“Manmohan Singh vs. Arjun Uppal & Anr: A Landmark Property Dispute Reshaping Indian Legal Precedents”

“Manmohan Singh vs. Arjun Uppal & Anr: A Landmark Property Dispute Reshaping Indian Legal Precedents”

                                                                                         -By Tanishka Jain

                                                                                         Ballb 3rd year student

                                                    Prestige Institute of Management and Research, 

                                                                                   Department of Law, Indore


In the annals of Indian legal history, certain cases stand out for their profound impact on jurisprudence and society at large. One such case, Manmohan Singh vs. Arjun Uppal & Anr, decided on November 29, (2023:DHC:8505) (Indian Kanoon, 2023) marks a significant milestone in property law, shedding light on the complexities of land disputes and the evolving role of the judiciary in resolving them.


The case revolves around a contentious property dispute between Manmohan Singh, a retired government official, and Arjun Uppal and another individual (referred to as “Anr” in legal terminology). The dispute concerns a prime piece of land located in the heart of a bustling metropolitan area, coveted for its commercial potential and strategic location. The case revolves around an eviction petition filed by the landlords against their tenant under Section 14(1)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958. The landlords sought recovery of the tenanted premises for the purported establishment of a plush restaurant by their son, the respondent no. 1. The tenant, however, contested the eviction, arguing against the bona fide requirement claimed by the landlords. The present revision petition was filled by the tenant who is the petitioner in this case challenging the order of eviction against the tenant by the learned ARC(Administrative Reform Commission)-2, Central, Tis Hazari Court.

Section 14(1)(e) of the DRC Act, 1958

As per Section 14(1)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 there are three ingredients which are necessary to satisfy by the landlord for the claim of the ownership over the property. These three ingredients are –

A.  Relationship of landlord and tenant.

B. The landlord required the premises bona fide for his needs/or for his family members.

C. Landlord must not have an alternate, suitable accommodation. (Indian Kanoon, 1958)

Some Highlights of the case

-The revision petition has been filed by the tenant challenging an eviction order passed by the learned ARC-2.

– The landlords sought eviction under section 14(1)(e) of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, claiming bona fide requirement of the tenanted premises for setting up a plush restaurant by the landlord’s son.

– The tenant contested the eviction on various grounds including lack of experience of the landlord’s son in the restaurant business, availability of alternative accommodation, and legal issues regarding the location’s suitability for a restaurant near a temple.

– The ARC dismissed the tenant’s leave to defend application, granting eviction to the landlords. The ARC found no triable issues raised by the tenant.

– Subsequent events of landlords receiving possession from other tenants were brought to the court’s attention during the proceedings.

– Both parties presented their arguments focusing on the bona fide requirement and availability of alternate accommodation.

– The court, after reviewing the arguments and legal precedents, upheld the eviction order, dismissing the tenant’s revision petition. The court emphasized that landlords have the discretion to use their property as they see fit and that the landlords’ need for the premises was bona fide.

Legal Arguments

The crux of the dispute lies in three key aspects: 

The existence of a landlord-tenant relationship, the bona fide requirement of the landlords, and the availability of alternative accommodation for the landlords. Both parties presented their arguments before the learned ARC, highlighting various factual and legal contentions.

On one hand, the landlords asserted their need for the tenanted premises to set up a restaurant for their son, who had completed an MBA and desired to venture into an independent business. They emphasized the strategic location of the property and its potential for a successful restaurant venture. Additionally, they argued against the tenant’s objections, asserting their right to utilize their property as they deemed fit.

On the other hand, the tenant raised several objections, including questioning the experience of the respondent no. 1 in running a restaurant and challenging the suitability of the premises for such a venture. The tenant also raised concerns about the landlords’ past actions and their failure to disclose relevant information regarding alternative accommodations.

Findings recorded by ARC

While dismissed the application, the findings given by learned ARC are as follows-

  1. The tenant does not contest ownership or rent payment, affirming the landlord-tenant relationship. 
  2. The tenant’s argument that the landlords could utilize other premises for their needs was dismissed by the ARC, asserting landlords’ autonomy. 
  3. The ARC found no substantial issues regarding the landlords’ genuine need for the premises, rejecting the tenant’s claim of mala-fide intent. 
  4. The tenant failed to prove alternative accommodations or the landlords’ duty to obtain civic permissions before eviction. While referring the case Ram Babu Aggarwal vs. Jai Kishan Dass, 2010 (1) SCC 164, Lack of restaurant experience was deemed irrelevant, and the plea of res judicata was dismissed. Consequently, the eviction petition was upheld. 

