NRIs have right to possess property in Punjab/Chandigarh: SC

Upholding the constitutional validity of Section 13-B of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 (“Act”), the Supreme Court of India clarified that non-resident Indians (“NRI”) have the right to recover immediate possession of residential or non-residential buildings in Union Territory of Chandigarh and State of Punjab on the satisfaction of the conditions mentioned in the Act.

“Section 13-B cannot, therefore, be treated as an arbitrary classification that infringes and violates Article 14 of the Constitution”, a large Bench of the Court said.

The Court said that Section 13-B of the Act cannot be held to be unconstitutional because it grants a right to claim eviction for bona fide need by summary procedure to a certain group of landlords, that is, Non-Resident Indians subject to and on the satisfaction of statutory conditions which incorporate a check on frivolous evictions.

“The right of Non-Resident Indians to initiate eviction under the summary procedure provided in Section 18-A of the Rent Act is not an unfettered and absolute right. It is subject to satisfaction of various pre-requisites and imperatives that ensure and check potential abuse by resorting to a short-circuit procedure. The requirement should arise from a genuine need of the Non-Resident Indian landlord or his dependent”, the Court further observed.

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