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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Uttar Pradesh Urban Buildings (Regulation of Letting, Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 = a suit for eviction of a tenant can be maintained by one of the co-owners and it would be no defence to the tenant to question the maintainability of the suit on the ground that the other co-owners were not joined as parties to the suit. ;That a tenant during the continuance of the tenancy is debarred on the doctrine of estoppel from denying the title of his landlord through whom he claims tenancy, as is enshrined in Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, is so well-settled a legal postulation that no decision need be cited to further consolidate the same.; default in payment of rent and sub-letting, both statutorily recognized grounds for eviction of a tenant under Section 20 of the Act, it is considered inessential to dilate on the ground of bona fide requirement and comparative hardship. In the wake up of the above, the impugned judgments and orders of the High Court are set-aside and the suit of the appellants is decreed in full. The respondents would vacate the suit premises at the earliest and in no case later than three months from today. The appeals are allowed. No costs.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4309  OF 2017
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 17414 of 2015)

OM PRAKASH & ANR.                          …..APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS

MISHRI LAL (DEAD) REPRESENTED
BY HIS LR.  SAVITRI DEVI                     ....RESPONDENT


                                    WITH

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4310     OF 2017
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 20758 of 2015)


RAJENDRA PRASAD & ANR.               …..APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS

MISHRI LAL (DEAD) REPRESENTED
BY HIS LR. SAVITRI DEVI & ANR.                ..…RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T

AMITAVA ROY, J.

Delay condoned.

2.    Leave granted.

3.    The appellants/plaintiffs (for short, hereinafter to  be  referred  to
as “the appellants”)  are aggrieved by the dismissal of their suit  and  the
application under the Uttar Pradesh Urban Buildings (Regulation of  Letting,
Rent and Eviction) Act, 1972 (for short, hereinafter to be  referred  to  as
“the Act”) for eviction of the respondents from the  suit  premises  on  the
ground, amongst others of default and bona fide requirement.  The  suit  and
the application filed under Section 21 of the Act  have  been  dismissed  in
two separate proceedings by the High Court vide orders dated  25.02.2014  in
W.P.(C) No. 26732 of 2010 and Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition No.31855  of
1998.

4.    Both these petitions were  analogously  heard  and  thus  the  present
adjudication would address collectively the issues involved.

5.    We have heard  Mr. Anand Varma, learned  counsel  for  the  appellants
and Mr.  R.D. Upadhyay, learned counsel for the respondents.

6.    The appellants as plaintiffs instituted Suit No. 252 of  1989  in  the
Court of Small Causes, Allahabad against  Mishri  Lal,  the  predecessor-in-
interest of the present respondents  seeking  his  eviction  from  the  suit
premises on the ground of default in payment of rent and sub-letting of  the
suit premises without the knowledge and approval of the landlords  i.e.  the
appellants. The appellants claimed themselves to be the joint owners of  the
suit premises since the death of their grand- mother Chameli Devi, widow  of
late  Mahabir  Prasad  on  30.07.1985.   They  referred  to  a  will   dated
28.12.1976 executed by their afore-named grand-mother in  support  of  their
claim of joint ownership.  They averred that the predecessor-in-interest  of
the respondents was a  tenant  of  the  suit  premises  since  1968  against
payment of monthly rent of Rs. 96/- and the  same  was  rented  out  on  the
clear understanding that the tenant would vacate the  same  on  one  month’s
notice.  The appellants alleged that the  tenant  i.e.  the  predecessor-in-
interest of the respondents paid rent  till  October,  1979  and  thereafter
persistently failed to make payment thereof in spite  of  repeated  demands.
Due to such default, the  relationship  between  the  landlords  and  tenant
became strained,  and as claimed by the appellants, he without offering  the
rent to the landlords, made deposits thereof under Section 30  of  the  Act,
which was invalid and  non  est  in  law.   Situated  thus,  the  appellants
addressed a notice  dated  18.08.1989  terminating  the  tenancy,  demanding
payment of the arrears of rent within the  statutory  period  of  one  month
with the clear indication that in case of failure to respond to  the  notice
and the request for rent, the tenancy would stand determined  and  that  the
tenant would be liable  for  eviction.   According  to  the  appellants  the
notice was served on 26.08.1989, but despite the same,  rent  was  not  paid
and consequently the tenancy stood terminated.

