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May 12, 2020

You need to pay your Rent, Supreme Court declines plea for rent waiver, relief for lawyers during Covid-19

by facelesscompliance in Compliance Law, Corporate Law

You need to pay your Rent, Supreme Court declines plea for rent waiver, relief for lawyers during Covid-19

Supreme Court has dismissed petition seeking directions for compliance with the Minister of Home Affairs order dated March 29 that insisted landlords not to demand rent during lockdown

The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to the Centre to ensure compliance with the MHA order directing landlords to neither ask students and labour to vacate the premises nor to seek rent for a month during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The petitioners, advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak and A K Pandey, had sought action against the alleged “arbitrary and unlawful action” of landlords demanding rent from students and labourers during the COVID-19 lockdown despite a government order to the contrary.

“Petition is being filed against the arbitrary and unlawful action of landlords in the state of Delhi amid COVID-19 where there is clear instruction issued by the Ministry of Home affairs that in order to maintain the lockdown situation and law and order during COVID-19, order dated March 29, 2020 ‘restraining all landlord to forcing labours and students to vacate their premises’, in case they fail to pay rent during this period,” the plea had said.

“Many landlords are continuously putting pressure on students to pay their rent and the students are living in constant fear and depressions. They are feeling helpless in this situation as they cannot demand money from their parents because their parents are also suffering from a financial crisis due to the lockdown. It had alleged that irrespective of the MHA order, various landlords were forcing tenant students to pay full rent, failing which they would be thrown out of premises…,” the plea had said.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan dismissed the petition and warned petitioner in-person advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak of heavy cost.

The bench which was hearing the matter through video-conferencing said the apex court cannot implement the orders of the government. The bench observed that there is already a helpline to monitor the situation and persons aggrieved can approach the authorities concerned.

The top court also refused to issue any direction on a separate plea for creating a financial emergency fund for lawyers.

“Tomorrow engineers will come, architects will come. How can we give special dispensation to lawyers? This is unreasonable for us to do. There may be old ladies, aged persons as landlords. How can we say this,” a bench presided over by Chief Justice

“We can’t create a special category for lawyers when unfortunately the whole country is facing a difficult situation. Let the BCI decide,” a bench presided over by Justice N V Ramana said. The bench said all persons were without work. Architects are without work, others are also without work. This is something for the BCI to consider.  “We don’t have funds to give to you. It’s for the Bar Councils to take action. We cannot tell the Bar Council to do so,” the bench added.

The Court is convened through video conferencing. We are not inclined to entertain this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution.

Having heard the petitioner-in-person and taking into consideration the grievance of the petitioner, we are of the opinion that the best course is that the Bar Council of India should consider assisting its brethren, keeping in view the prevailing situation, said the Bench.

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