Latest Judgements

Dated : June 03, 2020

Right of a legal heir to tenanted premises - Premises Tenancy Act- Calcutta HIgh court


Rent Control Act- Right of a heir to stay in the tenanted premises-Claim of eviction by Landlord- Calcutta High Court -Land Mark judgement

The Calcutta High Court in the case of Satyanarayan More & Another Vs Ms Millie Correia on 3rd June 2020 in FA No 126 of 2019 was considering appeal of landlord herein for evocation of the tenant where the original tenant had died before the notification of the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1997 which was made effective from 10th July, 2001. The respondent herein claimed that she was niece of the original tenant and was staying with the original tenant and thus she became tenant under the landlord as per the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act, 1956 as per which the heirs of a tenant were entitled to get the tenancy transmitted in their name. It was thus claimed that the tenancy should be governed by the 1956 Act and not by the 1987 Act. The appellant’s herein claimed that at the most the tenant here could claim only five years of occupation after coming into effect of the 1987 act as per Section 2(g) of the 1987 Act which states in no uncertain term that in the event of death of any tenant, the legal heirs who were ordinarily living with the tenant up to his death as a member of his family could get the benefit of 5 years to remain in possession of the property in question as legal hairs of the deceased tenant and not thereafter. The tenant however claimed that if the death of tenant took place before coming into force of the 1987 Act, then the the relationship between the landlord and tenant should be governed by the statute prevailing at the time when the tenancy right had accrued in favour of the legal heir of the original tenant in view of the Apex Court decision in the case of Shahwar Basheer & Ors. v. Veena Mohan in Civil Appeal Nos. 7020-7021 of 2005 decided on 28th October, 2009. The Calcutta high court on these facts went through the history of rent control legislation since the year 1942 till date and thereafter noted that the question which was central in this appeal was to determine whether the provisions of Section 2(g) of 1987 Act were prospective or retrospective in nature. The court while noting that the object of rent control legislation should not be to make tenants homeless and nomads, but to strike a balance between the need of the landlord to receive a fair rent which should include proportionate municipal rates and taxes and maintenance charges and the interest of the tenant to have a secured tenure, observed that the interest of the son, daughter, parent or the widow of the predeceased son of the tenant who was ordinarily residing with the tenant in the said premises up to the date of death of the tenant as a member of his family and was dependant on him and who does not own or occupy any residential premises appear to have been secured in the new definition of tenant in Section 2(g) as they shall have a right of preference for tenancy in a fresh agreement in respect of such premises on condition of payment of fair rent.

This provision applies mutatis mutandis to premises let out for non- residential purpose. The time limit of 5 years would not be applicable to the spouse of the tenant who was ordinarily living with the tenant upto his death as a member of his family and was dependent on him and who does not own or occupy any residential premises. The new definition of tenant leaves a room for a fresh bargaining between the parties. Finally the court referred to the Maxwell’s book of interpretation of statutes and the decision in the case of Goutam Dey Vs Jyotsna Chatterjee (2013) 1 CHN 336where the court had considered three eventualities of a tenant having died before 10th July,2001, 10th July, 2001 and after 10th July,2001. This judgement was not approved by the Division bench in the case of Sushil Kumar Jain v. Pilani Properties Limited, reported in 2017 (4) Cal LT 575 which had since been affirmed by the apex court on 7/2/2018. On these facts the Hon’ble court held that the tenant herein should vacate the premises within one year from the date of the judgement.

A classic judgement which will be helpful to lot of Real Estate Developers who are fighting battle for eviction of tenants. 

Satyanarayan More & Another Vs Ms Millie Correia Download PDF

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