7.   It was further alleged that the tenant also sub-let the  suit  premises
to one Moti Chand for conducting his business therein.  It was thus  averred
that on this ground as  well,  as  the  sub-letting  was  done  without  the
knowledge and consent of the landlords, the tenant was liable for  eviction.
 The suit was thus filed for recovery of arrears of rent,  eviction  of  the
tenant/ defendant and for damages for unauthorised use or occupation of  the
tenanted premises as well as for interest.

8.   The original defendant/tenant in his written statement though  admitted
the tenancy under Smt. Chameli Devi, the grand- mother  of  the  appellants,
he refused to acknowledge the appellants as his landlords.  He claimed  that
the tenancy had commenced from 1957 and that he had  paid  rent  up  to  the
month of September, 1989  to  the  landlord,   Bhola  Nath  (father  of  the
appellants) and that on his refusal to accept the same  thereafter,  he  had
deposited  the  rent  in  court  under  Section  30   of   the   Act.    The
defendant/tenant admitted Smt. Chameli Devi to be the landlady who  used  to
realize the rent till her life time and after her death,   Bhola  Nath,  her
eldest son used to collect the same.  He admitted the receipt of the  notice
dated 18.08.1989, but denied that he was a defaulter in payment of  rent  or
that he was liable for eviction from the suit premises.

9.     According to him,  Motichand  was  his  nephew  and  partner  in  his
business and that as he was like his own son, the allegation of  sub-letting
was unfounded.  Elaborating on the facts preceding the deposit  of  rent  in
Court, the tenant reiterated that after the refusal by Shri  Bhola  Nath  to
accept the rent subsequent to September, 1989, he remitted the rent for  the
month of October and November, 1989 by money order dated 04.12.1989 but  the
same was refused again.  He stated that thereafter, for the second time,  he
dispatched the rent for the months of October, November and  December,  1989
on 26.12.1989 by money order but similarly the same was  refused.  According
to the tenant, he again on 12.01.1990 remitted the rent for  the  months  of
October, 1989 to January, 1990 by money order and as the  same  was  refused
again, he started depositing the rent in  Court,  the  first  deposit  being
vide Misc. Case No.41 of 1990 for the months of October,  1989  to  January,
1990.

10.   He denied the execution of the will dated 28.12.1976 by  Smt.  Chameli
Devi, who had two sons  Bhola Nath and Bacchanlal,  but  admitted  that  the
eldest son Bhola Nath used to realize  rent from him.

11.   Parallelly the appellants also filed an application under  Section  21
of  the  Act  before  the  Prescribed   Authority   against   the   original
defendant/tenant seeking  release of the suit  premises  on  the  ground  of
bona fide and  genuine  need  therefor  to,  amongst  others  conduct  their
business therein.   This application was contested as well by  the  original
defendant by filing his objection questioning the  bona  fide  need  of  the
appellants.

12.    The Trial Court, on the basis of the  pleadings,  framed  issues  and
the parties adduced evidence, both oral and documentary.  The appellants  in
particular examined their father  Bhola Nath as PW2, who admittedly used  to
collect rent from the defendant/tenant till September, 1979, as  claimed  by
them.

13.   The Trial Court decreed the suit, both on the  ground  of  default  in
payment of rent and sub-letting of the  suit  premises.   In  reaching  this
conclusion, it amongst others took note of the testimony of Bhola Nath,  son
of Smt. Chameli Devi, who supported the pleaded case of the  appellants  and
endorsed the factum of execution of will by Smt. Chameli Devi on  the  basis
of which they (appellants) claimed joint ownership  of  the  suit  premises.
It also noticed that  such  joint  ownership  had  not  been  questioned  or
disputed by any quarter.  It also referred to a  compromise  decree  between
the heirs of  Bhola Nath and his brother Bachan Lal,  rendered  in  Original
Case No. 95 of 1986 qua the will, which too authenticated the claim  of  the
appellants of the suit premises.  Noticing the  admission  of  the  original
defendant/tenant of having paid rent to   Bhola  Nath,  the  father  of  the
appellants, the Trial Court negated his challenge to their  claim  of  joint
ownership and their status of landlord vis-a-vis the suit premises.

