Ambika Savaria and Ors. v. Sanjay Sharma and Ors.(2016)

Case NameAmbika Savaria and Ors. v. Sanjay Sharma and Ors.,
CourtBefore Supreme Court of India
BenchJ. Uday Umesh Lalit
Counsel for PetitionerMr. Kamal Mohan Gupta
Counsel for respondentMr. Ujjal Banerjee
Decided OnAugust 09, 2016
AbstractIn the present case, the matter was concerned with regards to eviction of a person from a premises on grounds of invalid ownership. The Supreme Court in the present case held that the question of ownership of the landlord is not open to tenant.
Author of briefAbhay Tyagi, Student at Gujarat National Law University.
KeywordsTenancy, Ownership, Madhya Pradesh Accomodation Control Act.

Facts & Procedural History:

This appeal was filed challenging the Chhattisgarh High Court judgement, which set aside the eviction decisions passed by the Trial Court and the Lower Appellate Court against the Respondents in this appeal.

The original civil suit was filed by a Vasudev Shyamji and a Govind Shyamji for suit house no. 189/1, Ward No. 18, Raigarh. The suit demanded eviction of a Bhanaram Sharma on grounds of bona fide needs.

Bhanaram Sharma though initially denied the ownership of the plaintiffs, he follows it by saying that the suit being one regarding eviction, ownership of title is irrelevant. Also, he is noted stating in the witness box that the lease from the Nazul Department stood in the name of the plaintiffs and that he had produced the same lease in previous proceedings. He also accepted to have paid rent through money orders in the name of Shyamji Gangji, the father of the plaintiffs.

The Trial Court on consideration of the evidence presented decreed in favour of the plaintiffs principally on the grounds that the suit house was needed for reconstruction and bona fide needs.

The matter was appealed by Bhanaram, where the Lower Appellate Court confirmed the judgement of the Trial Court and dismissed the appeal.

The respondents in the present appeal, the heirs to Bhanaram, filed an appeal in the Chhattisgarh High Court at Bilaspur. The HC observed that for the plaintiffs to have succeeded in eviction on grounds of bona fide needs under Section 12(1)(e) of the Chhattisgarh Accommodation Control Act, 1961, it was necessary to establish ownership of the accommodation as the Section states – that the accommodation let for residential purpose is required bona fide by the landlord for occupation as a residence for himself or for any member of his family, if he is the owner thereof, and that the fact that Bhanaram used to pay rent for the suit house to the father of the plaintiffs was not adequate proof of ownership.

Appellant’s Contention:

Counsel KM Gupta relied on the Supreme Court’s judgement of Anar Devi (Smt.) v. Nathu Ram where Section 23-A(b) of the Madhya Pradesh Accommodation Control Act, 1961 was under discussion which was affirmed to be pari materia to Section 12(1)(e) of the Chhattisgarh Accommodation Control Act, 1961.

Paragraph 18 of this judgement stated that when a tenant had already accepted ownership of the landlord, he wasn’t allowed to challenge on being served for eviction.

The Court also dealt with “tenant’s estoppel” which is recognised under Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act. The doctrine governs the relationship between a landlord and a tenant found by a contract of tenancy entered into by them. The interpretation of Jessel, M.R. in Stringer’s Estate, Shaw v. Jones-Ford says a tenant may not challenge a landlord’s ownership of title after contracting for tenancy even though the landlord may not a lawful owner of the property. This interpretation had been previously used by the Court in the judgement of Sri Ram Pasricha v. Jagannath and the judicial committee in Kumar Krishna Prasad Lal Singha Deo v. Baraboni Coal Concern Ltd.

Respondent’s Contention:

The counsel depended on their arguments presented in the Chhattisgarh HC here too with the interpretation of Section 12(1)(e) of the Chhattisgarh Accommodation Control Act.


The Court relying on the Anar Devi judgement as well as the interpretation of the scope and applicability of Section 23-A(b) of the MP Accommodation Control Act and “tenant’s estoppel” under Section 116 of the Indian Evidence Act as established under the Court’s Sri Ram Pasricha judgement decided that the question of ownership of the appellant-landlords was not open to Bhanaram Sharma.


The Supreme Court held the view of the HC to be incorrect, setting aside its judgement and restoring the decisions of the lower courts.

As the respondents had been occupants for over 40 years, the Court granted time till 31st August 2017 for a peaceful vacation of the property subject to the filing of undertakings for the same. In a case of non-filing within 4 weeks, the Court allowed for eviction to be carried out.

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