New Delhi The Delhi High Court, dismissing a petition seeking directions to waive rent payable by tenants during the Covid-19 lockdown period, observed that “there can be no eviction, on ground of non-payment of the rent for tenants who are poor” but “it ought to be kept in mind that even the landlords can be financially dependent on the rent”.
“For canvassing an argument of waiver of rent, proof of facts is a must. There cannot be lumpsum/general submission that rent should be waived and there can be no eviction, on ground of non-payment of the rent for tenants who are poor,” said a division bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan.
The court, while dismissing the petition filed by lawyer Gaurav Jain for waiver of rent for the lockdown period, said that the same is “devoid of any merits as public interest litigation” but is a “publicity interest litigation”.
It also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 which is to be deposited by the petitioner with Delhi State Legal Services Authority within a period of four weeks of resumption of physical functioning of the courts.
“This amount will be utilised for Covid relief and welfare measures,” the bench said.
On its reasons for rejecting the plea, the court said: “If such type of general argument is accepted by this court, that rent should be waived for all the tenants of Delhi who are poor for the month of April or/and May or/and June, it will lead to injustice. Hence also, we see no reason to entertain this Public Interest Litigation.
“It ought to be kept in mind that even the landlords can be financially dependent on the rent, e.g. when the rented premises is given by a widow or by a retired person having no other means of income and when they are solely dependent on the rent, for their livelihood.”
“Similarly, there are several instances where rented premises are occupied by the tenants who are running shops, malls and doing other commercial activities,” it added.
The bench stated that it ought to be kept in mind that court cannot do charity at the cost of others.
“Charity beyond law is an injustice to others,” it said, adding that if the landlord is entitled to receive the rent in accordance with law as per the contractual agreement entered between the parties concerned, then, the court cannot, by a general order, waive such amount.
The plea had sought the court’s direction prohibiting the eviction of the tenants on the grounds of non-payment of rent till this crisis caused by the pandemic lasts.
The petitioner also prayed the court for directing authorities like District Magistrate, Police etc to engage sufficient number of patrolling vehicles mounted with loudspeakers for the task of making people aware about the orders related to the issue of rent, and make a general appeal to all the landlords to show some empathy towards their tenants by waiving off their outstanding rent instead of coercing them to pay it immediately.