14.  While upholding the allegation of sub-letting, the Trial Court as  well
held that the deposit of rent made by the  original  defendant  was  not  in
terms of the Act and therefore he was not entitled to  the  protection  from
eviction.  It held the view that though disputed, even if the rent  for  the
months of October, 1989 to January, 1990 had been sent to  Bhola  Nath  vide
money order, it did not amount to offering thereof to  the  appellants,  the
landlords, and thus the deposit in Court was not as mandated by  Section  30
of the Act.  According to the Trial Court,  Bhola Nath was only a  collector
of rent on behalf of the appellants and therefore, offer  thereof  ought  to
have been made to them (appellants) for a valid deposit under Section 30  of
the Act.  The suit was thus decreed  in full, as prayed for.

15.  This  verdict  was  challenged  by  the  original  defendant/tenant  in
revision before the District Judge, Allahabad, who reversed the same on  the
ground that the appellants have not been able to prove that  they  were  the
exclusive landlords owners of the suit premises.

16.   The appellants thereafter  filed  a  writ  petition  before  the  High
Court, which remanded the matter to the Revisional  Court  by  noticing,  in
particular the compromise decree dated 05.04.1989 in Original  Case  No.  95
of 1986, in which  the  joint  ownership  of  the  appellants  in  the  suit
premises had been decreed.

17.   The Revisional Court, on remand,  however  maintained  that  the  will
dated 28.12.1976, on  the  basis  of  which  the  appellants  claimed  joint
ownership had not been proved, as required under Section 63  of  the  Indian
Succession Act, 1925 and Section  68  of  the  Indian  Evidence  Act,  1872.
Besides, it also expressed its reservation with regard to  the  authenticity
and genuineness of this document.  The suit was thus dismissed by  upturning
the decree of the Trial Court.  Consequently, the Revisional Court  did  not
examine the other issues on merits.

18.  By the impugned judgment and order  as  well,  the  High  Court,  while
limiting itself to the aspect of the proof of the will, concurred  with  the
Revisional Court and dismissed the suit  of  the  appellants.  Apropos,  the
proceedings based on the application under Section 21 of  the  Act  for  the
eviction of the original defendant on the ground of bona  fide  requirement,
the High Court, by the impugned verdict, upheld the  rejection  thereof,  as
recorded by the Prescribed Authority by negating their status of that  of  a
landlord.  In reaching this conclusion, the  High  Court  noted  that  Bhola
Nath, the father of the appellants used to collect rent  from  the  original
defendant throughout and that they did not at any point of time claim to  be
the owners/landlords of the suit property, pursuant to the will executed  by
Smt. Chameli Devi.  It also concurred with  the  findings  recorded  by  the
Prescribed Authority and the Appellate Court on the issue of bona fide  need
and comparative hardship.  The High Court was of  the  view  that  the  will
dated 28.12.1976 on the basis of which  the  appellants  had  claimed  joint
ownership was not proved as required in law and thus, the mere  registration
thereof did not either suggest its genuineness or  its  validity  so  as  to
provide the locus standi to them to maintain the application.

19.   The learned counsel for the appellants  has  emphatically  urged  that
the issue of their joint ownership having been settled finally  in  view  of
the compromise decree dated 05.04.1989 rendered in Original Case No.  95  of
1986 and their status  as  the  heirs  of  Smt.  Chameli  Devi  having  been
conclusively  established,  the  suit  filed  for  the   eviction   of   the
predecessor-in-  interest  of  the  respondents   in   that   capacity   was
maintainable, more particularly in the absence  of   any  dispute  of  title
inter se the other legal heirs.  In the  alternative,  it  has  been  argued
that in any view of the matter, the appellants   being  the  sons  of  Bhola
Nath, who admittedly used to collect rent and was a landlord under the  Act,
they were entitled to receive rent qua the suit property from the tenant  as
landlords under the statute and,  therefore  not  only  the  predecessor-in-
interest of the respondents were  estopped  from  denying  their  status  as
such, but had made himself  liable  for  eviction  therefrom  by  persistent
default in payment of rent.  The learned  counsel  for  the  appellants  has
submitted that the High Court in this factual background had  grossly  erred
in dismissing the suit and the application for release of the suit  premises
filed under Section 21 of the Act on the  sole  purported  ground  that  the
will executed by Smt. Chameli Devi  on   28.12.1976  had  not  been  proved.
Additionally, as the appellants have proved that  the  original  tenant  had
continuously defaulted in payment of  rent  and  had  sub-let  the  premises
without the knowledge and approval of the landlords,  the  Trial  Court  was
justified in decreeing the suit for his eviction, he urged.  It was  further
argued that the suit premises being required bone  fide  by  the  appellants
for their genuine need for business, the impugned judgments and  orders,  if
allowed to stand would result in serious miscarriage of justice.

