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Plea in SC seeking action against landlords pressuring students, labourers for rent during lockdown

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New Delhi: A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking action against the “arbitrary and unlawful action” of landlords demanding rent from students and labourers during the lockdown despite a government order to the contrary.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued an order on March 29 which stops landlords from demanding rent from students, workers and migrant labourers for a month. Those landlords who force people to vacate their houses will face action, the MHA statement warns.

The order, issued under the Disaster Management Act, had said employers will pay their workers’ wages on due dates without any deduction.

The petition filed by advocate Pawan Prakash Pathak and others, has sought implementation of the home ministry’s March 29 order that no landlord will collect rent from the labour class and students for a month during COVID-19 period and those who violate it would be punished.

“Petition is being filled against the arbitrary and unlawful action of landlords in the state of Delhi amid COVID-19 where there is clear instruction issued by the Ministry of Home affairs that in order to maintain the lockdown situation and law and order during COVID-19, order dated March 29, 2020 ‘restraining all landlord to forcing labours and students to vacate their premises’, in case they fail to pay rent during this period,” the plea said.

The PIL said irrespective of the MHA order, various landlords were forcing tenant students to pay full rent, failing which they will be thrown out of premises.

“Many landlords are continuously putting pressure on students to pay their rent and the students are living in constant fear and depressions. They are feeling helpless in this situation as they can’t demand money from their parents because their parents are also suffering from financial crisis due to the lockdown. In such a situation one is left with one option i.e opportunity cost of money, either one can pay rent out of same amount or one can buy essential ration and food for family during this period,” the plea said.

The petition said that in a situation like this, the students who are staying in rented accommodations have limited resources at their disposal.

“Most of the students stuck are from humble background and they supplement their expenses by working part time — for instance by taking up tuition. But in situations like this, they are struck in dire straits. If they will not be helped by the government concerned then they have to live in constant fear and depression caused by the financial crisis,” the plea said.

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