Legal Analysis

At the heart of the legal battle were several key issues:

1. Title Dispute: Singh claimed rightful ownership of the property, citing ancestral documents and uninterrupted possession dating back several decades. In contrast, Uppal and the other party contested Singh’s claim, asserting their ownership based on a purportedly forged deed and recent acquisitions.

2. Evidence Examination: The court meticulously analysed the documentary evidence presented by both parties, including land records, deeds, and witness testimonies. Expert testimony and forensic analysis played a crucial role in determining the authenticity of the contested documents.

3. Adverse Possession: Singh invoked the principle of adverse possession, arguing that his long-standing and undisputed possession of the property conferred legal ownership. The court deliberated on the application of adverse possession laws and precedent-setting cases to assess Singh’s claim.

4. Fraud Allegations: Uppal and the other party raised allegations of fraud and collusion against Singh, challenging the validity of the documents supporting his claim. The court scrutinized these allegations, weighing the evidence presented and evaluating the credibility of the parties involved.

After hearing the contention given by both the parties the court first clarify the scope of Revisional Jurisdiction of High Courts with the help of the cases decided by the Supreme Court itself. The cases are Shiv Sarup Gupta vs. Dr. Mahesh Chand Gupta, (1999) 6 SCC 222 and  Abid-Ul-Islam vs. Inder Sain Dua, (2022) 6 SCC 30 in which the court clearly said that the High Court have the power of revision on the basis of Question of law. 

Therefore in the present case it is clear that the jurisdiction of the court is restrictive and can only be exercised if the impugned order passed by learned ARC suffers from any illegality. Therefore, the order passed by the learned ARC is to be tested on the touchstone of “whether it is according to law”.

Judgment given by the High Court

After a thorough examination of the evidence and legal arguments presented by both sides, the court rendered its judgment. In a landmark decision, the court upheld the decision of eviction given by the learned ARC affirming the title of the landlord based on the satisfaction of the ingredients given under S/14(1)(e) of the DRC Act, 1958 and the strength of the evidence supporting his ownership. The court therefore dismissed the petition by saying that there is no merit in the pleas taken by the tenant in the present case and also disposed the pending application, if any, related to this case. 

According to Justice Jasmeet Singh’s bench, it is established law that tenants cannot dictate to landlords how they use their property.

 “The beneficial use of a landlord’s property cannot be taken away from them. In addition, the court cannot sit in the landlords’ armchair and decide how the property should be used. Landlords have the exclusive authority to order the removal of any leased space and to utilize it as they see fit.” the court said. (Sukriti Mishra , 2023)

Significance of the case

The Manmohan Singh vs. Arjun Uppal & Anr case holds immense significance in Indian property law for several reasons:

1. Clarification of Legal Principles: The case provides clarity on the application of adverse possession laws and the burden of proof in property disputes, setting a precedent for future cases.

2. Protection of Property Rights: The judgment reaffirms the importance of safeguarding property rights and preventing fraudulent claims, thereby fostering confidence in the integrity of the legal system.

3. Implications for Land Development: The resolution of the dispute has significant implications for land development and urban planning, ensuring that valuable real estate assets are allocated based on legitimate ownership claims.


In the dynamic landscape of Indian property law, the Manmohan Singh vs. Arjun Uppal & Anr case stands as a testament to the judiciary’s role in upholding justice and resolving complex disputes. Through meticulous analysis and adherence to legal principles, the court delivered a judgment that not only settled a long-standing dispute but also contributed to the evolution of legal precedents in property law. Ultimately, it underscores the need for a balanced and equitable approach to resolving conflicts in the realm of tenancy law. 


Indian Kanoon. (1958). section 14(1)(e) of delhi rent control act. Retrieved from Indian Kanoon: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/99776037/

Indian Kanoon. (2023, November). Manmohan Singh vs Arjun Uppal & Anr on 29 November, 2023. Retrieved from Indian Kanoon: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/50690634/

Sukriti Mishra . (2023, December 1). Delhi High Court Upholds Landlords’ Right To Decide Property Use, Orders Tenant Eviction. Retrieved from Lawbeat: https://lawbeat.in/news-updates/delhi-high-court-upholds-landlords-right-decide-property-use-orders-tenant-eviction

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