|NEW DELHI, JAN 28 (PTI)|
The Supreme Court has slammed the Sikkim High Court for adopting a "draconian, arbitrary and authoritarian" approach to evict a hapless widow from her rented premises in utter disregard for the law.
In a strongly-worded judgement loaded with severe strictures against the acting Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court and another judge, the apex court ordered restoration of the possession of the premise to victim Shanti Devi.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and Altamas Kabir regretted that the action of the Sikkim High Court appeared more an effort at giving relief to the owner with "alacrity" rather than addressing the issues raised by the widow who had approached the court for justice.
The apex court strongly deplored the manner in which the Sikkim High Court issued a contempt notice followed by a non-bailable warrant and then ordered the eviction of Shanti Devi.
Offering relief to the victim, the apex court termed the action as "gross abuse of the due process of law which cannot at all be sustained."
The authority asked her to produce a 'no-objection' certificate from her landlord and when she failed to do so her application was dismissed.
The woman then filed a fresh petition seeking direction to the authority for issuance of licence and pleaded that she be exempted from producing no-objection certificate as the owner was bent upon evicting her, though the family had been carrying out the business from the premises for the past 30 years.
But ironically the high court on June 26, 2006 dismissed her petition and imposed a cost of Rs one lakh and directed her to vacate the premises within a week.
On July 4, 2006 exactly a week thereafter, the landlord filed a contempt petition against Shanti Devi which interestingly was taken up by a division bench of acting chief justice N S Singh and Justice A P Subba which directed the widow to appear before it on the very next day.
A further direction was given to the officer in-charge of Ranipool police station to produce the widow before the court along with a direction to the registry to ensure delivery of a copy of the direction to the woman for her appearance.
"The order passed on the contempt application directing possession to be taken by the police authorities and to make over the same to the respondent No 2(land lord), appears to be in gross abuse of the due process of law which cannot at all be sustained," the apex court remarked.
The bench observed that the case in hand is an example of how the writ courts have in recent time either forgotten or ignored the line between the reliefs which could be given by the civil courts and the Constitution courts.
It appeared that the high court shifted its focus from the reliefs sought by the widow and instead focused efforts in giving relief to the land lord, the apex court said.
"This appears to be the reason for the learned judge to have passed a mandatory order of eviction on the appellant's writ petition, wherein she had, inter alia, prayed for a direction to the authority to issue a fresh trade licence to her on her hu sband's death," the bench said.
The apex court while awarding Rs 25,000 to the widow said its judgement will not preclude either of the parties from pursuing their reliefs before the appropriate forum.
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Monday, January 28, 2008
SC slams Sikkim HC for evicting widow from rented premises
at Monday, January 28, 2008