Adverse Possession | Ravinder Kaur Grewal v. Manjit Kaur, C.A. No. 7764 of 2014 07-08-2019 SC

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA Arun Mishra, S. Abdul Nazeer & M.R. Shah C.A. No.7764 of 2014 with S.L.P. (C) Nos. 8332 - ­8333 of 2014 Radhakrishna Reddy (d) Through Lrs. v. G. Ayyavoo & Ors. August 07, 2019

Limitation Act, 1963 - Article 65 - Adverse Possession - Plea of acquisition of title by adverse possession can be taken by plaintiff under Article 65 of the Limitation Act and there is no bar under the Limitation Act, 1963 to sue on aforesaid basis in case of infringement of any rights of a plaintiff.

A person in possession cannot be ousted by another person except by due procedure of law and once 12 years' period of adverse possession is over, even owner's right to eject him is lost and the possessory owner acquires right, title and interest possessed by the outgoing person/owner as the case may be against whom he has prescribed. In our opinion, consequence is that once the right, title or interest is acquired it can be used as a sword by the plaintiff as well as a shield by the defendant within ken of Article 65 of the Act and any person who has perfected title by way of adverse possession, can file a suit for restoration of possession in case of dispossession. In case of dispossession by another person by taking law in his hand a possessory suit can be maintained under Article 64, even before the ripening of title by way of adverse possession. By perfection of title on extinguishment of the owner’s title, a person cannot be remediless. In case he has been dispossessed by the owner after having lost the right by adverse possession, he can be evicted by the plaintiff by taking the plea of adverse possession. Similarly, any other person who might have dispossessed the plaintiff having perfected title by way of adverse possession can also be evicted until and unless such other person has perfected title against such a plaintiff by adverse possession. Similarly, under other Articles also in case of infringement of any of his rights, a plaintiff who has perfected the title by adverse possession, can sue and maintain a suit. [Para 59]

Limitation Act, 1963 - Article 65 - Adverse Possession - In Article 65 in the opening part a suit “for possession of immovable property or any interest therein based on title” has been used. Expression “title” would include the title acquired by the plaintiff by way of adverse possession. The title is perfected by adverse possession. 

There is the acquisition of title in favour of plaintiff though it is negative conferral of right on extinguishment of the right of an owner of the property. The right ripened by prescription by his adverse possession is absolute and on dispossession, he can sue based on ‘title' as envisaged in the opening part under Article 65 of Act. Under Article 65, the suit can be filed based on the title for recovery of possession within 12 years of the start of adverse possession, if any, set up by the defendant. Otherwise right to recover possession based on the title is absolute irrespective of limitation in the absence of adverse possession by the defendant for 12 years. The possession as trespasser is not adverse nor long possession is synonym with adverse possession. [Paras 53 & 54]

Question of Law

Whether a person claiming the title by virtue of adverse possession can maintain a suit under Article 65 of Limitation Act, 1963 for declaration of title and for a permanent injunction seeking the protection of his possession thereby restraining the defendant from interfering in the possession or for restoration of possession in case of illegal dispossession by a defendant whose title has been extinguished by virtue of the plaintiff remaining in the adverse possession or in case of dispossession by some other person ?

Whether Article 65 of the Act only enables a person to set up a plea of adverse possession as a shield as a defendant and such a plea cannot be used as a sword by a plaintiff to protect the possession of immovable property or to recover it in case of dispossession. Whether he is remediless in such a case? 

In case a person has perfected his title based on adverse possession and property is sold by the owner after the extinguishment of his title, what is the remedy of a person to avoid sale and interference in possession or for its restoration in case of dispossession ?

Limitation Act, 1963 - Article 65 - Adverse Possession - Property dedicated to public use - There are instances when such properties are encroached upon and then a plea of adverse possession is raised. In Such cases, on the land reserved for public utility, it is desirable that rights should not accrue.

