New Delhi: An all-India traders’ body today appealed to Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu to protect the trading community from the controversial Delhi Rent Act, by which they can be evicted by the landlord citing bona fide need.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) today said it will organise a Traders’ Meet at Jantar Mantar on Oct. 7 on their demands and also meet Naidu soon in that regard.

“More than five lakh traders in the city and about 20 lakh dependents are likely to be affected by this. The sword of eviction will also fall on resident tenants who are again tens of lakhs in numbers. We have sought immediate intervention of the Union Government to protect the trading community,” CAIT General Secretary Praveen Khandelwal told reporters here.

“We are demanding a cut-off date as it exists in several other states like Gujarat, West Bengal, etc,”  he said, adding that a delegation of traders shall soon meet the Union Urban Development Minister on this issue.

Explaining the matter, CAIT President Ramesh Khanna said that following Independence, the landlords restricted by the then prevalent laws could not bifurcate and sell the property in parts. They then took ‘pugree’ (advance bulk payment) to overcome the handicap. The pugree was in most cases equivalent to the then market price of the property and the rents were very nominal.

“As the landlords had taken pugree they did not wish to evict the non-residential tenants and also did not seek any increase in rents except 10 per cent every three years.

“The Delhi Rent Act, 1958, recognised the importance of commercial tenants in developing Delhi and accorded due protection to them by not allowing eviction based on the personal needs of landlords,” Khanna said.

However, by the 1990s, real estate prices had spiralled, tempting landlords to seek eviction of tenants.

Thereafter, the Delhi Rent Act, 1995, was enforced and, vide certain loose provisions of the said Act, landlords could evict traders from the shops, he said.

The 1995 Act was strongly opposed by traders and tenants, leading to its being put in abeyance. A Bill is currently pending in Rajya Sabha to repeal the Act.

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