Decided on April 23,2007

Riviera Apartments Pvt Ltd Respondents


- (1.) units in the commercial building bearing Municipal No. D-1, VSC, Alaknanda Shopping Complex, Kalkaji, New Delhi, were taken on rent by the appellant Punjab National Bank (hereinafter referred to as 'the Bank'). The landlord/owner in respect of 19 units is M/s. Riviera Apartments Pvt. Ltd.; in respect of two units, the owner is one Mr. Inder Prakash Choudhrie; and 1 unit is in the ownership of Ms. Shafali Choudhrie, D/o. Mr. Inder Prakash Choudhrie. Mr. Inder Prakash Choudhrie is the Managing Director of M/s. Riviera Apartments Pvt. Ltd. 22 separate lease deeds were signed between the respective owners and the Bank. These owners/landlords filed suit for possession and mesne profits. All these suits were taken up by the learned Single Judge of this Court. In respect of two suits it was found that rent was less than Rs.3,500/- p.m. These two suits were, accordingly, dismissed as the tenancy is protected under the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. Other 20 suits have been decreed by the learned Single Judge vide impugned judgment and decree dated 13.7.2006. Mesne profits are also awarded @ Rs.85/- per sq.ft. per month for the ground floor units and Rs.43/- per sq.ft. per month for the first floor and second floor units. It is also held that the Plaintiffs (respondents herein) would be entitled to interest @ 9% p.a. These 20 appeals are filed challenging the said judgment and decree whereby all 20 suits were decided. They are, therefore, taken up for hearing together.
(2.) The following factual position was not in dispute, as is clear from the judgment of the learned Single Judge, and the Appellant could not controvert this position in these appeals as well :- a) relationship of lessor and lessee between the respondents and the Bank; b) the premises were let out for commercial purposes; c) rent in respect of these 20 units was more than Rs.3,500/- p.m. and, therefore, tenancy is not protected under the provisions of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958; d) leases in respect of these suits expired on 16.3.1998, except in two cases where the leases expired on 22.5.1998. There was no fresh lease deed executed between the parties; and e) the dimensions of different units, as reflected in the site plan, were also admitted.
(3.) The plea of the Bank was that after the expiry of the lease periods, as per the lease deeds, it was a tenant holding over. Submission was that even after the expiry of the lease period, the Respondents continued to accept the last agreed rent and, therefore, a 'contractual tenancy' came into existence because of tender of rent by the Bank and its acceptance by the Respondents. Before lease period expired under all leases, Mr.Inder Prakash Choudhrie had written letter on 28.11.1997 (Ex.PW-1/4) to the Assistant General Manager of the Bank informing that since the leases were going to expire and the lessors were willing to extend the lease, parties should agree on rent payable so that the leases could be extended. It was followed by another letter dated 7.1.1998 (Ex.PW-1/10) wherein Mr. Choudhrie had stated that in respect of over a month having lapsed, he had not heard anything on the issue and he specifically mentioned that with effect from the date the tenancies lapse, the landlords would be charging liquidated damages at Rs.25,000/- per day for the first three months and, thereafter, at Rs.35,000/- per day till the possession was returned. On 19.3.1998, another letter was written by him (Ex.PW-1/5) stating that henceforth damages at Rs.25,000/- per day would be charged. It was followed by bill in the sum of Rs.23,27,345/- sent on 17.6.1998 (Ex.PW-1/20) towards damages for unauthorised use and occupation by the Bank. On 6.8.1998 and 23.10.1998, further such bills were raised claiming damages. In between, the Bank wrote letter dated 9.7.1998 (Ex.P-1/6) informing that it was willing to have the leases extended. Vide subsequent letter dated 23.10.1998 (Ex.P-10), the Bank offered to have the leases extended at the rates which were mentioned in that letter. Parties held negotiations at regional level and authorities at regional level agreed, on 15.1.2000, subject to approval from the Competent Authority, to pay the following lease rentals :- Basement - Rs.30/- per square foot Ground Floor - Rs.80/- per square foot First Floor - Rs.70/- per square foot Second Floor - Rs.60/- per square foot Though the Respondents agreed, the higher authorities in the Bank did not give consent. One suit, namely Suit No. 2563/2000 was thus filed for possession and the respondents awaited the reaction of the Bank. As the authorities in the Bank did not buzz, remaining 21 suits were also filed in the year 2003.;

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