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Eviction matters should be given priority by courts at all stages of litigation, especially in cases where the landlord has sought eviction for his bonafide needs, the Supreme Court has said.
The apex court observed that the object of the rent law was to ensure speedy disposal of eviction cases between the landlord and the tenant and expressed hope that due attention would be paid by all courts in deciding such matters.
"We sincerely feel that eviction matters should be given priority in their disposal at all stages of litigation and especially where the eviction is claimed on the ground of bonafide need of the landlord," the bench said.
"We hope and trust that due attention would be paid by all courts to ensure speedy disposal of eviction cases," it said while allowing the appeal filed by a landlord against an order of the Kerala High Court.
The high court, in its January 2016 verdict, had allowed the petition filed by one of the eight tenants who was evicted from a rented shop on the basis of an order passed by the trial court. The other seven tenants had not challenged the lower court's order.
The high court, while allowing the plea of the tenant, had quashed four separate orders passed by the lower court and remanded the case for fresh trial. The landlord had approached the apex court against the high court's order.
In its judgement, the apex court held that the high court had not only erred in entertaining the writ petition filed by the tenant, but also erred in exercising its supervisory jurisdiction by interfering in the trial court's orders.
Dealing with the challenge to the high court's order, the top court said that in the absence of "any prima facie case having been made out on any jurisdictional issue affecting the very jurisdiction of the court in passing the eviction decree, the high court should have declined to examine the legality of four orders impugned therein".
"On the other hand, we have no hesitation in forming an opinion that the respondent (tenant) was contesting the eviction proceedings as a 'professional litigant' and was successful to a large extent in keeping the proceedings pending for 10 years which enabled him to enjoy possession of the suit shop to the detriment of appellant's (landlord) interest," it said.
While setting aside the high court's order, the bench also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the tenant and directed him to pay the amount to the landlord.