The Delhi High Court on Thursday said that a landlord's right was supreme and even courts, forget the occupant, "cannot dictate terms". The ruling comes as a major relief to thousands of landlords struggling to get their premises vacated.
"(The) landlord is the best judge of his residential requirement and the place where he has to live. It is not open for the court or the tenant to dictate in what manner he should live, where he should live nor the court can impose its own standards on the landlord," said Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra.
Landlord-tenant relations in the Capital are governed by the Delhi Rent (Control) Act, 1958, which is tilted in favour of tenants. A new Delhi Rent (Control) Act) passed by Parliament in 1995 and signed by the President could not be notified in view of fierce opposition from the trader-tenant lobby.
Passing the order, the court ordered one Siraj Ahmed to vacate a house owned by one Mohd Usman in Old Delhi. Usman had filed an appeal in the HC after a lower court dismissed his petition seeking Ahmed’s eviction on the grounds of "bona fide requirement".
Usman, who was a senior official at a Mumbai bank, retired in March 1999 and wanted to lead his retired life in his own home in Delhi where he was "born, brought up and educated".
Tenant Siraj was the only stumbling block as Usman had even moved court against his sister-in-law who was occupying part of his house and got an order in his favour. With Ahmed refusing to vacate, Usman and family had to take refuge at his sister's home in Lucknow.
The court rejected Ahmed's argument that during his service tenure, the landlord "never made efforts to come to Delhi even for collecting rent" and "despite his job being transferable did not seek a transfer to Delhi".
Ahmed argued that the owner, who retired in 1999, had not written a single letter asking him to vacate and suddenly came up with a request in 2004. He asked why Usman, a "person of high status", wanted to live in a "slum like Old Delhi".
Rejecting the tenant's arguments, the court said the question whether it was good for the landlord to move to his own house in Delhi from outside or not, was not within the purview of the court. It was for the landlord to decide where he wanted to live.
The court said, “If a landlord wants to live in his own house in old Delhi, which technically falls under slum, neither the tenant nor the court can dictate terms.