20.    As  against  this,  the  learned  counsel  for  the  respondents  has
maintained that the appellants in the attendant facts and circumstances  are
neither the landlords nor the owners of the suit premises, which is  clearly
borne out by the fact that the rent  therefor  was  initially  collected  by
Smt. Chameli Devi and thereafter, by their father  Bhola  Nath,  during  his
lifetime.  It has been argued that as  Bhola Nath refused to  receive  rent,
it was offered to him and thereafter was deposited in  court  under  Section
30 of the Act and thus the original defendant/tenant  by  no  means  can  be
branded as defaulter.  It was reiterated that  Motichand was the  nephew  of
the original tenant as well as a partner in his business and thus  his  stay
in the suit premises did not amount to  sub-letting  thereof.   The  learned
counsel for the respondents also endorsed the finding of  all the forums  on
the absence of bona fide need or requirement of the appellants of  the  suit
premises.

21.   The competing assertions and the materials on record  have  been  duly
taken note of.   Before  adverting  thereto,  it  would  be  appropriate  to
undertake a brief survey of the relevant provisions of  the  Act,  which  as
the title suggests, is a legislation for regulation of letting and  rent  of
and the eviction of tenants from certain classes of  building,  situated  in
the urban areas and for  matters  connected  there  with.   The  expressions
“tenant” and “landlord” are defined as hereunder:

3(a) “tenant”  in relation to a building, means a person by  whom  its  rent
is payable, and on the tenant's death, his heirs.

3(j) “landlord”, in relation to a building, means a  person   to  whom   its
rent is or if the building were let would be, payable, and includes,  except
in clause (g), the agent or attorney, or such person.


22.   It would be apparent from hereinabove that a “tenant” in  relation  to
a building is a person by whom rent is payable and on his death, his  heirs.
  “Landlord” vis-a-vis a building, as defined, means a person  to  whom  its
rent is or if the building was let, would be  payable  and  or  include  the
agent or attorney of such person.  The  definition  of  “Family”  being  not
relevant in the present context qua the expression “landlord” is  not  being
dilated upon.  In terms of Section 20 of the Act, a suit for eviction  of  a
tenant  for  building  after  the  determination  of  his  tenancy  may   be
instituted on one or more of the grounds as enumerated in  sub-section  (2),
clauses (a) to (g) which includes:



(i) arrears of rent for not less than four months and  failure  to  pay  the
same to the landlord within one month from the date of service upon  him  of
a notice of demand; and



(ii) sub-letting of the suit premises by the tenant in contravention of  the
provisions of Section 25 of the whole or any part of the building.

23.   Sub-section 4 of Section 20 provides that if at the first  hearing  of
the suit, the tenant unconditionally pays or tenders to  the  landlord,  the
entire amount of rent and damages for use and  occupation  of  the  building
due from him (such damages for use and occupation being  calculated  at  the
same rate as rent) together with interest thereon at  the  rate  of  9%  per
annum and  the  landlord’s  cost  of  the  suit  in  respect  thereof  after
deducting therefrom any amount already deposited by the  tenant  under  sub-
section 1 of Section 30, the court may in  lieu  of  passing  a  decree  for
eviction, pass an order relieving  the  tenant  against  his  liability  for
eviction, on that ground.  The proviso thereto being not of any  consequence
in the present case is not being referred to.

