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Customs man told to pay for abusing court process
October, 01st 2012

The Madras high court has flayed an assistant commissioner of customs, who had not paid any rent for his Anna Nagar house for 14 years, and has imposed a cost of 50,000 on him for having abused the court process. It has also asked the subordinate court to pass appropriate orders to restore possession of the house to the landlady.

Justice S Tamilvanan, dismissing a petition of R Lazarus, also faulted his advocate-wife, saying she had written letters to the chief justice of the court with incorrect details. "The three letters addressed by Padmini Lazarus show that it is a clear abuse of process of law and court, in order to protract the revision (petition) and further addressing letters directly to the chief justice of this court with incorrect and false averments is nothing but under-estimating the authority of the high court," observed Justice Tamilvanan.

It was the admitted case of the petitioner that neither he nor his wife paid any rent to the landlady since June 1998. After the rent controller and the rent control appellate authority passed orders in favour of the landlady, Dr Ann Duraisamy, the present revision petition was filed by Lazarus.

On August 31, the court stayed the rent control authority's orders with a condition that Lazarus pay 3.5 lakh towards rent directly to the landlady or deposit it in court. The matter was adjourned to September 18 for reporting compliance of the interim order. The order, however, was not complied with the petitioner.

On Wednesday, Justice Tamilvanan dismissed the revision petition of the customs officer saying: "He, being a defaulter in paying the rent, has no locus standi to maintain the revision against the order passed under Section 11(4) of the Rent Control Act. This court passed the conditional order only to provide an opportunity to the revision petitioner (Lazarus). However, it was also abused by him."

Pointing out that in November 2011, the rent control authority had directed the petitioner to pay 2.74 lakh to the landlady as rent for 137 months at the rate of 2,000 per month, the judge said Lazarus did not pay rent for another 34 months. Holding that the revision petition and the non-compliance of the court's interim order was a clear abuse of process of law and court, Justice Tamilvanan said he should pay 25,000 to the landlady and another 25,000 to the Chief Justice Relief Fund within four weeks.

He asked the trial court to direct the customs officer to vacate and hand over the premises to the landlady.

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