the original tenant died, and the appellant was substituted in his place.

Issues Raised

The respondent raised a contention that, following the death of the original tenant, the widow and the heirs of the deceased tenant were not entitled to continue to remain in occupation of the shop. The High Court allowed the respondent’s cross-objection and passed a decree for eviction against the appellant, primarily on the grounds that the protection afforded to the statutory tenant by the Act was not available to the heirs and the legal representatives.

Court’s Observations and Ruling

The Supreme Court, upon hearing the appeal, made several key observations. It noted that the term “statutory tenant” is used to denote a tenant whose contractual tenancy has been terminated but who is entitled to continue to remain in possession by virtue of the protection afforded by the various Rent Control Acts. The court also observed that the Delhi Rent Control Act does not make any distinction between a statutory tenant and a contractual tenant, and both are treated alike.

The court held that the termination of the contractual tenancy does not disqualify a tenant from continuing to be a tenant within the meaning of the Act, and the tenant whose contractual tenancy has been determined enjoys the same position and is entitled to protection against eviction. The court further held that the tenant after determination of a tenancy is treated under the Act on the same footing as a tenant whose tenancy has not been determined.

The court concluded that the tenancy right of the appellant’s husband devolved on all the heirs on his death. The heirs and legal representatives of the appellant’s husband step into his position and they are entitled to the benefit and protection of the Act. Therefore, the High Court was not right in coming to the conclusion that the heirs of the appellant’s husband, the so-called statutory tenant, did not have any right to remain in possession of the tenanted premises and did not enjoy any protection under the Act.

The judgment and order of the High Court were set aside, and the case was remanded to the High Court for decision of the appeal and the cross objection on merits. The appeal was accordingly allowed to the extent indicated above.