24.   Section 21 authorises the Prescribed Authority to order  the  eviction
of a tenant from the building under tenancy or any specified  part  thereof,
if it is satisfied, on an application by the landlord, that, amongst  others
the building is bona fide required either in  its  existing  form  or  after
demolition and raising of new construction by the  landlord  for  occupation
by himself or any member of its family or any person for  whose  benefit  it
is held by him, either for residential  purposes  or  for  purposes  of  any
profession, trade or calling or  if the landlord is a trustee  of  a  public
charitable trust, for the objects of the trust.

25.    Sub-section  4  clarifies  that   such   an   order   may   be   made
notwithstanding that the tenancy has not been determined with the  exception
that no such order would be made in the case of tenancy created for a  fixed
term by registered lease, before the expiry of such term.

26.   Section 30 of the Act permits deposit of  rent  in  court  in  certain
circumstances.  It predicates that if any person claiming to be a tenant  of
a building tenders any amount as rent in respect  of  the  building  to  its
alleged landlord and the alleged landlord refuses to accept the  same,  then
the tenant may deposit such amount in the prescribed manner and continue  to
deposit any rent which he alleges to be due for  any  subsequent  period  in
respect of such building until the landlord in  the  meantime  signifies  by
notice in writing to the tenant, his willingness to accept it.   Sub-section
2 elaborates that where any bona fide doubt or dispute has arisen as to  the
person who is entitled to receive any rent in respect of any  building,  the
tenant may likewise deposit the rent stating the circumstances  under  which
such deposit is made and may until such doubt  has  been  removed  or   such
dispute has been settled by the  decision  of  any  competent  court  or  by
settlement between the parties,  continue  to  deposit  the  rent  that  may
subsequently become due in respect of such building.

27.    Whereas sub-sections (4) and (5) provide for issuance  of  notice  of
the deposit to the alleged landlord or the  person/persons  concerned,  sub-
section (6) mandates that in respect of such a deposit being made, it  would
be deemed that the person depositing it has paid it  on  the  date  of  such
deposit to  the  person  in  whose  favour  it  is  deposited.   Section  38
proclaims that the provisions of that Act would have effect  notwithstanding
anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Transfer of  Property  Act,
1882 or in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.

 28.        It is a matter of  record  that  Smt.  Chameli  Devi,  widow  of
Mahabir Prasad was the grand-mother of the appellants.  As  the  verdict  in
original Case No. 95 of 1986, consistently referred to by  all  the  Forums,
would divulge,   Mahavir Prasad and Chameli Devi had  two  sons  Bhola  Nath
and Bachhan Lal.  As noted hereinabove,  the  appellants  are  the  sons  of
Bhola Nath.  Incidentally, Radha Devi, wife of  Bacchan  Lal  and  her  sons
instituted the afore-mentioned suit i.e. Original Case No.95 of 1986 in  the
Court of the Additional Civil Judge- VI, Allahabad  seeking  declaration  of
title in respect, amongst others of the suit premises.  This  was  contested
by  Bhola Nath and the appellants and in course  of  the  adjudication,  the
will dated 28.12.1986 executed by Chameli Devi surfaced  for  scrutiny.   On
the basis of this document, the appellants claimed  ownership  of  the  suit
premises.  As the  decision  rendered  in  that  suit  on  05.04.1989  would
reveal, a compromise was arrived at between the parties  having  due  regard
to the said will, whereby the ownership of the suit premises of the sons  of
Bhola Nath and Bacchan Lal was declared and a  decree  to  that  effect  was
passed.  This decree, indisputably, has become  final,  in  absence  of  any
challenge thereto before any forum.  In the face of this compromise  decree,
 in our comprehension, the dismissal of the suit and the  rejection  of  the
application for the release under Section 21 of the Act by  the  High  Court
on the sole ground that the appellants had no locus to maintain the same  in
absence  of  formal  proof  of  the  will  dated  28.12.1976   was   grossly
misdirected and thus cannot be sustained, more particularly in view  of  the
definition of the “landlord” provided in the Act.

