-Report by Gourav Jain
The Delhi High Court in BALWANT SINGH DHAMRAIT & OTHERS V. STATE BANK OF INDIA AND OTHER, decided that even if you pay rent on time and according to the conditions set by the owner of the property, you can’t become the legal occupant if the owner has shown his wish to evict you after the due date.
The property was given on lease to the SBI for a term of 10 years. For the first five years of the lease, the monthly rent was Rs. 3,21,000/-. After five years, as in the Deed, the monthly rent was increased by 25% to Rs.4,01,250. The SBI paid Rs. 19,26,000/- as six months’ advance rent at the start of the lease. The lease was renewable for a further five years on terms and conditions to be mutually agreed upon between the parties. Balwant Singh and others issued a letter dated 20th June 2012 to the SBI stating that they are in need of the property and the SBI should vacate the property on the expiry of the lease. A reply on 18th February 2013 was received from the SBI saying that the bank intends to continue the lease with the consent of Balwant Singh and others. In the reply, the SBI also requested Balwant Singh and others for a meeting in this regard. Later on, an offer for extending the lease for a further period of 5 years was given by Balwant Singh and others to the SBI. In the bank’s letter dated 20th September 2013, Balwant Singh and others sent their bid dated 23rd September 2013, offering the suit property for a fresh lease at a monthly rent of Rs. 22 lacs. No mutual agreement ever happened between parties for renewal of the Deed. The term of the Lease Deed expired on 12th November 2013 and the SBI was liable to evict the property. The SBI issued a letter saying that the bank is looking for a suitable space for shifting and till then the bank would do their work on the same property. The SBI deposited a sum of Rs. 34,50,750/- from 13th November 2013 to 31st July 2014 @ Rs. 4,01,250/- per month, in the account of Balwant Singh and others.
The present suit was filed by Balwant Singh and others for the eviction of the defendant Bank from the mentioned premises and recovery of damages.
Balwant Singh and others have no right to end the tenancy of the SBI. As per Clause II(j) of the Lease Deed, the SBI is to be given the lease for further 5 years after the expiry of the period of 10 years. The SBI is in possession of the property as a tenant and has regularly paid rent to the plaintiffs.
In the suit, the relief is claimed based on the area of the suit property measuring 5567.4 sq. ft, whereas the measurement of the same in the Lease Deed is 4729 sq.ft. The SBI informed the plaintiffs during their visit to the bank that the bank wants to eradicate the clause so that it can increase the tenancy period to 5 years, they further tried to mutually settle the terms for the extension of the lease for 5 years.
SBI contended that the plaintiffs were liable to refund the security amount of Rs. 19,26,000/- back to them.
In this case, the Lease Deed expired on 12th November 2013 and the possession was handed over by the SBI to the plaintiffs on 30th June 2016. Therefore, the mesne profits have to be considered for 31 months 17 days. None of the lease deeds or other evidence placed on record by Balwant Singh and Others can be the basis for deciding mesne profits in respect of the property. Therefore, the mesne profits have to be decided based on the last paid rent by the SBI to Balwant Singh and Others. As per the Lease Deed dated 13th November 2003 between the parties, the lease was to be renewed after 5 years with 25% increase of the last rent. Applying the same principle of increasing rent at the rate of 25% after 5 years, the plaintiffs would be entitled to mesne profits at the rate of 25% over the last rent for the period of 13th November 2013 to 12th November 2014. Following the rules set by the Court in the previous judgments (like, Sneh Vaish & Anr. v. State Bank of Patiala, 182 (2012) DLT 153; M.C. Agrawal and Ors. v. Sahara India and Ors., 183 (2011) DLT 105 and; Indian Tourism Development Corporation v. Anil Kumar Khanna, MANU/DE/0935/2016), the plaintiffs would be granted an increase in mesne profits by 15% every year on the amount.
Hence, the Defendant Bank was liable to pay the damages to the Plaintiffs.