Supreme Court of India ("Supreme
Court") in its recent judgment [Dr Suhas H
Pophale v Oriental Insurance Company Limited and its Estate
Officer] has changed the parameters of eviction of the tenant
under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act,
BACKGROUND OF ACT: The Act was incorporated to
facilitate easy eviction of unauthorized occupants from public
premises and other incidental matters including removal of
unauthorized construction, recovery of arrears of rent, etc. As per
the Act, public premises means premises belonging to or taken on
lease or requisitioned by or on behalf of (i) Central Government,
(ii) Company in which the Central Government holds at least 51%
paid‐up share capital, (iii) wholly or partially subsidiary
of the Central Government, (iv) any corporation owned or controlled
by the Central Government, (v) universities, (vi) institutes of
technology, (vii) major port trust, etc. (collectively referred to
as "Public Authority")
CONFLICT: Since inception of the Act, there has
been constant conflict on applicability of the Act
viz‐a‐vis the applicability of the state rent control
act. The Act has been made applicable since 1958. However, the
question arises with respect to premises which were not acquired by
such Public Authority until much later date and the tenants were
till such date of acquisition, governed by the respective state
act. The Supreme Court judgment in Suhas Pophale case clarified the
position in such cases. It clarified that the Act can only be
applied from 16 September 1958, or from a later date when such
premises became government owned with the nationalization of the
banks and private insurance companies. The judgment of Supreme
Court is primarily aimed at properties belonging to nationalized
insurance companies and nationalized banks.
CASE ANALYSES: In the instant case, Dr Suhas
Pophale was the tenant of Indian Mercantile Insurance Company
("MIC") and was a lawful tenant under
the Bombay Rent Act 1947 (now Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999).
MIC was merged with the Oriental Insurance Company
("OIC"), a government company, with
effect from 1 January 1974. However the management of MIC was taken
over by the Central Government in 1971. Dr Suhas Pophale had
obtained a license from the original tenant in 1972 and MIC had
been informed about the same. Thereafter eviction order came to be
passed against the said Dr Suhas Pophale in 1993 by the Estate
Officer of OIC which was later affirmed by the City Civil Court and
Bombay High Court.
Supreme Court allowed the appeal having following effect:
(A) When a tenant is protected as a 'tenant' or `deemed
tenant' under the State Act, prior to the merger of the
erstwhile insurance company with a Government Company, he could be
removed only by following the procedure available under the State
(B) Thus, as far as the tenants of the premises which are not
covered under the Act are concerned, those tenants who were tenants
or deemed tenants under the State Act, continues to have their
protection under the State Act. Legislation is not be given a
retrospective effect unless specifically provided for, and not
beyond the period that is provided therein.
(C) For any premises to become public premises the relevant date
will be 16 September 1958 or whichever is the later date on which
the concerned premises become the public premises (as belonging to
or taken on lease by Public Authorities like OIC). All those
persons failing within the definition of a tenant occupying the
premises prior thereto will not come under the ambit of the Act and
cannot therefore be said to be persons in "unauthorized
occupation". If possession of their premises is required, that
will have to be resorted to by taking steps under the respective
State Acts. If person concerned has come in occupation subsequent
to such date, then of course the Act will apply.
(D) The occupants of these properties were earlier tenants of
the private landlords. They have not chosen to be the tenants of
the Government Companies. Their status as occupants of the Public
Insurance Companies has been thrust upon them by the Act.
MHCO COMMENTS: We understand
now 2 categories of occupants of these public corporations will be
excluded from the coverage of the Act. Firstly, those who are in
occupation since prior to 16 September 1958, i.e. prior to the Act
becoming applicable are clearly outside the coverage of the Act.
Secondly, those who come in occupation, thereafter, but prior to
the date of concerned premises were taken over by Public Authority
and are covered under a protective provision of the State Rent Act.
We believe this judgment will help thousands of occupants of public
premises by limiting and clarifying the application of Act.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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On March 10, 2015, the controversial amendments to the land acquisition law were finally passed by the Lok Sabha after facing severe criticism both from the opposition parties as well as from the government's own allies.
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