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Opinion

3 decades of legal battle: 2 men sentenced to prison for not turning over the house to the owner

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The Supreme Court sentenced two men to three months in jail last week for failing to turn over a rented house to its owner despite a compromise in court.

Finding them guilty of contempt, the court, headed by Judge Sanjay K Kaul, has also ordered the local police in Sultan Bazar, Hyderabad, to break any locks and hand over possession of the premises to its owner.

The legal battle that spanned nearly three decades began in 1992 when Hyderabad homeowner Saraswati P Singh asked tenant Abdul Rehman to vacate the property. Rehman ignored the request and stopped paying the rent.

Singh went to the main rental controller, who passed a decree in favor of the landlord in April 1998, and ordered Rehman to move out of the house. But Rehman chose to file an appeal against this order with the rental court. The court also ordered Rehman to be evicted.

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However, Rehman’s next move paid off. The Andhra Pradesh High Court decided in Rehman’s favor on the basis that the relationship between the landlord and the tenant could not be proven as Singh himself was in Canada and someone with legal power was defending this case.

Singh then filed a motion with the Supreme Court, which found the higher court order to be completely fallacious in raising a new dispute when Rehman had admitted to paying rent to the power holder, in addition to signing a lease deed in 1983. While the matter was pending before in the supreme court, Rehman passed away and two of his children continued the legal dispute.

In February, the superior court upheld the eviction orders from the rent controller and the court. This prompted Rehman’s sons to agree to peacefully hand over possession of the house to Singh’s representatives.

However, they begged for some time to make alternative arrangements. By accepting their request, the bank gave the duo until June 30 to vacate the premises and also ordered the rental installments to be settled immediately.

But the children not only broke their promise to pay, they also left the house to a third party. This forced Singh to approach the court once more, seeking contempt proceedings.

The duo’s conduct infuriated the bank. It said: “There is, therefore, undoubtedly a voluntary and deliberate disobedience to the orders of the court and there is no doubt that the conduct of the accused is stubborn.”

On December 16, the court found the children in contempt of court and gave them 24 hours to comply with the moving orders and to make payment. “That may be the only redeeming feature for consideration of the sentence,” he added.

When the bank took up the matter on December 18, it learned that the premises had not yet been handed over to the owner.

“Therefore, we consider it appropriate to sentence the two contenders to three months in simple prison and a fine of 2,000 rupees each and, if the fine is not paid, to an additional penalty of 15 days,” the court ordered last Friday. .

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