HC Can't Reappreciate Evidence While Exercising Revisional Jurisdiction U/s 20 Of Kerala Rent Control Act, Reiterates SC [Read Judgment]

HC Can

While exercising revisional jurisdiction under Section 20 of the Kerala Buildings (Lease and Rent Control) Act, the High Court cannot re-appreciate the evidence, the Supreme Court has reiterated.

In this case [Thankamony Amma vs. Omana Amma N.], setting aside concurrent orders of the Rent Control Court and the Appellate Tribunal in favour of the landlord, the High Court of Kerala had held that that there was no material to arrive at a finding that there was any landlord-tenant relationship between the parties. The High Court further held that the Rent Control Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition for eviction in such a situation. The landlord, assailed this High Court judgment before the Apex Court. The Landlord, in this case, was represented by Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj while the tenant by Advocate PB Suresh.

The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Vineet Saran referred to an earlier judgment in Rukmini Amma Saradamma v. Kallyani Sulochana wherein scope of revisional powers under Section 20 of the Rent Control Act was examined by the Apex Court. In the said judgment, it was held that even by the presence of the word "propriety" in Section 20 of the Act, it cannot mean that there could be a re-appreciation of evidence. Of course, the revisional court can come to a different conclusion but not on a re-appreciation of evidence; on the contrary, by confining itself to legality, regularity and propriety of the order impugned before it, it was held in Rukmini Amma Saradamma.

The Court also referred to the Constitution bench judgment in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited v. Dilbahar Singh, wherein it was observed thus:

"Rukmini holds, and in our view, rightly that even the wider language of Section 20 of the Kerala Rent Control Act does not enable the High Court to act as a first or a second court of appeal. We are in full agreement with the view of the three-Judge Bench in Rukmini that the word "propriety" does not confer power upon the High Court to reappreciate evidence to come to a different conclusion but its consideration of evidence is confined to find out legality, regularity and propriety of the order impugned before it. We approve the view of this Court in Rukmini."

Taking note of these aspects, the bench set aside the High Court order and observed:

Considering the instant matter in the backdrop of law laid down by this Court it must be stated that the findings rendered by the courts below were well supported by evidence on record and could not even be said to be perverse in any way. The High Court could not have re-appreciated the evidence and the concurrent findings rendered by the courts below ought not to have been interfered with by the High Court while exercising revisional jurisdiction.

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