When we consider the law of adverse possession as has developed vis­à­vis to property dedicated to public use, courts have been loath to confer the right by adverse possession. There are instances when such properties are encroached upon and then a plea of adverse possession is raised. In Such cases, on the land reserved for public utility, it is desirable that rights should not accrue. The law of adverse possession may cause harsh consequences, hence, we are constrained to observe that it would be advisable that concerning such properties dedicated to public cause, it is made clear in the statute of limitation that no rights can accrue by adverse possession. [Para 60]

Limitation Act, 1963 - Section 27 & Article 65 - Adverse Possession - Corporeal or Incorporeal  & Immovable Property - For a person to sue for possession would indicate that right has accrued to him in presenti to obtain it, not in futuro.

Section 27 of Limitation Act, 1963 provides for extinguishment of right on the lapse of limitation fixed to institute a suit for possession of any property, the right to such property shall stand extinguished. The concept of adverse possession as evolved goes beyond it on completion of period and extinguishment of right confers the same right on the possessor, which has been extinguished and not more than that. For a person to sue for possession would indicate that right has accrued to him in presenti to obtain it, not in futuro. Any property in Section 27 would include corporeal or incorporeal property. Article 65 deals with immovable property. [Para 55]

Adverse possession is heritable and there can be tacking of adverse possession by two or more persons as the right is transmissible one. 

In our opinion, it confers a perfected right which cannot be defeated on reentry except as provided in Article 65 itself. Tacking is based on the fulfillment of certain conditions, tacking maybe by possession by the purchaser, legatee or assignee, etc. so as to constitute continuity of possession, that person must be claiming through whom it is sought to be tacked, and would depend on the identity of the same property under the same right. [Para 58]

Adverse possession cannot be decreed on a title which is not pleaded.

The adverse possession requires all the three classic requirements to co­exist at the same time, namely, nec­vi i.e. adequate in continuity, nec­clam i.e., adequate in publicity and nec­precario i.e. adverse to a competitor, in denial of title and his knowledge. Visible, notorious and peaceful so that if the owner does not take care to know notorious facts, knowledge is attributed to him on the basis that but for due diligence he would have known it. Adverse possession cannot be decreed on a title which is not pleaded. Animus possidendi under hostile colour of title is required. [Para 57]

Trespasser’s long possession is not synonym with adverse possession. 

Trespasser’s possession is construed to be on behalf of the owner, the casual user does not constitute adverse possession. The owner can take possession from a trespasser at any point in time. Possessor looks after the property, protects it and in case of agricultural property by and the large concept is that actual tiller should own the land who works by dint of his hard labour and makes the land cultivable. The legislature in various States confers rights based on possession. Two distinct trespassers cannot tack their possession to constitute conferral of right by adverse possession for the prescribed period.  [Para 57 & 58]

Property Law - Possession - Nature of - De facto i.e. Actual Possession, De jure Possession, Constructive Possession, Concurrent Possession - Symbolic Possession - Formal Possession - Exclusive Possession - Joint Possession / Co-­owner Possession - Discussed.

Property Law - Ownership - Sole Ownership - Contingent Ownership - Corporeal Ownership - Legal Equitable Ownership - Limited Ownership - Discussed.

Possession is the root of title and is right like the property. As ownership is also of different kinds of viz. sole ownership, contingent ownership, corporeal ownership, and legal equitable ownership. Limited ownership or limited right to property may be enjoyed by a holder. What can be prescribable against is limited to the rights of the holder. Possession confers enforceable right under Section 6 of the Specific Relief Act. It has to be looked into what kind of possession is enjoyed viz. de facto i.e., actual, ‘de jure possession’, constructive possession, concurrent possession over a small portion of the property. In case the owner is in symbolic possession, there is no dispossession, there can be formal, exclusive or joint possession. The joint possessor/co-­owner possession is not presumed to be adverse. Personal law also plays a role to construe nature of possession. [Para 56]


Dharampal (dead) through LRs v. Punjab Wakf Board, (2018) 11 SCC 449
State of Uttarakhand v. Mandir Shri Lakshmi Siddh Maharaj, (2017) 9 SCC 579
Gurudwara Sahab v. Gram Panchayat Village Sirthala, (2014) 1 SCC 669

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post