Delhi: traders' body for debate before new law formulation

India, July 9 -- The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the apex body of the trading community of the country, on Monday demanded a proper debate on the controversial Rent Act. Amid reports that the Delhi Rent Act, 1995 might be replaced by a fresh law, the traders demanded that wide-ranging consultations be held with the stakeholders prior to framing the law.

According to the members of the traders' body, for this purpose, an expert committee should be constituted by the government comprising senior government officials and stakeholders to make it a balanced act as it has an effect on the livelihood of lakhs of people living in Delhi.

"The issue of Rent Act in Delhi is hanging fire for the last 18 years because the tenants have been demanding justice and conversion of the Act into a balanced legislation. It needs to be debated and legislated keeping in mind a broader perspective," said Praveen Khandelwal, national secretary-general of CAIT, while addressing a press conference here

"Since the Delhi Rent Act will also affect rent laws of other states in the country, it has assumed much importance and a careful consultation is needed," added Khandelwal.

"Since Independence till 1995, when the Delhi Rent Act was promulgated, Delhi mainly comprised of leasehold properties which could not be divided and sold in parts. To overcome this restriction and to dispose of the property in parts, a practice evolved whereby 'pugree' or key money, which was equivalent to the then market price of the property, was paid by the tenant to the landlord, making the tenant a de facto owner of the premises," said Atul Bhargava, vice-president, Delhi Rajya Vyapar Sangathanan, a body of market associations.

"In 1988, the then government, while taking cognisance of the report of the Economic Administration Reforms Commission and the National Commission on Urbanisation, amended the rent Act and provided a clause of a 10 per cent increase in rents every three years," said Bhargava.

CAIT members further said that the new Act should be people-friendly and should not be titled towards landlords. The principle of natural justice and economic justice guaranteed under the Indian Constitution should be adhered to, it said.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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