NRI landlord needn’t prove ownership to evict tenant, says SC

NEW DELHI (TIP): Non-resident Indians cannot be asked to prove ownership of their property to get their tenants evicted, the Supreme Court has said while overruling a high court order. “If ordinarily a landlord cannot be asked to prove his title before getting his tenant evicted on any one of the grounds stipulated for such eviction, we see no reason why he should be asked to do so only because he happens to be a non-resident Indian (NRI),” a Supreme Court bench said.

The court was ruling on a case from Punjab where an NRI returned and wanted to vacate a shop he had rented out as he wanted to start a business. The tenant contested the NRI’s title to the shops and won a case in the lower court, and a high court bench subsequently upheld the ruling of the rent controller. The court ruled in the NRI’s favour. “Section 13-B is a beneficial provision intended to provide a speedy remedy to NRIs who return to their native places and need property let out by them for their own requirement or the requirement of those who are living with and economically dependent upon them.

Their position cannot, therefore, be worse off than what it would have been if they were not NRIs,” it said. Justices TS Thakur and C Nagappan said the law entitles an NRI who returns to India to demand eviction of any residential or non-residential building let out by him, if it is required for his use or his dependant.

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