29.     Noticeably,  the  predecessor-in-interest  of  the  respondents  had
admitted the tenancy under Smt. Chameli Devi.  He has admitted as well  that
during her lifetime, rent used to be paid to her and  thereafter  her  elder
son, Bhola Nath, father of the appellants used to receive the rent.   It  is
his pleaded case that as was the arrangement, he paid  rent  to  Bhola  Nath
upto  September,  1979,  whereafter  he  refused   to   accept   the   same.
Incidentally, even assuming that the  plea  of  the  original  defendant  of
having paid rent to Bhola  Nath  up  to  September,  1989  is  correct  (the
allegation of the appellants is that the default  is  from  October,  1979),
the default from October 1989  is incidentally subsequent to the  compromise
decree, as afore-mentioned whereunder the sons of Bhola Nath and Bachan  Lal
were held to be the owners of the suit premises.  It is a matter  of  record
that the appellants by   notice  dated  19.08.1989  had  demanded  from  the
original defendant the  arrears  of   rent  from  October,  1979  which  was
admittedly received by him but not acted upon.  In spite thereof,  according
to the original defendant, he offered rent to Bhola Nath for the  months  of
October, 1989 to January, 1990 by remitting the same by money-orders and  on
the alleged refusal thereof, eventually deposited the rent  in  court  under
Section 30.

30.      In  view  of  the  categorical   disclosure  in  the  notice  dated
18.08.1989,  issued on behalf of the appellants, requiring payment  of  rent
in arrears to them as the landlords and  also  indicating  determination  of
tenancy in case of failure in payment, we  are  of  the  view  that  the  so
called offer of rent for the months of October, 1989 to   January,  1990  to
Bhola Nath by money-orders and thereafter deposit in Court under Section  30
of the Act would be of no avail to the original defendant and on his  death,
  the  present  respondents.   The  original  defendant  in  terms  of   the
aforementioned  notice was fully aware of the  compromise  decree   and  the
status of the appellants as the joint owners/landlords and  thus  his  offer
of rent to Bhola Nath, who ceased to be the landlord, was not in  compliance
either of  sub-section 4 of Section  20 or Section  30  of  the  Act  to  be
availed as a defence against his/their  eviction  from  the  suit  premises.
The original defendant and consequently the respondents  has/have  therefore
rendered   himself/themselves  as defaulters within the meaning of  the  Act
and are liable to be  evicted  thereunder.  It  is  more  so  as  admittedly
neither the original defendant nor the respondents had ever  endeavoured  to
offer rent to the appellants after the compromise decree dated 05.04.89.

31.   Viz-a-vis the aspect of sub-letting, we are inclined  to  concur  with
the finding of the Trial Court that Motichand, who was  the  nephew  of  the
original defendant, had been inducted  in  the  suit  premises   as  a  sub-
tenant.  Further as it is a matter of record  that  the  original  defendant
had constructed his own house elsewhere where he has been residing with  his
wife, the accommodation of his nephew Motichand in  the  suit  premises  did
amount to sub-letting and the same having been done  without  the  knowledge
and approval of the landlords,  this too provided a ground for his  eviction
therefrom. Additionally, even if the deposit of  arrears of rent in full  by
the original defendant at the time of institution of the suit  is  construed
to be valid, in the face of his own house elsewhere, he is not  entitled  to
the protection from eviction under the proviso to sub-section 4  of  Section
20.  To be elaborate, under sub-section 4 of  Section  20,  as  referred  to
hereinabove,  if  a  tenant,  at   the   first   hearing    of   the   suit,
unconditionally pays or tenders  to the landlord  the entire amount of  rent
and damages for use and  occupation of the building due  from  him  together
with  interest thereon  @  9% per annum and  the  landlords'  costs  of  the
suit in respect  thereof,  after  deducting  therefrom  any  amount  already
deposited by the tenant under sub-section1 of Section 30,   the  court  may,
in lieu of passing a decree for eviction  on  that  ground,  pass  an  order
relieving the tenant against his liability for eviction  on  the  ground  of
default.  The proviso thereto predicates that  this  benefit  would  not  be
available to a tenant who or any member of  his  family  has  built  or  has
otherwise acquired in a vacant state, or has got vacated after  acquisition,
 any residential building in the same city, municipality, notified area   or
town area.  Apart from the fact that no evidence is  forthcoming  to  attest
that the requirements  of  sub-section  4  of  Section  20  had  been  fully
complied with, the construction of his own house elsewhere,  as  is  evident
from the record,   did dis-entitle the   original  defendant  and  now   the
respondents to avail the benefit of such  protection,  as  contemplated   by
the Act.

