Public service work no ground for non revision of rent: Court
New Delhi: One cannot be denied rent hike of ones' premises, hired by the government, on the ground that the same is being used for a public service, a Delhi court has ruled, while asking the postal department to pay Rs 7 lakh as damages to a woman for refusing to revise the rent.
Additional District Judge Man Mohan Sharma gave the ruling on a civil suit by one Kanta Devi, a Delhi resident against the postal department seeking recovery of rent at hiked rates.
The postal department had opposed her plea saying it had hired the premises for providing public services and not for any profit making enterprise.
It said "the public would be deprived of the utility services if the suit is of the plaintiff is decreed".
The court, however, rejected the postal department's plea saying there was no law that provides for differential treatment for those providing public utility service.
"If defendants (postal department) have chosen to retain the possession of the suit property despite being put to notice as to the claim of damages, it has done so at its own risk and peril.
"No law has been cited before me that the defendants have to be afforded a different treatment than others for reason that the defendant carries on the business of essential public services," the court said.
"As the defendants continued to retain the possession of the suit property despite determination of lease and the quit notice, their possession is unauthorised thus liable to the mesne profits (damages)," the judge added.
Kanta Devi had told the court that she had entered into an agreement in 2001 for a period of five years with the postal department to give her premises to it to run a Post Office at a monthly rent of Rs 5,100.
The court was informed that the premise was rented to post office since 1954, when the rent was only Rs 204 and the lease was renewed after regular intervals.
After the termination of lease in 2006, the woman sought revised tariff and sought Rs 60,000 per month citing that her neighbour was charging Rs one lakh from a bank.
The postal department, however, neither vacated the 600 square feet space nor revised the tariff, prompting her to seek legal remedy.
The court calculated the damages by taking the tariff as Rs 42 per square feet from October 2006 to May 2008 turning out as Rs 27,720 per month and further at Rs 48 from May 2008 on wards amounting to Rs 31,680 per month.