A revision petition was moved before Delhi High Court by a Khan Market Tenant. The petition was filed in the case of Ramanand & Ors vs Dr. Girish Soni & Anr; seeking suspension of rent on account of force majeure due to COVID-19 lockdown. However, the Delhi High Court rejected the plea. Additionally, the court discussed law applicable to suspension of rent due to force majeure. Single Judge Bench comprising of Justice Prathiba M Singh delivered the judgment.
Facts of the Case
The Respondent rented out the shop for commercial purposes. For that purpose, a lease deed was executed in 1975, at Rs. 300 per month. However, Respondent filed an eviction petition under Section 14(1)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, in 2008. Subsequently, The Senior Civil Judge-cum-Rent Controller passed an eviction order. Being that, the tenant filed the revision petition in Delhi High Court. Initially, the court stayed the eviction order due to arrears of a sum of Rs.3.5 lakhs per month as rent.
Thereafter, the tenant filed an application for the suspension of rent amidst the outbreak of COVID-19. They claimed that the business activities are disrupted due to the lockdown. Furthermore, that they are entitled to waiver of the monthly payment or at least some partial relief in terms of suspension, postponement, or part-payment of the said amount. On the other hand, Respondent argued that the tenants are enjoying the premises at a meagre amount.
The court held that Section 32 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (ICA) governs their contract. Moreover, the doctrine of force majeure is recognized under Section 108(B)(e) of the Transfer of Property Act. The High Court relied upon the Supreme Court’s judgment in Raja Dhruv Dev Chand v. Raja Harmohinder Singh & Anr. The Court opined that the non-use of premises due to the lockdown cannot be construed to waive the rent; the tenant cannot also avoid payment of rent in view of Section 108(B)(l) of the Transfer of Property Act.