New tenancy law in the offing: Pros and cons

New tenancy law in the offing: Pros and cons
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New tenancy law in the offing: Pros and cons

Highlights

Recently, the Union cabinet has approved the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2020 (MTA) prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs

Recently, the Union cabinet has approved the draft Model Tenancy Act, 2020 (MTA) prepared by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The MTA has the objective of balancing the interests and rights of landlords and tenants and to create an efficient and transparent system for dealing with all aspects of renting, residential and commercial (except industrial) premises.

The government expects that State tenancy laws based on the MTA will benefit both the landlords and tenants. The draft bill also aims at speedy disposal of tenancy disputes.

Among the salient features of the bill, important are: compulsory registration of written agreement between the landlord and the tenant with the designated authority, limit of security deposit payable by the tenant to a maximum of 2 months rent in case of residential premises and 6 months in case of non-residential premises, prohibition of withholding essential supplies or services on the premises occupied by the tenant and exemplary fines for not honouring the terms of the rental agreement.

Touted as a substitute to the country's archaic laws and an engine to the target of 'housing for all by 2022', the new bill despite having balancing features may not really be of much help to provide succor to the helpless tenants. In fact, the gap between the availability of homes and shelter-seekers is very wide which ultimately creates 'the sailor's market'. The only viable alternative is to encourage housing activity by the public sector. After all, even the private housing sector heavily leans over the public money to complete housing ventures.

It is unfortunate that since Independence, despite making tall claims about poverty alleviation by providing food, clothing and shelter to people, the successive governments have done a precious little. In the 50's and 60's, the housing problem which was confined only to the big cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai has percolated down to even the smaller cities and towns. With the rapid industrialisation and growth of trade, the employment avenues have definitely increased manifold. Most of the employment opportunities are available in the big cities and towns which results into large scale migration of people from rural areas to urban areas.

In other words, the housing problem has the roots in non-availability of ample houses, and giving tonnes of money to private developers to address this problem is certainly not a proper solution. In a situation like haves and haves not's, it is always the haves who will have the upper hand. It is one thing to provide a sound mechanism to regulate the rental activity and for the dispute redressal, but the million dollar question is: How efficiently the Model Tenancy Law would be enforced by the respective governments. As it is, most of the States have the authorities to search for the vacant houses and allot the same to public servants. But, the ground realities are hopelessly disappointing.

Indeed, the gospel truth is all laws are good; but only their implementation is defective.

Italian marines case comes closer to the end

Considering the fact that the republic of Italy has deposited a sum of Rs 10 crore towards compensation, the Supreme Court is likely to pass appropriate order on the application filed by the Central government to quash the criminal proceedings pending in India against two Italian Marines, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone in connection with the sea firing incident near Kerala Coast resulting in the death of two Indian fishermen in 2012. A division bench of Justice Indira Benerjee and Justice MR Shah adjourned the matter to June 15 for orders.

The Italian marines case had generated much uproar, particularly because of its political contours. The amicable settlement and amount of compensation notwithstanding one must admit that India as a sovereign nation has had to eat the humble pie in the entire episode.

Rajasthan HV on live-in relationship

A single bench of Justice Pankaj Bhandari of Rajasthan High Court has recently held that a live-in relationship between a married and unmarried person is not permissible under law. Refusing to grant protection of life and liberty to the petitioners, the court observed that the petitioner No.2 (man) was already married. Hence, relying on the Apex court verdict in D Velusami vs D Patchaiammal (2010) 10 SCC 469, the petition was dismissed.

However, there seems to be a legal dichotomy in this matter. On June 7, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed SSP, Faridkot to look into the grievance of an already married woman and an unmarried man living together in a live-in relationship and seeking protection of life and liberty against private parties.

Further, there are several other similar cases also were the High Courts have taken different views and it will be in the righteousness that the Apex court sets right the issues.

J&K HC on reopening of a case

By an order dated June 4, a single judge bench comprising Justice Sanjay Dhar of Jammu and Kashmir High Court held in Ajit Chopra vs Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and others has held that once a case has been closed by the superior authority, it was not permissible to the subordinate office to reopen it.

Terming the courts adopted by respondent No 3 in the said case as not only amounting to abuse of process of law but also smacking of in subordination, the court held that the action of reopening the case by respondent No 3 was not sustainable in law and as such, the same deserves to be quashed. The court also granted liberty to the relevant authorities of the police department "to take appropriate disciplinary action against the respondent No 3 for having acted in a manner which smacks of in subordination.

New CJ for Allahabad HC

The acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, Justice Sanjay Yadav, has been appointed as the Chief Justice of the same court by a Presidential Order dated June 10.

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