It has taken a landlord exactly 28 years to evict a tenant from his premises at Connaught Circus, in the heart of the Capital.
The Supreme Court has ordered Sardar Estates, occupying premises no 13/46, Scindia House, Connaught Circus, to vacate the property owned by Atma Ram Properties (P) Ltd latest by July end, failing which he will be evicted by police force.
The tenant’s repeated attempts to “frustrate the eviction orders” by starting yet another round of legal battle has earned the ire of the Supreme Court, which also asked the tenant to pay Rs 10,000 to the landlord as cost of litigation.
“This appeal (by tenant) furnishes a typical instance of a widespread malady which has infected the judicial system in the country, namely, flagrant abuse of the process of the court,” a bench headed by Justice Markandey Katju said rejecting the tenant’s appeal.
It all started in 1981 when Atma Ram Properties (P) Ltd filed a petition before the Rent Controller for evicting its tenant Sardar Estates from the premises in question on the ground of subletting.
The landlord won the case on May 12, 1993 but the tenant challenged the eviction order before the Rent Control Tribunal, which dismissed it on September 22, 1998.
The tenant challenged the Tribunal’s order before Delhi High Court that dismissed it on January 31, 2000. The tenant then moved the Supreme Court but the appeal was “dismissed as withdrawn” on December 8, 2000.
The tenant then filed a review petition in Delhi High Court against the January 31, 2000 order but it was dismissed once again on February 9, 2001.
The tenant filed an appeal against this order in the Supreme Court, which it dismissed on April 9, 2001. However, the Supreme Court had given him time till October 31, 2001 to hand over the physical possession of the premises to the landlord, subject to usual undertaking to be filed within four weeks. But he did not do so.
During the proceedings for execution of the apex court’s order, the tenant filed an objection on March 16, 2001 that was rejected by the Executing Court on September 14, 2001. Against that order the tenant filed an appeal that was dismissed.
The tenant kept on filing frivolous objections to delay the apex court’s eviction order. The tenant’s appeal against rejection of the objections was finally dismissed by the high court on September 10, 2002, only to be challenged before the apex court again.
The tenant, who had made some unauthorised construction on the third floor, had claimed that the eviction order did not cover that portion but the apex court rejected the contention saying, “This unauthorised construction can not be said to be an independent flat”.
The court termed filing of frivolous objections in the execution case by the tenant as a flagrant violation of the eviction decree.
“It is evident that after the first round of litigation was over, the tenant started a second round of litigation on frivolous grounds which was a flagrant abuse of the court,” the SC said.
“This is a practice which has become widespread, and which the court can not approve of, otherwise no judgment will ever attain finality,” the SC added.