In 1995, Air India issued a notice of termination through its estate officer to IPCL on the ground that it required the premises for own use
In a major blow for Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd (IPCL), which has been taken over by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the Bombay High Court has refused to interfere with an order of eviction from its office in Air India building, Nariman Point. This comes nearly 18 years after Air India issued a notice of termination to IPCL.
The offices of IPCL are on the ninth and 19th floor of the building. In August 1975 and February 1979, it was allotted the premises on leave-and-licence basis. It was then a government company. In 2007, it was merged with RIL.
In 1995, Air India issued a notice of termination through its estate officer to the company on the ground that it required the premises for its own use. Interestingly, another notice by a subsequent estate officer in 1999 added security requirement as a reason in view of the March 1993 blasts. The Air India building was one of the targets of the blasts. The High Court in its order refrained from “sitting in judgment” over their opinion.
During the hearing, IPCL had pointed out that it was a government company when the notices were issued, and questioned whether a government company can evict another using the provisions of the Public Premises Eviction (PPE) Act, 1971. According to IPCL, the Act was to be invoked in cases involving private parties, which are in unauthorised occupation of premises.
However, Justice S C Dharmadhikari rejected this argument. “There is no prohibition in law that in such cases, the PPE Act cannot be taken recourse to,” he said.
“One fails to understand as to why any public sector corporation, continuing in occupation even after the authority has been determined or such authority has expired cannot be termed as unauthorised occupant,” he said.
The judge noted that the central government and Supreme Court guidelines have been given to prevent indiscriminate use of powers of eviction under the PPE Act.