The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the Delhi High Court order, which upheld the Additional Rent Controller order directing the eviction of tenant central government officials at the Sujan Park flats, located near the tony Khan market.
A bench headed by Justice Hemant Gupta said: “Stay operation of eviction order”. The bench also issued notice to Sir Sobha Singh and Sons Pvt Ltd on a petition filed by the central government.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the central government, submitted that bouncers were being sent to evict the government officers and sought a stay on the operation of the high court order.
Justice Gupta said: “Yes, the order has to be stayed”.
A Senior advocate Maninder Singh, representing Sir Sobha Singh & Sons, submitted that the government owes huge arrears and urged the top court not to stay the operation of the order. Singh said his client should be allowed to file the reply in the matter. The bench has sought response in four weeks.
The bench, also comprising Justice V. Ramasubramanian, observed that till it examined the issue, whether the eviction was correct in law status quo should be maintained as on the date when the high court decided the matter.
The central government moved the top court challenging a Delhi High Court, which was passed in January 2020, affirming the decision of the Additional Rent Control Tribunal directing the Centre to make payment of unpaid arrears of rent owed to the respondent, Sir Sobha Singh and Sons P. Ltd.
In 1945, Sir Sobha Singh was granted perpetual lease of 7.58 acres of land by the British in north and south Sujan Singh Park for construction of 84 flats, on a condition that half of the flats would be given to accommodate government officers on concessional rent.
The flats included five single bedroom flats, nine double bedroom flats, 39 servant quarters and 25 garages. In 1959, the estate officer issued notices to the flat owners for alleged violations of the approved construction plan and use of flats for purposes in breach of the lease agreement. In February 2005, the additional rent controller ordered eviction of government officials from the premises.
The Centre’s plea said that a bare reading of Section 3 makes it clear that any government property demised in favour of a person in the form of a ‘Grant’ as per provisions of the Grants Act, will be excluded from the scope of application of the provisions of any other law/statute. It further added that any legislation which is contrary to the notions in the Government Grant, will not apply to a government property granted in favour of a specific person. It is therefore submitted that the provisions of the Grant Act will have an overriding effect over any other law, in force, which is contrary thereto.
The Centre’s plea said: “The Tribunal vide order dated 01.09.2007 erroneously held that the contested property was covered under the provisions of the Delhi Rent Control Act (DRCA). Moreover, the Hon’ble High Court affirmed the said finding vide order dated January 8, 2020”.
It added, “It is most reverentially submitted that the Grants Act is a special statute and so, it would prevail over other statutes and so, the provisions contained in the Grants Act will have an overriding effect on the provisions contained in the DRCA. Furthermore, it is submitted that the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 has expressly been excluded from the arena of Government Grants.”