Landlord can evict tenant, says SC

Owner is entitled to the possession of his premises as long as it is bona fide

The apex court said that merely because the tenant is living for several years, it does not mean that the landlord can be compelled to manage his own requirements in a smaller accommodation.

The landlord is the best judge of his need, however, it should be real, genuine and the need may not be a pretext to evict the tenant only for increasing the rent. If the landlord wishes to live with comfort in a house of his own, the law does not command or compel him to squeeze himself and dwell in lesser premises so as to protect the tenant’s continued occupation in the tenancy premises, a Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar said in a judgment.

The apex court passed the judgment while allowing landlord Yusuf Ali to take part possession of his rented premises from the tenant to run his own plastic goods units in Madhya Pradesh’s Mhow town.

The Bench said the landlord is entitled to the possession of his premises as long as it is bona fide and is able to convince the court that it is not a whim or fanciful possession.
However, the bona fide requirement of the landlord must be distinguished from a mere whim or fanciful desire. It must be manifested in actual need. The need should be bona fide and not arbitrary and the requirement pleaded and proved must neither be a pretext nor a ruse adopted by the landlord for evicting the tenant.

Therefore, the court must take relevant circumstances into consideration while determining the issue of bona fide need so that the protection afforded to a tenant is not rendered illusory or whittled down, the apex court said citing some of its earlier judgements.

In the instant case, Dinesh Kumar was running a shop at the 152sq ft premises owned by Yusuf Ali from 1978.

In 2002, a trial court ordered Kumar’s eviction on a suit filed by Ali for bona fide personal used on the ground that he wanted the premises for setting up his own plastic unit business. He had also claimed that his son Zulfiqar Ali based in Dubai would also join him in the business.

However, the first appellate court quashed the eviction order on the ground that Ali had no bona fide need and it was a ruse to enhance the rent.

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