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[Rent Control] Finding of facts cannot be substituted by HC in revision, Supreme Court

The SC on June 08, 2020 {Addissery Raghavan vs Cheruvalath Krishnadasan} held that the High Court is entitled to satisfy itself as to the correctness or legality or propriety of any decision or order impugned before it under Rent Control Acts. However, it was held that to satisfy itself to the regularity, correctness, legality or propriety of the impugned decision or the order, the High Court shall not exercise its power as an appellate power to re-appreciate or reassess the evidence for coming to a different finding on facts. It was held that revisional power is not and cannot be equated with the power of reconsideration of all questions of fact as a court of first appeal. It was held that where the High Court is required to be satisfied that the decision is according to law, it may examine whether the order impugned before it suffers from procedural illegality or irregularity.

It was held by the Bench, comprising of Justice R.F. Nariman, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice B.R. Gavaithat the reliance upon the Building Tax Assessment Register by the Appellate Authority, showing that some of the rooms belonging to the landlord were lying vacant, again, is a finding of fact which cannot be interfered with in the manner done by the High Court in revision under Section 20 of Kerala Rent Control Act. 

The SC held that the finding of fact of the Appellate Authority puts paid to any bonafide requirement of additional accommodation of the landlord in the facts of the present case.

The Court held that interfering with this finding of fact, again, without any perversity or misappreciation of evidence by the Appellate Authority would clearly be outside the High Court’s ken in its revisional jurisdiction. It was held that equally, the finding of comparative hardship, which is a finding of fact not otherwise found to be perverse, cannot be upset in the manner done in the present case by the High Court.

The SC held that the issue was answered by the trial court by merely stating that the landlord will be able to run his establishment in a better manner if he gets the schedule petition rooms, which will help to lead his establishment to prosperity, as compared with the tenant, who is not able to “establish much hardship to him”. It was held that this vague finding was rightly set aside by the Appellate Authority. It was held by the SC that without finding this to be perverse, the High Court acted outside its revisional jurisdiction in substituting the same. In the present case, the bonafide requirement of the landlord for additional accommodation was turned down by the Appellate Authority, which order was reversed by the HC.

For all these reasons, the SC allowed the appeal and set aside the High Court’s judgment, restoring that of the Appellate Authority.

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