32.   It is no longer res integra and is settled by this Court in  Sri   Ram
Pasricha  vs.  Jagannath  and  Ors.,  (1976)  4  SCC  184,   Dhannalal   vs.
Kalawatibai and Ors. (2002) 6 SCC 16 and India Umberalla  Manufacturing  Co.
and Ors. vs. Bhagabandei  Agarwalla (dead) by Lrs. Savitri Agarwalla  (Smt.)
and Ors. (2004) 3 SCC 178 that  a suit for  eviction  of  a  tenant  can  be
maintained  by one of the co-owners and  it  would  be  no  defence  to  the
tenant to  question  the maintainability of the suit on the ground that  the
other co-owners were not joined as  parties to  the  suit.   The  judicially
propounded proposition is that when the property forming the subject  matter
of eviction proceedings is owned by several co-owners, every  co-owner  owns
every part and every bit of the joint property along with  others  and  thus
it cannot be said that he is only a part owner or a fractional owner of  the
property and that he can alone maintain a suit for eviction  of  the  tenant
without joining the other co-owners if such other co-owners do  not  object.
In the contextual facts, not only the compromise decree, as  aforementioned,
has declared the appellants to be the joint owners  of  the  suit  premises,
their status as such  has  not  been  questioned  at  any  stage  by  anyone
interested in the title thereto.

33.  Further, the original defendant having accepted Smt.  Chameli  Devi  as
his landlady and thereafter continued to pay rent to  her  son  Bhola  Nath,
the father of the appellants, in terms of the definition  of  “landlord”  in
Section 3(j) of the Act, he during  his life time and after his demise,  the
respondents are estopped under Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act,  1872
to dispute the status of the appellants as their landlord in a suit for  his
eviction from the tenanted premises.

34.   That a tenant during the continuance of the  tenancy  is  debarred  on
the doctrine of estoppel from denying the  title  of  his  landlord  through
whom he claims tenancy, as  is  enshrined  in  Section  116  of  the  Indian
Evidence Act, 1872,    is  so  well-settled  a  legal  postulation  that  no
decision need be cited to further consolidate the same.   This  enunciation,
amongst others  is  reiterated  by  this  Court  in  S.  Thangappan  vs.  P.
Padmavathy (1999) 7 SCC 474 and  Bhogadi  Kannababu  and  Ors.  vs.  Vuggina
Pydamma and others (2006) 5 SCC 532.    In  any  view  of  the  matter,  the
appellants, being the son of Bhola Nath, who at all relevant time,  was  the
landlord vis-à-vis the original defendant and the respondents  in  terms  of
Section 3(j) of the Act, their  status  as  landlords  for  the  purpose  of
eviction under the Act, could not have been questioned so  as  to  non  suit
them for want of locus.

35.        To reiterate, the High  Court  by  the  decisions  impugned,  had
dismissed the suit and the application for  release  of  the  suit  premises
under Section 21 of the Act,  principally on the ground of want of  standing
of the appellants.  In the face of the determination made  hereinabove,  the
said conclusion is unsustainable on facts and in law and  are   thus  liable
to be set aside, which we hereby  do.   Having  regard  to  the  conclusions
recorded on the aspect of default in payment of rent and  sub-letting,  both
statutorily recognized grounds for eviction of a tenant under Section 20  of
the Act, it is considered inessential to dilate on the ground of  bona  fide
requirement and comparative hardship.   In the wake up  of  the  above,  the
impugned judgments and orders of the High Court are set-aside and  the  suit
of the appellants is decreed in full.   The  respondents  would  vacate  the
suit premises at the earliest and in no case later than  three  months  from
today.   The appeals are allowed.  No costs.




............................................J.
                                              (ARUN                  MISHRA)



….........................................J.
                             (AMITAVA ROY)
      NEW DELHI;
 MARCH 21, 2017.

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