Interpretation of ‘Agreement to Lease’ in Land Tenancy Dispute

Explore the intricate legal analysis on the interpretation of ‘Agreement to Lease’ in a recent court case. The court’s detailed examination of the distinction between an agreement and a lease sheds light on important aspects of land tenancy disputes. Dive into the complexities of this legal issue and enhance your understanding of key considerations in such disputes.


  • The High Court allowed the appeal by Food Corporation of India against the Civil Suit No 3-B/81 filed by the appellant.
  • The High Court determined that the agreement dated 16.12.1976 was not a lease agreement but a contract simplicitor.
  • The High Court rejected the claim for arrears of rent as the agreement did not constitute a lease.
  • Evidence provided by PW-1,2 & 5 was disregarded by the High Court as it was not conducted in accordance with FCI specifications.
  • The central question was whether the agreement dated 16.12.1976 was a lease agreement or an agreement for lease.
  • Key clauses 6 and 7 of the agreement indicated it was for entering into a lease, not a lease agreement itself.
  • A precedent from Rani Hemanta Kumari Debi Vs. Midnapur Zamindari Company Ltd, AIR 1919 PC 79, highlighted the distinction between an agreement and a lease.
  • The appellants and FCI entered into a lease agreement dated 06.02.1986 for all six godowns.
  • The Trial Court decreed the suit in favor of the appellants on 29.04.1990, directing respondents to pay a sum with interest and enhanced rent.
  • Evidence from PW-1, PW-2, and PW-5 confirmed completion of all six godowns.
  • FCI acknowledged possession of two godowns on 15.05.1979.
  • FCI challenged the Trial Court’s judgment in the High Court through F.A. No.64/90.
  • Claims by the appellants included arrears of rent, non-payment of enhanced rates, wages for security guard, electricity charges, and interest.
  • Loan was sanctioned by State Bank of Indore to the appellant on FCI’s recommendation.
  • The letter dated 02.12.1977 certified cent percent completion of the godowns by FCI.
  • Civil Suit No.3-B/81 was filed by appellants for damages amounting to Rs.5,90,000.
  • Offer by the appellants was accepted by FCI resulting in an agreement on 16.12.1976.
  • Appellants demanded rent payments from FCI for all six godowns.
  • After inspections, possession of four godowns was recommended to FCI, with defects noted for the remaining two.
  • FCI denied rent payment for the two godowns stating they were not handed over due to defects.
  • Appellants also sought damages from FCI for non-realization of rent.
  • FCI filed a written statement denying the appellants’ claims, citing inspection requirements and non-payment grounds.
  • In the FAC, FCI officials taking possession on 14.05.1979 were deemed incompetent and were punished in a departmental inquiry.

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  • Their Lordships do not agree that an ‘agreement to lease’ can be regarded as a lease.
  • According to their opinion, an ‘agreement to lease’ must be a document that actually effects a demise and operates as a lease.
  • They agree with Jenkins C.J. in the case of Panchanam Bose v. Chandra Charan Misra on the interpretation of section 17 in this regard.

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  • An agreement to lease may effect an actual demise, in which case it is considered a lease.
  • The expression ‘agreement to lease’ must relate to a document that creates a present and immediate interest in the land.
  • An agreement for a lease is a transaction in which the parties bind themselves to grant and accept a lease, whereas a lease creates a tenancy in favor of the tenant.
  • In Indian law, an agreement to lease must be a document that effects an actual demise and operates as a lease, creating an immediate and present interest in the property.
  • The intention of the parties determines whether an instrument operates as a lease or an agreement for a lease.
  • The decision in Hemanta Kumari Debi case and the observations by the Privy Council establish that an agreement to lease must be a document that effects an actual demise.
  • The agreement dated 16.12.1976 was classified as a contractual obligation and not a lease as it did not result in an actual demise of property.
  • An agreement to lease, not resulting in a present demise, does not require writing or registration.
  • The appellants’ reliance on a letter dated 15.05.1978, claiming acknowledgment of possession by FCI, was deemed misplaced and fabricated.
  • FCI’s officers refused to take possession of two godowns due to defects pointed out, which were never rectified.
  • Clause 6 of the agreement stated that the findings of FCI’s officers on defects were final, and possession was not mandatory if defects existed.
  • The execution of the lease deed was contingent on the completion and approval of godowns, as indicated by the High Court’s findings.
  • The suit filed was for damages due to breach of the agreement dated 16.12.1976, and rights and obligations were to be decided based on the contract terms.
  • FCI consistently maintained that two godowns were defective and could not be taken over until rectified, negating any claims of waiver, acquiescence, or estoppel.
  • The appellants’ argument about a completion certificate issued on 02.12.1977 was refuted, stating that no subsequent certificate was necessary.
  • The appellants were not entitled to claim rent prior to 08.02.1978 as per Clause 8 of the agreement dated 16.12.1976.
  • There was no provision in the agreement for enhanced rent for the godowns after possession was taken over by FCI.
  • The High Court’s decision to allow the first appeal of the respondents and dismiss the Civil Suit of the appellants was upheld.
  • The appeal was dismissed, and no costs were awarded.
  • The agreement dated 16.12.1976 did not include any clause for rent enhancement after a certain period once possession of the godowns was taken over by FCI.

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  • The Rent Control Act allows for an enhanced rent to be paid to the appellants based on certain criteria.
  • The criteria stated in the Act need to be carefully reviewed to determine if the appellants are entitled to an enhanced rent.
  • The appellants should provide sufficient evidence to support their claim for an enhanced rent.


Case Number: C.A. No.-001305-001305 / 2010

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