Section 21 - Cutting off or withholding essential supply or service

1. No landlord or tenant, either by himself or through any person purporting to act on his behalf, shall, without just and sufficient cause, cut off or withhold any essential supply or service enjoyed by the tenant or the landlord.

2. If a landlord or a tenant contravenes the provisions of sub-section (1), the tenant or the landlord, as the case may be, may make an application to the Rent Authority complaining of such contravention.

3. If the Rent Authority is satisfied that the essential supply or service was wilfully cut off or withheld, he may pass an order directing the restoration of the amenities immediately pending the inquiry referred to in sub-section (4).

An interim order may be passed under this sub-section without giving notice to the landlord or the tenant, as the case may be.

4. If the Rent Authority on inquiry finds that the essential supply or service enjoyed by the tenant or the landlord was cut off or withheld wilfully and without just and sufficient cause, he makes an order directing the restoration of such supply or service.

5. The Rent Authority has to complete an enquiry under sub-section (4) within a period of one month of filing of an application for enquiry unless the Rent Authority, for reasons to be recorded in writing, decides that it is not possible to complete the enquiry within such period.

6. The Rent Authority may, in his discretion, direct that compensation not exceeding one thousand rupees be paid to —

(a) the landlord or the tenant, as the case may be, by the complainant if the application under sub-section (2) was made frivolously or vexatiously;

(b) the complainant, if the landlord or the tenant, as the case may be, had cut off or withheld the supply or service without just and sufficient cause.

The ‘essential supply or service’ includes supply of water, electricity, lights in passages and on staircases, conservancy and sanitary services.

Withholding any essential supply or service includes acts or omissions, attributable to the landlord or the tenant, as the case may be, on account of which the essential supply or service is cut off by a local authority or any other agency.